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BRIEF STUDY OF THE TERM CHURCH FROM A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE

by Christopher Bassaragh February, 2009.

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The Church Though the word “church” does not appear in the original languages of the bible, the word “church” in English has come to have many meanings. The word “church” can mean a building, an event, a policy maker, an institutionalized denomination, an organized style or the practice of affirming correct confessional criteria. What is the church? More than a physical structure, more than programmed event every week, more than a set of policies that define how your resources are allocated, and more than ones personal relationship with others. The church is a living body, built up of many living organisms. The Church has many functions in today’s society such as1: 1. Aspiring to know and give proper interpretation to scripture 2. Communicate the true knowledge of God 3. Be inspired and directed by the Holy Ghost 4. Gain full knowledge and experience of redemption 5. Help each other gain an awareness of our own existence in the universe 6. Create a balance between the past, present and future. The early biblical church of the 1st century understood the nature of the church and coined many phrases of the church: The Church was the elect of God; Romans (Rom) 8:33; Colossians (Col) 3:12; 1 Peter (Pet) 1:1-5; 2 Timothy (Tim) 2:10. This concept expresses that the church is not man-made, we find this even in the title used in the Greek word for church eclessia (ek + kallew) to call out. And seeing that in this case these chosen set of people are called to God, we                                                             1

Church and the Preservation of institutional Justice: a Lecture on the church by Dr. Eric Henry at Northern  Caribbean University. 

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rightfully translate “The calling out of an assembly unto God.” The church is also known as the Believers: John 3:16, the Body of Christ: living, moving, active, multi organism, diverse but unified; 1 Corinthians (Cor) 12:12-30. And the Bride: a pure woman who can be trusted; 2 Cor 11:2; Ephesians (Eph) 5:25-27; Revelation (Rev) 19:7-9; 21:1-2. The Church itself began to take a new form at Shavuot (Pentecost), Acts 2, and at that point they did not segregate from the Jewish worship centers. The dominant belief of the Church, which differed from the Jews, was Jesus died and resurrected on the third day. To become a part of the Body baptisms were needed, and the gospel must go out as commissioned in Matthew (Mat) 28: 18-20. Prophecies had been established, and the church was to prepare one another and others outside the group, for the great things to come, especially the second coming of Jesus. The historical development of the church is fascinating, and all subtle divisions could be related to have started in the Garden of Eden, and slowly throughout time there becomes branches many different denominations all a part of the one body in Christ2. The Church was a people coming out of Judaism yet they were still attached by some things like the Law (Decalogue) and practices. The early Christian church entered the historical arena at a time when Judaism was experiencing a difference between church and state. Judaism was a church and state government, a theocracy. But By the time of the Greeks and Romans, we see that the Jews were not allowed to pass judgment on its own. The new Church had no connection with the state, and yet they cannot avoid the state, because they are citizens of the state. The idea of the Church would change over time, and the identity would be accepted as the body of Christ in a visible and invisible form. “The Reformed conception is that Christ, by the                                                             2

This is commonly expressed as pluriformity, a division in a unity, the different aspects of the church with the one  aim to reach Christ. 

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operation of the Holy Spirit, unites men with Himself, endows them with true faith, and thus constitutes the Church as His body, the com.mun.io fidelium or sanctorum”. Of this group, all who carried the faith would be a part of the Church. The common denominator of the church of believers would be faith in Jesus, there for the church was designed to lead people to Jesus who is the way. This introduces a new understanding upon who the work may really rest on, which is the visible church “It is not Christ that leads us to the Church, but the Church that leads us to Christ. All the emphasis falls, not on the invisible Church as the communion fidelium., but on the visible Church as the mater fidelium. When examined thoroughly, the invisible Church is the body of faith who dwells in all corners of the earth, but the visible church are the people openly a part of a organization that announces Jesus Christ is the way. No matter what position they in, in their relationship in Christ, because we continue to grow in perfection in Christ, but it all starts with faith. Therefore we can never say one who is a part of the visible, cannot be part of the invisible, no matter what we think we see. When surveying the names used to identify with the church we see a common thing expressed, let’s take a look. The Old Testament uses two words to relate to the Church, qahal, coming from the root word qal, meaning "to call"; and 'edhah, from ya'adh, "to appoint" putting them together translates as "to meet or come together at an appointed place." These two words are sometimes used indiscriminately, but were not, at first, strictly synonymous. 'Edhah is properly a gathering by appointment, and regarding to Israel, either the people on a whole whether assembled or not assembled, or the heads of the tribe coming together in representation of people. Qahal, on the other hand, meams the actual meeting together of the people. Note sometimes we run into the expression qehal 'edhah, that is, "the assembly of the congregation" or in Greek ekklesia, the circle of believers.  4   


Let us be reminded "Church," "Kerk" and "Kirche" are not derived from the word ekklesia, but from the word kuriake, which means "belonging to the Lord", our English word is coming form German. They stress the fact that the Church is the property of God; 557. In the New Testament we also find other titles which are listed below:  

1. The body of Christ: An integrated network, and of followers composing one body, each member is a cell of a specific organ and all the organs fit together like a puzzle composing a connected body. Therefore each individual has a part to play in the working of the body of Christ represented on earth. Rom. 12:4, 5; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; Matt. 28:19  2. The temple of the Holy desires to Spirit or of God:  1. This would be the dwelling place of the spirit in the collective group of believers or the individual. The church therefore is the living quarters where God desires to live, concerning us humans. 1 Cor 14:12; Eph. 4:12, 16. Just as a temple is built with stones, we represent stones ourselves. Thinking of the NT writers, the stones of the building are described by the Apostle Peter as “living stones” 1 Peter 2:5. They have received life from the living stone who has life in himself {John 5:26} and communicates his life to those who come to him. In this passage the “coming” denotes a “coming to stay” and to have a continual relationship with him. Each stone in the building is built upon the foundation. The Greek epi= upon suggests a real resting upon denoting the fact that the members of the building are in close contact with the foundation. Resting solidly upon the Apostles and prophets as instruments of the revelation of Christ.

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Let’s take a moment to Examine the word “temple” in New Testament Greek (Koine Greek). There are two words for temple: *naos (the shrine) which is used here, 1 Cor 3:16, 17, which is distinguishable from ieron (this denotes to the whole temple); naos was where the image of the God was placed. This was also known as the shrine, there for the temple is the shrine of the one true living God. 3. The Jerusalem that is above, or the new Jerusalem, or the heavenly Jerusalem:  The city of people which God has found favour with and who has accepted His free gift of salvation, therefore have been chosen to be His wife robed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  4. Pillar and ground of the truth:  The church is the people who will be the pillars to uphold the foundation which Christ has laid. Like any architecture, the building of the Church is founded upon the historical person and work of Jesus Christ. After referring to the church as God’s building the Apostle states (1 Cor. 3:10, 11). The apostle laid the foundation by teaching the doctrines of Jesus and bringing men into relationship with him who is the only foundation that is laid. The church will be the group standing as a light bearer of truth in a dark world 

By the 3rd century into the Middle Ages the term “the company of the elect”, the communio sanctorum,559; by thy time the church is heavily concentrating on the idea of catholicity rather than the wholesome group of believer whether in the institution or not. Catholicity speaks of the unification of all the believers in Christ. NO matter how diverse the practice or culture of

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the believers. They must uphold the faith of Jesus Christ. Christ aim to build one church and one body.3 This is spoken of Paul in many instances. Rom 12:4, 5; 1 Cor 12; Eph 4:4-6.

"The Prophesy of Faith of St. Athanasius the Great," says: "The man, who desires to be saved, first of all must keep to the catholic faith. If anyone does not keep this faith pure and innocent, then with no doubt he will perish forever."

The word catholic was translated by our saints and spiritual first teachers Cyril and Methodius with the word council. This shows that they in the full accordance with the understanding of the entire Orthodox Church, put in this word not the same sense, which the contemporary West assigns to it, interpreting the word "catholic" as "ecumenical, universal."

Clement of Alexandria (the 3d century) writes: "We say that in its essence and ideas, in the origin and development, the authentic Catholic Church is the one, which is unanimous, as it has to be, about the unity of faith". 4

We find that their understanding was to be a part of the church one had to agree with the institution and their legislations to be considered included. Also during this time in much of Europe many of the countries were being converted to Christianity, by governing Rome, which would put this spiritual power into a legal state power, giving the church another form of authority.

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Rex A. Koivisto, One Lord One Faith. Illinois: BridgePoint, 1989. 42   “Catholicity” Orthodox Photos.com. http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/talks/catholicity.shtml 

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The church was to be an authoritative figure, but in spiritual matters, not secular. This is not to mean that the church does have any authority with their spiritual influence in secular matters, but because this is the devils world for this time, we should not try to claim the authoritative figure in it before our time. This can lead to the church being contaminated with the lures to rule in a territory that is not ours.

The church all together, visible and invisible is the body of believers whether they stand together or are separate. Where ever there physical positions may be they are all connected through one Spirit who is the mortar between each one of us stones. Therefore we believers, through the Spirit are the church, linked and connected to Jesus through faith and a progressive relationship. We have the duty of restoring the kingdom of God by working in the Spirit to lead others to Christ and to uphold the pillars of faith in a dying world. The Church is the most beautiful thing God has left on this earth, and we who have chosen to accept Christ, should feel privileged to be a part of it.

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Citations:

1. Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1996 2. “Catholicity” Orthodox Photos.com. <http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/talks/catholicity.shtml> 3. Henry, Eric, Church and the Preservation of institutional Justice. Northern Caribbean University: Mandeville. Class Lecture on the church. January, 2010 4. Holy Bible: Dove of Peace, Catholic Edition. North Carolina: Good Will Publishers, 1991. 5. Rex A. Koivisto, One Lord One Faith. Illinois: BridgePoint, 1989. 42

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THE CHURCH  

Christopher Bassaragh February, 2009. by 1 with others. The church is a living body, built up of many living organisms. The Church has 4. Ga...