Interpreting The Doctrine of the church ‘Ecclesiology’

  • Interpreting The Doctrine of the church 'Ecclesiology'
    Interpreting The Doctrine of the church ‘Ecclesiology’

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the study of Church doctrine. Every epoch has its own set of theological priorities, and ours is no exception. Many current theologians and Bible experts believe that the church’s theology needs to be reexamined.

Several contemporary movements such as the ecumenical and the charismatic movements have contributed to a resurgence of interest in the New Testament pattern of the Church. A revival of the spirit of worship among Foursquare Gospel and other Pentecostal churches has been accompanied by a strong concern to better understand the life, ministry, and leadership of the New Testament Church.

Since the Church is the Divinity constituted body through which the Gospel is preached and believers are nurtured, the careful study and clear understanding of it are obviously important. The best place to begin such a study is with definitions.


A. Kuriakon.

The English word “church” is derived from the word kuriakon which means: belonging to the Lord.” A word which is never applied to the Church in the New Testament period; although it is found twice in the New Testament as an adjective applying to the Lord’s Supper and to the Lord’s Day (1Cor.11:20; Rv.1:10). In post-apostolic time the Greeks used the term kuriakon to designate the church building. The evolution of the Greek kuriakon to the English word “church” be seen in the Sottish work “kirk”. The only words in the New testament used to designate a building as a place of worship are temple and synagogue (Acts 5:42; jas.2:2, RV).

B. Ekklesia

In the English New Testament the word “church” is used invariably to translate the Greek word ekklesia (Mt. 16:18; 18:17; Acts 2:47;9:31;13:1;14:23; 15:22; 16:5; 20;17,28; Rom. 16:4,5; 1Cor. 12:28; Eph. 5:23-29; Cor.1:18; Rv.1:4,11). The word ekklesia means” an assembly of people”. The term is derived from two Greek words, ek meaning “out from,” and kaleo which mean “to call.” Originally, “the ones called out” had reference to the legislative body of citizens of the Greek republic called from their communities to serve the country. When we refer to a session of the State “Assembly” we are using the word “assembly” in exactly the same way the Greeks used the term ekklesia.

By New Testament times, when Jesus employed the word ekklesia to designate the body he would build, the word borrowed meaning from at last two sources: (1) the Jewish use of the word in the Greek Old Testament(Septuagint) where it referred to the “congregation” of Israel, and (2) the Greek employment of the word to refer to any assemble of people, whether a constituted body or an unorganized mob. An example of the Jewish use is found in Acts 7:37,38: “This is that Moses,… that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in mount Sinai, and with our Fathers: who received the lively oracles to give onto us.” The Jewish use of the word ekklesia, usually translates the Hebrew word quahal which was the Old Testament word for the congregation of Israel in the wilderness. An example of the Greek use of ekklesia is found in Acts chapter nineteen: “Some, therefore, cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly (ekklesia) was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together (mob)” (Acts 19:32); and “But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly [official legislative body]” (Acts. 19;39).

There is no doubt that Jesus chase the word translated “church” because it had been used to designate God’s people, but the word in the popular mined merely meant “ASSEMBLY”. Because the Hebrew word translated ekklesia was sometimes rendered “synagogue’” there may have been a purpose in the choice of the first in order to avoid confusion of the Church with the synagogue of Israel. When Jesus said, “And upon this rock will I build my CHURCH” (Mt.16:18), He placed emphasis not on the word CHURCH, but on the word MY. The CHURCH is unique, not because it is called a CHURCH, but because it is the assembly of believers who belong to Jesus who constitute His Body.



A. The Universal Body of Christ.

The Universal Church is composed of all genuine Christian believers.


Of all ages, both on earth and in paradise, the total Body of Christ. The total Universal Church will be assembled at the marriage supper of the lamb (Rv.19:6-9) which will follow the rapture of the Church. The following passages apply to the Universal church: Mt.16:18; Eph. 3:10.21;5:23-32; Col.118,24; Heb.12:22,23, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect….” (Heb. 12:23).

B. THe Local Church.

The local church is composed of Christian believers identified with a constituted body worshipping in one locality ( Rom.16:1:Col.4:16;Gal.1:2,22;Acts14:23). The members of a local church constitution the church even when they are not assembled, which fact can be seen in Acts chapter fourteen: “And when they were come and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them….” (Acts14:27) All genuine believers are members of the Universal Body of Christ; however all faithful believers are to be identified with a local church where they assemble for worship, fellowship, and service with some regularity (Heb. 10:24,25). Christians cannot properly be believers in isolation, for they are believers only; they are also disciples, brethren, and members of a body. The following statement is from Foursquare.

Declaration of Faith:

We believe that having accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior and the king and having thus been born into the family and invisible body or church of the Lord, it is the sacred duty of the believer, whenever this lieth within his power, to identify himself with, and labour most earnestly for the upbuilding of God’s kingdom with the visible church upon earth…)Jas. 5:14, Acts11:26-30)1

C. The House Churches.

In New Testament times there were no church buildings; believers met for worship wherever facilities were made available to them. Often they met in homes of believers; “Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house” (1Cor. 16:19b). when the church in a given community was very large. There were many house churches (see 1Cor.4:23); however, the church of that community was considered one, and they all came together as often as possible. In small communities, one house church may accommodate the entire body(see Col.4:15). One reason why the churches usually had a plurality of elders was perhaps that there were several house churches within the total body in the given community. In Acts chapter twenty, the Apostle Paul called together the elders of the church in Ephesus: “ And from _________

1. Aimee Simple McPherson, Declaration of Faith (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, n.d.)22

Foundations of Pentecostal Theology

Miletus he sent Ephesus and called the elders of the church” (Acts20:17). The church in Ephesus was one, but a large number of elders (pastors) suggests that the Church often met in hones because of the lack of large church buildings. All of these house churches were, however; one church of Ephesus: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves. And to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hat made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood” (Acts20:28). Ever local church was considered to be a physical manifestation of Universal Church n that community. (See also Rom.16:5,23;1Cor.16:19;Phlm.2.).

D. The Collective Church.

There are several New Testament passages in which reference is made to the visible Church on earth as one Church: 1Cor.10:32; 15:9; Gal.1:13; Phil.3:6. In Acts 9:31, where reference is made to the peace which the Church experienced after Saul’s conversion, the King James Version reads “churches”; but in the Greek text, as well as in other versions, the word is singular: “So the CHURCH throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, being edified; and, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, was multiplied” (Acts9:31,RV).

In several passages, the word CHURCH is used generically, that is, referring to the Church generally. (see Mt.18:17;1 Tm.3:15; 1Cor.12:28.).

E. The Church Acting in Concert.

There are those who contend that the local churches were autonomous, subject only to the local leadership which was selected by the vote of the congregation. There is no doubt that the local church had much liberty; certainly, they were not ruled rigidly by a central doctrine and practice recorded in Acts chapter fifteen. However, that the churches acted in concert and followed apostolic leadership is made clear by a number of scripture passages: Acts14:23; Rom.16:4; 1Cor.16:19;14:33; 2 Cor.11:28; Ti.1:5. Paul instructed local churches on doctrine, practice and government; he sent greetings on behalf of groups of churches of an area; he appointed elders over churches or instructed fellow-workers to appoint officers. Paul wrote to Titus ordering. “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee” (Ti.1:5).



A. It Is Not Used of a Building.

The Greek word ekklesia which is translated as “church” always has reference to people; it never has reference to a building. Today, one might say, “There is a white church at the corner of Fourth and Main. “When the Bible speaks of the church at Ephesus, it refers to the congregation of Christian believers at Ephesus. Inasmuch as no church buildings were.


Built until the third century, no word was coined to refer to one. When church buildings were built, a different word (kuriake), meaning “the Lord’s house,” was used to refer to them. On the other hand, the use of one word to describe both the building and the congregation is a natural development. Calling the building a church is a figure of speech called “metonymy” (the container put for the contents). The same is found in 1Corinthians 11:26: “For as often as ye…drink this CUP” (We do not drink the cup, but the contents). No harm is done in calling the sanctuary a “church” as long as one keeps in mind the real nature of the CHURCH.

B. Not Used for a Denomination.

During New Testament times no group of Christians arose with separate name identities similar to modern denominations. Therefore, the word “church” did not come to be appended to the names of leaders or doctrinal tenets, as in Lutheran Church or Baptist Church, to identify distinct ecclesiastical organizations. The ideal condition for the church on earth would, no doubt, have been one of universal unity in doctrine and organization; however, when the main ecclesiastical body departed from scripture in doctrine and practice, it was inevitable that here would be reformations rejected by the patent system, forcing the faithful to form distinct bodies. Since every widespread revival has brought reaction by the established church leadership, the formation of newly created organizations to preserve doctrinal soundness and spiritual life have been virtually unavoidable. The ecumenical movement has endeavoured to bring the denominations to a corporate reunion but when it has been accomplished, it has at expense of doctrinal and spiritual fullness. Faith and practice acceptable to all have been the “least common denominator.” Denominations may have been God’s way of preserving revival and missionary fervour. The members of denominational churches, however, must keep in mind that the church which is the Body of Christ is composed of all true believers, and that true believer must be united in spirit to carry forward the Gospel of Christ in the world, for all be caught up together at the coming of the Lord. That local churches should band together for fellowship and a mission is certainly a Bible truth (2Cor.8:1-19, 23, 24; Ti.1:5).




The amount of scriptural material relative to the organization and leadership of the apostolic church is not large. The titles borne by New Testament church leaders were more descriptive of their ministries than of their office and rank. Since the first members and leaders of the Early Church were Jews, familiar with the synagogue, they patterned church organization somewhat after that of the synagogue; in fact, in one New Testament passage, the Christian assembly is called a synagogue (Jas.2:2, Gr.).

Foundations of Pentecostal Theology

That there was an organization in the New Testament Church is clearly seen from the following:

(1) When problems arose in certain ministry activities, leaders were appointed to administer those activities (Acts 6:1-7)

(2) The disciples met regularly for worship; at first, every day; later, they met on the first day of the week (Acts 2:46, 47;5:42;20:7;1Cor.16:2)

(3) Diligence was given to the appointment of proper leadership (Acts1:23-26; 14:23; Ti: 1:5).

(4) Qualifications for elders (bishops) and deacons are set forth in some detail (1Tm. 3:31-1-13:Ti:1;5-9;1Tm.5:1,17-22; Pt.5:1-4: Acts6:1-7: “Ass 20:28-35).

(5) Each church had the authority to discipline or exclude certain members (Mt. 16:17; 1Cor.5 :1-5; 2Thes. 3:6-16; 1Tm. 1:18-20).

(6) Members are admonished to respect and obey church leaders (1Tes. 5:12,13: Heb.12:7,17,24).

(7) Missionaries are sent forth by the church with the official sanction (Acts13:1-3).

(8) A council was convened in Jerusalem to settle for the whole Christian Church a dispute over doctrine and practice (Acts15:1-35).

It is not easy to classify the various ministers and officers mentioned in the New Testament several terms, such as “pastor, elder, and bishop,” whom we take for titles, are probably different ways of describing the same function. Some terms like “minister” and “deacon” are different translations of the same Greek word kiakonons. Some offices, such as “apostle and prophet,” are strictly by Divine appointment of the exercise of a spiritual gift; while other offices are by human election or appointment based upon specified qualifications. “Pastors and teachers” maybe two kinds of ministers or the terms may simply represent two functions of one office. In spite of the difficulties involved, the effort will be made to analyze each New Testament office.

A. Apostles.

The first exponents of the Christian gospel were the Apostles, who were also God’s first ministry gift to the Church. And when it was day, He called unto Him his disciples: and of them, He chose twelve, whom He name APOSTLES (Lk. 6:13). And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, those were ordained of the APOSTLES and elders which were at Jerusalem (Acts 16:4).

And He gave some, APOSTLES: and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints (Eph. 4:11,12b).

Ye…are built upon the foundation of APOSTLES and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone (Eph.2:19,20).


The word “APOSTLE” is a transliteration of the Greek word Apostolos which means “a messenger” or “one sent on a mission.” The original Apostles were those whom Jesus chose to be with Him, whom He personally commissioned and sent forth (Mt.10:2: Lk.22:14). They were twelve in number. When Judas Iscariot betrayed the Lord, leaving only eleven, another Apostle was chosen in his place (Acts.1:15-26). The names of the twelve Apostles are written in the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem (Rv.21:14).

The requirements for apostleship were (1) to have been with the Lord (Acts1:21,22) (2) to have been a witness of the Resurrection (Acts 1:22) (3) to have seen the Lord (1Cor.9:1) (4) to have wrought signs, wonders and might deeds (2Cor.12:12). The foundational Apostles were a fixed number of twelve.

There are others, however, who are called “apostles” such as (1) Paul, who was given a vision of the Lord and called personally by Jesus to be the apostle to the Gentiles (Rom.11:13;1Cor.9:1), who twelve times declared himself to e apostle (2) James, the brother of Jesus (1Cor.15;7) (3) Barnabas (Acts14:14) (4) certain kinsmen of Paul (Rom. 16:7) and (5) certain unnamed apostles (1Cor.15:7). Apparently, the term “apostle” came to be in a wider sense for those who had been with Jesus, such as the seventy, the one hundred twenty, etc, and especially of those who seemed to have a special commission to found new churches. The terms “apostle” and “missionary” have the same meaning. That the term “apostles” was used in the wider sense is obvious from the fact that there were those who falsely claimed to be apostles (2Cor.11:13;Rv.2:2). If only the original Twelve had been recognized as apostles, no one else could have made a claim to apostleship. It is important to keep clear, the distinction between the original Apostles and those who were called “apostle” in the wider meaning of the term. Closely identified with the Twelve, would be men such as Paul, Mark, Luke, James Jude, and the writer of Hebrews: all of whom were used by the Spirit to write the New Testament.

Discussion often arises of whether there could be modern apostles. It would depend upon the meaning given to the word “apostle.” Obviously, the Church can have only one foundation. After the close of the New Testament Canon, no additional apostolic writers have been commissioned to add to scripture. However, if the term “apostle” is used in the wider sense of one commissioned of the Lord to open new mission fields, whose ministry is accompanied with signs and wonders, it would not be an inappropriate use of the word. Nevertheless, it should be kept clear that apostles are a gift from God, commissioned by him. The Church was never authorized to create apostles. No apostolic succession was ever established. When Jesus the Chief Shepherd returns, he will come to crown pastors (elders), not apostles (1Pt.5:1-4). Peter, who was certainly an apostle, happily identified with the elders (1Pt.5:1-4). Will the end-time be a period great pastor who evangelizes their whole areas?

B. Prophets.

The Church is said to be built upon a foundation of apostles and PROPHETS (Eph. 2:20): “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets” (Eph. 4:11). While the prophets were next in rank to the apostles, they were subject to the apostles (1Cor. 14:37). Paul seemed to give the gift of prophecy the highest priority among the spiritual gifts (1Cor. 14:1-3). Prophecy is defined by Paul as follows: “But he that prophesied speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort…he that prophesieth edifieth the church” (1Cor.14:3,4)4 This definition is demonstrated in Acts chapter fifteen: “And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them” (Acts 15:32). A less frequent function of the prophets was that of predicting the future. On two occasions, a prophet named Agabus predicted future events (Acts 11:27-29). His prediction of a future famine enables the church to make preparation to assist the poor in Judaea. Later Agabus predicted Paul’s imprisonment by the Jew in Jerusalem, a prediction that came to pass; although, Paul made no attempt to avoid the trouble (Acts 21:10-15). Prophecy hand a vital function in relation to Timothy’s enablement for ministry (1Tm.4:14). In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter identified Joel’s prophecy (2:28) with the Spirit’s outpouring on the Church: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall PROPHESY” (Acts 2:17).

The gift of the prophecy remains in effect in the Church today, where spiritual gifts are recognized. In much Pentecostal, the spirit of prophecy is manifested.

C. Evangelists.

The evangelist is less easy to identify in the New Testament because almost everyone did the work of evangelism. Philip is the only one actually called an “evangelist” (Acts 2:17). Judging from Philip’s ministry in Samaria, an evangelist is one whose ministry is directed primarily toward winning the unsaved: “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ to them “ ( Acts 8:5). It is noteworthy that his soul-winning ministry was accompanied by miracles and signs. Afterwards, Philip was called to preach to one man in the desert, the Ethiopian treasurer, whom he led to Christ. It is interesting to note that, as much space is taken to tell of the man’s conversion as is taken to narrate the Samaritan revival story. Timothy is not called an evangelist, but Paul admonishes him to do the work of an evangelist (2Tm. 4:5). In Greek, the word “evangelist” is derived from the verb that is translated as “to preach the gospel.” An evangelist, then, is one whose chief goal is to preach the Gospel with the object of soul winning. The above-described ministries of the apostle, the prophet and the evangelist were ministries to the Church in general; those that follow are ministries to the local church.

C. Pastors,

While the term “PASTOR,” as the spiritual leader of the local church, is found only once in the New Testament (Eph.4:11), it will be treated fully here for two reasons: (1) it is a term most commonly used in the church today, and (2) the pastoral metaphor is employed in several passages (1Pt. 5:2-4; Acts20:28,29; Jn.10:1-16;21:15-17; Heb,13:20;1Pt.2:25; Mk.6:34;1Cor.9:6,7). The favourite terminology of Jesus to express His relationship to the people was as the “shepherd and sheep.” It is natural, therefore, that those entrusted with the care of the lord’s flock should be called “pastors.”

It is difficult for people of the Western world to understand the close intimate relationship that existed between the Palestinian shepherd and his sheep. No word could have better expressed the loving care and mutual trust that should exist between the spiritual leader and his congregation than the word “PASTOR”. Other synonyms for pastoral office are used more frequently in the New Testament, but the title that has persisted is that of “pastor.”

e. Teachers.

Teachers are the fifth category of ministry gifts bestowed upon the Church by the Ascended Lord (Eph.4:11). It is not absolutely clear whether the TERM “TEACHER” represented a distinct office or merely a function of apostles and pastors (elders). That “teacher” was a distinct ministry indicated by the fact that there were “prophets” and “teachers” in the church at Antioch (Acts13:1); and that “teachers” are listed along with apostles and prophets as offices which God had set in the Church (1Cor.12:2). On the other hand, in Eph. 4:11, “teacher” is not preceded by a definite article as are the other offices; therefore, the term may merely indicate teacher as a function of pastors (pastor-teachers). Teaching is listed as a spiritual gift in Romans 12:6, 7; therefore, it might be exercised by any believer who is so gifted. Paul refers to himself as one “appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles” (2Tm. 1:11). Paul admonishes Timothy, a pastor, to exercise a teaching ministry (2Tm. 2:2). The Great Commission strongly infers that teaching is of primary importance in the ongoing work of the Church: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: TEACHING them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you… “(Mt.28:19,20). Although teaching was a part of nearly all of New Testament ministries, there were those whose primary calling was that of teaching the Word of God. Undoubtedly, there are those today whose ministry could be best identified as that a “teacher”.

F. “Elder”

was a title borrowed from the synagogue and from the congregation of Israel? The term is used in the New Testament about thirty (30) times, with reference to the elders of Israel. The Hebrew word for “elder” was taken which meant “an older man.” The Greek word presbuteros has the same meaning and is the source of our word presbyter. When Paul had founded a number of churches in Asia, he appointed elders to be in charge of them (Acts 14:23). The elder was equivalent to the pastor and was the most common title for the person in charge of a local church (Acts20:17,28; Ti,1:5;1Pt.5:1-4). The elders were supported materially by their congregations, which were exhorted by the Apostle Paul to grant double honour (honorarium) to the elders who ruled (governed or directed) well their churches. Worthy of very special honour were those elders who laboured in preaching and teaching (Tm.5:17-19). Since the word “elders” is usually plural, it is assumed that each church had several elders; the probable reason being that the larger congregation had to meet often in smaller groups in homes of members (1Cor:11:20;16:15,19). Some have reasoned from the passage in 1Timothy 5:17 that there were both “ruling elders” and teaching elders” The elders were men of faith and spiritual power, for the sick, were directed to seek them out for anointing with oil and the prayer of faith:

Is any sick among you? Let him call for the ELDERS of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (Jas. 5:14,15).

G. Bishops (overseers).

The King James Version translates the Greek word episcopos (from which is derived our word “Episcopal”) with the English word “BISHOP.” A better translation of the would have been “OVERSEER,” which is the literal meaning. The Church of England’s influence can be seen in the use of the word “bishop.” In the New Testament, “bishop” and elder” are names for the same office, as can be seen clearly from a comparison of Titus 1:5,6 with 1:7-9, Acts 20:17, with 20:28, where the word “overseer” is from the same Greek word translated “bishop” in other passages. In New Testament times the bishop or overseer was over one church; it was not until the second century that the bishop or overseer came to be over several churches. After the passing of the Apostles, probably was a need for more extensive organization; it is regrettable that this trend led to the Roman Hierarch: (see also 1 Tm. 3:1-9, a passage in which qualifications for the office of overseer (elder, pastor) are set forth.)

H. Deacons.

The Bible makes it quite clear that the two set offices of the local church were those of the elder and the “DEACON.” Deacons are mentioned directly in only two passages (Phil. 1:1; 1Tm. 3:8-13); however, rather detailed qualifications for deacons are forth in the same chapter where the qualifications are given. The scriptures do not delineate the duties of deacons in the later New Testament church, but it is taken for granted that their duties had to do with the management of the charities and business affairs of the churches. The word “deacon” is from the Greek word diakonos which means “servant.” The deacons, then, served the church in such a way as to free the elders for prayer and the ministry of the word.

The first deacons were probably the seven who were chosen in the sixth chapter of Acts to serve tables and administer the charities to the widows of the Jerusalem church. They are not called deacons in Acts chapter six, but verb from of the word deacon is found in the clause “their widows were neglected in the daily MINISTRATION” (Acts 6:1). Two of the seven, Philip and Stephen, were also preachers, so it must not be assumed that deacons performed only menial tasks.

I. Ministers

The word “MINISTER” comes from the same Greek word that is translated as “deacon.” But there are a number of passages where the word diakonos cannot refer to the office of the deacon. For instance, Paul, writing to the Corinthians, said: “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollo’s, but MINISTERS by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?” (Cor. 3:5). And again, to the Ephesians’ church: “Whereof I was made a MINISTER, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power” (Eph.3:7). Paul refers to himself as a minister five times, and several times refers to his younger workers as ministers. The term apparently emphasizes the servanthood role of the preacher. The goal of the spiritual leaders is that of equipping the saints for “ministry” (Eph.4:12). All saints are expected to minister (verb), but the title “minister” (noun) is in every case used only of those called to spiritual leadership. When the pastor is called “the minister,” the title “minister” is being used in a perfectly scriptural way.

J. Lords (rulers).

The words “rule” and “ruler” are used several times in the King James Version to designate church leaders (Rom. 12:8; 1Tm. 5:17; Heb.13:17,24). The New American Standard Version employs the words “lead” and “leader,” which seem more appropriate. “Remember those who LED you, who spoke the Word of God to you… Obey your LEADERS and submit to them; for keep watch over you souls, as those who will give account… Greet all LEADERS and all the saints” (Heb.13:7,17,24,NASB).

There are some who are prone to depreciate leadership in the Church. That duly constituted and recognized leadership is biblical teaching is undeniable: “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are OVER YOU in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake “ (1Thes.5:12,13a).


A. Preaching and Teaching.

The primary mission of the Church is declared in “The Great Commission,” which Jesus gave to the Apostles before His Ascension. A form of the commission is found in all four Gospels and in the book of Acts, each writer reporting only a selected part of the total commission. Therefore, it will be necessary to examine all five occurrences of Jesus’ charge to the Church, in order to grasp the full scope of the commission.

Mark emphasizes the Church’s mission to “preach the gospel”. “…Go ye into the entire world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk.16:15). The importance of preaching may be indicated by the fact that the words for preaching are found more than 120 times in the New Testament. There are two principal Greek words translated “to preach”: (1) kerosso which means “to heralds” (as a royal proclamation) and (2) Evangelion which means “to preach the good news”; each of the above words occurs more than sixty (60) times. In addition to preaching as a mission of the Church, Mark also accents the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit that would accompany the preaching of the Gospel (Mk.16:17-20).

The part of “The Great Commission” reported in Luke’s gospel also emphasizes preaching: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Lk.24:47-49).

Luke’s gospel discloses some of the content of the Church’s preaching: “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His NAME. “This content can be summarized as follows: (1) unbelievers are called upon to repent of sins (2) the offer of the Gospel is forgiveness of sins (3) the Church’s preaching is in the NAME of Jesus (salvation from sin is by virtue of the Redeeming Word of Jesus). Luke records, both in his gospel and in Acts, the Lord’s charge regarding the necessary preparation for preaching: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost comes upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acta1:8,cf. lk. 24:49). (See also Jn. 20:21-23.)

According to both Luke and Acts, Jesus commissions the Church’s preachers to be His witnesses; they are not to preach the Gospel as hearsay, but herald what they first experienced: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1Jn. 1:3). (cf. Lk. 24:48; Acts 1:8;10:40-43; 1Cor.1:17-24;9:16).

Matthew’s account of “The Great Commission” emphasizes the TEACHING mission of the Church:

All authority has been given to me in heaven and in the earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, TEACHING them to observe all things that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Mt.28:8-20, NKJV). The dual ministry of the Church of preaching and teaching is evident throughout the book of Acts:

And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to TEACH and preach Jesus Christ

(Acts 5:42). And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ TEACHING (Acts 2:42,


And when he {Barnabas} had found him {Saul}, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and TAUGHT many people (Acts11:26a). (See also Acts 15:35; 18:11; 20:20; 28:31) Preaching is the recruiting and motivating ministry of the Church; teaching is the maturing ministry. Through preaching, new babes are born into God’s family; through teaching, the bebes are matured from milk to strong meat. It could be said that Church’s work is twofold: winning and weaning. (1Cor.3:1,2; Heb.5:12-14).

B. Discipline.

“The Great Commission” in Matthew’s gospel charged the Church to “Go and TEACH all nations” (28:19). The Greek word translated “teach” is matheteuo, which means “disciple.” A mission of the Church is that of “discipline all nations.” Discipline is more than teaching. One may teach by communicating a system of precepts. One disciple another by demonstrating truth with example. It is possible to tell others how to be victorious; but he who disciples others shows them, by example, the victorious life. Those who merely teach have pupils; those who disciple make followers-first of Jesus, then of the teacher. Paul said, writing to the Thessalonians:

For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of US and of the LORD, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that joy became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe (1Thes. 1:5-7, NKJV). The great strength of the local church is its Christian community life.

All learn from one another, draw strength from one another, and grow together, under a Spirit-filled ministry.

c. Fellowship:

The mission of the Church is to sustain a fellowship of believers. The Early Church was rich in fellowship: “And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and in FELLOWSHIP” (Acts 2:42). The Greek word for “fellowship”. Is koinonia, which means “that which is had in common, or shared,” “communion.” The passage in Acts goes on to define “fellowship”: “And all that believed were together, and had all things in comm.” (Acts2:44). The biblical word “fellowship “is frequently misunderstood and misapplied. In terms such as “fellowship circle,” “fellowship hall,” and “fellowship day,” the meaning of fellowship is related usually to games, dining, and social interaction. The above-mentioned activities, when they conform to biblical ethics, are perfectly innocent and useful to the life of the Church; but when we reserve the biblical word “fellowship” to refer to them, we sadly reduce our concept of fellowship (koinonia). The following are scriptural uses of koinonia: “The fellowship of ministering to the saints” (2Cor.8:4b-charities); “They gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship” (Gal.2:9-acceptance into the Body); “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery” (Eph.3:9a-participation in the Body); “For your fellowship in the gospel” (Phil.1:5a-participation in salvation); “If any fellowship of the Spirit” (Phil.2:1b-unity which the Spirit effects). Perhaps the Apostle John, in his first letter, summarizes the clearest applications of biblical fellowship:

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have FELLOWSHIP with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ… If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk-in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in light, we have FELLOWSHIP one with another….(1Jn.3,6,7).

Fellowship is, first of all, having a common relationship to the Father and the Son in the Body of Christ, where we are united by the Spirit in bonds of love, unity, and singleness of propose. This fellowship of believers extends to all mutual activities that are God-honoring, including dining together in the “fellowship hall.”

D. Worship:

Jesus said that the father seeks the worship of those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn.4:23). An important mission of the Church is to promote and sustain an atmosphere conducive to worship, prayer and praise: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the PRAISES of him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light…” (1Pt.2:9).

In the Old Testament, the worship of God was usually accompanied by the offering of animal sacrifices. The New Testament Church offers to God the sacrifice of PRAISE: “By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of PRAISE continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name (Heb. 13:15). “I urge you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1, NASB).

It is one of the works Holy Spirit to assist the believer in prayer, intercession, worship and praise. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses: for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26,NKJV).

An important aid in worship for the Spirit-filled believer is his prayer language, by which he is able to worship God more perfectly than he can by the sole means of the human intellect: For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God… however in the Spirit be speaks mysteries… He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” (1Cor.14:2,4a,NKJV). A spirit of worship, prayer and praise, almost without exception, has brought revival and growth to the Church.

E. Missions and Evangelism.

“The Great Commission” implied world evangelization. Jesus intended that the Gospel should be carried beyond Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. The Gospel was “good news” for all nations, even for “the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). However, it took devastating persecution to scatter the Gospel and the evangelists as far as Antioch (Acts:8:1;11:19,20). The Church has frequently needed special urging to get on with her assigned task. William Carey, called the father of modern missions, had to overcome strong resistance before he was freed to take the Gospel to India. The fact cannot be urged upon the Church too strongly that all nations have not yet been disciple, and the uttermost part of the earth has not been reached. Paul, the great missionary, challenged the Church with his testimony:

Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have FULLY preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: But as it is written, to whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand (Rom. 15:19-21).

(See also 1Cor. 10:14-16; Is. 52:10.)

F. Maturity of the Believer.

The Church has not completed its mission of making converts. A great part of the New Testament pertains to teaching, edifying and maturing the believer. Paul explains very clearly the Lord’s purpose for His Body, the Church:

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a MATURE man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children… but…we are to GROW UP in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:11-15,NASB).

The Bible speaks of growth and maturity in, and means of the following: (1) prayer, Col. 4:122) the Word of God, 1pt. 2:2; Col. 1:28; (3) the exercise of faith, 1Thes.3:10; (4) patience in testing, Jas. 1:2-4; 1Pt.1:7 ;(5) love, 1Thes. 1:3; Col. 3:14; 1Jn. 2:5; 4:12; (6) grace, 2Pt. 3:18; (7) Christian works, Heb. N13:21; (8) spiritual gifts, Rom. 1:11, cf. Heb. 6:1; 1Cor. 3:1,2; 2 Tm.2:15.

G. Ministry in the Home.

The mission of the Church extends into the home and concerns the life of the family, which fact is clear from the following:

1. Jesus had great concern and love for children, Mk.10:13-16.

2. In his epistles, Paul gives special instructions for all members of the Christian family, Eph. 5:33-6:4; Col.3:18-21.

3. The promise of the Holy Spirit was unto believers and their children, Acts2:39.

4. When Paul made converts, he followed by a witness to, or baptism of, the whole family, Acts 16:15, 34; 18:8.

5. Church elders and deacons were required to have well-regulated families, 1Tm.3:4,5,12; Ti.1:6.

6. Many of the early churches were home churches, where the Gospel influenced the whole family life, Col.4:15; Rom. 16:5; 1Cor. 16:19; Acts 21:4,58,9.

H. Ministry to Material Needs.

The Early Church had a sincere concern for the material needs of men, especially the Christian family. This social concern arose, no doubt, from the teaching of Jesus, cf. mt.25:34-46; Lk.10:25-37. The Church is not charged to preach a “social gospel” but the Church cannot escape the social implications of the Biblical Gospel. The Foursquare Church, inspired by the works of the founder, has from the beginning maintained a commissary work, from which millions have been ministered materially. That such ministry follows a scriptural precedent is seen in the following:

1. The church in Jerusalem maintained a food service for widows and in a time of crisis chose special leadership from among the most spiritual men to solve the problems, Acts 6:1-7.

2. When Dorcasa time of famine in Judea, the Christians of Joppa died, whose ministry was that of sewing garments for the poor and widowed, Peter raised her from the dead, returning her to her works of charity, Acts. 9:36-42.

3. In a time of famine in Judea, the Christians of Antioch, to a man, sent financial assistance, Acts.11:27-30.

4. During a later crisis, Paul and his workers took collections in all the Gentile churches for the poor saints in Jerusalem. Much of the book of 2Corinthians relates to these collections. The passage, “The Lord loveth a cheerful giver” (2Cor. 9:7b), has reference to giving for material needs, cf. 2Cor.8,9.

5. Special instructions for the care of widows is given in Paul’s letter to Timothy, 1Tm. 5:3-10.

6. Christ’s work of Redemption is for the whole person; spirit, soul and body.

The Church is the lord’s instrument for implementing his provided blessing. The church, as well as individual believers, must reflect the compassion of Jesus; compassion is often best expressed in sharing with the less fortunate. James wrote:

If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so, faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (Jas. 2:15-17).


The ORDINANCES of the local church are outward rites or symbolic observance commanded by Jesus, which set forth essential Christian truths. The term “ordinance” comes from the Latin word ordo, which means “row” or “order”; then, by extension, “something commanded and enforced by the proper authority.” The ordinances are something’s called SACRAMENTS. The words “sacrament originally had as a meaning “an oath of obedience taken by newly enlisted soldiers.” The ordinances can be defined as “the outward sign of an inward,” or “the visible sign of an invisible work of grace.” The ordinances observed by the Protestant churches are two in number, namely: Water Baptism and The Lord’s Supper.

While only two ordinances were clearly and unmistakably commanded by Jesus, it is interesting to note that during the history of the Church; as many as twelve outward observances have been referred to as sacraments. The Roman Catholic Church observes seven sacraments, namely: (1) baptism, (2) confirmation, (3) Eucharist (Mass), (4) penance, (5) extreme unction (anointing with oil of the sick), (6) Marriage, (7) orders (ordination of priests and consecration of nuns). However, the Early Church Fathers, generally recognized Baptism and The Lord’s Supper as the major sacraments. It was not until the twelfth century that Peter Lombard (1100-1164), in his Book of Sentences, defined the number of sacraments as seven (7); and it was until the Council of Florence in the year of 1439, that the seven sacraments were formally decreed by the Roman Church. It is important to observe that for more than a thousand years after Christ, no recognized Christian author declared the number of ordinances to be seven.

A. Water Baptism.

That Jesus established water baptism as an ordinance is made clear in “The Great Commission,” as reported by both Matthew and Mark (Mt.28:19; Mk. 16:16). Jesus, Himself, set an example for His Church by submitting to baptism by his forerunner, John the Baptist (Mt. 3:13-17). Peter reechoed the command to be baptized in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38,41). Throughout the book of Acts the Apostles observed the ordinance, baptizing their converts: Acts 8:12; 8:36-38; 9:18; 10:47,48;16:15; 16:33; 18:8; 19:5,6; 22:16. The spiritual significance of Water Baptism is taught in the epistles (Rom. 6:3; 1Cor. 10:2; Gal. 3:27).

1. THE MANNER of Water Baptism is immersion.

This is seen in the meaning of the Greek word baptize, which clearly means to immerse, even by the admission of scholars whose churches sprinkle, and by the biblical description of the manner of Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan.

2. The FORMULA for Water Baptism is clearly stated in “ The Great Commission” as “ in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

Statements about being baptized “in the name of Jesus” omit the longer formula, and emphasize the Christian baptism as distinct from John’s baptism.

The following from the Foursquare Declaration of Faith affirms belief in the doctrine of Water Baptism and explains the significance of the ordinance:

We believe that water baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, according to the command of our Lord, is a blessed outward sign of an inward work, a beautiful and solemn emblem reminding us that even as our Lord died upon the cross of Calvary so we reckon ourselves now dead indeed unto sin, and the old nature nailed to the tree with Him; and that even as He was taken down from the tree and buried, so we are buried with Him by baptism into His death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, should walk in newness of life.2

B. The Lord’s Supper.

Jesus, at His last Passover, instituted the ordinance of the taking of the bread and the fruit of the vine as a memorial of His Atoning Death: “This is my body which is given for you, this do in remembrance of me” (Lk. 22:19). In the book Acts, the observance of The Lord’s Supper is referred to by the term “the breaking of bread.” While the disciples frequently broke as a love feast of fellowship, the feast was concluded with The Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42,46; 20:7,11: 27:35). The clearest evidence that the Church observed The Lord’s Supper as a sacrament is found in the teaching of the Apostle Paul in 1Corinthians:

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed likes bread: and when he had given thanks, he brakes it, and said. Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he comes (1Cor. 11:23-26).

(See also 1Cor. 10:16-21; 11:20 22,27-34)

1. Observer the following points relative to the nature of The Lord’s supper:

(a) It is an act of obedience to the ordinance, it is kept out of obedience to the Head of the Church (1Cor.11:23,24).

(b) It is a memorial to the Atoning Death and shed blood of Jesus (1Cor.11:24; Lk. 22:19).

(c) It is a proclamation, an act of confession by the Church, of faith in the efficacy of Christ’s Atoning Work, “ye do show forth the Lord’s death” (1Cor. 11:26).

(d) It is a statement of anticipation of Return of Christ to finalize His Redeeming Work, “ye do show forth the Lord’s till He comes” (1Cor.11:26).

(e) It is an experience of communion with the Lord in which the participant receives by faith the strength and blessing of fellowship with the Savior, “The bread which we break, is it not the communion (koinonia) of the body of Christ?” (1Cor.10:16).

(f) It is a communion (koinonia) of believers at the Lord’s table, and a statement of the oneness of the Body of Christ (1Cor.10:17)

2. Regarding the nature of the element of The Lord’s Supper, there are four views:

a) Transubstantiation, the view of the Roman Catholic Church According to this view, the elements, when blessed by the priest, are changed into the actual physical body and blood of Jesus. This view is contradicted by experience, for it has never been shown by any test that the elements are anything but bread and the fruit of the vine. It is also contradicted by logic, for Jesus was still in His physical body when He instituted the ordinance and said of the bread, “this is my body.”

b) Consubstantiation, held by Martin Luther. According to this view, the elements are unchanged, but the actual body and blood of Jesus are “present with” the elements. These views are nowhere upheld by Scripture. Further, they encourage superstition and overemphasize the physical over the spiritual blessings of The Lord’s Supper.

c) The observance of the supper is merely a memorial act that mediates no blessing. This is the other extreme to the Catholic and Lutheran views.

d) The elements, when received by faith, mediate to the believer the spiritual benefits of Christ’s Death, held by Calvin and the majority of the reformers. The elements in themselves are only tokens, but when received by faith, real communion with the lord is experienced and the benefits of that communion may be mediated. This seems to be the more scriptural view. (see 1Cor. 10:16;11:27,28,29).

A word needs to be said about the warning against “eating and drinking UNWORTHILY” (1 Cor. 11:27-29). Many believers who have misunderstood these warnings have abstained from The Lord’s Supper unnecessarily. It should be noted that “unworthily” is an adverb modifying the verbs “eateth” and “drinketh,” and has to do with the MANNER of partaking, not with the unworthiness of the persons. The warning referred to the greedy and intemperate manner of the Corinthians described in 1 Corinthians 11:20-22. No one is “worthy” in himself to have communion with Jesus, but we have the privilege by virtue of the Atoning Work which the elements symbolize. However, participants need to examine themselves in relation to their manner of taking, and their attitude toward other believers. Participants, furthermore, should be certain to discern the Lord’s body, and not partake in an irreverent or frivolous manner. Partaking in faith can bring great blessing, even spiritual and physical healing (1 Cor.11:29,30).

The Foursquare Declaration of Faith states, regarding The Lord’s Supper.

We believe in the commemoration and observing of the Lord’s Supper by the sacred use of the broken bread, a precious type of the Bread of life even Jesus Christ, whose body was broken for us; and by the juice of the vine, a blessed type which should ever remind the participant of the shed blood of the Savior who is the True Vine of which His children are the branches; that this ordinance is a glories rainbow that spans the gulf of the years between Calvary and the coming of the Lord….3


While wise, Spirit-directed organization helps the Church to carry out its mission, the church is not by nature an organization, but rather, an organism. The Church is a living being, whose Divine life is provided by the indwelling Spirit of Christ (Rom.8:9).

A. The Vital Relationship to the Head.

The Lord Jesus, after His earthly mission, ascended to the right hand of the Father; but in a real sense, He is still in the world manifested through. His Body, the Church. Paul expresses this relationship as follows: “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the HEAD over all things to the church; which is his BODY, the FULLNESS of Him that filleth all in all,(Eph. 1:22,23).

The Church is Christ’s body, by which He fulfils His earthly mission (Christ’s fullness). The last two verses of Mark’s gospel express dramatically the relationship of Christ to the Church: “The Lord-Jesus therefore, on the one hand; after talking with them was taken up into heaven, and sat down on the right hand of God; they on the other hand, going forth, proclaimed on every side, the Lord coworking, and confirming the Word through closely following signs” (Mk. 16:19,20, Rotherham).

Jesus returned to the Father, but just before He left He promised, “Lo I am with you always.” He is with us, as a head is with a body. He is still working on earth more powerfully than before (Jn. 14:12); the members of His Church are His arms and legs and mouth. The Church is the extension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus expressed this relationship with a different metaphor in John chapter fifteen: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).

The branches are to the vine what the body is to the head; in fact, the branches are the body of the vine. As the branches of the vine bear fruit, so the work of Christ in the world must be done by the body (the Church); but also, as the branches can do nothing severed from the vine, so the body can accomplish nothing without the life and direction of the head (the Lord Jesus).

B. The Unity of the Body; ‘

One of the strongest emphases of the “body” metaphor is that of the

UNITY of the many members of the Church. The Church (body) of Christ

is not merely a collection of individuals who subscribe to its philosophy;

the Church is an organism, of which the members are interrelated parts.

Paul describes the unity of the Church in 1 Corinthians chapter twelve:

But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body,

as it hath pleased Him… But now are they many members, yet

but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need

of you…And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer

with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it

Foundations of Pentecostal Theology

(1 Cor. 12:18,20,21,26).

There are many ministries in the Church, but they are all coordinated by the Spirit to achieve one purpose: “the equipping of the saints for service” (Eph. 4:12); there are many gifts of the Spirit, but they are all exercised in harmony to accomplish one end: “the edifying of the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:4-7; 14:5,12,26); there are many methodologies employed by the church, but they have one goal: ‘that the gospel of the kingdom is preached in all the world for a witness” (Mt. 24:14; 28:19,20; Mk. 16:15).

C. The Importance of Each Member in the Body.

No member of the Body of Christ is unimportant or unnecessary:

And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor

again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more

those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are

necessary… That there should be no schism in the body; but that

the members should have the same care one for another (1 Cor.

V- 12:21,22,25).

Dr EF. Bruce, commenting on the above-quoted passage from 1 Corinthians chapter twelve, remarks: “No member is less a part of the body than any other member: all are necessary. A variety of organs, limbs and functions is of the essence of bodily life. No organ could establish a monopoly in the body by taking over the functions of the others. A body consisting of a single organ would be a monstrosity.

D. Submission in the Body

There are many members of the Body of Christ; but there is but one Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. The members cannot function properly without full submission to the Head who provides direction to the whole Body (1 Cor. 12:4-7): “And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to he head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:22). There are four respects in which the Christian believer must practice submission:

1. Submission to God, and to His Son Jesus, Eph. 5:24; Heb. 2:8; 12:9;Jas.4:7.

2. Submission to the God-appointed leaders of the Church, Heb. 13:17; 1 Cor. 13:16; Phil. 2:12; 1Thes. 5:12,13.

3. Submission one to another in Christ, Eph. 5:21-6:9; 1 Pt. 5:5. 4. Submission to rulers of society, when such submission does not require disobedience to the plain teaching of Scripture: Acts. 4:19,20; 5:29; Horn. 13:1-7; 1 Pt. 2:13-17.

E. The Body of Christ and the Local Church.

The Universal Body of Christ consists of the total number of genuine Christian believers of all ages, in Heaven and on earth. It needs to be

4 Frederick Fyvie Bruce, The New Century Bible Commentary: 1 and 2 Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Win. B, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978).


pointed out, however, that the New Testament Scriptures address all earthly believers as functioning members of some local church. Unfortunately, there are many professing Christians who think of themselves as belonging to the “mystical” Body of Christ, who believe that local church relationship is optional or unnecessary. The following facts argue for the needs of local church relationships:

1. Jesus assumed that His people would be related to a local church.

Because the Church’s founding was yet future, Jesus refers to it by name only twice. The second reference pertained to cases of disagreements between brethren, in which Jesus instructed: “And if he shall neglect to hear them (witnesses), tell it unto the CHURCH: but if he neglects to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an. heathen man and a publican” (Mt..18:17). It is obvious that a church that can arbitrate disputes among believers is a local church to which members are in submission to the Lord.

2. All the epistles of the New Testament are addressed to local churches or to leaders of local churches.

3. All ministries, which are God’s gifts, are given to the local bodies to equip saints for ministry to one another.

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers can minister only to saints who assemble together in fellowship (Eph. 4:11-16).

4. Believers are commanded by Jesus to partake of the holy communion together until His Returned (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

5. The operation of the gifts of the Spirit can function only in a local body.

Speaking of the operation of the gifts, Paul said: “Seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church” (1 Cor.. 14:12).,

6. As members of the Body of Christ, believers are related not only to Christ, the “Head,” but they are related one to another in the Body.

“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Rom. 12:5). An arm that decided to sever all relations with the rest of the body would be useless, even though it had communication with the head: for it would need blood pumped by the heart and purified by the lungs and kidneys. (1 Cor. 12:14-17).

7. We are told that God places members in the body as it pleases Him (1 Cor. 12:18).

8. In order for Christians to carry out the commission of Christ, there must be fellowship, growth of the visible church, and the mutual work of evangelism and worldwide missions (Acts 2:41-47; 11:26-30; 13:1-3).

F. Body Ministry.

The concept of the Church as the BODY OF CHRIST has been given new emphasis in recent years. This new emphasis has led to important insights for worship and ministry. Too often ministry has been viewed as coming- exclusively from a rostrum or pulpit and only by designated clergy- When ministry is so conceived, the members of the congregation become mere spectators, whose only activity is that of .filling the pews. The Bible’s picture of body life does not support such a limited view of ministry. God has, indeed, placed spiritual leadership in the Church to preach and teach; but the object of their preaching, teaching and pastoral care is that of perfecting the saints to minister one to another and to the world:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children. ..but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ (Eph. 4:11-15, NKJV).

From this concept of body ministry as expressed by the Apostle Paul, several facts are clear:

1. It is the Lord’s intention that every member of the Body of Christ should have a ministry.

Every member of a human body contributes to the preservation, growth, health and activity of that body; if some members do not function disease results. Many of the ills of the church have been the result of a non-functioning membership. To achieve total participation in the work and worship of the church, God has provided spiritual leadership to equip and mature the saints, and the gifts of the Spirit to empower and give direction to them. (The Bible mentions some thirty (30) gifts of the Spirit which will be treated specifically in another section.)

2. The central purpose of body ministry is that of the edification of the whole church (Eph. 4:12).

The test of the value and validity of body ministry, and of the exercise of the gifts, is in whether they edify the Body of Christ. Peter wrote: “As every man hath received the gift, even so, minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pt. 4:10). Ministry and gifts are stewardship. The believer’s gift is not given primarily for his edification; it is stewardship for others, for the church family.

3. When the whole body ministers in unity and love, the result is

spiritual and numerical growth:

“From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes GROWTH of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16). Much is being said today about church growth. Optimum growth of the church “cannot be accomplished by the efforts of church leaders, pastors, evangelists and missionaries alone: ideal growth results only when the entire church ministers. . .

4. When the whole church ministers, there must be present: the adhesive force of LOVE.

Unless total church participation is motivated by and carried out in, a spirit of love and submission to leadership, the growth accomplished may” be transient and the ministry performed may be less than edifying. “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Pt. 1:22). (See also, 1 Cor. 13; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:2,3,15,16; -3:17-19; Phil. 2:1-5; Col. 3:12-15; 1 Thes. 5:12,13.) .


The phrases “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” are found more than eighty (80) times in the New Testament. The kingdom of God is obviously an important subject. Several questions arise, however, in relation to the identity and manifestation of the kingdom of God: What is meant by the word “kingdom”? Is the kingdom of God an inner spiritual reality, or is it an outwardly visible rule? Who are the subjects of the kingdom? Are the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven identical? What relationship does the Church have to the kingdom of God? Is the kingdom of God present or future? These and other questions will be addressed, and as far as possible, answers from Scripture will be supplied. A. The Meaning of the Word “Kingdom.”

The Greek word basileia from which the word “KINGDOM” is derived has two principal meanings:, (1) “a king’s rule, reign, dominion, or authority” and (2) “the territory or people over whom a king reigns.” W.E. Vine defines basileia as follows: “Basileia is primarily an abstract noun, denoting sovereignty, royal power, dominion, e.g., Rev. 17:18, translated which reigneth,’ lit. “hath a kingdom’ (R.V. marg.); then, by metonymy, a concrete noun, denoting the territory or people over whom a king rules” e.g., Matt. 4:8; Mark 3:24.”5 In the Greek Old Testament, basileia translates the Hebrew word malkut which likewise has two meanings: (1) “royal reign” (Dn 1:1) and then, (2) “king’s domain.” The word “kingdom” is used most frequently in the New Testament with the first meaning of “reign” or “royal power.” Regarding the meaning of the word “kingdom,” Dr Ladd says: “The primary meaning of the New Testament word for the kingdom, basileia, is reign’ rather than ‘realm’ or “people.’ A great deal of attention in recent years has been devoted by critical scholars to this subject, and there is practically unanimous agreement that ‘regal power, authority is more basic to basileia than realm’ or ‘people.

5. William Edwy Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Publishing Company, 1958), 294-296..

6. George E. Ladd, Crucial Questions About the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Win. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977) 78.

B. Is The Kingdom of God Present or Future?

The kingdom of God is both present and future. The kingdom as the realm of God’s people of all dispensations, over which Christ will reign in ‘. righteousness is yet future; it will begin with the Second Coming of Christ (2 Tm. 4:1; Rv. 11:15). The kingdom as the “reign” or “royal power” of God is present in the Redeeming Work of Jesus who came to destroy the works of the Devil. Dr Ladd states:

The kingdom has come in that the powers of the future kingdom

have already come into history and into human experience through the supernatural ministry of the Messiah which has effected the defeat of Satan. Men may now experience the reality of the reign of God. In the future eschatological kingdom, Satan will be utterly destroyed, cast into a lake of fire and brimstone (Rev. 20:10) that men may be freed from every influence of evil. However, God’s people need not wait for the coming of the future kingdom to know what it means to be delivered from Satanic power. The presence of Christ on earth had for its purpose the defeat of Satan, his binding, so that God’s power may be a vital reality in the experience of those who yield to God’s reign by becoming the disciples of Jesus. In Christ, the kingdom, in the form of its power, has come among men.

C. Is The Kingdom Inward and Spiritual, or Outwardly Visible?

The future (eschatological) kingdom will be an outwardly manifested kingdom over which Christ will reign in power and glory. It will prevail over the whole earth and will fulfil the Old Testament prophecies to the faithful remnant of Israel, concerning the Messiah’s reign upon the throne of David (Is. 9:6,7; 11:1-10; 24:23; 32:1; Dn. 2:44; 7:18,27; Mi. 4:7). The New Testament saints will rule and reign with Christ as kings and priests (Mt. 25:21,23; 1 Tm. 6:14,15; Rv. 5:9,10; 19:14-16; 20:4-6). The one-thousand-year reign of Christ over the earth is known as His “Millennial Reign.” Although the word “millennium” does not occur in the Bible, it is the Latin word for “thousand years” (Rv. 20:4-6).

On the other hand, the present (soteriological) kingdom of Christ is spiritual and invisible, for it consists of the kingship, power and authority of Jesus as Savior and Destroyer of Satan. That the kingdom of Jesus was spiritual is made clear by two statements of Jesus. In the first, to the Pharisees, in answer to their question about when the kingdom would come, He said: “The kingdom of God cometh not with OBSERVATION: Neither shall they say, Lo here! nor, lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is WITHIN you or in your midst” (Lk. 17:20b,21). In the second, to Pilate who asked Him if he were a king, He answered: “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn. 18:36,37). Jesus goes on to say, however, that He was born to be a king over the realm of Divine Truth and that “every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God … Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3,5). The born again ones enter into His kingdom of the Divine saving truth of the Gospel. Jesus’ present kingdom on earth is a kingdom of GOSPEL, a fact which relates to the reason why the Gospel is called the “gospel of the kingdom” (Mt. 4:23,24; 9:15; 24:14; Mk. 1:14; Lk. 4:43). (c.£, Acts 1:3; 8:12; 19:8; 28:23,31.) Those who accept the Gospel of Jesus also accept Him as sovereign Lord and Master and enter into His kingdom becoming “citizens of heaven” (Phil. 3:20, NTV, NASB). The Gospel is the central message of Jesus’ present kingdom or “kingship,” but this is not an abstract or passive gospel, but a dynamic gospel that is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). Writing to the Thessalonians about the Gospel, Paul said: “For our GOSPEL did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (.1 Thes. 1:51 The result of Paul’s preaching to the Thessalonians was that they ‘”turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thes. 1:9b). That Lie believer presently enters the kingdom of God is clearly declared: “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:13, NASB). Jesus plainly declared that He brought the “kingdom” into this present age in the form of “dominion” over Satan and his realm of darkness: “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God comes upon you” (Lk. 11:20). The spiritual nature of the present “reign” of God is affirmed by Paul in Romans: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17). D. Are The Church and the Kingdom of God Identical?

The final and complete manifestation of the “eschatological kingdom of God is yet future; but the power, authority and message of the kingdom were introduced into the present age by Jesus, and bestowed upon the Church, to whose Apostles He said, “Upon this rock will I build my church;..”. And I will give unto you the KEYS OF THE KINGDOM of heaven” (Mt. 16:18,19a). The kingdom of God as a “domain” of God is yet to come, but the kingdom as “dominion” has already broken into the present age and the Church mm rises the power of the kingdom. The Church is not identical to the kingdom of God, for the kingdom is larger than the Church; however, the Church is the present instrument of the kingdom and will inherit the kingdom (Jas. 2:5; 2 Pt. 1:11).

The ultimate kingdom of God will include, not only the Church, but the Old Testament saints, the future regathered remnant of Israel, and the righteous nations that will be a part of the Millennial reign of Jesus (Mt. 25:32,33; Rv. 20:4,7,8; Is. 66:18-23; Jer. 3:16-18; 23:3-6; 31:10-12; Zec.14:8,9). :”

E. Is the Kingdom of Heaven Different from the Kingdom of God?

Some Bible scholars (including the Scofield Chain Reference Bible editors, see footnotes on Mt. 3:2) teach that “the kingdom of heaven,” found only in Matthew, usually refers to professing Christendom, while “the kingdom of God,” used by Mark, Luke and John, refers to God’s sovereign reign. There is no doubt that Jesus, in His parables, sometimes extends the “kingdom” concept to include the sphere of outward profession (Tares and Wheat, Mt. 13:24-30); however, a close comparison of the two terms “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven,” as they are used in all four Gospels, will show that they have the same meaning: For instance, in the Beatitudes, Matthew’s gospel says that the poor will inherit the kingdom of heaven, while in Luke’s gospel they will inherit the kingdom of God (Mt. 5:3; Lk. 6:20); in Matthew, the disciples are sent forth to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand; while in Luke, they announce that the kingdom” of God is at hand (Mt. 10:6,7; Lk. 9:2). (See also Mt. 4:17; Mk. 1:15.) In the very context where Jesus refers to the parables (including that of the Tares and Wheat) as teaching the “mysteries of the kingdom, “Matthew’s gospel refers to them as mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (13:11), while in Mark’s gospel (4:11) they are mysteries of the kingdom of God. In one passage in Matthew, Jesus uses both terms in the same figure of speech with exactly the same meaning (Mt. 19:23,24); in one sentence, “it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven”; in the next, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for the rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” It is obvious from these comparisons that the terms “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” were completely interchangeable in usage.


The metaphors of the Church as the “body of Christ” and as “a holy nation,” treated above, were given special consideration: The Church as the Body of Christ because of its scriptural prominence and contemporary application; the Church as a holy nation or “kingship” because of differences in interpretation of the word “kingdom.” However, the metaphors applied to the Church in Scripture are many, and properly so, because no one metaphor can fully express the relationship of believers to Christ, to one another, and to the world. Treatment will be given to twenty-four (24) additional metaphors, each of which adds something to the total concept of the CHURCH.

” A. The Church as the Lord’s Family.

Jesus introduces us to the family relationship, teaching us to pray “Our Father Who art in heaven” (Mt. 6:9; Lk. 11:2). God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is also OUR Father. Jesus prayed using the Aramaic word ABBA; according to Romans 8:15, the believer in the spirit of adoption cries “Abba, Father.” If we, together with our Lord Jesus, call God “Father,” then Jesus is our elder brother in the family of God (Heb. 2:10,11). The author of Hebrews declares that believers are members of God’s family: “But Christ was faithful as a Son in the household of His own Father, and we are members of this household [family, Beck] if we hold on to the end” (Heb. 3:6, Phillips). As families are normally proud of the family name, so the Church family exults in the Father’s name (Eph.3:14,15). As families receive an inheritance from the father, the Church awaits the heavenly Father’s promised inheritance (Rom..8:17). As good families observe a certain pattern of conduct, there is a given standard of behaviour for God’s household (1 Tm. 3:15). In the Old Testament, the father of each household was, in effect, the priest over the household (Num.7:2); Jesus has become the High Priest over God’s Church family (Heb. 10:21-23; 2:17,18). The idea of the Church as God’s family and household is derived from the Old Testament where God’s people are the house (family) of Israel, a nation grown from the family of Jacob, nurtured through family culture. That the Church is called God’s family and household testifies to the basic importance of the family as a societal institution. In the New Testament, especially in Acts, much is made of the effect of the Gospel upon entire families: Acts 2:46; 5:42; 12:12; 16:15,33,34; 21:8,9; 1 Cor. 1:16; 16:15; 2 Tm. 4:19. Although in the Old Testament, God is spoken of as the Father of the whole house of Israel (Is. 5:7; Ps. 98:3), He is never referred to as the Father of an individual. Apparently, calling God “Father” is a privilege reserved for believers in Jesus Christ the Son.

B. The Church as a Fellowship of Believers.

The Greek word for “fellowship” is koinonia, which means “those having something in common.” It came to be applied to “those belonging to a society.” Koinonia was applied to the Church as those having common salvation through a common faith in God and in His Son Christ Jesus: “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 1:3, NKJV; c.f. 1 Cor. 1:9). As soon as the Church came into being, a strong fellowship of faith, -worship and service were established: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and FELLOWSHIP, and in breaking of bread and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). The metaphor of the “family” stresses the idea of a common “Father;” the metaphor of the “fellowship” stresses the idea of a common mission, purpose, worship and action.

In America, there is a strong inclination to privacy and individualism, but the Great Seal of the United States contains the motto, E Pluribus Unum, meaning “in any ones,” one nation indivisible. Only a strong sense of unity makes a great society. The Church is God’s new society, held together by the unity of the Spirit. Luke says about the apostolic church:

“And all that believed were together, and had all things common” (Gr., koinos) (Acts 2:44). The hook of Ephesians in the New Testament epistle in which the doctrine of the Church is most fully developed. Ephesians does not use the word koinonia, but it is the only New Testament book to use the term TRINITY* (Eph. 4:3-6,13). The Church as God’s koinonia stresses the idea of a “society” whose primary characteristics are unity and love. One practical expression of the Church’s love was that of sharing with the needy. Koinonia is sometimes translated as “communicate,” with the meaning of extending material help to the poor and to those overtaken by misfortune. (See Phil. 4:14; 1 Tm. 6:18; Heb. 13:16; also Acts 2:45; 2 Cor. 8:4: 9:13; Gal. 2:10; Rom. 12:13.) The church’s koinonia (also “translated “communion”) is celebrated at The Lord’s Supper, which symbolizes our common redemption by Christ’s Atoning Death on the Cross (1 Cor. 10:16,17; 11:23-34). John R.W. Start, in a new commentary on Ephesians, wrote concerning its message:

The letter focuses on what God did through the historical work of Jesus Christ and does through His Spirit today, in order to build His new society in the midst of the old. We have been raised from spiritual death, exalted to heaven and seated with Him there. We have also been reconciled to God and to each other. As a result, through Christ, and in Christ, we are nothing less than God’s society, the single new humanity which He is creating and which includes Jews and Gentiles on equal terms. We are the family of God the Father, the body of Jesus Christ His Son, and the temple and dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Therefore we are to demonstrate plainly and visibly by our new life the reality of this new thing which God has done: first by the unity… of our common life, secondly by the purity and love of our everyday behaviour.

C. The Church as a Team of Athletes.

Athletic events were as common in the Greek and Roman world as they are today. Paul, who was a keen observer, frequently used the “athletic” metaphor. (See 1 Cor. 9:24-26; Gal. 2:2; 5:7; Phil. 2:16; 2 Tm. 2:5; 4:7; Heb. 12:1; 1 Tm. 6:12). The passage with the athletic metaphor that .best applies to the Church is: “That ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind STRIVING TOGETHER for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). The Greek word translated “striving together” is sunathieo, from athleo (our “athletics”) meaning to “compete as an athlete,” and sun which means “with” or “together.” Paul wants to hear from the Philippians that they are in unity, “playing as a team.” The Church’s greatest advancement and growth have not been the result of individual efforts, but the result of the mutual effort and teamwork of the whole family of God. If Christian believers are like a team of athletes, they will display such characteristics as dedication, teamwork, cooperation, self-denial, self-control and unity.

D. The Church as the Lord’s Army.

The idea of the Church as an army would probably not be a pleasant one for many, particularly for young people. However, the Bible often refers to the battle against the powers of darkness in which the Church is engaged. Some of our aversion to the military metaphor is removed when we remember that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations — and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4,5). The believer is further exhorted: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:11,12). The Church is engaged in real warfare, but Christ is our Captain and we are assured of victory; in fact, Satan is already a defeated foe, (See 2 Tm. 2:3,4; I Tin. 1:18; Eph. 6:10-17; 1 Cor. 9:7; 1 PL 2:11; Rv. 19:11-21; 20:7). The Church on earth is called the church militant; the Church in Heaven is called the church triumphant.

E. The Church as the Lord’s Flock. :

The pastoral metaphor is a very familiar one. The spiritual leader of the local church is usually called the “PASTOR” and the congregation is frequently referred to as the “FLOCK”. The first eighteen verses of the tenth chapter of John speak of Christ as the Good Shepherd and of His followers as the sheep of His fold. Although the word “pastor” as the spiritual leader is found only once in the New Testament, both Paul and Peter give vivid examples of the pastoral metaphor Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock .; .to feed [shepherd] the church of God” (Acts 20:28); “Feed [shepherd] the flock of God which is among you … being examples to the flock; and when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away* (1 PL 5:2-4). Peter would well remember the words of Jesus, spoken after the Resurrection, which were three times repeated: “Lovest thou me?”, “Feed my lambs” and “feed my sheep” (JIL 21:15-17). (See Ps. 23:1; 801; 100:3; 2 Sm. 7:7; Jer. 31:10; Mk. 6:34; Eph. 4:11; Heb. 13:20; Rv. 7:17.) F. The Church as the Lord’s School.

More than fifty (50) times Jesus is called or referred to as “Master” or Teacher” (both from the Greek word didaskalos, from the verb didasko which means “to teach”) or “Rabbi.” The Gospels have much more to say about Jesus as a teacher than as a Preacher. That the local church was intended to be a teaching place is inferred by The Great Commission: “Having gone, then, DISCIPLE all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, TEACHING them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you; and behold, I am with you all the days until the completion of the age” (Mt. 28:19,20, IGEB) (cf. NVV, NASB, NKJV, BSV, JB, etc. on Mt. 28:19). Jesus used two different, words for “teach” in His commission: the first is matheteuo (28:19), meaning “to make disciples”; and the second didasko (28:20), which is the common word for “to teach.” The emphatic term in the commission is “make disciples”; “go” and “teaching” are participles which are subordinate to the Verb, “make disciples.” Making disciples involved both teaching and Preaching; but it required more, namely, bringing the adherents to a level of discipleship to which the teachers had been brought. Teaching and Preaching may often fall on deaf ears, but he who disciples bring his followers by word and example to be like himself. However, we do not make men our disciples, but disciples of Jesus.

Jesus’ method of discipline is revealed in a passage in Mark’s gospel: “And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He wanted, and they called to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have the power to heal sickness and to cast out demons” (Mk. 3:13-15, NKJV). Mark lists three aspects of making disciples: (1) “that they might BE WITH HIM” (learning by example) (2) “that He might send them out TO PREACH” (learning to communicate) and (3) “and to have the power to HEAL sicknesses and to CAST OUT DEMONS” (learning to minister). None of these aspects is learned by mere verbal instruction; the pupil must imbibe of his master’s spirit, as Elisha took upon himself the mantle of his teacher, Elijah. The word “disciple” was the first name given to the early Christians (Acts 11:36)- The crowning virtue that characterizes one as a disciple of Jesus is that of LOVE (Jn. 13:35) (See also: Mk. 8:34; Jn. 1:43; 21:19-22; Lk. 5:11,27,28; 1 Thes. 1:6,7; 1 Pt. 2:21; 5:3; 1 Tm. 1:16; 4:12; Ti. 2:7). G. The Church as Servant or Steward.

The principal words of the church, life are servanthood words: “minister” or “ministry” from the Greek diakonos, Diakoniaa which means “servant, service,* probably originally “ode who served tables” (Jn. 12:26); “servant” from doulos, meaning “slave” (Mt. 24:45; 25:14; Gal. 5:13); “steward” from oikonomos, who was the “servant who administered the household” (Lk. 12:42; 1 Cor. 4:1,2; ^ 1:7; 1 Pt. 4:10). Two other words translated “minister” are hyperetes, which Originally meant “a servant who rowed a ship” (Acts 13:5), and lentigoss, meaning a “public servant” who served the community at his own expense (Rom. 15:16).

That all Christian officers, ministers, workers, and leaders are SERVANTS is seen from the following:

(1) The example Jesus set by assuming the place of a servant (Mk. -10:42-45; Mt. 20:27,28).

(2) The spirit of the world is to lord it over other people; the Lord’s ministers serve one another (1 Pt. 5:3; 1 Cor. 9:19; Gal. 5:13; Lk. 22:24-28). – –

(3) The believer’s service -is stewardship of which he will give -account (Mt. 25:14-30), and the greatest virtue in stewards is to be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:1,2; Mt. 25:21).

(4) Believers are to be in subjection to one another, and to those who are placed over them in the Lord; furthermore, leadership and guidance are ministries in themselves (Eph. 5:21; 1 Thes. 5:12; Acts 20:28; 1 Pt. 5:2,3; Heb. 13:7,17,24).

(5) Paul, who had apostolic authority, called himself a “servant of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:1).

(6) Words expressing servanthood are used more than 300 times in the New Testament.

(7) The charge to all mature believers is to minister, that is, to serve one another (Eph. 4:12).

H. The Church as a Building.

The metaphor of the Church as a building is suggested in the following scripture passages: 1 Cor. 3:9-15; Eph. 2:20-22; Mt. 16:18; 21:42; 1 Pt. 2:4-7; Lk. 6:46-49; Acts 4:11; Rom. 15:20; Ps. 118:22. From these scriptures, several architectural figures are derived:

(1) Christ is the Foundation and the “Chief Cornerstone” of the Church; it is worthy of note that Psalms 118:22, The stone which the builders refused is become the head of the corner,” quoted by Peter in 1 Peter 2:7, is found five (5) times in the New Testament: Mt. 21:42; Mk. 12:10,11; Lk. 20:17; Acts 4:11. (See also Is. 8:14; 28:16; Dn. 2:34,35; Rom. 9:32,33.)

(2) Believers are the building materials or “lively stones.”

(3) Ministers are said to be builders, Christ being the master Builder and Architect.

(4) There are no isolated “stones,” all are built into the building.

(5) Believers must take heed as to what kinds of materials they are, and how they build (1 Cor. 3:9-15).

I. The Church as a Mystery.

One of Paul’s strongest concepts of the Church was that of the Church as a “mystery.” It must be noted that the Bible word “mystery” has a different meaning from that attached to it in modern English. In ancient Greece, the mysteries were secrets of the mystery religions, revealed only to those initiated into them. The secrets were not mysterious in the modern use of the term; they were understandable by the initiated. God’s mysteries are truths that could be known only by Divine revelation concerning Redemption and the Church; they are revealed to believers in the Scriptures. One of the mysteries is the Church, which was not revealed in the Old Testament. The prophets predicted that God would bless the Gentiles, but they did not reveal that Gentile believers would share equally with Israel in the Body of Christ.

To be specific, the Gentiles are fellow-heirs and fellow-members of the body; and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel (Eph. 3:4-6; NASB; Col. 1:25-27). Paul considered that God had given him a special ministry to declare the doctrine of the church as a mystery (Eph. 3:3,4). The glory of this “mystery” is said to be the truth and fact of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). J. The Church as the Lord’s Field.

The Bible frequently employs the agricultural metaphor. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “Ye are God’s husbandry [field]” (1 Cor. 3:6-9). In God’s field (the Church) there are planters, cultivators, and reapers, but it is God who gives the increase. Workers must not quarrel over their relative importance; God calls and places each in his Divinely determined office. The workers are indispensable, but the Divine “husbandman” gives the vine its life and growth (Jn. 15:1,2). Diligent work in God’s field brings reward; Paul wrote to Timothy: “The hardworking farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops” (2 Tm. 2:6). The agricultural parable- In Matthew chapter thirteen speak of the seed (the Word), different soils (hearers of the Word), and varying degrees of yield: thirty, sixty, and one hundredfold (Mt. 13:3-8,18-23). K. The Church as a Royal Priesthood.

Peter introduces the metaphor of the Church as a royal priesthood:

You… are being built up a spiritual house, a holy PRIESTHOOD,

to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus

Christ (1R. 2:5, NKJV).

But you are a chosen generation [race], a royal PRIESTHOOD, a

a holy nation, His special people, that you may proclaim the

praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous

light Pt.2:9,NJKV).

The Church no longer needs priests, in the Old Testament sense, to offer up animal sacrifices; Christ Jesus has made, once for all, the perfect Atoning Sacrifice of Himself for, our Redemption. The Church, however, offers up “spiritual sacrifices” of praise, worship, and thanksgiving to God (Heb; 13:15). The Church also intercedes and prays for rulers and all Mankind (1 Tm. 2:14).

One of the great truths of the Church is that of the “priesthood of all believers.” Every believer in Christ has access to the throne of God by the merits of Jesus: “For through Him, we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:14-18, NKJV). (See also Heb. 4:14-16.)

As “priests,” believers have been given a ministry of reconciliation: “God has given us the ministry of reconciliation… and has committed to us the word of reconciliation, therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:18-20). In consecration, the believer offers himself to God as a “bring sacrifice” holy and acceptable (Rom.’ 12:1).

Other sacrifices which the believer offers to God are: “brotherly love” (Eph. 5:1,2), “good works” (Heb. 13:16), “material possessions” to assist others (Heb. 13:16), and “ministry” for others (Phil. 2:17).

L. The Church as the Bride of Christ. ‘.

One of the most attractive metaphors of the Church is that of the

Church as the BRIDE of Christ. This metaphor is used by John the

Baptist, (Jn. 3:29), by the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:21-32); and by the Apostle John (Rv. 19:7-9). There is a strong relationship between this metaphor and that of the Church as the Body of Christ. The following applications may be drawn from the analogy of the Church as Christ’s bride:

(1) It provides a pattern for relationships between Christian husbands and wives.

(2) Wives are to be in submission to their husbands as the Church is to Christ, and as believers are one to another (Eph. 5:21,22), not because the wife is inferior, less worthy, or less capable; responsibility for spiritual leadership in the home must be established, therefore the husband is assigned that responsibility which he bears with the indispensable support of the wife and mother.

(3) Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church, as much as they love themselves, and even enough to die for her (Eph. 5:25-29); if both wives and husbands comply with this pattern, no one is disadvantaged in the marriage relationship.

(4) This figure portrays the great love which Christ has for His Church as His bride, and which the Church experiences waiting for the coming of the Bridegroom.

M. The Church as the Lord’s Embassy.

Paul calls himself the Lord’s ambassador,”… I am an ambassador in chains” (Eph. 6:20, NKJV); he also includes the believers with himself in this ambassadorship, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). Several applications may be made from this figure: (1) we are the ambassadors of our King who dispatches us on a Divine mission of peace (2) as an ambassador delivered on he half of his sovereign “terms” for peace (Lk. 14:31,32), likewise the Church-announces to the world the terms of reconciliation to God, which our faith in Christ and surrender to Him as Lord. The Lord has given to the Church the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-21). N. The Church as the Pillar and Ground of Truth.

The Church supports the truth of the Gospel and lifts it on high. Paul wrote to Timothy concerning the Church: “But in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the PILLAR AND SUPPORT OF THE TRUTH” (1 Tm. 3:15, NASB). In the following verse, Paul) went on to give what may have been a poetic doctrinal expression of the “mystery of godliness” which was widely used in the Early Church 0.16). The Church is to safeguard sound doctrine and to lift it on high by the proclamation of the Gospel and by exemplary conduct. The Church as the Lord’s Sanctuary.

Several scripture passages support the metaphor of the Church as a SANCTUARY or TEMPLE. From those passages practical applications are made: (1) the Lord does not abide in buildings made with hands, but in His people, as a Church (Acts 17:24; 1 Cor. 3:16; 1 King. 8:27; Is. 66:1,2); (2) the Church is the Lord’s sanctuary; He dwells where His people are gathered together in His name (Mt. 18:20); (3) the temple was a SANCTUARY, a HOLY separated building, dedicated exclusively to the worship and service of God; likewise, the Church is the TEMPLE of the Holy Spirit, the sanctuary where the Lord dwells; therefore, the members of the Church are called “saints” or “holy ones” (1 Cor. 3:17; Eph. 2:21,22; 1 Pt. 2:4,5).

Peter says of the believers: “Like living stones, are being built up a spiritual house” (1 Pt. 2:5, NASB). In the figure, stones are part of a building; but they are living stones and therefore part of a household or family; not just any family or any building, but a sanctuary and dwelling place for the Lord. P. The Church as Pilgrims.

This metaphor defines the Church’s relationship to this present world with the following applications:

(1) believers are not really “at home” in this world, nor are they to be “conformed to this world;” their true citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20; Rom. 12:2);

(2) believers are said to sojourn here as pilgrims and strangers (Heb.’ 11:13); (3) however,- the church members, though pilgrims are commissioned to witness to this world and to win from the world citizens for Christ’s kingdom (1 Pt. 2:11,12; Col. 1:12-14; Acts 1:8); (4) the believers’ goal is the coming “city of God” (Heb. 13:14): “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”

Q. The Church as The Way.

In the book of Acts, the life of the Church is called the WAY, and believers are called “those of the WAY”: “And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this WAY, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:2). The Church as the Body of Christ is the WAY, for Christ is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE, no one comes to the Father except by Him (Jn. 14:6). The following things are stated about the WAY in the book of Acts: (1) the WAY of God is persecuted (22:4); (2) it is often spoken evil of (19:9); (3) it is called heresy by some (24:14); (4) Paul confessed joyfully to ‘ Felix that he was of that WAY (24:14); (5) when the Church is mighty in. witness and in power, as it was in Ephesus, it will cause “no small stir,” for the WAY of God will be a disturbing element in society over by the powers of darkness: “there arose no small stir about the WAY” (19:23). R. The Church as the Lord’s Inheritance.

In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul makes the remarkable statement: “That ye may know what is… the glory of HIS INHERITANCE in the saints” (Eph. 1:18). This is often interpreted to refer to OUR inheritance, but a careful reading shows that the verse refers to the Lord’s inheritance which is the saints of the Church. In verses eleven and fourteen, the same truth is found. Although the King James Version renders verse eleven: “In whom we have obtained an inheritance”; the Revised Version reads: “In whom we were made a heritage.” The great Greek scholar, B.F. Wescott renders Ephesians 1:11a: “We were also made God’s portion.”8 The Living Bible translates verse eleven: “Because of what Christ has done we have become GIFTS to God that He delights in.” F.F. Bruce, commenting on the RV rendering of verse eleven, says: “In whom we were made a heritage”—This is a preferable rendering to that of A. V., “In whom we have obtained an inheritance.” Both statements are true, but the apostle is thinking here of “God’s possession” (verse 14), “His inheritance in the saints” (verse 18). So, in Old Testament days, it was revealed that the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is a lot of His inheritance (Deut. 32:9). In Christ, then, we have been admitted to the ranks of the chosen people, the holy heritage of God.10 (See also 1 Pt. 2:9,10; Ex. 19:5,6; Dt. 14:2; 32:9; Ps. 72:2; Mai. 3:17.)

S. The Church as the Lord’s Masterpiece.

Since Ephesians is the epistle about the CHURCH, many of the metaphors of the Church will be found in it. In Ephesians chapter two, Paul states: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Eph. 2:10a). The Greek word translated “workmanship” is poiema, meaning a “piece of workmanship, a creation”; it is the word from which we get the English word “poem.” The Church is God’s masterpiece of creation. When the Church which is created for good works is perfected, it will portray its Maker and Creator, Christ Jesus the Lord. “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 Jn. 3:2). It should be noted that all the pronouns in Ephesians chapter two are plural: “WE are God’s workmanship.” The Church is God’s masterpiece, a mosaic of all His people in a designed collective work. (See also Phil. 1:6; 2:13; Eph. 3:10; Col. 1:28,29; Heb. 13:21; 2 Cor. 5:17.)

9. Brook Foss Westcott, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979) 14.

II). Frederick Fyvie Bruce, The Epistle to the Ephesians (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revel) Publishing Company, 1961) 33.

T. The Church as the Light of the World.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Mt. 5:14-16). The figure of the Church as light suggests the following:

(1) the believers who are the children of light give witness to Christ who is the true Light of the world (Jn. 8:12);

(2) therefore, the believer’s light is reflected light, like the light of the moon; he reflects the Light of Christ; Eph. 5:14 says literally, “Christ will shine on you” (NIV);

(3) the book of Revelation calls the local churches “lampstands” (Rv. 1:20); (4) no matter how blessed it is to minister one to another, believers must not forget that their primary mission is that of illuminating the darkness of the world (Mt. 5:16); (5) the believer’s witness is twofold: witness by words and witness by works (1 Pt.2:12).

U.- The Church as the Salt of the Earth.

What did Jesus mean when He said, “Ye are the salt of the earth?” The following applications seem to be indicated:

Salt preserves; that is, the Church preserves and reinforces the quality of goodness, honour, justice, and mercy in a society that tends to corrupt.

(2) Salt inhibits’ corruption; the Church restrains the corrupting influences; the good works of the Church rebuke evil.

(3) Salt gives zest and flavour; the Church gives a zest and distinctive flavour to its’ surroundings; however, it is not said to be the “sugar of the earth3; savour must be important to the figure, for believers are warned not to lose their savour lest the salt be cast out and trodden under foot (Mt. 5:13).

(4) The Church is not only to “salt” the world, but it must also maintain its ^saltiness” within itself to restrain selfish ambition, quarrelsomeness, etc. (Mk. 9:49,50; Lk. 14:33).

(.5) Paul seems to interpret “salt” to mean “wisdom” or spiritual “zest” in speech, speech that is not gull or insipid (Col. 4:6). V. The Church as the Lord’s Fishery.

Jesus said to His disciples, “Come after me and I will make you become fishers of men” {Mk. 1:17). This figure derives from the fact that the first disciples were fishermen; employing a ready metaphor, they called them to become FISHERS of men. The Church is commissioned to catch men for Christ’s kingdom, but in a good sense; for, in Luke 5:10 the words “catch men” mean literally to “take men alive.” Men caught for Christ receive a new quality of life. If the Church does not catch men for Christ, Satan will scare them (2 Tm. 2:25,26). The merely nominal church, as in the parable of the dragnet, tends to catch some who are not true believers (Mt. 13:47). (See Mt. 4:18-20.) W. The Church as a Crucible.

The life of the Church is a life of FAITH; faith, to be genuine faith, must be tested faith; God lets our faith be tested and tried so that He may approve it. God can bless only the faith that has been proved genuine by testing. In 1 Peter 1:8,7, the phrase “the trial of your faith” is literally “the approval [by trial] of your faith.” The Greek word for “trial” is some (the act of an assayer in testing and approving a precious metal). The testing and approval of the believer’s faith are said to be more precious than the testing and approval of gold. Like gold, faith must be put in the crucible to be proved and purged by the fire (1 Pt. 4:12-17; Jas. 1:3).

The believer’s very life in the Christian fellowship of the Church puts him to testing: to love all the brethren, to walk in faith and obedience, to submit to Christ and one another, and to draw upon the ministry of the Word in times of adversity (Prov. 17:3;-27:21). Peter declares that judgment begins at the household of God (I Pt. 4:17). The Greek words: dome, dokiwazo, dokimos, dominion {used thirty-nine [39] times in New Testament), are words from the work of the assayer with his crucible. In the life of the Church, believers are in God’s crucible, being tested and approved. (See 1 Thes. 2:4; Rom. 16:10; 1 Cor. 12:19; 2 Cor. 10:18; Jas. 1:12.)

X. The Church as the Wild Olive Branch,

The Church as the wild olive branch has been grafted into the tree of God’s redeeming, purpose, replacing rebellions in Israel. This is not, however, a permanent displacement; when the Church has been completed, God will yet deal with and fulfil His promises to the remnant of national Israel (Rom. 11:16-24; Jer. 11:16,17).

thanks for joining this intense study. I shall stop here for now till the next update.

pastor Godstrong
pastor Godstrong

From this part of the world, It is all thanks and be rupturable, from pastor Godstrong.



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6 thoughts on “Interpreting The Doctrine of the church ‘Ecclesiology’”

  1. I think the “remnant” were always supposed to be like in the book of Acts. Religion has never been anything but a hindrance to the Kingdom, and is like a disease. I could quote a hundred verses about this from the 4 gospels alone! Jesus was anything but religious. Religion is trying to keep the law, which is impossible, hence the need for the Cross and Ressurrection. Striving in your own strength to be a good person is futile and exhausting. My aim is to make straight the way of the Lord. The way from inside of me, to the outside world. Christ in me, manifesting wherever I go!

    “He placed emphasis not on the word CHURCH, but on the word MY.”  LOVE it!!

  2. Wow. This is the best expose of the The Church which I have seen in my life. What I like about this article, is that you base everything on the Greek text and the Bible. You indeed have spend a long time studying this topic. This can be used as Bible study and it has many other possibilities. What I like for most is that you don’t take sides as to what is right or wrong Church, but the reader can decide for him or herself. Excellent work. I am so humbled by this article and the thoroughness. 

  3. Hello Nathan, I enjoy reading this article about the church definitions. It is a deep and helpful study for every theological student that wants to know and understand more about the church doctrine, and I will turn back to read it and all the Bible verses that you reference here. As a believer, I learned a lot from reading it. I didn’t think until now that discipline is one of the missions of the church. The cross-check with the greek Bible version is helpful to understand deeper all the definitions of the word church. 

    Thank you for your good job. 

    Be blessed



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