If we took a poll in the community, asking, "What is the
church?" we would get diverse and conflicting answers.
In this series of two articles, we let the Bible answer
this question, so we can be the church God wants us to be.
Origin of the Church
God is the originator of the church, according to His eternal
purpose in Christ (Eph. 3:11-12). He foretold of the church
in the Old Testament, indicating that He'd establish it
during the reign of Rome (Mi. 4:1-3; Dan. 2:31-45).
During the reign of Rome, the church began on Pentecost,
a few days after Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:6-8;
The Church is the Called Out Body
The word "church" is translated from the Greek work ekklesia,
denoting a called out body of people.
God calls us out of the world of sin through the gospel
(2 Th. 1:14). The church is composed of people who respond
to God's call.
The word church is used in two ways. "Church" can be used
in reference to all Christians, or a specific congregation.
Jesus uses "church" both ways:
- In Matt. 16:18, Jesus promises to build His church,
speaking of Christians everywhere who would respond to
the gospel call.
- In Matt. 18:17, Jesus uses the word "church" regarding
Christians in a local congregation.
Names Identifying the Church
There are several names in the Bible that identify the church.
- My (Christ's) church (Matt. 16:18).
- Church of the Lord, church of God (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor.
- Church of Christ (Rom. 16:16).
- The body, the church (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23;
1 Th. 1:1).
- Household (house) of God, church of the living God
(Eph. 2:19; 1 Tim. 3:15; cf. Heb. 10:21).
- Church of the firstborn (Heb. 12:23).
- God's field, God's building (1 Cor. 3:9).
- The flock (1 Pet. 5:3; Acts 20:28).
Since we are commanded to "do all in the name of the Lord
Jesus," congregations of the Lord's church must use an authorized
Membership in the Church
On Pentecost, people asked Peter what they should do. He
told them to repent and be baptized for the remission of
their sins (Acts 2:38). The people who obeyed the gospel
received the gift of the Holy Spirit --- they were saved,
and added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:38, 40-41, 47).
- They were baptized into the body of Christ by the Spirit
(1 Cor. 12:13).
- They were born again, born of water and Spirit (Jn.
The Church is God's Kingdom
The word kingdom denotes the domain of the king. God rules
over the church; therefore, it is His kingdom.
We must be born again to see the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3).
Jesus said, "'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is
born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom
of God'" (Jn. 3:5).
We are born of water when we are baptized, and born of
the Spirit when we are added to the church, at which time
we become a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
Since we believed the good news about the kingdom of God
and were baptized (Acts 8:12), we are members of God's kingdom.
The Church is Christ's Kingdom
God put all things under Christ's feet (Eph. 1:22-23). He
is Lord of lords and King of kings, having all authority
in heaven and on earth (1 Tim. 6:15; Matt. 28:18). Therefore,
He rules over the church (kingdom).
As Christians, God has rescued us from the domain of darkness
and transferred us into the kingdom of His Son (Col. 1:13-14).
As members of Christ's kingdom, we have "redemption, the
forgiveness of sins" (Col. 1:14).
Later in this epistle, Paul tells us exactly when these
things transpire: "having been buried with Him in baptism,
in which you were also raised up with Him through faith
in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When
you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision
of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having
forgiven us all our transgressions (Col. 2:12-13).
Note, from Col. 1:13-14; 2:12-13:
- We are forgiven when we are baptized (Col. 2:12-13).
- We are forgiven in Christ's kingdom (Col. 1:13-14).
- Therefore, we enter Christ's kingdom when we are baptized.
This perfectly harmonizes with Acts 2:
- We are forgiven and saved when we are baptized (Acts
- We are added to the church when we are saved (Acts
- The church is Christ's kingdom (Col. 1:13).
- Therefore, we are added to the kingdom when we are
baptized --- the time at which we are saved.
The Church is Christ's Body
Paul tells us the church is the body of Christ, allegorically
expressing our relationship to Christ as members of His
Paul says, "And He put all things in subjection under
His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in
all" (Col. 1:22-23).
Since Christ is the head of the body, the church must
be subject to Him in everything (Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:24).
If our congregation isn't subject to Christ, we're not His
As head of the body, Jesus is also the Savior of the church
(Eph. 5:23). We must be members of His church to be saved.
He is the author of eternal salvation to those who obey
Him (Heb. 5:9) --- He is our Savior if we obey.
The Church is God's Household
Paul tells us the church is God's household, allegorically
expressing our relationship to God as His children.
Paul says, "I am writing these things to you, hoping to
come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write
so that you will 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 Tim. 3:14-15).
Just as Jesus is head of the body, He is over the house
of God: "but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house
--- whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and
the boast of our hope firm until the end" (Heb. 3:6).
Since Jesus is God's Son, and we are also God's children,
we are Christ's brethren. "For both He who sanctifies and
those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which
reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb. 2:11).
We are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ (Rom.
The Church is God's Temple
Paul tells us the church is God's temple, allegorically
expressing our relationship to God as priests who render
spiritual service to Him.
Paul says, "Or what agreement has the temple of God with
idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as
God said, 'I will dwell in them and walk among them; and
I will be their God, and they shall be my people'" (2 Cor.
And Paul writes to the Ephesians, saying of the church,
". . . Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom
the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into
a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built
together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit" (Eph. 2:20-22).
As God's temple, we are responsible for conducting ourselves
- Our bodies are members of Christ (1 Cor. 6:15).
- We are one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17).
- We must glorify God in our body (1 Cor. 6:19-20). We
are not our own; we've been bought with a price.
The Church is the Bride of Christ
Paul tells us the church is Christ's bride, allegorically
expressing our united relationship with Him, as a husband
is united to His wife.
Paul says, "For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy;
for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I
might present you as a pure virgin" (2 Cor. 11:2).
We are united with Christ when we are baptized (Rom. 6:3-5;
7:4), becoming one spirit with Him, baptized into His body
by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17; 12:13).
Most importantly, we will live with Jesus in heaven, united
with Him for eternity. John records his vision of the marriage
of the Lamb, saying, "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride
adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the
throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among
men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His
people, and God Himself will be among them'" (Rev. 21:1-3).
The church is God's kingdom, Christ's kingdom, Christ's
body, God's household, God's temple, and Christ's bride.
There's no greater privilege than to be a Christian. But
we also have responsibilities, as people upon whom God has
bestowed so many blessings. Let's make sure we are doing
our part, to be the church God ordained from eternity!