Page 5 - April 2024 - Truth & Tidings
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Words, under the word “church,” W.E.   a structure. When I was young, I heard a
        Vine  simply  says,  “For  CHURCH  see   preacher say, “The church is not a steeple,
        ASSEMBLY  and  CONGREGATION.”         but a people!”
        Referencing the word “assembly,” Mr.    Other Scriptures corroborate this truth.
        Vine explains that ekklesia is a combination   The  Lord  Jesus  said,  “Tell  it  unto  the
        of two Greek words which have to do   church” (Mat 18:17). You don’t speak to
        with being called out. So, an  ekklesia   buildings! The church has ears (Act 11:22);
        is a called-out company of people. It   the church has emotions, including fear
        is used in a secular sense of a riotous   (5:11); the church prays (12:5). These and
        mob and of the official local council at   other references combine to demonstrate
        Ephesus (Act 19:32,39,41). Stephen used   that New Testament churches are
        it to describe the generation of Israelites   comprised of people and not of wood,
        that had been called out of Egypt (7:38).   brick or stone. That being the case, it is
        But over 100 times it is employed in   inappropriate to describe the building in
        the New Testament to designate those   which we meet as our “church”; in fact, it
        whom God has called out of the world   is unscriptural to do so.
        to be linked with Himself. Because of the
        religious confusion connected with the   Not a Countrywide Religious
        word “church,” we will go along with   Organization
        Mr. Vine’s suggestion that it would be
        better to translate this word “assembly”   Another prevalent misconception of the
        or “congregation”; in the Scriptures it   word “church” is the notion that it is a
        always relates to people. Many of you are   countrywide organization regarded as the
        familiar with the term “assembly” when   “national church.” Establishments such as
        describing your local church.         the Church of England feature in many
                                              lands in the English-speaking world. Once
        Not a Building                        more, 1 Corinthians demonstrates there is
          The use of the word “church” in 1   no such thing as a national ecclesiastical
        Corinthians helps us to understand    organization. Chapter 16:1 refers to “the
        what the church is not. Contrary to the   churches of Galatia.” Verse 19 speaks of
        common usage of the word, the church   “the churches of Asia.” Unlike Corinth,
        is not a literal building. Most professing   Galatia and Asia were areas rather than
        Christians refer to the place where they   cities, and whenever the Bible speaks of
        congregate as their church, and people   the church in connection with a district,
        speak about “going to church” as if the   the word is always in the plural. Thus,
        venue is the church. Aquila and Priscilla   it is never “The Church of Galatia” or
        joined Paul in sending greetings to the   “The Church of Asia” or “The Church of
        assembly at Corinth, as did “the church   Macedonia” or “The Church of Judaea,”
        that is in their house” (1Co 16:19). Their   but always “the churches” in these various
        house was a building, and the assembly   locations. In New Testament times,
        was accommodated in that building; so,   there  was  no  equivalent  of  a  national
        clearly the church was not the building.   religious institution, but rather, scattered
        The  fact  that  the  church  greeted  the   throughout  these  regions  there  were
        Corinthian saints is another indication   autonomous companies of saints gathered
        that the word relates to persons and not   to the Lord’s Name.

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