The New Testament Church 0001 - Lesson 3

The Church Defined (Continued)

  1. LOCAL VERSUS UNIVERSAL (Continued)
    1. According to the Scriptures (Continued)
      1. A local body of believers (1 Corinthians 14:28)
      2. Multiple bodies of believers (1 Corinthians 14:33)
      3. Multiple bodies of believers (1 Corinthians 14:34)
        1. This is a difficult passage.
        2. Throughout the other passages, it seems as though the word church refers to a single body of believers.
        3. Now it appears that there could be multiple bodies of believers at Corinth, or that they sometimes go into other areas.
      4. A local body of believers (1 Corinthians 14:35)
      5. The body of believers at Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 15:9)
      6. Multiple bodies of believers (1 Corinthians 16:1; 1 Corinthians 16:19)
      7. The local body of believers at Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:1)
      8. Multiple bodies of believers (2 Corinthians 8:1, 18, 19, 23, 24; 2 Corinthians 11:8, 28; 2 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 1:2)
      9. The local body of believers at Jerusalem (Galatians 1:13)
      10. Multiple bodies of believers in Judaea (Galatians 1:22)
      11. Christ as the head over all things to the church (Ephesians 1:22)
        1. Specifically written to the church at Ephesus
        2. Very much applies to all believers
      12. The church might know the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10)
        1. The local body of believers at Ephesus
        2. Very much applies to all believers
      13. A local body of believers, though it could be argued (Ephesians 3:21)
      14. A local body of believers, but also applies to all believers (Ephesians 5:23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 32)
      15. The local body of believers at Jerusalem (Philippians 3:6)
      16. Local body of believers (Philippians 4:15)
      17. Applies to both local and multiple bodies of believers (Colossians 1:18, 24)
      18. A local body of believers in the house of Nymphas (Colossians 4:15)
      19. A local body of believers in Laodicea (Colossians 4:16)
      20. A local body of believers (1 Thessalonians 1:1)
      21. Multiple bodies of believers in Judaea (1 Thessalonians 2:14)
      22. A local body of believers (2 Thessalonians 1:1)
      23. Multiple bodies of believers (2 Thessalonians 1:4)
      24. A local body of believers (1Timothy 3:5, 15; 1 Timothy 5:16; Philemon 1:2)
      25. A local body of believers, though this could be arguable (Hebrews 2:12)
      26. Believers whose names are written in heaven (Hebrews 12:23)
      27. A local body of believers (James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:13)
      28. A local body of believers, but could be argued (3 John 1:6)
      29. A local body of believers (3 John 1:9, 10)
      30. Multiple bodies of believers in Asia (Revelation 1:4, 11, 20)
      31. A local body of believers (Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18; Revelation 3:1, 7, 14)
      32. Multiple bodies of believers (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 23, 29; Revelation 3:6, 13, 22; Revelation 22:16)
    2. Local
      1. The vast majority of New Testament references to a church are that of a local body of believers.
      2. Varying numbers are given, but many agree that at least 90 of the 114 references are to a local body of believers.
    3. Universal
      1. Some refuse to believe in a universal body of believers, but rather refer to these mentions as a generic reference.
        1. They would state that these references mean that which is true of one New Testament church is true of every New Testament church.
        2. They would refer to such verses as Matthew 18:17, Acts 20:28, and 1 Timothy 3:5.
      2. There are, however, some verses that seem to speak of the “church” as all of the saved.
    4. Thoughts on the Local versus Universal Argument
      1. The local church
        1. The focus of the New Testament is on a local visible body of believers.
        2. The apostle Paul had no trouble calling the believers at Corinth “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
        3. The Lord does His work in and through this means throughout the New Testament.
      2. The universal church
        1. This is mentioned in the New Testament, but is such a minority as to show us that it is not God’s emphasis in this age.
        2. We know that it is viable because just as Paul called the church at Corinth “the body of Christ,” he also included himself in that body (1 Corinthians 12:13) and he was not a member at Corinth.
        3. This body has not met, nor will it meet until gathered in heaven.
Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 23:10

Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: