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Bible Concordance
Church (110 Occurrences)

Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Matthew 18:18 I solemnly tell you that whatever you as a Church bind on earth will in Heaven be held as bound, and whatever you loose on earth will in Heaven be held to be loosed. (WEY)

Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (KJV WBS)

Acts 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 7:38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: (KJV ASV BBE WBS)

Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. (Root in KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 11:22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 11:30 Which they did, sending it to the rulers of the church by the hand of Barnabas and Saul. (BBE)

Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. (KJV WEY ASV WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 15:2 And after Paul and Barnabas had had no little argument and discussion with them, the brothers made a decision to send Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them to the Apostles and the rulers of the church at Jerusalem about this question. (BBE)

Acts 15:3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 15:4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 15:6 And the Apostles and the rulers of the church came together and gave thought to the question. (BBE)

Acts 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren: (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 15:30 So, when they were sent off, they came to Antioch. Having gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. (See NIV)

Acts 16:4 And on their way through the towns, they gave them the rules which had been made by the Apostles and the rulers of the church at Jerusalem, so that they might keep them. (BBE)

Acts 18:22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Acts 21:18 On the following day we went with Paul to call on James, and all the Elders of the Church came also. (WEY BBE)

Romans 12:7 Or the position of a Deacon of the church, let a man give himself to it; or he who has the power of teaching, let him make use of it; (BBE)

Romans 15:31 asking that I may escape unhurt from those in Judaea who are disobedient, and that the service which I am going to Jerusalem to render may be well received by the Church there, (WEY)

Romans 16:1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Romans 16:5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Romans 16:23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's: (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 4:17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 5:10 But I had not in mind the sinners who are outside the church, or those who have a desire for and take the property of others, or those who give worship to images; for it is not possible to keep away from such people without going out of the world completely: (BBE)

1 Corinthians 5:12 For what business of mine is it to judge outsiders? Is it not for you to judge those who are within the Church (WEY NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 9:2 If to other men I am not an Apostle, yet at any rate I am one to you; for your very existence as a Christian Church is the seal of my Apostleship. (WEY)

1 Corinthians 10:32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 11:22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 12:12 For just as the human body is one and yet has many parts, and all its parts, many as they are, constitute but one body, so it is with the Church of Christ. (WEY)

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 14:19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 14:26 What is it then, brothers? When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has another language, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to build each other up. (See NIV)

1 Corinthians 14:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 16:19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. (Root in KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

2 Corinthians 2:6 Let it be enough for such a man to have undergone the punishment which the church put on him; (BBE)

2 Corinthians 10:6 while we hold ourselves in readiness to punish every act of disobedience, as soon as ever you as a Church have fully shown your obedience. (WEY)

Galatians 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Galatians 2:2 I went up in obedience to a revelation of God's will; and I explained to them the Good News which I proclaim among the Gentiles. To the leaders of the Church this explanation was made in private, lest by any means I should be running, or should already have run, in vain. (WEY)

Galatians 2:4 Yet there was danger of this through the false brethren secretly introduced into the Church, who had stolen in to spy out the freedom which is ours in Christ Jesus, in order to rob us of it. (WEY)

Galatians 2:9 and when they perceived the mission which was graciously entrusted to me, they (that is to say, James, Peter, and John, who were considered to be the pillars of the Church) (WEY)

Ephesians 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Ephesians 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Ephesians 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Ephesians 4:12 For the training of the saints as servants in the church, for the building up of the body of Christ: (BBE)

Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Ephesians 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Ephesians 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Christ Jesus: To all God's people in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the ministers of the Church and their assistants. (WEY BBE)

Philippians 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Philippians 4:15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Colossians 1:25 I have been appointed to serve the Church in the position of responsibility entrusted to me by God for your benefit, so that I may fully deliver God's Message-- (WEY NAS)

Colossians 4:15 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Colossians 4:16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

2 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Timothy 3:1 Faithful is the saying, "If any one is eager to have the oversight of a Church, he desires a noble work." (WEY)

1 Timothy 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) (KJV WEY ASV DBY YLT NAS RSV)

1 Timothy 3:6 Not one newly taken into the church, for fear that, through his high opinion of himself, he may come into the same sin as the Evil One. (BBE)

1 Timothy 3:7 It is needful also that he bear a good character with people outside the Church, lest he fall into reproach or a snare of the Devil. (WEY BBE NAS)

1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one make little of you because you are young, but be an example to the church in word, in behaviour, in love, in faith, in holy living. (BBE)

1 Timothy 4:14 Make use of that grace in you, which was given to you by the word of the prophets, when the rulers of the church put their hands on you. (BBE)

1 Timothy 5:1 Do not say sharp words to one who has authority in the church, but let your talk be as to a father, and to the younger men as to brothers: (BBE)

1 Timothy 5:16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching. (See NIV)

Titus 3:10 A man whose opinions are not those of the church, after a first and second protest, is to be kept out of your society; (BBE)

Philemon 1:2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Hebrews 2:12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. (KJV BBE WBS)

Hebrews 12:23 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, (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS NIV)

James 5:14 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: (KJV WEY ASV BBE WBS NAS RSV NIV)

1 Peter 4:17 For the time has come for the judging, starting with the church of God; but if it makes a start with us, what will be the end of those who are not under the rule of God? (BBE)

1 Peter 5:1 I who am myself one of the rulers of the church, and a witness of the death of Christ, having my part in the coming glory, send this serious request to the chief men among you: (BBE)

1 Peter 5:13 The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son. (KJV WEY WBS)

2 John 1:1 I, a ruler in the church, send word to the noble sister who is of God's selection, and to her children, for whom I have true love; and not only I, but all who have knowledge of what is true; (BBE)

3 John 1:1 I, a ruler in the church, send word to the well loved Gaius, for whom I have true love. (BBE)


Church (110 Occurrences)
... Nor is this word ever used to denote the inhabitants of a country united in the
same profession, as when we say the "Church of England," the "Church of Scotland ...
/c/church.htm - 89k

Presbytery (1 Occurrence)
... Noah Webster's Dictionary 1. (n.) A body of elders in the early Christian church. ...
4. (n.) That part of the church reserved for the officiating priest. ...
/p/presbytery.htm - 14k

... Noah Webster's Dictionary 1. (n.) An elder in the early Christian church.
See Bishop. 2. (n.) One ordained to the second order in ...
/p/presbyter.htm - 14k

... esp., an ecclesiastical censure whereby the person against whom it is pronounced
is, for the time, cast out of the communication of the church; exclusion from ...
/e/excommunication.htm - 15k

... We may readily see, therefore, that from the very beginning of the Christian
church the use of the benediction was common. In the ...
/b/benediction.htm - 12k

Deaconess (1 Occurrence)
... 3. (n.) A woman set apart for church work by a bishop. 4. (n.) A woman chosen as
a helper in church work, as among the Congregationalists. Int. ...
/d/deaconess.htm - 12k

Baptismal (1 Occurrence)
... BAPTISM and SACRAMENTS, the doctrine ordinarily held by Presbyterians,
Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, and also by Low-Church Episcopalians, ...
/b/baptismal.htm - 24k

Barnabas (33 Occurrences)
... His name stands first on the list of prophets and teachers of the church at
Antioch (13:1). Luke speaks of him as a "good man" (11:24). ...
/b/barnabas.htm - 25k

Cornelius (10 Occurrences)
... He became the first fruit of the Gentile world to Christ. He and his family were
baptized and admitted into the Christian church (Acts 10:1, 44-48). ...
/c/cornelius.htm - 16k

... designated as apocryphal (see APOCRYPHA), and also certain books of the New Testament
which for a long time were not accepted by the whole church as Scripture. ...
/d/deutero-canonical.htm - 14k

1577. ekklesia -- an assembly, a (religious) congregation
... of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: ekklesia Phonetic Spelling:
(ek-klay-see'-ah) Short Definition: an assembly, congregation, church Definition: ...
/greek/1577.htm - 8k

1936. epithesis -- a laying on, an assault
... It is the principal means of "ordaining" someone to ministry, but should also be
a regular practice in the church when helping someone confirm (discover) God's ...
/greek/1936.htm - 7k

1985. episkopos -- a superintendent, an overseer
... life), overseer, supervisor, ruler, especially used with reference to the supervising
function exercised by an elder or presbyter of a church or congregation. ...
/greek/1985.htm - 8k

4983. soma -- a body
... Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter Transliteration: soma Phonetic Spelling: (so'-mah)
Short Definition: body, flesh Definition: body, flesh; the body of the Church. ...
/greek/4983.htm - 7k

2941. kubernesis -- steering, government, administration
... 2941 -- properly, someone who steers (guides) a ship; (figuratively) the divine
calling which empowers someone to in affairs relating to the Church. ...
/greek/2941.htm - 7k

5486. charisma -- a gift of grace, a free gift
... Cognate: 5486 (from "grace," 5485 ) -- properly, the operation of (divine ), ie
a to edify the Church (note the suffix, focusing on the of the endowment of ...
/greek/5486.htm - 7k

367. Ananias -- Ananias, the name of three Israelites
... Ananias Phonetic Spelling: (an-an-ee'-as) Short Definition: Ananias Definition:
Ananias, (a) husband of Sapphira, a member of the early church at Jerusalem, (b ...
/greek/367.htm - 6k

4244. presbuterion -- a body of elders
... pres-boo-ter'-ee-on) Short Definition: an assembly of elders Definition: an assembly
of elders, the Sanhedrin, officers of the church assembly, presbytery. ...
/greek/4244.htm - 7k

2233. hegeomai -- to lead, suppose
... refers to such as: "the leading thought" in one's mind, ie to esteem (regard highly);
or a leading authority, providing leadership in a local church (see Heb 13 ...
/greek/2233.htm - 9k

5402. Phoibe -- Phoebe, a deaconess
... Noun, Feminine Transliteration: Phoibe Phonetic Spelling: (foy'-bay) Short Definition:
Phoebe Definition: Phoebe, a Christian woman in the church at Cenchreae. ...
/greek/5402.htm - 6k

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia





1. In the Gospels

2. In Acts

3. In the Pauline Epistles


1. Faith

2. Fellowship

3. Unity

4. Consecration

5. Power


1. The General and Prophetic Ministry

2. The Local and Practical Ministry


The word "church," which is derived from kuriakos, "of or belonging to the Lord," represents in the English Versions of the Bible of the New Testament the Greek word ekklesia; Latin, ecclesia. It is with the signification of this word ekklesia as it meets us in the New Testament, and with the nature of the society which the word is there used to describe, that the present article is concerned.

I. Pre-Christian History of the Term.

Although ekklesia soon became a distinctively Christian word, it has its own pre-Christian history; and to those, whether Jews or Greeks, who first heard it applied to the Christian society it would come with suggestions of familiar things. Throughout the Greek world and right down to New Testament times (compare Acts 19:39), ekklesia was the designation of the regular assembly of the whole body of citizens in a free city-state, "called out" (Greek ek, "out," and kalein, "to call") by the herald for the discussion and decision of public business. The Septuagint translators, again, had used the word to render the Hebrew qahal, which in the Old Testament denotes the "congregation" or community of Israel, especially in its religious aspect as the people of God. In this Old Testament sense we find ekklesia employed by Stephen in the Book of Acts, where he describes Moses as "he that was in the church (the Revised Version, margin "congregation") in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38). The word thus came into Christian history with associations alike for the Greek and the Jew. To the Greek it would suggest a self-governing democratic society; to the Jew a theocratic society whose members were the subjects of the Heavenly King. The pre-Christian history of the word had a direct bearing upon its Christian meaning, for the ekklesia of the New Testament is a "theocratic democracy" (Lindsay, Church and Ministry in the Early Centuries, 4), a society of those who are free, but are always conscious that their freedom springs from obedience to their King.

II. Its Adoption by Jesus.

According to Matthew 16:18 the name ekklesia was first applied to the Christian society by Jesus Himself, the occasion being that of His benediction of Peter at Caesarea Philippi. The authenticity of the utterance has been called in question by certain critics, but on grounds that have no textual support and are made up of quite arbitrary presuppositions as to the composition of the First Gospel. It is true that Jesus had hitherto described the society He came to found as the "kingdom of God" or the "kingdom of heaven," a designation which had its roots in Old Testament teaching and which the Messianic expectations of Israel had already made familiar. But now when it was clear that He was to be rejected by the Jewish people (compare Matthew 16:21), and that His society must move on independent lines of its own, it was natural that He should employ a new name for this new body which He was about to create, and thus should say to Peter, on the ground of the apostle's believing confession, "Upon this rock I will build my church." The adoption of this name, however, did not imply any abandonment of the ideas suggested by the conception of the kingdom. In this very passage (Matthew 16:19) "the kingdom of heaven" is employed in a manner which, if it does not make the two expressions church and kingdom perfectly synonymous, at least compels us to regard them as closely correlative and as capable of translation into each other's terms. And the comparative disuse by the apostolic writers of the name "kingdom," together with their emphasis on the church, so far from showing that Christ's disciples had failed to understand His doctrine of the kingdom, and had substituted for it the more formal notion of the church, only shows that they had followed their Master's guidance in substituting for a name and a conception that were peculiarly Jewish, another name whose associations would enable them to commend their message more readily to the world at large.

III. Its Use in the New Testament.

1. In the Gospels:

Apart from the passage just referred to, the word ekklesia occurs in the Gospels on one other occasion only (Matthew 18:17). Here, moreover, it may be questioned whether Our Lord is referring to the Christian church, or to Jewish congregations commonly known as synagogues (see the Revised Version, margin) The latter view is more in keeping with the situation, but the promise immediately given to the disciples of a power to bind and loose (Matthew 18:18) and the assurance "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20) are evidently meant for the people of Christ. If, as is probable, the ekklesia of Matthew 18:17 is the Christian ekklesia of which Christ had already spoken to Peter, the words show that He conceived of the church as a society possessing powers of self-government, in which questions of discipline were to be decided by the collective judgment of the members.

2. In Acts:

In Acts the ekklesia has come to be the regular designation for the society of Christian believers, but is employed in two distinct senses. First in a local sense, to denote the body of Christians in a particular place or district, as in Jerusalem (Acts 5:11; Acts 8:1), in Antioch (Acts 13:1; Acts 15:22), in Caesarea (Acts 18:22)-a usage which reappears in the Apocalypse in the letters to the Seven Churches. Then in a wider and what may be called a universal sense, to denote the sum total of existing local churches (Acts 9:31 the Revised Version (British and American)), which are thus regarded as forming one body.

3. In the Pauline Epistles:

In the Pauline Epistles both of these usages are frequent. Thus the apostle writes of "the church of the Thessalonians" (1 Thessalonians 1:1), "the church of God which is at Corinth" (1 Corinthians 1:2 2 Corinthians 1:1). Indeed he localizes and particularizes the word yet further by applying it to a single Christian household or to little groups of believers who were accustomed to assemble in private houses for worship and fellowship (Romans 16:5 1 Corinthians 16:19 Colossians 4:15 Philemon 1:2)-an employment of the word which recalls the saying of Jesus in Matthew 18:20. The universal use, again, may be illustrated by the contrast he draws between Jews and Greeks on the one hand and the church of God on the other (1 Corinthians 10:32), and by the declaration that God has set in the church apostles, prophets, and teachers (1 Corinthians 12:28).

But Paul in his later epistles has another use of ekklesia peculiar to himself, which may be described as the ideal use. The church, now, is the body of which Christ is the head (Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18, 24). It is the medium through which God's manifold wisdom and eternal purpose are to be made known not only to all men, but to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:9-11). It is the bride of whom He is the heavenly Bridegroom, the bride for whom in His love He gave Himself up, that He might cleanse and sanctify her and might present her to Himself a glorious church, a church without blemish, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Ephesians 5:25). This church clearly is not the actual church as we know it on earth, with its divisions, its blemishes, its shortcomings in faith and love and obedience. It is the holy and catholic church that is to be when the Bridegroom has completed the process of lustration, having fully "cleansed it by the washing of water with the word." It is the ideal which the actual church must keep before it and strive after, the ideal up to which it shall finally be guided by that Divine in-working power which is able to conform the body to the head, to make the bride worthy of the Bridegroom, so that God may receive in the church the glory that is His (Ephesians 3:21).

IV. The Notes of the Church.

1. Faith:

Although a systematic doctrine of the church is neither to be found nor to be looked for in the New Testament, certain characteristic notes or features of the Christian society are brought before us from which we can form some conception as to its nature. The fundamental note is faith. It was to Peter confessing his faith in Christ that the promise came, "Upon this rock I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18). Until Jesus found a man full of faith He could not begin to build His church; and unless Peter had been the prototype of others whose faith was like his own, the walls of the church would never have risen into the air. Primarily the church is a society not of thinkers or workers or even of worshippers, but of believers. Hence, we find that "believers" or "they that believed" is constantly used as a synonym for the members of the Christian society (e.g. Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32; Acts 5:14 1 Timothy 4:12). Hence, too, the rite of baptism, which from the first was the condition of entrance into the apostolic church and the seal of membership in it, was recognized as preeminently the sacrament of faith and of confession (Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12, 36 Romans 6:4 1 Corinthians 12:13). This church-founding and church-building faith, of which baptism was the seal, was much more than an act of intellectual assent. It was a personal laying hold of the personal Saviour, the bond of a vital union between Christ and the believer which resulted in nothing less than a new creation (Romans 6:4; Romans 8:1, 2 2 Corinthians 5:17).

2. Fellowship:

If faith in Christ is the fundamental note of the Christian society, the next is fellowship among the members. This follows from the very nature of faith as just described; for if each believer is vitally joined to Christ, all believers must stand in a living relation to one another. In Paul's favorite figure, Christians are members one of another because they are members in particular of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5 1 Corinthians 12:27). That the Christian society was recognized from the first as a fellowship appears from the name "the brethren," which is so commonly applied to those who belong to it. In Acts the name is of very frequent occurrence (Acts 9:30, etc.), and it is employed by Paul in the epistles of every period of his career (1 Thessalonians 4:10, etc.). Similar testimony lies in the fact that "the koinonia" (English Versions "fellowship") takes its place in the earliest meetings of the church side by side with the apostles' teaching and the breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:42). SeeCOMMUNION. The koinonia at first carried with it a community of goods (Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32), but afterward found expression in the fellowship of ministration (2 Corinthians 8:4) and in such acts of Christian charity as are inspired by Christian faith (Hebrews 13:16). In the Lord's Supper, the other sacrament of the primitive church, the fellowship of Christians received its most striking and most sacred expression. For if baptism was especially the sacrament of faith, the Supper was distinctively the sacrament of love and fellowship-a communion or common participation in Christ's death and its fruits which carried with it a communion of hearts and spirits between the participants themselves.

3. Unity:

Although local congregations sprang up wherever the gospel was preached, and each of these enjoyed an independent life of its own, the unity of the church was clearly recognized from the first. The intercourse between Jerusalem and Antioch (Acts 11:22; Acts 15:2), the conference held in the former city (Acts 15:6), the right hand of fellowship given by the elder apostles to Paul and Barnabas (Galatians 2:9), the untiring efforts made by Paul himself to forge strong links of love and mutual service between Gentileand Jewish Christians (2 Corinthians 8)-all these things serve to show how fully it was realized that though there were many churches, there was but one church. This truth comes to its complete expression in the epistles of Paul's imprisonment, with their vision of the church as a body of which Christ is the head, a body animated by one spirit, and having one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:4 Colossians 1:18; Colossians 3:11). And this unity, it is to be noticed, is conceived of as a visible unity. Jesus Himself evidently conceived it so when He prayed for His disciples that they all might be one, so that the world might believe (John 17:21). And the unity of which Paul writes and for which he strove is a unity that finds visible expression. Not, it is true, in any uniformity of outward polity, but through the manifestation of a common faith in acts of mutual love (Ephesians 4:3, 13 2 Corinthians 9).

4. Consecration:

Another dominant note of the New Testament church lay in the consecration of its members. "Saints" is one of the most frequently recurring designations for them that we find. As thus employed, the word has in the first place an objective meaning; the sainthood of the Christian society consisted in its separation from the world by God's electing grace; in this respect it has succeeded to the prerogatives of Israel under the old covenant. The members of the church, as Peter said, are "an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession" (1 Peter 2:9). But side by side with this sense of an outward and priestly consecration, the flame "saints" carried within it the thought of an ethical holiness-a holiness consisting, not merely in a status determined by relation to Christ, but in an actual and practical saintliness, a consecration to God that finds expression in character and conduct. No doubt the members of the church are called saints even when the living evidences of sainthood are sadly lacking. Writing to the Corinthian church in which he found so much to blame, Paul addresses its members by this title (1 Corinthians 1:2; compare 1 Corinthians 6:11). But he does so for other than formal reasons-not only because consecration to God is their outward calling and status as believers; but also because he is assured that a work of real sanctification is going on, and must continue to go on, in their bodies and their spirits which are His. For those who are in Christ are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and those to whom has come the separating and consecrating call (2 Corinthians 6:17) must cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1). Paul looks upon the members of the church, just as he looks upon the church itself, with a prophetic eye; he sees them not as they are, but as they are to be. And in his view it is "by the washing of water with the word," in other words by the progressive sanctification of its members, that the church itself is to be sanctified and cleansed, until Christ can present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Ephesians 5:26, 27).

5. Power:

Yet another note of the church was spiritual power. When the name ekklesia was given by Jesus to the society He came to found, His promise to Peter included the bestowal of the gift of power (Matthew 16:18, 19). The apostle was to receive the "power of the keys," i.e. he was to exercise the privilege of opening the doors of the kingdom of heaven to the Jew (Acts 2:41) and to the Gentile (Acts 10:34-38; Acts 15:7). He was further to have the power of binding and loosing, i.e. of forbidding and permitting; in other words he was to possess the functions of a legislator within the spiritual sphere of the church. The legislative powers then bestowed upon Peter personally as the reward of his believing confession were afterward conferred upon the disciples generally (Matthew 18:18; compare Matthew 18:1 and also Matthew 18:19, 20), and at the conference in Jerusalem were exercised by the church as a whole (Acts 15:4, 22). The power to open the gates of the kingdom of heaven was expanded into the great missionary commission, "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations" (Matthew 28:19)-a commission that was understood by the apostolic church to be addressed not to the eleven apostles only, but to all Christ's followers without distinction (Acts 8:4, etc.). To the Christian society there thus belonged the double power of legislating for its own members and of opening the kingdom of heaven to all believers. But these double functions of teaching and government were clearly recognized as delegated gifts. The church taught the nations because Christ had bid her go and do it. She laid down laws for her own members because He had conferred upon her authority to bind and to loose. But in every exercise of her authority she relied upon Him from whom she derived it. She believed that Christ was with her alway, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20), and that the power with which she was endued was power from on high (Luke 24:49).

V. Organization of the Church.

It seems evident from the New Testament that Jesus gave His disciples no formal prescriptions for the organization of the church. In the first days after Pentecost they had no thought of separating themselves from the religious life of Israel, and would not realize the need of any distinct organization of their own. The temple-worship was still adhered to (Acts 2:46; Acts 3:1), though it was supplemented by apostolic teaching, by prayer and fellowship, and by the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42, 46). Organization was a thing of gradual growth suggested by emerging needs, and the differentiation of function among those who were drawn into the service of the church was due to the difference in the gifts bestowed by God upon the church members (1 Corinthians 12:28). At first the Twelve themselves, as the immediate companions of Jesus throughout His ministry and the prime witnesses of the Christian facts and especially of the resurrection (compare Acts 1:21, 22), were the natural leaders and teachers of the community. Apart from this, the earliest evidence of anything like organization is found in the distinction drawn by the Twelve themselves between the ministry of the word and the ministry of tables (Acts 6:2, 4)-a distinction which was fully recognized by Paul (Romans 12:6, 8 1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 9:14; 1 Corinthians 12:28), though he enlarged the latter type of ministry so as to include much more than the care of the poor. The two kinds of ministry, as they meet us at the first, may broadly be distinguished as the general and prophetic on the one hand, the local and practical on the other.

1. The General and Prophetic Ministry:

From Acts 6:1 we see that the Twelve recognized that they were Divinely called as apostles to proclaim the gospel; and Paul repeatedly makes the same claim for himself (1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 9:16 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 4:1 Colossians 1:23). But apostle ship was by no means confined to the Twelve (Acts 14:14 Romans 16:7; compare Didache 11 4); and an itinerant ministry of the word was exercised in differing ways by prophets, evangelists, and teachers, as well as by apostles (1 Corinthians 12:28, 29 Ephesians 4:11). The fact that Paul himself is variously described as an apostle, a prophet, a teacher (Acts 13:1; Acts 14:14 1 Timothy 2:7 2 Timothy 1:11) appears to show that the prophetic ministry was not a ministry of stated office, but one of special gifts and functions. The apostle carried the good tidings of salvation to the ignorant and unbelieving (Galatians 2:7, 8), the prophet (in the more specific sense of the word) was a messenger to the church (1 Corinthians 14:4, 22); and while the teacher explained and applied truth that was already possessed (Hebrews 5:12), the prophet was recognized by those who had spiritual discernment (1 Corinthians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 14:29 1 John 4:1) as the Divinely employed medium of fresh revelations (1 Corinthians 14:25, 30, 31 Ephesians 3:5; compare Didache 4 1).

2. The Local and Practical Ministry:

The earliest examples of this are the Seven of Jerusalem who were entrusted with the care of the "daily ministration" (Acts 6:1). With the growth of the church, however, other needs arose, and the local ministry is seen developing in two distinct directions. First there is the presbyter or elder, otherwise known as the bishop or overseer, whose duties, while still local, are chiefly of a spiritual kind (Acts 20:17, 28, 35 1 Timothy 3:2, 5 James 5:14 1 Peter 5:2). SeeBISHOP. Next there are the deacon and the deaconess (Philippians 1:1 1 Timothy 3:8-13), whose work appears to have lain largely in house to house visitation and a practical ministry to the poor and needy (1 Timothy 5:8-11). The necessities of government, of discipline, and of regular and stated instruction had thus brought it to pass that within New Testament times some of the functions of the general ministry of apostles and prophets were discharged by a local ministry. The general ministry, however, was still recognized to be the higher of the two. Paul addresses the presbyter-bishops of Ephesus in a tone of lofty spiritual authority (Acts 20:17). And according to the Didache, a true prophet when he visits a church is to take precedence over the resident bishops and deacons (Didache 10 7; 13 3).



Hort, The Christian Ecclesia; Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early Cents., lects I-V; Hatch, Bampton Lectures; Gwatkin, Early Church History to A.D. 313; Kostlin, article "Kirche" in SeeHauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche; Armitage Robinson, article "Church" in Encyclopedia Biblica; Fairbairn Christ in Modern Theology, 513-34; Dargan, Ecclesiology; Denney, Studies in Theology, Ch viii.

J. C. Lambert




1. The General Sense

2. The Local Sense


1. Subjects of Admission

2. Definite Organizations

3. Ministers

(1) General

(2) Local

4. Ecclesiastical Functions

(1) Control of Membership

(2) Selection of Officers, etc.

(3) Observations of Ordinances

5. Independent (Autonomous) Organizations




The object here sought is to discover what kind of church government is mirrored in the New Testament. To do this with perfect definiteness is, no doubt, quite impossible. Certain general features, however, may clearly be seen.

I. Approach to the Subject.

The subject is best approached through the Greek word ekklesia, translated "church." Passing by the history of this word, and its connection with the Hebrew words `edhah and qahal (which the Septuagint sometimes renders by ekklesia), we come at once to the New Testament usage. Two perfectly distinct senses are found, namely, a general and a local.

1. The General Sense:

Christ is "head over all things to the church, which is his body." (Ephesians 1:22); "the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven" (Hebrews 12:23). Here we have "church" in the broadest sense, including all the redeemed in earth and heaven, and in all ages (see also Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 5:22-27 Colossians 1:24 Hebrews 12:23).

2. The Local Sense:

Here the Scripture passages are very numerous. In some cases, the word is used in the singular, and in others the plural; in some it is used with reference to a specified church, and in others without such specification. In all cases the sense is local.

In Acts 11:26, it is said that Paul and Barnabas were "gathered together with the church," where the church at Antioch is meant. In Acts 14:23, Paul and Barnabas are said to have "appointed elders in every church," that is, churches which they had planted. In Revelation 2 and Revelation 3 the seven churches of Asia Minor are addressed. In Acts 16:5 we are told that the churches "were strengthened in the faith." On the local sense see, further, Acts 8:1; Acts 15:4; Acts 16:5; 20:17 Romans 16:4 1 Corinthians 12; 1 Corinthians 6:4; 1 Corinthians 11:16; Galatians 1:2, 22, and many other places.

There are a few passages that do not seem exactly to fit into either of the above categories. Such, for example, are Matthew 18:17 and 1 Corinthians 12:28, where it seems best to understand a generic sense. Such, also, are passages like Acts 9:31, and 1 Corinthians 10:32, where a collective sense best suits the cases.

Church government in the New Testament applies only to the local bodies.

II. Internal Order.

With respect to the constitution and life of these New Testament churches, several points may be made out beyond reasonable doubt.

1. Subjects of Admission:

They were composed of persons who professed faith in Christ, and who were believed to have been regenerated, and who had been baptized. See Acts 2:41, 44, 47 (the Revised Version (British and American) "added to them"); Acts 8:12 Romans 1:8; Romans 6:4; Romans 10:9, 10 1 Corinthians 1:2; Colossians 1:2, 4 1 Timothy 6:12, and others, where they are called "saints," "sons of God," "faithful brethren," "sanctified in Christ Jesus."

2. Definite Organizations:

They are definitely and permanently organized bodies, and not temporary and loose aggregations of individuals. It is quite impossible, for example, to regard the church at Antioch as a loose aggregation of people for a passing purpose. The letters of Paul to the churches at Rome, Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, cannot be regarded as addressed to other than permanent and definitely organized bodies.

3. Ministers:

They were served by two classes of ministers-one general, the other local.

(1) General.

At the head of these is the "apostle" (1 Corinthians 12:28 Ephesians 4:11). His official relation to the churches was general. He did not necessarily belong to the group of the original Eleven. Besides Matthias (Acts 1:26), Paul and Barnabas (1 Corinthians 9:5, 6), James, the Lord's brother (Galatians 1:19), Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7) are reckoned as "apostles." The one invariable and necessary qualification of an apostle was that he should have seen the Lord after the Resurrection (Acts 1:22 1 Corinthians 9:1). Another qualification was to have wrought "the signs of an apostle" (2 Corinthians 12:12; compare 1 Corinthians 9:2). He was to bear witness to what he had seen and heard, to preach the gospel of the kingdom (Acts 1:8 1 Corinthians 1:17), to found churches and have a general care of them (2 Corinthians 11:28). From the nature of his chief qualification, his office was temporary.

Next comes the "prophet." His relation to the churches, also, was general. It was not necessary that he should have seen the Lord, but it appertained to his spiritual function that he should have revelations (Ephesians 3:5). There is no indication that his office was in any sense administrative.

After the "prophet" come the "evangelist" and "teacher," the first, a traveling preacher, the second, one who had special aptitude for giving instruction.

After the "teacher" and "evangelist" follow a group of special gifts of "healing," "helps," "governments," "tongues." It may be that "helps" and "governments" are to be identified with "deacons" and "bishops," to be spoken of later. The other items in this part of Paul's list seem to refer to special charismata.

(2) Local.

There were two clearly distinct offices of a local and permanent kind in the New Testament churches. Paul (Philippians 1:1) addresses "all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons."


The most common designation of the first of these officers is "elder" (presbuteros). In one passage (Ephesians 4:11) he is called "pastor" (poimen). In Acts 20:17-28, it becomes clear that the office of elder, bishop, and pastor was one; for there the apostle charges the elders of the church at Ephesus to feed (pastor) the church in which the Holy Spirit has made them bishops (compare Titus 1:5, 7 1 Peter 5:1, 2).

The function of the elders was, in general, spiritual, but involved an oversight of all the affairs of the church (1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Timothy 5:17).

As to the second of the local church officers, it has to be said that little is given us in the New Testament. That the office of deacon originated with the appointment of the Seven in Acts 6 is not certain. If we compare the qualifications there given by the apostles with those given by Paul in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, it seems quite probable that the necessity which arose at Jerusalem, and which led to the appointment of the Seven was really the occasion for originating the office of deacon in the churches. The work assigned the Seven was secular, that is to say, the "service of tables." They were to relieve the apostles of that part of the work. A similar relation to the work of the elders seems to have been borne by that of the deacons.

Again, they exercised the highest ecclesiastical functions.

4. Ecclesiastical Functions:

(1) Control of Membership.

In Matthew 18:17, our Lord, by anticipation, lodges final action, in the sphere of church discipline, with the church. When the church has taken action, the matter is ended. There is no direction to take it to a higher court. In the church at Corinth, there was a man who was guilty of an infamous offense against purity. With regard to the case, Paul urged the most summary discipline (1 Corinthians 5:5). If the church should act upon the judgment which he communicated to them, they would act when "gathered together"; that is to say, action would be taken in conference of the church. In 2 Corinthians 2, a reference to the case shows that they had acted upon his advice, and that the action was taken by the majority ("the many," the more, 2 Corinthians 2:6). In 2 Corinthians 2 he counsels restoration of this excluded member now repentant. Exclusion and restoration of members were to be effected by a church. This, of course, carried with it the reception of members in the first instance.

(2) Selection of Officers, etc.

This was true in case of the Seven (Acts 6:3-13; see other cases in Acts 15:22 1 Corinthians 16:3 2 Corinthians 8:1 Philippians 2:25). Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5 seem, at first, to offset the passages just given. In one of these, Paul and Barnabas are said to have "appointed" (cheirotonesantes) elders in the churches which they had planted. But scholars of first quality, though themselves adhering to Presbyterial or Episcopal forms of church government, maintain that Paul and Barnabas ordained the elders whom the churches selected-that they "appointed" them in the usual way, by the suffrages of the members of the churches concerned. The word rendered "appoint" in Titus 1:5 (katasteses) is more easily understood as referring to ordination instead of selection.

(3) Observation of Ordinances.

Paul gives direction (1 Corinthians 11:20-34) to the church at Corinth about the observance of the Lord's Supper. These directions are given, not to any officer or set of officers, but to the church. Ecclesiastically, of course, the two ordinances are on the same level; and, if one of them had been committed to the custody, so to say, of the churches, so must the other.

5. Independent (Autonomous) Organizations:

The management of their business was in their own hands. Paul wrote the church at Corinth: "Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40). In that comprehensive injunction, given to a church, is implied control of its affairs by the church.

III. External Authority.

The investigation up to this point places us in position to see that there is in the New Testament no warrant for ecclesiastical grades in the ministry of the churches, by which there may be created an ascending series of rulers who shall govern the churches merged into one vast ecclesiastical organization called "the church." So, also, we are in position to see that there is no warrant for an ascending series of courts which may review any "case" that originates in a local church. We may see, on the contrary, that to each local church has been committed by Christ the management of its own affairs; and that He had endowed every such church with ecclesiastical competency to perform every function that any ecclesiastical body has a right to perform.

As the churches are not to be dominated by any external ecclesiastical authority, so they are not to be interfered with, in their church life, by civil government. Jesus taught that Christians should be good citizens (Matthew 22:15-22); so did the apostles (Romans 13:1-7 1 Peter 2:13-16). Jesus also taught the spirituality of His Kingdom: "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36). It follows that only where the life of a church touched the civic life of the community has the civil authority any right to interfere.

IV. Cooperative Relations.

While each local church, according to the New Testament, is independent of every other in the sense that no other has jurisdiction over it, yet cooperative relations were entered into by New Testament churches. Examples and indications of that may be found in Romans 15:26, 27 2 Corinthians 8; 2 Corinthians 9; Galatians 2:10 Romans 15:1; Romans 3John 1:8. The principle of cooperation effective in those cases is susceptible of indefinite expansion. Churches may properly cooperate in matters of discipline, by seeking and giving counsel, and by respecting each other's disciplinary measures. In the great, paramount business of evangelizing and teaching the nations, they may cooperate in a multitude of ways. There is no sphere of general Christian activity in which the churches may not voluntarily and freely cooperate for the betterment of the world, the salvation of humanity.

For other standpoints see BISHOP; GOVERNMENT; MINISTRY, etc.


Hort, The Christian Ecclesia; Hatch, Organization of the Early Christian Churches; Whitley, Church, Ministry and Sacraments in the New Testament; Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early Cents.; French, Synonyms of New Testament; Vitringa, De Synagoga Vetere; Holzinger, ZAW; Schurer, Schurer, History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, II; Driver, Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament; Thayer, New Testament Lexicon, and Cremer, Biblical Theol. Lexicon, under the word, "ekklesia" and "sunagoge"; Neumann, Rom. Staat und die all-gemeine Kirche; Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire.; Lightfoot, "The Christian Ministry," in Commentary on Philippians; Harvey, The Church; Dagg, Church Order; Hovey, Religion and the State; Owen, Church Government; Ladd, Principles of Church Polity; Dexter, Congregationalism; Hodge, Discussions in Church Polity; Abbey, Ecclesiastical Constitutions; Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity; Jacob, Ecclesiastical Polity; Bore, The Church and Its Ministry; Dollinger, The Church and The Churches; Stanley, Lectures on the Eastern Church; Dargan, Ecclesiology.

E. J. Forrester



Easton's Bible Dictionary
Derived probably from the Greek kuriakon (i.e., "the Lord's house"), which was used by ancient authors for the place of worship.

In the New Testament it is the translation of the Greek word ecclesia, which is synonymous with the Hebrew kahal of the Old Testament, both words meaning simply an assembly, the character of which can only be known from the connection in which the word is found. There is no clear instance of its being used for a place of meeting or of worship, although in post-apostolic times it early received this meaning. Nor is this word ever used to denote the inhabitants of a country united in the same profession, as when we say the "Church of England," the "Church of Scotland," etc.

We find the word ecclesia used in the following senses in the New Testament:

(1.) It is translated "assembly" in the ordinary classical sense (Acts 19:32, 39, 41).

(2.) It denotes the whole body of the redeemed, all those whom the Father has given to Christ, the invisible catholic church (Ephesians 5:23, 25, 27, 29; Hebrews 12:23).

(3.) A few Christians associated together in observing the ordinances of the gospel are an ecclesia (Romans 16:5; Colossians 4:15).

(4.) All the Christians in a particular city, whether they assembled together in one place or in several places for religious worship, were an ecclesia. Thus all the disciples in Antioch, forming several congregations, were one church (Acts 13:1); so also we read of the "church of God at Corinth" (1 Corinthians 1:2), "the church at Jerusalem" (Acts 8:1), "the church of Ephesus" (Revelation 2:1), etc.

(5.) The whole body of professing Christians throughout the world (1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; Matthew 16:18) are the church of Christ.

The church visible "consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children." It is called "visible" because its members are known and its assemblies are public. Here there is a mixture of "wheat and chaff," of saints and sinners. "God has commanded his people to organize themselves into distinct visible ecclesiastical communities, with constitutions, laws, and officers, badges, ordinances, and discipline, for the great purpose of giving visibility to his kingdom, of making known the gospel of that kingdom, and of gathering in all its elect subjects. Each one of these distinct organized communities which is faithful to the great King is an integral part of the visible church, and all together constitute the catholic or universal visible church." A credible profession of the true religion constitutes a person a member of this church. This is "the kingdom of heaven," whose character and progress are set forth in the parables recorded in Matthew 13.

The children of all who thus profess the true religion are members of the visible church along with their parents. Children are included in every covenant God ever made with man. They go along with their parents (Genesis 9:9-17; 12:1-3; 17:7; Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 29:10-13). Peter, on the day of Pentecost, at the beginning of the New Testament dispensation, announces the same great principle. "The promise [just as to Abraham and his seed the promises were made] is unto you, and to your children" (Acts 2:38, 39). The children of believing parents are "holy", i.e., are "saints", a title which designates the members of the Christian church (1 Corinthians 7:14). (see BAPTISM.)

The church invisible "consists of the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ, the head thereof." This is a pure society, the church in which Christ dwells. It is the body of Christ. it is called "invisible" because the greater part of those who constitute it are already in heaven or are yet unborn, and also because its members still on earth cannot certainly be distinguished. The qualifications of membership in it are internal and are hidden. It is unseen except by Him who "searches the heart." "The Lord knoweth them that are his" (2 Timothy 2:19).

The church to which the attributes, prerogatives, and promises appertaining to Christ's kingdom belong, is a spiritual body consisting of all true believers, i.e., the church invisible.

(1.) Its unity. God has ever had only one church on earth. We sometimes speak of the Old Testament Church and of the New Testament church, but they are one and the same. The Old Testament church was not to be changed but enlarged (Isaiah 49:13-23; 60:1-14). When the Jews are at length restored, they will not enter a new church, but will be grafted again into "their own olive tree" (Romans 11:18-24; Comp. Ephesians 2:11-22). The apostles did not set up a new organization. Under their ministry disciples were "added" to the "church" already existing (Acts 2:47).

(2.) Its universality. It is the "catholic" church; not confined to any particular country or outward organization, but comprehending all believers throughout the whole world.

(3.) Its perpetuity. It will continue through all ages to the end of the world. It can never be destroyed. It is an "everlasting kindgdom."

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) A building set apart for Christian worship.

2. (n.) A Jewish or heathen temple.

3. (n.) A formally organized body of Christian believers worshiping together.

4. (n.) A body of Christian believers, holding the same creed, observing the same rites, and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority; a denomination; as, the Roman Catholic church; the Presbyterian church.

5. (n.) The collective body of Christians.

6. (n.) Any body of worshipers; as, the Jewish church; the church of Brahm.

7. (n.) The aggregate of religious influences in a community; ecclesiastical influence, authority, etc.; as, to array the power of the church against some moral evil.

8. (v. t.) To bless according to a prescribed form, or to unite with in publicly returning thanks in church, as after deliverance from the dangers of childbirth; as, the churching of women.



Church and State

Church and State: Artaxerxes, in Exempting Priests, Levites, and Other Temple Functionaries from Taxes

Church and State: Attempted Usurpation of Ecclesiastical Functions by Civil Authorities, Reproved

Church and State: David

Church and State: Ecclesiastical Power Superior to Civil: Appoints Kings

Church and State: Ecclesiastical Power Superior to Civil: Directs Administration

Church and State: Ecclesiastical Power Superior to Civil: Reproves Rulers

Church and State: Ecclesiastical Power Superior to Civil: Withdraws Support and Anoints a Successor

Church and State: Manasseh, in Subverting, and Afterward Restoring, the True Religion

Church and State: Solomon

Church and State: State Favorable to Religion: Cyrus, in his Proclamation to Restore the Temple at Jerusalem

Church and State: State Favorable to Religion: Darius, in his Edict Furthering the Restoration of the Temple

Church and State: State Superior to Religion: Ahaz, in Transforming the Altars

Church and State: State Superior to Religion: Hezekiah, in Reorganizing Temple Service

Church and State: State Superior to Religion: Jehoash, in Supervising the Repairs of the Temple

Church and State: State Superior to Religion: Jeroboam, in Subverting the Jewish Religion

Church and State: State Superior to Religion: Josiah, in Exercising the Function of the Priests in the Temple

Church and State: State Superior to Religion: Solomon, in Thrusting Abiathar out of the High Priest's office

Church Attendance

Church Building

Church Conflict

Church Discipline

Church Fellowship

Church Finances

Church Government

Church Growth

Church Hopping

Church is Clothed in Righteousness

Church is Edified by the Word

Church is Glorious

Church is Prayed For

Church Leadership

Church Life

Church Members

Church Mothers

Church of Israel in Covenant With God

Church of Israel was Relatively Holy

Church of Israel: A Type of the Church of Christ

Church of Israel: Admission Into, by Circumcision

Church of Israel: All Israelites Members of

Church of Israel: Attachment of the Jews To

Church of Israel: Called The: Congregation of Israel

Church of Israel: Called The: Congregation of the Lord

Church of Israel: Established by God

Church of Israel: Had: A Spiritual Church Within It

Church of Israel: Had: An Appointed Place of Worship

Church of Israel: Had: An Ordained Ministry

Church of Israel: Had: Appointed Feasts

Church of Israel: Had: Appointed Ordinances

Church of Israel: Had: The Divine Presence Manifested in It

Church of Israel: Members of Excommunicated for Heavy Offenses

Church of Israel: Members of Required to Attend Its Worship

Church of Israel: Members of Required to Keeps Its Statutes

Church of Israel: Members of Required to Know Its Statutes

Church of Israel: Members of Separated From, While Unclean

Church of Israel: Persons Excluded From

Church of Israel: Privileges of

Church of Israel: Proselytes Admitted Into

Church of Israel: Supported by the People

Church of Israel: The Depository of Holy Writ

Church of Israel: Worship of, Consisted in Praise

Church of Israel: Worship of, Consisted in Prayer

Church of Israel: Worship of, Consisted in Preaching

Church of Israel: Worship of, Consisted in Reading God's Word

Church of Israel: Worship of, Consisted in Sacrifice

Church Order

Church Ordinances

Church Participation

Church Planting

Church: Assembly of the Saints

Church: Assembly of the Upright

Church: Backslidden

Church: Baptized (Immersed) Into by One Spirit

Church: Believers Continually Added To, by the Lord

Church: Body of Christ

Church: Branch of God's Planting

Church: Bride of Christ

Church: Called Courts

Church: Called the Congregation in the O. T. (K. J. V. And Others)

Church: Christ, Head of

Church: Christian, Divinely Established

Church: Christ's Love For

Church: Church of God

Church: Church of the Firstborn

Church: Church of the Living God

Church: City of the Living God

Church: Congregation

Church: Congregation of Saints

Church: Congregation of the Lord's Poor

Church: Corruption In

Church: Dear to God

Church: Decrees of

Church: Defiling of, Will be Punished

Church: Design of

Church: Dissensions In

Church: Divisions In, to be Shunned

Church: Dove

Church: Duty of, to Ministers

Church: Extent of, Predicted

Church: Family in Heaven and Earth

Church: Flock of God

Church: Fold of Christ

Church: General Assembly of the Firstborn (People)

Church: God Defends

Church: God Provides Ministers For

Church: God's Building

Church: God's Heritage

Church: God's Husbandry (Farm)

Church: Golden Candlestick (Lampstand)

Church: Government of, Mosaic and Christian

Church: Habitation of God

Church: Harmonious Fellowship of

Church: Heavenly Jerusalem

Church: His Kingdom

Church: Holy

Church: Holy City

Church: Holy Hill

Church: Holy Mountain

Church: Holy Place

Church: Holy Temple

Church: House of Christ

Church: House of God

Church: House of Prayer

Church: House of the Lord

Church: Household of God

Church: Inheritance

Church: Israel of God

Church: Kingdom of God

Church: Kingdom of Heaven

Church: King's Daughter

Church: Lamb's Bride

Church: Lamb's Wife

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Antioch

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Asia

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Babylon

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Caesarea

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Cenchrea

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Cilicia

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Corinth

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Ephesus

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Galatia

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Galilee

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Jerusalem

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Joppa

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Judaea

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Laodicea

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Pergamos

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Philadelphia

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Samaria

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Sardis

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Smyrna

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Syria

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Thessalonica

Church: List of Congregations of Christians: Thyatira

Church: Lot of God's Inheritance

Church: Love For

Church: Loved by Believers

Church: Membership In

Church: Militant

Church: Ministers Commanded to Feed

Church: Mount Zion

Church: Mountain of the Lord's House

Church: My Father's House

Church: My Kingdom

Church: New Jerusalem

Church: Not to be Despised

Church: Pillar and Ground of the Truth

Church: Place of God's Throne

Church: Pleasant Portion

Church: Privileges of

Church: Prophecies Concerning Prosperity of

Church: Rules of Discipline In, Mosaic and Christian

Church: Safe Under his Care

Church: Salt and Light of the World

Church: Sanctuary

Church: Sanctuary of God

Church: Sister of Christ

Church: Sought Out, a City not Forsaken

Church: Spiritual House

Church: Spouse of Christ

Church: Strength and Glory of God

Church: Tabernacle

Church: Temple

Church: Temple of God

Church: Temple of the Living God

Church: The God of Jacob

Church: The Lord's Portion

Church: The Wicked Persecute

Church: Thy Kingdom

Church: Triumphant

Church: Unclassified Scriptures Relating To

Church: Unity of

Church: Vineyard

Church: Worship of, to be Attended

Church: Zion

Emergent Church

The Church is Edified by the Word

The Church: Believers Continually Added To, by the Lord

The Church: Belongs to God

The Church: Christ, the Foundation-Stone of

The Church: Christ, the Head of

The Church: Clothed in Righteousness

The Church: Defiling of, Will be Punished

The Church: Displays the Wisdom of God

The Church: Elect

The Church: Extent of, Predicted

The Church: Glorious

The Church: Glory to be Ascribed to God By

The Church: God Defends

The Church: God Provides Ministers For

The Church: Loved by Christ

The Church: Ministers Commanded to Feed

The Church: Not to be Despised

The Church: Purchased by the Blood of Christ

The Church: Saints Baptised Into, by One Spirit

The Church: Sanctified and Cleansed by Christ

The Church: Shows Forth the Praises of God

The Church: Subject to Christ

The Church: The Body of Christ

The Church: The Object of the Grace of God

The Church: The Wicked Persecute

The Church: Unity of

Related Terms

Presbytery (1 Occurrence)




Deaconess (1 Occurrence)

Baptismal (1 Occurrence)

Barnabas (33 Occurrences)

Cornelius (10 Occurrences)




Deacon (4 Occurrences)

Follows (65 Occurrences)

Kingly (7 Occurrences)

Euodia (1 Occurrence)



Elder (34 Occurrences)

Government (20 Occurrences)




Fullness (31 Occurrences)

Chapel (1 Occurrence)

Colossae (1 Occurrence)


Pentecost (3 Occurrences)

Ananias (11 Occurrences)

Allegory (6 Occurrences)

Machpelah (6 Occurrences)

Tychicus (5 Occurrences)

Bethlehem (49 Occurrences)

Easter (1 Occurrence)


Goods (231 Occurrences)

First-born (110 Occurrences)

Emmaus (1 Occurrence)

Bethesda (1 Occurrence)

Circumcision (98 Occurrences)

Confirmation (3 Occurrences)

Community (77 Occurrences)

Assembly (371 Occurrences)

Confession (22 Occurrences)

Schism (1 Occurrence)

Salute (48 Occurrences)



Conception (6 Occurrences)

Rulers (310 Occurrences)

Titus (15 Occurrences)

Exaltation (9 Occurrences)

Sardis (3 Occurrences)


Keys (2 Occurrences)

Christian (41 Occurrences)

Golgotha (4 Occurrences)



Fold (23 Occurrences)

Detail (19 Occurrences)

Meets (17 Occurrences)

Phoebe (1 Occurrence)

Pillar (72 Occurrences)

Bithynia (2 Occurrences)

Bride (31 Occurrences)

Congregation (347 Occurrences)

Contribution (24 Occurrences)

Amen (74 Occurrences)

Apostolic (2 Occurrences)

Achaicus (1 Occurrence)

Stephanas (3 Occurrences)

Syntyche (1 Occurrence)

Sanctuary (250 Occurrences)

Seat (256 Occurrences)

Feet (2931 Occurrences)

Praise (487 Occurrences)

Silas (22 Occurrences)

Virgin (62 Occurrences)

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