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This article is about the group of people who share faith based in Christianity. For other uses, see Church (disambiguation).

Church refers to the group or body of persons who share faith based in Christianity. All other uses of this term extend from this (Judeo-Christian) and related contexts.


[edit] Origins

The Christian concept "Church" (Greek εκκλησια - ekklesia, ref. Strong's Concordance - 1577) is mentioned in the New Testament. Of the 114 occurrences of the term in the New Testament three are found in the Gospel accounts, all in the Gospel according to Matthew on the lips of Jesus: "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my ekklesia, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Mt 16:18); and "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the ekklesia; and if he refuses to listen even to the ekklesia, let him be to you as the Gentile and the tax-collector" (Mt 18:17).

The Greek term εκκλησια - ekklesia, literally meaning a "convocation", was a governmental and political term, used to denote a national assembly, congregation or council of common objective (see Ecclesia (ancient Athens), Ecclesia (Church)). It was a team that worked together to resolve a problem faced by the wider community or society, but did not signify a "building".

The Christian use of this term has its direct antecedent in the Koine Greek translation of the Old Testament (see also Septuagint), where the noun ekklesia has been employed 96 times to denote the congregation of the Children of Israel, which Christians regard as a type of the "Body of Christ", as they also call the Christian Church of Christ.

[edit] Attributes

The Church, as described in the Bible, has a twofold character that can be described as the visible and invisible church. As the Church invisible, the church consists of all those from every time and place, who are vitally united to Christ through regeneration and salvation and who will eternally united to Jesus Christ in eternal life. The Church visible consists of all those who visibly join themselves to a profession of faith and gathering together to know and serve the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. The visible church exists globally in all who identify themselves as Christians and locally in particlar places where believers gather for the worship of God. The visible church may also refer to an association of particular churches from multiple locations who unite themselves under a common charter and set of governmental principles. The church in the visible sense is often governed by office-bearers carrying titles such as minister, pastor, teacher, elder, and deacon.

Major forms of church government include hierarchical (Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodoxy), presbyterian (rule by elders), and independent (Baptist, charismatic, other forms of independency).

As an institution of the Lord Jesus Christ, the church has power over doctrine and ordinances. Doctrine or matters of faith have often been codified in statements of faith, creeds, and confessions. Ordinances have included public worship, the Sabbath, church government, and the sacraments (Baptism, the Lord's Supper).

On many occasions Jesus used the term "temple" (e.g. Mark 14:49 ιερον - hieron, ref. Strong's Concordance - 2413); but this use of "church" was something clearly disparate. The temple was an expression of the church. Christ showed His zeal for His Bride, the Church, when he cast out the money changers and those who were selling doves while quoting Isaiah 56:7 where God's temple mountain is described as "a house of prayer for all people" (See Matthew 21:12-17). Christ's zeal for His Church in this incident is also expressed as "the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up" (See Psalm 69:9,John 2:17). Jesus Christ has promised that he will gather people to himself in the church. He promised, "I will build my church..." (Matthew 16:18).

[edit] Metaphors

The Bible uses a wide range of metaphors to describe what the church is like. These include:

[edit] References

  • Bannerman, James, The Church of Christ: A treatise on the nature, powers, ordinances, discipline and government of the Christian Church, Still Waters Revivial Books, Edmonton, Reprint Edition May 1991, First Edition 1869.
  • Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England, 1994. See particularly Part 6: The Doctrine of the Church
  • Kuiper, R.B., The Glorious Body of Christ, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1967

[edit] See also

da:Kirke de:Kirche (Organisation) et:Kirik (pühakoda) es:Iglesia eo:Eklezio fr:Église (institution) gd:Eaglais id:Gereja it:Chiesa he:כנסייה la:Ecclesia hu:Egyház nb:Kirke nl:Kerk (instituut) ja:教会 nn:Kyrkje nds:Kark pl:Kościół (organizacja) pt:Igreja sco:Kirk simple:Church sv:Kyrka tpi:Sios zh:教会


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