Determining how church is defined in the Bible could be done a few different ways. If we were to simply look up the word “church” in our modern dictionaries we would get something like, “a building for public and especially Christian worship” or “the clergy or officialdom of a religious body.” We might also go to a Greek dictionary to understand the word ekklesia. It is the Greek word translated “church” in the New Testament and means “a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly”). However, both of these approaches would fall far short of what we might otherwise understand from how God defines church in the Bible.

How Scripture answers "How is Christ’s church defined in the Bible?"

The church defined in the Bible is one that Jesus would build1 and acquire through His own blood5. Its first members were those added by God (the saved or the “saints”7,9) on the day of Pentecost2. These saints that remained local (some no doubt traveled back to their homes after Pentecost) made up the church in Jerusalem3. From there, members of various local churches (but all part of the universal church) spread the good news4,7,10 and multiplied the church into other locales4,9,10,11. While there are many local churches referred to by many names in the New Testament5,11, they are all part of the one “universal” church of which Jesus Christ is the savior5,8 and to which it is subject1,6,8. This image of Christ/head and church/body6,8 is just one of the many images used to help us understand how the church is defined in the Bible.

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