Universal or Local?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by garpier, Jun 29, 2005.

  1. garpier

    garpier
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    As most of you are aware, the greek word ecclesia is translated church in most instances. Based on the 1st century greek understanding of that word, can the church be said to be local or unviersal in New Testament usage? What scripture supports your answer?
     
  2. OldRegular

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    In the New Testament the word church is used in two different ways. Most frequently the word is used to refer to a local body of believers, a single congregation. However, on occasion the word is used to refer to the entire number of the elect, all those who will be gathered into one under Jesus Christ [Acts 20:28; Hebrews 12:23; Colossians 1:18, 24,25; Ephesians 1:22, 23; Ephesians 2:19-22; Ephesians 5:23-32].

    May I also add the view of the Southern Baptist Convention regarding the church. The Baptist Faith and Message adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta, Georgia on June 14, 2000 writes of the Church in Section VI as follows: “The New Testament speaks also of the Church as the Body of Christ which includes all the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.”
     
  3. superdave

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    Yes, the church can be said to be universal and local.

    The above verses are good examples of the use of the word in a universal sense, there are also many examples of it being used in reference to a specific local manifestation of the body of Christ.
     
  4. TCassidy

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    The church is local and visible. The idea of an assmebly scattered all over the world which never assembles is the exact opposite of the way the bible uses the word.

    Of the 114 times the words "church" and "churches" are used in the bible, 99 are unquestionable local. Of the remaining 15 times, the word is used in a generic sense, no church in particular, all churches in general.

    Never, anywhere in the bible, is the word ever used to denote a "universal, invisible, mystical church."
     
  5. Barnabas H.

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    A BIG amen to that Dr. Cassidy! [​IMG]
     
  6. Joseph_Botwinick

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    BJH and Brother Cassidy,

    Would you agree, however, that all Christians around the world, no matter where they live, are part of the same body of Christ? In that sense, are they not part of the universal Church of Christ?

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  7. Sounddoctrine04

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    What scripturally would be the correct word to refer to all Christians in this world as one group?

    Some words that come to mind would be: the redeemed or the saved. Yet these are descriptive rather than nominative. If you were to call all the Christians by a single name, what would you call them (of course with a scriptural backing)?
     
  8. TCassidy

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    I would agree that all the saved are part of the Family of God, the Kingdom of God, and are seated with Him in the Heavenlies, in Him, and part of His Body, seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high. They are all our brothers and sisters, children of the Father.

    But that is not the church. The church is an organized assembly of baptized believers. They are not organized, assembled, nor are all of them baptized. The only thing they have in common is being believers. [​IMG]
     
  9. Squire Robertsson

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    We would do well (as I probably mis-remember Overby), to remember that the word ekklesia is not a neo-logism. The Holy Spirit did not cause the NT writers to use it de novo (out of the blue). The word had meaning to those with any ability in the Greek language. In other words, a person with only a cursory knowledge of Greek would have known what the writer menat by ekklesia.

    Yes, it had a root meaning and usage. Please note the Ephesian civic assembly in Acts. However, by the time of the NT the word's use had spread out into society. It still kept its basic meaning: an organized, autonomous group banded/gathered together for specific purpose. In this usage, the modern synonyms might be society (SPCA), association (AARP), lodge (Moose, Elks, et al.).

    Another point to remember is one reason God used Koine Greek. It has a fairly well rounded vocabulary. Koine Greek had a word in common usage for evrything God wanted to say. If He had wanted to use a word with a clear universial or non-local shade of meaning, Koine Greek has words for kingdom or empire.
     
  10. TCassidy

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    There was also a word meaning "general assembly" as used in Hebrews 12:23. πανηγυρει

    The church is the specific assembly. εκκλησια

    πανηγυρει = general assembly = all believers.

    εκκλησια = local assembly = a specific group of believers.
     
  11. Squire Robertsson

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    Again more support for the exactness of Greek's vocabulary. And I would posit the Holy Spirit is fluent in Greek. He would use the word that most closely matches His meaning.
     
  12. Deacon

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    The church is both local and universal.
    Which local church will Christ present Himself to?

    The apostles were given to the "church universal" and not to a specific local body of believers.

    Rob
     
  13. 4His_glory

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    I used to be very dogamtic that there only the local church existed in the NT, now I am not as dogamtic about it. I ran into some difficulty with certain passages and it would see that one may imply a "universal" church. I really don't like that term though.

    It is evident in the NT that Gods deallings in this dispensation are through the local church. His purposes on this earth will be carried out by local churches. The local church has the primacy in Scrpiture.
     
  14. Sounddoctrine04

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    Any takers on my question posted June 30, 2005 05:06 PM?
     
  15. TCassidy

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    The aggregate of all the local church assembled together in heaven just as Hebrews says.
    Sorry, but the Apostles were given to the church in Jerusalem, and then, by extension and growth, to all churches generically, no church specifically. No "universal church" in any of those verses. [​IMG]
     
  16. Deacon

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    Ephesians uses the husband/wife or the bride of Christ metaphor to illustrate the collection of true believers we call the universal church.

    In other places the metaphor of a body,
    (Romans 12:1-5; ("...we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.)
    1 Corinthians 10:16-17; (...we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread).

    Still other places the universal church called a building.
    Ephesians 2:19-22; (...you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit).
    (c.f. 1 Peter 2:4-7).

    A flock, branches, a priesthood, these are a few metaphors of the aggregate/collection of believers we call the universal church.

    Rob
     
  17. Sounddoctrine04

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    I've read some of the antenicean father's writings, and many refer to the "catholic Church" (not "Catholic Church"). They oft used the ADJECTIVE (not proper noun) "catholic" to describe the body of Christ corporate--that is, in reference to all believers everywhere and not just to a specific local church.

    This of course is not authoritive in itself, but is worth some consideration.
     
  18. rlvaughn

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    I like "family of God", though it's not the only term, or perhaps even most common.

    Ephesians 3:14-16 "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man..."
     
  19. TCassidy

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    Sorry, but it doesn't. Ephesians was written to the local church at Ephesus.
    Yes, each local church is a body of believers belonging to Christ.
    Yes, each local church is built up by the Lord.
    No such thing as a "universal church." There is no such languaged ever used anywhere in the bible. [​IMG]
     
  20. TCassidy

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    Actually, if you will read what they were saying in context they were saying the church was universal, not that there was a universal church.

    I have traveled all over the world and found cars everywhere I went. The car is universal, but that doesn't imply the existance of a universal car. [​IMG]
     

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