Nature and foundations of church (3)

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The church is the people called by God, who are united by their faith in Christ and by their common life in him. Various descriptions and metaphors emphasise the continuity between the people of God in the OT and NT.


NT images of the church

The body of Christ

Romans 12:4–5 KJV 1900
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
See also 1 Co 12:12; 1 Co 12:27; Eph 3:6; Eph 5:23; Col 1:18; Col 1:24; Col 2:19; Col 3:15

God’s building or temple

1 Corinthians 3:16–17 KJV 1900
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
See also 1 Co 3:10; 2 Co 6:16; Eph 2:21–22; Heb 3:6; Heb 10:21; 1 Pe 2:5

A plant or vine

John 15:1–8 KJV 1900
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
See also Ro 11:17–24; 1 Co 3:6–8

Jesus Christ’s flock

John 10:14–16 KJV 1900
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
See also Mt 25:33; Lk 12:32; Ac 20:28–29; 1 Pe 5:2–4

The bride of Christ

Revelation 21:2 KJV 1900
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
See also Eph 5:25–27; Eph 5:31–32; Re 19:7; Re 22:17

God’s household or family

Ephesians 2:19 KJV 1900
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
See also Jn 8:35–36; Ga 6:10; Eph 3:15; 1 Ti 3:15; Heb 2:11; 1 Pe 2:17; 1 Pe 4:17

NT descriptions of the church

Emphasising continuity with the OT church

Abraham’s offspring:

Ro 4:16; Ga 3:7; Ga 3:29

The people of God:

Ro 9:25; 2 Co 6:16; Heb 13:12; 1 Pe 2:9–10

The new Jerusalem:

Ga 4:26; Heb 12:22; Re 3:12; Re 21:2; Re 21:9–10
Ga 6:16 the Israel of God

Emphasising God’s call and authority in the church

Sons of God:

Mt 5:9; Jn 1:12; Ro 8:15–16; 2 Co 6:18; Ga 3:26; Ga 4:5–6; 1 Jn 3:10

The elect:

Mt 24:22; Ro 11:7; 2 Ti 2:10; 1 Pe 1:1

Heirs of God and God’s inheritance:

Ro 8:17; Ga 3:29; Ga 4:7; Tt 3:7; Heb 1:14; Heb 6:17; 1 Pe 1:4

A priesthood:

1 Pe 2:5; 1 Pe 2:9; Re 1:6; Re 5:10; Re 20:6

Descriptions applied to the church by outsiders

Followers of the Way:

Ac 9:2; Ac 19:9; Ac 19:23; Ac 22:4; Ac 24:14
Ac 11:26 Christians; Ac 24:5 “the Nazarene sect” means people belonging to Jesus the “Nazarene” (Mt 2:23)

Descriptions used by Christians

The believers. All these titles are seldom in the singular, emphasising the corporateness of Christian life:

Ac 1:15; Ac 2:44; Ac 5:12; Ga 6:10; 1 Ti 4:12; 1 Pe 2:17

The disciples:

Ac 6:1–2; Ac 9:19; Ac 11:26; Ac 14:22; Ac 20:1

The “saints” is the most frequently used NT term for Christians. It means “set apart for God”, “made holy”:

Ro 1:7; Ro 15:25; 1 Co 6:1; 1 Co 14:33; Eph 1:1; Php 4:21; Col 1:12; Jud 3

Other NT descriptions of the church

1 Ti 3:15 the pillar and foundation of the truth; Heb 12:23 The church of the firstborn. “the firstborn” is plural, referring to Christians as those born again through their union with Christ, who is the firstborn.

The foundation of the church

Jesus Christ as the church’s foundation-stone

1 Corinthians 3:11 KJV 1900
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
See also Mt 7:24–25; Mt 21:42; Ac 4:11; Eph 2:20; 1 Pe 2:6; Is 28:16; 1 Pe 2:7; Ps 118:22

Apostles and prophets as founders of the church

Ephesians 2:19–20 KJV 1900
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
See also Mt 16:18–19; Re 21:14

The church as God’s people

A people chosen by God

1 Peter 2:9 KJV 1900
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
See also Jn 15:16; Ro 8:33; Eph 1:4; Col 3:12; 2 Th 2:13; Jas 2:5; 1 Pe 1:2

A people called by God

Romans 1:6 KJV 1900
Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:
See also Ac 2:39; 1 Co 1:2; 1 Co 1:9; Ga 1:6; 2 Th 2:14; 2 Ti 1:9; Jud 1

A people loved by God

1 Peter 2:10 KJV 1900
Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
See also Eph 2:1–5; Tt 3:4–7

God’s covenant people

Hebrews 8:8–10 KJV 1900
For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
See also Ro 11:27; Is 59:20–21; Heb 10:16; Je 31:31–33
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