The meaning of "church"


#1

In attempting to establish an authoritative church with my non-Catholic Christian uncle, he had this to say (forgive me, I know this is a little long):

*Church: when I studied this I investigated the original language which is “Hebraic” Greek, written by Jews who had become followers of Yeshua. So, here is a study on the word “church” which you can check out yourself. The Greek word used for church is ekklesia. But the disciples did not speak Greek they spoke Hebrew. The etymology of this word is very interesting as the meaning for church did not mean an “institution” but a gathering, as does the word synagogue, the Hebrew word for ekklesia is “edah” and for synagogue it is “kahal”. (An interesting side note the word church is not a direct translation of ekklesia and comes from a transliteration of the invented Greek word Kuriakon (which means “house of the Lord”) but according to the Greek-English Lexicon Kuriakos stems from kirk, kirche, church, which is further defined as a circle a Latin derivative.) These words are used to describe either a place to gather (for a specific reason) or to describe a group of people who gather for a specific reason. At the time the bible was written ekklesia had no “religious” connotation. So, the words, assembly, congregation and/or community are the proper translations. If you put any of these words both in the usage of synagogue or church, you will not only change the way it reads but also take any theology that gives “this church” a right to claim they are God’s Israel today. *

I am not sure what point he’s trying to make here or how to proceed. :shrug: I’ve used Matthew 16:18-19 and asked him repeatedly if this verse established a church with authority or not… he refuses to answer and instead says, "Until we establish and agree on the interpretation of the word “church” and what you infer by authoritative there is no question to answer. You have not responded to my studies on the mistranslation of “church” in the Messianic writings (known as the New Testament…also mistranslated). Where ever two or three are gathered there AM I in their midst. Matthew 18:20. Yeshua tabernacles within you and I. We are living “stones” (1 Peter 2:5). Christ is the corner and cap of His Assembly, His Body His Bride. He is the Head. Our first challenge is what is Church?


#2

The word “church” is defined.
youtube.com/watch?v=4k2ZURtWSNE


#3

I don’t believe this ^ one bit but it sounds like that is what my uncle is trying to say. Need to refute with truth and facts!


#4

"Until we establish and agree on the interpretation of the word “church” and what you infer by authoritative there is no question to answer.

This sounds like the perfect reason we have such scripture as Mt 18:17…

If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Ask, now which church do you propose we go to to resovel this? His, your, or theirs?:shrug:

Peace!!!


#5

What would be the purpose of Paul and Barnabas being sent to Jerusalem in Acts 15?

Peace!!!


#6

Your uncle is attempting to solve a problem that is unique to Protestantism: how to reconcile the fact that Jesus clearly promised to build “one church” (cf. Mt. 16:18-19) with the glaring reality that there are many, many Protestant denominations. The good news is that he’s willing to face it head on…many Protestants simply look the other way.

One devastating formulation of this problem that Protestants face (or ignore) is:

Today, there are hundreds if not thousands of independent Christian denominations throughout the world. Given this situation, we realize one of the following must be true:

  1. Jesus established more than one church

  2. Jesus established one church, but it is an invisible, abstract, “spiritual” church in which all true believers, regardless of denomination, are members. In this church, either:
    (a) Doctrine does not matter, or
    (b) Conflicting and contradictory doctrines are acceptable.

  3. Jesus established one, visible church in which doctrine matters and does not conflict. This church contains the fullness of truth as revealed by God; all others have partial truth, at best.

Your non-Catholic uncle will probably reject #1 on the basis of scripture.

However, #2 will make him squirm if he believes that doctrine does matter and that contradictory doctrines are unacceptable. (For example, some denominations teach that infants should be baptized; others reject infant baptism. They cannot both be teaching accurately from the Word of God.) Additionally, scripture tells us that “a city built on a hill cannot be hidden”. Consequently, how can that city, which represents the Church, be invisible if it is clearly seen by all? As a Catholic, you have many verses like this to support your understanding of a visible, hierarchical organization as opposed to his abstract, spiritual understanding.

This leaves option #3 which will also make him uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. Because it points to the Catholic understanding of a single, visible, hierarchical Church under the leadership and authority of the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.


#7

Now, I want to address his misuse of this verse.

Wherever two or three are gathered…
An Explanation of “Church” in light of Matthew 18:19-20

Non-denominational Christians often reject the concept of a structured, hierarchical Church led by bishops, priests and deacons. One of their common objections is that the “church” exists wherever two or three believers are gathered in His name. Is this really how the Bible defines the Church? Let’s take a closer look at the Word of God to see if this is true.

Matthew 18:19-20
19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

From this passage, many Christians conclude that the “church” is composed of small groups of believers that come together from time to time. While it is true that Jesus has promised to be with believers who are gathered in His name, it is obvious from another passage that this is not how Jesus Himself defines the Church.

In fact, just a few verses earlier, Jesus had given a fuller picture of the Church when He said:

Matthew 18:15-17
15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

If “two or three” believers gathered together really constitutes the “church” (as envisioned by those who reject “organized religion”), then it would not be necessary for us to refer the one who sins against us to “the church”. Doing so would be redundant! To the contrary, it is obvious in this passage that Jesus actually makes a clear distinction between the “two or three others” in verse 16 and “the church” in verse 17.

Clearly, Jesus does not consider that “two or three” constitute the Church that He Himself would build. Neither should we. Beginning with Peter, the rock, and the apostles, Jesus has built the Church just as He promised through their successors—the bishops, priests and deacons of the Catholic Church.


#8

Now, we will consider his question concerning authrority:

In order to protect and preserve the truth, Jesus gave authority to the church

Paul wrote:

“Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:15)

In order for the Church to fulfill its function as the pillar and foundation of the truth, the Church must have authority with which to speak to and teach those who are seeking truth. How can we be sure that the Church has this authority? Jesus illustrated the authority of the church this way:

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:15-18)

Jesus tells us to take our unresolved disputes to the Church as the last “court of appeal” for disciplinary matters. He does not tell us to consult the Bible to determine what should be done; no, the Church is the final arbiter. If anyone refuses to listen “even to the Church”, there is no further appeal; he is to be thrown out. Why does the Church have this final say? Because Jesus told the Apostles that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:16)

If the Church is to speak with any effectiveness at all to the world about the truth on matters of faith and morals (not astronomy, biology or economics, etc.), then it must be able to do so with authority. Therefore, Jesus established a Church that can teach authoritatively regarding these truths. How can the world find the Church unless they can see it?

The authority of the church is Apostolic Authority

The Church’s authority is unique in that it is derived from the authority of the Apostles themselves. Apostolic Authority flows from the Authority of Jesus and the Father.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-19)

“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ “ (John 20:21)

From this, we can see that God the Father has given all authority to God the Son who in turn bestows this authority upon His own disciples and sends them out to preach the truth to all the world. Thus, we can see that the Apostolic Authority of the Church is God-given. But how closely should the Church be identified with Christ? Jesus Himself specified how we should receive those sent by Christ:

“He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Lk 10:16)

(cont.)


#9

In order to lead people into all truth free from error, Jesus established a church that is infallible

If we hear Jesus when we hear His Apostles, then we can be sure that the Apostles are speaking the truth. However, there are even more scriptural reasons for us to be confident that the Church founded by Christ is prevented from teaching anything that conflicts with the truth. Taking a second look at the verses quoted from Matthew 28 above:

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ “(Matthew 28:18-19)

Focusing on the last phrase, we can see that Jesus has promised that He will remain with the Church “always, to the end of the age.” With Jesus remaining with her always, how can the Church go wrong when teaching the truth about Christ Himself? But there’s more:

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

Jesus promises to send the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to remain with the Church forever, to teach her leaders all things and to remind them of everything Jesus had taught them. It is this sure guidance of Jesus and the Holy Spirit that protects the Church from teaching error in matters of faith and morals. But do we really need someone to teach us the truth or can we pick up the Bible and interpret it correctly for ourselves?

“Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard [an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians] reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:30-31)

In this passage, the Ethiopian Eunuch, an important and educated official of the Ethiopian government, is reading the book of Isaiah, but he cannot understand what the prophet is saying. He asks, Philip, one of the Apostles and leaders of the early Church, to teach him the truths found in the passages before him. Like the Ethiopian official, we also need clear explanation of the proper meaning of the Bible, and the Church provides that in its role as teacher of the truth. Was this a one-time incident that only involved single person who did not know of the events that had been happening in Jerusalem? Well, Peter spoke further regarding private interpretation of scripture:

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20 NIV)

This quotation actually contains one of the most obvious examples of the bias found in the New International Version because the translators chose the words “ the prophet’s” to deflect the focus away from the implications that we cannot interpret scripture properly apart from an infallible Church. This is seen clearly in a more accurate translation reads:

“First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation” (1 Peter 1:20 RSV – Catholic Edition)

Peter gives additional warning about misinterpretation of scripture in his second general letter when he wrote:

“Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:15-17)

If the scriptures are difficult to understand and subject to misinterpretation, how could anyone understand the truth that Jesus wants everyone to receive? Echoing the words of Jesus, the Apostle John wrote:

“We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us.” 1 John 4:6

From this, we can see that there was a group of men who could be listened to with confidence. Peter also spoke of these reliable witnesses who spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit when he wrote:

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. (1 Peter 1:12)


#10

According to Strong’s Greek Concordance, the word ‘ἐκκλησία’ or ‘ekklésia’ used in Matthew 16:18 and 18:17 as well as is used throughout Acts is defined as: “an assembly, congregation, church; the Church, the whole body of Christian believers.” biblehub.com/greek/1577.htm


Ecclesia - 1. an assembly, especially the popular assembly of ancient Athens. 2. a congregation; church.

Church - 1. a building for public Christian worship. 2. public worship of God or a religious service in such a building, 3. (sometimes initial capital letter) the whole body of Christian believers; Christendom. 4. (sometimes initial capital letter) any division of this body professing the same creed and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority; a Christian denomination, 5. that part of the whole Christian body, or of a particular denomination, belonging to the same city, country, nation, etc. 6. a body of Christians worshipping in a particular building or constituting one congregation, 7. ecclesiastical organization, power, and affairs, as distinguished from the state


#11

The meaning of the church is eternally known love.


#12

Were it not for the development, rightly or wrongly, of a visible hierarchical body, I don’t see how Christianity would have survived. If not for an authoritative corporate structure with deacons, priests, and bishops, Christianity would have become just one more of the mystery cults of the Roman empire. Like it or not, without a visible authority, how could Christianity not disintegrate into multiple cults, with multiple scriptures? And not disappear with all the forgotten others?

An authoritative body, the Church, gave us the Christian scriptures, told us what was Scripture and what was not; what was Christianity and what was not. It was an organized church body that sent out missionaries and evangelized western Europe, without which we would still be pagans.

This is just simple history. So whether an organized church is correct or not, without it we would not be having this discussion today.


#13

I think it’s plain that Paul’s efforts were to “standardize” the churches he wrote to, showing that local churches going their own ways with their own interpretations made absolutely no sense --*** then***. It makes no sense*** today*** either, except to validate that there are false teachers toda***y and there were then***.


#14

Let it be an assembly. But which, particular, assembly? Just any assembly, defined by themselves, defined as not “God’s Israel” today in any case? But how about the Jehovah Witness’s assembly? Does it qualify as a Christian assembly just because they’re an assembly? Or should only* certain *assemblies qualify, depending on and ratified by their beliefs?


#15

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