The word "church" in the Bible


#1

I’ve not heard an explanation as to why the word “church” is not capitalized in the Bible. My protestant friends say that if Christ was referring to one visible institution it should be capitalized, and it’s not.

I don’t actually think that argument holds much weight, but I’d like some help in responding to them.

Thanks


#2

You could mention that there was no capitalization whatsoever in the Greek of the first century, just uppercase letters, and that, as a result, capitalization is strictly according to the preference of the translator of Scripture.

Justin


#3

Quite a lot of modern translations capitalize words like He, Him, You, Father, and other words referring to the divine. Many believe that’s why church should be capitalized. This, of course, is a flawed methodology according to English grammar.

It’s important to note, however, that aside from the fact that Koine Greek didn’t allow for this really, it’s also worth noting that the word existed before its religious use, and thus had a general meaning well before the Biblical authors employed it in their writings. Thus to them, there may have been no need to capitalize the word anyway.


#4

Do differerent traslations sometimes capitalize? Seems the RSV or NAB would be the ones to do it if that was the case.


#5

The Church

John 10:3,4,11,27,28 - he calleth his own sheep by name - the sheep follow him for they know his voice - the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep - my sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me - and I give unto them eternal life.

Ephesians 5:25 – Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.

* church - Greek: ekklesia - "a calling out"; hence "the called" of God.

Proverbs 20:12 – The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them.

Isaiah 50:5 – He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the leaarned - the Lord God hath opened mine ear.

Matthew 11:15 – He that hath ears to hear, let him hear –

* hear - Greek: akouo - to understand by imperative command; having the same effectual work of God as when he said "Let there be light" - It is so.

In ancient Israel the kingdom was considered a sheepfold, ruled by a shepherd-king. The subjects were called sheep (Ezek. 34:2-10). The whole people of Israel was designated “the church” as a divinely called congregation. The early Christians believed themselves to be this “church” or true sheep of Israel. Stephen spoke of this church being in the wilderness with Moses (Acts 7:38). The church (called out) and sheep are equivalent terms. The sheep are “called out” of this world to live righteously as the kingdom of God (Luke 17:21). Israel was called The Kingdom of God (or heaven). Jesus as the shepherd-king died for His sheep (the church).


#6

Wouldn’t it be common sense that if there were only one church, then there would be no need for it to be referred to as “The Church”? There was nothing else to distinguish against…?


#7

In Mathew 18:17 of the Douay version, the word “Church” is capitalized two times.


#8

Unfortunately, that can seen to be a biased translation as much as the translators’ additions in the Amplified Bible can be.

They went into the translational effort with the preconception that “the church” meant “the holy Roman Catholic Church”. Likewise, the translators of the Amplified Bible do things like…

“Call no man [on earth] Father.”

Bias will be seen in almost every translation. The best you can do, short of learning Hebrew and Greek, is to compare multiple translations by multiple authors with multiple points of view. Additionally, you should read a variety of commentaries on given passages to try to glean an accurate understanding of a text.

If you do this, as I have done, you’ll notice that at the time, there really was only a single Christian community of believers (aka “church”), so “the Church” wouldn’t have been necessary anyway. However, since there were other churches (such as the Jews who rejected Jesus), distinction is necessary – when Paul makes distinction, he doesn’t say “the ONLY church”. He says “the church of the living god” or something like that (note that god, in that use would be more appropriately translated as a noun like “deity”, rather than as a proper name, thus the capitalization is unwarranted, but most translators do it anyway, out of tradition).


#9

The word “biased” is the quickest excuse. But at least I have shown that there is a translation which have the word “Church” capitalized.

Now, as to biases in bible translations, the same biases could be attributed to the Church when she selected which writing or book should be considered inspired. Being the pillar and mainstay of the truth, she alone possesses that privilege to be biased in favor of the truth as the Holy Spirit reveals to her.


#10

True, but I can show you translations where that was not done; thus we have proved nothing.

Now, as to biases in bible translations, the same biases could be attributed to the Church when she selected which writing or book should be considered inspired. Being the pillar and mainstay of the truth, she alone possesses that privilege to be biased in favor of the truth as the Holy Spirit reveals to her.

That’s flawed reasoning based on the unproven assertion that the Roman Catholic Church is the church referred to in scripture. However, that’s best left for another topic.


#11

We have proved something, because JimRyan was asking if other translations sometimes capitalize. Here is his post:

*Originally Posted by JimRyan View Post
Do differerent traslations sometimes capitalize? Seems the RSV or NAB would be the ones to do it if that was the case.
*
We have proved to JimRyan that there is a translation that have the word “Church” capitalized.

It has already been proven many times by various posters that the Roman Catholic Church is the church built by Christ. But unfortunately, truth is not always sweet. Yes, that could well be left for another thread.

God Bless!


#12

Because the word “church” according to the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit is a common noun, not a proper noun.

Translators that do not capitalize the word are correct.


#13

To put it another way the “church” referred to in the bible is what later became the Roman Catholic Church. It is great to know that church refers the hearers of the voice of God. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


#14

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