Defining “Church”

The definition of the word “church” has expanded over time. From what I’ve seen, this is often a source of confusion. To add clarity to the entries I will file in this blog under “Church”, I’m defining the word as I will use it.

The American Heritage dictionary defines “church” as:

    church (chûrch) n. 

  1. A building for public, especially Christian worship.
  2. often Church
    1. The company of all Christians regarded as a spiritual body.
    2. A specified Christian denomination: the Presbyterian Church.
    3. A congregation.
  3. Public divine worship in a church; a religious service: goes to church at Christmas and Easter.
  4. The clerical profession; clergy.
  5. Ecclesiastical power as distinguished from the secular: the separation of church and state.

2a is the way I see it.

Eph 5:23 …as Christ also is head of the church, He Himself being the savior of the body.
1 Tim 3:5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household well, how will he take care of the church of God?);

Notice how both references to “church” use it as singular. There are instances where it’s used as plural, so 2c is also applicable. However, when referring directly to God’s church, there is only one.

Rom 12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ…

Eph 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

So you might be saying “it seems like you’re using ‘body’ and ‘church’ interchangeably.” Yes indeed.

Eph 1:22 And He put all thing in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him how fills all in all.

So keep the above in mind when you see me write the word “church.”

More Information

What is the Church of Christ? (PDF) More information on “church” – by author Allan Turner

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