THE LOCAL VISIBLE CHURCH
I.STATEMENT OF FACTS.
A.The word “ecclesia” is used 115 time in the Greek N.T.
B.The ways it is translated:
1.Church – 112 times.
2.Assembly – 3 times.
3.The word “church” in I Peter 5:13 is supplied by the translators, and is not in the original Greek.
C.Of the 112 times the word ecclesia is translated ‘church or “churches” it definitely applies to the N.T. Organization, except in one case – Acts 7:38, Here the reference is to Israel assembled in the wilderness.
D.The following breakdown will prove:
1.That 93 of the 111 times ecclesia definitely refers to local congregations.
2.That the remaining 18 times ecclesia refers to the Lord’s church in the institutiona, generic, or abstract sense (lesson 6).
II.SURVEY OF THE REFERENCE TO LOCAL CHURCHES.
A.The Church at Jerusalem”
1.Acts 8:1; Acts 11:22; Acts 15:4
2.Acts 12:1; Acts 15:22 – proved by the passage.
B.The Church at Antioch (Syria):
1.Acts 11:26; Acts 13:1; Acts 14:27
2.Acts 15:3 – by context.
C.The Church at Cenchrea – Romans 16:1
D.The Church at Corinth:
1.I Cor. 1:2; II Cor. 1:1;
2.Romans 16:23 – written from Corinth.
E.The Curch at Laodicea – Col. 4:16; Revelation 3:14
F.The Church at Thessalonica – I Thess. 1:1; II Thess. 1:1
G.The Church at Ephesus – Revelation 2:1; Acts 20:17
H.The Church at Smyrna – Revelation 2:8
I.The Church at Pergamos – Revelation 2:12
J.The Church at Thyatira – Revelation 2:18
K.The Church at Sardis – Revelation 3:1
L.The Church at Philadelphia – Revelation 3:7
M.Churches in houses – Romans 16:5; I Cor. 16:19; Philemon 2; Col. 4:15
1.In Syria and Cilicia – Acts 15:41
2.In Galatia – I Cor. 16:1; Galatians 1:2
3.In Asia – I Cor. 16:19; Rev. 1:4; Rev. 1:11; Rev. 1:20 (twice); Rev. 2:7; Rev. 2:11; Rev. 2:17; Rev. 2:23; Rev. 2:29; Rev. 3:6; “Rev. 3:13; Rev. 3:22.
4.In Macedonia – II Cor. 8:1
5.In Judea – Gal. 1:22
6.In Judea, Galilee, Samaria – Acts 9:31
7.In Lystra, Iconium, Antioch – Acts 14:23
8.Of the Gentiles – Rom. 16:4
O.Proof by context:
1.Jerusalem – Acts 2:47; Acts 5:11; Acts 8:3; Acts 12:5; Acts 18:22 (not at Caesarea); I Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13; Phil. 3:6.
2.Corinth – I Cor. 11:18; I Cor. 11:22; I Cor 14:4; I Cor. 14:5; I Cor. 14:19; I Cor. 14:23; I Cor. 14:28; I Cor. 14:35; I Cor. 6:4; I Cor. 14:12.
3.Asia – Acts 16:5; Rev. 22:16
4.Judea – II Cor. 8:19; II Cor. 8:23; II Cor. 8:24; I Thes. 2:14.
5.Macedonia – II Cor. 11:8
P.Churches at any given place:
1.I Cor. 4:17; Phil. 4:15; James 5:14; II Cor. 8:18; III John 6; III John 9; III John 10; Matt. 18:17 (twice); Romans 16:16; I Cor. 7:17; I Cor. 14:33; II Cor. 11:28; II Cor. 12:13; II Thess. 1:4; I Tim. 3:5; I Tim. 5:16; I Cor. 11:16; I Cor. 14:34.
III.QUOTATIONS BY SCHOLARS.
A.These previous parts have covered 97 (4 plus 93) of the 115 times ecclesia is used in the Greek N.T. (the remaining 18 will be covered in the next lesson – the generic use of ekklesia).
B.Overbey says, “Every time ekklesia appears in the New Testament it makes sense translated according to its common menaing of assembly” (The Meaning of Ecclesia in the N.T., Overbey, p. 44).
C.Again he says, “In approaching the N.T. We see that the word is admitted by all to have this mianing (assembly) in about ninety places. The other times it is used there is a difference of opinion. Some contend for assembly, others for a new meaning best described as the universal invisible church. How can we tell which is correct? The principle is used that says the common meaning will not make sense if we are permitted to assume it has a new meaning. Following this principle we find that the word assembly makes sense in every contested passage so that any new sense must be rejected” (Ibid, pl 46).
D.I. K. Cross says, “We here charge that there is no such thing known in the New Testament as a church that includes every saved man on earth. This is the family of God, but never the church of the New Testament” (Canadian Baptists, Cross, p. 5).
E.A. C. Dayton declares, “Each church was complete within itself – independent of all earthly control, and subject only to the law of Christ” (Theodosia Earnest, Vo. II, p. 116).
F.J. R. Graves said, “The proof given that the very work Ekklesia (an assembly) denotes a complete church, equally implies its independency, i.e., that it is dependent upon no other body for its existence or self-perpetuation, or the discharge of all the functions and trusts of a Church of Christ” (The New Great iron Wheel, Graves, p. 134).
G.Graves again, “I have shown that the idea of a great Universal Invisible Church , or a Visible Universal Church composed of all the visible churches, or, as some claim of all baptized, independent of local churches, can not, by any fair exegesis, be found” (Seven Questions and Answers to Church Authority, Baptist Examiner, p. 37).
H.S. H. Ford asserts, “It should be remembered that by church, Baptists mean what the New Testament teaches – a local, real congregation of baptized believers united together for God’s service” (Ibid).
I.H. E. Dana says, “This matter of qualification for citizenship was quite important, for many residents of such a city had no place in the Ekklesia … The term referred to a body of persons having definite qualifications, assembled to carry out certain organized aims on democratic principles. So there wre elements pertinent to its (Ekklesia) New Teatament meaning.
1.The assembly was local;
2.it was autonomous;
3.it presupposed definite qualifications;
4.it was conducted on democratic principles” (The Church, L. L. Clover, p. 94).
J.Overbey says, “Jesus used the word ‘church’ twenty-three times, twenty times in Revelation, and three times in Matthew. Twenty-two times there is agreement among all that the word means assembly. It is either plural or the context is very clear so that there can be no doubt in any mind that he is speaking of a local, visible body. Matthew 16:18 is the only place where some think it has a new meaning. But if Jesus used the word twenty-two times and there is no question concerning its meaning then it seems that we must believe that the one remaining place has the same meaning” (Brief History of the Baptists, Overbey, p. 26).
K.Boyce Taylor asserts, “ . . . The Etymology of the word ekklesia makes it of necessity a local churhc” (Why Be a Baptist, Taylor, p. 47).
L.Armitage concurs, “In the apostolic age the church was a local body, and each church was independent of evgery other church. The simple term ecclesia designates one congregation, or organization assembly, this being its literal and primal meaning . . . It follows, then, that the New Testament nowere speaks of the ‘Universal, Catholic, or Invisible Church,’ as indicating a merely ideal existence separate from a real and local body . . . A local churhc fully expresses the meaning of the word ‘ecclesia’ wherever it is found in Holy Writ” (History of the Baptists, Armitage, pp. 118-120).
A.Ecclesia – the Church – B. H. Carroll
B.Why Be a Baptist – Boyce Taylor
C.Ekklesia – the Church – Bob Ross
D.Meaning of Ecclesia in the N.T. – Overbey
E.Seven Questions and Answerw as to Church Authority – Baptist Examiner
F.The Church – L. L. Clover
G.The Origin of Baptists – S. H. Ford
H.Theodosia Earnest, Vol. II – A. C. Dayton.
SUMMATION: The various verses used to try and prove a universal invisible church keeps changing as the correct usage is shown to be always local and visible. Each verse has been addressed and shown the proper usage. There is not, with proper usage and context, any where a universal invisible church can be found in scripture. A hard heart and will-ful desire will resist the truth and destroy even more doctrine in their error.