WHAT IS THE CHURCH?



The word church is not, at first, easily defined or identified today because of the influence of centuries of religious tradition. If we would clear our mind of these traditions we would find that this word conveys quite a very simple truth.

Consulting dictionaries do not always prove helpful. This is because we naturally approach the definition of the word with our tradition firmly settled in our minds. And the producers of the dictionaries have usually done the same as well. This is not intended to be critical of them. After all, the word is being defined in the ways in which it is currently being used. That's usually what most dictionaries are intended to do.

The Common Definitions

Among the common definitions of the word church, we find the idea of:

a physical building, as in, "It's our turn to clean the church."

an organization, as in, "We are members of First Church."

a meeting, as in, "Church starts in a half-hour."

a doctrinal system, as in, "I've spent all my life in the Baptist church."

These are all NON-BIBLE churches.

Therefore, dictionaries and other manmade reference tools can be of only so much assistance as we study the Bible. But we should always keep in mind that they are just that manmade. Ultimately, the premiere reference tool for any Bible study, is the Bible itself!. The Bible has a way of defining its own words.

In all languages, it is usage that determines the meaning of words. And since usage determines meaning, Biblical usage, certainly, always should determine Biblical meaning. Therefore, we must acquaint ourselves with the Scriptures. The more we read, study and learn the Bible itself, the more we will be equipped to know the meaning of Bible words.

Let's let God define the church!

Clyde Pilkington

Gladstone, VA

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