Is it a building?  A particular denomination?  A Sunday meeting?  Or none of these?

Biblically speaking, it’s not really any of these. The English word “church” comes from the Greek word “ekklesia” meaning “a called-out assembly”. The “ekklesia” is God’s people viewed together as a new and whole community. “Ekklesia” in the New Testament can encompass any number of believers. It is used of small groups that met in homes (Rom. 16:5), or all believers living in a large city (Acts 11:22; 13:1; 1 Cor. 1:2). A large geographical district, such as Asia or Galatia, would include more than one local group of believers (1 Cor. 16:1, 19). “Ekklesia”, then, is used either for a specific Christian community or for Christians in community, the company of believers, the corporate identity of Christ’s people as a mystical or spiritual unity and as functioning communities. The church is Christ’s body, a vital living extension of Jesus Himself, with Christ as its head (Eph. 1:22-23). The church as a body is to demonstrate interdependence, use of spiritual gifts for the good of the whole, allegiance to one another, and love (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4). Members of the body of Christ have different functions to the rest of the body (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:4-5; Eph. 4:11). The church is different from Israel. The church began at Pentecost with the Holy Spirit’s coming (Acts 2:1-4) and functions as a super-national entity, while Israel functions as a nation. Believers (the church) are called to live in relationship with one another in a community that is the visible expression of a supernatural body. Early believers did not meet in public buildings for at least the first 120 years of the Christian era. The typical meeting of the church was in a home. The relatively small size of the congregation in the early church had advantages: individuals were not isolated members of a silent mass, seated on wooden pews like today, merely observing. Each person was expected to contribute and to serve others with his/her spiritual gift(s). And each would also be served by the concern of the community and spurred to personal growth and commitment. One of the tasks of the leaders was to help maintain the group’s unity and guard the flock from false teaching and teachers. Little is known about the form which the local New Testament church took (its government) – Lawrence Richards, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, pp. 164-167 (He is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, and studied Greek for seven years).

The New Bible Dictionary by Drs. J. Douglas, F. Bruce, J. Packer, R. Tasker, and D. Wiseman on page 228 renders the word “ekklesia” as used in the New Testament mostly as a local congregation of Christians and never as a building. On page 231, it states that the New Testament provides no detailed code of regulations for the government of the Church, and the very idea of such a code might seem repugnant to the liberty of the gospel dispensation/era; but Christ left a body of leaders in the apostles and gave them a few general principles for the exercise of their ruling function.

Or, as Dr. M. Unger on pages 204, 205 of Unger’s Bible Dictionary states: “In the New Testament, the church fundamentally comprehends the whole number of regenerated persons (Christians) specifically from Pentecost to the first resurrection (rapture – 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thes. 4:14-17) united organically to one another and to Christ by the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:12-13; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:5; Col. 2:10-12).” “God’s principle purpose in this particular age is the out-calling of the church, the body of Christ, from both Gentiles and Jews (Acts 15:14-18).”

This will happen as Christians go out evangelizing and training disciples/converts to go and do the same.

 

Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philemon 1:2   What does it say about the church in these four passages?

Do these verses show that the church (as used in the New Testament) consisted of believers meeting together rather than it being a building that Christians met in?

 

Acts 8:1          What does it say the church did as a result of the persecution in Jerusalem?

[Notice it says “they all scattered”, referring to people (the church) not a physical building].

And what does it say all the scattered believers (church) did in Acts 8:4; 11:19-21?

 

Do you see how preaching the word (the gospel – Col. 1:5, evangelism) was the normal, natural thing to do for all these believers (the church)?

Why do you think it was so (read Phil. 2:2 with Phil. 1:27)?

 

Why did Barnabas and Saul/Paul meet with the church for an entire year (Acts 11:26)?

Why do you think these spiritual leaders spent an entire year teaching the church, these believers, at Antioch (Eph. 4:11-13)?

Could what happened in Acts 9:31 and Acts 16:5 be a possible clue, when it says that the church was being built up, strengthened in the faith and increasing in number daily (apparently due to being taught doctrine and evangelism, Eph. 4:11-13)?

 

Acts 14:21-23           Who did Paul and Barnabas appoint in every church in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch?

And what were these groups of believers called before elders were appointed?

[Dr. A.T. Robertson (professor of interpretation of the Greek New Testament at Southern Baptist Seminary) in his book Word Pictures in the New Testament, “Acts”, vol. 3, p. 216, states that these groups of believers in various cities were already considered churches before they ever had elders.].

So you don’t have to have a spiritual leader, elder, or pastor in order for a gathered group of Christians to be considered a church.

Why did Paul leave Titus in Crete (Titus 1:5)?

What did you learn about how churches got elders (their spiritual leaders)?

 

Do you think today’s elders should be appointed by the church’s founder(s) or by those delegated with such authority by the church’s founder(s), as opposed to elders being elected by the congregation?

Why?

What are the qualifications for eligibility for being an elder or overseer/bishop (Titus 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 3:1-7)?

 

[“husband of one wife” – 1 Tim. 3:2The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, page 736 states, “virtually all commentators agree that the phrase prohibits both polygamy and promiscuity.”  “This ambiguous but important phrase is subject to several interpretations.”  The New Testament Commentary on Timothy and Titus by Dr. William Hendriksen states on page 121, “This cannot mean that an overseer or elder must be a married man.” “The meaning of our present passage (1 Tim. 3:2) is simply this, that an overseer or elder must be a man of unquestioned morality, one who … does not in pagan fashion enter into an immoral relationship with another woman.”  “One cannot excuse an attempt to make a text say what it does not actually say in the original.”  “…Paul, did not oppose remarriage after the death of the marriage-partner…”  Matthew Henry’s Commentary, vol. 3, page 1197, regarding 1 Tim. 3:2 states, “…not having many wives at once, as at that time was common both among Jews and Gentiles, especially among the Gentiles.”  Titus 1:5-6, 7The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, page 762 states, this “probably means that the elder should have been married only once.”  The New Testament Commentary on Timothy and Titus page 347 states, that “one wife’s husband” means “faithful in the marriage-relationship.”  Matthew Henry’s Commentary, vol. 3, page 1222, regarding Titus 1:6 states, “Not that ministers must be married, that is not meant; but … no bigamist; not that he might not be married to more than one wife successively; but being married, he must have but one wife at once, not two or more, according to the too common sinful practice of those times…” “Polygamy is scandalous…”].

What were their responsibilities (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-3; Eph. 4:11-12; Titus 1:9-11; 1 Tim. 5:17; 3:5; Heb. 13:17; 1 Thes. 5:12)?

 

[“guard” – protect the spiritual well-being of, especially against false teachers].

[“shepherd” – feed, protect, care for].

[“manage” – direct].

[“charge” – rule over in spiritual matters].

[“instruct” – admonish, rebuke, warn, and teach].

What was the pastor or top spiritual leader not to receive an accusation against an elder on the basis of (1 Tim. 5:19)?

What was to be done with elders who continued in unrepentant (not changing their thinking to cease from the) sin, and why (1 Tim. 5:20)?

 

Do you know of any churches who follow these principles regarding the qualifications for elders, the appointment of elders, the responsibilities of elders, and the discipline of sinning, unrepentant elders?

Do any of the above passages say that a church has to have elders in order to be a church?

Why do you think this is?

 

1 Tim. 3:8-10, 12; Acts 6:3      What are the qualifications for being in the office or position of a deacon (Gk. “diakonos” – a servant; one who helped with the administration of the material needs of the believers/church)?

Do you know any deacons?

If so, do you know if they meet these qualifications?

Do any of these passages say that a church has to have deacons?

Why do you think this is so?

 

Acts 14:27-28     What did Paul and Barnabas do when they arrived in Antioch?

What observations can you learn from this?

 

1 Cor. 1:2        Who or what is the church at Corinth?

[“sanctified” – Gk. “hegiasmenois”, means “have been set apart for God”].

[“saints (Gk. “hagious”) by calling” (Gk. “kletois”), means “people separated to God because of being called out (summoned or appointed) by God for salvation and so they believe in Jesus Christ (all believers/Christians), Acts 13:48, Eph. 1:4-5; Jn. 6:44, 65.].

Again, do you see that the church is people, believers, not a building?

 

1 Cor. 3:9, 16-17        To what is the church/believers compared, and why does God use this comparison (see Eph. 2:19-22)?

 

And who lives in us believers both collectively (1 Cor. 3:16) and individually (1 Cor. 6:19)?

Why is the church/Christians also compared to a human body in 1 Cor. 12:14-27?

 

1 Cor. 5:1-2, 12-13        How are believers to deal with members in their church or assembly who are living in unrepentant (not changing his thinking to cease from) sin(assuming the believers have first confronted the member about his/her sin – Matt. 18:15-17)?

How do you feel about doing this, and why?

 

1 Cor. 10:30-33          What shouldn’t believers do to the church (other believers)?

How might believers give offense (a cause of sin) to the church or individuals within it (also see Rom. 14:13-21)?

Do you try to refrain from doing those things that might encourage another believer to do what you’re doing, only in his/her case, he/she thinks that what you’re doing is wrong?

Why?

 

1 Cor. 11:17-22          When the Corinthian believers came together as a church/group, what wasn’t it for, but should have been (1 Cor. 11:20)?

[The wealthy believers were stuffing themselves and getting drunk while the poor believers were going hungry at this church dinner (call­ed a love-feast – Jude 1:12), where the rich were supposed to share their food with the poor before the Lord’s Supper took place.].

How often should the Lord’s Supper be taken/eaten (1 Cor. 11:26)?

Though the New Testament doesn’t state how often the church should take the Lord’s Supper, what was its purpose (1 Cor. 11:25-26)?

 

How often do you take the Lord’s Supper, and why?

 

1 Cor. 12:28, 31          What was the church (the assembly of believers) to earnestly desire?

What were the top three spiritual gifts that God appointed in the Church (the body of Christ, believers – 1 Cor. 12:27)?

 

What do these top three spiritual gifts all have in common?

Why are instructional gifts the most important to have among a group of believers (Prov. 23:7a; Jn. 4:24)?

 

Why else is prophecy (direct revelations from God to the apostles and/or prophets) important   – 1 Cor. 14:3-4, 12, 19; 1 Tim. 1:3-7; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; 4:2-4; Titus 1:5, 9-11; 2:1, 7; 3 Jn. 1:3-4; 2 Jn. 1:4, 6 (when that gift was still in operation before the completion of the New Testament in AD 95, 1 Cor. 13:9-10)?

Are you appreciative of and esteem/highly honor those who work hard at instructing you in the Lord (1 Thes. 5:12-13;  1 Tim. 5:17)?

If so, how, and why?

 

1 Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 8:10; 9:5-7       What had the Corinthian church volunteered to do for the suffering, poor believers in Jerusalem?

What procedure did Paul suggest these believers take in order to en­sure that the funds would be ready to send to Jerusalem when Paul ar­rived in Corinth?

 

Do you financially help out other Christians you know about who are truly in need, and do you do so cheerfully and voluntarily?

Why?

Does Paul or any other New Testament epistle writer say that Christians have to tithe (give 10%) of their income or, for that matter, give any fixed amount or percentage to the church?

If so, prove it from the New Testament Epistles, which were written to Christians (as the Old Testament and Gospels were primarily for the Jews under the Mosaic Law).

However, should Christians help out their spiritual teacher, pastor, or biblical missionaries/evangelists in a financial or material way (Gal. 6:6; Phil. 4:14-16; 1 Cor. 9:6-14)?

Are you, and why?

 

And should we help out our fellow Christian brethren who are in true need (1 Jn. 3:16-18)?

 

Eph. 1:19-23; 5:23; Col. 1:18                 What is Christ the head of?

Does it say anywhere in the New Testament that the Pope or any other person (e.g., an apostle, like Peter) is the head of the Church on earth?

If so, prove it biblically.

[Peter is not the first pope. Christ built His church upon Himself – 1 Cor. 3:10-11. In Matt. 16:18, “Peter” (Gk. “Petros” – masculine gender) means “stone or smaller rock”, whereas “rock” (Gk. “petra” – feminine gender) means “large rock or bedrock”. So, Christ is “the rock” upon which the Church was built (see 1 Cor. 10:4 also).].

Who do you recognize as the head of the Church on earth or in heaven?               Why?

[Christians/believers are Christ’s body (Eph. 5:30; 1 Cor. 12:27) and Christ’s body is the church (Col. 1:24). So, believers are the church.].

 

1 Tim. 2:11-14; 3:15            How should women in the church receive instruction from the male leadership?

[The Greek word “hesychia” meaning “quiet” does not mean com­plete silence or no talking, but it means “settled down, undisturbed, not unruly” as it does in Acts 22:2 and 2 Thes. 3:12. A different Greek word “sigao” means “silent, saying nothing”, as it does in 1 Cor. 14:34 and Lk. 18:39.].

Are the women in your Christian gathering unruly and/or disruptive, or are they settled down and submissive?

What are women in the church not allowed to do according to God’s Word, and why?

 

Do women in your church teach Bible classes that have men in them, or do they hold leadership positions such as elder or pastor?

If so, what do you plan to do about it, and why?

 

What is the pillar and support of the truth?

Based on this (as well as the points mentioned under the 1 Cor. 12:28, 31 passages), do you again see why the instructional spiritual gifts, like teacher or pastor, are the most important ones?

 

1 Tim. 5:5, 9-10, 16   Who is the church to materially assist, if she meets certain qualifications?

Why (1 Tim. 5:3)?

 

Jas. 2:1-9        What are believers not to do in their assembly, and why?

Do you give preferential treatment to the wealthy believers in your assembly/church?

Why?

 

Jas. 5:14-16                What can a believer do who is sick (because of being disciplined by God due to that believer’s living in unconfessed, unrepentant sin)?

What should that believer do when the elders arrive (Jas. 5:16)?

What should the elders then do (Jas. 5:14-15)?

[“Anoint with oil” is probably used symbolically of the promise of physical well being – see Psalm 23:5; 133:2.].

And what should eventually result (Jas. 5:15-16)?

Does your church practice this, and why?

 

1 Cor. 11:5-10            During the Apostle Paul’s time when 1st Corinthians was written (about AD 55), the public head covering of women was a universal cus­tom in both Jewish culture (3 Maccabees 4:6; MishnahKetuboth 7.6; Babylonian TalmudKetuboth 72a-b) and Greco-Roman culture (Plutarch Moralia 3.232c; 4.267b; Apuleius The Golden Ass 11.10).

The cultural symbol of a head covering on women expressed subordin­ation to male headship in general and to husbands in particular. Since the culture these Christian women lived in viewed uncovered heads on women disgraceful/shameful; therefore, these Christian women should continue using the same cultural symbol to show subordination to male spiritual authority/headship in the church while praying – Drs. J. Walvoord and R. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, p. 529.

However, in American culture and in many other countries today, a head covering no longer symbolizes subordination to male headship in general or to husbands in particular. Therefore, for Christian women to wear a head covering while praying in church no longer conveys subordination to male spiritual headship in the church. Consequently, Christian women no longer need to wear a head covering while praying because its former cultural, symbolic meaning of subordination to male headship has been lost.

Does the American culture have any symbols communicating subordination to male headship?

If so, what?

If not, how can Christian women display subordination to both male spiritual authority and to their husbands, if married?

 

Acts 10:42-48; 11:17           What did Peter order these new believers to do?

[To be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ” is a synecdoche (a figure of speech where a part is used for a whole). Here, Jesus (a part) is used for the Trinity (the whole). Other examples of synecdoches are found in: Josh. 10:40 with Josh. 10:7, 29, 38, where Joshua is used for Israel’s army, and in 2 Ki. 10:17 with 2 Ki. 10:1, 7, 11, where Ahab is used for his family.].

What did Jesus tell His disciples to do regarding baptism in Matt. 28:19-20?

Who can baptize new believers (e.g., Acts 8:39; 9:10, 18; Matt. 28:20)?

Is there a specific time after believing in Christ as Savior when a new believer should get baptized (Acts 8:12, 36-38; 10:44, 48 with Acts 11:17; 9:17-18;16:14-15, 31-33)?

[Note that the one doing the baptizing doesn’t have to say any specific words/formula as he baptizes the new believer.].

[The word “baptize” comes from the Greek word “bapto” meaning to sub­merge or sink. So, believers should be submerged into water both be­cause of what the word “baptize” means and because of what baptism sig­nifies (i.e., a visible sign/picture of the believer’s identification and union with Christ and his/her being placed into the body of Christ, His church – Rom. 6:3-5).].

 

Heb. 10:24-25                   What are believers not to forsake?

What are they to do?

Could these things be done very easily if they didn’t assemble to­gether?

Also, if believers failed to assemble/meet, then they wouldn’t bene­fit from all the other Christians’ spiritual gifts, experiences, and resources. Are you meeting/assembling regularly with a group of be­lievers to do all of the above?

Why?

 

As a result of this study, do you see that nowhere in the New Testament does it say that a church/group of believers has to have: weekly meetings, meet on a certain day of the week (e.g., Saturday or Sunday), meet at a particular place (e.g., a building called a church), have trustees, ushers, a youth director, choir director, have a youth program, a formal choir, a particular order of service, have Sunday School classes, a nursery, an altar call, a financial collection, deacons, elders, a paid minister, or many other things that tra­ditional building-attenders in our American culture say you have to have in order to be an official church?

However, if any of these things are helpful for fulfilling the purpose of the church (which is to help believers grow into Christ-like maturity in both character and mission – Eph. 4:11-13; Matt. 28:19-20 with Acts 10:42; Phil. 2:2 with Phil. 1:27 – which means godly/holy living, doing evangelism, and building believers up spiritually), then utilize them, but if they don’t, then they are unnecessary. It seems that most so-called churches today in Americaespecially (building-attendance believers) are not really functioning as true biblical churches but rather as entertainment centers.

Dr. Paul Benware (professor of Bible and theology at Moody Bible Institute) on page 96 of Moody Monthly in the March 1986 issue states: “The local church has three basic purposes. The first is evangelism. The church’s external ministry is to take God’s good news to those who do not know Christ (Matt. 28:19-20). The second purpose of the church is edification – to build up and strengthen believers. This is part of its internal ministry (Eph. 4:7-13; Acts 2:42-47). Along with evangelism and edification, a third major purpose for the local church is purification, also a part of its internal ministry. Where sin persists, the church is to deal directly with that in­dividual (Gal. 6:1).”

Dr. John MacArthur Jr. (graduate from Talbot Theological Seminary and pastor of Grace Community Church in California) on page 48 of Fundamentalist Journal, in the November 1984 issue, states re­garding the purpose of the church:  “The saints would do the work of the ministry, and the body would be built up – not only spiritually, by edification, but also numerically, by evangelization.”

Dr. Grant Howard Jr. (pastor for many years and now professor of Pastoral Theology at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary) on pages 1 and 8 of his What On Earth Is The Church Supposed To Be Doing? states that “…the prime purpose of the church gathered was edification. This was to be our internal purpose and program – spiritual growth. Building up the body of Christ. Equipping the saints. Moving people to maturity – Christ-likeness” based on Ephesians 4.  And “…evangelism. The right job of the church scattered is evangelism. That’s our external purpose – spiritual birth.”

Dr. Jac Müller (professor in New Testament Exegesis at the Theological Faculty of the Univer­sity of Stellenbosch, South Africa for 30 years) on page 74 of his The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistles of Paul to the Philippians and to Philemon states that the one accord/mind/purpose of Phil. 2:2 means “driven by the same urge and desire, and directing their thoughts and endeavour, on that one thing – the cause of Christ and its furtherance through unanimity and concord amongst the believers.” From the context (Phil. 1:12-13, 27), we see that the cause of Christ is “the greater progress of the gospel” (evangelism) or for Christians to “conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ by standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Dr. William Hendriksen (former professor of New Testament literature at Calvin Seminary, and a pastor for many years) on page 87 of his New Testament Commentary – Philippians states that “striving side by side for the gospel-truth” (Phil. 1:27) is “mainly in spreading God’s glorious redemp­tive truth which centers in Jesus Christ and salvation in Him.”

So the church’s (every Christian’s) purpose (Phil. 2:2) is the spreading of the gospel (Phil. 1:27), in other words, evangelism. And that was exactly Christ’s purpose also for coming to earth – the seeking and saving of the lost (Lk. 19:10; Mk. 1:14, 38; 1 Tim. 1:15). It was the 12 apostles’ purpose (Jn. 17:18; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 10:42; Matt. 28:19-20). It was Paul’s purpose (Acts 20:24; 26:15-18; Eph. 3:8-12; Gal. 1:15-16; 1 Cor. 9:16-17). It was Timothy’s purpose (2 Tim. 3:10; 4:5). It was Barna­bas’ purpose (Acts 13:46-47). It was Peter’s purpose (Gal. 2:7). And, in fact, it is the whole church’s purpose (1 Pet. 2:9; 1 Cor. 11:1 with 1 Cor. 10:33 and 1 Cor.9:22-23; Acts 10:42 with Matt. 28:19-20; Eph. 4:11-12).

Alan Stibbs (Vice-principal of Oak Hill College in London) on page 104 of his The First Epistle General of Peter – Tyndale New Testament Commentaries states that the Church (the Christian community) were chosen for the purpose of “proclaiming God’s excellencies” who called these people “out of dark­ness into His marvelous light.” God’s excellencies suggest the actual deeds by which He revealed His character (that is, what God has done in bringing outsiders/heathens into enjoyment of such privilege – light, conversion, or change through the gospel). Dr. Kenneth Wuest (former professor of Greek at Moody Bible Institute) on page 57 of his Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 2, “1 Peter”, agrees with this conclusion.

The conversion of individuals (obtaining salvation; becoming a child of God or a chosen person) is a gracious and merciful dealing of God’s. And when we Christians/the Church proclaim the gospel (evangelism), we are proclaiming God’s excellencies (His grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, etc.). So, the Church is chosen for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel (Acts 26:18), which tells of and exhibits God’s excellencies.

Since all the Christians in Corinth were to imitate Paul (1 Cor. 11:1) as Paul imitated Christ (e.g., in seeking and saving the lost – evangelism – as one’s purpose in life – 1 Cor. 10:33; 9:16-17, 22-23; Lk. 19:10; Mk. 1:14, 38), therefore, all Christians are to evangelize as their life’s purpose.

Since the apostles were commanded by Jesus to preach the gospel (Acts 10:42-43), and were also told to teach their disciples all that Jesus had commanded them (Matt. 28:19-20), therefore, all Christian disciples are to preach the gospel.

Finally, we see the purpose of the Church described in Ephesians 4:11-13. Dr. Wuest on page 101 of his Wuest’s Word Studies of the Greek New Testament, vol. 1, “Ephesians” states that Christ gave gifted men to the Church for the purpose of equipping the saints/Christians for (or in order to do) the work of service/ministry (Christian service) “in order that the body of Christ, the Church, might be built up, by additions to its membership in lost souls being saved, and by the building up of individual saints” (which is best done through teaching-training).

Matthew Henry (a Presbyterian minister in England and Bible expositor) on page 1130 in his Matthew Henry’s Commentary, vol. 3, states that the edifying/building up of the body of Christ is “by increase of their graces, and an addition of new members.”

Dr. W. Hendriksen (former seminary professor and pastor) on page 198 of his New Testament Commentary – Ephesians states that the work of ministry/service which all Christians are to be engaged in should include evangelism.

So, we see that the purpose of the Church is to equip all Christians to evangelize the lost (which is building up the Church numerically) and to help believers grow to maturity (which is building up the Church spiritually to Christ-like character and is best done through discipleship/Christian training). Since evangelists, travelling missionaries both in home and foreign lands who engage in spreading the gospel (Wuest, vol. 1, “Ephesians”, p. 100; Drs. Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, p. 635), were to equip all Christians/the Church to do the work of service to build up the body of Christ, then all Christians are to employ their training by evangelizing and thus build up the body of Christ numerically.

 

SUMMARY

Eph. 4:11-13         God’s purpose for all Christians (the Church) is to equip Christians (in knowledge, skills, and godly character) for the work of service (evangelizing and teaching-training) to the building up of the body of Christ (both numerically and spiritually) until we all at­tain to the unity of the faith (doctrinally/beliefs) and of the knowledge of the Son of God (complete, correct, experiential knowledge of Christ as Lord), to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ (as Lord and Savior so we should be Christ-like in godly character and in the mission of seeking and saving the lost/unbeliever).

Phil. 1:21         Paul epitomizes this purpose of Christ-like character and mission when he says, “For to me to live is Christ…” Then Paul goes on to command all Christians to do likewise in Phil. 2:2 (“be intent on one purpose”) of being godly in character (Phil. 1:27 “conduct yourself worthy of the gospel”) and of evangelizing the lost (Phil. 1:27 “striving together for the faith of the gospel”).

2 Tim. 2:2; 4:5        Paul commands Timothy, pastor of the church in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3), to once again fulfill the God-given purpose of building believers (2 Tim. 2:2) and evangelizing (2 Tim. 4:5) that Timothy had once done (2 Tim. 3:10 “followed” Paul’s “purpose” of evangelizing – 1 Cor. 9:16-17; Acts 13:47 and building believers – 1 Cor. 11:1; 4:16-17; Phil. 3:14-17; 4:9) but apparently was now failing to do (2 Tim. 3:10 “followed” is in the aorist active indicative tense meaning once did in the past).

1 Pet. 2:9-12         Peter agrees that the believer’s purpose is to evangelize (1 Pet. 2:9) and live godly (1 Pet. 2:1).

Matt. 28:19-20    Jesus Himself tells His followers in one of His final instructions to them that their mission/purpose in life was to make disciples/converts of all the nations, and that they were to teach their disciples/converts, in turn, to obey all that He had commanded His disciples (one of which things is to make disciples/converts). Christ further amplifies on this in Acts 1:8, where He tells them to be witnesses in all the world (evangelize).

 

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