What is the original Bible name of the church???

God never named the church!
You never need to name anything there is only one of!

Is "MOON" the name of the moon? No! Have you ever asked yourself "why did we name every planet in our solar system but not the moon?" We even named all the moons of Saturn, but we didn't name our own. Why? Because you never need to name anything there is only one of! Now, let's suppose you asked someone what the name of the moon is. What would they say? Obviously, they would say "MOON". Yet, that does not mean that the name of the moon is really MOON. If you say to a child, while pointing to his father, "who is that man over there?" "Dadda" will most definitely be the reply. Now, it is obvious that "dadda" and "moon" are in the same category. There are many daddy's and moons but they are distinct in themselves. So the words "daddy" and "moon" are NOT names at all. Look in your back yard at the trees. What do you call each of them? Tree? Spruce? Spruce Tree? If you had 10 spruce trees on your property, you might refer to a specific one as "that spruce" (pointing to it), but unless each spruce has a distinct name, nobody else would understand which tree you are referring to if you say "that Spruce". A man could be described as a father, a man, a citizen, a husband, factory worker, BUT HE HAS ONLY ONE NAME! The trees in my back yard are described as "spruce", "green", "tall", or "living," but NONE OF THEM HAVE A NAME. Same is true with the church. In the Bible, God describes his people in 40 + different ways, but none of them are a name.

The fact is, the Bible specifically speaks of the word "Christian" as being a name. "if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God" (1 Peter 4:16). We might get upset when we hear the word "Christian" used as an adjective. ("He has a good christian attitude" or "that is a good christian school) Why then don't we get upset when hear someone turn a verb into a name. For example, Christians are individually described "sheep", "disciple", "stone", "member", "soldier," etc. So, although God describes his people individually as "sheep, disciple, stone," these are not names. The word "Christian" is a name and the Bible says so!

The church is described in many ways with "metaphors". Each metaphor gives us a different view point of the church. None of these are names, but descriptors!

Care needs to be taken to differentiate the local from the universal church.

The local church can be either a single congregation or a collection of local churches in an area. The local church excludes other living Christians and all those who are dead. The Universal church is every Christian, both living and dead.

For example, Rom. 16:16 is discussing a collection of one set of local churches greeting the church at Rome. The universal church is not mentioned here. The term "Christians" is not a metaphor for the "collective." But rather is a unit of the collective like "soldiers" are of "army." Same with "disciples" and "servants." "Now you are Christ's BODY (collective term), and individually MEMBERS (unit of the collective) of it." 1 Cor 12:27. As "kingdom" collects "citizens" and "flock" collects "sheep," "church" collects people (the word doesn't say if they are Christians are not: Acts 7:37; 19:32,39), and a "church OF CHRIST" is a collective of people who profess to be CHRISTIANS who have banded together to work and worship together ("to the CHURCH OF GOD which is at Corinth, THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SANCTIFIED in Christ Jesus, SAINTS..." 1 Cor 1:2).

Likewise Acts 20:28, Acts 11:26 and 1 Tim. 3:15 all refer to the local church not the universal. One should not conclude the elders are to oversee "the church" in the universal sense it is used in 1 Cor. 12.

Metaphors for the church
Note: Some collective terms, some local

Verses

Collective

Individual

Jesus

God

Meaning

1 Ti 3:15

Household

Children Brothers

Firstborn Eldest Son

Father

Family: Love And Care

Col 1:13
Phil 3:20

Kingdom

Citizens

King/Judge

King

Authority: Privileges Obligations

1 Pe 2:9
Heb 2:17

Priesthood

Priests

High Priest

God

Service

Eph 2:19-22
1 Cor 3:11

Temple Building

Stones

Foundation

Architect

1.God's Presence
2.Support & Dependency

1 Cor 12:12-27
Rom 12:4-5
Col 1:18

Body

Members

Head

-

Support & Dependency

Rom 16:16
Tit 2:14
Acts 20:28

The Church
-Of Christ
-Of God

Saints Aliens The Redeemed

Saviour Purchaser Redeemer

-

1. Christ's Possession 2.Holiness

Acts 11:26
1 Pe 4:16

Christians

Christian

Christ

-

Christ's Possession & Household

Luke 14:27
Acts 11:26
Mt 28:18

Disciples

Disciple

Teacher

-

Student Of Jesus

Luke 17:7-10

Servants

Servant

Lord

-

Selfless Obedience

1 Pe 5:2-4
1 Pe 2:25

Flock

Sheep

Shepherd

-

Protection Of Caring For By Jesus

2 Ti 2:3-4
Eph 6:10-17

Army

Soldier

Commander

-

Fight Spiritual Battles For Jesus

Eph 5:22-32
Rev 21

Wife
Bride

-

Husband
Groom

-

Intimate Spiritual Relationship

 

If the term "church of Christ" is a name, then it is both unscriptural and ungrammatical NOT TO CAPITALIZE the "C" in Church. Hence we must always say, "Church of Christ", not "church of Christ". Not capitalizing church is as wrong as not capitalizing "Christian". When addressing any name, such as "Steve", "Josh" "Ernie," etc it is always capitalized. It should follow then that just as the name "Christian" is capitalized, the name "church of Christ" should be capitalized (if it is indeed a name). Or, is my word processor the only one that gives me a red wavy line under the word "christian" when I deliberately spell it with a little "c"? But "church of Christ" or "church of God" are not names for the church, but descriptors!

Are "Elder (Presbyter), Pastor (Shepherd) and Bishop (Overseer)" all names? Should our elders go around calling themselves, "Pastor Smith"? How about "Elder Smith"? Why not "Bishop Smith"? Let's not forget to capitalize since they are all names! We all understand that these are not names, but descriptions of their function or qualification: The word "elder" implies an older man of age; The word "shepherd" implies one who loves and cares; The word "overseer" implies authority and control. If "Church of Christ" is a name, then "Pastor" is a name! The truth is, neither "pastor", "church of Christ" or "disciple" are names, but descriptions!

Why did God never name the church? AGAIN, WE DO NOT NEED TO NAME ANYTHING THAT THERE IS ONE OF! There is only one church. If there were two, EACH WOULD REQUIRE A DISTINCT NAME SO AS TO DISTINGUISH ONE FROM THE OTHER! Some maintain that "CHURCH OF CHRIST" is a name for the church. If God did name the church, then it is a church with many names (about 40 if you count them), ranging from "Church of God" to "little flock". It would not be unscriptural, for example, to put a sign on the building that reads "sheep meet here", but it would not be very helpful either. Herein lies the question. Are individual congregations at liberty to designate their meeting houses within the boundaries of scriptural propriety? Yes!

The Body is the church and there is only one. This is why God never named the ONE church! Names are only needed when you have two of the same thing! In the first century, there were not hundreds of different denomination each with their own doctrine, but one unified church!

Total global uniformity of name world wide, is an indicator of denominationalism and violates the Bible pattern:

Has it ever occurred to us, that if we chose to universally use the term, say, "Church of Christ" or "Church of God" on the all the signs of meeting houses world wide, we would in fact be VIOLATING THE PATTERN of scripture? In the first century, local churches were given a variety of "descriptors" (or "names", for those who must think that way). "The church of God in Corinth" (1 Cor 1:2); "The churches of Galatia" (Gal 1:2), and "the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi." If God wanted all the churches in the world to go by only one single designation, such as "CHURCH OF CHRIST," then He would have told us so! Not only that, but the Bible wouldn't include 40 or so other DIFFERENT designations ("church of God", "The Way", etc) It may very well be that the few local churches that use different descriptors from the majority and put "Christians meet here" or "assembly of Christ" or "the way" on their signs, are keeping the collective of local churches from straying from the Bible Pattern on a global basis! If all local churches used ONLY the designation "Church of Christ," we could not claim to be the same church as the one described in the Bible. Obviously, if God had wanted us to identify ourselves with the term "Church of Christ," He would have told us so! So when "truth seekers" are looking for the church you can read about in the Bible, they should look for a church where sister congregations use at least some variation on a global basis!

We make this same argument when we speak of the "government of the church". God did not want the church to have a single world wide government, in spite of the practice being standard in most denominations. Instead, He chose to have each local church to be autonomous, just as each golf course is autonomous, being separately owned and operated, but each following the same PGA rule book that is used as the standard. Obviously, God thought about implementing a single name on a global basis and DECIDED AGAINST IT! We make the same argument on the government of the church. God considered having a single world wide government (like the pope and most other denominations) and having weighed the clear administrative advantages, with the looming fact of ongoing apostasy, DECIDED AGAINST IT and chose individual local church government similar to that of golf courses being separately owned and operated, but each following the same CPGA rule book in setting up their course.

So in conclusion, we need to reconsider the practice of exclusively putting "church of Christ" on signs as a description of who we are. There is only one church and God never named it. Conversely, we should not criticize others that may use the term "church of God" or "church of the first-born" or "assembly of God" or "assembly of Christ" or "Christians meet here" (no designation at all, but simply marking a meeting place of Christians) or "the church". We need also remember that global uniformity of "the name on the sign" is proof that some kind of central world government for the church exists. Such global uniformity almost always indicates denominationalism. The Bible pattern of variation in local churches is a trademark of the first century church. May we always conform to the Bible pattern, and not by a practice that has become habit by churches of the Lord's people, much less criticize local churches who practice variation in the "descriptor on the sign".

I. Anti-Biblical names used by Denominations that violate the Bible pattern:

Notice that neither the name on the sign or the name each member wears, is not found in the Bible. On an individual basis were are also described in about 40 different ways, but we are given only one name to wear: "Christian" (1 Peter 4:16).
  1. Roman Catholic Church or Catholics
  2. Lutheran Church or Lutherans
  3. Baptist Church or Baptists
  4. Pentecostal Church/Full Gospel or Pentecostals
  5. Anglican/Episcopal Church or Anglicans
  6. Mormon Church or Mormons
  7. Kingdom Hall or Jehovah's Witnesses
  8. Seventh-day Adventist church or Adventists
  9. Mennonite Brethren Church or Mennonites
  10. Presbyterians Church or Presbyterians
  11. Salvation Army or Sally Annes
  12. Dutch Christian Reformed or Reforms

II. How the church is described in the Bible blueprint:

A. God never named the church, but it is described many different ways in the Bible:

  1. the church (Used 56 times: Acts 11:26 the most common term used in the Bible)
  2. the body, body of Christ, Christ's Body [body = church Eph 1:22-23] (Used over 50 times: Col 1:18; Rom 7:4; 1 Cor 10:16; 12:27; Eph 4:12)
  3. church of God or assembly of God (Used 10 times: Acts 12:5; 20:28; 1 Cor 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2 Co 1:1; Gal 1:13; 1 Tim 3:5; 3:15)
  4. churches of Christ or assemblies of Christ (used once: Rom. 16:16)
  5. the way (used 7 times exclusively by Luke in Acts: Acts 9:2; 18:25; 19:9, 23; 24:4,14,22)
  6. flock (used 4 times: Acts 20:28,29; 1 Pe 5:2,3)
  7. the sect, sect of the Nazarenes (Used 3 times: Acts 24:5,14; 28:22)
  8. general assembly (Heb 12:23)
  9. church of the firstborn (Heb 12:23)
  10. church of the saints (1 Cor 14:33)
  11. house of God (I Tim 3:15)
  12. church of the living God (I Tim 3:15)
  13. kingdom of God (Col 4:11 and many other passages)
  14. kingdom of his dear Son (Col 1:13)
  15. kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph 5:5)
  16. family of God/ household of God/ house of God (1 Tim 3:15)

B. Geographic descriptors of the church in the Bible like these were the most common:

  1. the church that is in their house [Aquila and Prisca]. (1 Cor 16:19)
  2. the churches of Judea (Gal 1:22)
  3. the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea (1 Thess 2:14)
  4. the church which was at Jerusalem (Acts 8:1)
  5. the church that was at Antioch (Acts 13:1)
  6. the church which is at Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1)
  7. the church of God which is at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2)
  8. the church of the Laodiceans (Col. 4:16)
  9. the church of the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 1:1)
  10. the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Th 1:1)
  11. the church of Ephesus (Rev. 2:1)

III. Early uninspired Christians used great variation in referring to the church in keeping with the Bible blueprint. They echoed the Bible pattern!

They did not pick a single denominational name not found in the Bible, but referred to each church most commonly by geographic location using a Bible designation. This mirrors the practice of the apostles in the Bible:

A. Clement was an elder in the church at Rome who was writing a letter to church in Corinth because they had ousted the eldership. He wrote about 96 AD:

B. Ignatius wrote his epistles about 250 AD to several churches and addresses them in this fashion:

C. Polycarp wrote about mid 2nd century AD

D. A letter from the church in Smyrna about the martyrdom of Polycarp about 155 AD.

Steve Rudd

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