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God never named the church!

Did God Name the Church?

Did you know our moon has no name? 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 something of which there is only. 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 small child, while pointing to his father, "who is that man over there?" He would reply, "my daddy." 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 ARE NAMES. 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 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 we hear someone turn a verb into a name. For example, Christians are individually described as "sheep", "disciple", "stone", "member", "soldier," etc. So, although God describes His people individually as "sheep, disciple, stone," these are not names. Yet the Bible tells us the word "Christian" is a name.

The church is described in many ways with "metaphors". Each metaphor gives us a different view point of the church. These are descriptors.

Care needs to be taken to differentiate the local church 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 or 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. Example: "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 in which it is used in 1 Cor. 12.

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







1 Ti 3:15


Children Brothers

Firstborn Eldest Son


Family: Love And Care

Col 1:13 Phil 3:20





Authority: Privileges Obligations

1 Pe 2:9 Heb 2:17



High Priest



Eph 2:19-22 1 Cor 3:11

Temple Building




1.God's Presence 2.Support & Dependency

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





Support & Dependency

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

The Church -Of Christ -Of God



The Redeemed

Saviour Purchaser Redeemer


1. Christ's Possession 2.Holiness

Acts 11:26 1 Pe 4:16





Christ's Possession & Household

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





Student Of Jesus

Luke 17:7-10





Selfless Obedience

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





Protection Of Caring For By Jesus

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





Fight Spiritual Battles For Jesus

Eph 5:22-32 Rev 21

Wife Bride


Husband Groom


Intimate Spiritual Relationship

Are "Elder (Presbyter), Pastor (Shepherd) and Bishop (Overseer)" all names? Should our elders go around calling themselves, "Pastor Smith, "Elder Smith," or "Bishop Smith"? 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; and 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" nor "disciples" are names. They are descriptions.

Why did God not name the church? AGAIN, WE DO NOT NEED TO NAME ANYTHING OF WHICH THERE IS ONE. 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? 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 denominations, each with their own doctrine, but one unified church.

"He ... gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body" (Eph. 1:22-23).

"There is one body" (Eph. 4:4).

Total global uniformity of name worldwide, is an indicator of denominationalism and violates the Bible pattern.

Has it ever occurred to us, that if we chose to universally use the terms "Church of Christ" or "Church of God" on the all the signs of meeting houses worldwide, we would 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 be that the few local churches that use different descriptors from the majority and put something like, "Christians meet here," "Assembly of Christ, " "Assembly of Saints," 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 only used 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 His church to wear the name "Church of Christ," He would have told us to do it.

When people seeking the truth are looking for the church we 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 worldwide government, as is standard practice among most denominations. Instead, He determined for 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.


We need to reconsider the practice of exclusively putting "Church of Christ" on signs as a name or even 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 that 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).

Roman Catholic Church or Catholics

Lutheran Church or Lutherans

Baptist Church or Baptists

Pentecostal Church/Full Gospel or Pentecostals

Anglican/Episcopal Church or Anglicans

Mormon Church or Mormons

Kingdom Hall or Jehovah's Witnesses

Seventh-day Adventist church or Adventists

Mennonite Brethren Church or Mennonites

Presbyterians Church or Presbyterians

Salvation Army or Sally Annes

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:

the church (Used 56 times: Acts 11:26 the most common term used in the Bible)

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)

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)

churches of Christ or assemblies of Christ (used once: Rom. 16:16)

the way (used 7 times exclusively by Luke in Acts: Acts 9:2; 18:25; 19:9, 23; 24:4,14,22)

flock (used 4 times: Acts 20:28,29; 1 Pe 5:2,3)

the sect, sect of the Nazarenes (Used 3 times: Acts 24:5,14; 28:22)

general assembly (Heb 12:23)

church of the firstborn (Heb 12:23)

church of the saints (1 Cor 14:33)

house of God (I Tim 3:15)

church of the living God (I Tim 3:15)

kingdom of God (Col 4:11 and many other passages)

kingdom of his dear Son (Col 1:13)

kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph 5:5)

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:

the church that is in their house [Aquila and Prisca]. (1 Cor 16:19)

the churches of Judea (Gal 1:22)

the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea (1 Thess 2:14)

the church which was at Jerusalem (Acts 8:1)

the church that was at Antioch (Acts 13:1)

the church which is at Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1)

the church of God which is at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2)

the church of the Laodiceans (Col. 4:16)

the church of the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 1:1)

the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Th 1:1)

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:

"The Church of God which sojourneth in Rome"

"to the Church of God which sojourneth in Corinth..."

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

"Ignatius ... unto the church which is in Ephesus"

"Ignatius ... I salute the church which is in Magnesia"

"Ignatius ... to the holy church which is in Tralles"

"Ignatius ... to the church that is beloved and enlightened"

"Ignatius ... to the church of God the Father and of Jesus Christ, which is in Philadelphia"

"Ignatius ... to the church of God the Father and of Jesus Christ the Beloved ... to the church which is in Smyrna"

"Ignatius ... unto Polycarp who is bishop of the church of the Smyrneans"

C. Polycarp wrote about mid 2nd century AD

"Polycarp ... unto the Church of God which sojourneth at Philippi"

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

"The Church of God which sojourneth at Smyrna to the Church of God which sojourneth in Philomelium"

IV. Speaking words fitting of sound doctrine and not the "language of Ashdod"!

"But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine." (Titus 2:1)

"As for their children, half spoke in the language of Ashdod, and none of them was able to speak the language of Judah, but the language of his own people." (Nehemiah 13:24)

I. "Only God is Reverend"! Don't call me awesome, only God is awesome! Really? Not!

"Holy and reverend [Strongs 3372] is God's name." (Psalm 111:9)

A. Definition of the word "Awesome/reverend" [Strongs 3372]

Gospel preachers in the Lord's church are often hear to say against the denominational preachers who call themselves REVEREND: "Only God is reverend... it is an abomination for you to call yourself "reverend" or expect others to address you that way as the preacher for the church. You are blaspheming by taking on the REVEREND name of God!!!"

Gospel preachers in the Lord's church noticed the only time reverend was used in the bible (KJV) it was applied to God.

This false dogma has infected the Lord's body and has unfortunately become ubiquitous.

B. Definition of the word "Awesome/reverend" [Strongs 3372]

The Hebrew word translated "Reverend" in Ps 111:9 is found 314 times in the Old Testament.

A simple concordance search will bring much light to the matter.

3372 יָרֵא, יָרֵא [yareʾ /yaw·ray/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 907, 908; GK 3707 and 3708; 314 occurrences; AV translates as "fear" 188 times, "afraid" 78 times, "terrible" 23 times, "terrible thing" six times, "dreadful" five times, "reverence" three times, "fearful" twice, "terrible acts" once, and translated miscellaneously eight times. 1 to fear, revere, be afraid. 1a (Qal). 1a1 to fear, be afraid. 1a2 to stand in awe of, be awed. 1a3 to fear, reverence, honour, respect. 1b (Niphal). 1b1 to be fearful, be dreadful, be feared. 1b2 to cause astonishment and awe, be held in awe. 1b3 to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe. 1c (Piel) to make afraid, terrify."

Strongs 3372, "yare" is used over 300 times in the Old Testament and is the common verb for fear.

It is applied in countless ways to every aspect of human life.

The English word reverend is not used in the NASB, NKJV or any English Bible except once in the KJV and ASV at Psalm 111:9.

The Hebrew for reverend is the same word for awesome. (remember this because you will be tested shortly)

The English word awesome is never used in the KJV but used in most modern translations.

The idea that "only God is awesome" or "only God is reverend" is as unscriptural as saying "only God loves".

C. All Parents, Moses and Joshua were REVEREND:

Awesome/reverend [Strongs 3372] used of God:

"He sent redemption unto his people: He hath commanded his covenant for ever: Holy and awesome/reverend [Strongs 3372] is his name." (Psalm 111:9)

"I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, "Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome/reverend [Strongs 3372] God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments," (Daniel 9:4)

"Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome/reverend [Strongs 3372] in praises, working wonders?" (Exodus 15:11)

"You shall not dread them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome/reverend [Strongs 3372] God." (Deuteronomy 7:21)

Children are commanded to call their parents REVEREND/AWESOME: [Strongs 3372]:

Children call parents reverend/awesome: "'Every one of you shall call his mother and his father reverend/awesome [Strongs 3372], and you shall keep My sabbaths; I am the Lord your God." (Leviticus 19:3)

Israel viewed Moses and Joshua as REVEREND/AWESOME:

Israel calls their leaders reverend/awesome: "On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they considered him reverend/awesome [Strongs 3372], just as they had revered Moses as awesome [Strongs 3372] all the days of his life." (Joshua 4:14)

Now I agree that taking on titles is wrong and if someone calls me reverend, (as they often do in addition to pastor) I reject it, not that I am not correctly due such respect as a preacher, but because Jesus doesn't want us to use TITLES.


I have walked into a gospel meeting and said to someone, "YOU ARE AWESOME", only to be rebuked as an infidel saying: "ONLY GOD IT AWESOME" If you read the Bible a bit more, you would know this!

So remember the test above I warned you about? Guess which verse they use to support this false idea?

"Holy and AWESOME is His name." (Psalm 111:9)

Yup, you guessed it. The same verse the other person uses to chide the denominational preacher for calling himself REVEREND.

So both use the same verse from two different English Bibles to teach two different things.

So we must never call anyone awesome!!! NOT!

Problem is the same Hebrew word for reverend is used for awesome.

Now the bad news. Had these uninformed "language police" simply used good old Strong's concordance with a Thayer's interlinear, they would have noticed that the same Hebrew word for AWESOME in Ps 111:9, is also used to command us to Moses and Joshua AWESOME and children are commanded to call their parents AWESOME.

II. "Attend Your church? You don't have a church, its Christ's alone! " Really? Not!

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)


When I am around other Christians I will invite them to "Come hear me preach at MY CHURCH." Although such a statement from a seasoned gospel preacher of 35 years should cause them to pause and question rather than rebuke, they robotically chide, "You don't have a church, it belongs to Christ. He owns it. He has a church not you." They will then look at me as though I was the anti-Christ!

My response is to say nothing but to simply reach over and give them a good pinch so it hurts. (a kind of pastoral spanking and martial discipline for their silly misbehaviour). "ouch, why did you pinch my body" they say. To which I reply, sorry, its not your body. You don't have a body. Christ bought your body and he owns it not you.

Of course this completely confuses them as they look at me rubbing their wound.

Now sometimes people immediately connect the logic and see the clear and powerfully scriptural point I am making.

Just like we refer to our physical bodies as OUR BODIES even though Christ owns it and we are to glorify God in our bodies, so too the church is owned by Christ, but IT IS STILL OUR CHURCH.

I always find it irritating when I say, "my church in Hamilton is having an evangelism Saturday next week, why not join us" and some preacher corrects me that I don't have a church, that only Christ has a church. Really? I am part of the body, Christ is the head. He owns it, BUT IT IS STILL MY CHURCH/body that I am part of.

Yes! I know who owns both my body and just as I know who owns my church. But they are still both MINE.

Notice that in this passage, God owns our body, but it is called OUR BODY.

"Or do you not know that YOUR body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in YOUR body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

III. "Where do you GO TO CHURCH?" It is unscriptural to say GO TO CHURCH! Really? Not!


Some Christians in the Lord's body make the mistake of correcting me about saying, "I am going to church at 10am tomorrow". They scold me, "Didn't you hear that sermon in 1951 titled "THE LANGUAGE OF ASHDOD" (Nehemiah 13:24) by good old 'big name preacher', where he told us that it was UNSCRIPTURAL and NOT speaking words fitting of sound doctrine (Tit 2:1)??? They continue, "The church is not a building it is people, you don't go to church, when you worship, you are not IN CHURCH and when you leave the building you are OUT OF CHURCH, Christians ARE THE CHURCH! Really? NOT!!!

Of course it fails to register how insulting, condescending and just plain ridiculous they are being. Really? Wow, I better get the "reel to reel" tape out and listen to "THE LANGUAGE OF ASHDOD" sermon as soon as I get home! (or maybe I might pull the sermon from my own file cabinet I have preached countless times)

Actually the precise language of "IN CHURCH" is used by the Holy Spirit:

"For, in the first place, when you come together IN CHURCH, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it." (1 Corinthians 11:18)

"however, IN THE CHURCH I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue." (1 Corinthians 14:19)

The Greek is very precise to say IN CHURCH, as a local meeting or gathering on Sunday.

If we are IN CHURCH between 10 - 12 AM Sunday morning, then we are NOT IN THE CHURCH when we are all together munching on the Chinese Buffet an hour later in the restaurant 5 km from the place we partook of the Lord's Supper.

The word CHURCH is itself, one of those "gobbledygook" (meaningless gibberish) words used and defined only within the religious context.

Others include, baptism (immersion), pastor (shepherd), presbyter (elder), bishop (overseer)

The word CHURCH in the Greek simply means, "assembly" or "called out into a central place as a distinct group".

The Christadelphians, for example, have extricated the word CHURCH from their vocabulary and say, "we are going to ECCLESIA". In this case, they have merely replaced one meaningless word with another that is even more obscure. Ecclesia is the liter Greek word for CHURCH.

Better to replace the word CHURCH for ASSEMBLY.

The sad thing is that many people were taught these errors which were adopted and accepted when they are nothing more than false doctrinal traditions of men.

IV. "church of Christ" or Church of Christ"?" It is unscriptural to captize the C in church! Really? Not!


1. Some say it is unscriptural to capitalize the "c" in "church" of Christ. Really? NOT!!!

2. We know the term "church of Christ" is not a name but a descriptor like "car of Steve" (ie the car belonging to Steve).

3. To be sure Romans 16:16 does NOT capitalize the word church: "All the churches of Christ greet you".

4. Also, my word processor 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" DO NOT have the little red spell check wavy line under it indicating it is spelled wrong.

5. We also know historically the Greek text was originally all lower case, then all upper case and that the "fashion trend" of capitalizing proper nouns developed hundreds of years later again.

6. Having said all this, we live in the modern world and the even though CHURCH is NOT a proper noun, there are still some times when we MUST capitalize the phrase Church of Christ... like in advertising where we list our addressed in flyers. If we do not capitalize the C, it breaks our modern RULES of grammar AND rules of advertising.

7. When we do not capitalize the c in church of Christ, everyone flags it as a typo in their mind.

8. So we thing we were being clever in "teaching the ignorant masses" that the Church of Christ is a descriptor and not a name by not capitalizing the C in church of Christ when in fact they NEVER comprehend this but walk away concluding we are a bunch of ungrammatical hicks.


The church (assembly) UNIVERSAL is something every Christian is part of and "IN" every moment of his life.

The church (assembly) LOCAL is something are only "IN" when we gather for worship on the Lord's Day to Break Bread: Acts 20:7

Just as my body is MY BODY, even though it is owned by Christ, so too although Christ bought the church with His blood and he is the owner, it is no less MY CHURCH too. After all, the church is the body of Christ and He is the Head (Eph 1:22-23; Col 1:18). If I am THE BODY OF CHRIST, then it is my body too!

So Christ owns our physical body and our spiritual body (the church) but it is obviously perfectly fine to say, "MY (physical) BODY, MY CHURCH"

The words REVEREND and AWESOME are not used any more exclusively of God than are the words love, joy, peace etc.

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

Instead he described it as THE CHURCH,



9. Some of the issues where we are correct need a bit of re-thinking on how we approach the general public. Take the "do not capitalize the C in Church of Christ issue. It is kind of like how I do not correct the countless number of people who refer to me as "Pastor Steve" in the middle of a discussion about today's weather as we passed on the street. In my younger, foolish days, I would say, "Now hold on there bucko, I am not a Pastor. There are three Greek words in the New Testament Pastor, Bishop, Elder... I AM NOT A PASTOR... What I am is based upon three other Greek words: Minister, Evangelist, Preacher (notice I capitalized them because in their eyes it is a title), so the scriptural thing to call me is a minister or an evangelist or a preacher." Remember all this was during a discussion about the weather and they think I am crazy because they don't even go to church! So they walk away and say, "Ok Goodbye Minister Steve". Again I start up, "Look Minister is not a title or a proper noun... Don't call me Minister Steve, for minister is a job description not a title.... AND NEVER CAPITALIZE the word minister I the future if you do want to call me that next time we pass on the street and talk about the weather." We need to choose our battles better... and the time and place to fight them.

"But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine." (Titus 2:1)

By Steve Rudd

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