(This is another quick intermission from my series on “Gifting vs. Office.”) During my recent trip to Washington D.C. and the ETS conference, some friends and I began discussing various metaphors for the church. There were several papers presented during ETS that used the standard metaphors to discuss the church: 1) People of God, 2) Body of Christ, and 3) Temple of the Holy Spirit. These metaphors are also usually studied in detail in ecclesiology books.
While these three metaphors fall neatly into a trinitarian theology, I wonder if they are truly the main biblical metaphors used to describe the church. In fact, each of the three are used a handful of times in the New Testament, but only a handful of times each. There are other metaphors that are used more often. Consider the following metaphors:
Family. How many times are believers called brothers and sisters? How many times is God called Father? Are we not “adopted” by God?
Citizens. This may actually be realted to the “Family” metaphor, but let’s consider it separately. Are we not “citizens” of the kingdom of God? Is Jesus not our Lord and King? Are we not told to live as good citizens? Is God not our benefactor?
Are there other metaphors that may be more prevalent in Scripture than people of God, body of Christ, or temple of the Holy Spirit? What can we learn from these more prevalent metaphors that we miss in the standard three?