the weblog of Alan Knox

What Scripture teaches about the church

Posted by on Mar 29, 2011 in blog links, definition, scripture | 7 comments

What Scripture teaches about the church

Last week, I wrote a post called “Do you know what is written?” The purpose of that post was to encourage people to study Scripture concerning ecclesiology (or any other subject) before arguing for or against a particular position.

On Facebook, a friend of mine said that the post would have been better if I had included a list of Scripture passages that I could point people to. I agree. That would have made the post better.

Now, I don’t have to provide a list of passages, because Guy at “The M Blog” has done just that in his post “When do we start taking them to church?” In his post, Guy is dealing with this: “One of the most common questions asked is: at what point do we start taking the new believers to church?” However, in his response, he offers the following list of Scripture passages about the church:

The standard response we generally give is to try and briefly explain our understanding of what Scripture teaches about the church, the Bride of Christ.

1) Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15, Philemon 2 describe churches as meeting in homes. This was the standard. The norm. Small groups meeting in homes allows not only them, but us, to minister personally to one another. Special church buildings, programs, services, and crowds didn’t show up onthe scene until several hundred years later.

2) Ephesians 2:19 teaches we are “fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household…” We are truly family. Families take care of each other, watch out for each other, and some 50+ other “one anothers.”

3) Acts 2:42 teaches that continuosly the church engaged in at least four primary activities: 1) devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching, 2) to fellowship, 3) to the breaking of bread, and 4) to prayer.

4) I Corinthians 14:26 describes what they were instructed to do when they gathered: “When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” Everyone is encouraged to participate and bring something of edification to the gathering. Church is not a spectator sport where only a few perform and the rest are spectators.

5) Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches us the reason for gathering, ” and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” The main reasons we are admonished to gather is to, 1) stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 2) encourage one another. If our gatherings do not encourage and motivate us to truly love one another and perform good deeds, then something is out of line and needs to be corrected.

There are many other passages that relate to the who, what, when, where, and why of the church. A few that amplify and describe the above in greater detail are I Corinthians 11-12-13-14, I Peter 2, Acts 2:42-47, and I Timothy 3.

That is a great beginning! Obviously, that is not every important passage about the church, but it’s certainly a good place to start.

I would add passages like Matthew 16:15-21, Matthew 18:15-20, Colossians 1:18-23, Colossians 3:15-16, Ephesians 4:1-16, and Titus 2:1-15.

Are there any passages that you would add to Guy’s list?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 3-29-2011

    chapters 12 to 14 of 1 Corinthians….a couple of notable verses: “Every believer is given a means of revealing the Spirit’s work for the good of the whole church….Stay close to the path of love and hunger for the Spirit’s gifts, especially prophecy….and do your best to focus on those things that strengthen others in the church.” (1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:1,12; my paraphrase)

  2. 3-29-2011


    Yes, 1 Corinthians 12-14 (and perhaps chapter 11) are extremely important in understand how God works through us when we gather together with other believers.


  3. 3-29-2011

    ¿Podríamos decir que la primera iglesia en una ciudad, según Hechos y las cartas de Pablo, se reunían en diferentes casas y lugares, que se conocían entre ellos estando unidos en red de forma horizontal, que los 5 ministerios estaban presentes y circulando entre los grupos y junto con otros hermanos que a veces venían de paso y que según iban añadiéndose nuevos creyentes iban creciendo los grupos y los ministerios? Esta era la dinámica de una iglesia, la dinámica de discipulado, esta era la dinámica de un crecimiento.

  4. 3-29-2011

    Juanjo Gómez Serrano,

    Esto es muy bueno: “Esta era la dinámica de una iglesia, la dinámica de discipulado, esta era la dinámica de un crecimiento.”

    (“This was the dynamic of church, the dynamic of discipleship; this was the dynamic of growth.”)


  5. 8-22-2011

    Alan, I’ve only recently been introduced to the idea of the house church, and I’ve been reading as much as I can about it… so I’m really just starting that journey of trying to picture what the church is supposed to look like. Some of the things I’ve read have basically disparaged the role of the “pastor,” perhaps because “church” seems to have become so wrapped around the pastor’s persona, his ability to run a church like a business, etc. But some writers have gone so far as to say that a leader/teacher/pastor is not needed at all… that everyone should participate equally…. that a seminary education does not necessarily make someone a speaker of the Truth.

    As I was driving to church yesterday, I was listening to a sermon on the radio. The preacher said that in the new testament, there are more mentions of the importance of learning from a good teacher/preacher/leader than there are of learning from “one another.” I was surprised by this statement, since it’s certainly not what I’ve been reading. And I’m not a Bible scholar myself, so I haven’t done my own first-hand research.

    Of course, one passage that comes to mind is Acts 2:42… “devoting themselves to the Apostles’ teaching……” which seems to imply following a “leader,” but I’m inclined to believe it’s actually referring to the original 12 apostles… the Gospel and Epistle writings.
    So, my question is… what does the NT really teach about the role of the “pastor” in the church?

  6. 8-22-2011


    Thanks for the comment. I don’t promote “house church” as a system, just as I don’t promote any other kind of system. I’m not opposed to believers meeting in any location (including but not limited to a home) as long as the believer are able to interact with and relate to one another as described in Scripture.

    There are certainly apostles, teacher, prophets, evangelists, and other types of leaders in Scripture. But, I think a statement like “there are more mentions of learning from a good teacher/preacher/leader than there are from ‘one another'” is a stretch (at best). According to Scripture, all believers are responsible to teach and encourage one another, and leaders are among all believers as those who are mature followers of Jesus Christ.

    Your question, “What does the NT really teach about the role of the “pastor” in the church?” is one of the major (and contested) questions for today. I would say that the modern role of the “pastor” is not found in Scripture. But, we do find people shepherding (i.e., pastoring) others, and we find some recognized as “elders” or “overseers” to be an example to the others in the church.

    I think the term “apostles’ teaching” refers to content, not to the act of teaching. Plus, the term “devoting themselves to” does not refer to sitting and listening to, but living according to the instructions from the apostles, which originated from Jesus himself.

    Thanks for the comment, and I hope you decide to stick around and comment on some of my posts here. There’s a great group of brothers and sisters who interact on my blog.


  7. 3-18-2012

    The role of a pastor/teacher is to be a father to those he disciples. It is NOT what we have today. The goal of a father is to raise his children to be fully functioning adults who can repeat the process of parenting with children of their own. Today’s pastor is more of a director of an orphanage of believers who are perpetual adolescents. They have never been taught how to lead others because that would require the pastor to transfer values life-to-life. It would require them to be transparent, showing their flaws and weaknesses. Ouch.