Names of the Church

Text: Matthew 16:18

Jesus promised to build His church, but what church is it? It is the church we can read about in the NT. Does it have a name? There are a few names that can be given, each one teaching us something about the Lord’s church.

Church of Christ (Romans 16:16)

  • Used for congregations that Paul was associated with
  • Negative connotation today, leading some to argue that we should quit using it – there will always be negative talk against believers (Acts 19:9); we must base what we do on the Bible, not public opinion
  • This name is appropriate – Jesus built the church (Matthew 16:18); He purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28); He is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23); the church is His bride (Ephesians 5:31-32)

Church of God (1 Corinthians 1:2)

  • Used multiple times in Corinthians letters (1 Corinthians 10:32; 11:16, 22; 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1) – other places as well
  • Reminder that Jesus is God (Colossians 2:9)
  • Christ came to reconcile us to God in the church (Ephesians 2:16) – the church is made up of those who now belong to God

Church of God in Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:14)

  • Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30)
  • Those who are part of the church are those who are in Christ – How does one get in Christ? … baptism (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; 1 Corinthians 12:13)

Church of the Firstborn (Hebrews 12:23)

  • The firstborn referred to here is Christ
  • He is the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15-17) – place of prominence
  • He is the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18) – first to be raised to never die again; provides hope for us (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

Churches of the Saints (1 Corinthians 14:33)

  • Churches are made up of saints (holy ones) – we are expected to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16)
  • “Saints” are not a special class of dead Christians – all Christians are saints (Philippians 1:1)

Church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1)

  • Also Smyrna (2:8), Pergamum (2:12), Thyatira (2:18), Sardis (3:1), Philadelphis (3:7), and Laodicea (3:14); church in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1); church of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1)
  • These churches were distinct from one another – autonomous (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2)
  • Yet, there was only one church – no denominations (1 Corinthians 4:17)

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