The Use Of Kingdom And Church In The New Testament -- By: W. E. C. Wright

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 052:208 (Oct 1895)
Article: The Use Of Kingdom And Church In The New Testament
Author: W. E. C. Wright


The Use Of Kingdom And Church In The New Testament

W. E. C. Wright

Cleveland, Oh.

In our hymnology, “kingdom” and “church” are synonyms. So are they in the New Testament, but with a wider range of variation. In their simpler meanings we may accept Fairbairn’s remark, that “the kingdom is the immanent church, the church is the explicated kingdom.” When Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, or in parables, or in passing

allusion, spoke of the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God, or simply of the kingdom, it was usually to set forth the ideal which he came into the world to make actual, but which was not yet realized.

This ideal began to be realized in the local Christian assemblies, and the apostles, both in the Acts and the Epistles, spoke much oftener of the actual, concrete church or churches, than of the ideal kingdom.

Of the twenty-one times the word “church” occurs in the book of Acts, all except 9:31 can be understood of the local congregation, and only three or four others can possibly be taken in any wider sense. In Acts 20:28, “the church of God which he purchased with his own blood,” the word is more naturally taken of the church universal; and so perhaps 8:3, “made havoc of the church.” In 9:31 the best MSS. leave no doubt of this use, for they read, “then had the church rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria.”

The word occurs five times in the Epistle to the Romans, all in the sixteenth chapter, and always with the local meaning.

Of twenty-two occurrences in First Corinthians, only two have the distinctively larger sense: 10:32, “Give no occasion of stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the church of God;” 12:2, 8, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles,” etc. Two others may be taken in the more extended meaning: 11:22, “or despise ye the church of God,” and 15:9, “I persecuted the church of God.” In Second Corinthians, “church” occurs nine times, always of the local body. The three uses in Galatians are the same except that 1:13, “I persecuted the church of God,” cannot be so readily taken of the church in Jerusalem as of the church universal. Two references in ...

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