“In the context of the Temple in Jerusalem as well as the ubiquitous Greco-Roman structures, New Testament authors employ the temple metaphor to enable believers to visualize the sanctity of the church,
Image © Stan Myers from GoodSalt.com
God’s role in founding and growing the church, the defining nature of the work of Christ and the Spirit, and the solidarity of believers within the church. The architecture domain would seem to imply a static image. However, the metaphor is used in conjunction with biological imagery and the process of building is often accentuated. Rather than a static image, ‘we are impelled to visualize a story of the process of construction rather than a completed edifice.’ The church is granted the wondrous privilege of humbly acknowledging in its life and story ‘the temple of the living God‘ (2 Cor. 6:16).” – John McVay, “Biblical Metaphors for the Church: Building Blocks for Ecclesiology”, in Ángel Manuel Rodríguez, ed., Message, Mission, and Unity of the Church (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald®, 2013), p. 52.
- Reflect on the biblical images of the church. Which one do you like most? Why are you more attracted to that one? Some other metaphors of the church can be found in these passages: 1 Tim. 3:15, 2 Tim. 2:3-5, 1 Pet. 2:9.What else do these metaphors teach about the church?
- “God wants His people to be united in the closest bonds of Christian fellowship; confidence in our brethren is essential to the prosperity of the church; union of action is important in a religious crisis. One imprudent step, one careless action, may plunge the church into difficulties and trials from which it may not recover for years.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 446. What should this warning teach us about how careful we must seek to be in guarding the unity of the church? What role does each one of us have in this sacred responsibility?
- Sunday’s study stressed that even as “the people of God”, we must rely only on God’s grace for salvation, and never on our own merits. In fact, couldn’t you even argue that it’s our very reliance on God’s merit for salvation that indeed makes us “the people of God”? Why or why not is this a valid claim?
Summary: The New Testament uses different metaphors to illustrate both the nature and mission of the church. More important, these metaphors teach that God attentively is watching over His people and protects them. These images also teach that God’s people are intricately linked with each other and that we need each other to do the work that we have been called to do.