Sabbath: The Church

Read for This Week’s Study: Deut. 32:4; Ps. 28:1; John 17; John 15:1-5; Matt. 7:1-5; Matt. 5:23-24; Matt. 18:15-18.

gless08-2014cMemory Text: I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:20-21, NKJV).

The roots of the Christian church can be traced back to Adam, Abraham, and the sons of Israel. The Lord had called Abraham, and later the Israelites, to enter into a covenant relationship with Him in order to bless the world through them. In the course of sacred history, that covenant relationship was continued by the church.

The church was not an invention of the apostles or of any human being. During His ministry, Christ Himself announced His intention of establishing His church: I will build My church (Matt. 16:18, NKJV). The church owes its existence to Jesus Christ. He is its Originator.

According to the Gospels, the term church appears on the lips of Jesus only three times (Matt. 16:18, 18:17). This doesn’t mean, however, that He didn’t deal with the subject. In fact, He taught very important concepts relating to the church. Our study this week will center on two main ideas: the foundation of the church and the unity of the church.

*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 23.



Sabbath: The Church — 3 Comments


    ” The word Peter signifies a stone,—a rolling stone. Peter was not the rock upon which the church was founded. The gates of hell did prevail against him when he denied his Lord with cursing and swearing. The church was built upon One against whom the gates of hell could not prevail.

    Centuries before the Saviour’s advent Moses had pointed to the Rock of Israel’s salvation. The psalmist had sung of “the Rock of my strength.” Isaiah had written, “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.” Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 62:7; Isaiah 28:16. Peter himself, writing by inspiration, applies this prophecy to Jesus. He says, “If ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious: unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house.” 1 Peter 2:3-5, R. V.

    “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11. “Upon this rock,” said Jesus, “I will build My church.” In the presence of God, and all the heavenly intelligences, in the presence of the unseen army of hell, Christ founded His church upon the living Rock. That Rock is Himself,—His own body, for us broken and bruised. Against the church built upon this foundation, the gates of hell shall not prevail.
    How feeble the church appeared when Christ spoke these words! There was only a handful of believers, against whom all the power of demons and evil men would be directed; yet the followers of Christ were not to fear. Built upon the Rock of their strength, they could not be overthrown.

    For six thousand years, faith has builded upon Christ. For six thousand years the floods and tempests of satanic wrath have beaten upon the Rock of our salvation; but it stands unmoved.
    Peter had expressed the truth which is the foundation of the church’s faith, and Jesus now honored him as the representative of the whole body of believers. He said, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    “The keys of the kingdom of heaven” are the words of Christ. All the words of Holy Scripture are His, and are here included. These words have power to open and to shut heaven. They declare the conditions

  2. Whilst the Sabbath school states Jesus only uses the word “church” 3 times, I would go further – he didn’t use the word at all. I would go even further than that – the word “church” is nowhere to be found in the New Testament. The word “church” only comes into usage in the 4th century, as any etymological dictionary will tell you ( Therefore it is certain that “church” was never used in the New Testament.

    The actual original Greek word that Jesus uses is ‘ekklesia.’ “Church” descends from the Germanic word ‘circe’ which in turn may have descended from the Greek word ‘kirke’ and ‘kuriakon’ which means “the Lord’s house” – its initial primary use was for buildings of worship. “Church” is therefore unrelated to the word ‘ekklesia.’

    What is the best English translation for ‘ekklesia’ then? William Tyndale, and others saw it best to translate it as “Congregation” ( And “Congregation” is reminiscent of the “Congregation of Israel” (the phrase occurs at least 71 times in the Revised Version e.g. Ex. 12.3, 6, 19, 47). ‘Ekklesia,’ whilst meaning “congregation,” is made up of two root words: ‘ek’ meaning “out from,” and ‘kaleo’ meaning “to call.” This is fitting since it was Israel that was born when it was taken “out of Egypt” (Ex. 20.2; this phrase occurs at least another 181 times in the Bible showing how important this notion was to the Israelites). Therefore the ‘ekklesia’ that Jesus mentions is essentially “the Congregation called out from [Egypt].” And interestingly enough Jesus states elsewhere that the Apostles would “sit on thrones [“thrones” indicative of regal authority] judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel” (Mt. 19.28; Lk. 22.30) and not ‘the Church.’ Consequently there should be no doubt as to what the ‘ekklesia’ that Jesus referred to is.


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