Church simply means a group of people rather than any organised institution like the local church. Many have even claimed that their church is the true church mentioned by Jesus Christ. In this post, we will explore what is the church of Jesus Christ from His own words.
Church means Assembly
And if he refuses to hear them, tell [it] to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.Matt 18:17
In the above passage, the term church simply means assembly or group of people since the term “church” as a religious institution or organization like we refer today didn’t even exist at that time. Further, “ekklesia”, the Greek word used for church simply means assembly, i.e., a group of persons gathered together.
Church built on Peter
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.Matt 16:18
Jesus gave a blessing to Peter that He will build His church on Peter. This caused some institutionalized religious organizations to claim themselves as the true church.
Coming to Him [as to] a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God [and] precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.1 Pet 2:4-25
Peter mentions in his first letter regarding how the house of God will be built, that is by coming to Him as living stones. This has nothing to do with any organised religious institutions.
Christ’s instruction to Peter
So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.John 21:15-17
Peter was given the task to feed His sheep, that is His church. Who is His sheep?
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.John 10:27
His church are those who hear His words and obey them by following Him.
Christ’s definition of His church
|Matt 16:18-19||Matt 18:18-20|
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you [Peter] bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
|Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you [His church] bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.|
Comparing the above two verses, Jesus gives the exact promise of binding on earth to Peter and His church. Then, Jesus very clearly explains – that is, two or three gathered in His name is called His church.
Finally, we must not forget that the first title received by Peter from Jesus immediately after when he went against His words is ‘Satan’ (Matt 16:23). If Jesus called Peter as Satan, how much will He call others who go against His words? Hence, His church is always His people who truly follow Him and obey His words from all churches/denominations etc.