What Does The Word Church Mean? A Bible Definition

What Does The Word Church Mean? A Bible Definition March 25, 2016

What does the word “church” mean? What is the biblical definition of the church?

What “Church” Means?

Jesus once said to His disciples that “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18) so it is not our church or nay body of believer’s church. It is Jesus’ church and He built it and not even the gates of hell can stop it. The word Jesus used for church was the Greek word “ekklēsia” and is the same word used for when a gathering of citizens are called out from their homes into some public place for an assembly so it’s an assembly of God’s children who have been called out and adopted into the family of God (Eph 1:4-5, 11). We might think we sought after God but the children of God were not born of their own will or of the will of any man but of the will of God (John 1:13) so the church is a group or assembly of believer’s who have been purchased by God through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and adopted into the family of God.

What Church is Not

What the church is not is a manmade gathering of people who decided for themselves to build a church to meet together and sing worship songs to God. The church is not a building; the church is composed of many members who have repented and trusted in Christ and it’s not just that they need a building to meet in since a home is not large enough for all the different members and to do the work that Jesus commands us to do (Matt 25). The church is a body of believers who have trusted in Christ and now seek to glorify Christ and to reach the lost for Christ. In other words, it’s all about Jesus Christ. If a church never teaches the need for repentance and faith, they are ignoring the very gospel that Jesus Christ introduced (Mark 1:15) and as such, they are nothing more than a manmade social club that gathers together to simply meet their own needs. They don’t understand that it’s not their church; it is the church of Jesus Christ that He built, using blood-mixed mortar from His own body. Therefore Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone.


What Church is

I barely touched on this in the previous paragraph but I want to expand on the fact that this is not our church but it is Jesus Christ’s church “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1st Cor 3:11) and we “are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph 19-21). God has laid the cornerstone in Christ by which the whole building is aligned with but He has also built the foundation (already!) with the prophets and apostles, and it is “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph 2:22). The church is not a building. The church is not a social club. The church is a body of believers who have turned from their sins and forsaken then (repented) and the turned to Christ and placed their trust in Him. There is never any panic about whether the church will survive or not. Jesus said it will survive, no matter what (Matt 16:18)!

Jesus the Builder

God is seeking those today who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) and He will not accept worship that doesn’t have both necessary components but the Bible also teaches that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). It doesn’t matter what you think about the church or what the church is because Jesus says and He declares as plain as day, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (John 15:16) and again, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil” (John 6:70), meaning Judas.


The church is a gathering or assembly of believers who have repented and trusted in Christ, a body of believer’s called out by God, a gathering of the saints to take the gospel into all the world in the hopes of making other disciples, teaching them what Jesus taught His own disciples (Matt 28:19-20), and we, being many members, are all fit together into one building that will strive to live in holiness, have the desire to rescue the perishing, and to glorify God in all that we do. That’s what the church is and what the word “church” means.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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