The Church: What Is It?

“I will build My church!” These words of Jesus foretold the start of the Christian Church. What was it that Jesus built? Just what is the Church?

Is it a building?

We need to know what the Church really is. Is God’s Church a building, or is it something else? What does the Bible tell us about God’s Church? What did Jesus say about what His Church is? In Matthew 16:18, Jesus tells us that “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades [the grave] shall not prevail against it.”

Praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:47

What the Bible reveals

The book of Acts tells us the early history of the Christian Church. In Acts 11, Barnabas and Saul (later called Paul) spent a year in Antioch at the beginning of Paul’s ministry. “For a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people” (verse 26).

Notice it is with the church—it doesn’t say “in” or “at.” The preposition “with” indicated a position alongside of or in participation. The Antioch church is described as a group of people and not a building.

The word translated “church”

The word in the Greek language (the New Testament was written in Greek) is ekklesia, which means “a calling out,” especially “a religious congregation, an assembly”. The word designates the body of believers of which Jesus Christ is Head. It can designate the entire group worldwide, or it can designate a particular local group of individuals. Thus when Barnabas and Paul “assembled with the church,” they were assembling with and teaching a group of followers of Jesus Christ.

At the very beginning of the New Testament Church, we find in Acts 2:47: “The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” People were added to the New Testament Church—to that group of called-out believers—on a daily basis. People weren’t put in a building. Thus it should be obvious that the biblical term church is describing a group of people and not a building or a cathedral.

The Church is a group of people called out for a special purpose. They are “called”—that is called by God. Those truly part of God’s Church have been called by God to become part of His Church. They are called out of the world to become followers of Christ—Christians. They are called out to be followers of Christ and to live a new way of life.

God calls people into His Church

Who calls someone to be part of God’s Church? The Lord adds to the Church those who are being saved (Acts 2:47). It is God, through Jesus Christ, who adds to His Church

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. (John 6:44).

Church “purchased” by Christ’s blood

God’s Church was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ. In Acts 20:28 Paul, in talking with the elders of the congregation in Ephesus, tells them to take heed of the flock “among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood”

What about church buildings?

God’s Church is not the building; but rather, it is the group of called-out individuals who have dedicated their lives to following Jesus Christ, who is the Head of His Church.