Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Churches of God

What is this ‘church of God’ mentioned in Galatians?  I thought we were the church of God, according to 1 Corinthians 10:32. Was the Jewish church called the church of God?  If so, why?

Galatians 1:13
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

Yes, today, in the present dispensation of the Grace of God, we, the church the body of Christ are the "church of God." But like you wrote, the Jewish church that our apostle Paul refers to in Galatians 1:13 was also the church of God.  It was the one that existed before the church of God for this present dispensation of Grace, and it was a church made up of a believing remnant of Jews! Notice he wrote that it was in "time past." This was before Paul was saved, and before our current dispensation of the Grace of God began, before the church, which is His Body began. This church was made up of Jews who believed that Jesus of Nazareth was their Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and not like we do today, that he died on the cross to pay for our sins according to Paul's gospel.

And as to your question of why it was called the church of God...it is called that because it belongs to him! The word church (ecclesia in the Greek) is a general word that simply refers to a called out assembly or congregation. There were all types of assemblies and congregations, particularly of the Jews in that day, but they were not all of God. In fact, the very word synagogue was a word that is defined as an assembly or congregation of Jews for the purpose of religious worship. But when the bible refers to them, it refers to them as the synagogue of the Jews. These congregations were filled with lost, Christ-rejecting Jews, and it was from among these that our apostle (and the other apostles before him) would call 'of God's' assembly from among the people. So to let you know that it was a Jewish congregation that belonged to God, it was called the church of God.

Remember, just like the words baptism and gospel, the word church is simply a general term that can be used to describe more than just one thing. And just like there are multiple baptisms in the bible (Matthew 3:11), and multiple gospels in the bible (Galatians 2:7-9), there are also several churches in the bible.

The word church (ecclesia in the Greek) is a general word that simply refers to a "called out assembly or congregation." This is very evident when we look at how Stephen uses the word in Acts 7.

Acts 7:37-38
This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.  This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

Notice here that the Jews who were assembled out of Egypt, and who congregated in the wilderness were called a church. So whenever you or someone else ever mentions the church (or gospel or baptism) remember to always ask "which one?"!

Also, there was the messianic, Jewish, earthly kingdom church that our Lord was building during his earthly ministry.

Matthew 16:13-18
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

It is this kingdom church that continued on beyond the cross and into early Acts. It is this kingdom church that our apostle Paul persecuted before he was saved.

Acts 8:1
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

He calls it the church of God because these Jewish believers were the "called out assembly or congregation" from amongst the apostate Jews!

This church is the one in which people were "added to" in the book of Acts before Paul was saved.

Acts 2:41; 2:47
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

It is also the church that will be back on the scene—future from us—once God ends our current dispensation of grace and starts again his earthly program with Israel.

James 5:14
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

You also see multiple references to this messianic earthly kingdom church throughout the books of Hebrews through Revelation.

Then lastly, there is the church of God for today, the church, the body of Christ!

Romans 12:4-5
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Ephesians 1:22-23
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Colossians 1:24
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

So in conclusion, the "church of God" our apostle refers to in Galatians 1:13 is the Jewish, Messianic, earthly kingdom church made up of a little flock of remnant believers before our apostle Paul was saved, beginning the present dispensation of the grace of God! 

Hopefully this helps!


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