May 01, 2011

Paul's Theology of the Church.

This is a little paper I wrote for our BTC class over in Missoula.  Not super thorough, being as it is (sans the footnotes) under 500 words.  I do think it covers some things that are important to keep in mind though, so I thought I'd post it for y'all to take a look at, perhaps I will elaborate on it at some point.


Paul's Theology of the Church
A short summary of the writings of the Apostle Paul concerning the nature and function of the church.
Will Dole


-What is the church?
Paul states in Ephesians 5:25 that “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Following this line of thought, the church would consist of all those for whom Christ died; “the community of all believers for all time.”[1] Paul uses several terms to describe these people throughout his epistles. These include (but are not limited to) saints[2], the called[3], believers[4], and collectively, the body[5] and God's dwelling place[6].
We may conclude from Paul's writings that the church is both universal and local in nature. We see in places such as Romans 16:5 and 1 Corinthians 16:19 that Paul refers to “churches” meeting in homes; we also see in the above quoted Ephesians 5:25 that the “church” that Jesus died for is wide reaching both in terms of time and geography as His sacrifice was “once for our sins[7].”


-What characterizes the church?
Paul tells us the church, or the body of Christ, will be characterized by a number of things. Three of these are worthy special note, those being:
1)Love, which is to be genuine[8], focused on others and their well being[9], and unifying[10]. This love is not something that is natural to us, but rather is something that we are taught by God Himself[11].
2)Unity, which as seen above, is made possible by love. The root of this unity is in the fact that we serve the same God, have the same Savior, share the same baptism, and believe by the same faith[12]. Further illustrating the importance of unity is Paul's repeated use of the term “body” in reference to the church[13].
3)The exercise of spiritual gifts, which is for the common good[14]. These gifts are diverse in nature[15], vary from believer to believer[16], and are to be exercised with the unity of the body and love for other believers in mind[17].


-What is the function of the church?
Before any specific discussion of the church's function is entered into, it is important to note that whatever the church is doing, it ought to be with the intention of bringing glory to God[18]. Paul tells us that the gathering of believers should be orderly[19], and led by elders[20], some of whom labor in preaching and teaching[21]. It will also be marked by singing[22], baptism of believers[23], and partaking of the Lord's Supper[24].
Ultimately the body is to do more than the simply gather together. Believers also ought to be lights in the world[25] seeking to reach others with the Gospel[26].


-In Summary.
God is creating for Himself a people, grafted together of both Jew and Gentiles[27], loved and predestined by Him before the foundation of the world to be conformed to the image of His Son[28], to the glory, and for the praise of, His name[29].




Footnotes:

1-Wayne Grudem, “Systematic Theology”, page 1238
2-Romans 1;7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:2
3-Romans 8:28; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:14
4-1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 1:6
5-1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 3:6; Colossians 3:15
6-1 Corinthians 3:9; Ephesians 2:22
7-1 Peter 3:18
8-Romans 12:9
9-1 Corinthians 13:4-7
10-Colossians 3:14
11-1 Thessalonians 4:9
12-Ephesians 4:5,6
13-Romans 12:4; 1 Corinthians 12:12
14-1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Corinthians 10:32-33
15-1 Corinthians 12:4-5
16-Romans 12:4,6; 1 Corinthians 12:14
17-1 Corinthians 12:20; 1 Corinthians 13:1
18-1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Galatians 1:5; Ephesians 2:12
19-1 Corinthians 14:40
20-1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:5
21-1 Timothy 5:17; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:1
22-1 Corinthians 14:26; Colossians 3:16
23-Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:12
24-1 Corinthians 11:26
25-Philippians 2:15
26-Romans 10:1; 1 Corinthians 10:33; Philippians 1:18
27-Romans 11:17
28-Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:4-5
29-Romans 16:25-27; Galatians 1:4-5; Colossians 1:18

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I love Jesus, my wife, and my kids. Writing and teaching are two things I have a passion for. Gardening and fishing are cool, too. I blog @ willdole.com, you can reach me @ contact@willdole.com