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Churches


St. Hripsime Church in Echmiadzin, Armenia.

A church is an association of people with a common belief system, especially one that is based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

Origins


The church of Saint Simon in Aleppo, Syria is considered to be one of the oldest remaining churches in the world.


St. Adalbert Basilica in Esztergom, Hungary

The term church originated from Greek "κυριακή" - "kyriake", [1] meaning "of the lord" and later began to replace the Greek ekklesia and basilica within Christendom, c. AD 300, though it was used by Christians before that time (Acts 20:17).

The Christian concept of a "Church" is used for the Greek "εκκλησία" — ekklesia, ref. Strong's Concordance — 1577, Bauer's, Thayer's, and Moulton's and is introduced by Jesus of Nazareth in the New Testament. Of the 114 occurrences of the term in the New Testament, three are found in the Gospel of Matthew: "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my ekklesia, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Mt 16:18); and "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the ekklesia; and if he refuses to listen even to the ekklesia, let him be to you as the Gentile and the tax-collector" (Mt 18:17).

The Greek term εκκλησία — ekklesia, which literally means a "gathering" or "selection" i.e. "eklectic" in English" or "called out assembly", was a governmental and political term, used to denote a national assembly, congregation, council of common objective (see Ecclesia (ancient Athens), Ecclesia (Church)) or a crowd of people who were assembled. It did not signify a "building" as early Christians did not have purpose built buildings for worship.

This concept in Christian terms has its direct antecedent in the Koine Greek translation of the Old Testament (see also Septuagint), where the noun ekklesia has been employed 96 times to denote the congregation of the Children of Israel, which Christians regard as a type of the "Body of Christ", as they also call the Christian Church of Christ.

Some minority traditions of Christianity have maintained that the word translated "church" in scripture most often properly refers to local bodies or assemblies. "Church" is a derivative of the Early Greek word "κυριακον", meaning Lord's house, which in English became "church". The Koine word for church is εκκλησία (ecclesia). Before Christian appropriation of the term, it was used to describe purposeful gatherings, including the assemblies of many Greek city states. Christians of this stripe maintain that a centralizing impulse in the church, present from the early days of the church through the rise of Constantine represented a departure from true Christianity. They therefore reject the authority of the Nicene Creed or the Apostles' Creed.

Christian churches


Calvin United Church, Perth, Ontario, Canada.


Barnabas Community Church[2], a former army centre now used by a church in Shrewsbury, England.

The church referred to by Jesus, is the group of persons that follow his teaching, to whom he gives heavenly and earthly authority (Matt 16:18-20) and is the group of persons that share two primary commonalities:

Acceptance of Salvation through Jesus of Nazareth, that he was the promised "Christ" (Rev. 22:20).
Obedience to God (Mark 12:13)
Where the term is taken to mean a denomination-type group the largest church may be the global Roman Catholic Church, with adherents of a particular creed or believers of a particular tradition. Various Christian churches are distinguished by their different ecclesiastical hierarchies, their creeds, and their Bibles and other sacred texts. Several Christian churches consider themselves to be the true church established by Christ (see Great Commission), including the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Restorationist churches. The Christian Church is sometimes also understood to mean the totality of believers across the various Christian churches. For example, Roman Catholics consider the Eastern Orthodox to be members of the Body of Christ, even though they are not Catholic.

Each church recognizes more or fewer of its fellow Christian churches as legitimate. Mainstream denominations are generally compatible enough that members do not have to be rebaptized when they switch from one denomination to another. Still, even mainstream denominations can be far apart ecumenically. Since Vatican II, Roman Catholic theologians have referred to Protestant and Restorationist denominations not as churches but as associations. These theologians acknowledge Eastern Orthodox churches as true churches, albeit defective ones.

Since the English word "church" in our present generation has a broader meaning now, this term should be carefully used correctly so that confusion would not arise in its proper usage. When the Bible speaks or talks about "church", it logically and biblically means a "group of believers" that was gathered by Jesus Christ Himself, formed by Jesus Christ Himself, started in Jerusalem by Jesus Christ Himself, and authorized solely by Jesus Christ Himself here on earth before He went to Heaven after His crucifixion. And this group that was started by Jesus Christ is interrelated and interconnected but yet independent. The Founder, the Leader and the Head is Jesus Christ Himself. This is the "original, unique, peculiar, blessed, authorized, persecuted, ever existing" group of faith that is different from other religious groups around the world. This group, the original "Church" of Jesus Christ, had been existing from the time Jesus Christ had started it and will last until He comes according to the Bible. In the Bible, especially in the New Testament, this group was sometimes directly called "Church of God" or "Church of Christ".[citation needed]

Attributes

Spiritual authority
The Christian church is guided by the Holy Spirit and given spiritual authority by Christ.

No one will argue that the "authority" of Jesus Christ to preach, to teach, and to do all the things that He had done while on earth was come from the Father God above. Before Jesus Christ had ascended to Heaven, He had given His apostles and disciples an authority too, first to preach (that may include teaching, exhorting, rebuking, correcting), and second, to baptize. And this "authority" was relayed to by the apostles to the disciples, from disciples to the next disciples, to the next disciples to the following next disciples, until His second coming. And the relaying of this authority or "passing of" this authority had been conducted solely by the church. This passing of authority was sometimes called, the anointing or appointing of pastors or leaders of a respective churches.

(Membership in the Christian church has traditionally been defined by baptism. The church administers Christianity's sacred acts: baptism, the Lord's supper, worship, etc.)

Visible and invisible churches
Many believe the Church, as described in the Bible, has a twofold character that can be described as the visible and invisible church. As the Church invisible, the church consists of all those from every time and place, who are vitally united to Christ through regeneration and salvation and who will be eternally united to Jesus Christ in eternal life. The Church visible consists of all those who visibly join themselves to a profession of faith and gathering together to know and serve the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. The visible church exists globally in all who identify themselves as Christians and locally in particular places where believers gather for the worship of God. The visible church may also refer to an association of particular churches from multiple locations who unite themselves under a common charter and set of governmental principles. The church in the visible sense is often governed by office-bearers carrying titles such as minister, pastor, teacher, elder, and deacon.


Small church in southern England, Easter 2007

Others make the claim that no reference to the church is ever made in the Bible that is not referring to a local visible body, such as the church in someone's house or the church as Ephesis. Those that make this claim believe that the term is sometimes used in an institutional sense in which the term refers to all of a certain type, meaning all of the local visible churches.

Universal church
Church is taken by some to refer to a single, universal community, although others contend that the doctrine of the universal church was established until later. The doctrine of the universal, visible church was made explicit in the Apostles' Creed,[citation needed] while the less common Protestant notion of the universal, invisible church is not laid out explicitly until the Reformation. The universal church traditions generally espouse that the Church includes all who are baptized into her common faith, including the doctrines of the trinity, forgiveness of sins through the sacrificial action of Christ, and the resurrection of the body. These teachings are expressed in liturgy with the celebration of sacraments, visible signs of grace. They are passed down as the deposit of faith.

Church government
Major forms of church government include hierarchical (Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodoxy), presbyterian (rule by elders), and independent (Baptist, charismatic, other forms of independency). Prior to the Protestant Reformation, clergy were understood to gain their authority through apostolic succession, an understanding still affirmed in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

History of Christian churches

Early Christian Church
The Christian church began as Jesus' following among the Jews. Paul and other missionaries spread Christianity among the Hellenized gentiles of the Roman Empire. Christians were sporadically persecuted, but the religion spread, and in the 4th century Constantine legalized Christianity in the Eastern Roman Empire.

Seven Ecumenical Councils
Constantine's Council of Nicea united the Christian church around the Nicene Creed. Six more ecumenical councils followed, representing a time of harmony between East and West.

East and West
When the Roman Empire fell to the barbarians, the church effectively split into East and West. This split became an official schism in 1054.

Protestant Reformation
Martin Luther and other reformers broke away from Rome, establishing Protestant churches. Other new churches formed over the next centuries.

Metaphors
Christian scriptures use a wide range of metaphors to describe the church. These include:

Family of God the Father (Ephesians 3:14-15,2 Corinthians 6:18)
Brothers and sisters with each other in God's family (Matthew 12:49-50)
Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:31-32)
Branches on a vine (John 15:5)
Olive tree (Romans 11:17-24)
Field of crops (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)
Building (1 Corinthians 3:9)
Harvest (Matthew 13:1-30,John 4:35)
New temple and new priesthood with a new cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-8)
God's house (Hebrews 3:3-6)
Pillar and foundation the truth (1 Timothy 3:15)
Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
Temple of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 6:16)
House of Prayer (John 2:16)