THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
The name church of Christ is a name that is acceptable to most of those religious bodies that hold Jesus of Nazareth to be divine. In the writings of the representatives of these different religious bodies we frequently find the name "church of Christ" applied to the body they represent. It would be a rare occasion, indeed, to have someone deny that the "church of Christ" is a proper designation for the church to wear.
The fact that the name "church of Christ" is commonly accepted as proper by religious people is not, however, conclusive proof that this name is acceptable to God. We must examine the revelation of God, if we want to know what is acceptable to Him.
With this in mind the procedure of gospel preachers often has been to cite Romans 16:16: "Salute one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you." Then they will point out that this is book, chapter and verse for calling ourselves a church of Christ. When anyone has raised the objection that this verse refers to a plurality of churches and thus Paul is not using the name of the church, it has often been pointed out that you cannot have a plurality which does not begin with the singular. The singular is, of course, the church of Christ. I have no argument with this procedure; however, in this article I wish to consider other passages and reason with you regarding them.
It is not commonly known that the third edition of Richard Francis Weymouth's translation, edited and partly revised by Earnest Hampden-Cook, refers to the universal church as the church of Christ. this translation of 1 Corinthians 12:12 reads, "For just as the human body is one and yet has many parts, and all its parts, many as they are, constitute but one body, so it is with the church of Christ." Regarding this translation I must point out the fact that Weymouth's translation has been revised from time to time by various persons. Thus, the fourth edition -- second impression does not read the same way. Whether or not the third edition is a justifiable rendition, the church revealed in the New Testament certainly could be compared to the human body. Paul wrote "to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints" (1 Cor. 1:2) and in 1 Corinthians 12:27, after discussing the differing members of the physical body, wrote, "Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular."
In Ephesians 1:22 & 23 where paul is relating what God did for Jesus Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, we read: "and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all." No doubt we all can understand that the "body of Christ" mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:27 is "his body" mentioned in Ephesians 1:22 and 23. These verses in the first chapter of Ephesians refer to "the church which is his body." Therefore, the word, "church," properly can be substituted for the word, "body." If we so substitute in 1 Corinthians 12:27, we would have, "now ye are the" church "of Christ, and members in particular." this cannot refer to various religious organizations because it is written to "them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints" (1 Cor. 1:2).
I am certain that all would agree, with me, that in the physical realm one who has two bodies is properly considered some sort of freak. In the spiritual realm the church is the "body of Christ." If we think of Christ as having more than one body or church, do we not in our minds make Him to be some sort of spiritual freak? However, it is not, necessary to be in doubt about how many bodies Christ has. Ephesians 4:4 plainly tells us, "there is one body."
Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour will save "his body." Ephesians 5:23 tells us, "christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." Do you want to be saved? If you do, you will have to become a part of the body He is going to save. You may do this by being baptized. We find in 1 corinthians 12:13, "for by one spirit are we all baptized into one body."
By Fred Shewmaker, local bulletin Jan. 25, 1970
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