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Church, n. Etym: [OE. chirche, chireche, cherche, Scot. kirk, from AS. circe, cyrice; akin to D. kerk, Icel. kirkja, Sw. kyrka, Dan. kirke, G. kirche, OHG. chirihha; all fr. Gr. ç\'d4ra hero, Zend. çura strong, OIr. caur, cur, hero. Cf. Kirk.]
1. A building set apart for Christian worship.
2. A Jewish or heathen temple. [Obs.] Acts xix. 37.
3. A formally organized body of Christian believers worshiping together. "When they had ordained them elders in every church." Acts xiv. 23.
4. A body of Christian believers, holding the same creed, observing the same rites, and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority; a denomination; as, the Roman Catholic church; the Presbyterian church.
5. The collective body of Christians.
6. Any body of worshipers; as, the Jewish church; the church of Brahm.
7. The aggregate of religious influences in a community; ecclesiastical influence, authority, etc.; as, to array the power of the church against some moral evil. Remember that both church and state are properly the rulers of the people, only because they are their benefactors. Bulwer.
Note: Church is often used in composition to denote something belonging or relating to the church; as, church authority; church history; church member; church music, etc. Apostolic church. See under Apostolic.
-- Broad church. See Broad Church. -- Catholic or Universal church, the whole body of believers in
Christ throughout the world.
-- Church of England, or English church, the Episcopal church
established and endowed in England by law.
-- Church living, a benefice in an established church. -- Church militant. See under Militant. -- Church owl (Zoöl.), the white owl. See Barn owl. -- Church rate, a tax levied on parishioners for the maintenance of
the church and its services.
-- Church session. See under Session. -- Church triumphant. See under Triumphant. -- Church work, work on, or in behalf of, a church; the work of a
particular church for the spread of religion.
-- Established church, the church maintained by the civil authority;
a state church.
church Church, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Churched; p. pr. & vb. n. Churching.]
Defn: To bless according to a prescribed form, or to unite with in publicly returning thanks in church, as after deliverance from the dangers of childbirth; as, the churching of women.
---excerpt from the Illustrated Bible Dictionary
Church - Derived probably from the Greek kuriakon (i.e., "the Lord's house"), which was used by ancient authors for the place of worship. In the New Testament it is the translation of the Greek word ecclesia , which is synonymous with the Hebrew kahal of the Old Testament, both words meaning simply an assembly, the character of which can only be known from the connection in which the word is found. There is no clear instance of its being used for a place of meeting or of worship, although in post-apostolic times it early received this meaning. Nor is this word ever used to denote the inhabitants of a country united in the same profession, as when we say the "Church of England," the "Church of Scotland," etc. We find the word ecclesia used in the following senses in the New Testament: (1.) It is translated "assembly" in the ordinary classical sense (Acts 19:32, Acts 19:39, Acts 19:41). (2.) It denotes the whole body of the redeemed, all those whom the Father has given to Christ, the invisible catholic church (Ephesians 5:23, Ephesians 5:25, Ephesians 5:27, Ephesians 5:29; Hebrews 12:23). (3.) A few Christians associated together in observing the ordinances of the gospel are an eccesia (Romans 16:5; Colossians 4:15). (4.) All the Christians in a particular city, whether they assembled together in one place or in several places for religious worship, were an ecclesia. Thus all the disciples in Antioch, forming several congregations, were one church (Acts 13:1); so also we read of the "church of God at Corinth" (1 Corinthians 1:2), "the church at Jerusalem" (Acts 8:1), "the church of Ephesus" (Revelation 2:1), etc. (5.) The whole body of professing Christians throughout the world (1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; Matthew 16:18) are the church of Christ. The church visible "consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children." It is called "visible" because its members are known and its assemblies are public. Here there is a mixture of "wheat and chaff," of saints and sinners. "God has commanded his people to organize themselves into distinct visible ecclesiastical communities, with constitutions, laws, and officers, badges, ordinances, and discipline, for the great purpose of giving visibility to his kingdom, of making known the gospel of that kingdom, and of gathering in all its elect subjects. Each one of these distinct organized communities which is faithful to the great King is an integral part of the visible church, and all together constitute the catholic or universal visible church." A credible profession of the true religion constitutes a person a member of this church. This is "the kingdom of heaven," whose character and progress are set forth in the parables recorded in Matthew 13. The children of all who thus profess the true religion are members of the visible church along with their parents. Children are included in every covenant God ever made with man. They go along with their parents (Genesis 9:9; Genesis 12:1; Genesis 17:7; Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 29:10). Peter, on the day of Pentecost, at the beginning of the New Testament dispensation, announces the same great principle. "The promise [just as to Abraham and his seed the promises were made] is unto you, and to your children" (Acts 2:38, Acts 2:39). The children of believing parents are "holy", i.e., are "saints", a title which designates the members of the Christian church (1 Corinthians 7:14). (See BAPTISM.) The church invisible "consists of the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ, the head thereof." This is a pure society, the church in which Christ dwells. It is the body of Christ. it is called "invisible" because the greater part of those who constitute it are already in heaven or are yet unborn, and also because its members still on earth cannot certainly be distinguished. The qualifications of membership in it are internal and are hidden. It is unseen except by Him who "searches the heart." "The Lord knoweth them that are his" (2 Timothy 2:19). The church to which the attributes, prerogatives, and promises appertaining to Christ's kingdom belong, is a spiritual body consisting of all true believers, i.e., the church invisible.
(1.) Its unity. God has ever had only one church on earth. We sometimes speak of the Old Testament Church and of the New Testament church, but they are one and the same. The Old Testament church was not to be changed but enlarged (Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 60:1). When the Jews are at length restored, they will not enter a new church, but will be grafted again into "their own olive tree" (Romans 11:18; compare Ephesians 2:11). The apostles did not set up a new organization. Under their ministry disciples were "added" to the "church" already existing (Acts 2:47).
(2.) Its universality. It is the "catholic" church; not confined to any particular country or outward organization, but comprehending all believers throughout the whole world.
(3.) Its perpetuity. It will continue through all ages to the end of the world. It can never be destroyed. It is an "everlasting kindgdom."
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