church: Characteristics of the local church


NOTE: The church is the context of the entire New Testament. 

Revelation 5:9-10 (ESV) And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.

It is not to our advantage that much of what we know as “church” is assumed from a consumer marketing context rather than from Scripture missiologically applied to a context.

  1. This would mean that we would have to know the essence of the church and wrestle with its application. Which is exactly what we find happening in the NT.

NOTE: Far too much of “church” life is spent managing degrees of service and comforts and provisions rather than advancing a kingdom agenda as priest-ambassador-rulers under the King’s authority on his mission.

Lets Jump In.

VITAL: The word used in the bible that we translate as “church” is “Ekklesia”. 

  1. In the NT this word is always used to designate a local gathering of Christians and never a building. 
  2. Root is “ekkaleo” – to call out

Ekklesia is not unique to the NT. 

  1. Ekklesia was used to designate a public gathering of citizens who are called out for a purpose. (See Acts 19:39 for how “Ekklesia” is used by the public officials)
  2. Public/Gathering/Called out for a purpose.
  3. The actual word “church”, that we use as the translation of “Ekklesia” is Germanic in origin, “kirche”, and it means “Lord’s house”.
  4. This is why there is confusion in our language and our association of the people of God with a building. 
  5. ESV Exhaustive Concordance is a great tool to help you see the original words and help you see why they were translated as theyare and dig into the nuance of how a word is used. 

Ekklesia is also used in the LXX (Septuagint – Greek translation of the OT by 70 scholars from the tribes of Israel) to identify Israel as the “congregation” of the Lord. 

  1. The Jewish scholars in the 200’s BC who translated the Hebrew OT into Greek understood Israel to be the called out people of God for a purpose. 
  2. So, biblically speaking, all those who are of the faith of Abraham in Jesus Christ, are the Ekklesia of Jesus Christ. 
    • Acts 2 is a key moment in church history because then, at that moment, all those of faith in Jesus are united into a Holy Spirit enabled, multi-ethnic, public square missionary force for Jesus’ kingdom on this earth. 

The “Ekklesia” of Jesus is not defined by time, culture, covid-19, preferences, strategic choice or our feelings. 

  1. The Manual defines the “Ekklesia” of Jesus Christ.

Characteristics of the local church

  1. The church is the special manifestation of the kingdom of God. 
    1. Acts 1:3-28:30-31
  • Jesus spends 40 days of appearing and instruction on the Kingdom of God. 
  • Paul spends his imprisonment in Rome proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about Jesus. 
    • In between? The church being unified, multiplied, encouraged, strengthened through suffering, and sent. 
  1. The church has a powerful gospel.
    1. Acts 2:14-36, 37-40
  1. The church has an entry point: repentance/faith and public confession of Jesus through baptism.
    1. Acts 2:38, 41
  1. The church is devoted to the apostles’ teaching (instruction). 
    1. Acts 2:42
  • The apostles teaching is encapsulated in the gospel message as taught and applied from the Scriptures. 
    • The NT, simply, is the inspired record of that gospel and its missiological application to the world. 
  1. The church is devoted to fellowship. 
    1. Acts 2:42, 44, 45
  • “Koinonia” – participation / communion
    • This is why the Ekklesia of Jesus carries a universal/local/cell manifestation. 
  1. The church is devoted to the Lord’s Supper. 
    1. Acts 2:42
  • Luke 24:35 (ESV) Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
  1. The church is devoted to prayer
    1. Acts 2:42
  1. The church was daily gathering in the temple together and house to house. 
    1. Acts 2:46
  1. The church daily interacted over some manner of food with gladness and generosity. 
    1. Acts 2:46
  1. The church worships. 
    1. Acts 2:47
  1. The church has favor in the public square. 
    1. Acts 2:47
  1. The church is increased by Jesus through the preached powerful gospel.
    1. Acts 2:41, 47


  1. TRC! We have worked like crazy to join Jesus in living out what being on his kingdom mission looks like applied to Rome, Georgia. 
  2. We are not done. 
  3. We have impacted the world. Although your name is not in lights, there are people in the kingdom all over the world because you have been faithful with the gospel. 
  4. Let’s keep working, and let’s worship Jesus together.

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