swept down upon the Roman Empire, uses a noun in the singular number, and describes them as ?the several detachments of that immense army of northern barbarians,? ? yet he does not mean to intimate that these tribes had any common government. So we may speak of ?the American college? or ?the American theological seminary,? but we do not thereby mean that the colleges or the seminaries are bound together by any tie of outward organization.
So Paul says that God has set in the church apostles, prophets, and teachers <461228>1 Corinthians 12:28), but the word ?church? is only a collective term for the many independent churches.
In this same sense, we may speak of ?the Baptist church? of New York or of America. It must be remembered that we use the term without any such implication of common government as is involved in the phrases ?the Presbyterian Church? or ?the Protestant Episcopal Church? or ?the Roman Catholic Church.? With us, in this connection, the term ?church? means simply ?churches.?
Broadus, in his Com. on Matthew, page 359, suggests that the word ejkklhsi>a in <440931>Acts 9:31, ?denotes the original church at Jerusalem, whose members were by the persecution widely scattered throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria and held meetings wherever they were but still belonged to the one original organization. When Paul wrote to the Galatians, nearly twenty years later, these separate meetings had been organized into distinct churches and so he speaks ( <480122>Galatians 1:22) in reference to that same period, of ?the churches of Jafiza which were in Christ.? On the meaning of ejkklhsi>a see Cremer, Lex. N. T., 329; Trench, Syn. N. T., 1:18; Girdlestone, Syn. O. T., 367; Curtis, Progress of Baptist Principles, 301; Dexter, Congregationalism, 25; Dagg, Church Order, 100-120; Robinson, N. T. Lex., sub voce .
The prevailing usage of the N. T. gives to the term ejkklhsi>a the second of these two significant meanings. It is this local church only which has definite and temporal existence and of this alone we henceforth treat. Our definition of the individual church implies the two following particulars:
A. The church, like the family and the state, is an institution of divine appointment. This is plain:
(a) from its relation to the church universal as its concrete embodiment,
(b) from the fact that its necessity is grounded in the social and religious nature of man,
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