What is the Church in the Bible?


The Bible is the foundation of the Christian faith, providing guidance and inspiration for believers throughout the centuries. Within its pages, we find the concept of the “church” taking a central role in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles. But what exactly is the church in the Bible? Is it a physical building, a group of people, or something more profound? In this blog post, we will explore the biblical understanding of the church, with a focus on the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Scriptures. We will delve into its origins, its purpose, and its essential characteristics, providing insight for believers who wish to understand this vital aspect of their faith.

The term “church” is derived from the Greek word “ekklesia,” which means “a called-out assembly” or “congregation.” In the New Testament, the church is described as both the body of Christ and the bride of Christ, with Jesus Himself as its head. While the church is often associated with a physical building or a specific denomination, the Bible makes it clear that the true church is a spiritual entity, consisting of all those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ and have been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In this post, we will explore the biblical concept of the church, beginning with its Old Testament roots and continuing through the New Testament teachings of Jesus and the apostles. We will also discuss the importance of the church in the lives of individual believers and the world at large. Finally, we will examine the essential characteristics of the true church, as described in the Bible, and consider how these characteristics should shape our understanding and experience of the Christian faith.

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church in the Bible

The Old Testament Roots of the Church

While the term “church” does not appear in the Old Testament, its roots can be traced back to God’s covenant with Israel. God called Abraham and his descendants to be a “holy nation” (Exodus 19:6, NKJV) and a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6, NKJV). This calling foreshadowed the calling of the New Testament church, which is also described as “a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV) and “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV).

The Old Testament tabernacle and temple served as physical symbols of God’s presence among His people. These structures prefigured the church, which, in the New Testament, is described as the “temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NKJV) and the “household of God” (Ephesians 2:19, NKJV), with Jesus Christ as its chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20, NKJV).

The New Testament Church: The Body of Christ

In the New Testament, the church is often referred to as the body of Christ, with Jesus as its head (Ephesians 1:22-23, NKJV). This metaphor emphasizes the unity and interdependence of believers, who are called to work together in love and harmony for the growth and edification of the whole body (Ephesians 4:15-16, NKJV). As members of the body of Christ, each believer is given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit, which are to be used for the common good and the building up of the church (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, NKJV).

The church is also described as the bride of Christ, highlighting the intimate relationship between Jesus and His people (Ephesians 5:25-27, NKJV; Revelation 19:7-9, NKJV). As the bride of Christ, the church is called to be pure, holy, and devoted to her bridegroom, eagerly awaiting His return (2 Corinthians 11:2, NKJV; Revelation 22:17, NKJV). This imagery underscores the importance of faithfulness and love in the relationship between Christ and His church.

The Purpose of the Church

The church has a multifaceted purpose, as outlined in the New Testament. One of its primary roles is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV). This evangelistic mission is to be carried out by every member of the church, as they share the good news of salvation with others and invite them to become part of the body of Christ.

Another essential purpose of the church is to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24, NKJV). This includes both individual and corporate expressions of worship, such as prayer, singing, and the observance of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, NKJV). The church also serves as a place for believers to fellowship, encourage one another, and bear one another’s burdens (Hebrews 10:24-25, NKJV; Galatians 6:2, NKJV).

Furthermore, the church is to be a source of teaching and instruction in sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13, NKJV; 2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV). This includes the study of the Scriptures, as well as the teaching and preaching of the Word by qualified leaders (Ephesians 4:11-12, NKJV). The goal of such instruction is to equip believers for service and to build up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13, NKJV).

Essential Characteristics of the Biblical Church

Several essential characteristics define the true church as described in the Bible. These include:

  1. Faith in Jesus Christ: The foundation of the church is faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (1 Corinthians 3:11, NKJV; Acts 4:12, NKJV). This faith involves trusting in His atoning death on the cross, His resurrection from the dead, and His promised return (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, NKJV; Titus 2:13, NKJV).
  2. Baptism: Baptism is an outward sign of an inward change, symbolizing the believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4, NKJV). It serves as an initiation into the church and a public declaration of one’s faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, NKJV; Matthew 28:19, NKJV).
  3. Apostolic Teaching: The church is built upon the foundation of the apostles’ teaching, as recorded in the New Testament (Ephesians 2:20, NKJV; Acts 2:42, NKJV). This teaching provides the essential doctrines and practices of the Christian faith.
  4. Love and Unity: The church is characterized by love for God and for one another (John 13:34-35, NKJV; 1 John 4:7-8, NKJV). This love is to be expressed through acts of service, forgiveness, and mutual encouragement (Galatians 5:13, NKJV; Colossians 3:13, NKJV).
  5. Holiness: The church is called to be holy, set apart from the world and dedicated to the service of God (1 Peter 1:15-16, NKJV; 2 Corinthians 6:17, NKJV).This holiness involves both personal and corporate sanctification, as believers strive to live lives that are pleasing to God and reflective of His character (Romans 12:1-2, NKJV; Ephesians 4:22-24, NKJV).
  6. Spiritual Growth: The church is to be a place where believers can grow in their faith and become more like Christ (Ephesians 4:14-15, NKJV; 2 Peter 3:18, NKJV). This growth occurs through the study of the Scriptures, prayer, fellowship, and the exercise of spiritual gifts (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV; Hebrews 10:24-25, NKJV).
  7. Outreach and Evangelism: The church is commissioned to spread the gospel message to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8, NKJV; Matthew 24:14, NKJV). This involves both local and global evangelism, as well as acts of compassion and mercy that demonstrate the love of Christ to a hurting world (Matthew 25:34-40, NKJV; James 1:27, NKJV).


In conclusion, the church is a central theme in the Bible, serving as both the body and the bride of Christ. Although often associated with physical buildings or specific denominations, the true church is a spiritual entity, consisting of all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. The church has its roots in the Old Testament and is fully realized in the New Testament, with Jesus as its head and foundation.

The church’s purpose is multifaceted, encompassing evangelism, worship, fellowship, teaching, and discipleship. Essential characteristics of the biblical church include faith in Jesus Christ, baptism, apostolic teaching, love and unity, holiness, spiritual growth, and outreach and evangelism. As believers, it is crucial that we understand and embrace these biblical teachings about the church, allowing them to shape our understanding and experience of the Christian faith.

By recognizing and living out these essential characteristics, we can participate in the divine work of the church and experience the joy and blessings that come from being part of the body of Christ. As we grow in our faith, we are called to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16, NKJV), reflecting the love and grace of our Savior and inviting others to join us in the glorious hope that is found in Him alone.

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