Shelby G. Floyd
Jesus Promised to Build One Church
Contrary to the popular notion that one may join the church of his choice, the Bible teaches that there is just one church. In fact, Jesus Christ never promised to build but one church. In the area of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rook I will build my church….” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus did not say, “I will build my churches,” but he said, “I will build my church,” singular. Jesus built but one church, and he called it “my church.”
Jesus is the Head of the One Church
In the book of Ephesians, the one church which Jesus promised to build is mentioned several times as an established reality. In the first chapter, Paul affirmed the supreme authority of Christ as the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). This one church is spoken of as the body of Christ. The word “body” is in the singular.
Christ is the one head, and the church is his one body which together forms a unit. This is a figurative reference to the human organism which has one head and one body. The idea of modern denominational-ism is foreign to the teaching of the New Testament. In New Testament times there were many congregations, but they all formed one body or one church.
The Mystery of the Jew and Gentile in One Church
In chapter two, Paul speaks of the alienation of the Jew and the Gentile being reconciled together in one body, by the cross of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:16). The gospel is a gospel of peace to both the Jew and the Gentile, for it is through Christ that both have access unto the Father by the one Spirit into the one body.
In chapter three, Paul speaks of the reconciliation of the Jew and Gentile in one body as a great mystery, which in previous ages had not been revealed unto the sons and daughters of men as it was being revealed at that time. The unity of both the Jew and Gentile in the one church, or the one body, manifested God’s great wisdom. Paul had been given a part in declaring this mystery to the whole world (Ephesians 3:9-10).
The One Church Makes Known the Manifold Wisdom of God
It is the church in the singular which makes known the manifold wisdom of God, and not modern denominational-ism. It is in the one church that God’s glory and wisdom is manifested throughout all ages: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).
The One Body—The One Spirit
In chapter four, Paul speaks of the unity of the church under the phrase, “the unity of the Spirit.” The unity of the church is outlined under seven units. Paul says, “…There is one body….” (Ephesians 4:3-6). We notice in these verses that there is just one body, and we have already learned that the one body is the church. Therefore, God does not have but one church or one body. It would be just as reasonable to say that there are many Gods or many Lords as to say there are many churches or bodies.
Christ is the Savior of the Body
In chapter five, Paul says that Christ “is the savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23.) The singular nouns body and church are used instead of the plural. This teaches, as in every other place that Christ has but one church or body, and he is the savior of that body as well as being its head and ruler.
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142