Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 5, 1967
NUMBER 22, PAGE 3b,6a

The Church Is An Entity

Robert C. Welch

We are hearing from some sources that in no sense as used in the Scriptures is the church an entity. Such an unthinkable, illogical, unguarded and unreasonable idea leads one to observe that those who so contend have never looked in a dictionary to see the meaning of the word entity, and certainly have not read the Bible to see the full description of the church. Their idea is as illogical as to presume that the state legislature, sometimes called the assembly, has no entity.

If they had taken the time to look they would have known that the word means to have being or existence. Then just as certain as there is the church, in whatever sense used in the Bible, it is an entity, it has existence. Possibly, though unbelievable, they have the preposterous notion that the parts included in a collective noun never have being or existence as a unit. The word church is a collective noun, whether including all Christians or those assembled in one place. In either of the senses used there is existence or being, there is entity. The matter is just that simple. Do not permit all their reams of writing make you think that they have anything intelligently brilliant or challenging. It takes a lot of words to cover up the bright and shining truth.

These same writers would have us believe that church is a dirty word. They argue that the word does not express the true meaning of the Lord's revealed will. Now this is the only position in which they can argue that it has no entity; that is, if there is no such thing scripturally as the church, then there is no entity scripturally, for it does not scripturally exist. They favor the word assembly instead of the word church. But an assembly, has entity, it exists. And if that be what the word church in the common English translations is supposed to be, then there is entity of the church, however rightly or wrongly that word be used in the translations.

Their basic argument seems to be that Christians in their capacity of an assembly have no function as a unit. They merely got hold of the wrong word to define their doctrine when they contended that it does not have entity. Whether assembly or church be the better word, the apostle Paul asserts entity by the pronoun it; "even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5: 25-27). Thus their ridiculous wordy argument is demolished by a little two-letter word, it. The simple words of the Scriptures so easily refute and defeat all the extended ambiguous reasonings of error.

Not only does the church, or assembly if you must have the word, have entity or existence; it has collective or unit function as well as distributive function of each Christian. Note this passage: "If any woman that believeth hath widows, let her relieve them, and let not the church be burdened; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed." (I Tim. 5:16). Notice that it is not distributive but singular, not they but it, to do the relieving.

Both distributive and collective or unit function is denoted in the following passage: "From whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body into the building up of itself in love." (Eph. 4:16). The distributive function is in the working of each several part. The unit function is in the building up of itself. On another occasion this same church at Ephesus was to repent and do the first works "or else," the Lord says, "I come and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent." (Rev. 2:5). Notice the second person, singular pronouns. There was entity and there were characteristics and function as a unit.

In the Scriptures the word church is not used for a house, it is not used for a denomination, it is not used in connection with the organization and functions which characterize many of the assemblies of religious people in their specific locations. But that the Bible had overseers and servants and functioned as units cannot be truthfully denied. You may argue as to whether this is orderly arrangement or organization but neither of these terms is used in the Scriptures. And by definition of the terms one can as easily be used as the other to denote what the Scriptures provide. "Unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen." (Eph. 3:21).