16:18 my church. This is the first, and definitive, use of the word “church” (Greek ekklesia, or “out-called assembly”) in the New Testament. This church built by Christ clearly consists of all who acquiesce volitionally and spiritually in Peter’s great confession. This in neither an invisible church, for it is composed of real people, nor a universal church, relative to the world as a whole, but always only a “little flock” (Luke 12:32). The church can never assemble together as a whole until it gathers in heaven as “the general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23). It is represented, however, as a “local assembly” in each time and place where “two or three are gathered together in my name” (Matthew 18:20), for Christ Himself, by the Holy Spirit, is there “in the midst of them.” Normally such gatherings would be formally structured as local churches (of the 115 occurrences of ekklesia, at least 85 refer specifically to local churches), with members, officers and organized programs of winning, baptizing and teaching converts.
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