January 2023 | The True Vine and The Soon Coming King

The Foundation of the Church

The Foundation of the Church

Pr. P. J. Daniel

Church was a mystery hidden in the mind of God. It was unknown to the Old Testament saints and prophets. The church is not the continuation of the Old Testament Israel. It was not existed even in the time of Jesus. It can be assumed from the statement of Jesus at Philippi Caesarea, where He said to the disciples that He would build His Church Matthew 16:18. He stated this in the future tense, which means, the church was not existed in the time when he notified this.  But the Church was formed or born on the cross of Calvary by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. In the Scripture we see that Jesus had seen his offspring while he had given his life an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10). The formal inauguration of the Church was made on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit had descended upon the 120 disciples. It will continue on earth till the Rapture.

The Greek word for church is ‘ecclesia’, which is derived from two words “ek” and “kaleo”. Ek means ‘out’ and kaleo means ‘call’. So ecclesia means ‘called out’. Church is a group of people called out for a special purpose – to worship and serve Him.  In Greek colloquial language church is ‘kuriakose’, which means ‘one who belongs to the Lord’. So the definition of the church is a group of people called out for a special purpose and who belongs to the Lord.

The Church is not an organization but an organized organism. It is symbolized in the scripture with various things such as bride, garden, building, nation, temple etc. Church is considered as a building in Ephesians 2: 20-22. But it is not an inorganic infrastructure, but a living and growing organism.

This living organism has a strong foundation, which cannot be material or human. There are certain Bible verses, which demonstrate the foundation of the Church, which are as follows:- 

1 Corinthians 3: 11 “After all, no one can lay any other foundation than the one that is already laid, and that is Jesus the Messiah” (ISV)

Matthew 16: 18 “I tell you that you are Peter, and it is on this rock I will build my Church”

Ephesians 2: 20 “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the Messiah Jesus himself being the corner stone.”

1 Peter 2: 4 – 8 “. . . . Look I am laying a chosen, precious corner stone in Zion”

Psalms 118: 22 “The stone that the builders rejected has become the corner stone”

Of these five verses except Ephesians 2: 20 agree that Jesus Christ is the only foundation. Ephesians 2: 20 adds that the Apostles and Prophets as Foundation.

In Ephesians 2:20-22 Paul uses an illustration to describethe blessings we have in the church. In the context, he has referred to the church as a household or nation (v19). Now he refers to it as a temple. See the very similar example in 1Peter 2:4-8.He describes the foundation of this temple as the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus being the chief cornerstone. This is like 1 Peter 2:4-8 and Psalm 118:22 where Jesus is also said to be the chief cornerstone. Likewise, 1 Corinthians 3:11 says there can be no foundation other than Jesus Christ.

These other passages make clear that Jesus Himself is the foundation. The chief cornerstone was the foundational stone in ancient architecture, from which all measurements began, so every other stone was laid in relationship to the cornerstone. Clearly this position belongs to Jesus.But if Jesus is the foundation, then in what sense is it the foundation "of the apostles and prophets."Some claim, this means the apostles and prophets are the foundation, but such a view would directly contradict the above passages. And the idea is not necessary to the language."Of the apostles" in the Greek is a possessive (genitive plural). It simply means belonging to or pertaining to the apostles and prophets. It does not say the apostles and prophets are the foundation, but simply that the foundation in some way pertains or relates to them. For example “this is the house of Daniel” We will never say that Daniel is the House, but this house pertains or belongs to Daniel. So in what way does Jesus, as the foundation or chief cornerstone, pertain to the apostles and prophets? They revealed the gospel message which made known to the world about Jesus as the foundation of the church. 

No less important than the building is the foundation of the church. No building is stronger than its foundation. What then is the foundation of the church? In I Cor. 3:11, we are given the answer, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” However, let us read Matt. 16:18 where Jesus says, “Upon this rock I will build mychurch.” What is this “rock” to which Jesus refers? Whatever it is, upon it the church wasbuilt by Christ. In order to get the complete picture of the text, notice verse 16, “And SimonPeter answered “You are the Messiah, the son of the Living God”. Jesus is the Builder and Foundation of the Church. Then in verse 17 the Lord blesses Peter for the confession which he had made, and in verse 18 the Lord  promises to build His church. It is clear from the text that Christ planned to build His church upon the truth of Peter’s confession: “Thou art the Christ; the Son of the living God.  ”Some have mistakenly interpreted this passage to mean that Christ built His church on Peter. However, a closer look at the wording will show that this is not, and cannot be true.When Jesus said, “I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter”,   Jesus used the Greek word for Peter which is ‘petros’ means stone, a rock, a small pebble, etc. But when Jesus said, “upon this rock”,  Jesus used the Greek word, ‘petra’ means a huge mass or ledge of rock. The two words are as different as their meanings. The Churchis therefore founded upon the fact that Jesus is the Christ, God’s infallible Son, and not upon Peter, a fallible, erring creature.In Isaiah’s prophecy, chapter 28 and verse 16, it reads, “Therefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, 

I lay in Zion for a foundation  stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” In Matt. 21:42 Jesus applies this prophecy to Himself: “Jesus said unto them, did you never read in the scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’sdoing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.” Later in Acts 4:11 the apostle Peter, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, applies this same prophecy to Jesus: “This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.” Jesus, and not Peter, is the head of the church, as well as its foundation. It’s important to note that the Church is built upon a divine rather than a human foundation. Christ is God, eternal and immortal. In John 1:1, the apostle tells us of Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” The apostle Paul says this of Christ in Philippians 2:6,“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”Therefore, as the foundation of the Church, Christ will endure forever. Death, decay and depreciation cannot harm the church. For Christ who is its builder, head and foundation shall live forever. 

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