Churches steeped in heresy, faction and administrative difficulties will invariably be discovered to be practisers of open communion, and owe their lamentable condition in large part to that particular error as the origin of their troubles. Moreover, churches who practice open communion or other errant forms of it generally do so because they misunderstand the nature and purpose of the church. This is because the twin concepts of church and communion are inseparable. The one has no meaning nor justification for existence without the other, which is why Christ Himself most emphatically ordained the supper as a system of remembrance. (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:26) Therefore, in order to formulate a proper mode of administering the communion supper, we must first have a proper understanding of the church.

In Paul’s epistles, he addresses all his letters to the churches in the same standard way, and nowhere is this clearer than in his letter to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 1:2 shows us exactly what Paul wrote on the envelope: “To the church (of God) which is at Corinth”, because he intended the letter for not just the pastor, or the church secretary, but for the whole group of new fellow believers. But he didn’t just address the envelope to “Bert, Ted, Fred, Sharon, Tracy and Bill” either. What’s he’s actually written on the envelope is “To the Church of God which is at Corinth”.

He has given the gathering the description and title of a “church”. The Greek word for church is ‘Ekklesia’, meaning ‘a body of citizens gathered to discuss the affairs of state’, or even “a gathering regarded as representative of the whole nation”.

Paul says elsewhere that Christ gave the name ‘church’ as the collective name of all His believers, and Paul’s use of the word here unlocks the full meaning of Christ’s statement that “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them”.

Thus, an ‘ekklesia’ is a gathering together of two or three people (at least) to do state or civic business, and a church is a gathering together of two or three people (at least), to do Jesus’s business, because Jesus said that when such a gathering happens, there will He be, present and complete. A representation of Christ. When the town ekklesia meets, the gathering is representative of the whole town. And in exactly the same way, the local church of Jesus Christ is representative of the whole of Christ!

The gathering may be small in number, but it is a complete physical representation of the body of Christ. A local, active, manifestation of Jesus. The spirit of Jesus… …with legs.

Notice that Paul has not addressed the letter to the part of the church which is at Corinth. No, he’s addressed it to the “church” which is at Corinth – A complete church. A complete representation of Christ’s body which is at Corinth. Remember, Christ did not say “Where two or three are gathered together, there will be a part of me in the midst of you”. No, Christ said “I will be there”. To paraphrase, he meant: “All of me – Complete, entire, lacking nothing. My full and entire presence will be constituted by your gathering together”.

And in this letter that Paul has addressed to the Church of God which is at Corinth, Paul clarifies this meaning of the church still further by saying (in chapter 12 verse 27) “Ye are the body of Christ”, and this statement completes the whole picture, because where, indeed, wherever two or three believers are gathered together in Christ’s name, then there Christ is, in the midst. His body is right there. It is constituted from the assembled members of his body. Paul says “Ye”… (the plural of “you”) to say “Ye (you all, when are you are assembled together) are the body of Christ, and members in particular”.


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