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Biblical Phrases and Terms for God's Special People

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The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia summarizes other descriptions of the people of God in the New Testament (emphasis added): “This Church is not a human organization; it is God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10 Ephesians 2:10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
American King James Version×
)…It may thus be described in several pregnant phrases, of which the following are to be noted.

“The Church is the people or Israel of God (Ephesians 2:12 Ephesians 2:12That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
American King James Version×
; cf. 1 Peter 2:10 1 Peter 2:10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
American King James Version×
), in whom there is fulfillment of the ancient covenant promise: ‘I will be your God, and you shall be my people.’

“It is the household or family of God (Ephesians 2:19 Ephesians 2:19Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
American King James Version×
; Ephesians 3:15 Ephesians 3:15Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
American King James Version×
; Ephesians 4:6 Ephesians 4:6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
American King James Version×
), consisting of those who are adopted [or, rather, spiritually begotten] by God as sons and heirs in Christ.

“It is the planting of God to bring forth fruit to His glory (1 Corinthians 3:10 1 Corinthians 3:10According to the grace of God which is given to me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds thereon. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon.
American King James Version×
: cf. John 15:1 John 15:1I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer.
American King James Version×
f.).

“It is the temple of God, built by God Himself in Christ to be His dwelling and therefore to be the center of true holiness and worship (Ephesians 2:21 Ephesians 2:21In whom all the building fitly framed together grows to an holy temple in the Lord:
American King James Version×
f.; cf. John 2:19 John 2:19Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
American King James Version×
f.; 1 Corinthians 3:9 1 Corinthians 3:9For we are laborers together with God: you are God’s husbandry, you are God’s building.
American King James Version×
; 1 Peter 2:4 1 Peter 2:4To whom coming, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
American King James Version×
f.).

“It is the bride of Christ for which the Bridegroom gave Himself that it might be presented, cleansed, sanctified, and pure at the eternal marriage feast (Ephesians 5:25 Ephesians 5:25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
American King James Version×
).

“It is the body of Christ, the fullness of Him that fills all in all, Christ Himself being the head (Ephesians 4:15 Ephesians 4:15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
American King James Version×
f.) and yet also in a true sense the totality (1 Corinthians 12:12 1 Corinthians 12:12For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
American King James Version×
), with each Christian being a member in particular (1 Corinthians 12:27 1 Corinthians 12:27Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
American King James Version×
).”

These references tell us much about the biblical definition of the Church. Rather than a building, the Church is a called-out assembly—the group of believers invited to come out of the world for God’s special purpose.

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