The authors of the New Testament also record different building imagery for the church. While they never viewed the church as a specific building, the authors did use buildings as illustrations to explain the theological implications of the church. First, Paul described the church as a simple building. In this discourse, Paul’s logical flow of thought shows that the church was unified through its members demonstrating mutual labor under God. As the church members construct the building structure, Paul reminded that the church could be built on no other foundation other than Jesus Christ. In many churches, different ministers or lay leaders may claim that the church belongs to them personally, but Paul reminded that the church belongs exclusively to God.
The second building image of the church is that of the new temple. Peter described church members as living stones of a temple built upon the cornerstone, Jesus Christ. As his temple, the church should be aware that Jesus’ presence is constantly among its members when the believers gather together. As they gather together, God expects them to offer spiritual sacrifices to God.
Paul also described the church as a temple with special reference to the role of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit began the church on the day of Pentecost, and all believers were baptized into the church explicitly by the Spirit. Paul portrayed Christ as the cornerstone pivotal for the enduring nature of the temple of the Holy Spirit. In Eph. 2:21-22, Paul described the church to be built upon the foundation of the apostles’ proclamation of the gospel. In Paul’s address to the Corinthian church, he exhorted the members that instead of building upon modern philosophies for the growth of the church, the temple of the Holy Spirit would be marked for its integrity and growth in its holiness.
A third building image of the church is that of God’s house. The author of Hebrews characterized God’s people as being God’s house with Jesus as the builder of that house. Christ is not only the builder of the home, but he is also the owner of the home in which he appointed Moses to serve within it. When the author of Hebrews characterized the church as God’s household, the author shocked many Jewish people by claiming that Moses was merely a servant in the house of which Christ was the founder.
Buildings?! (Images of the Church – #5 of 7)