Week 20 – The Church: More Officers and Metaphors
He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.Colossians 1:18
Other Officers of the Church
The deacons or deaconesses of a church are called, elected, or appointed to serve the church elders, thus enabling them to minister the Word and pray. The word for deacon, “diakoneo,” simply means servant. Acts 6:1-6 gives the first mention of deacons being ordained in the church. (Romans 16:1, 1 Timothy 3:10)
The Apostolic Team
In addition to the local leader, God can place other gifted people in the local church. The New Testament mentions apostles and prophets in, around or over local churches (Acts 15; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 2:20, 4:11). The “apostolic” people (popularly called “church planters”) often pioneer work in new territories and gradually turn over these works to local pastors.. Typically, the apostolic team will design strategy and help decide on timing for planting new works. They will appoint the lead person into the leadership of a local church (e.g. Titus 1:5), and through teaching and counsel, will strengthen the church (e.g. Acts 15:36, 18:23), especially during its initial stages or times of transition. An apostolic team provides stability and guidance during times, and can also manage the distribution of funds between various churches (e.g. 2 Corinthians 8:1-21, Acts 4:37).
Scriptural Metaphors of the Church
In Paul’s letter to Ephesus, we can see several pictures of the church to help us understand its nature an purpose. These metaphors display indispensable significance and divine design of God’s church.
The Church is His BODY; Christ is the Head (Ephesians 1:22-23).
Picture the church as a living organism whose parts are interconnected and interdependent. It is not a dead institution, but full of power, love, and life. (1 Corinthians 12:12-25)
“And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)
The Church is His BUILDING; Christ is the Cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
The church is like a building under construction. As partakers and partners of this house we participate in the building process. We are more than spectators; we are called to help build wherever the Lord places us.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)
See also 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
The Church is His FAMILY; Christ is Elder Brother. (Ephesians 3:6, 10, 15)
In a dysfunctional society where the family life is often less than God’s best, God in His goodness has made provision in raising up powerful yet loving church families, where He “makes a home for the lonely” (Psalms 68:6).
Gentiles are no longer outsiders, but fellow heirs and members of the body, partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Ephesians 3:6).
See also Ephesians 1:11, 2:19; Hebrews 2:14-17
The Church is His MATURE MAN; Christ is the Example. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
The church is also a place for maturing. God’s desire is for His church to be like a mature Son, having character and anointing to share in the Father’s business.
“…for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12-13)
The Church is His BRIDE; Christ is the Groom. (Ephesians 5:27)
According to this Scripture, Christ will return again for His Bride and the Bride will be ready, spotless and glorious.
“…that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:27)
“For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.” (2 Corinthians 11:2)
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:7)
The Church is His WARRIOR; Christ is our Armor of Victory. (Ephesians 6:10-17)
The church is called to do significant, strategic and supernatural warfare. We are to do battle with the full armor of God and to take “every thought captive to the obedience of God” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.” (Luke 10:17-19)
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11-12)
See also Matthew 16:18-19 and Calvin’s Institutes 4:1:4
- What is the role of a deacon or deaconess?
- Name six metaphors used to describe the church.
- With which metaphor of the church do you most identify?