The Church of Jesus
The Church of Jesus
The purpose and the mission of Jesus’ “ekklesia” is constructed through multiple foresights. With the help of the scriptures and careful consideration, we can conclude that the church is comprised of many goals that all lead to two primary functions; be holy and fulfill the actions of the body of Christ. The idea of holiness is the attribute of being set apart and undefiled. It is through this purity that God can commune with mankind. The other function, performing the part of Christ’s body, is the idea of becoming a priestly minister and becoming God’s possession once more.
The church is an interesting entity due to its time in human history. From the beginning of our timeline, God has established His desire to abide with man. Through the ancient events, God declared His purpose of having a holy and chosen nation of Israel. By the more recent of times, God has acted upon those wishes and has created an avenue in which man can find an opportunity to join into the nation of God. The purpose of the nation carries great significance in the world of those who are lost and seeking.
James D.G. Dunn pays special attention to the relation of the church and the Old Testament theology of Israel. Dunn notes in his book, New Testament Theology, “it is almost impossible to overemphasize the fact that Christianity began within and as a part of Second Temple Judaism. Jesus was a Jew, a Galilean.” In other words, the coming of Jesus Christ was both, the pinnacle and fulfillment of God’s grand plan. Dunn goes on to describe the church as a “redefined Israel.” It is important to note the correlation between the Jewish nation of Israel and the Spiritual formation of Jesus’ kingdom.
One of the primary purposes of the church is to simply be a people for God. This is a truth that was seen as early as Exodus 19:5ff and came to fruition in texts such as 1 Peter 2:9. God has consistently desired to have a people who were holy and devout to Him. Furthermore, the church ought to be defined as a “priesthood” and should function in a similar manner. The priests in the Old Testament were to minister as holy individuals and guide others to the unity found within God. Priesthood was a service, a role, and an outlook. If the church appropriately views themselves as priests, perhaps the function of the church could be executed in a more effective manner.
Michael Bird, in his book, Evangelical Theology, rationalizes the outlook of the church with the significance of its purpose. He states, “from a theological viewpoint, a high Christology and a high ecclesiology go together. If we think wonderfully high thoughts of Jesus, we should think wonderfully high thoughts about the church, which is, after all, ‘the body of Christ’” (Bird, 704). The church not only serves and ministers as holy priests, but also as Christ’s body.
Jesus told those who were listening that the new temple would be built in “three days” (John 2:19). In order to help the readers of the gospel, John clarified, “but he was speaking about the temple of his body” (John 2:21). The apostle Paul further embarked on the ideology of the church being Christ’s body by using this terminology in order to encourage the church not to sin in a sexual way (1 Cor. 6:15). He encouraged others to remain in unity because Christ is one (1 Cor. 12:12). That the church was purchased through the cross in order to be embodied in Christ (Eph. 2:16). It is clear through the teaching of Jesus and His followers that the church functions as the literal embodiment of Christ on this earth.
The church’s purpose is to minister by showing the world the hands and feet of Jesus. To serve in a manner which was exemplified by Christ (John 13). To remain holy and unstained through temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). The church has the great opportunity to stand apart from the world and to do so in a holy way.