Summary: Church, in the final analysis, defines a people who are in the world but not of the world - ministering to the world.
BREAKING DOWN THE WALLS
Church. A building or a people?
Churches. Buildings constructed over supposed holy sites, in which various forms of worship take place. Some of these original citadels have disappeared, their walls removed to build alternative edifices.
The problem with the concept of ‘Church’ under this definition is that it has walls which separate between those who are Within and those who are Outside.
(a) Separating Mount Sinai from the people, under pain of death (Exodus 19:12-13).
(b) The veil, separating Moses from the people (Exodus 34:33-34).
(c) The law itself becomes a boundary, separating us from God because of our inability to keep it (2 Corinthians 3:12-16).
(a) Between the tabernacle and the non-Levite tribes, under pain of death (Numbers 1:51). Keeps the priestly caste apart, distinguishing between ministry and lay.
(b) Between the house of Aaron and the rest of the tribe of Levi, under pain of death (Numbers 3:10). Protects the uniqueness of the high priest’s office.
Temple. A building once located in Jerusalem, intended as a habitation for the LORD, with a dividing wall between the “near” and the “far” (Ephesians 2:13).
Remember what you were, says Paul (Ephesians 2:11): Christ-less, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, outside the covenant, without any true hope of salvation, and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12). “But now” (Ephesians 2:13) - you are brought near by the Blood of Christ.
Wall of partition. Separated between Jew and Gentile - under pain of death. Paul was accused of bringing an Ephesian into the Temple (Acts 21:29-31)!
Church. A people who have been reconciled to one another and to God. They have had the walls of hostility broken down by Christ: “He is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14).
(b) Breaks down the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, reconciling both to God, then each to one another, “making of the twain one new man” (Ephesians 2:15), and so making peace.
The Cross stands at the Crossroads of history, making reconciliation possible (Ephesians 2:16).
The Gospel of peace is preached to both near and far (Ephesians 2:17). The children of Israel, alone amongst all the families of the earth, was once described as “a people near unto Him” (Psalm 148:14). “But now” (Ephesians 2:13) - He summons a people from afar (Isaiah 49:1), so that we too might have access by one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:18).
(a) The household of God (Ephesians 2:19).
(b) Holy people (1 Peter 2:9-10), not holy buildings.
(c) A people who are a building themselves, an habitation for the Lord (Ephesians 2:22).
(a) The individual Christian’s body (1 Corinthians 6:19).