Centered on Christ
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Centered on Christ

What Does the Phrase “churches of Christ” Mean?

Paul mentions this in Romans 16:16.

The Bible opened to the book of Romans.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

As Paul was closing his letter to the Christians in Rome, he used a phrase in referring to Christians that is worth considering.

The churches of Christ greet you. (Romans 16:16)

What does the church of Christ mean?

Vincent’s Word Studies said that “church” refers to “a community based on a special religious idea and established in a special way.

It could refer to this community over a large area, such as the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1:4). It can also refer to a “church” in a single place — such as the church that met in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (Romans 16:5).

The establishment of “the churches of Christ” — or other ways of thinking about this phrase is “Christ’s churches” or “the churches that belong to Christ” — was done by Jesus Himself. He built only one church upon His identity and authority as the Christ, the Son of God (Matthew 16:13–19).

The “special religious idea” of the church of Christ is that Jesus is raised from the dead, and He is both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). Because Jesus has been raised from the dead, He has defeated death and will destroy death in the end (1 Corinthians 15:20–26).

Those who obey the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ submit themselves to His authority as Lord and place their lives in the hands of the only one who can save them from their sins and death (John 14:6). Upon obeying the Gospel (Acts 2:38), the Lord adds that person to His one church that He built (Acts 2:47).

Sadly, when many people hear the phrase “church of Christ,” they think of just another denomination among all the other “Christian” denominations.

But truly — to think biblically about “the church of Christ” is to see the church built by Jesus Himself. Not just as one more group among many — but Jesus’ own body (Ephesians 1:22–23).

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