Donald Robinson engages with the view that there are references in Acts to the ‘Church’ on earth beyond that of the local church, e.g. Acts 9:31. He argues that this reference does not negate the fact that primarily ‘church’ in the New Testament, when refering to a particular area rather than the heavenly gathering, means the local church.

I agree with this, but wonder whether this means it is restricted to the physical ‘event’ or rather does it mean the local body of believers, whether meeting as a whole group or not…

I’m planning on looking at this in more detail, but I wanted to put up a couple of passages that raise this question in my mind – please discuss!

1 Corinthians 11:18
In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.

This passage seems to indicate that it is when they come together that they are church… (cf. 1 Cor. 14:19, 28, 35)

1 Corinthians 14:23
So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

But in the middle of all the above references Paul talks about the church coming together – that is it seems the church has to exist in some form outside this ‘coming together’ in order for it to come together! Otherwise it would read ‘if the whole physical gathering gathers together…’ (cf. Acts 14:27; 15:30)

Please add any thoughts you might have on these passages.

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