Church legally defined
People use the word Church all the time, but it may mean different things to different people and different things at different times.
When you think of a church are you thinking of a place or building as if it was somewhere that Jesus went to? Was there a place called a church during Jesus' time here on earth? During the time of Jesus, they called them synagogues or the temple. At the first synagogue, Jesus went to, they tried to throw Him over a cliff.
Have you ever thought or considered the fact that the Temples were actually government buildings too?
Why did Jesus drive out the moneychangers from the temple?
The word Church is often translated from the Greek word ekklesia, which meant "called out". Moses had called out the Church in the wilderness. Jesus also called men out to be "in the world but not of the world". He appointed those men to be His government, but they were not to be like the governments of the other nations who exercise authority one over the other.
These ministers appointed by Christ worked daily in the temple, providing government services like welfare for the people, by the charity of the people. This was, and still is, the temple of His body ... the body of Christ who continues doing 'greater works than these'. And in Acts 2, it says they went from house to house; they were rightly dividing both bread and the Word in a system of Daily ministration through faith, hope and charity by The Way of the Perfect law of liberty.
The world which these "called out" ministers were "not of" also had ministers, and they called themselves Benefactors, but they exercised authority one over the other. They used force to extract funds from the people to provide another type of welfare that included free bread and provisions. They were able to do this because the state had taken on the role of being the Father of the people in what was called the Roman Imperial cult. Jesus had said that they should call no man Father upon the earth and that the government He appointed was not to operate like the governments of the other nations who exercised authority in their own system of government provided Corban.
The Church can only be defined by Christ, but a legal definition is available:
- "CHURCH In its most general sense, the religious society founded and established by Jesus Christ, to receive, preserve, and propagate his doctrines and ordinances."
- "A body or community of Christians, united under one form of government by the profession of one faith, and the observance of the same rituals and ceremonies."
Black's Law Dictionary 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th... eds.
The term church may be used in several senses.
While many institutions may call themselves a church, to meet consistent legal definition it must be established by Jesus Christ.
The Church as a body is a corpus or corporate, and it would not include the people, except through charity.
The church as a community does include the people or laity in a communion of that charity.
You cannot get near God without what is sometimes called Sacrifice.
The manner of that sacrifice is where the Christian conflict is seen.
Bouvier's Law Dictionary 1856 Edition
CHRISTIANITY. The religion established by Jesus Christ.
2. Christianity has been judicially declared to be a part of the common law of Pennsylvania; 11 Serg. & Rawle, 394; 5 Binn. R.555; of New York, 8 Johns. R. 291; of Connecticut, 2 Swift's System, 321; of Massachusetts, Dane's Ab. vol. 7, c. 219, a. 2, 19. To write or speak contemptuously and maliciously against it, is an indictable offence. Vide Cooper on the Law of Libel, 59 and 114, et seq.; and generally, 1 Russ. on Cr. 217; 1 Hawk, c. 5; 1 Vent. 293; 3 Keb. 607; 1 Barn. & Cress. 26. S. C. 8 Eng. Com. Law R. 14; Barnard. 162; Fitzgib. 66; Roscoe, Cr. Ev. 524; 2 Str. 834; 3 Barn. & Ald. 161; S. C. 5 Eng. Com. Law R. 249 Jeff. Rep. Appx. See 1 Cro. Jac. 421 Vent. 293; 3 Keb. 607; Cooke on Def. 74; 2 How. S. C. 11-ep. 127, 197 to 201.
CHURCH. In a moral or spiritual sense this word signifies a society of persons who profess the Christian religion; and in a physical or material sense, the place where such. persons assemble. The term church is nomen collectivum; it comprehends the chancel, aisles, and body of the churcb. Ham. N. P. 204.
2. By the English law, the terms church or chapel, and church-yard, are expressly recognized as in themselves correct and technical descriptions of the building and place, even in criminal proceedings. 8 B. & C. *25; 1 Salk. 256; 11 Co. 25 b; 2 Esp. 5, 28.
3. It is not within the plan of this work to give an account of the different local regulations in the United States respecting churches. References are here given to enable the inquirer to ascertain what they are, where such regulations are known to exist. 2 Mass. 500; 3 Mass. 166; 8 Mass. 96; 9 Mass. 277; Id. 254; 10 Mass. 323; 15 Mass. 296 16 Mass. 488; 6 Mass. 401; 10 Pick. 172 4 Day, C. 361; 1 Root 3, 440; Kirby, 45; 2 Caines' Cas. 336; 10 John. 217; 6 John. 85; 7 John. 112; 8 John. 464; 9 John. 147; 4 Desaus. 578; 5 Serg. & Rawle, 510; 11 Serg. & Rawle, 35; Metc. & Perk. Dig. h. t.; 4 Whart. 531.
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- Luke 22:53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
- Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
- Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
- John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.