The Church: Both Organism and Organization

No one will doubt that the Church is a living organism, Romans 12:5, I Corinthians 12:13. Indeed, the Church is the living body of Jesus Christ.

However, it is often denied that the Church may properly be defined as an organization as well, that is, both a living organism and an organization.

Scripture does declare the Church as both.

When Jesus spoke of the Church in Matthew 16:18, saying, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” was He speaking of a living organism? No, but as an external organization!

In Acts 14:23, which says, “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” Is this in reference to a living body? No again! It is in reference to an organized, local body.

Yet, Scripture often speaks of the Church as both organism and organization as one, where both aspects of the Church are expressed simultaneously:

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones [an organization!] are being built up as a spiritual house [a living organism!], to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – I Peter 2:4,5.

Scripture never refers to an unorganized group of Christians as a church.