Local Aspect

1. Revealed by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 18:17

In speaking of Lord Jesus' revelation of the local church in Matthew 18, Witness Lee notes:

In Matthew 16 the Lord says, “I will build My church.'' This church is the unique, universal church typified by Zion. But just as Zion has many peaks, so the universal church has many local expressions. In Matthew 18, where the Lord speaks of taking a matter to the church, we see one of these local expressions. We may also liken the universal church to a tree and the local churches to the branches of the tree. In Matthew 18 we see one of the branches of this universal tree. Here is a local church in which we can go with our problems....We have seen that the church is firstly revealed as universal in Matthew 16:18 and then as local in Matthew 18:17. In Acts the church was practiced in the way of local churches, such as the church at Jerusalem (8:1) and the church at Antioch (13:1) and the churches in the provinces of Syria and Cilicia (15:41). Without the local churches, there is no practicality and actuality of the universal church. The universal church is realized in the local churches.

(Witness Lee, Genuine Ground, 126-127)

Commenting on the practicality of the local church in Matthew 18:17-18, Witness Lee declares:

I am very happy that Matthew 18:17-18 is in the Bible...the local church is mentioned in Matthew 18. If you have a problem which two or three believers cannot settle, you should bring this problem to the church. The church here certainly must be the local church. It cannot be the universal church. If the church in Matthew 18 is the universal church, where shall we find it when we have a problem that two or three believers cannot solve? The church in Matthew 18 is surely the local church, and the local church has the authority to bind and loose. In Matthew 16:19 the Lord Jesus told Peter that he had the authority to bind and loose, but in Matthew 18:18 the Lord changed the subject from singular to plural. Matthew 16:19 says, “Whatever you (singular, Gk.) bind'' and Matthew 18:18 says, “Whatever you (plural, Gk.) bind.'' This means that we too have the power to bind and to loose. The authority that Peter had, we also have....We all can bind and loose, just as Peter did. Peter was a stone, and we also are stones. Peter had authority to bind and loose, and we also have this authority.

(Witness Lee, Kingdom, 133-134)

2. Revealed by the Apostles in Acts and the Epistles

In The Heavenly Vision, Witness Lee has this to say about the New Testament revelation of the local church:

The New Testament speaks of the church in Jerusalem, the church in Antioch, the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2), the church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:1), and the church in other cities (Rom. 16:1). All these churches may be called local churches. At the end of the New Testament, we have a picture of seven churches in seven cities (Rev. 1:4, 11; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14). In the New Testament it is very clear that the practical expression of the church must be local. We need to see this.

(Witness Lee, Heavenly Vision, 19)

On the distinction between “church'' and “churches'' in the New Testament, Witness Lee says:

In the book of Acts we read of the church in Jerusalem (8:1) and of another church in Antioch (13:1). According to Acts 14:23, the apostles ordained elders in every church. The churches referred to here are those established in the provinces of Asia Minor. First Corinthians 1:2 speaks of “the church of God which is at Corinth.'' Furthermore, in Galatians 1:2 Paul refers to “the churches of Galatia,'' a region of the Roman Empire that included many localities. Just as there are many local churches in the state of California today, so there were a number of churches in the region of Galatia at the time of Paul.
In the book of Revelation the divine revelation in the Bible reaches its consummation. The universal church as the Body of Christ is expressed through the local churches. The local churches, as the expressions of the one Body of Christ (Rev. 1:12, 20), are locally one. Revelation 1:4 says, “John to the seven churches which are in Asia.'' Asia was a province of the ancient Roman Empire in which were the seven cities mentioned in 1:11. The seven churches were in those seven cities respectively, not all in one city. Revelation does not deal with the universal church, but with the local churches in various cities....In Acts the church was practiced in the way of local churches, such as the church at Jerusalem (8:1) and the church at Antioch (13:1) and the churches in the provinces of Syria and Cilicia (15:41).

(Witness Lee, Genuine Ground, 127)












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