Additional Quotes about the Local Church by Witness Lee and Watchman Nee
And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to hear the church also, let him be to you just like the Gentile and the tax collector.
The church revealed in 16:18 is the universal church, which is the unique Body of Christ, whereas the church revealed here is the local church, the expression of the unique Body of Christ in a certain locality. Chapter 16 concerns the building of the universal church, whereas this chapter concerns the practice of the local church. In both of its aspects the church represents the kingdom of the heavens, having authority to bind and to loose.
(Witness Lee, Footnote, Recovery Version, 106-107)
So then the church throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it was multiplied.
Since at that time the church had spread only to the provinces of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and since the word whole covers all the places where the church existed, church in singular is used here in the universal sense, although there must have been churches in the local sense in a number of the cities of these three provinces.
(Witness Lee, Footnote, Recovery Version, 518)
1 Corinthians 1:2
To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, the called saints, with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, who is theirs and ours:
The church is constituted of the universal God, but it exists on earth in many localities, one of which was Corinth. In nature the church is universal in God, but in practice the church is local in a definite place. Hence, the church has two aspects: the universal and the local. Without the universal aspect, the church is void of content; without the local aspect, it is impossible for the church to have any expression and practice. Hence, the New Testament stresses the local aspect of the church also (Acts 8:1; 13:1; Rev. 1:11; etc.).
(Witness Lee, Footnote, Recovery Version, 678-679)
1 Corinthians 12:28
And God has placed some in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then works of power, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
The church here refers to the church in both its universal and local aspects. In vv. 12-27 the church is the Body of Christ. The Body is an organism for Christ as the believers' life to grow and express Himself. The church is an assembly for God to operate His administration.
(Witness Lee, Footnote, Recovery Version, 733-734)
In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.
Also indicates that the building in v. 21 is universal and that the building in this verse is local. Universally, the church is uniquely one and is growing universally; locally, the church in a particular locality also is one, and the local saints are being built together in their particular locality.
(Witness Lee, Footnote, Recovery Version, 864-865)
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is coming, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
Asia was a province of the ancient Roman Empire, and in that province were the seven cities mentioned in v. 11. The seven churches were in those seven cities, respectively; they were not all in one city. This book does not deal with the one universal church but with the local churches in many cities. First, in Matt. 16:18 the church is revealed as universal, and then in Matt. 18:17 it is revealed as local. In Acts the church was practiced in the way of local churches, such as the church in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), the church in Antioch (Acts 13:1), the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:17), and the churches in the provinces of Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:41). The Epistles were written to the local churches, except for a few written to individuals. Not one was written to the universal church. Without the local churches, the universal church has no practicality or actuality. The universal church is realized in the local churches. Knowing the church in its universal aspect must be consummated in knowing the church in its local aspect. It is a great advance for us to know and practice the local churches. Concerning the church, the book of Revelation is in the advanced stage. To know this book, we must advance from the understanding of the universal church to the realization and practice of the local churches, because this book is written to the local churches. Only those who are in the local churches are positioned rightly, with the right angle and the proper perspective, to see the visions in this book. The Triune God is expressed in Christ (John 1:1, 14; 1 Tim. 3:16; Col. 2:9); Christ is realized and experienced as the Spirit (John 14:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17; Rom. 8:9; Phil. 1:19) and is expressed in His Body, the universal church (Eph. 1:22-23; 1 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 4:4); and the universal church is expressed in the local churches. Therefore, to know and experience God, we need to know and experience Christ; to know and experience Christ, we need to participate in the universal church through the Spirit; and to participate in the universal church, we need to participate in the local churches.
(Witness Lee, Footnote, Recovery Version, 1233-1234)
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