The universal aspect of the church as revealed by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 16:18 is highlighted in Witness Lees commentary below, introducing not only the universal aspect of the church but also touching on the aspect of the local church as it relates to the universal.
1. Revealed by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 16:18
In The Genuine Ground of Oneness, Witness Lee provides the following commentary on Matthew 16:
The One spoken of in Matthew 1:1 is revealed further in Matthew 16. In this chapter the Lord Jesus asked His disciples, Who do men say that the Son of Man is?'' After the disciples made some reply, the Lord directed His question to them specifically: But you, who do you say that I am?'' (v. 15). Receiving the revelation from the Father in the heavens, Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'' (v. 16). The Lord acknowledged that this revelation did not come from flesh and blood, but from the Father. Then He went on to say, You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it'' (v. 18). What we have here is not Israel loved by God--we have the church built by Christ.
(Witness Lee, Genuine Ground, 125)
Regarding the progressive development of the truth of the local aspect of the church, Witness Lee says:
Every truth in the Bible develops progressively, and the truth of the church is no exception. The church was first mentioned by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 16 (v. 18). That was the seed. But immediately after chapter sixteen, the Lord touched the local aspect of the church. In chapter sixteen there is the church, while in chapter eighteen there is the church in a locality, the church to which you can go. If you have some problem, you must tell it to the church'' (v. 17). Then in the book of Acts, we see the growing up of this seed into all the local churches--the church at Jerusalem (8:1), the church at Antioch (13:1), etc. Following this, in the Epistles there is the definition of the church. Finally, in 2 Corinthians and in Revelation, the local churches are strongly emphasized. The local churches are the harvest of the truth concerning the church.
(Witness Lee, Christ as Life, 117)
Witness Lee has introduced here the universal aspect of the church as first revealed by the Lord Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Because both the universal church and the local church are so divinely intertwined, Witness Lee also comments here on the local church as the harvest of the truth concerning the church in this discussion of the universal church.
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