Metaphors for the Church #2

The Doctrine of the Church - Lesson # 5

I. The family of God

A. 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 4:17; Eph. 2:14-19; Jn. 1:12; Gal. 4:6

B. In the analogy used by the writer to the Hebrews, what respective roles do Moses and Jesus play in this family? - Heb. 3:2-6

C. Name the role in God's family for each of the following:

1. God - Eph. 4:6; Heb. 12:4-11

2. Christ

3. Christians - Jn. 1:12-13; Rom. 8:14-16; Gal. 4:5-7

a. Male

b. Female

4. Elders, bishops - Tit. 1:7; 1 Tim. 3:5

D. How do we get into this family? - Jn. 3:5; Heb. 12:23; 1 Pet. 1:23

E. How is the relationship between one who converts and teaches another sometimes described? - 1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Thess. 2:7, 11; 1 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:4. Harmonize this with Mt. 23:9.

F. What do the family metaphors imply about relationships in church life? About the type of authority to be found within the relationships? About the type of discipline or correction to be practiced within the church?

G. An old expression is: "Blood is thicker than water." What implications does this have for the church as a family? - Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11; Eph. 4:3

II. Agricultural metaphors

A. Vine, vineyard, garden

1. Jn. 15:1-7; 1 Cor. 3:6-9

2. If the church is like a plant or a vineyard, where does the metaphor of a "seed" fit in? Of planting and watering? Of pruning? Of fruitfulness?

B. Sheep, sheepfold, flock

1. Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 2:3; 5:4; Jn. 10:1-18

2. Study Jn. 10:16 in more than one translation. Note the distinction between "fold" (Israel) and "flock" (Christ's followers). What distinction is Jesus making here?

3. Since the church is like a flock of sheep, what is the significance of its leaders being called "shepherds" and of their "feeding" the flock? - Heb. 13:17;

4. What would be the significance of a lost sheep for the church?

5. Who is the chief shepherd? - 1 Pet. 2:25

6. What does being sheep say about our relationship to Christ? - Mt. 9:36

III. The people of God

A. 1 Pet. 2:9-10;

B. Israel had long been thought of as God's people. How was this way of thinking greatly expanded very early in the church's history? - Acts 15:14; 18:10

C. "The defining characteristic of this people is that it is the `people of God.' That is their peculiar, distinguishing feature: the divine possession. The accent falls on God's creative activity, his choosing, his saving work, his possession (1 Pet. 2:9). He is the one who made it a people (1 Pet. 2:10) and not just a collection of individuals or a group organized around a false or lesser principle. There is much concern today about what gives a person identity. For the church, identity comes from belonging to God" (Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ, 75).

D. What implications does being God's people have for our lives as Christians? - 2 Cor. 6:16-18

IV. Summary

A. There are many other metaphors for the church in the New Testament, but these are some of the most important ones. These metaphors made much sense to the people of the first century. They all make good sense to people today, although to understand them as fully as a first century Christian would understand them, we sometimes need to be educated on cultural and historical backgrounds. For example, the relationship between a shepherd and sheep in that society or cultivation practices in growing grapes may need some explanation today. Can you think of any new metaphors from our society which might be used appropriately to describe the church?

B. Name one hymn which uses one of these metaphors.

C. Memory verse - 1 Pet. 2:10