The Personalist Project

Accessed on September 25, 2023 - 12:30:35

What is the Church, according to the NT?

Katie van Schaijik, May 05, 2021

A couple of particulars from today's first reading from Acts 15.

Some of the Jewish Christians were claiming that gentile converts would need to be circumcised to be saved. 

Because there arose no little dissension and debate, by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters about this question. They were sent on their journey by the Church". 

Who is the subject of the verb "sent" here? Is it not the body of believers, the People of God, i.e., the laity, acting as a corporate subject? Paul and Barnabas are effectively the leading clergy in that community. And yet, they are the ones sent by the believers of that place. They are, in this case, the objects, as it were, of the laity's agency.

Now look a couple verses further down. [my bold]

When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by the Church, as well as by the Apostles and presbyters, and they reported what God had done with them.

There is a distinction between the Church and the Apostles and presbyters. What does that mean?

If you ask me, we are looking at complementary reciprocity between priesthood and laity at the very origins of ecclesial history.