the weblog of Alan Knox

Mutual Edification and the Church: Introduction

Posted by on Jan 3, 2011 in edification, gathering | 5 comments

“Scripture does not tell us how the church should meet.”

I’m sure that you’ve read statements like the one above before. And, technically, the statement is correct, as far as it goes.

You see, you will not find any command in Scripture in which the church is told to do certain things, say certain things, pray certain things, teach certain things, etc. when they meet together. Read and read and read as much as you want, and you just won’t find that kind of instruction in Scripture.

And, that’s what we want, right? We want things spelled out for us so that we know that we’re doing it right. The problem is, that’s not what the writers of Scripture were concerned about.

You see, they understood something that is difficult for us to understand. The church is people – really and truly and not just a slogan. So, when the church gathers together, that meeting will look different from gathering to gathering for one simple reason: the people are different. The people have different gifts and talents and concerns and struggles and abilities and preferences and etc.

When the church gets together, the form and shape and method and happenings of that meeting will depend upon the people who are involved.

Yes, I know that this flies in the face of modern Christianity and church methodology. But, if the church really is the people, then it is true that the meeting will change as the people change.

However, just because the authors of Scripture were not concerned with the specific things that happened when the church met together does not mean that they were not concerned with the church gathering together. In fact, I think they were very concerned.

It is correct for us to say that Scripture does not tell us how the church should meet together. It is completely incorrect to say that Scripture does not tell us why the church should meet together. Scripture is very clear on the purpose of the brothers and sisters in Christ gathering together, whenever they gather together.

Several different terms are used to describe this purpose. I like the term “mutual edification,” because it takes into account both important parts of this purpose. 1) “Mutual” indicates that the purpose of the gathering is carried out by many people working together. 2) “Edification” indicates that the purpose is some type of growth or building up of the people involved.

For the next three posts, I’m going to unpack how Scripture indicates to us that “mutual edification” is the purpose of the gathering of the church. Scripture spells this out through example, through principle, and through command. I think that only one of these (example, principle, command) would be sufficient, but we have all three in the pages of Scripture.

I’m going to make one final claim. I’m not going to back this up in this post, since it is impossible to prove a negative. Scripture does not give us any other purpose for the church meeting together other than mutual edification. (I’ve asked for examples to prove me wrong, and I haven’t received any examples from the New Testament that specifies a different purpose for church meetings.)

If the purpose of the church gathering together is so that we can all build up one another, then we should be concerned if that’s not the reason we are gathering with the church today. I hope this series helps demonstrate why I think Scripture is clear when it comes to mutual edification and the church.


Mutual Edification and the Church Series

  1. Introduction
  2. Example
  3. Principle
  4. Command
  5. Conclusion


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 1-3-2011

    Looking forward to it Alan!

  2. 1-3-2011


    I’m really looking forward to this series of posts. Thanks.

  3. 1-3-2011

    Jack and Eric,

    Thanks for the encouragement. This series takes an approach that I’ve never taken before. I’ve been working on it for about a month, so I hope it doesn’t disappoint.


  4. 1-3-2011

    Question: Since “church” (ecclesia) means “gathering” or “assembly” and the church consists of people (even when they are not physically gathered), then shouldn’t mutual edification be something that must be able to happen even when the church is not physically gathered?

    On another note, I have always assumed that the early church didn’t need to explain what to do when they met because they followed the example of the Jewish synagogue. This doesn’t mean we should do the same; it’s just what they did.

  5. 1-4-2011


    Thanks for the comment. As I understand the term from Scripture, “church” (or the Greek equivalent) referred to a gathering or assembly. In this context, it would refer to a gathering or assembly of disciples of Jesus Christ. So, yes, the phrases “church gathering” or “church assembly” are redundant. “Mutual edification” requires more than one believer to be present, which would be “church” (assembly) in my understanding. I do not think that our purpose for existing is only to mutually edify one another. However, I do believe that mutual edification is the reason for us to get together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.



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