“What is the difference between the universal church and local church?”To understand the difference between the local church and the universal church, one must get a basic definition of each. The local church is a group of professing believers in Jesus Christ who meet in some particular location on a regular basis. The universal church is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ worldwide. The term church is a translation of a Greek word having to do with a meeting together or an “assembly”1 Thessalonians 2:1414 And then, dear brothers and sisters, you suffered persecution from your own countrymen. In this way, you imitated the believers in God’s churches in Judea who, because of their belief in Christ Jesus, suffered from their own people, the Jews.12 Thessalonians 1:1 This letter is from Paul, Silas, (Greek Silvanus, the Greek form of the name. )and Timothy.2 Thessalonians 1:1We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This word pertains to the work of God in saving and sanctifying believers as “called-out ones.” Another Greek word that speaks of ownership and literally means “belonging to the Lord” is transliterated as church, but it is only used twice in the New Testament and never in direct reference to the church.A local church is normally defined as a local assembly of all who profess faith and allegiance to Christ. Most often, the Greek word ekklesia is used in reference to the local assembly 1 Thessalonians 1:1This letter is from Paul, Silas, (Greek Silvanus, the Greek form of the name.)and TimothyWe are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.May God give you grace and peace.1 Corinthians 4:1717 That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go.2 Corinthians 11:8I “robbed” other churches by accepting their contributions so I could serve you at no cost.There is not just one specific local church in any one area, necessarily. There are many local churches in larger cities.The universal church is the name given to the church worldwide. In this case the idea of the church is not so much the assembly itself but those constituting the church. The church is the church even when it is not holding an official meeting. In Acts 8:3 one can see that the church is still the church even when its members are at home. But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.InActs 9:31 describes the universal church, not just local churches.31 The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.Sometimes the universal church is called the “invisible church”—invisible in the sense of having no street address, GPS coordinates, or physical building and in the sense that only God can see who is truly saved. Of course, the church is never described in Scripture as “invisible,” Matthew 5:1414 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.Here are more verses that talk about the universal church:1 Corinthians 12:28; 15:9; Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18


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