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Regarding the autonomy of the church, let me provide some information for your consideration. First of all, Christ is the head of the church as Eph. 1:20-23 points out. Christ said in Mt. 16:18 He would build His church. So, the church belongs to Christ. It is His body. He has all authority, not only over the church, but over heaven and earth (Mt. 28:19).
The church is used in two different senses in the New Testament. Sometimes church refers to the universal church, that is all the members who are a part of the church world wide. It is used in this sense in Mt. 16:18, Eph. 1:20-23, and in a lot of other places. Other times the word church is used in a local sense. For instance, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth (I Cor. 1:2). In Rev. 2 and 3 there are seven different local churches mentioned.
These individual local churches are autonomous, or they are self governing. There is no central organization that oversees all the churches mentioned in the Bible. Christ is head of the universal church and He is head over all individual churches. However, there is organization mentioned in the Bible for each individual local church, such as the church at Corinth, Ephesus, etc. Elders are to be appointed to oversee or rule over a local church (Acts 14:23; 20:28; Heb. 13:7,17; I Pet. 5:1-4). Again, Christ is still the head, but has delegated the authority for overseeing the local church to elders. The elders have no legislative authority, they are subject to Christ and His will. They must rule in accordance with what Christ has said. They can\u2019t make laws.
Regarding your question about Paul giving the Corinthian church instructions in I Cor. 16: 1, Christ said the apostles would have that authority (Mt. 16:19; 18:18). Christ said He would send the Holy Spirit to direct them into all truth (John 14:26; 16:13). Paul said that happened (Eph. 3:1-5). When the apostles gave instructions, the instructions came from Christ. Christ sent the Holy Spirit who directed the apostles and prophets in what they were to say which resulted in the instructions in effect coming from Christ who has all authority.
Hi christianthinker,christianthinker wrote:I think the concept of autonomy has been largley exageratted. In the sciptures there wasn't really two classes of churches, univeral and local, but one class which all the saints belonged to. The congregation of the Lord was simply represented in smaller venues, towns and homes. The letters were written to the saints in the towns and recognized those who assembled within those towns, usually in homes. The rule of the elders was oversight within the town over the saints in the town, including those that met in homes. But even the elders in the towns had oversight from the apostles in letter and visits. And then much of the oversight came from Jerusalem. So what does autonomy get you. What is done at one congregation is not what is done at another congregation, meaning that one congregation doesn't worship God? Wait they all supposed to. But the Jewish congregations didn't worship god the same way the gentile ones did, but this wasn't autonomy, thsi was culture. In regards to one being marked or disfellowshiped from, this wasn't tied down to a congregation, but to the saints in general, as all the saints were to not have fellowship with them. So while autonomy might be real, it is largely irelevant when looked at from the church universal standpoint, as all are supposed worship and be of service and assemble and etc. The elders were mainly to keep order against sin and false teachers and to teach the word. There is no examples of them being told to shape the assemblies to a certain form or function beyond what they were supposed to do anyways.
As the moderator, I appreciate and value everyone's thoughts; however, this is not an opinion section. The goal is to discover truth, refine our understanding of it, and defend it against assault from error. Your above opinions reflect your own thoughts, but they do not contribute toward the goal of this forum, since your opinion does not reference even a single authority from the Scriptures. ... Furthermore, if the concept of autonomy is irrelevant, because the actions are the same, then what is your point? What concrete action or belief would change based on your conclusions? We try to avoid pointless arguments over words themselves (II Timothy 2:14-15).
To summarize, please refine your point to include a clear goal and Biblical support.