Structure of church in 1st century AD vs. church in 21st AD
When looking back at the first century church, we get surprised by how much it was different from the churches of our century, including all denominations. In all the current churches we see at least two hierarchies: laymen and clergy. Some how the clergy in all denominations are kind of mediators between laymen and God. They are the religious experts who know better that the rest. It gets even more complex when we observe traditional churches like catholic and orthodox ones.The hierarchies are many and the mediation is a practiced fact in daily religious life.
To visualize the differences I have put them in following diagram. So, please look at the diagram and answer the questions after:
Answer the following:
1- How close the members to each other?
Hint: organic unity of one body vs. individuals attending common rituals. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one…” (Joh 17:20-22)
2- How far Jesus Christ (the blue figure with Xi Rho sign) is from the rest of the church members?
Hint: hierarchies put barriers between people of faith and Jesus! Jesus should be among His believers. Also intercession of saints is putting another barrier between a believer and a direct relationship with Christ. “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer 2:13)
3- How unique each member is (different colors represent different functions and roles)?
Hint: he first century church was one body of many organs: apostles, prophets, miracle workers, healers, teachers of faith, pastors, helpers, evangelists, administrators, and various kinds of tongues. (1 Cor 12: 28, Eph 4: 11). The current church consists of mainly two kinds: religious authorities with big tongues and their followers of laymen with big ears.
4- Who is in the middle between Jesus and the rest?
Hint: How far Jesus is? Is He just a historical figure who lived 2000 years ago, who inhabits heaven in the land of far far away? ” For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Mat 18:20)
5- How clear and sharp Jesus (blue figure) presence is?
Hint: when so many things and positions are between you and Christ, He starts to fade away and his presence becomes mysterious. Christ now is hidden behind so many hierarchies and rituals in so many denominations. “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear”. (Isa_59:2)
6- Do you see a difference between a living organism and an organization?
The true church is a living organism that represents the body of Christ: the vine. The current denominations are represented as temple-like buildings attended by robot-like worshipers (they repeat the same hymns and prayers at the same time, don’t they). “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (Joh_15:5 )
7- How we can get back our life in Christ as one church?
Hint: get back to the new testament to see how the first church was founded on one person: Jesus Christ. Listen to his voice through tradition of the New Testament. “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.” (Rev_3:7)
Quick description of reality:
Church of the first century as drawn by The Holy Spirit through the pens of the apostles in the Bible.
It is a church whose members are one body and one Vine.
It is a church where Christ is theirs, in their midst and the head of them (without any mediation except Himself).
It is a church where the Holy Spirit is the commander who fills them and governs the Church.
It is a church where the relationship between the members is organic.
It is a church where the greatest is of most service, the slave of others.
It is a church where members are equal in dignity, but different in spiritual gifts.
It is a church where spiritual gifts are those of prophets, bishops, deacons, apostles, missionaries and powers and gifts of healing
The Church of the 21st century, after centuries of development, adopted the world system of the Roman State and built classes and hierarchies of powers.
It is a church where people became the lowest status and their salvation is controlled by the clergy of upper classes.
It is a church where Christ gradually disappeared from daily life as the Good Shepherd to dwell in seventh heaven.
It is a church where Christ can not be accessed except through the mediation of the clergy or the intercessions of the saints.
It is a church where papal authority is supreme, and Pope’s titles and status are even higher than that of Christ Himself.
Pope’s (Coptic Pope) titles include
The head of shepherds
The high priest
Father of fathers
Head of the Church
It is a church where Popes wear official clothes like kings: crown and scepter, and sits on the papal throne, his hands are kissed while alive, and his dead body is touched whith reverence after death.
For further reading: