In chapter four the new man fulfills God’s purpose. In chapter five the bride satisfies Christ’s heart’s desire. Now in chapter six the church fights against God’s enemy as the warrior (vv. 10-17).
ITS UNIVERSAL ASPECT
The universal aspect of the church is mentioned in Matthew 16:18. When Peter recognized that the Lord Jesus was the Christ and the Son of God, the Lord told him that He would build His church on this rock. The church here is universal, comprising all the believers of all times and in all places, including Paul, Peter, and all the saints throughout these twenty centuries (1 Cor. 12:13).
ITS LOCAL ASPECT
The local aspect of the church is referred to by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 18:17. The Lord Jesus in the four Gospels mentions the church only twice: once in Matthew 16:18, referring to its universal aspect, and the second time in Matthew 18:17, referring to its local aspect.
In Matthew 18 the Lord Jesus said that if we have any problem that we cannot solve, we should tell it to the church. This refers to the church in a certain locality. It would be hard to tell a problem to the universal church. Today many Christians who love the Lord care only for the universal church. In their concept, as long as they are members of the Body of Christ, that is good enough; but we would ask, practically speaking, where is their church? If we have any problem which needs the church’s help to be solved, where shall we go? We must have a local church that we are part of, from which we can get help and to which we may go with our problems.
The Local Churches
Universally, the church is one. But locally. the churches are many. In Acts 8:1 there is the church at Jerusalem. In Acts 13:1 there is the church at Antioch. Then there are churches mentioned in Acts 14:23 and 15:41; here the word churches is used because there were a number of cities in these regions. In Romans 16:1 there is the church at Cenchrea. There is the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2). In Galatians 1:2 we have the churches in Galatia; there were several, because Galatia was a province of the ancient Roman Empire with many cities. In Revelation 1:4 and 11 there are the seven churches in Asia. Asia was also a province.
Verse 11 says, "What you see write in a book and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea." This verse reveals that a local church equals a local city. To write to the church in Ephesus means to write to the city of Ephesus. These are local churches. A local church is not a term used as a name, but it describes the fact of one church in a locality. The church does not have a name, just as the moon does not have a name. There is no such thing as an American moon or a Chinese moon. The moon in China is the same moon as in other countries. When it is over China, it is the moon in China. When it is over Britain, it is the moon in Britain. It is the one moon. In like manner, the church is one; it is unique. The church is both local and universal.
(The Basic Revelation in the Holy Scriptures, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)