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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 1 : The Doctrine of Church Government

Paragraph 2 : The Church

1-2. The Church which the Lord Jesus Christ has erected in this world for the gathering and perfecting of the saints is His visible kingdom of grace, and is one and the same in all ages.

[DIGEST :The current PCA text shares with PCUS 1879 the capitalization of "His". PCA 1973 followed PCUS 1933 and 1925 in not capitalizing the pronoun. Otherwise and apart from the deletion of a comma after "saints", the current text at 1-2 remains unchanged from that of PCUS 1933 and prior editions back to the 1869 PCUS draft. Of particular note is the persisting presence of the phrase "the gathering and perfecting" which originates with the Westminster Assembly's Form of Church Government (1645).]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:

1. PCA 1973, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, page 129
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, Proposed text, 1-2
3. PCUS 1933, I-2
4. PCUS 1925, I-2
The Church which the Lord Jesus Christ has erected in this world for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, is his visible kingdom of grace, and is one and the same in all ages.

PCUS 1869 draft, I-2.
The Church which the Lord Jesus Christ has erected in this world for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, is His visible kingdom of grace, and is one and the same in all ages.

PCUS 1867 draft, I-2.
The Church which the Lord Jesus Christ hath erected in this world, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, is His kingdom, and is one and the same in all ages.

PCUSA 1797, I-1
Jesus Christ, who is now exalted, far above all principality, and power,[a] hath erected, in this world, a kingdom, which is his church.[b]
[a] Eph 1:20, 21; Ps. 68:18.
b] Ps. 2:6; Dan. 7:14; Eph. 1:22, 23


The Presbyterial Form of Church Government...Agreed upon by the Westminster Assembly of Divines...(1645), "Of the Church"
There is one general church visible, held forth in the New Testament.[a] The ministry, oracles, and ordinances of the New Testament, are given by Jesus Christ to the general church visible, for the gathering and perfecting of it in this life, until his second coming.[b]
[a] 1 Cor. 12:12-13, 28.
[b] 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:4-5, 10-11

PARALLEL TEXTS:

OPC 2005, Form of Government, I-1

Jesus Christ, being now exalted far above all principality and power, has erected in this world a kingdom, which is his church.

COMMENTARY:

F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898)
, on Chapter 1, section 2 :
"This is a definition of the Church which the Lord Jesus Christ has erected in this world, and not of the Church as it is to be in the final consummation, nor of the Church as it now is in heaven as well as earth. The Church thus limited, the Lord Jesus Christ has erected; and he has erected it for this purpose, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints. For it is not the office of the Church to do all good in human society, nor even to work upon all men except so far as it does this in working upon a class, the saints. For them it has two things to do: first, to gather them, that is, out of the world into the Church; and second, to perfect them. The Church works upon men not already saints in their own consent in order to make them such, not in order to other ends, and upon saints, in order to make them perfect. By saints is meant persons that belong to Christ in sacred covenant.
This Church, this gathered body of saints on earth, is his visible kingdom of grace. His kingdom comprehends all things and persons, but his kingdom of grace is more especially the saints; and his kingdom of grace includes saints that have fallen asleep, but the Church, as an organization with a government administered through men in the flesh, is his visible kingdom of grace. But the point of the definition lies in this, that the Church is a kingdom, having Christ as King. This kingdom is not two, one before the coming of Christ in the flesh and the other after his coming; nor is it in accord with this definition to distinguish sharply between Church and Kingdom. All ages must include the millennial age, if there is to be a millennium. Nor can there be more than one Church in the world at the same time; and the use of the term to designate a part of the Church ought to be guarded from the implication that the part is the whole."



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Chapter Index [links to Par. 1 of each chapter]:
FoG..
1
2
3.
4
5.
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
§4
§5
RoD
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
II. Preliminary Principles
§1
§2
§3
§4
§5
§6
§7
§8
DfW
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]