PCA HISTORICAL CENTER
Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church


The Historical Development of the Book of Church Order

Chapter 2 : The Visible Church Defined

Paragraph 3 : Its Congregations

2-3. It is according to scriptural example that the Church should be divided into many individual churches.

[DIGEST: The current text dates to the Proposed 1973 text, and behind that, to the PCUS revision of 1925, chapter 3, §14. PCUS 1879 had "particular" instead of "individual" and was otherwise the same text.]

BACKGROUND & COMPARISON:
1. PCA 1973, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, page 129
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church, 1973 Proposed text, 2-3
3. PCUS 1933, III-§14
4. PCUS 1925, III-§14
It is according to scriptural example that the Church should be divided into many individual churches.

PCUS 1879, II-2-3.

It is according to scriptural example that the Church should be divided into many particular churches.

PCUS 1869 draft, II-2-3.
It is according to scriptural example that the Church should be divided into many congregations.

PCUS 1867 draft, II-2-3
It is according to scriptural example that the church should be divided into many organized congregations. A congregation consists of a number of professing Christians with their offspring, voluntarily associated together in one place for divine worship and godly living, agreeably to the Scriptures, and submitting to the lawful government of Christ’s kingdom.

PCUSA 1789, I-3
As this immense multitude cannot meet together, in one place, to hold communion, or to worship God, it is reasonable, and warranted by Scripture example, that they should be divided into many particular churches.[d]
[d] Gal. 1:21-22; Rev. 1:4, 20; See also Rev. 2:1.

OTHER COMPARISONS:
OPC 2005, II-3

In accordance with the teaching of Scripture, the many members of this church are to be organized in local and regional churches, confessing a common faith and submitting to a common form of government.


The Presbyterial Form of Church Government...Agreed upon by the Westminster Assembly of Divines...(1645),
Of Particular Congregations.
It is lawful and expedient that there be fixed congregations, that is, a certain company of Christians to meet in one assembly ordinarily for publick worship. When believers multiply to such a number, that they cannot conveniently meet in one place, it is lawful and expedient that they should be divided into distinct and fixed congregations, for the better administration of such ordinances as belong unto them, and the discharge of mutual duties.[*]
The ordinary way of dividing Christians into distinct congregations, and most expedient for edification, is by the respective bounds of their dwellings.
First, Because they who dwell together, being bound to all kind of moral duties one to another, have the better opportunity thereby to discharge them; which moral tie is perpetual; for Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.[†]
Second, the communion of saints must be so ordered, as may stand with the most convenient use of the ordinances, and discharge of moral duties, without respect of persons.[‡]
[*] 1 Cor. 14:26, 33.
[†] Deut. 15:7, 11; Mt. 22:39; Mt. 5:17.
[‡] 1 Cor. 14:26; Heb. 10:24-25; James 2:1-2.

OPC 1936, 2-3
As this immense multitude cannot meet together in one place, to hold communion, or to worship God, it is reasonable, and warranted by Scripture example, that they should be divided into many particular churches.

OPC 2003, 2-3
In accordance with the teaching of Scripture, the many members of this church universal are to be organized in local and regional churches, confessing a common faith and submitting to a common form of government.

BPC, 2003, 2-5

It is lawful and agreeable to the Word of God that members of Christ's body on earth should, as local circumstances require, be divided into particular churches. A particular church consists of a number of professing Christians, with their offspring, voluntarily associated together, for divine worship and godly living, agreeably to Holy Scripture; and submitting to a certain form of government.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898
, p. 25), on Chapter 2, section 2, paragraph 3 :
14.--III. It is according to scriptural example that the Church should be divided into many particular churches.
The division of the Church into particular churches does not obscure its unity, provided the courts of the particular churches are not independent of the court of the Church. (Cf. Par. 5 [i.e., 1-5] )
.



Chapter Index [links are to Paragraph 1 in 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]

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