What Does the Bible Say About..? Logo

What Does the Bible Say About..The Name of the Church?

I am a member of the church of Christ and I was talking to this guy. He is also a member of the church of Christ he said you can wear any name and if you are following the doctrines of Christ that name does not matter. I need some scriptures because I know the name does matter. Correct me if I am wrong.?


This is a question that has plagued the churches of Christ for years. When I was growing up I was told that nobody who worshipped in a group that did not bear a scriptural name could be saved. This attitude was characterized by others as "those people in the Church of Christ think they are the only ones who are going to be saved." As a result of this teaching, many in the church believe that to be true.

I think you are probably both right. Yes, the name we wear and follow does matter. And yes, if you have received forgiveness of sin by the grace of God, it has nothing to do with the name you wear.

At the time we are forgiven of our sins we are following no name except the name of Jesus the Christ. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matt 28:19) "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) If we are baptized by any other authority (in any other name), then it can not be effective for forgiveness of sins. For instance, if I were baptized by the authority of the State of New Mexico, that would be useless for forgiveness. But I know very few Christian groups who claim salvation by the authority of their church or any name other than Jesus Christ. Note also that in these passages, the word "name" can be replaced by "authority;" they are not talking about a name on the signpost, but the person by whose authority the salvation is accomplished.

That said, I must also point out that nowhere in the Bible is a name given to the church. There are a number of descriptions of the church, but none hold the status of a name. Among the designations for the church we find: the church (Eph 5:23 and others, this is the most common); the churches of Christ (Rom 16:16); the church of God (1 Cor 1:2 and others; Paul used this phrase frequently); the churches of God (1 Cor 11:16); church of the living God (1 Tim 3:15); the general assembly and church of the firstborn (Heb 1:23); and the body (Col 1:18). There are others. Too often we try to make a name (the Church of Christ, with church capitalized) out of a description (the church of Christ, indicating that Christ is the owner of "the church"). We should even make a distinction between "the churches of Christ" (a collective description) and "the church of Christ" (a singular description nowhere found in scripture).

I am not sure I agree that we can wear any name and it doesn't matter. I wouldn't feel comfortable in a congregation that called itself "the church of Satan" even if they were otherwise scripturally correct. Certainly, if someone wears the name of a man (Lutheran, Wesleyan), an act or process (Baptist, Methodist, Adventist, Christian Science, Biblical Science), a method of government (Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congregational), a day (Pentecostal), or even the Bible (Bible Church, Foursquare Gospel) then it appears that they are putting that man/act/method/day/Bible/etc. above Christ. They may not be doing so, but that is the appearance. That is the usual Christian objection to wearing such names. But nowhere in scripture do we find any indication that one loses one's salvation solely because of the name they choose to wear after being saved.

On the other hand, one can wear a scriptural "name," even the name of Christ, and be wrong. "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt 7:22-23) Thus if one wears the name Church of Christ, Church of God, or Christian Church, for instance, they may still be lost if they are not following Christ. We need to spend less time worrying about the names one wears and more time worrying about whether we are obeying Jesus and God's word.