Does the Bible teach that a man’s wife is UNIVERSAL AND INVISIBLE? Well, let’s see:

Eph. 5:23 says: "The husband is the head of the wife."

It says it just as certain as certain can be. Does it really mean that such a wife is UNIVERSAL AND INVISIBLE? You say it does not. But wait and see what you have done if you decide that such plain language does not mean what it says.

It says very plainly, "THE HUSBAND IS THE HEAD OF THE WIFE." Is there such a thing in reality as a GREAT BIG UNIVERSAL WIFE who includes all the little wives? You say NO. Then what do you mean by quoting the rest of the verse to mean a GREAT BIG UNIVERSAL CHURCH, when it says that "CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH"?

Mark you it says “The husband is the head of the WIFE, even as Christ is the head of the CHURCH. The word EVEN means in the SAME WAY, so let us put the meanings of the words instead of the words used, which is a good rule for interpretation, and see how it reads: “The husband is the head of the UNIVERSAL AND INVISIBLE WIFE in the way as Christ is the head of the UNIVERSAL INVISIBLE CHURCH.” There you are! Remember the word church always means CONGREGATION, never anything else. A congregation is necessarily LOCAL. It would not be a congregation if it were not LOCAL. So let us read it as it means: "The husband is the head of the (LOCAL) wife, even as Christ is the head of the LOCAL congregation." A congregation is just as local as the wife is. You cannot conceive of a UNIVERSAL LOCAL WIFE, then why try to make out a UNIVERSAL LOCAL CONGREGATION?

The family is the foundation of civilization. Does that mean that there is a UNIVERSAL INVISIBLE FAMILY? You say NO. Then when it says,

1 Tim. 3:15, "The church is the pillar and the ground of truth."

Why do you get the idea that the CHURCH means a UNIVERSAL INVISIBLE CHURCH? As well try to think of “THE FAMILY” as a great UNIVERSAL INVISIBLE FAMILY.

When we say the jury is a safeguard to the citizen’s welfare, do we mean a great UNIVERSAL JURY? Certainly not. Such language is easily understood when we consider that when we say THE WIFE or the FAMILY, or THE JURY or THE CHURCH we use the language in the INSTITUTIONAL SENSE, viz., the church as an institution, the jury as an institution.

The eagle is king of birds. Do we mean some great big eagle, a great UNIVERSAL INVISIBLE EAGLE which includes all little eagles? Certainly not, but the eagle as a species. When we say the lion is the king of beasts, do we mean a great big UNIVERSAL LION which includes all little lions? Certainly not, but we mean the lion as a species. So when we speak of THE CHURCH we mean the CHURCH AS AN INSTITUTION. Why do we easily understand such language when we speak of the FAMILY, and the WIFE, and the JURY, and the EAGLE, and the LION, and then go wild when we speak of the church in the same way? The UNIVERSAL WIFE IS JUST AS SCRIPTURAL AS THE UNIVERSAL INVISIBLE CHURCH.

A church is always local and the Bible never uses the word in any other sense than a LOCAL CONGREGATION. The general Universal Church idea is essentially a ROMAN CATHOLIC idea copied by many who think they are opposed to Catholicism. We should be sure to always use Bible words in the Bible sense and not copy after Roman Catholics in anything.

-- Reprinted from The Baptist Examiner, July 3, 1948.

Copied from the February 17, 1968 issue of The Baptist Examiner