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  • Writer's pictureKent Brandenburg

Head of the Church: The Generic Singular Noun

Ephesians 5:23 says, “Christ is the head of the church.” “Head” does mean that Jesus is in control of the church like the head is in charge of the human body. A human body does not do anything without it starting with the head.

When the Apostle Paul says, “the church,” some might consider that meaning “one church.” “The church” is singular and singular is one in number. Singular does not always mean “one in number.” The singular noun has two uses. It is particular or generic.

A particular singular noun speaks of something specific. If I said, “The phone is on the table and it fell on the floor.” “The phone” is a particular phone in this usage. One phone fell off the table. If I said, “I drove the car to the store,” I’m not speaking of a particular car. I’m using the singular noun in a generic way.

Most of the seventy times in the New Testament, the singular, “the church,” speaks of a particular church. Romans 16:1 is a classic usage of the particular singular church: “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.” In Ephesians 5:23, “the church” is the generic use of the singular noun.

“The church” is always an assembly. That’s what “church” means. If Christ is head of the church in a generic way, it means He is the head of every assembly. Earlier in the verse, “the husband” and “the wife” are used the same way: “For the husband is the head of the wife.” That speaks of every wife and husband. The generic singular noun is the institutional usage of the singular noun. It is representative of all of that noun.

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