On the Communion of the Saints

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

Eph. 4:4-6

“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect…”

Heb. 12:22-23

“Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.”

Eph. 6:24

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Order of Contents

Bible Verses  90+
Articles  35+
In the Heidelberg Catechism  8
Westminster

Is Trans-Spatial & Trans-Temporal  12+
Bibliography  1
Latin  4

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Select Bible Verses on the Communion of Saints

Gen. 15:15  “And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.”

Gen. 17:7  “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”

Gen. 48:15  “And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day…”

Ex. 10:22-23  “And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:  They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.”

Lev. 19:17  “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.”

Judges 5:9  “My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people.”

2 Sam. 7:29  “Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord God, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.”

1 Kings 19:18  “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”

Neh. 2:3  “And said unto the king, ‘…why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?'”

Ps. 16:2-3  “Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;  But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.”

Ps. 119:63  “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.”

Ps. 87:3-7  “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God…  I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.  And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her.  The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there…  all my springs are in thee.”

Ps. 122:1,2,6  “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.  Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.’…  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.”

Ps. 133:1-3  “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;  As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”

Ps. 137:4-6  “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?  If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.  If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”

Isa. 5:1,5,7  “My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill…  I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard…  For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant:”

Isa. 44:3-5  “I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:  And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.  One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.”

Iaa. 53:4-6  “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed…  and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Isa. 63:16  “Doubtless Thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O Lord, art our father, our redeemer;”

Jer. 10:16  “The portion of Jacob is not like them [the ungodly]: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance:”

Zeph. 3:9  “…that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent.”

Zech. 4:2  “and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:”

Mal. 3:16-17  “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.  And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”

Mt. 6:10  “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

Mt. 8:11  “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.”

Mt. 18:20  “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Mt. 25:34-40  “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat…’…

And the King shall answer and say unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'”

Lk. 12:32  “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Lk. 15:7  “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth…”

Jn. 15:5  ” I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

Jn. 15:10,14  “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love…  Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

Jn. 17:2-3  “And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.  And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him.”

Jn. 17:20-23  “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us…

And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them, that they may be one, even as We are one:  I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one;”

Acts 4:32  “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.”

Acts 7:32  “Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled…”

Acts 26:10-15  “…and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.  And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities…

I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?…’  And I said, ‘Who art thou, Lord?’  And He said, ‘I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.'”

Rom. 1:11  “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;”

Rom. 4:16  “…the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all…”

Rom. 11:5  “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”

Rom. 11:16-17  “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.  And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;”

Rom. 11:26-29  “And so all Israel shall be saved…  For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.  As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the Father’s sakes.  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

Rom. 12:13  “Distributing to the necessity of saints…”

Rom. 15:14  “…that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”

Rom. 16:7  “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”

1 Cor. 1:9  “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 Cor. 3:21-23  “For all things are your’s; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”

1 Cor. 6:2  “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?”

1 Cor. 10:16-17  “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?  For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”

1 Cor. 12:11-20  “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.  For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.  If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?…

But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where were the body?  But now are they many members, yet but one body…”

1 Cor. 12:26-27  “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”

1 Cor. 15:24  “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;”

2 Cor. 6:14-18  “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people…  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

2 Cor. 8:1-4  “…the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;  How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.  For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;  Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”

2 Cor. 13:14  “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.”

Gal. 2:9  “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship;”

Gal. 3:26-29  “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Gal. 6:1-2  “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness…  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

Gal. 6:10  “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

Gal. 6:16  “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.”

Eph. 1:4-6  “According as He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved.”

Eph. 1:10  “In the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him:”

Eph. 1:22-23  “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

Eph. 2:6-7  “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

Eph. 2:22  “In whom [Christ] ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

Eph. 3:14-19  “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you…  to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

Eph. 4:2-6  “…forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

Eph. 4:12-16  “…for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ…  but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

Eph. 5:19  “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”

Eph. 5:30  “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”

Eph. 6:18  “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”

Eph. 6:24  “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.”

Phil. 1:6-7  “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…  because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.”

Phil. 1:27  “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”

Phil. 2:1-5  “If there be therefore…  any fellowship of the Spirit…  that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind…  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”

Phil. 3:15-17  “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.  Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.  Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”

Phil. 3:20  “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:”

Col. 1:24  “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:”

Col. 2:18-20  “Let no man beguile you…  not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.  Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world…”

Col. 3:16  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…”

2 Tim. 4:8  “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

Titus 1:4  “To Titus, mine own son after the common faith…”

Heb. 1:14  “Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”

Heb. 3:13-14  “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we are made partakers of Christ…”

Heb. 12:22-23  “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect…”

Heb. 13:16  “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

James 3:17-18  “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”

1 Jn. 1:3  “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

1 Jn. 1:7  “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Rev. 6:11  “And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”

Rev. 14:13  “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord…”

Rev. 14:4  “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men…”

Rev. 19:10  “And I fell at his feet to worship him [an angel]. And he said unto me, ‘See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus.'”

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Articles

1500’s

Viret, Pierre – 2nd half of ‘In these Two last dialogues is opened the other part of the creed, the which do concern the Holy Ghost & the Church…’  in A Very Familiar & Fruitful Exposition of the 12 Articles of the Christian Faith contained in the Common Creed, called the Apostles’ Creed, made in Dialogues… (London, 1548), no page numbers

Rhegius, Urbanus – ‘The Ninth Article, I believe One Holy Catholic Church, The Communion of Saints’  7 pp.  in The Twelve Articles of our Christian Faith, with Annotations of Holy Scripture…  in A Declaration of the Twelve Articles of the Christian Faith…  (London, 1548) no page numbers

Rhegius (1489–1541) was a Protestant Reformer who was active both in Northern and Southern Germany in order to promote Lutheran unity in the Holy Roman Empire.  He was also a popular poet.  Luther referred to him as the “Bishop of Lower Saxony”.

Rhegius began to support the Reform movement in 1521 (having succeeded Johannes Oecolampadius in Augsburg) and became an arbitor between the different views on the Eucharist expressed by Luther and Zwingli.  In 1530 he was one of the collaborators (along with Luther and others) who created the Augsburg Confession.

Hooper, John – sections 50-51, 76  in A Brief & Clear Confession of the Christian faith, containing an Hundred Articles, according to the Order of the Apostles’ Creed  (1574), pp. 25-26 & 38-39

Garnier, Jean –  ‘The 51st Article’, p. 24  in ‘I believe the holy catholic Church, the Communion of Saints’  in A Brief & Clear Confession of the Christian Faith, containing an Hundred Articles, after the Order of the Creed of the Apostles  (London, 1579)

Garnier (d. 1574) was reformed professor of theology at Marburg, Germany.  This work was written in French in Strasbourg, and was dedicated to the Church at Strasbourg.

Baker, John – ‘The Ninth Lecture upon the Ninth Article of our Christian Faith: the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints’  55 pp.  in Sermons upon the Creed, or 12 Articles of our Christian Faith  in Lectures of I.B. upon the 12 Articles of our Christian Faith Briefly set forth…  (London, 1581), no page numbers

Olevian, Caspar – ‘Communion of the Saints’  in An Exposition of the Symbol of the Apostles…  (London, 1581), pp. 238-40

Olevian (1536–1587) was a significant German reformed theologian, and has been said to be a co-author of the Heidelberg Catechism along with Zacharias Ursinus (though this has been questioned).

Chapelin, George – ‘The Communion of Saints’, pp. 209-25  of ‘Of Faith’  in A Familiar & Christian Instruction containing a Collection of Diverse and sundry places of Scripture, serving for an exposition upon the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed…  (London, 1582)

Vermigli, Peter Martyr – ‘I believe in the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, etc.’, pp. 629-34  in ch. 18, ‘A plain exposition of Peter Martyr, upon the twelve articles of the Christian faith’  in pt. 2 of The Common Places…  (London, 1583)

Bullinger, Heinrich – pp. 157-64  of the 1st Decade, 9th Sermon  in The Decades  Buy  (Cambridge: Parker Society, 1849)

Dent, Arthur – pp. 21-23  of A Plain Exposition of the Articles of our Faith, by Short Questions & Answers…  (London, 1589)

Perkins, William – pp. 505-15  in An Exposition of the Symbol or Creed of the Apostles…  (London, 1595)

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1600’s

Clapham, Henoch – section 5, ‘Communion of Saints’  in An Abstract of Faith Grounded on Moses, & Applied to the Common Creed; Plainely & Briefly  (London, 1606), pp. 24-32

Clapham (fl. 1600) was a minister for the English-speaking, separatist, congregation at Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Anon. – pp. 46-47  of ch. 5  in The Speedy Passage to Heaven. Or A perfect direction for every true Christian, to walk in the right path of true holiness for the sure attaining of everlasting happiness. Containing an explanation of the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and our Lord’s Prayer  (London, 1612)

Bruch, Richard – ‘The Communion of Saints’, pp. 91-94  in ‘The Life of Religion. The Creed’  in The Life of Religion: or Short & Sure Directions Teaching how to 1 Believe aright. 2 Live aright, & 3 Pray Aright. In the Form of Exposition on 1. the Creed…  (London, 1615)  irregular page numbering

Bruch was an English minister.

Byfield, Nicholas – pp. 536, 555, 558-9  of The Rule of Faith, or, An Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed…  (London, 1626)

Bristow, John – pp. 68-70  of ‘The Grounds of Christian Religion somewhat Enlarged by some Addition to the Exposition of the Creed, the Ten Commandments & the Lords Prayer’  in An Exposition of the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments & the Sacraments. Catechetically Composed  (London, 1628)

Bristow was an English minister.

Twisse, William – pp. 60-62  of ‘The 4th Catechism, expounding the Creed’  in A Brief Catechetical Exposition of Christian Doctrine…  (1632)

Smith, John – An Exposition of the Creed: or an Explanation of the Articles of our Christian Faith. Delivered in Many Afternoon Sermons…  (London, 1632)

Sermon 68, on 1 Jn. 1:3
Sermon 69, on Gal. 6:2
Sermon 70, on Heb. 10:24-25

Smith was a reformed Anglican minister.  These sermons are really good.

Gil, Alexander – Article 10, ‘The Communion of Saints’  in The Sacred Philosophy of the Holy Scripture: Laid down as Conclusions on the Articles of our Faith, commonly called the Apostles Creed…  (London, 1635), pp. 169-71

Gil, Sr. (1565-1635) was an English school-master and scholar.

Baker, Richard – pp. 176-86  in Meditations & Disquisitions upon the Creed  (London, 1646)

Baker (Knight, c.1568-1645) was an English politician, historian and religious writer.  He is now known for his Meditations on several psalms, which were highly commended by Charles Spurgeon and have been reprinted.

Fenner, William –  Question 48, ‘Wherein does the Communion of Saints consist?’  in The Spiritual Man’s Directory…  (London, 1648), p. 22

Fenner (1600–1640) was an English, non-conformist, puritan divine, practical writer and casuist.

Cartwright, Christopher – pp. 88-95  of A Brief & Plain Exposition of the Creed, commonly called the Apostles’ Creed  (York: 1649)

Cartwright (1602-1658) was an English clergyman, known as a Hebraist and for his debate in writing with Richard Baxter, against his deviant soteriology.

Pearson, John – ‘The Communion of Saints’  in An Exposition of the Creed  rev. Robert Sinker  (1659; Cambridge Univ. Press, 1882), Article 9, pp. 660-75

Pearson (1613–1686) was an Anglican bishop.  This section is orthodox and very good.

Nicholson, William – …an Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, Delivered in Several Sermons  (London, 1661), pp. 533-56

The Communion of Saints
The Second Sermon of the Communion of Saints

Nicholson (1591–1672) was a Calvinistic, English bishop.  He was invited to the Westminster Assembly, but chose not to attend, as many of the Episcopalian clergymen.

Littleton, Adam – pp. 211-12  of The Explanation of the Apostles’ Creed  in Solomon’s Gate, or an Entrance into the Church, being a Familiar Explanation of the Grounds of Religion contained in the four heads of Catechism…  (London, 1662), pp. 178-214

Littleton (1627-1694) was an Anglican cleric and lexicographer.

Dickson, David – ch. 26, ‘Of the Communion of Saints’  in Truth’s Victory Over Error, or, An Abridgment of the Chief Controversies in Religion which since the apostles days to this time… by going through all the Chapters of The Confession of Faith…  1st ed.  (d. 1662; 1684), pp. 257-63

This was the first positive commentary on the Westminster Confession, written by a prominent Scottish minister contemporary to the Assembly, printed after his death.  The commentary is by way of question and answer format, and mainly focuses on refuting errors that the Confession meant to guard against.

Ellis, John – pp. 81-84  of Clavis fidei, or, The Key of Faith…  propounded by him in Public Lectures upon the Apostles’ Creed…  (Cambridge, 1668)  96 pp.  ToC

Ellis (1598/9–1665) was a Welsh Anglican clergyman and religious writer.

Lightfoot, John – 3. ‘The Communion of Saints’  in An Exposition of Three Articles…  (d. 1675), pp. 63-83

Leighton, Robert – ‘The Communion of Saints’  in An Exposition of the Creed, on 1 Tim. 3:9  in Works, vol. 4, pp. 29-31

Leighton (1611-1684) was a reformed, evangelical and pious Scottish bishop.

Witsius, Herman – sections 40-48  of Dissertation 24, ‘On the Church & the Communion of Saints, & the Operation of our Faith with regard to Both’  in Sacred Dissertations on what is Commonly Called the Apostles’ Creed  trans. Donald Fraser  (1681; Glasgow, 1823), vol. 2, pp. 376-84

Kettlewell, John – ch. 9, ‘Of the Holy Catholick Church, & the Communion of Saints’  in The Practical Believer, or the Articles of the Apostles’ Creed drawn out to Form a True Christian’s Heart & Practice…  (London, 1688), pt. 2

Kettlewell (1653-1695) was an Anglican clergyman, nonjuror at the Glorious Revolution and a devotional writer.

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1700’s

Edwards, John – ‘The Latter Part of the 9th Article, Namely, the Communion of Saints, where the Nature of this Communion is Explained…’  in Theologia Reformata: or the Body & Substance of the Christian Religion…  (London: John Lawrence, 1713), pp. 745-49

Edwards (1637–1716) was a Calvinistic, episcopalian, Anglican, the son of Thomas Edwards (a presbyterian), who wrote the famed book ‘Gangraena’ against the sects in the 1640’s.

Associate Reformed Synod – ch. 26  in Exposition & Defense of the Westminster Assembly’s Confession of Faith, being the Draught of an Overture Prepared by a Committee of the Associate Reformed Synod, in 1783, a New Edition, with Introduction & Notes by Rev. David McDill  (1787; 1855), pp. 213-21

B.B. Warfield gives some background to this work here.  McDill was a minister in the Associate Reformed Synod and later in the United Presbyterian Church.  Here is a biography of him.

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1800’s

Shaw, Robert – ch. 26, ‘Of the Communion of Saints’  in An Exposition of the Confession of Faith of the Westminster Assembly of Divines  4th ed.  (1845; Johnstone & Hunter, 1850), pp. 271-79

This is perhaps the best commentary on the Confession in print.  Shaw was part of the Original Secession Church in Scotland, and then later came into the Free Church of Scotland.  This older online edition has numerous details that got cut out of the modern reprint.

Hodge, A.A. – ch. 26, ‘Of Communion of Saints’  in A Commentary on the Confession of Faith, with Questions for Theological Students & Bible classes   (1869; Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1901), pp. 436-44

MacPherson, John – ch. 26, ‘Of Communion of Saints’  in The Westminster Confession of Faith, with Introduction & Notes  (1881), pp. 145-47

MacPherson was a professor of the Free Church of Scotland.  The work was geared towards Bible classes.

Beattie, Francis – pp. 257-60  of ch. 26, ‘The Communion of Saints, & Religious Worship’  in The Presbyterian Standards, an Exposition  (1896)

Beattie was a very faithful, able and accomplished Southern Presbyterian, teaching as a professor in Louisville, KY.  See here for a bio and review of this work.  This commentary synthesizes the similar parts of the Confession and Catechisms by subject (see the table of contents), and comments on them all.

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1900’s

Morris, Edward – 4. ‘Communion of Saints: its Extent & Nature’  in Lecture 12, The Church of God  in Theology of the Westminster Symbols: A Commentary, Historical, Doctrinal, Practical on the Confession of Faith & Catechisms…  (1900), pp. 616-20

Morris’ work is one of the earlier analyses of the Westminster theology.  He was a professor of systematic theology in the presbyterian, Lane Theological Seminary in Ohio.

Williamson, G.I. – ch. 24, ‘XXVI. Of Communion of Saints’  in The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes  2nd ed.  (1964; P&R, 1980), pp. 196-200

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On the Communion of Saints in the Heidelberg Catechism

1500’s

Ursinus, Zacharias – ‘Of the Communion of Saints’  in The Sum of Christian Religion: Delivered…  in his Lectures upon the Catechism…  trans. Henrie Parrie  (Oxford, 1587), pp. 649-51  The modern editions are heavily edited.

Ursinus (1534–1583) was a German reformed theologian, reformer and professor at the University of Heidelberg.  He was the principal author and interpreter of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Bastingius, Jeremias – Q. 55, ‘What means the Communion of Saints?’  in An Exposition or Commentary upon the Catechism of Christian Religion which is Taught in the Schools & Churches Both of the Low Countries…  (Cambridge, ca. 1591), pp. 107.b-109.b

Bastingius (1551–1595) was a Dutch Reformed theologian best known for this exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism.  Bastingius was trained by several prominent second-generation reformers.  He studied under Ursinus, Beza, Olevianus and Zanchi, and was appointed to be a professor of theology at Leiden (though he died before he could exercise that office, at 44 years of age).

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1600’s

Ames, William – ‘The One & Twentieth Lord’s Day’  in The Substance of Christian Religion, or a Plain & Easy Draught of the Christian Catechism in 52 Lectures…  (London, 1659), pp. 142-47

de Witte, Petrus – ‘The 55th Question, What mean you by the Communion of Saints?’  in Catechizing upon the Heidelberg Catechism of the Reformed Christian Religion, Published after…  Approbation of the Rev. Classis of Hoorn  (Amsterdam, 1670), pp. 425-32

de Witte (1622-1669) was a reformed minsiter at Leiden.

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1700’s

Vanderkemp, John – pp. 428-36  in ‘The Church of God & her Benefits in this Life, Lord’s Day 21’  in The Christian Entirely the Property of Christ in Life & Death; Exhibited in Fifty-Three Sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism  (New-Brunswick, NJ: Abraham Blauvelt, 1718), vol. 1

Vanderkemp (1664-1718) was a reformed Ducth minister.

De Ronde, Lambertus – ‘The 55th Question’  in A System Containing the Principles of the Christian Religion, Suitable to the Heidelberg Catechism…  (NY: H. Gaine, 1763), pp. 94-97

de Ronde (1720-1795) was a minister of the Protestant Dutch Church in New York.

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1800’s

Bethune, George W. – ‘Second Part’  in Expository Lectures on the Heidelberg Catechism  (NY, 1864/1866), vol. 2, pp. 70-77

Bethune was a minister in the Reformed Dutch Church of America, who died before completing this series of lectures.

Gerhart, Emanuel V. – Q. 55  in Lectures on the Heidelberg Catechism  (Lancaster, PA: Lecture Printing Society of the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church, 1891), pp. 26-27

Gerhart was a professor at the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church.

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Westminster

Confession of Faith, ch. 26, ‘Of Communion of Saints’

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Larger Catechism

“Q. 63. What are the special privileges of the visible church?

A. The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government;[y] of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies;[x] and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation,[a] and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel…

[y] Isa. 4:5,61 Tim. 4:10.
[z] Ps. 115Isa. 31:4,5Zech. 12:2-4,8,9.
[a] Acts 2:39,42

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The Communion of Saints Is Trans-Spatial

See also our very related sections:

Gathering into One Place: Incidental though Beneficial to Public Worship
Assembling in One Location: Not Necessary to Public Worship
Physically Gathering: Not Necessary to Public Worship
The Visible, Spiritual, Communion in Publicly Worshipping by Distance
Communion in the Same Kind of Worship vs. the Same Material Worship
Meeting Physically Together & Having a Local Session of Elders is Ideal

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Quotes

1500’s

Peter Martyr Vermigli

‘I believe in the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, etc.’  in ch. 18, ‘A plain exposition of Peter Martyr, upon the twelve articles of the Christian faith’  in pt. 2 of The Common Places…  (London, 1583), p. 630

“In whatsoever body life is placed, the power and strength thereof is to guide, and also by a most sure bond to unite all the parts of the whole body, by how great a space soever they be dissevered one from the other: even so the congregation of the godly, which commonly (if the believers be considered of in respect that they be earthly men) is called the Church, how much soever it be compact of sundry people, and has her parts settled a great space one from another in the world: and that, as much as the uttermost quarter of the world is distant by the spaces of regions, from the other part of the world; yet nevertheless it is joined, knit, and couched together.  And for that cause it is by Paul compared to a body, and that oftentimes in his epistles unto the Ephesians and Corinthians (Eph. 4:12 and 5:23; 1 Cor. 12:12).

But by what bond the Christians (who so greatly differ one from another, whether respect be to their condition, country, or language) are so strictly knit together, it is sufficiently understood, by the order which joins this latter article of our faith unto the former [about the holy, catholic Church].  For there our faith confesses the Holy Ghost, and here it treats of the body of the faithful, which with a sincere faith, embracing the doctrine of Christ, is by Him gathered together in one.

…By these things therefore ye understand, that the Church is a mystical body, the which is governed by the Holy Ghost.”

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Heinrich Bullinger

The Decades  Buy  (Cambridge: Parker Society, 1849), 1st Decade, 9th Sermon, p. 163

“Also this word ‘communion’ is very evident and comfortable.  For first, the meaning thereof is, that betwixt God and us there is a communion, that is, a fellowship and participation, and so, consequently, a parting betwixt us of all good and heavenly things.  And then also we understand, that we are fellows and partakers with all the saints that are living either in heaven or on earth: for we are members of them under one head, Christ. For the apostle John says: “That which we have seen and heard we declare unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us, and that your fellowship may be with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ…

…What can be more delightful to our ears than to hear that all the saints, as well in heaven as in earth, are our brethren, and that we again are members, partners, and fellows with them?”

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Arthur Dent

A Plain Exposition of the Articles of our Faith, by Short Questions & Answers…  (London, 1589), pp. 21-22

“Q. Let us proceed, what is meant by the communion of saints?

A. The holy fellowship of the faith­ful.

Q. What does this word ‘Communion’ signify?

A. A knitting together in one.


Q. Do the godly love one another whom they have never seen?

A. Yea, and therefore it is put within the compass of things which are to be be­lieved.”

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William Perkins

An Exposition of the Symbol or Creed of the Apostles…  (London, 1595)

p. 508

“…communion in affection is, whereby all the servants of God are like affected to God, to Christ, to their own sins, and each to other.  They are all of one nature and heart alike disposed though they be not acquainted nor have any external fellowship in the flesh.”

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pp. 511-12

“For hence we may reason thus: I am indeed a member of the catholic Church of God, and therefore though my own prayers be weak, yet my comfort is this, I know that I am partaker of all the good prayers of all the people of God dispersed over the face of the whole earth, my fellow members, and of all the blessings which God bestows on them.  This will make us in all our troubles to say with Elisha, ‘Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.’…

And surely though there were no other reason, yet this were sufficient to move a man to embrace Christian religion, considering that being a member of the Church he has part in all the prayers of the saints through the world, and of the blessings of God that come thereby

The communion of the living with the dead stands in two things: the one is, that the saints departed in the Church Triumphant do in general pray for the Church Militant upon earth, desiring the final deliverance of all their fellow members from all their miseries.  And therefore in the Apocalypse they cry on this manner, ‘How long Lord holy and true! doest not Thou judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth. (Rev. 6:10)  I say in general, because they pray not for the particular conditions and persons of men upon earth, considering they neither know, nor see, nor hear us: neither can they tell what things are done upon earth.”

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1600’s

Westminster

Confession of Faith, ch. 26

“I. All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their head by his Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with him…  And being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces;[b]…

[b] Eph. 4:15,161 Cor. 12:71 Cor. 3:21-23Col. 2:19

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Larger Catechism

“Q. 62. What is the visible church?

A. The visible church is a society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do profess the true religion,[w] and of their children.[x]

[w] 1 Cor. 1:21 Cor. 12:13Rom. 15:9-12Rev. 7:9Ps. 2:8Ps. 22:27-31Ps. 45:17Matt. 28:19,20Isa. 59:21.
[x] 1 Cor. 7:14Acts 2:39Rom. 11:16Gen. 17:7

Q. 63. What are the special privileges of the visible church?

A. The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government;[y] of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies;[x] and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation,[a] and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel…

[y] Isa. 4:5,61 Tim. 4:10.
[z] Ps. 115Isa. 31:4,5Zech. 12:2-4,8,9.
[a] Acts 2:39,42

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“Q. 183. For whom are we to pray?

A. We are to pray for the whole church of Christ upon earth;[t] for…  ministers;[w] for ourselves,[x] our brethren,[y]…  and for all sorts of men living,[a] or that shall live hereafter;[b] but not for the dead,[c]…

[t] Eph. 6:18Ps. 28:9
[w] Col. 4:3
[x] Gen. 32:11
[y] James 5:16
[a] 1 Tim. 2:1,2
[b] John 17:202 Sam. 7:29
[c] 2 Sam. 12:21-23

Q. 184. For what things are we to pray?

A. We are to pray for all things tending to the glory of God,[e] the welfare of the church,[f] our own[g] or others good;[h]…

[e] Matt. 6:9
[f] Ps. 51:18Ps. 122:6
[g] Matt. 7:11
[h] Ps. 125:4

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John Lightfoot

3. ‘The Communion of Saints’  in An Exposition of Three Articles…  (d. 1675)

pp. 64-65

“…when the Creed speaks of the ‘Catholic church,’ meaning true saints, that serve God in truth, it speaks not ‘multitude,’ though it mean ‘universal’.  But it speaks, that such are scattered up and down the world; here some in one nation, there some in another; here one in one city, there another in another.

II. Therefore, ‘communion of saints’ cannot mean personal or local union, or communion: saints in one place, or in one lump, together: not a college of all saints in one place, but a communion betwixt them, as scattered here and there, all the world over.  As there is a communion betwixt two friends, one in Turkey, another in England; one in New England, another in Old [England]…

How would you understand that, Mt. 24:31, ‘And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.’  By the ‘angels,’ he means his messengers the ministers; by the ‘sound of a trumpet,’ he means the gospel; by the whole he means, that, after the destruction of Jerusalem, of which the speech is in the verses before,–God, by the preaching of the Gospel, would fetch in his elect among all nations, or call home the gentiles.  But how gather them together?  What, into any one place, or country, or city?  No, but into such a communion, as we are speaking of, in the several nations or countries, where they lived: one saint in Judea, another in Assyria, another in Greece: all staying in the place where they receive the gospel, and yet all gathered together into one communion.”

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pp. 80-82

“I.  There is a communion of converse, and communion of affection…  And there may be communion of affection, where there is no converse.  Nay, there is, as it were, planted in morality, an affection of one excellent person to another.  A valiant man loves a valiant man, though he never came near him.  A scholar loves a scholar, that he has only heard of.  Much more is such an affection planted in true Christianity in a heart truly religious, be he who he will, where he will; though he never saw him.  As, ‘My delight is in the saints, and excellent on the earth,’ (Ps. 16:3) be they far off or near.

II.  There is communion in ‘common interest,’ where, it may be, there is not communion in coomon converse.  Those that never saw or heard of one another to converse together, yet may have communion in common interest.  Englishmen meeting beyond sea, that never saw each other before, yet will take parts, and side together, as in the common interest of being countrymen.

There is a common interest in all the saints in the world, though at their never so great distance and separation, viz. glorifying God, and loving the Lord Jesus.  As the apostle says, 1 Jn. 1:3, ‘Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.’…

This is the special center, in which saints meet, be they never so far asunder.  And in this sense, their ‘gathering together,’ is to be understood (of which there is so frequent mention); not into one place; but into this one circle of loving, fearing, serving God; Zeph. 3:9, ‘That they may call upon the name of the Lord, and serve Him with one consent.’  In the Hebrew it is, ‘with one shoulder;’ as if many were together shouldering up the same weight or burden: all in their places jointly putting-to their endeavor to bear up the name, glory and honor, of God: east, west, north, south, every saint joining in this great work, and meeting in this holy point.  As the twelve oxen under the brazen sea, their face to the four quarters of heaven, but their bodies all meeting to bear up the weight.  Now,

III.  They that are all of the same mind, all meet in this common interest towards God, cannot but love one another, though they know not one another.  ‘My heart’ (says Deborah) ‘is towards the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people.’ (Judges 5:9Did she know all their faces and persons?  Could she call them by their names?  No, but she could not but love them, be they who they would, that put-to their hands and shoulders to that common cause.  We see, how men are ready to affect any that they hear to be of their opinion, humor and mind, though they never saw them.  Much more does a saint love a saint, that is partner with him in this holy work.  Though he knew not where to find him, or name him; yet if he be for God, he must have his heart; and loving God, he cannot but love whosoever loves Him.

IV.  Accordingly they sympathize one with another; ‘Whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.’ (1 Cor. 12:26)…  It grieves a saint, if it be ill with any saint in the world; and he rejoices , if it go well with him.  His heart is touched with his case, as with his own.  As we are affected with the well or ill doing of any Englishman in any part of the world, for common interest of country’s sake.

Neh. 1:4, “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down, and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.’  ‘Why Nehemiah? thou are well enough; thou art in place of honor, pleasure, preferment.’–‘Oh! but it is ill with the people of God.’–And, Ps. 137:5-6, says the Psalmist, ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.  If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy:’ I can never forget Jerusalem.

V.  Answerably, they have one another’s prayersThere is not a saint in the world, but has the prayers of all the saints in the world.  Any child of God makes it conscience to pray for every child of God on earth.  One member cannot but do its best for another.  ‘And as many as walk according to this rule, Peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.’ (Gal. 6:16)  ‘Pray for thyself, Paul, and for thine own churches’–‘Nay, but every saint wherever is a member of the same body that I am of; and, therefore, I must pray for them also.’  So Eph. 6:24, ‘Grace be with all them, that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.’  I love Christ, and cannot but love and pray for all that love Him.”

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Herman Witsius

Sacred Dissertations on what is Commonly Called the Apostles’ Creed  trans. Donald Fraser  (1681; Glasgow, 1823), vol. 2, Dissertation 24, ‘On the Church & the Communion of Saints…’, pp. 380-81

“Now this communion consists in the following things, 1st, That having one God and one Savior, and animated by the same Spirit, they constitute one body, whose parts are indeed widely separated from each other with regard to distance of local situation, but maintained in close mutual connection by the same Spirit of Christ.

2ndly, That the souls of the blessed, although they be entirely ignorant of the particular persons of believers on earth, and of their necessities, yet by their earnest prayers unite with us in soliciting, and, so to speak, accelerating, the day of the complete redemption of the Church; whilst the saints on earth are associated with those in heaven, in spirit, affection, and desire, having their conversation in heaven.

XLV.  But we are chiefly to attend to the communion which believers have with each other on the earth…  1st, That intimate union, by which, how far removed soever as to place, they are mutually joined together by the Spirit; not merely as brethren, but, what we have already often inculcated, as members of one mystical body

That we recognize and celebrate the admirable power of God, which unites believers of every nation, age, condition and sex, often separated from one another by such vast intervening spaces of land and sea, of such disimilar capacities and tempers, and engaged in such diversified pursuits; and so closely conjoins them by one Spirit, that they most harmoniously concur in the same sentiments and feelings respecting God and Christ, and in the same devout prayers and praises, and discern in each other, with mutual congratulation and applause, the same effects of the same divine grace; so that, even at their first meeting, a most delightful interchange of love arises.”

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1700’s

John Edwards

Theologia Reformata: or the Body & Substance of the Christian Religion…  (London: 1713), ‘The Latter Part of the 9th Article, Namely, the Communion of Saints, where the Nature of this Communion is Explained…’, pp. 747-48

They sympathize with the condition of all distressed saints, wherever they are, and thereby hold communion with all saints in the world, all Churches of Christ throughout the universe.

And from this compassion and love it is, that they feel an ineffable pleasure and satisfaction in their souls whenever they understand and hear of, or behold the success of the family of God, the prosperity of his people, and the spreading of his kingdom in the world.

Those that hold communion with God and his Son Jesus Christ…  do necessarily maintain a Communion and Society with those that are the children of God, and the members of Jesus Christ…

…When Peter was cast into prison, ‘Prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him,’ Acts 12:5There is a continual stock of prayers, a common bank, whereby a constant traffic and exchange is kept up among the saints.  This is called by the apostle, ‘supplication for all saints,’ Eph. 6:18, whereby they are ever partaking of the benefit of the petitions and addresses that are put up to the Divine Majesty throughout the whole world.  And accordingly the fellowship of all Christians dispersed over the whole earth is preserved.”

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1800’s

Robert Shaw

An Exposition of the Confession of Faith of the Westminster Assembly of Divines  4th ed.  (1845; Johnstone & Hunter, 1850), ch. 26, ‘Of the Communion of Saints’, p. 274

“Saints by profession are also united in one body, and bound to maintain a holy fellowship and communion with each other.  Professed saints compose the Church considered as visible…

This union is not confined to those who live together, and can assemble in one place for the observance of religious ordinances, but extends to ‘all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.’  The visible bonds of this unity are specified by the Apostle Paul: ‘There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.’ — Eph. iv. 4-6.”

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Geroge W. Bethune

Expository Lectures on the Heidelberg Catechism  (NY, 1864/1866), vol. 2, p. 74

“…the love we feel for Christ our head should flow forth to all our fellow-members of his holy body; and his love to us make them dear to us for his sake…

We should delight to meditate on the many members of Christ’s elect body with whom we are joined, though they are scattered throughout the world.  Our hearts should make voyages and journeys of discovery after them; and, remembering that they may be in affliction, and must be
in temptation, we should pray for them and delight to
hold them in the embraces of our faith.

Is it not a most pleasant thought, that, from whatever spot on earth a Christian prays, his prayers go up to the one heart of Christ, and there meet with our prayers and the prayers of all other Christians; and so when blessings for each of us are sent, they all flow out from the same fountain of infinite love!”

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The Communion of Saints is Trans-Temporal

See also our very related sections:

Communion in the Same Kind of Worship vs. the Same Material Worship
The Visible, Spiritual, Communion in Publicly Worshipping by Distance, which is also Trans-Temporal
Public Worship may Consist with a Difference of Time.

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Quotes

1500’s

Pierre Viret

A Very Familiar & Fruitful Exposition of the 12 Articles of the Christian Faith contained in the Common Creed, called the Apostles’ Creed, made in Dialogues… (London, 1548), ‘In these two last dialogues is opened the other part of the creed, the which do concern the Holy Ghost & the Church…’, no page number

“…we may understand this communion generally of all the elected that ever has been, be, or shall be…”

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Heinrich Bullinger

The Decades  Buy  (Cambridge: Parker Society, 1849), 1st Decade, 9th Sermon, p. 162

“So then in this article [of the Creed] we confess that all the faithful dispersed throughout the whole compass of the earth, and they also that at this time live in Heaven, as many, I say, as are already saved, or shall even until the very end of the world be born to be saved, are one body, having gotten fellowship and participation with God and a mutual communion among themselves.”

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1600’s

The Speedy Passage to Heaven. Or a Perfect Direction for every true Christian, to walk in the right path of true holiness for the sure attaining of everlasting happiness. Containing an explanation of the Ten Commandments, the Creed & our Lord’s Prayer  (London, 1612), ch. 5, pp. 46-47

The unity of them that be sanctified, redeemed, and delivered from the service of the devil, the flesh, and the world to glori∣fy God in holiness, and righteousness, is, by Christ, and in Christ a common comfort and commodity unto all them, of every thing that is good or profitable unto any of them, which although many times they cannot be seen, and perceived of worldly men, nor well known one unto another, yet being all of one faith, be ever altogether afore God in one mind as members of one body, to have communion, comfort and commodity every one with all other in Christ their head.

And as it was said, ‘they have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them’: so have we always in this holy catholic Church the foundation of the prophets, and apostles, Christ being the head cornerstone, albeit not their persons in bodily presence, yet their examples of living, and truth of doctrine in their writings, so that ever therein we may see and perceive that face and fashion of the holy catholic Church, which God has ordained, to be so showed, as most expedient and sufficient unto all men, at all times, in all places.”

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Westminster

Larger Catechism

“Q. 62. What is the visible church?

A. The visible church is a society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do profess the true religion,[w] and of their children.[x]

[w] 1 Cor. 1:21 Cor. 12:13Rom. 15:9-12Rev. 7:9Ps. 2:8Ps. 22:27-31Ps. 45:17Matt. 28:19,20Isa. 59:21.
[x] 1 Cor. 7:14Acts 2:39Rom. 11:16Gen. 17:7

Q. 63. What are the special privileges of the visible church?

A. The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government;[y] of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies;[x] and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation,[a] and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel…

[y] Isa. 4:5,61 Tim. 4:10.
[z] Ps. 115Isa. 31:4,5Zech. 12:2-4,8,9.
[a] Acts 2:39,42

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“Q. 183. For whom are we to pray?

A. We are to pray for the whole church of Christ upon earth;[t] for…  ministers;[w]…  our brethren,[y]…  and for all sorts of men living,[a] or that shall live hereafter;[b]…

[t] Eph. 6:18Ps. 28:9
[w] Col. 4:3
[y] James 5:16
[a] 1 Tim. 2:1,2
[b] John 17:202 Sam. 7:29

Q. 184. For what things are we to pray?

A. We are to pray for all things tending to the glory of God,[e] the welfare of the church,[f] our own[g] or others good;[h]…

[e] Matt. 6:9.
[f] Ps. 51:18Ps. 122:6.
[g] Matt. 7:11.
[h] Ps. 125:4

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1800’s

Geroge W. Bethune

Expository Lectures on the Heidelberg Catechism  (NY, 1864/1866), vol. 2, p. 74

“How vast the fellowship!  With the saints of all ages in the past!  With the saints of all ages in the future!  With the church eternal in glory!

How comforting!  We are not alone in our work, in our trials, in our hopes!  Millions uncounted have been working for us, praying for us, rejoicing over us!  Millions uncounted of hearts are now beating in unison with ours!  Millions uncounted are to follow us, for whom we are even now transmitting the riches of grace.”

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1900’s

Edward Morris, Theology of the Westminster Symbols: A Commentary, Historical, Doctrinal, Practical on the Confession of Faith & Catechisms…  (1900), Lecture 12, The Church of God, 4. ‘Communion of Saints: its Extent & Nature’, pp. 619-20

“One further element in the doctrine presents itself in the declaration that this communion is to be extended, so far as God gives opportunity, unto ‘all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.’…

Whatever may or may not be realized as yet in fact, it still is true in principle that this communion of saints, contemplated as a gracious sentiment, knows no boundaries of creed or polity or worship — knows no geographic or other outward limitations.  This is obvious from the nature of the sentiment, and from its source and ground, as seen in the underlying union of every genuine saint with Christ Himself.

Having fellowship with Him, deriving their common life from him, engaged alike in his one great vineyard, all saints of necessity have fellowship one with anothera fellowship as wide as the earth and enduring as time.”

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Bibliography

Malcom, Howard – ‘Communion of Saints’  in Theological Index…  (Boston, 1868), p. 118

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Latin Articles

1600’s

Bachoff, Reinhard – Question 55, ‘What do you understand by the Communion of Saints?’  in Catechism of the Christian Religion, which is Taught in the Churches & Schools of the Palitinate  (Hanau, 1603), pp. 251-52

Bachoff (1544-1614)

Alsted, Johann Heinrich

p. 20  of ch. 4, ‘Of the Apostolic Creed’  in Theological Questions Briefly Set Forth & Exposited  (Frankfurt, 1627)

Alsted (1588-1638)

‘I believe in the holy Church, in the Communion of Saints’  in Polemical Theology, Exhibiting the Principal Eternal Things of Religion in Navigating Controversies  (Hanau, 1620; 1627), pt. 2, A catholic Symphony, 1. A Minor catholic Symphony, 1. On the Apostles’ Creed, p. 165

ch. 31, ‘Of the Communion of the Saints’  in Theological Questions Briefly Set Forth and Exposited  (Frankfurt, 1627), pp. 224-27

Baxter, Richard – p. 110  of ch. 11, ‘Of the Gospel, thus in Three Short Summaries…’   in A Method of Christian Theology…  (London, 1681), pt. 3

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Related Pages

Commentaries on the Apostles’ Creed

Commentaries on the Westminster Standards

Commentaries on the Heidelberg Catechism

Unity of the Church

On Union with Christ & the Fruits of the Fellowship Ensuing Therefrom