Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy in Theology and Apologetics (PhD)


A. Boyd Luter


Chiasm, Chiasmus, Matthew 16-18, Ecclesiology, New Testament, Church


Christianity | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


The only two instances of the Greek term ἐκκλησία (usually translated “church”) found in the Gospels are in Matthew 16:18 and 18:17. These two passages have been examined, debated, and interpreted in a number of ways by various scholars. The present dissertation presents considerable exegetical evidence that these two uses of ἐκκλησία are actually part of a larger literary structure called a chiasmus, which connects the passages in which Matthew 16:18 and 18:17 are found. Because these are highly significant ecclesiological passages, this study further develops the connection of the chiastic structure to other foundational ecclesiological passages, namely the Matthean Great Commission (28:16-20) and Acts 2-6 in order to examine and clarify the theological implications of this newly discovered chiasm. The results of this study demonstrate that: 1) there is strong support for the existence of this chiasm; and 2) understanding Matthew 16:13-18:20 as such has important implications for ecclesiological issues such as the relationship of national Israel to the church and the specific circumstances of the beginning of the church.