A jurisdiction is a collective member or expression of Basileia governed cooperatively by a Presbyter Council, a Deacon Council and a Missional Council. The word “jurisdiction” is composed of juris which means “rule” and diction which means “speaking.” Thus any jurisdiction that is kingdomcultural is one objectively ruled by the Word of God as interpreted according to the Apostolic Rule of Faith. Every Basileian jurisdiction is in a strict sense, according to how the word ecclesia is used in Scripture, a “congregation,” that is, the Church, not a department of the Church. No jurisdiction is more the Church or less the Church than any other; they are each equally the Church but in different ways. Even as Israel had different jurisdictions (i.e., families membered to clans membered to tribes membered to the nation), so the Church today in general and Basileia in particular is multi-jurisdictional. Like any nation, the Church is a nation with local to global jurisdictions that are all embedded in one another.
The six Ecclesial Jurisdictions of Basileia are 1) The Basileia Alliance, 2) Basileia Communities, 3) Fellowships, 4) Abbeys, 5) Vocational Societies and 6) Chapters. Individuals may become members of Fellowships, Abbeys and Chapters. These Basileian jurisdictions relate as follows: the Basileia Alliance is composed of Basileia Communities and Vocational Societies, a Basileia Community is composed of Fellowships united around an Abbey. Vocational Societies are composed of Chapters membered to Fellowships.
A Basileian jurisdiction is 1) composed of either individual members (as with Abbeys, Fellowships and Chapters) or only collective members (as with the Basileia Alliance, Vocational Societies and Basileia Communities) or both, (as is the case only with Fellowships) and 2) membered to a broader jurisdiction, which in turn may then be membered to a yet broader jurisdiction.
The Scriptural basis for why Basileia has multiple jurisdictions and how these jurisdictions are conceived is as follows: In Israel there were multiple eldership councils that corresponded respectively with the multiple jurisdictions within the national congregation of Israel (Josh. 7:14-18, 24). Broader jurisdictions of government typically form eldership councils out of elders who are already serving in more local jurisdictions of government. (For example, compare Ex. 18-13-27 with Deut. 1:15 and Num. 11:16.) In combination with a confessional understanding of the nature of authority, this does not give rise to mediatorial hierarchies where some lord it over others (Matt. 20:25-28; 1 Pet. 5:3). Rather it calls upon those who demonstrate a superior capacity in facilitating the judicial decision-making of a more local jurisdiction to (also) serve as elders of broader jurisdictions that must deal with complex issues that more local jurisdictions, while having the authority, do not have the capacity to resolve. This expresses the reality that the Church is a congregation of congregations.
The change in covenantal administration that came with the New Covenant era has brought about a change, not in the basic nature, but in the shape that God's ekklesia takes in the world today. In the Old Covenant era the ekklesia of God was limited to a particular geography in the land of Palestine with the national congregational gathering point located in the city of Jerusalem. But as Jesus foretold to the Samaritan woman, “The hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father” (Jn. 4:21). The writer of Hebrews says that in this New Covenant era believers have not come to the assembly at Mount Sinai as the Old Testament believers did (Heb. 12:18-21). Instead today we come to “Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angles, to the general assembly and church [ekklesia] of the first born who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Heb. 12:22-24). The reference to this company of angels recalls “the day of the assembly” at Sinai when “God came from Sinai…with myriads of holy ones” (Deut. 33:2).
Just as at Sinai, so in the congregational gatherings of God’s people today, the members of the covenant community of heaven and earth meet in the presence of God who is continually surrounded by angels. When God comes into the sanctuary He comes with “tens of thousands and thousands of thousands of the chariots of God” (Ps. 68:17). Furthermore, when God’s people come together they are to remember that Christ Himself “will sing God’s praise in the midst of the ekklesia” (Heb. 2:12). Thus today the ekklesia of the Lord is a congregation of congregations with many jurisdictional expressions, some of which are not even geographically based. Nevertheless, the diversity of jurisdictional expressions of the Church––even before this modern day of the Internet and jet airplanes that have reshaped the role of geographic proximity in life––is illustrated by this brief survey below from Scripture:
- A house church jurisdiction. Ekklesia is used to designate a congregation of believers who met in the homes of wealthy Christians (Rom. 16:5, 23; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philem. 2). A rough equivalent of these in Basileia are our Chapters. However, they may also be Fellowships or ecclesial families of a Fellowship who meet in homes and/or virtually.
- A local church jurisdiction. Ekklesia may designate a local congregation of believers (Acts 8:1). Paul also uses the noun in the plural to speak of “congregations” (Rom. 16:4, 16; 1 Cor. 7:17; 14:33; 2 Cor. 8:18; 11:8, 28; 12:13). Basileia refers to these jurisdictions as Fellowships.
- A city or area church jurisdiction. Ekklesia may designate the congregation of God's people in particular cities or in certain areas, such as Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1), Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1), Laodicea (Col. 4:16), and Thessalonica (1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1). Basileia refers to these jurisdictions as Communities, which today are not necessarily geographically based.
- A regional church jurisdiction. Ekklesia may also designate the regional jurisdiction of the congregation of God's people. Acts speaks of “the ekklesia throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria" (Acts 9;31). Likewise, Paul and Barnabas “appointed elders congregation-wide” (kat ekklesian) throughout Galatia (Acts 14:23). In his letters, Paul uses ekklesia in a regional sense to refer to the congregation in Judea (Gal. 1:22; 1 Thess. 2:14), Galatia (1 Cor. 16:1), Asia (1 Cor. 16:19), and Macedonia (2 Cor. 8:1). In relation to Communio Christiana, in one sense Basileia is a “regional” expression. But once again, in the 21st century, geographic designations are of lesser importance than at any time in history. Geographically, Basileia is a global communion. Nevertheless, in nongeographic sense, Basileia is a “region” of Communio Christiana, which in turn is a “region” of the whole Church on earth and in heaven.
- The whole earthly church as a jurisdiction. In Acts 15:22, the representatives of the congregations from Antioch and Jerusalem who met at the Council of Jerusalem are referred to as “the whole ekklesia.” Paul sees all local and regional expressions of the people of God as making up one congregation throughout the whole world (1 Cor. 10:32; 11:22; 12:28). For this reason Paul expects believers in any and every congregation to pattern their lives according to the same confession and standard of conduct (1 Cor. 4:17; 7:17; 14:33).
- The whole earthly and heavenly church as a jurisdiction. Finally, Paul extends the use of ekklesia to designate all believers who have been and shall be united in Christ, both in heaven and on earth (Eph. 1:22; 3:10, 21; 5:23-25, 27, 32; Col. 1:18, 24). Thus when Paul refers, for example, “to the ekklesia of God which is at Corinth" (1 Cor. 1:2a) he speaks of this congregation as a manifestation of “all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:2b). This indicates that Paul is thinking of this citywide congregation at Corinth, not just as a separate and distinct congregation, but as one of the jurisdictions where the whole earthly and heavenly congregation of God is manifested on the earth.
Also see Collective, Holistic Unity, Member, and Missional Initiative.