The second realm of “church work,” according to the New Testament pattern, is edification.
The Greek word for “edify” (οἰκοδόμη, oikodomē) is a construction term; but in the New Testament it is mostly spiritualized, used of one person “building up” another (cf. Rom. 15:2)—something the saints were repeatedly admonished to do (Rom. 14:19–15:3; 1 Cor. 10:23; 14:12; Eph. 4:12). The “building up of the body of Christ” remains one of the most important elements of church responsibility (Eph. 4:12; Heb. 10:24; et al.); but it is also one of the most neglected (cf. Heb. 10:25).
While things were certainly not easier in the first century, they were much simpler. The Christians of yore understood that there were but two classes of people:
1. Members of the church of Christ
2. Everyone else
Thus, there would have been a very real “Us Against the World” element to their existence—and, to an extent, rightly so.
Ever since sin first marred the world, up to this day, those who follow God have been living in a spiritual zombie apocalypse: 99% of earth is infected; 1% is free/has been freed. As such, that 1% must do whatever they can—within the bounds of God’s will and authority, of course (cf. Matt. 7:12; et al.)—to survive. RULE #1: Stick together—look out for one another, prioritize the 1% (Gal. 6:10), seeking their best interests first (cf. Matt. 6:33; Rom. 12:9,10; 13:9; Php. 2:3,4).
This is why Christian edification is so critical—because, without it, the 1% will soon be 0.9%, and then 0.8%, and then. . .