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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Introduction: How is the word EKKLESIA used in the Bible?

The word “ekklesia” simply designates an out calling (ek- “out” and kaleo “to call”) a group of people who are called out for a purpose.

(1)In Acts 7:38 we read of the “the church (ekklesia) in the wilderness” .  This refers to the use of the word “ekklesia” in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the OT:

In its noun form it is translated “assembly”  and designates:
(1) the nation of Israel. (See Numbers 20:8; Deuteronomy 23:1,2,3,8; Joshua 8:35) and
(2) gatherings of the people of Israel together : Deuteronomy 9:10; 18:16;

In its verb form it is translated
- “assemble” or “assembled”. (See Numbers 20:10; Deuteronomy 31:12 & Joshua 18:1)
- “gather together”. (See Deuteronomy 31:28)

So the first usage of the word “ekklesia” in the Bible designates not a gathering of Christians at all but simply the nation of Israel after they were called out of Egypt and of the gatherings together or assemblies of the Israelites.

(2) In Acts 19:24-41 we read of a gathering of silversmiths who made idols of  the goddess Diana. They were concerned that the preaching of the Gospel of Christ was threatening their business. Their shouts, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”  stirred up the whole city which was gathered together,  but most didn’t even know why they were gathered! Thus they are referred to in Acts 19:32 and 41 as a “confused assembly (ekklesia)”.   So any mob of people who were gathered together, even though they don’t know the reason for the gathering were also an “ekklesia” or “a called out company”.

(3) Also in the same context as the above, (Acts 19:35-41) the town’s clerk, after two hours of commotion,  calmed the people and reproved Demetrius and advised him that, if he had a genuine dispute, it should be settled in “a lawful assembly (ekklesia)”.
Thus a court of law gathered together to settle a dispute was also an “ekklesia”  or a called out company”.

So when the Lord Jesus began to use the word “ekklesia”  of the “church” that he would build (Matthew 16:18),  He took a word that had no religious connotation and used it of the ekklesia or assembly which He would build. A company of people called out of the world of men to follow Him and to make Him known in the world.

It is primarily this “/assembly”, the smaller “/assemblies” of which it is comprised and the practices of those ekklesias which we will be considering in detail in future posts.

Thanks for stopping by and please take the opportunity to add your own comments, and questions. I’ll try to include them in our future discussions.

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I've learned something.

    It's nice to know the background context of the word "EKKLESIAS".

    However, I think it's no different from the word "GROUP". Before I started to participate in home church, I never used the word "GROUP" in a spiritual context. For me it meant

    "any meeting of three or more people"(noun)
    "a collection of objects" (noun)
    "an algebriac math structure" (noun)
    "to gather together" (verb)

    Now, I also use it for home church gatherings, like...

    "Are you going to join the group this weekend?"
    "There's a certain fella in the group that..."
    "When did you join the group..."

    and so forth.

    And the strange thing is that if I go to an official church such as a Baptist church, I should habitually change my lingo to "church" instead of "group".

    Looking forward to read what you have to share regarding the traditions of the apostolic "group".


  3. Hi Bruce! Good to hear from you. It has been really awesome to experience lately, just bumping into individuals out of the blue, who have the same conviction as I do, that all religion organized by man is apostate and that God is bringing His children out! Praise God! We have a small number of family and friends that we fellowship with on a deep and personnel level. A real relationship beats a cold pew any day. I feel strongly convicted that our Father desires to know each of us deeply and desires us to know each other in the same way. Only when we really know each other are we able to effectively minister into each others lives. While we are so blessed that God is showing us the way in which we shall be I am careful not to hide away the light God has granted me and continue to do spiritual warfare in us and in those around us and in our communities. There are lost sheep that will only hear their Father, I pray that God blesses you Bruce, with an outpouring of His Spirit to cause revival in His true Church and that God will continue to use you as His vessel of honor in communicating Christs love to His people. I'll do all I can to stay in touch and grow with you in Christ!
    What a beautiful day is set before us!!
    Take Care Bruce,
    John, Adele and Jonah Rutherford
    Kelowna B.C.

  4. Lem and John,

    Thanks so much for your comments. Have received quite a few personally and want to respond in a soon coming post.

    Will be in touch.


  5. Hi Lem,

    Could I refer you to the second blog post (on Nov.30th)? "Groups" can be any gathering of people or things without any purpose, authority or calling. But an ekklesia and especially one of God's ekklesias has a definiote calling, purpose and authority for everything it does (as long as it functions in obedience to the Lord, His Word and the inspired teachings of the apostles.

    You referred to "official churches"...that is a good designation for the vast majority of "churches" today are characterized by "offices", "office bearers" or "official leaders" who are distinct from other believers in many ways. But the idea of "offices" is a foreign concept to the NT scriptures as are all distinctions between "clergy" and "laity". But that is a subject for a number of future posts!

    If you check out the word "office" in the NT, you will find that there is no equivalent in the original language!

    Hope this helps us all to dig deeper and learn why we do what we do as we gather with His people!


  6. Thanks Bruce,

    (I managed to find out why I had difficulty posting).

    I see more of what you mean about "ekklesia".

    You know, I've never seen such a thing in all my life, and with all my rational thinking behind me, I can't ever see it succeeding, unless the spirit of God is truly there controlling the whole situation.

    Can you imagine a group of drunkards, thieves, robbers, prostitutes,...etc that come to join the church and get saved, but they still have the old mind or old habits of thinking, getting together to make a decision? Most of them, if not all, wouldn't know how to discern His spirit or know His leading, because they don't know Him yet. (Heck, I'm not satisfied with my Christian walk for many times in my trials, I have no clue whatsoever what to do).

    And what happens to the elders and apostles? They ought to know God a lot more (and many don't). Do they participate in decision making? I'm assuming they are part of the church body, so they would be included. Instinctively and naturally, the new babes in Christ look to church elders for their leadership.

    In all probability, I'm completely in the dark as to what the TRUE meaning of God's "ekklesia", "group", "board meeting", "gathering", "meeting" or whatever you call it is (for I don't think it matters what it is called, but what ever God providentially ordains is meaningful).

    So describe then what actually happens in such a TRUE ekklesia... Do you know where any such ekklesia exists?



  7. Hi Lem,

    Thanks so much for your comment!

    I'd like to take it to a new post and seek to respond tro it there in a day or two.
    Keep in touch!