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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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