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Church 01 ekklesia

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Index No.        TBFC

Date                03 March 2006

Text               

Subject            Ekklesia  - ‘called out’

 


!! Definition

An ekklēsia was a meeting or assembly. Its commonest use was for the public assembly of citizens duly summoned, which was a feature of all the cities outside Judaea where the gospel was planted (e.g. Acts 19:39); ekklēsia was also used among the Jews (lxx) for the *’congregation’ of Israel which was constituted at Sinai and assembled before the Lord at the annual feasts in the persons of its representative males (Acts 7:38).[1]

 

We find the word ecclesia used in the following senses in the New Testament:

(1.) It is translated “assembly” in the ordinary classical sense (Acts 19:32, 39, 41).

Acts 19:32-33

32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33 The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defence before the people.

(2.) It denotes the whole body of the redeemed, all those whom the Father has given to Christ, the invisible catholic church (Eph. 5:23, 25, 27, 29; Heb. 12:23). This includes the dead as well as the living.

Ephesians 5:23

23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.

(3.) A few Christians associated together in observing the ordinances of the gospel are an ecclesia (Rom. 16:5; Col. 4:15).

Romans 16:5     Priscilla and Aquila

5 Greet also the church that meets at their house.

(4.) All the Christians in a particular city, whether they assembled together in one place or in several places for religious worship, were an ecclesia. Thus all the disciples in Antioch, forming several congregations, were one church (Acts 13:1); so also we read of the “church of God at Corinth” (1 Cor. 1:2), “the church at Jerusalem” (Acts 8:1), “the church of Ephesus” (Rev. 2:1), etc.

Acts 13:1

13 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers:

(5.) The whole body of professing Christians throughout the world (1 Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13; Matt. 16:18) are the church of Christ. [2]

Galatians 1:13

13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.

Unity

Its universality. It is the “catholic” church; not confined to any particular country or outward organization, but comprehending all believers throughout the whole world.

Perpetuity

Its perpetuity. It will continue through all ages to the end of the world. It can never be destroyed. It is an “everlasting kindgdom.”

Matthew 16:18

18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Continuity

 

Its unity. God has ever had only one church on earth. We sometimes speak of the Old Testament Church and of the New Testament church, but they are one and the same. The Old Testament church was not to be changed but enlarged (Isa. 49:13–23; 60:1–14).

Isaiah 60:4

4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you:

All assemble and come to you;

your sons come from afar,

and your daughters are carried on the arm.

When the Jews are at length restored, they will not enter a new church, but will be grafted again into “their own olive tree” (Rom. 11:18–24; comp. Eph. 2:11–22).

Ephesians 2:11-13

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

The apostles did not set up a new organization. Under their ministry disciples were “added” to the “church” already existing (Acts 2:47).

Acts 2:47

47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

‘Called out’ by someone

 

God

Isaiah 42:6

6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;

I will take hold of your hand.

I will keep you and will make you

to be a covenant for the people

and a light for the Gentiles,

Romans 1:6

6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

 

‘Called out’ from something

 

Bondage to slavery in Egypt

Exodus 15:13

13 “In your unfailing love you will lead

the people you have redeemed.

In your strength you will guide them

to your holy dwelling.

Bondage to sin

 

Galatians 3:13-14

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

 

‘Called out’ for something

To worship on Sinai

Exodus 4:23

23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so that he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’ ”

To inherit the promised land

Exodus 33:3

3 Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey.

1 Peter 1:3-4

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,

Hebrews 12:22-24

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.


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[1]Wood, D. R. W., Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. 1996, c1982, c1962. New Bible Dictionary.

[2]Easton, M. 1996, c1897. Easton's Bible dictionary.

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