Church: What are the uses of this word in the Bible?
Gary Googe Sep 27
Definition and Description:
- The Greek word for “church” is EKKLESIA. It means assembly.
- EKKLESIA is a noun composed of the preposition EK, meaning out of, and KALEO, meaning to call. Therefore, a “church” is a called-out assembly of people.
- The Greeks used the word EKKLESIA to refer to a called-out assembly of any kind, not necessarily made up of believers who have come together for worship [Acts 19:32,39,41]. Hence, the term, in this case, was used to refer to what we would speak of today a called-out mob.
- The term is used extensively in the Apostle Paul’s letters. For instance, EKKLESIA is used three times in the book of Galatians [1:2,13,22].
The term church and its usage in the New Testament:
- It is used for the local church of believers which may be comprised of both Jews and Gentiles [Galatians 1:2; I Corinthians 1:2; II Corinthians 1:1].
- It is used for the mystical Body of Christ’s church composed of believers who are of Gentile and/or Jewish origin [Ephesians 1:22-23].
- It is used of Israel in Old Testament times [Acts 7:38; Hebrews 2:12].
- It is used for the Messianic church our Lord spoke of during His earthly ministry to Israel [Matthew 16:18]. We find that those who responded with faith to the message of Peter and others in that time were “added” to this Jewish church [Acts 2:47]. The fact that these people are said to be “added” clearly shows that this “church” existed before the Day of Pentecost discussed in Acts 2.
- It is used of future churches in the coming Tribulation period after the Rapture occurs [Revelation 2 & 3].
- It is used of a mob of people gathered for a meeting [Acts 19:32,39,41].
Some Other Important Principles:
- It is important to distinguish the church which is the Body of Christ [the uncircumcision church] which is made up of Jews and Gentiles from the circumcision church which was made up only of Jews [Colossians 1:24; Galatians 2:7; I Corinthians 12:13]. Mingling of the doctrine of these two churches causes confusion and misunderstanding.
- The churches to whom Paul ministered were members of the Body of Christ church. They had all been saved by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ [I Corinthians 15:1-4; Galatians 3:27; I Corinthians 12:13].
- When the word church comes up in the Bible it is never referring to a building, but to an assembly of people [Romans 16:1,4,5,16].