Community (Called Ones)
1577 EKKLESIA (114): ek = out of + klesis = a calling; usually referring to those who have responded to God's call to come out of the world. ekklesia is a collective noun, almost always referring to a community of "called ones;" that is, believers in Jesus. But in nearly every usage the action is by or upon the "called ones," rather than the community. Thus, ekklesia is usually a metaphor for the "called ones." Ekklesia has traditionally been translated "church."
DEFINITION AND USAGE OF EKKLESIA:
EKKLESIA IS USED IN TWO PRIMARY SENSES IN GOD'S FCM (NT):
FCM USAGE OF EKKLESIA: CHRISTIANS IN A CITY OR REGION:
"To the community (ekklesia) of God existing in Corinth, to those having been purified in Jesus the Anointed One, [to] purified called ones (saints); with all those calling on the name of our Master, Jesus the Anointed One, in every place of theirs and ours" (1Co.1.2).
Paul addresses these Corinthians both individually and collectivly as a community. "Community" is a metaphor for individual "purified ones:"
In many other passages ekklesia refers to individuals; such as:
Ekklesia refers to a community of Christians in 1Tim.5.16: "...and let not the community (ekklesia) be burdened, that it may relieve the really bereft women." The word "it" shows that the collective community should assist such "really bereft" women.
In Act.20.28 "flock," and "ekklesia," are used interchangeably: "Take warning to yourselves and to all the flock, among whom the Pure Spirit placed you+ overseers, to shepherd the community (ekklesia) of God, which he acquired through his own blood." Just as a flock of sheep may have a "lead sheep" among them without being "organized," a community (ekklesia) of believers may also have leaders among them without being "organized."
FCM USAGE OF EKKLESIA: CHRISTIANS IN GENERAL OR EVERYWHERE: "...and (God) gave him (Jesus) to be head over all things to the "community" (ekklesia) which is his body..." (Eph.1.22). In this passage both "community" and "body" refer to all "purified ones" world-wide. Of course they cannot all physically assemble together as a body. Yet there is only one body (Eph.4.4). Also, 1Co.12.12: "For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of the body being many are one body; so also the Anointed One." Note: No city or regional community is ever described in the FCM as having, or being made up of "parts" or "members."
Mt.16.18: "...and I say to you also, 'You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my community (ekklesia), and the gates of the "unseen place" (0086 hades ) will not overpower it.'" After physical death believers are no longer in the ekklesia but go to the "unseen place," which has no power over them, because Jesus' resurrection assures that all believers will be resurrected.
Jesus continues in verse 19: "I will give you the keys of the reign of the heavens, and whatever you are binding on the earth shall have been bound in the heavens and whatever you are loosing on the earth shall have been loosed in the heavens."
God's community (ekklesia) is not the same as his "reign" (basileia). Purified ones are in the ekklesia while they are physically alive on earth and are also HEIRS to God's "reign" (1Co.15.50, 6.9, Gal.5.21, Eph.5.5, et al.). Believers do not inherit God's reign until after death. God's reign includes all of his people who died throughout the ages. See "reign" (0935 basileia ).
In 1Co.15.9, Gal.1.13 and Php.3.6 Paul admitted persecuting the community. It was the purified ones of the community in general that he persecuted.
In 1Ti.3.15 ekklesia refers to Christians in general: "...that you may know how it is necessary to conduct oneself in God's household, which is [the] living God's community (ekklesia)..." This refers to the every-day lifestyle of individual purified ones; not their conduct when assembled.
OTHER COMMENTS ABOUT THE USAGE OF EKKLESIA IN THE FCM:
EKKLESIA IN THE KOINE GREEK SENSE:
"But if you+ seek anything further, it will be settled in the lawful ekklesia" (Act.19.39). The adjective "lawful" (1772 ennomos), shows that ekklesia here refers to a "Koine Greek" assembly designated by civil government. "You+" refers to the individuals in the assembly (ekklfsja) of verses 32 and 41.
FCM REFERENCE TO ISRAELITES IN GOD'S ANCIENT MESSAGE (AM, OT):
Heb.2.12 quotes Ps.22.22: "...in the midst of the ekklesia I will sing your praise." And in Act.7.38 ekklesia refers to the Israelites at Sinai. Ekklesia is here equivalent to the Hebrew word, "qahal," or "congregation."
Ekklesia is translated "Gemeinde," a collective community of Christians. "Gemeinde" is not thought of as being a building, as is the English word Church. A different word, "Kirche" (church), refers to the assembly building.
EKKLESIA IS ALWAYS A NOUN: It is never used as an adjective in the FCM, as are many other Greek nouns. It never modifies another noun and never refers to a place. Concepts such as, church building, church members, church treasury, church organization, go to church, etc. do not occur in the FCM.
ETYMOLOGY OF EKKLESIA:
Please consider these passages in which the Greek words "ek" (out of) and "klesis" (a calling) describe the process by which people enter the ekklesia:
The "calling" (klesis) is by "God" (Rom.11.29, 1Co.1.26, Eph.1.18, Php.3.14,
SOME PROBLEMS WITH USING THE WORD "CHURCH" TO TRANSLATE EKKLESIA:
According to *Webster the word "church" is derived from the Late Greek word "kuriakon," which means "a lord's or master's house". But "kuriakon" does not occur in the FCM. Others deem "church" to come from "kuriakos," which means "something unique to the Master or belonging to him." Kuriakos (Lord's or Master's) occurs only twice in the FCM: 1. the "Lord's supper" in 1Co.11.20 and 2. the "Lord's day" in Rev.1.10. It never refers to people in the FCM.
"Church" has several non-biblical meanings in English, such as "a building where religious people meet," "a religious hierarchy," or "a religious denomination." "Church" does not mean "a called out community." It does not translate ekklesia, or any other word in God's message. The word "church" introduces confusion and error, and thus should never be used.
Many folks are aware of this. Some recommend use of the word "assembly" to translate ekklesia. *Webster's primary definition of "assembly" is, "A company or collection of human beings in the same place usually for the same purpose." But this definition is unsuitable because the ekklesia is not always assembled! When expressions such as "come together" (4905 sunerchomai) are used in context with ekklesia (as in 1Co.11.18 and 14.23), then it is certain that people are assembled. It is not always possible to determine whether the ekklesia is assembled. Note that in Act.14.27 the expression, "assembling the ekklesia," indicates that these Christians in Antioch were an ekklesia as individuals before they assembled; that is, the text does not say, "assembling them to FORM an ekklesia;" they already were an ekklesia. Accordingly, the word "assembly," is unsuitable.
The word, "congregation," might seem to be a better translation, but just as "assembly," it brings to mind the idea of an assembled group. Also, it is used almost exclusively in a religious context, and thus is subject to abuse, - as is the word "church."
The expressions, "called-out ones" and "called-out group" provide literal translations of ekklesia, but they are lengthy and unfamiliar to most people. Also, the idea of being "called-out" is irrelevant in some contexts.
The word, group" suggests people who have common characteristics or location without necessarily implying that they are assembled. "Group" could be used in passages that seem to refer to purified ones collectively, as in Mt.16.18, Act.15.41 and 20.28, but it leaves the question, "which group?."
The expression, "associates", indicates that those within a group have something in common but does not imply that people are assembled. "Associates" could be used in some passages.
The word, "community," seems to include the idea of unassembled people. *Webster defines it as, "The state of being held in common; common possession, enjoyment, liability, etc.; common character; agreement; identity; social intercourse; association; life in association with others; the social state; a number of individuals associated together by the fact of residence in the same locality, or of subjection to the same laws and regulations; a number of persons having common ties or interests and living in the same locality; hence, any body or group living together, esp. a monastic body; a communistic society; the body of people of a place; the public." "Community" is suitable to translate ekklesia in many passages.
*New Webster's Dictionary of the English Language.
INDIVIDUALS IN A CITY OR REGION OR GROUPS OF PEOPLE:
EKKLESIA SINGULAR: Note: In Act.7.38, 11.26, 1Co.6.4, 14.28, and Col.4.16 the Greek en which precedes it should be translated "among" rather than "in."
Primary reference to individuals, rather than their community:
Primary reference to a community, rather than the individuals in it:
A group of Israelites:
A "Koine Greek" type assembly of non-Christians:
EKKLESIA PLURAL: Although reference is to communities, action may be by or upon individuals, not necessarily by or upon each group as a whole, as in Act.15.41, 1Co.16.1 and Gal.1.22.
ALL CHRISTIANS EVERYWHERE, OR CHRISTIANS IN GENERAL:
EKKLESIA SINGULAR: In 1Co.12.28 and Eph.3.21 the Greek "en" preceding ekklesia should be translated "among," rather than "in."
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