186. CHURCH (Gr. EKKLESIA).
- The Greek word ekklesia means assembly, or a
gathering of called-out ones. It is used seventy times in
the Septuagint for the Hebrew kahal (from which latter we have our
word call), rendered in Sept. by sunagoge and ekklesia.
(*1) This latter word occ. in N.T. 115 times (36 in plural), and
is always transl. "church" except in Acts 19:32, 39, 41 (assembly).
- kahal is used (1) of Israel as a People called out
from the rest of the nations (Gen. 28:3); (2) of the tribal council
of Simeon and Levi, those called out from each tribe (Gen. 49:6);
(3) of an assembly of Israelites called out for worship or any other
purpose (Deut. 18:16; 31:30. Josh. 8:35. Judg. 21:8); (4) any
assembly of worshippers as a congregation (Ps. 22:22, 25.
in Matt. 16:18; 18:17. 1Cor. 14:19, 35, &c.); (5) the equivalent
ekklesia of separate assemblies in different localities (Acts 5:11;
8:3. 1Cor. 4:17, &c.); (6) of the guild or "union" of Ephesian
craftsmen (Acts 19:32, 41), and v. 39 (the lawful assembly).
Finally, the special Pauline usage of ekklesia differs from all
these. Other assemblies consisted of called-out ones from
Jews, or from Gentiles (Acts 18:22), but this new body is of
ones from both.
- Our word "church" (*2) has an equally varied usage. It is used
(1) of any congregation; (2) of a particular church (England, or Rome,
&c); (3) of the ministry of a church; (4) of the building in which
the congregation assembles; (5) of Church as distinct from Chapel; (6)
of the church as distinct from the world, and lastly, it is used in the
Pauline sense, of the body of Christ.
- It is of profound importance to distinguish the usage of the word
in each case, else we may be reading "the church which was in the wilderness"
into the Prison Epistles, although we are expressly told that there is
neither Jew nor Gentile in the "church which is His body". And when our
Lord said "On this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18), those who
heard His words could not connect them with the "mystery" which was "hid
in God" and had not then been made known to the sons of men. Confusion
follows our reading what refers to Israel in the past or the future into
the present dispensation. Readers are referred to the various notes
in the connexions.
- The word where qualified by other terms occurs thus: --
- Church of God; Acts 20:28. 1Cor. 1:2; 10:32;
11:16 (pl.), 22; 15:9. 2Cor. 1:1. Gal. 1:13. 1Thess. 2:14 (pl.).
2Thess. 1:4 (pl). 1Tim. 3:5, 15 (c. of the living God).
- Churches of Christ; Rom. 16:16.
- Church in .. house; Rom. 16:5. 1Cor. 16:19.
Col. 4:15. Philem. 2.
- Churches of the Gentiles; Rom. 16:4.
- Churches of Galatia; 1Cor. 16:1. Gal. 1:2.
Of Asia; 1Cor. 16:19. Of Macedonia; 2Cor. 8:1. Of Judaea; Gal.
1:22. Of the Laodiceans; Col. 4:16. Of the Thessalonians; 1Thess.
1:1; 2Thess .1:1.
- Church of the firstborn (pl); Heb. 12:23.
- Church in Ephesus, Smyrna, &c. Rev. 2 and
- Churches; Rev. 22:16.
(*1) kahal occurs in the Old Testament 123 times; congregation
eighty-six, assembly seventeen, company seventeen, and multitude three
times. The Sept. uses sunagoge and ekklesia as practically
synonymous terms. But the sunagoge concerns the bringing together
of the members of an existing society or body excluding all others,
whereas the ekklesia calls and invites all men, including outsiders
everywhere, to join it.&nb
sp; Sunagoge being permanently associated
with Jewish worship, was dropped by the early Christians in favor of ekklesia
as of wider import.
(*2) Is derived from the Gr. kuriakos, of or belonging to the
Lord, house (Gr. oikos) being understood. It comes to us through
A.S. circe (Scottish kirk).
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