Definition of “Ekklesia”

An Explanation of the Greek word ekklesia translated church in the New Testament.

 

    Today the word church has a wide variety of meanings from referring to a building to performing a religion service. Although we need to understand the modern use of the word it is of little significance in understanding the use of the word in the New Testament. It is essential that we understand its original meaning as it was used in New Testament times. In order to establish a New Testament church we must first know what the word “church” means in Scripture.

    In our English Bible the Greek word, “ekklesia” is translated in most places “church.” The word “ekklesia” is found in one hundred and fifteen places in the New Testament. It is translated in English one hundred and thirteen times “church” and the remaining times it is translated “assembly.” In classical Greek the word “ekklesia” meant “an assembly of citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly.” The word as used in the New Testament is taken from the root of this word, which simply means to “call out.” In New Testament times the word was exclusively used to represent a group of people assembled together for a particular cause or purpose. It was never used exclusively to refer to a religious meeting or group.

    An examination of the Greek word “ekklesia” reveals that the word is properly translated into English as the “assembly” or “congregation.” It is used to refer to a group of persons that are organized together for a common purpose and who meet together.

Based on the above, another way of defining the word “church” in today’s world could be “The Called Out Ones.”

28 Responses to “Definition of “Ekklesia””

  1. M. E. Eckler Says:

    I just viewed a DVD that I think was called TRUTH and it tells a lot about
    the Greek word “ekklesia” which I had never heard of before.

    I have read a lot of the Bible, but NEVER came across the word.
    I was amazed to learn that it is in the Bible so many times!
    I am even more amazed at how much a person can learn online.

    Thanks!

  2. Jerald Says:

    M.E. –
    Thanks for dropping by and commenting on my blog site.
    The whole idea of the purpose of the church is caught up in the word “ekklesia”, the “called out ones.”

  3. Jonathan Hutton Says:

    Yes, we have changed the meaning of church to mean a variety of things. Lately I’ve been trying to not use the word church to describe Sunday morning events, or buildings, or local groupings of Christ’s people . It is challenging though, I don’t know what to call those things when having conversations with others who use the word to mean so many things….
    Good information here, thanks.

  4. Emperor MAR Says:

    In the context of the New Testament ekklesia of course refers to the assembly of the disciples of Christ. Called out ones I think simply means called out to meet somewhere. Rather than a family staying at home by themselves they may go & worship God with another family in their home.
    The english word church has always been the wrong word to use for ekklesia as in context ekklesia seems to only refer to local assemblies.
    Here is some more info: http://www.bible-truth.org/Ekklesia.html

    As far as I have researched ekklesia never refers to “The Church” as in the universal body of Christ (all followers of Christ worldwide).
    The most interesting and important thing to me is that when the bible refers to the universal body of Christ it uses one of two terms, The Body of Christ or The Bride of Christ. Using the term The Church or even “The Called Out Ones” would be inaccurate and falling short. The names God gave His people acknowledge who they are of, that is of Christ. Even the name Israel has God’s name in it. We are to be in Christ with our lives hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

  5. Jerald Says:

    ?Emperor MAR?
    Thanks for the insight. I really appreciate those who take the trouble to really read what’s written here.
    I agree with you that the word ‘church’ might not be the best translation of what the original writers had in mind but it’s what we have so we have to try to teach what was meant by being among “the called out ones.”
    I’d like to read more of your thoughts so let me know where to find you.
    Have a blessed day.

  6. Emperor MAR Says:

    I very much agree with you that we should teach whatever truth we find to those willing and able to listen.

    I have just recently been researching this, which is why I came here.
    This is another page that gives great detail to the word church and ekklesia

    http://ecclesia.org/truth/ekklesia.html

    I’ve only formally written out a few things regarding God and His Word.
    Here are the main two. I consider them to be essential basics but considering that essentials are essential that is very important.

    http://flying-hat.livejournal.com/tag/my+public+teaching

  7. Amanyehun R. Sisay Says:

    Well,

    It is nice to read this. My Daughter’s name is Ekklesia. She was born in Jan 06, 2008. She is so lovely and want to go to church every Sunday. She insists me and her mom to prey before bed every day. I am highly surprised.

    Aman

  8. Amanyehun R. Sisay Says:

    Well,

    It is nice to read this. My Daughter’s name is Ekklesia. She was born in Jan 06, 2008. She is so lovely and wants to go to church every Sunday. She insists me and her mom to prey before bed every day. I am highly surprised.

    Aman

  9. JeraldD Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Amanyehun. Your daughter is obviously a “called out one”, one that the Lord Jesus has destined for something significant.
    I’d love to know where you live so I can tell how this Revolutionary Gospel is going.

  10. Amanyehun R. Sisay Says:

    addis ababa, Ethiopia.

  11. Pastor Mike Says:

    King James, in commissioning his ‘authorized’ translation, insisted that the work “ekklesia” be rendered “church” as he was head of the Church of England. William Tyndale, who had previously published an English transliteration of the Bible would not change this from the original meaning of “asssemly” and was subsequently ruled a heretic and burned. I have many translations which I use in sermon prep. All of them with the exception of two Messianic Jewish translations render ekklesia as ‘church’. The Jewish traslations use assembly or Yeshuah covenant people for ekklesia.

    Our Bibles are full of poorly translated words and thoughts because, for the most part, they were done after Reformation times and the scholars often had no knowledge of Jewish idioms (it is, afterall a Jewish book written by Jewish authors) and we have tried to use a ‘Greek’ or Western mind to understand a Jewish or Eastern book and religion. Unfortunately this leads to many wrong conclusions, especially by the laity.

    As pastors and ministers we would do well to study and pull out deeper meanings through original language thought and then share this with our pastorate in our messages.

  12. MAR Says:

    I have to correct myself I have now seen ekklessia as both a local group as well as the universal body or bride of Christ.

    I actually put up an in-depth teaching about this word which I think will help anyone wanting to look into it.

    http://love-god-love-others.blogspot.com/2010/08/why-use-word-assembly-instead-of-church.html

  13. JeraldD Says:

    Pastor Mike,
    Thanks so much for your insight. I agree that it takes indepth study to get to the root of what some scripture texts mean.

  14. JeraldD Says:

    Mar,
    I went to your site and read what you have written. Very insightful stuff and well put together. When we go from thinking of ‘church’ as the building or buildings or particular congregations down the street to thinking of it as the body of Christ, it changes our percepton of what ‘church’ means.
    Thanks again for your well written article.

  15. The Need for Ekklesia « Enlightenment or Salvation? Says:

    [...] never since found a spiritual home — an ekklesia — like the one I knew as a boy. EKKLESIA: In our English Bible the Greek word, “ekklesia” is translated in most places “church.” The [...]

  16. okudibie endurance Says:

    i appreciate ur teaching, i wud also love it if u do some research on the original and literal nd specific meaning of words like CROSS, CRUCIFY, nd y the word soul does not appear in some bibles. If u are an unbiased teacher then find the truth for me

  17. JeraldD Says:

    okudibie endurance,
    I recommend you do your own research by using tools like Blue Letter Bible (http://www.blueletterbible.org/) or Crosswalk (http://www.biblestudytools.com/) or Bible Gateway (http://www.biblegateway.com/). As far as I know, the word ‘cross’ and ‘crucify’ mean just what they say. The ‘cross’ was an implement of torture leading to death and the word ‘crucify’ means to put someone on that implement.
    If you would like some resources that explain more about the word ‘soul’ please email me directly at jerald.hill@1723initiative.org and I’ll recommend some. As a matter of fact, I’m reading one of these resources now.
    You be blessed in your seeking after what the LORD has for you.

  18. Andy Says:

    If Jesus spoke English He never would have said “church” for many reasons. First, the idea of hundreds of churches in each city has nothing to do with the kingdom of God, where we have only one king, one domain… the people. What we do should be on earth as it is in heaven. “thy kingdom come [no church] thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I have a problem is seeing thousands of churches in heaven. Division within the body of Christ is heresy. Second, Jesus would not approve of all the names we have put on His body. Third, the idea of church destroys body ministry, where we all have a part… made clear in 1 Cor 12, 14 Romans 12 and Eph 4. Without body ministry we are paraplegic. Life tells us that all parts must function for life to continue. One man behind a pulpit on Sunday, in a building costing millions of dollars, with a name plaster on the sign is probably as heretical as we can get. None of this is biblical. The early called out believers were built on love (agape- first love), unity, fellowship, knowing and supporting one another. In the church we hardly know one another. We are too busy paying for the building to care for one another. Church is about a building, a corporation, a pastor, a passive audience, collecting money for the building, division, programs… none of this is in our bibles. Is unity important to Jesus, is love important to Jesus and is our loving and fellowshipping with one another important to Jesus? Is our supporting one another important to Jesus? Then tell me how the most important things to Jesus are not on our list in our creation of church?

  19. Jerald HIll Says:

    Andy,
    You make some very good points in your post. The issue is not what we call it but what it means. In Revelation what we know as the ‘universal church’ is call the “wife” or “bride” of the Lamb. See Rev. 19: 7, 8. and Rev. 21: 1 – 3.
    This matter of unity or of non-unity that you speak of was very important to our Lord. He spoke about it as is recorded in John 17: 20 – 23. It’s the most evangelistic prayer ever prayed. I’m a part of a ministry that is trying to get people to pray this pray of Jesus along with Him. It’s The 17:23 Initiative. You can find it at http://www.1723initiative.org.
    Take a look and let me know what you think.

  20. bill ziegler Says:

    If one looks up the word church in the Oxford dictionary you would find it is the antiquated word for building. Some English translators did see their error and put congregation or assembly properly in the translation. Others when translating the word ecclesia put building in it’s place. The reason was that by then the “church” was simply that. It was a building where all so called christians met for their religious rites. Also the clergy hierarchy was strongly in place with massive errors and pagan influence. The church was also under authority of the countries government. Ex. Anglican Church of England’s ruler of the church is the monarch. King or Queen. Still is to this day. Most all organized religious organizations are under governments.

    The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He and He alone is the head. God’s Spirit guides us and no man. However, the body of Christ was stolen by men. Men put themselves over the “church”.

    If Jesus came into any Christian “church” today He would be thrown out by the “leaders” because He didn’t have their credentials. Wait until He comes back and throws them in the pile of tares.

    Religious clergy of today are exactly as the Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees and Sanhedrin. Jesus called them snakes, vipers, hypocrits and had made His Temple become a place of business.

    Ecclesia is the assembly of or congregation of God’s called out ones. Some early translations got this right. Today however the new translations support a system of a man ruled religious institution.

    If the outward religious institution is correct which one is the true church? 1 Cor chapter 1 through three addresses the division in the ecclesia even in Paul’s time.

    The body of Christ is the temple of God. The body of Christ is made of living stones fit jointly together. The body of Christ is also a system of all believers being part of the priesthood.

    Go to http://www.calledoutnow.com and check out site. Everything is free, as freely we have been given freely we must give. It is not a site for church goers that love their pastor or building. It is for those seeking the truth and following Jesus our Lord and master.

    God bless all who seek the truth and become disciples of His.

  21. Jerald Says:

    Bill,
    Thank you so much for your insight. You are confirming what’s been said on the original.
    You said, “The body of Christ is the temple of God. The body of Christ is made of living stones fit jointly together.”
    Christ prayed for the unity of the future church in John17:20 – 23. The unity of the body of believers is essential for the true gospel to make sense. The enemy doesn’t want this unity to take place because if it did, the world would see it and would come to believe.
    Check out the new ministry that promotes this unity at http://www.1723initiative.org. I’d love to know what you think.

  22. Jerry Collins Says:

    The word ekkleesias and the whole family of invite words (27) and never been translated. they are used 175 times with all kind of means.
    Go to John 2 where Jesus is called to the wedding- wrong look at the word it is ekleethee in the greek lexicons it says it means call but why call when the greek has a word for call= KAlxxxxx The word means to invite therefore the word ekleethee = the one invited
    Now go to Matthew 16:18 the word there is ek-klee-sian which is the same root word. the ek means out and the siam being the ones the complete meaning therefore is being the ones invited out. but that leaves many questions unanswered who is being invited out of where. with out doing throuogh the complete history the verse should read something like this: The (wife) of me, being the ones invited out from among the gentiles where they were scattered by my father and the gates of hell shall not prevail against HER. The word for her is Autees of her and not an it. she is not an it and her name is not the church, all 80 times the word is used in the Greek in the variious forms of ekkleesias as the ones invited out with the same extensions following. The word Church was added by order of King James himself in 1611 because he did not want assembly or gathering because they came from the Latin Text with the latin text meaning. It took 1611 years for the church to be created and that was 1360 years after the biblical text was made or compilled in north Africa. The first century was the ethnee ton ekkleesian the righteous gentiles bein the one being the ones invited out from among the gentiles where they had been scattered by the Father. The message was not that you can be saved but rather that you can be remarried to the Lord once more. Jesus did not die for the sins of the whole world but rather that he could remarry his wife Aholah EZ 23

    For a fuller explantion of of the ethnee and the ekkleesian and the ethnoon and the invitation being destroyed see my web page.

    http://www.myprivatelib.com

    Your friend and student of the word
    Jerry Collins

  23. Paul-N Says:

    Just read this from on Jerry Collins’ site he posted?

    “God loves his people. “Of the one of the one of I am” came only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel that he could restore their being with out the covenants”

    Is that so?

  24. Gerald Collins Says:

    Good Morning
    Yes; that is so for in the book of Revelation chapter 21 only the ones being human are the ones which God will tabernactle with and be their God and some verses later only the ethnee are the ones saved while the gentile dogs are outside the city.
    In the Old Testament in Zech 14 God calles the hated gentiles to Jerusalem and destroys then while they are standing on their feet. In Ez 38-39 All the gentiles are again destroyed while the house of Israel are the ones to burying the dead.
    My friend Jesus told the Jews where I go you cannot come and to the Pharisees that they were not going to enter but would go around the world to prevent any one else from entering.
    Salvation was and is only for those who are biologically and genetically related to Jesus.
    Those not born on the narrow way will get to see the city all others are of the seed of Satan and will be taken out and burned as Jesus said in the book of Matthew. To the Pharisees you are of your father the Devil and you do the will of your father,
    Their are two species of people on earth A) the seed of Adam B) the seed of Satan. One born of the seed of Satan can never be converted to the seed of Adam. The seed of Satan were rejected from the foundation of the earth while the seed of Adam were selected out from among all those that God rejected. Amos 3 God said to the house of Israel that you are the only family I have known of all the families of the earth.
    Jerry Collins

  25. JeraldD Says:

    A good source of information about this issue is in Romans 11.

  26. gerald Collins Says:

    Paul in Romans 11 says in verse 25 Brethren verse 26 and so all Israel shall be saved. verse 27 for this is my covenant unto them, When I shall take away their sins. No gentiles are listed as having their sins taken away chapter 12 verse 1 I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice.
    Salvation is all about race and for one race only and that is those of the house of Israel those being of the seed of Abraham of the seed of Adam the sons of God.
    Revelation 21:24 And all the ethnee (not nations) of them which are saved. shall walk in the light.
    Jesus considered all gentiles to be just beast and not human. Take a look at the word anthroopou in the Greek lexicon a word which is only used for the ethnee and never the evil rejected gentiles of this world those being of the seed of Satan, just as John said to the Pharisees at the river bank of Jordan You children of the Serpent who has warned you of the wrath to come?
    Just because the corrupted English Text made all people to be heathen rejected gentiles and the later translators tried to make the biblical text to be Jewish which of Course is a bold face lie from the pit of hell.
    Paul said that the ethnee were being saved OUT of the Jews and OUT of the gentiles. Of course that is not what you read in the English for the translators left both OUTS out of the text.
    The corrupted English text is only for the evil gentiles in the evil gentile church who if only they can believe will receive life ever lasting. That complete sentence is a bold face lie but it will be received by the evil church being taught by ravenous wolves seeking whom they can devour.
    The entire greek letter text is written only to the ethnee the ones being Hebrews. The New Covenant is only to the house of Judah and the house of Israel Heb 8:8 No gentiles are included again.
    Read the book of Peter to the ones scattered when he quotes three OT passage to say that once they were the children of God and became not the children of God by his mercies they are once more the children of God who were healed by his stripes of their desire to worship idols. And now they can be once married to the Lord.
    Paul says in Ephesians 5:27 that he is going to present her glorious to himself being the ones invited out of the rejected beast gentiles of this world.
    Jerry Collins

  27. Gerald Collins Says:

    Jesus never spoke of any one other than the ethnee and the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Read the context each time the word ethnee is used in your interlinear Greek text. Jesus only dispatched his learners to the ethnee and he delagated Paul and apostle to the ethnee afar off. His last command to his learners was that they go to the ethnee baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Only the whole house of Israel cam receive the Holy Spirit. Joel 2 No record of an evil gentile receiving the Holy Spirit. The word church all 117 times is some form of the ones invited out of the gentiles in the various cities. The first time it was used in Matthew 16:18 the word is ekkleesian being the ones invited out of the heathen gentiles where they were scattered by the Father following the divorce in Jeremiah 3 and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. She is not an it and her name is not the church. Her name is Aholiah from the book of Ezekiel. When Jesus asked for the bill of divorcement in Isaiah 50 tells of himself being offered for her. Isaiah 54 Oh barren wife rejoice you have more children than the married wife the house of Judah who bore the male child in the book of Revelations 12. None of the gentiles are every included except in the corrupted English text. No church in the Old Testament and none in the New Testament which is not yet

    Jerry Collins

  28. Gerald Collins Says:

    Good evening
    As the church does not exist in the Greek text which means it is non existing or nothing, Trying to explain the ekkleesia as the church is like to explaining nothing which God made every thing out of, even the scientific community are unable to agree on what is nothing.
    Or another thing try to explain “cold” it is a term we use every day yet you can not measure it nor can you weight it. and it has nevere been seen. The same for the church that was created out of nothing which can not be explained.

    Jerry Collins

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