Church ~ The Ekklesia of God

Here is the third part of understanding what is Church. What we have been taught and come to understand what is “church” is how the western world has defined it for us with their interpretation which is a definition that is not what the Bible describes as the Body of Christ – The Church. Before we accept what we would believe to be how to “do church” we need to examine the Scriptural way of how the church functioned and what it was in the first century.

It would always be probably best to go back to the original word used in scripture to see what we are actually dealing with. So let us look at the Greek word for “church” and “churches” which is ekklēsia and which is recorded in the Strong’s Complete Word Study Concordance as follows:

1577. έκκλησία, ekklēsia, ek-klay-see’-ah; from a compound of 1537 and a derivative of 2564; a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): – assembly, church.

Noun from ékklētos (n.f.), called out, which is from ekkaléō (n.f.), to call out. A convocation, assembly, congregation:

(I) Of persons legally called out or summoned (Acts 19:39, of the people); and hence also of a tumultuous assembly not necessarily legal (Acts 19:32,41). In the Jewish sense: a congregation, assembly of the people for worship, i.e., in a synagogue (Matthew 18:17), or generally (Acts 7:38; Hebrews 2:12 quoted from Psalm 22:22; Sept.: Deuteronomy 18:16; 2Chronicles 1:3, 5).

(II) In the Christian sense; an assembly of Christians, generally (1Corinthians 11:18, a church, the Christian church).

(A) A particular church, e.g., in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1; 11:22); Antioch (Acts 11:26; 13:1); Corinth (1Corinthians 1:2; 2Corinthians 1:1); Asia Minor (1Corinthians 16:19); Galatia (Galatians 1:2); Thessalonica (1Thessalonians 1:1; 2Thessalonians 1:1); Cenchrea (Romans 16:1). Also “the churches of the nations” (a.t.) means churches of Gentile Christians (Romans 16:4); the church which meets at the house of someone (Romans 16:5; 1Corinthians 16:19; Philemon 2); the churches of Christ (Romans 16:16); the church of God at Corinth (1Corinthians 1:2).

(B) The universal church (Matthew 16:18; 1Corinthians 12:28; Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 1:22; 3:10; Hebrews 12:23); church of God (1Corinthians 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2Timothy 3:15 [cf. in the Sept. the church of the Lord {Deuteronomy 23:2, 3}]).

We also read in Colossians 1:18 –

18 And he [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church [ekklesia] who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

The church is not a place, but a lifestyle of the assembly of people as we read on in verses 20-22 and 24 of Colossians 1 –

20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
. . .

24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

The church is discipleship in action.

In Scripture wherever the church is mentioned it is not a place or building that falls under a denomination, but the believers who meet in or are from a city. We will look at some Scriptures that confirm this (my emphasis in bold):

30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: ~ Acts 15:30

35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. ~ Acts 15:35

36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the LORD, and see how they do. ~ Acts 15:36

2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. ~ Acts 16:2

22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. ~ Acts 18:22

In the introductions and conclusions of the Pauline epistles one will read extensively of the churches in the cities as can also be seen from the Scriptures listed under Strong’s above. In the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians we see the point made:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother. To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1,2). For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis (4:13). Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house (4:15). And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea (4:16).

The ekklesia is the body of believers who are in one accord (see Acts 1:14; 2:1, 46; 4:24; 5:12; 15:25, 26; Philippians 2:2) with the doctrines of the Holy Spirit and not believers who are divided by doctrines and traditions of men which make the Word of God of no effect (see Matthew 15:6; Mark 7:13). We do see that denominations are divided in that what may be accepted for one congregation of people might not be accepted by another congregation of people. Is the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth divided? NO!!

Jesus being the chief cornerstone, of His Body, the church, is set perfectly. Just as any structural building would have to have the cornerstone set perfect, for if the cornerstone is askew the whole foundation would be askew and the building would be unstable; so the Living Christ being the chief cornerstone is set perfectly for His building to be perfect. The foundation is therefore sure and fast. The believers, the ekklesia, are the living stones (1 Peter 2:5) that fit jointly to form the spiritual temple of which true Christians are part of the Body of Christ, a temple not made with hands. For the Spirit of Christ indwells the body of the disciple, who is the temple of the Living God. By letting God work His will through His ekklesia we would see the true power of God moving upon this earth seeing the will of God being done “… in earth as it is in heaven …” (Matthew 6:10). The mind-set needs to be changed from thinking “we go to church” to that of “we are the church,” a living, vibrant manifestation of God’s will upon this earth, living in community and relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, not only on Sundays in a church building (institutional church), but in everyday breathing and living (organic church), making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19a) and pointing prospective disciples (unbelievers) and disciples (believers) to Christ, because they see more of Christ in you and none of yourself. The ekklesia is about transformation – the old is dead (passed) the new is a new creation (alive) (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). We must be as John the Baptist witnessed:

30 He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease. ~ John 3:30

Brethren, the call shouldn’t be get back into the local church (denomination driven institutional church), which has no Biblical foundation; it is allowing Christ to be your Head of His Church – the precious, beautiful, holy, righteous, living, disciple making Bride of Christ.

4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. ~ 1 Peter 2:4-10

Please seek God on this matter. Amen.

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