A few days ago, the Lord prompted me to research the word “ekklesia” a bit deeper. That is the Greek word which in our Bibles is translated as “church”. We have a dear friend of ours who had mentioned to us that ekklesia actually meant “out-called”. So being the kind of learner that I am (I must discover something for myself rather than just take someone’s word for it), I finally paid attention to God’s nudging and proceeded to discover more about this with my own personal research. This is what I discovered:
Ekklesia (sometimes written in English as “ecclesia”) does literally mean “out-called”. It refers to a called out group of people. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary defines it as coming from the word Greek word “ek” meaning “out of”, and the Greek word “klesis” meaning “a calling”. And Vine’s also says that the word was used among Greeks regarding a body of citizens gathered to discuss the affairs of the state. Thayer’s Lexicon also confirms that the word means “called out” or “called forth”.
Ekklesia can simply and literally be defined as the “out-called”. A group of people “called out” or “called forth” for a particular reason or purpose.
The word does not have anything to do with a building constructed with walls and decorated on the inside where people come together to learn about, talk about, or worship God. The word is all about the PEOPLE themselves; the people that have been “called out” and “called forth” by God’s own voice for His purposes and have heard and answered His call.
So I tried a little experiment using my new-found knowledge about ekklesia. I looked up some of the verses where “church” is mentioned in the New Testament and instead of reading “church”, I read “out-called” or “the called out” in its place. Here are a few verses like that:
"Now I, also, am saying to you that you are Peter, and on this rock will I be building My out-called (ekklesia), and the gates of the unseen shall not be prevailing against” them. (Matthew 16:18) (The word translated “it” after “overpower” is the Greek word “autos” and literally means to refer again of what was already previously mentioned; so it can be translated: the same, he, she, it, herself, himself, themselves, etc.)
“Now coming along and gathering the out-called (ekklesia), they informed them of whatever God does with them, and that He opens to the nations a door of faith.” (Acts 14:27)
…And He (God) put all things in subjection under His (Christ) feet, and gave Him (Christ) as head over all things to the out-called (ekklesia), which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23)
As I read the verses in that manner, I envisioned them in a whole new way and understood them with a whole new depth. Give it a try and see how the Spirit breathes renewed life into the verses and opens the way to a greater understanding of the word of God. He is Glorious!
In HIS strength and for HIS glory…
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I hope you don't mind but when I read this post I wondered if you may have been interested in The God Journey. I have found their pod-cast conversations incredibly liberating and many of them speak about this very topic.