Are Ekklesia and Church synonomous?
There are over 100 places in the Bible, from both the Old and New Testament that, in modern Bibles translate the word ekklesia as church. In the original English version of the Bible, known as the Tyndale Translation, (circa 1536), which predates the King James version by nearly a hundred years, translated the word ekklesia nearly always as the "congregation" of the saints. In fact Martin Luther in 1517 protested against this very miss-application of the translation as he too understood scripture to be referring to the called out believer, and not in regard to physical buildings. Thus Luther stood against more than just the selling of "indulgences" by Rome; his affiliation at the time of his 95 thesis, as he was a Catholic priest initially. This was due to the free availability of the Guetenburg (printing press) German Bible being printed for all men to read under the great clergy protest which was printed in 1455, and accurately translated ekklesia as people, not buildings. Further, this was a chief complaint the Puritans and Separatists had against the denomination King James started in England when his first affiliation, the Catholic's refused him a divorce. He then set up the Anglican denomination as the official religion of England, by claiming God set him on his throne, and his divine right as king allowed him this privilege. The Bishops he appointed (politically) then taught this divine right of kings, even as he proclaimed the Bishops were also appointed by God over the laity. It was a convenient hierarchy of the clergy ruling over the laity, quite similar to what was going on politically under the church of Rome/Catholics. This tradition of men continues on in nearly every denomination today in fact. It is quite simply the very thing that Jesus spoke against in Revelation 2 and 3 as the deeds of the Nicolations which thing He states that He HATES!
The laity, those considered to be mere common believers by the religious authorities, used the Geneva Bible from 1560 A.D. as their Bible, which is the Bible brought to America on the Mayflower. The Bishop's Bible was printed in about 1568. It followed the traditions of men from the paganized/Romanized decree of Constantine who claimed conversion to Christianity and confiscated the current temples of pagan worship, Paganism was the official state religion till he declared Christianity the new official state religion and all subjects whether christian or pagan were to meet in temple buildings as christian. He being the head/god of Rome at the time exercized his nicolation lording over the laity as clergy. Those truly christian who refused to enter pagan temples due to their submission to Christ were martyred. Thus, from this we can see that the traditions of men, known as clergy or elders needed the laity to look at themselves as under the authority of men and not Christ Jesus as He had established prior to Calvary. The re-naming of the people (ekklesia) to (church), and referencing the word church as a building rather than the called out congregation of Christ Jesus cemented the deeds of the Nicolations as lording over and conquering the laity by self elevated clergy…..which thing Jesus HATES! Why? Because as He stated as recorded in Matthew and Mark, elevate the traditions of ruling clergy over serving laity such that His Word is made of no effect, neither clergy entering into His kingdom, and forbidding the people to enter into as well.
We can see why the godly men of each era fight for Christ's Truth as revealed by scripture, against evil men's attempts to gather and feed of the Lord's sheep for their own wicked benefits!
Below are approximately half out of the over one hundred verses from the Old and New Testament that have the word church in them. Your task is simple, whenever you read the word church, substitute the phrases "physical building" and then "congregation of the saints" for the word church and see which actually makes the most sense. But first, understand that this has nothing to do with winning an argument, and everything to do with winning a brother or sister to the Truth of the Gospel! Tearing down the strongholds of error is but one of the purposes for our accurately understanding the scriptures.
Note: The verses below use a more accurate rendering through the words assembly, congregation and ekklesia where many other translations do not. The Old Testament rendering of ekklesia is derived from the Sepuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament translated in the third century by Jews in Alexandria).
|Use of Ekklesia||Bible Verse||Subject matter|
|Numbers 19:20||"But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself from uncleanness, that man shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord…"||The need to keep oneself pure among the people|
|Numbers 20:4||"Why then have you brought the Lord's assembly into this wilderness, for us and our beasts to die here?"||A mobile group of God's people|
|Deuteronomy 23:1, 2||"No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord. No one of illigitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord"||Conditions for being acceptable among the people|
|Nehemiah 13:1, 2||"On that day they read aloud from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and there was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, because they did not meet the sons of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them"||Certain people were excluded from being among the people of God|
|Psalms 22:22||"I will tell of Your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you"||Testifying about God among the people|
|Psalms 35:18||"I will give you thanks in the great congregation; I will praise you among a mighty throng"||Giving thanks to God among the people|
|Psalms 89:5||"The heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones"||God's faithfulness revealed through an assembly of holy people|
|Psalms 107:32||"Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people….."||Praise among the people|
|Lamentations 1:10||"The adversary has streched out his hand over all her precious things, for she has seen the nations enter her sanctuary, the ones whom You commanded that they should not enter into Your congregation.||Enemies coming among God's people|
|Joel 2:16||"Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and the nursing infants"||obvious|
|Matthew 16:18||"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Ekklesia; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it"||Only Jesus builds what cannot be destroyed|
|Matthew 18:17||"If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the ekklesia; and if he refuses to listen even to the ekklesia, let him be to you as a Gentile and as a tax collector"||Discipline among the ekklesia|
|Acts 7:38||"This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai….."||Moses being raised up among the people to deliver them|
|Acts 8:1||"Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the ekklesia in Jerusalem….."||Persecution is against the people themselves|
|Acts 8:3||"But Saul began ravaging the ekklesia, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison"||The people were sought in their homes for that is where they met together|
|Acts 9:31||"So the ekklesia throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up….."||The people were being built up…not structures.|
|Acts 11:25, 26||"And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the ekklesia and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.||Meeting with and teaching many people who comprised the local ekklesia|
|Acts 12:5||"So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the ekklesia to God"||The local ekklesia prayed|
|Acts 14:23||"When they had appointed elders for them in every ekklesia, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed"||The apostles, recognizing who the Spirit desired as local elders, appointed them from among the people|
|Acts 14:27||"When they had arrived and gathered the ekklesia together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles"||The ekklesia was gathered together to hear a praise report|
|Acts 16:5||"So the ekklesias were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily"||small local groups of believers (a local ekklesia) who all comprised the ONE EKKLESIA.|
|Romans 16:1||"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the ekklesia which is at Cenchrea"||Local ekklesia in a geographical area/city|
|Romans 16:5||"…..also greet the ekklesia that is in their house"||The ekklesia live, gather and fellowship in homes|
|1 Corinthians 1:1, 2||"Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the ekklesia of God which is at Corinth…."||local ekklesias were to be city or province wide|
|1 Corinthians 5:12||"For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the ekklesia?"||God's people are to judge among themselves|
|1 Corinthians 11:16||"But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the ekklesias of God"||The teachings/scriptural traditions were to remain consistent from one ekklesia to another|
|1 Corinthians 12:28||"And God has appointed in the Ekklesia, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles….."||God has appointed spiritual gifts among His people and gifted men among His One Ekklesia.|
|1 Corinthians 14:4||"One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the ekklesia"||Not to forbid tongues, but to emphasize edification among the local saints|
|1 Corinthians 14:12||"So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the ekklesia"||Spiritual gifts are for mutual edification|
|1 Corinthians 16:19||"The ekklesias of Asia greet you. Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the ekklesia that is in their house"||Greetings were extended from those who comprised each local ekklesia|
|Ephesians 1:22, 23||"And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as Head over all things to the Ekklesia, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all"||The entire Ekklesia is synonomous with His spiritual body to which Jesus is the Head.|
|Ephesians 5:24||"But as the Ekklesia is subject to Christ…."||All members of His spiritual body are subject to Him.|
|Philippians 4:15||"You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no ekklesia shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone…'||The people themselves share in the furtherance of the gospel|
|Colossians 1:24, 25||"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the Ekklesia, in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions. Of this Ekklesia I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the Word of God'||All Christians are stewards and ministers of the gospel despite Paul being given a special stewardship in unfolding the "mysteries" of Christ and Him Crucified.|
|1 Timothy 3:5||…but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the ekklesia of God?||Similar to one's own household, the local ekklesia is also a family.|
|1 Timothy 3:14, 15||"I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the Ekklesia of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth"||It is imperative that believers live properly within the framework of God's household for His name and reputation is at stake, as is the effectiveness of one's individual (local) and our corporate (universal) testimony.|
|James 5:14||"Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the ekklesia and they are to pray over him, annointing him with oil in the name of the Lord…"||In time all local ekklesias have elders. They are among the people, not over them.|
|3 John 1:5, 6||"Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for he brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they have testified to your love before the ekklesia. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God"||The importance of one's Christian practice with local saints and visiting believers.|
|3 John 1:10||"For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied witht this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the ekklesia"||An example of a self appointed leader practicing "the deeds of the Nicolations." In contrast to the example of those found in 3 John 1:5, 6, this man was lording it over the brethren and deciding by his own standards (not God's) who would and wouldn't be part of the local fellowship.|
|Revelation 2:1||"To the angel of the ekklesia in Ephesus write….."||The One who walks…knows your deeds…."what you love and what you hate"|
|Revelation 2:7||"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the ekklesias. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.||
There are specific things the Spirit of God wants to make known to each local gathered assembly of believers.
|Revelation 2:8||"And to the angel of the ekklesia in Symrna write….."||The first and the last, who was dead and come to life, says…"do not fear"|
|Revelation 2:11||"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the ekklesias. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death"||There are promises to those who "hear"|
|Revelation 2:12||"And to the angel of the ekklesia in Pergamum write….."||The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says…"I know."|
|Revelation 2:18||"And to the angel of the ekklesia in Thyatira write….."||The Son of God says, "I have this against you"|
|Revelation 3:1||"To the angel of the ekklesia in Sardis write….."||He who has says this, "I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead"|
|Revelation 3:7||"And to the angel of the ekklesia in Philadelphia write….."||
He who is holy, who is true, who opens and shuts says this, "Because you have kept my Word and not denied My name, I will keep you from the hour of testing"
|Revelation 14:1||"To the angel of the ekklesia in Laodacia write….."||The Amen, the faithful and true Witness says this, "Be zealous and repent"|
|Revelation 22:16||"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the ekklesias"||The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes to take the water of life without cost.|
"Today, we don't so much as make idols with our hands anymore as we do make them…including many false christ's, in our minds. Yet nonetheless, when we see the many splendid buildings, "Christian edifices" if you will, in the midst of so many paganized cities and countries today, and each of them abandoning the christian faith for modern paganism, we see that we still can make idols with our hearts, hands and minds!"