This week's thought comes from a very enjoyable and easily readable book on Greek words which offers insights into 365 Greek words in a daily devotional type style.
If you enjoy studying the origin of words, its a great resource. It's called "A Word A Day - Key Words from the New Testament" by J. D. Watson.
For example, he does a study of the Greek word "thesauros." It means "treasure" and is the word from which we get our English word Thesaurus (a treasury of words). He also goes over the Greek word "klepto" (which means "to steal"). It's the word from which we get our English word "kleptomaniac." That means some of you have spoken a Greek word without knowing it! For today's selection I chose the Greek word "ekklesia." Enjoy.
"What is the church? A study of the church in the New Testament reveals that it's not Judaism improved and continued, not the kingdom of heaven, not a denomination, and not a mere earthly organization. Ekklesia (church) is a unique word. It's comprised of "ek" meaning "out" and "kaleo" meaning "to call." The word therefore means "a called out assembly."
It is found in Classical Greek from the fifth century B.C. onward and was used for the assembling of citizens of a city for legislation and other public business (Acts 19:32, 39, 41).
While ekklesia occurs about 100 times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament for the gathering of Israel for some definite purpose, the usual word is "sunagoge" ("synagogue") which appears 225 times to translate various Hebrew words. It's amazing that Jesus followers didn't describe their meetings using sunagoge, since this would have been the natural word for Jews to use. When it is used, it refers to the meeting place of the local Jewish community or assembly.
So ekklesia is, indeed, unique, appearing some 116 times. As our Lord declared, "Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). Our Lord truly transformed this word, using it to refer to HIS assembly, making it distinct from Judaism.
Our English word "church" actually comes from kuriakos, which is derived from kurios (Lord) and literally means "belonging to the Lord." Combining these two words, then, the church can be defined as the called-out assembly of New Testament believers that belong to the Lord"... It is the living entity that God is using bring about His purposes on earth. And what a blessing it is to know that each of us (who has been called out and believes) is an integral part of it."
It amazes me how much the meaning of words change! In fact, contrary to its original meaning, most people think the word "church" refers to the building where Christians meet, rather than the gathering of Christians who meet in the building!
In ancient days a town crier called out, or rang a bell, calling people out of their routine daily activities to gather for some important announcement or hear some important proclamation. This assembly was called an "ekklesia."
In the Christian transformation of this word, taken from Greek culture, there is a beautiful picture. God becomes the "caller" and issues the call to come and follow Christ (Rom. 8:28-29), particular sinners are enabled by God's grace to both hear and respond in faith to that call (John 6:44 and 65 / Acts 13:48 / 16:14), and in doing so they become disciples of Jesus who inwardly feel compelled to gather with others who have received that same call that they may worship Him, grow in the faith, and pool their efforts and resources to carry out the work He has assigned all the "called out ones" (or the "church") to do.
What a miracle the church is! What a miracle it is that we even belong to it! What an awesome yet undeserved privilege it is to have received the call to gather, to belong to, and to worship Jesus as part of the "ekklesia" -- sinners called out from among the masses to come and belong to Jesus and be made part of His body the Church.
In the Bonds of Christian Fellowship, Pastor Jeff