"Church" originally meant - A government body of legislators

Posted in: 2015
By Tom L. Ballinger
May 29, 2015 - 10:50:40 PM

Plainer Words since 1968
May 28, 2015
No. 394
Let us write anew, on the tables of our hearts, the genesis of the Biblical meaning of “church.” The Greek City-States were, perhaps, the first highly organized Democratic societies. Their legislative assemblies, which were their political bodies, were called the “Ekklesias.”
Members of the Greek City-States Governments formed their Ekklesias. They were chosen; or appointed; or elected; or positioned to be ministers of state in positions as legislators, senators, or representatives. These members of the Ekklesia were ordinary citizens. They may have been butchers, bakers, bankers, tinkers, cobblers, candlestick-makers, merchants, weavers, or stone masons. When they were not in session, they probably lived ordinary lives in pursuit of their trade. They did not carry any official Ekklesia authority until they were convened.
But, when they were summoned, or called into session, they became the City-States’ Ekklesia. When they were in session, they were the rulers. They were the governmental authorities. They wrote laws and statutes. They administered government.
Those who were chosen-out from among others; those who were appointed; or summoned; designated; or elected to fill the office of a legislator in the City-States’ Government, as such, comprised the Ekklesia.
Many Christians understand “ekklesia” to mean; “called-out ones from the world.” They relate this to those who are saved members of the “church” (whatever “church” means to them). That's not bad, but it doesn't do justice to the more profound meaning.
In order to amplify, let it be stated that the Greek City-States’  Ekklesia derived their position and authority from the citizens. It could be compared to the U.S. Congress, or the British Parliament.
Congressmen, or members of the British House of Commons, derive their position from (or out-from) the citizens who elected them. The people give them the authority to make laws for the country. Strictly speaking, in the sense of the Greek word, Ekkelsia, Congress, or the House of Commons, could very well be referred to as an Ekklesia. But, in no way could they be referred to as a Church in the understanding of the Christian Religion.
When the U. S. Congress is officially assembled in Washington D.C., it is as if all of the United States’ citizens are assembled there; but in the persons of their chosen,  or elected representatives.
Within the last one-hundred years, the Greek word, “Ekklesia,” has been Anglicized and has become part of the English Language, and is in our Dictionaries as—“Ecclesia.”
“Ekklesia” Has Become the English Word “Ecclesia”
Please observe some definitions of “Ecclesia.”
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary: “ECCLESIA - 1. an assembly of citizens. fr. ekkalein; to call forth, summon. fr. ex + kalein to call.”
The New World Book Dictionary: “ECCLESIA - 1. a political assembly of the citizens of ancient Athens.”
The revealing truth of where the word, “church,” came from is found in Black’s Law Dictionary, The Fifth Edition: “Ecclesia – Latin. An Assembly. A Christian assembly; a church. A place of religious worship.”
We see that our word, “church,” is derived from Latin. Latin is the language of the Roman Catholic Bible –the Vulgate.
The word, “church,” has become a word, to which it seems, that no-one can give—a fixed meaning. In fact, Martin Luther fought against using the German word, kircke, in the German translation of the Bible. Kircke, if translated into English, would be our word, church. However, Luther did not prevail.
The English word, “church,” comes from the Latin word, meaning circle. Our word, circus, is a derivative of the word, circle. You know, “a three-ring,” as in a “three-ring circus.” Perhaps, very early-on when meetings, or assemblies, convened, they sat in a circle like a “round table.” From that, the word, “church,” was coined.
It should be pointed out that from the word, Ecclesia, we get the English word, “ecclesiastical.” In Webster's Dictionary of 1828, “ecclesia” is not found; however, ,“ecclesiastical” is: “ECCLESIASTICAL - Gr. ekklesia, an assembly, or a meeting, whence as church, to call forth or convoke, to call.”
The word, “whence,” is telling us that the word, “church,” comes from the words, assembly or meeting.  Think about it.  How can you come up with the word, church, from the words, assembly or meeting? It’s beyond me!
Many Believe That The Birthday of the Church Was Pentecost In Acts 2
This is the overwhelming view of most Christians. This is a-half-Truth. A-half-Truth is not Truth! This brings to mind the question, “The Birthday of What Church?”
1.      The Church [Ecclesia] of God ran its course from Acts 2 until Acts 28:28.
2.      The Church [Ecclesia] which is His Body (Ephesians 1:23) began after the Book of Acts ended in 63 A.D. and continues to this day
The Ecclesia of God was His Government over the believers during the Pentecostal Dispensation. Believers looked to Jesus Christ as their King, having renounced Caesar as their Supreme Ruler. The Church of God during the Acts Period was a miniature snap-shot of the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God (also known as The Day of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:6).
Immediately after the setting aside of Israel (Acts 28), the Acts Period Churches still existed but had not been informed that Christ had adjourned His Acts Period Ecclesia and, in so doing, took away their jurisdiction over the saints. That’s why Paul, in Colossians 4:15-16, says, “Salute the brethren which are at Laodicea, and Nymphas and the Ecclesia which is in his house. And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the Ecclesia of the Laodiceans , and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea” (probably the Ephesians Epistle). The same holds true for Paul’s letter to his friend, Philemon, and the “Ecclesia in thy house.”
Ephesians is called a “circular epistle.” It was, probably, circulated around all of the scattered Ecclesias, making them aware of the change in God’s program. This change in the dispensation resulted in the Ecclesia of God (the Acts Period Ecclesia) being adjourned. A new Ecclesia was to be formed—the Ecclesia over which Christ Jesus is the Head.
The Ecclesia which is revealed in Present Truth of the Mystery is not currently functioning in any governmental role, or capacity.  The Lord Jesus Christ is silently calling out and designating those who will make up the exalted Ecclesia when He calls It into session. It has not been convened, as yet. Therefore, the Ecclesia over which Christ Jesus is Head has no jurisdiction, at all, in any location in this present, evil world. But, when He issues the convocation, the inauguration of this Ecclesia will begin Its regal reign as the Lord Jesus Christ’s Executive Administrators in the “ages to come” (Ephesians 2:7).
The Ecclesia, which is His Body, is being saved “by grace through faith,” and “it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Ephesians 2:10 indicates the Lord is preparing today’s Ecclesia which He created in Christ Jesus unto good works. As His workmanship, we are subtly being prepared to perform the good works which we will perform in the “ages to come”—the first age to come will be the Day of Christ. The good works which He has before ordained will be that of ruling with Christ as His most exalted Ecclesia.
When the hope, which is His Body, becomes a reality, then will the Lord Jesus Christ convene today’s Ecclesia. Then, will we be presented to God by the Lord Jesus Christ as holy and blameless before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4).
Christ so loves this Ecclesia that He is continually sanctifying and cleansing It “with the washing of the water of the Word” in order that He might present It to Himself as an Ecclesia of glory, “not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that It should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26-27).
The Ecclesia of the Mystery will be filled to the full with the glory of Christ because the full measure of the glory of Christ will be in His Ecclesia “throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).
We, as the future Princes of Christ’s exalted Ecclesia, should be able to recognize, in Scripture, the event that will summon us to the Great Convocation of the Ecclesia of Jesus Christ, which is His Body! Dearly beloved, friends, and Mountaineers, our hope is not an early phase of the 2nd Coming, as some imagine. No, the EVENT WHICH CALLS US INTO SESSION, in plainer words, is the EPIPHANY OF THE GLORY OF OUR GREAT GOD AND SAVIOR, YES, INDEED—THE LORD JESUS CHRIST    (Titus 2:13).           
God set Israel aside at Acts 28:28 and turned to the Gentiles, thus, ending the Pentecostal Dispensation. After two years, God’s Great Mystery was revealed to the Apostle Paul. The Dispensation of the Grace of God was ushered in when Paul made known the Mystery to the saints who lived through the Pentecostal Dispensation. It cannot be over-emphasized that the Calling of the Church [Ecclesia] over which Christ Jesus is the Head was made known, exclusively, to the Apostle Paul. He was the lone revelator of the Mystery:
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the MYSTERY, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:9).
”Even the MYSTERY which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (Colossians 1:26).
Members of the Mystery Ecclesia will be the Administrators of the Pre-Millennial Government of Jesus Christ. Christ Jesus assumes dominion over the heavens and earth when 2 Timothy 4:1 and Titus 2:13 become a reality. Then, and only then, will we be called into session. Until that day, we are His ministers-of-state-in-waiting.
Copyright © Thomas L. Ballinger 2015
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