ECCLESIOLOGY (Study of the Church) Lesson 2


LESSON 2
THE MEANING OF ECCLESIA

I.DEFINITION OF TERMS.
A.As previously stated, most scholars agree that the English word “church” comes from a Greek word (kuriakos) which means “the Lord’s” and joined with day (hemera) or supper (deipnon) describe exactly what is refered to as being the Lord’s.
B.When the Greek kuriakos (church) is used to replace ecclesia (assembly), it is used to define what assembly. It is not simply any assembly, It is the LORD’S.
C.I. K. Cross says, “In Acts 19:39-41 the term is used twice. Once to refer to the ‘lawful assembly’ which was called out of the citizens of Ephesus to handle legal matters in the city. The other to refer to the assembly that had been called together to run Paul and his companions out of town. In either case the assembly, or ecclesia (for this is the word used here), was a called out group, called together for a specific purpose, and local in nature. This was the common usage of the term and always the proper definition of an ecclesia. THIS IS WHAT OUR LORD SAID HE WOULD BE BUILDING.”
D.Cross continues, “If Jesus Christ had intended to build another kind of company there were other words in the language He could have used. He could have used the word ‘Synagoga,” a term without such limitations and yet designating an assembly. It would certainly have been more fitting for a ‘universal company.’ He could have also used the word ‘panagris’ if he had a solemn assembly in mind of a massive and festal nature. But these were rejected in favor of the most limiting term in the Greek language with reference to an assembly; a term that can only be properly interpreted as an assembly local in nature” (Ibid).
E.Cross in another place says, “The word ‘ecclesia’ is more than a mere assembly. The word is really a compounding of two words. ‘Kaleo,’ to call; and ‘ek,’ meaning out, or literally ‘to call out.’ Thus, an ‘ekklesia’ is a Called out assembly, implying some conditions. The Lord did not call all Christians in the area that cared to assemble into His ‘ekklesia,’ but he was very selective about it in Matthew 4:17-22; Matthew 9:9; John 1:43,44 and on until he had 120 in that assembly by the time he went back to the Father. I Cor. 12:28 says that ‘God hath set some in the church (ekklesia)…,’ not all. The same passage states that He set the apostles in the ‘ekklesia,’ and on the occasion when the apostles were chosen there was quite a congregation of disciples present of whom he chose the apostles – and Paul says the apostles, not the crowd, were set in the ‘ekklesia’” (Landmarkism on Trial, Cross, p. 7).
F.Overby concurs, “To change the meaning of a word you must have good evidence that the speaker or writer of that word intended it that way. A basic principle that all scholars recognize is that a word must retain its usual meaning as long as the word used makes good sense that way. Only when it will not make good sense are we allowed to give it a new or rare meaning. If we apply this principle in this passage (Matthew 16:18), we will see that ‘assembly’ makes good sense so we cannot agree with those who would try to change the meaning here” (Brief History of the Baptists, Overbey, pp. 26,27).
G.Roy Mason asserts, …I submit the proposition that the church that Jesus founded was the local assembly, and that to use the word ecclesia to designate a ‘universal,’ or ‘invisible’ church is to pervert its meaning, and to fall into serious error” (The Church That Jesus Built, Mason, p. 26).
H.Mason also says, “The word ecclesia rendered ‘church’ in English translations, was not a new word coined by Jesus, but a word already in current use at that time and moreover a word the meaning of which had become definitely fixed and established” (Ibid, p. 27).
I.A. C. Dayton said, “The Greek ‘ekklesia’ consisted of certain individuals who, when assembled and organized, constituted an official body for the transaction of such business as might come before them. It was not merely an assembly, but an official assembly, consisting of persons specifically qualified, and who had each his specific rights and duties as a member of the ekklesia. It was not every resident in the city who was, strictly speaking, a citizen; nor was it every citizen who was a member of the ekklesia to which was intrusted the management of public business; but the ekklesia were called out from the mass… Every assembly was not an ekklesia, nor was every ekklesia an ekklesia of Christ” (Theodosia Earnest, pp. 72, 73).
J.Again, “The Greek ‘ekklesia’ was an assembly of called and qualified citizens, invested with certain rights, and registered in the city records” (Ibid, p. 129).

II.IMPROPER MEANINGS ATTACHED TO ECCLESIA.
A.The worship service (in contrast to Sunday School).
B.The clerical profession (so used in most modern terminology).
C.Building in which Christian assemblies meet:
1.Dayton says, “…history informs us that the Chrisitans had no such buildings (church-houses) for some two hundred years after this, (the time of the apostles), but continued to meet from house to house, or in the Jewish synagogues, or wherever they might. And the word (ekklesia) is never used in the New Testament, or any other Greek book written before or during the time of the apostles, to signify a house or building” (Ibid, p. 81).
2.This usage, so common even among those who know the truth, has come about by an original misconception of the word ekklesia.
D.All of One denomination:
1.That each denomination is a “branch” off the one big church.
2.Thus, the “Methodist Church,” the “Presbyterian Church,” etcl
E.Historical sense – the whole field of ecclestiastical activity in history since the days of Jesus here on earth – “the church in history.”
F.Modal sense:
1.Terms like “a scriptural church” “church of the N.T.,” etc.
2.These terms are not unscriptural as far as teaching, but the terms themselves are found nowhere in the Bible.
G.Universal, invisible sense:
1.That all the saved are in the mystical body, the church.
2.This theory is dealt with thoroughly in a further lesson.
H.From the modern usage of “church” one can easily see that the vast majority of those who use the word are totally ignorant of the Greek ekklesia.

III.QUOTES FROM RECOGNIZED SCHOLARS.
A.Liddell and Scott (Lexicon) – “An assembly of people called together; an assembly called out.”
B.Dean Trench – “Ekklesia, as all know, was the lawful assembly in a free Greek city of all those possessed of the rights of citizenship, for the transaction of public affairs” (Synonyms of the N.T., p. 17).
C.Edward Robinson – “Ekklesia, a convocation, assembly, congregation. In the literal sense a popular, or rather assembly, composed of persons legally summoned” (Lexicon).

D.A. H. Strong – “Ekklesia signified merely an assembly, however gathered or summoned. The church was never so large that it could not assemble” (Systematic Theology).
E.Vincent – “Originally an assembly of citizens, regularly summoned” (Word Studies in the N.T.)
F.Thayer – “Take the entire range of Greek literature in all its dialects, secular and sacred, and there is not one passage in which ecclesia means an invisible and universal spiritual assembly” (Lexicon).
G.Alexander Campbell – “Ekklesia literally signifies an assembly called out from others and is used among the Greeks, particularly the Athenians, for their popular assemblies, summoned by their chief magistrates and in which none but citizens had a right to sit. By inherent power it may be applied to any body of men called out and assembled in one place. If it ever loses the idea of calling out and assembling, it loses its principal features and its primitive use” (Ekklesia – The Church. Ross, p. 7).LESSON 2
THE MEANING OF ECCLESIA

I.DEFINITION OF TERMS.
A.As previously stated, most scholars agree that the English word “church” comes from a Greek word (kuriakos) which means “the Lord’s” and joined with day (hemera) or supper (deipnon) describe exactly what is refered to as being the Lord’s.
B.When the Greek kuriakos (church) is used to replace ecclesia (assembly), it is used to define what assembly. It is not simply any assembly, It is the LORD’S.
C.I. K. Cross says, “In Acts 19:39-41 the term is used twice. Once to refer to the ‘lawful assembly’ which was called out of the citizens of Ephesus to handle legal matters in the city. The other to refer to the assembly that had been called together to run Paul and his companions out of town. In either case the assembly, or ecclesia (for this is the word used here), was a called out group, called together for a specific purpose, and local in nature. This was the common usage of the term and always the proper definition of an ecclesia. THIS IS WHAT OUR LORD SAID HE WOULD BE BUILDING.”
D.Cross continues, “If Jesus Christ had intended to build another kind of company there were other words in the language He could have used. He could have used the word ‘Synagoga,” a term without such limitations and yet designating an assembly. It would certainly have been more fitting for a ‘universal company.’ He could have also used the word ‘panagris’ if he had a solemn assembly in mind of a massive and festal nature. But these were rejected in favor of the most limiting term in the Greek language with reference to an assembly; a term that can only be properly interpreted as an assembly local in nature” (Ibid).
E.Cross in another place says, “The word ‘ecclesia’ is more than a mere assembly. The word is really a compounding of two words. ‘Kaleo,’ to call; and ‘ek,’ meaning out, or literally ‘to call out.’ Thus, an ‘ekklesia’ is a Called out assembly, implying some conditions. The Lord did not call all Christians in the area that cared to assemble into His ‘ekklesia,’ but he was very selective about it in Matthew 4:17-22; Matthew 9:9; John 1:43,44 and on until he had 120 in that assembly by the time he went back to the Father. I Cor. 12:28 says that ‘God hath set some in the church (ekklesia)…,’ not all. The same passage states that He set the apostles in the ‘ekklesia,’ and on the occasion when the apostles were chosen there was quite a congregation of disciples present of whom he chose the apostles – and Paul says the apostles, not the crowd, were set in the ‘ekklesia’” (Landmarkism on Trial, Cross, p. 7).
F.Overby concurs, “To change the meaning of a word you must have good evidence that the speaker or writer of that word intended it that way. A basic principle that all scholars recognize is that a word must retain its usual meaning as long as the word used makes good sense that way. Only when it will not make good sense are we allowed to give it a new or rare meaning. If we apply this principle in this passage (Matthew 16:18), we will see that ‘assembly’ makes good sense so we cannot agree with those who would try to change the meaning here” (Brief History of the Baptists, Overbey, pp. 26,27).
G.Roy Mason asserts, …I submit the proposition that the church that Jesus founded was the local assembly, and that to use the word ecclesia to designate a ‘universal,’ or ‘invisible’ church is to pervert its meaning, and to fall into serious error” (The Church That Jesus Built, Mason, p. 26).
H.Mason also says, “The word ecclesia rendered ‘church’ in English translations, was not a new word coined by Jesus, but a word already in current use at that time and moreover a word the meaning of which had become definitely fixed and established” (Ibid, p. 27).
I.A. C. Dayton said, “The Greek ‘ekklesia’ consisted of certain individuals who, when assembled and organized, constituted an official body for the transaction of such business as might come before them. It was not merely an assembly, but an official assembly, consisting of persons specifically qualified, and who had each his specific rights and duties as a member of the ekklesia. It was not every resident in the city who was, strictly speaking, a citizen; nor was it every citizen who was a member of the ekklesia to which was intrusted the management of public business; but the ekklesia were called out from the mass… Every assembly was not an ekklesia, nor was every ekklesia an ekklesia of Christ” (Theodosia Earnest, pp. 72, 73).
J.Again, “The Greek ‘ekklesia’ was an assembly of called and qualified citizens, invested with certain rights, and registered in the city records” (Ibid, p. 129).

II.IMPROPER MEANINGS ATTACHED TO ECCLESIA.
A.The worship service (in contrast to Sunday School).
B.The clerical profession (so used in most modern terminology).
C.Building in which Christian assemblies meet:
1.Dayton says, “…history informs us that the Chrisitans had no such buildings (church-houses) for some two hundred years after this, (the time of the apostles), but continued to meet from house to house, or in the Jewish synagogues, or wherever they might. And the word (ekklesia) is never used in the New Testament, or any other Greek book written before or during the time of the apostles, to signify a house or building” (Ibid, p. 81).
2.This usage, so common even among those who know the truth, has come about by an original misconception of the word ekklesia.
D.All of One denomination:
1.That each denomination is a “branch” off the one big church.
2.Thus, the “Methodist Church,” the “Presbyterian Church,” etcl
E.Historical sense – the whole field of ecclestiastical activity in history since the days of Jesus here on earth – “the church in history.”
F.Modal sense:
1.Terms like “a scriptural church” “church of the N.T.,” etc.
2.These terms are not unscriptural as far as teaching, but the terms themselves are found nowhere in the Bible.
G.Universal, invisible sense:
1.That all the saved are in the mystical body, the church.
2.This theory is dealt with thoroughly in a further lesson.
H.From the modern usage of “church” one can easily see that the vast majority of those who use the word are totally ignorant of the Greek ekklesia.

III.QUOTES FROM RECOGNIZED SCHOLARS.
A.Liddell and Scott (Lexicon) – “An assembly of people called together; an assembly called out.”
B.Dean Trench – “Ekklesia, as all know, was the lawful assembly in a free Greek city of all those possessed of the rights of citizenship, for the transaction of public affairs” (Synonyms of the N.T., p. 17).
C.Edward Robinson – “Ekklesia, a convocation, assembly, congregation. In the literal sense a popular, or rather assembly, composed of persons legally summoned” (Lexicon).

D.A. H. Strong – “Ekklesia signified merely an assembly, however gathered or summoned. The church was never so large that it could not assemble” (Systematic Theology).
E.Vincent – “Originally an assembly of citizens, regularly summoned” (Word Studies in the N.T.)
F.Thayer – “Take the entire range of Greek literature in all its dialects, secular and sacred, and there is not one passage in which ecclesia means an invisible and universal spiritual assembly” (Lexicon).
G.Alexander Campbell – “Ekklesia literally signifies an assembly called out from others and is used among the Greeks, particularly the Athenians, for their popular assemblies, summoned by their chief magistrates and in which none but citizens had a right to sit. By inherent power it may be applied to any body of men called out and assembled in one place. If it ever loses the idea of calling out and assembling, it loses its principal features and its primitive use” (Ekklesia – The Church. Ross, p. 7).

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