THE MEANING OF ECCLESIA IN THE CLASSICAL GREEK
I.DEFINITION OF TERMS.
A.The New Testament was written in the koine or “common” Greek.
B.The Koine differs in many respects to the modern or classical Greek.
C.Classical Greek refers basically to the ancient Greek tongue which found its roots in the Indo-Germanic family of languages.
D.The Koine age is approximately 300 B.C. To 500 A.D. Classical Greek is thought of as preceding the Koine; modern Greek is thought of as succeeding the Koine.
II.TESTIMONY OF SCHOLARS.
A.Dana says, – “In classical use ekklesia meant ‘an assembly.” It was derived from a combination of Greek root and prefixed preposition, the resultant meaning of which was ‘to call out.’ It was commonly used in reference to bodies of qualified representatives ‘called out’ for legislative functions” (Meaning of Ecclesia in the N.T., Overbey, p. 10).
B.Ewing writes, – “In every case, the word means an organized body, in opposition to a casual meeting…” (Ibid).
C.Liddell and Scott – “An assembly of the citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly” (Ibid).
D.Seyffert’s Dictionary: – “The assembly of the people, which in Greek cities had the power of final decision in public affairs” (Ibid).
E.Thomas – “It was the organized assembly of the authorized voters of the local community met to transact business of common concern. It corresponded to the town-meeting of New England of later days” (Ibid).
F.Overbey says, “A distinction should be maintained between the etymology of a word and its meaning at some particular time in history. Sometimes the two are the same; many times they are quite different. ‘Hussy’ came from ‘huswife’ which means housewife; today it means a worthless woman or girl, or a pert girl. ‘Constable’ came from ‘comes stabuli’ which means attendant of the stable; today it means a peace officer. ‘Ekklesia’ came from ‘ekkletos’ which means called out but in the times prior to the New Testament it meant assembly or called out assembly. To say it means the called out is not correct” (Ibid p. 11).
G.Broadus writes, – “The Greek word ekklesia signified primarily the assembly of citizens in a self-governed state, being derived from ekkaleo to call out; i.e., from their homes or places of business, to summon, as we speak of calling out the militia. The popular notion that it meant to call out in the sense of separation from others is a mistake” (Ibid).
H.F. J. A. Hort says, – “There is no foundation for the widely spread notion that ekklesia means a people or a number of individual men called out of the world of mankind” (Ibid p. 11).
I.Prof. Royal of Wake Fores College said, – “I do not know of any passage in classical Greek, where ekklesia is used of unassembled or unassembling persons: (Why Be a Baptist, Taylor, p. 45).
A.Ecclesia – the Church by B. H. Carroll
B.Meaning of Ecclesia in the N. T. by Overbey