Understanding the definition of ekklesia (and its alternate spelling ecclesia) is an important component of understanding the Church. Ekklesia is a Greek word defined as â€œa called-out assembly or congregation.â€ Ekklesia is commonly translated as â€œChurchâ€ in the New Testament. For example, Acts 11:26 says that â€œBarnabas and Saul met with the Church (ekklesia)â€ in Antioch. And in 1 Corinthians 15:9 Paul says that he had persecuted the Church (ekklesia)of God.â€ The â€œcalled-out assembly,â€ then, is a congregation of believers whom God has called out of the world and â€œinto His wonderful lightâ€ (1 Peter 2:9). The Greek ekklesia is the basis for our English words ecclesiastical (â€œpertaining to the churchâ€) and ecclesiology (â€œthe study of doctrine concerning the churchâ€).
The word in the New Testament was also used to refer to any assembly of people. In his address to the Sanhedrin, Stephen calls the people of Israel â€œthe assembly (ekklesia) in the wildernessâ€ (Acts 7:38). And in Acts 19:39, ekklesia refers to a convening of citizens to discuss legal matters. However, in most contexts, the word ekklesia is used to refer to the people who comprise the New Testament church.
It is important that the Church today understand the definition of ekklesia. The Church needs to see itself as being â€œcalled outâ€ by God. If the Church wants to make a difference in the world, it must be different from the world. Salt is different from the food it flavors. God has called the Church to be separate from sin (1 Peter 1:16), to embrace fellowship with other believers (Acts 2:42), and to be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14). God has graciously called us unto Himself: â€œâ€˜Come out from them and be separate,â€™ says the Lord. â€˜Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive youâ€™â€ (2 Corinthians 6:17).
Do not choose to be like the Church of Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) or the Church of Laodicea, (Revelation 3:14-22) choose this day to whom ye shall serve (Joshua 24:15). As Jesus says in Revelation 3:17 to the Laodicean Church “You say, â€˜I am rich. I have everything I want. I donâ€™t need a thing!â€™ And you donâ€™t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Prepare oneself to be His Bride in (Revelation 19:7-8) “For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself.She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.â€ For the fine linen represents the good deeds of Godâ€™s holy “people.”