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THE CONCEPT OF CHURCH

Looking keenly at my screen, racking my brain while trouble shooting an error at the office today just few minutes before the close of work yesterday, I heard my name ‘David’! It was a colleague who is Hindu.  ‘Yes’, I answered from my part of the office. ‘What do you guys call that thing people go to church to do before a pastor for forgiveness of sins’? At this point I remembered on several occasion we have talked about Christianity and  Jesus Christ and he informed me that he knows about Christianity,pulled up information from the internet explaining to me that Thomas one of Jesus’ disciples lived and died in India and that part of his own immediate family were Catholics. I echoed ‘confession’, ‘yes confession’ he replied happily, ‘I have a confession to make’ by this time I had walked to his desk excited at the opportunity to talk to him and another colleague who is also Hindu about Jesus Christ. I started and was thrilled by the rapt attention they gave to the discussion.  When it was time for me to take their questions the discussion took an interesting turn. He expressed his views about the origin of church, Christianity and denomination. After listening to him it hit me there and then that we have passed a wrong definition and mistaken impression of what church is chiefly because of false concepts as to what the church is. When you have a false concept of what the church is you will most likely have a false concept as to what is expected of you as a Christian church.

FALSE THEORY AS TO THE CHURCH’S ORIGIN

“THE CHURCH STARTED AT PENTECOST”

I really beg to differ on the above theological teaching.The church did not begin on Pentecost. When Christ left this earth He left behind Him an “ekklesia” that had been following Him for over three years. He had taught it, set Apostles in it, given it the Lord’s supper, met with it after His resurrection, commissioned it, and commanded it to wait in Jerusalem for an enduement of power. On Pentecost the church was immersed in the Holy Spirit.

How do I know there was an “ekklesia” before Pentecost?

1. Because the word “ekklesia” means a called out assembly and Christ had that long before Pentecost. Matthew 10:1-42, Luke 10:1-19.

2. Before Pentecost the disciples were assembled praying and conducting a business meeting (Acts 1:12-26) , electing an apostle. They were 120 in number (v. 15), and who will deny that they were an “ekklesia” (assembly) of baptised, professing Christians? Who can show one thing that reveals that they were not a Christian “ekklesia” (assembly) when they did what they were trained to do and brought thousands to the salvation with a spirit inspired message from Peter?(Acts 2:1-end).
Those saved on the day of Pentecost were “added to” the “ekklesia” (Acts 2:1-47). They couldn’t add the 3,000 souls to nothing, so there must have been an “ekklesia” already in existence.

The word ‘church’ in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word ‘ekklesia’ which comes from two words ‘ek’ meaning ‘out’ and ‘kaleo’ meaning to ‘call.

In New Testament times the word was exclusively used to represent a group of people assembled together for a particular cause or purpose. It was never used exclusively to refer to a religious meeting or group.

The first English Bible translated from Greek did not translate the word “ekklesia” as church. William Tyndale’s translation (1526) correctly used the term “congregation.” Tyndale completed the translation of the New Testament and part of the Old Testament before he was martyred. John Rogers, an assistant and friend of William Tyndale, completed the translation of the Old Testament using some work from Coverdale and published the first entire Tyndale Bible under the pen name “Thomas Matthew.” This Bible was called the Matthew’s Bible (1537) and also used the term “congregation.” The next English Bible, the Great Bible (1539), also used the term “congregation.” However, in 1557 the Geneva New Testament, produced by William Whittingham, was the first to translate “ekklesia” as “church.”

Because the Geneva Bible was printed in Europe and not in England the English people desired a Bible published in their native country. This was the reason for the next English Bible, the Bishops Bible (1568) which was a revision of the Geneva Bible and this translation continued the use of the term “church” as has all subsequence English translations including the King James Version.

It is so sad to see how with sleek intellectualism Christianity is been moved from being inter-dependent to been independent. The message and the mission of the church is gradually been shifted to celebrating style and charisma instead of the hope and salvation brought by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The was not how the “Ekklesia” Christ built thrived before we were introduced to it in the Bible.

What then is Christ’s “ekklesia”? I would say it is an assembly called out for a specific purpose, namely to radiate his love,fulfil His will, to keep and teach His ordinances and commandments.

If “Ekklesia” means assembly, a called out assembly,  or an assembly called out for a specific purpose, I would agree that Christianity is who we are and what we do not where we go to wearing a legalistic attitude.

Thanks for reading.

Your comments, questions and contributions are welcomed

David Dimas

1 Comments

  • Some deep exegesis here! Indeed, I also want to believe that the concept of ‘Church’ existed well before Pentecost. Christ made references to ‘Church’ in His teaching before His death; Matthew 18:17, for example. Simply put, we are ‘The Church’. The same interpretation for Church used in Matthew 18:17, was the same used in Philemon 2 . .’and to the Church in your house’; and in a host of other scriptures. Except of course, some scholars want to say that we should not take cognisance of Christ’s teaching ‘pre-His death’. But certainly, ‘ALL scripture is profitable….’!

    I think the confusion kind of lies in the use of the word ‘Christian’ and ‘Church’. There’s a significant interplay of words here, where we substitute one for another. Indeed, Christ’s followers were called for the first time Christians ‘post-Resurrection’ and after Pentecost, in Acts 11:26. Christian is just a name, could have been anything! Just as we use the term ‘Believers’, ‘The Way’, ‘The Fish’ symbol to depict that we are Christians. It is however what being a Christian symbolises that truly matters.

    I believe there’s a greater power of being ‘The Church’ above any name we can be called, just like the use of ‘God’ has become generalistic across religious platforms. without adding Christ, one is not sure which ‘God’ is being beckoned or acknowledged!

    When I function as ‘The Church’, then my life is evidenced as being a Christian, a true follower of Christ! But this is where the dilution is taking place now. As you mentioned, rather than preaching and teaching – hope and salvation, focus is gradually being shifted to style, charisma, motivational teachings et al, thereby ushering in the start of ‘being given over to strong delusions’ as stated in the bible.

    But in the grand scheme of things, what is really important? Is it religious semantics or truly living for Christ?

    May we hunger and thirst continually for the word of truth; the word of life in Jesus name.

    May the Lord help us all in Jesus name. Amen.

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