the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
As we begin our study of the importance of the Lord’s local assemblies. It is vital that we understand what we mean by the title “the Lord’s church”. In this first installment of our study, we will be examining the words translated “church” in the KJV Bible to come to a definition of “the Lord’s church”.
To begin our study of the Lord’s church it is important that we understand the meaning of the word ”church” as found in the KJV of the Holy Bible.
The word “church” is not found in the Old Testament Scriptures. However, it is found over 100 times in the New Testament and, every time, is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia”.
The usage of “Ekklesia”
“Ekklesia” is translated into English using the terms “church” or “assembly”. The word is used in several differing contexts with one basic similarity. “Ekklesia” always refers to a visible assembly of people. The different assemblies described by the term “ekklesia” (with one example of each usage) are:
1. A political assembly of people in Acts 19:32,39,41;
31) And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring [him] that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.
32) Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
33) And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.
34) But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great [is] Diana of the Ephesians.
35) And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, [Ye] men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the [image] which fell down from Jupiter?
36) Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
37) For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
38) Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.
39) But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.
40) For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.
41) And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.
2. The physical nation of Israel in the wilderness in the OT in Acts 7:38;
37) This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
38) This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
39) To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust [him] from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
40) Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for [as for] this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
41) And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
3. Local assemblies of worship on earth – Acts 8:1,3;
1) And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2) And devout men carried Stephen [to his burial], and made great lamentation over him.
3) As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed [them] to prison.
4. The assembly of saints gathered in Heavenly Jerusalem throughout eternity – Hebs 12:23
22) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23) To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24) And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel.
By seeing the contextual usage of “ekklesia” we can see that IT ALWAYS SPEAKS OF A LOCAL, VISIBLE ASSEMBLY (more on this in later sections of our study).
1. As a local assembly, the church was created to especially minister to those who are around us. It is local in nature, each one established in a different area of the globe to minister to those in their geographic area.
46) And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47) And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48) And ye are witnesses of these things.
49) And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
50) And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51) And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
2. As a visible assembly, we can see that the Lord’s church was formed to be a public, visible display of His love, care and grace towards those in that local community. The community would be watching the church as an assembly and individual members to see if they “practiced what they preached”.
10) Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for [your] food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
11) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
12) For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
13) Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for [your] liberal distribution unto them, and unto all [men];
14) And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
15) Thanks [be] unto God for his unspeakable gift.
(2 Corinthians 9:10-15)
31) Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
32) Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
33) Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.
(1 Corinthians 10:31-33)
Please Note: The testimony of a local church is so important, the Lord has given clear instructions for disciplining those who are members of His assembly that are living in habitual sin….
15) Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16) But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17) And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
The of definition of “ekklesia”
The Greek word “ekklesia” contains two basic parts:
1. The first part is the prefix “ek” which means “from” or “out of”.
2. The second part is the root word “kaleo” which means “to call”, “to summon”, “to urge”, or “to incite”
The definition of “ekklesia” teaches us that the church is a group that has been “summoned out” or an assembly that has been “called out”.
This calling out from the world is a call to holiness. Our Lord’s church should be a holy body that is dedicated to glorifying God through submission to His ways and declaration of His truths…
13) Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14) Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15) Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Putting the principles of the usage and definition of “ekklesia” together, we can see that:
The church of the Lord is A LOCAL, VISIBLE ASSEMBLY OF SAINTS THAT HAS BEEN SUMMONED BY GOD, MAKING IT UNIQUE FROM ALL OTHERS ASSEMBLIES IN THIS WORLD.
Its uniqueness is displayed in four ways: its founding, its purpose, its benefits and its accreditation. We will be looking at all four of these areas of uniqueness in later segments of our study.
Based on our studies so far we can see that the nature of the Lord’s church includes:
1. An assembly of individuals
2. A local assembly
3. A visible assembly
4. A called our assembly
5. A unique assembly
Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church? It is an assembly personally called out by God which separates it from all other assemblies on earth.
May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.
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