Part 3 of 


“The One True Church and How to Join It”

The Word Church

We need to know the definition for the word that is translated “church” from the Greek, in order to interpret the word “church.” The word “church” immediately has various meanings to those who hear and use it. But, there is a great misunderstanding of this word – most associate the word “church” either with 1) an organization or, 2) the building that most people call churches, but neither of these is the correct meaning of the word according to the Greek.

This misunderstanding of the word church leads to the misinterpretation of what the word “church” when it appears in Scripture. Actually, when the Apostle Paul uses the word “church” he means, “the body of Christ,” as it was revealed to him by Christ, for us (Eph 3:1-12). Paul uses the term the church, 23 Which is his body…. Ephesians 1:22-23 (KJV)

Lets’ now take a closer look by considering the Greek word sometimes translated “church.” The correct transliteration of the Greek to English is "ekklesia,” as seen below, as taken from the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Note also that the word’s Vines Expository Dictionary assigns as the proper translation of “ekklesia” are assembly, congregation.

Word: church; Transliteration: ekklesia, Phonetic Pronunciation: ek-klay-see'-ah

Strong’s: G1577, Root: from a compound of <G1537> and a derivative of <G2564>

Part of Speech: n f, Vine's Words: Assembly, Congregation

English Words used in KJV: church 115, assembly 3 [Total Count: 118]

From a compound of <G1537> (ek) and a derivative of <G2564> (kaleo); a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both):- assembly, church.

The Greek word “ekklesia” is used also here in the following verse, but it is not translated church but “assembly.”

Acts 19:32 (KJV) So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly (ekklesia) was in confusion, and the majority did not know for what cause they had come together.

In its context above you will note that this is an account of a riotous group, an ekklesia, an assembly, that was attacking Paul during his visit to Ephesus. Though the word here is the same Greek “ekklesia,” as we sometimes use for “church,” it certainly is not referring to the “body of Christ,” or a “religious assembly.”

Similarly, the use of the word “church” is also used in the context that follows to describe the assembly of Israelites in the wilderness.

Acts 7:38 (KJV) This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our (Israel’s) fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

This church in the wilderness,” above, is not “the body of Christof which Paul wrote in his fourteen epistles. Here in Acts 7:38 the very same Greek word, ekklesia, is used. This though refers to the Israelites wandering in the wilderness of Sinai after being liberated from Pharaoh’s Egypt. This refers to a time that was thousands of years the cross and before Paul’s revelation that he received concerning “the church, which is His body,” as given by the ascended Christ to the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul (Rom 11:13).

Thus, in this day of “the dispensation of the grace of God” that Paul taught as his mystery gospel (Rom 16:25), Christians are not members of just any “ekklesia,” or “church,” but a specific “ekklesia,” which Paul defines here in Eph 1:22b-23a “the church, which is his body.” Ephes. 1:22-23 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

When we see the word “church” in the Bible we need to ask and determine which kind of ekklesia or church is being written of. “Is it the nation Israel in the Old Testament, or a group of Jews at Pentecost? Or, is it “the body of Christ,” or some assembly?

I believe when we refer to “the body of Christ” it may be best to call it “the body of Christ,” not “the church.” By properly defining the “ekklesia” more specifically, we will then no longer refer to such accounts as the “assembly of Jews” referred to on the day of Pentecost, as the church Paul wrote of.

Realizing the context in Acts 2 Peter is speaking to “Ye men of Israel…” we know he is not speaking to Paul’s Gentile “the church, which is His body,” since Paul had not yet even been converted.

Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church (Jewish assembly) daily such as should be saved.

The church referred here is not “the body of Christ,” rather these are ones who were saved under the Messianic Kingdom Gospel of which Peter preached to “the Jews only (see Acts 2:22, 11:19, Matt 10:5-6). None of the twelve disciples to Israel even knew of this Gentile “church, which is His body” that was later revealed to the Apostle Paul, several years later.  

Only Paul uses the term “the church, which is His body” per the revelation Paul received directly from the ascended Jesus Christ, as a key part of the gospel that he preached (Rom 16:25, Col 1:26-28a). Galatians 1:12 (KJV) For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul received it from Christ some 8-10 years after the cross and Pentecost, after the Jews had rejected the Kingdom by the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7.

From this we can see that it is best today to refer to Christian believers as being members of “the church,” which is “body of Christ.” Otherwise, we may misapply what the Bible has to say about the differing ekklesias; the Jews, “the body of Christ,” or any other gathering or “assembly.”