The Church: The Called Out

I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18).

The original word translated “church” is ekklesia.  It is commonly translated “church,” “congregation,” and “assembly.”  It comes from ek = “out” and kaleo = “to call.”

The original word was used long before Jesus built His church.  (1) It was used by the Greeks of: “a body of citizens gathered to discuss the affairs of state” (Vine’s); “assembly, as a regularly summoned political body” (BAG) “assemblage, gathering, meeting generally” (BAG); “among the Greeks from Thucydides down, an assembly of the people” (Thayer).  (2) It was used in the Septuagint of an assembly of Israelites (e.g. Deuteronomy 31:30; Joshua 8:35; Judges 20:2; 21:8; 1 Samuel 17:47; 1 Kings 8:14; 1 Chronicles 29:1).

The word is not used exclusively in the New Testament of the church of Christ.  (1) It is used of the Israelites in the wilderness (Acts 7:38).  (2) It is used of a mob (Acts 19:32, 41).  (3) It is used of a lawful civic assembly (Acts 19:38-39).

It is used of the church of Christ.  (1) It is used of the church universal (e.g. Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 1:22-23 cf. 4:4; 3:10; 5:23, 27, 29, 32; Philippians 3:6; Colossians 1:18, 24).   (2) It is used of the church local (e.g. Acts 8:1; 11:22; 13:1; 14:23; 14:27; 15:3-4; 16:5; 18:22; Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 7:17; 14:33; Galatians 1:2).

Why are the saints referred to as “the called out” ?  (1) It has to do with separation from sin.  We are called by God through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).  He “called (us) out of darkness…” (1 Peter 2:9).

The saved are in the church.  Wendell Winkler has written, “In New Testament times the Lord added to the church those who were being saved (Acts 2:47)… There was no such thing as a man being saved on Monday and joining the church the following Sunday. Rather, the moment he was saved, that moment he became a member of the New Testament church” (Winkler, The Church Everybody is Asking About, p. 106).

(2) It has to do with separation to God.  It is about sanctification.  He “called (us)… into His marvelous light: who once were not a people but are now the people of God” (1 Peter 2:9-10 cf. 1 John 1:6-7).  “God did not call us to uncleanness but in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:7).  God’s will is for Christians to live sanctified lives.  “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality (fornication – B.H.); that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).  Our aim should be to live for Him (2 Corinthians 5:15).

(3) It has to do with fellowship.  “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).  John wrote, “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). The message of the New Testament is a call to fellowship.  Fellowship with God is conditional (1 John 1:6-7).

(4) It is about glory.  “He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:14 cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:12).  “…the God of all grace… called us to eternal glory by Christ Jesus” (1 Peter 5:10).  A glorious existence awaits (Romans 8:17).  A glorious body like unto His awaits (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2).  He wants to bless us.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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