JohnSWilson3 Blog


Getting Reacquainted with the Ekklesia
September 10, 2011, 10:59 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

around the counter

For the past two years my family and I have been becoming reacquainted with the ekklesia. But more importantly with Christ Jesus our Lord who lives in us and His ekklesia. I am using the word ekklesia purposefully because it is the word that is mistranslated “church” in the New Testament. Everywhere you find the word “church” used in the Bible the word is actually “ekklesia.” The ekklesia is Christ’s great desire, the ekklesia is His passion.

While many are attempting to help the body of Christ see that the church is the people of God and not the building, the word “church” without our realizing it still conjures up the image of a building, a place to watch a performance, an event, or to be a part of a program. Do we really need to use the word “church” in our discussions of the body of Christ? I am now not so inclined. The word “church” is an English word “derived from the Greek adjective kyriakos as used in some such phrase as kyriakon doma or kyriake oikia, meaning ‘the Lord’s house.'” (1) This can often be found in the Greek version of the Old Testament in reference to the Jewish temple. It is no where found in the New Testament. In fact the temple of the Old Testament is a “shadow of what is in heaven,” (Heb. 8:5) the reality is found in Christ and His body, His assembled people, the ekklesia. The Father’s passion is not for bricks and stone or anything of this earth but for His Son in His ekklesia.

Ekklesia means “calling out of” and “was used among the Greeks of a body of citizens ‘gathered’ to discuss the affairs of state.” (2) Ekklesia is also used in the Greek version of the Old Testament “to designate the ‘gathering’ of Israel, summoned for any definite purpose, or a ‘gathering’ regarded as representative of the whole nation.” (3) “‘Church’ in the New Testament, however, renders Greek ekklesia, which mostly designates a local congregation of Christians and never a building…An ekklesia was a meeting or assembly.” (4) The ekklesia is a gathering of people together out of a society to be assembled together for a purpose. The ekklesia in the New Testament is actually pictured as the new temple, but it is a temple made up of gathered people. This new temple is being assembled, it is where we are “built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Eph. 2:22) The heart of the Father is for His ekklesia to live by the Spirit of His Son.

Jesus said “and on this rock I will build my ekklesia.” (Matt. 16:18) Christ Jesus “loved the ekklesia and gave himself up for her.” (Eph. 5:25) This indicates that the ekklesia can represent all of God’s people who are in Christ no matter the location. In reality the Father sees every believer in Christ, gathered and assembled in Him. The apostles also wrote to the ekklesias “of the living God,” in various places around the known world. The ekklesias of God belong to God and are “in Christ.” (Gal. 1:22) The ekklesia has no name, no special people, no format, no program, no building but can be found wherever the brothers and sisters assemble or gather together. The ekklesia is not about a certain building or a house but the assembling of His people together. May we have spiritual sight to see that we are God’s assembly, His gathering. The Father already sees in His Son, His ekklesia in every place, fully expressing His life by the Spirit, even in the heavenlies!

Another wonderful picture is given to us of this assembling of those in Christ, a picture of a body with a Head. The brothers and sisters have the living God by the Spirit dwelling in them and are “hidden with Christ in God” and not only that but Christ is now our life! (Col. 3:3-4) This body, when it gathers together with Christ as Head, is in truth assembling our Lord together. “Christ is the head of the ekklesia, his body, of which he is the Savior.” (Eph. 5:23) Every brother and sister must live by the life of Christ in the gathering, the ekklesia, in order for the fullness of the Lord to be assembled, for Christ to be made manifest in glory. He must be the Head, the Source, the King in her midst. The brothers and sisters “gather to eat” (1 Cor. 11:33) to feed on Christ, who is life. For “the Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” (John 6:57,63) When “the whole ekklesia comes together” it is for the purpose of being “built up” to “be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (1 Cor. 14:23,26; Rom. 1:12). This is following “the way of love.” (1 Cor. 14:1) It is loving one another by the life of Christ, according to the measure of the gift given to each. Each brother and sister freely functioning by the Spirit in them to one another, through one another; that is to say through Christ in them, to Christ in them, and for Christ in them. “In all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” (1 Cor. 12:6) So like a body which is assembled and works organically, hidden as it were, by the source of its head so to the body of Christ when it assembles functions organically by the spiritual life of Christ, its Source, its Head. And what is amazing is that the Father already sees the ekklesia already assembled with the Son as Head! The Father has already “placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the ekklesia, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Eph. 1:22-23) So as the body assembles together we are in reality manifesting what the Father already sees assembled in His Son. As we assemble together may “we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13) Brothers and sisters the Lord has an assembled body in view not a disassembled body of believers. May we have such a view of the ekkelsia, His body.

There is an interesting thought that comes to mind as we look at this word “ekklesia.” Ekklesia in its basic sense means to be called out to be gathered. This is a spiritual truth of how we assemble together and the process of seeing our Lord in His fullness in His body. We are called out of our life in the flesh to gather in the life of the Spirit. The process of seeing the assembling of our Lord in His fullness in the body is seeing the brothers and sisters put off the flesh, to see that it is dead, that it was nailed to the cross and to put on Christ, to see that He is now our life, and to live by His indwelling life together. This is “the way of life” (Eph. 4:20) that we are called to learn together. This way of life is hearing Him, being taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus, who is now our life, walking “in the way of love.” (Eph. 4:21; 5:2) The ekklesia is the new creation. “The new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17) And “all this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ” and we now manifest His life as we live by Him. God’s passion is for His Son and the revealing, the manifesting, the demonstration of His Son in the assembling of His body. “His intent was that now, through the ekklesia, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Eph. 3:10-12).

How much of the Son we miss because of missing His eternal purpose, replacing His eternal purpose with some one or some thing. It is the tragedy found throughout scripture of the bondage of His people through legalism and institutionalism to the subversion of the life of the Son. This has been done with both good and bad intent, but both are of the flesh. Both to the detriment of the life of God made manifest in and to and through His people. How the flesh counts for nothing. Only life in Christ counts; faith expressing itself in love. May we have new eyes, spiritual sight, to see the ekklesia in the Son and the Son in the ekklesia. To see the Son assembled in His body to the beauty of His wonderful majesty that is His alone. No wonder the apostles wrote often to “not giving up meeting together,” to do so is to miss seeing more of His Son in His body. (Heb. 10:24)

This life cannot be contained, He desires that all of His creation be assembled in His Son, to see His Son the all in all. May we become reacquainted with the ekklesia, the body of Christ. Allow Him to give you spiritual sight, for only the Father can reveal His Son in the body. Brothers and sisters we have been given a promise of seeing His Son in the ekklesia, but will we be humble enough to no longer live by the flesh, by legalism and institutionalism, and to see the ekklesia as Christ sees her. “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24)

sharing

(1) J.D. Douglas, Organizing Editor, New Bible Dictionary, Second Edition, Inter-Varsity Press, 1996, 205.
(2) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 42.
(3) Ibid.
(4) New Bible Dictionary, 205.

 

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10 Comments so far
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Interesting thought, brother. I will need some time to process it.

Comment by Peter

Hi Peter, been mulling it over for some time myself, :).

Comment by John Wilson

Dear John,
that’s a very sound exposition of ecclesia, kyriakos etc. I don’t know about you but I find that the interweb is replete with wonderful teachings, rhemas, snippets, call them what you will – all valid, equally sound and in their place ‘useful for teaching, rebuking correcting’ etc…..

Your first words
“For the past two years my family and I have been becoming reacquainted with the ekklesia”
stirred me straight away and I hoped that you would be testifiying to the awesome love and potency that your collective re-acquaintance has brought to you individually and as a family.

I believe testimony carries a huge weight of power and really worries the opposition because it demonstrates the overarching relevancy of a Jesus centred life as He ramifies throughout each area of our lives that we surrender to Him in devotion and delight. When we do that in conformity with scriptural principles and precepts such as you have described above [ with which I agree wholeheartedly btw :^D ] He is able to express Himself and touch others in the most amazing ways…..because He becomes acutely personal….and there is NO way of avoiding the fact that Jesus is reigning in and through those who love Him and are devoted to Him in as many ways as we can consciously manage.

My current favourite aspect of my testimony is that it suddenly became very clear to me about six weeks ago as I sat in one of our fellowship times that two of my very best loved and closest spiritual friends were two of my former enemies.

As their pastor I had alternatively loved them and damaged them, loved them and damaged them as I blindly toed the institutional party line and applied ‘The Bible’ as principles with an equivalent swing from blessings to brutalities time and again….and all meant lovingly and with their best interests at heart. This see-saw, roller coaster occurred when [ about 10 years ago ] they fell away quite seriously and as their pastor, I was not given opportunity, nor did I make the opportunity to reason together with them.

Suddenly I was out of my institutional post and seeking to love Him and as He drew me along this wonderful new walk of simple/organic ecclesia.

Strangely over the following years, as we all matured and began to see things differently and looked to Jesus first, we began communicating with each other, loving Him. Then we began to prayerfully look out for each, loving Him.

Over the the last three years He also drew us together. My wife and I and these two lovely Christians are now the firmest and most faithful of friends, loving Him. It has often been praise and pain, delight and despair but on the whole blessing on blessing as we’ve learned more and more about forgiveness and seeing the wealth of Jesus embodied in us, these two and the others He has drawn together.

Love and forgiveness, bearing with one another, seeking to see the good etc etc really do work when we make Him our all in all.

Loved the exposition brother….

Please consider what you would say to a complete stranger when asked “What makes Jesus real to you ?”
Assume you only had two minutes to get across the reality of what He has done, is doing and is hoped for in you.

I want hear that and more…..and I suspect it will touch many, both believers and seekers more than we can imagine!

Love and Blessings,
Dave
The Testimony Addict!

Comment by Dave Ellerby

Dave, appreciate the testimony brother. Actually these past two years I have been blogging on our discovery of organic church life. You can read them if you like at: https://johnswilson3.wordpress.com/category/1-discovering-organic-church-life-testimony/. Blessings again brother.

Comment by John Wilson

Dear John,

many thanks for your gracious reply. I’ve read your blog before with interest and encouragement. It’s been a blessing as I’ve read about how you folks ‘be’!

I’m so hungry for insight and declaration about how Jesus is translating us all and what that looks and sounds and feels like in real-time.

Keep on keeping on and pass on our love to your folks too. Rest assured I’ll be drinking in the shared new wine!

Love and blessings
Dave

Comment by Dave Ellerby

Dave, thanks brother for the encouraging words! Moving forward in Christ, :). amen.

Comment by John Wilson

[…] Posted by Alan Knox on Sep 12, 2011 in blog links, definition, edification, gathering | 0 comments I enjoy reading John’s blog. His posts are always encouraging and usually stretch me in thinking about Jesus Christ. His latest post is no different: “Getting Reacquainted with the Ekklesia.” […]

Pingback by The Ekklesia: the assembling of those in Christ | The Assembling of the Church

Loved it John.
Love it so much that I read it twice, will read it again again tomorrow and reposted it. Thinking about printing it out as well.

Comment by Dwayne Del Rio

Dwayne, thanks brother for the comments! Blessings!

Comment by John Wilson

[…] very specific meanings and connotations.  I read a really interesting article just the other day, Getting reacquainted with the ekklesia, which discusses in detail what the church – the “ekklesia” – is according […]

Pingback by what is the church – the ekklesia? « The Church at Penticton




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