And I tell you, you are Peter, and
on this rock I will build my church (ekklesia),
and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it. (Matt. 16:18) The
use of "church" in translating this word misleads everyone. Men assume
that Jesus had a view of his ekklesia similar to the church. Here
is a typical interpretation: those
"called out", the fellowship of believers, the organized society of Christ,
the kingdom of heaven on earth.
Most commentators simply assume
this view and do not further define ekklesia. The churchmen include
in this word all the ideas to which they apply church, but for most
it comes down to the organized society of Christians throughout the world,
even though there are many such organizations on earth, each specified
as church: the Catholic Church, Christian Church,
or a similar definition. Nearly all see it in Matt. 16:18 as applying in
a universal sense to everything on earth that men call church.
Another such view is this: The ekklesia
is God’s people viewed together as a new and whole
a community on the earth, local or universal. This is false.
Christendom has misdefined
church (ekklesia), beginning with the epistles
and Acts of the New Testament. Few consider that Jesus had a different idea
when he said ekklesia. It is true that it means
an assembly called out, as the Israelites were called out of Egypt to assemble
in the desert (Deut.31:30, Sept, Acts 7:38).
But Jesus had other uses for the word, as when he applied it to the synagogue,
a gathering of Jews (Mt. 18:17).
But the assembly of Mt.16:18 can be understood only if we look
for the one assembly, or gathering, that Jesus entered into the world to
build. A second NT Greek word that means essentially the same thing is
sunagoge, which comes from sunago
(to gather) and we apply it to a gathering of Jews.
The Christians used ekklesia only to distinguish their gathering
from that of the Jews in synagogues. Both words are equivalent to
the Hebrew, qahal, (to call or to call together
an assembly of people) in the Septuagent, where they are so applied. Another
thing very revealing in our text is that Jesus is assembling (building)
his ekklesia on a certain foundation.
looked to a completely different assembly that was the end goal of all his
work.He said of this gathering: Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be
gathered...and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet
call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, (Matt. 24:28,31) As explained by the evangelist,
Jesus died to gather into one the children of God
who are scattered abroad. (Jn. 11:52)
Thus he will assemble the
ekklesia at the Resurrection, having called them
out of the world, as God called Israel out of Egypt to gather elsewhere.
This is not that which men call Church. Jesus spoke of children of God on
earth like this: Where
two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
This gathering is not the ekklesia of which
there is but one. In all these cases, gather is
sunago or episunago that
in Greek is equivalent to ekklesia that he is building.
The foundation is that specified in Mat. 7:24: Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them
will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock. Read more.