The Churches of the Bible
The meaning of “Church”
The English word “Church” translates the Greek word (ekklesia). In everyday Greek at the time of Jesus, this meant a coming-together of free citizens for elections and other matters to further the interests of the city-state. This was the term used when the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew into Greek. In Hebrew the expression was qhal YHWH – “the assembly of the Lord”, or “assembly round the Lord”.
So when Christians used this word, they were saying some important things:
By “Church” was meant the followers of Jesus, united in prayer and action for the Kingdom, the successors of the People of God of the Old Testament (cf. Jer 31:31-34).
- about their coming together, which was not just any kind of get-together, but a coming-together in the way in which the first disciples did in the Upper Room at Pentecost (Acts 2:1);
- about their assembly around the table of the Lord (cf. 1 Cor 10:21);
- about their work for the Kingdom of God (cf. Col 4:11);
- about their sense of freedom – they felt they had been set free by Jesus (cf. e.g. Gal 5:1)
Next: The Church the Apostles left behind