You’ve Been Duped! Ekklesia Does Not Mean “Called Out Ones.”

rootIn a recent article called 7 Ways to do a Bad word Study,” the author lays out 7 bad ways of doing word studies from the Bible and making faulty conclusions.  The article reminded me of D.A. Carson’s book Exegetical Fallacies, chapter 1.  In this article, Regarding point number 1, he states: 

You’ve heard this: “The word ekklesia is a Greek word for the church that literally means, “called out ones””. Technically, this isn’t true. While combining the two root words (“called out from”) does indeed create something like “called out ones”, the truth is, the word ekklesia is never used that way in the New Testament or its contemporaries. In fact, ekklesia was used to refer to a group of philosophers, mathematicians, or any other kind of assembly in the Greco-Roman world. So unless we’re supposing that actors and gladiators were called to a holy lifestyle by assembling together, we can’t create a relationship between holiness and ekklesia necessarily. While it’s true that the church is composed of “called out” ones – that’s not the particular point of this word. It just means “assembly” or “gathering.”

While focusing on a good issue, namely fallacies regarding the roots of biblical words, I think he makes too many assumptions regarding ekklesia.  What about you? 

Can you justify “Ekklesia” as meaning anything other than “gathering” or “assembly?”  

Does it matter? 

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    1. Miguel,

      No, I can’t justify “ekklesia” as meaning anything other than “gathering” or “assembly,” especially in common (Koine) Greek of the first century.

      Here’s as interesting entry concerning “ekklesia” in BDAG (the standard Greek lexicon): “Orpheus forms for himself ἐκκλησίαν (ekklesian), a group of wild animals, who listen to him, in the Thracian mountains where there are no people.”

      Like you said above, it’s hard for me to imagine these “wild animals” being described as “called out ones.” Orpheus forms an assembly or gathering of wild animals.

      Also, interestingly, Luke uses the term “ekklesia” almost synonymously with “ochlos” (“crowd”) at the end of Acts 19.

      -Alan


    2. I don’t feel duped, I think it is just a play on words – there are many situations where people are “called out” and thus need to gather together for whatever purpose the calling out was for.
      All seems simple to me – it is just a term used for a gathering, crowd, assembly of individuals around or for a common purpose or need.
      To try and make this into something else serves what purpose?
      I think I’m missing the issue.


    3. I understand that literally “ekklesia” does not mean ‘called out ones’, but it is interesting that the root words could be a play on words, perhaps Jesus had that in mind? The larger question, the more pertinent question, is the obvious transliteration of the word ekklesia as our word “church”. We know the word “church” was translated from the word “kuriakon” not the word “ekklesia”.
      We know that Arch Bishop Bancroft, King Jame’s cohort, gave rules for translating the authorized version, that included using words that favored the Kings and Bancroft’s control of people, continuing the model the Roman church had used successfully for over 12 centuries to control who was in and who was out, literally controlling heaven and hell, by their approval or disapproval in the minds of the controlled. So I ask you, is this word important? If not why not?
      What does this means to me? For those who are educated enough to know these facts, I call into question what is the motive to perpetuate this lie? What does it mean for those who refuse to bare His reproach and come to Christ outside of the religious church camp, obviously of human origin?
      Who will be blameless in the midst of the congregation? Who will compromise as millions of churchmen have down through the ages? I will not sell my soul for the approval of men.


    4. I think Scribble Preach has been duped. I looked at the article, and others of his, and page after page affirmed that Scribble Preach has been highly duped by the institutional church. His opinions are not worth commenting on.


    5. We all have a tendency to interpret scripture based on what we’ve already chosen to believe. If we want people to be more closely aligned with us, we’ll find ways to use scripture to push them that direction – like “over interpreting” ekklesia.

      While doing cp work in an Arabic speaking country, the believers referred to themselves as the “majmouah” – which literally means “group” in Arabic. I remember laughing with others that if this “majmouah” had been the first gathering of Christians, 2000 years from now people would be looking at all kinds of silly interpretations of the word and writing books on how to recreate “majmouah,” developing a culture of “majmouah,” and trying to identify the DNA of “majmouah.”


    6. I think I miss what is lost. Is there some idea that the word carries more meaning than just an assembly? Could this be attacking preachers who have been taking ‘called out’ to mean something more like sanctified… called out to be holy?


    7. Words mean what people mean by them. In other words, a term is defined by usage. Dictionaries don’t define words, they report on the use people make of words. It seems that the writers and speakers of Koine Greek 2000 years ago meant ‘a gathering’ when they wrote or said ἐκκλησία. However, the ancestry of the word is literally ‘out-called’.

      It’s much like the English word ‘cupboard’. It’s a box with doors and perhaps a drawer or two, we keep things in it. The ancestry of the word is literally ‘cup-board’ and it was originally a table or shelf where cups were kept. To insist a box with doors is not a cupboard because it’s not used for storing cups would be foolish and go against everyday usage of the word.

      So ἐκκλησία does indeed carry somewhere inside itself more than just the idea of an assembly. But when people said it and wrote it 2000 years ago, they intended simply an assembly.


    8. by transliteration, in English “ekklesia” or “ecclesia” is coming to better mean “called out ones, coming together” or short for, εκκλησια του θεου, “ekklesia of God”.
      We do not anticipate this meaning to hold long, as many counterfeits are rising up to ply descriptive words as mere labels for their own project or agenda.

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