Updated: Jan 16, 2021
I will build my ekklesia (Matt. 16:18)
And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church [ekklesia], 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. [Eph 1:22-23 ESV]
Jesus appropriated “ekklesia” from the Greeks
Democracy as we know it today was founded by the Greeks about 600 BC. Their forum for democracy was called “ekklesia,” where diverse citizens of a city came together for legislation. Each had an opportunity to freely speak their perspectives before voting to take a particular action. This form of democracy was adopted by the Romans for local governments and continues in the form of a “town meeting” in America and in many nations today.
Jesus said: “I will build my ekklesia [mistranslated to “church”]. Jesus appropriated a secular forum and declared that He would have His own ekklesia. What a contrast His ekklesia/democracy is when compared to the secular democracy of today!
One can witness democracy today—it is full of divisiveness, hatred, confusion, and corruption. The more secular society stresses equality, inclusion, diversity . . . the more it seems the result is more inequality, segregation, strife, and aversion to those different than oneself. Christians have fallen into this same attitude with each other by condemning and opposing those different in perspectives and understanding.
God’s ekklesia (democratic legislative assembly) that the Lord is building is one where there is freedom to be distinct and different in Christ, and each believer can voice their perspectives of life in Jesus Christ according to their own experiences and understanding. The Lord’s ekklesia is fully described in 1 Corinthians 11:17 through 1 Corinthians Chapter 14.
Unlike this world’s democracy, God’s ekklesia is one where individuals who may be considered undesirable are honored (1 Cor. 12); where love between those contrary to each other is experienced and manifested (1 Cor. 13); and where their liberty to share—to give their input—in oneness causes the world to believe and worship God (1 Cor. 14).
God’s ekklesia, His eternal purpose, shows His chief adversary (Satan) that out of this fallen, sinful, and divided humanity people can love one another in unity (Eph. 3:10-11). This can only happen because God’s children have His eternal divine life, nature, and love. What a testimony is expressed on behalf of Jesus Christ living in His believers!
Now is the time for ekklesia: show love, kindness, and forgiveness starting from within the household of God.
The conspiracy to mistranslate “ekklesia” to “church”
William Tyndale, credited as the first translator of the Bible directly from Hebrew and Greek to English, translated “ekklesia” to “congregation.” The Roman Church at the time objected and demanded “ekklesia” be translated to “church.” Tyndale refused to submit; therefore, he was eventually burned at the stake for his conviction.
Eighty years or so later, King James decreed that an Authorized Version of the Bible in English be made available. Although over 80% of his version was directly lifted from Tyndale, his rule #3 of this translation read: ekklesia must be “church” and not “congregation.”
“Church” is literally referring to the physical building where Christians are to go to “worship” and be taught by the clergy. Whereas, “ekklesia” is where all kinds of believers assemble with each having the freedom to utilize their gifts and speak their perspectives of Jesus Christ being Lord.
The Roman Church at the time of Tyndale owned all the churches (buildings) in Europe; and King James, being the head of the Church of England, owned all the churches in England. Both wanted their subjects to go to church where all could be taught the Bible from their perspective (indoctrination). Whoever owns the building, determines what is taught and practiced in that building (church). What better way to control the populace than to make sure they all go to church!
This tradition continues to this very day even when there are literally thousands of different churches. They are still owed by certain ministers or ministries. Every “church” expresses their own perspective from the Bible. The owners continue to determine what is taught and practiced in their churches. Unlike the times of King James, today’s “church explosion” offers scores of services to attend instead of just one or two.
The benefit of having so many different kinds of churches today are that no matter what the proclivity of a person: language, race, culture, doctrinal preference, even musical genre, one can find such a church “of their choice.” Generally, Jesus Christ is preached, and the Bible read. Nevertheless, if not vigilant by the grace of God, you too will become bias and controlled by only one perspective of Scripture.
Appreciate and receive the things of Christ that are beneficial from a wide-variety of churches, but beware of taking in all things: hook, line, and sinker resulting in suppression and rejection of fellowship with other genuine believers having differing views and experiences.
Liberated to be a unique member in the ekklesia
“…when you come together as a church [ekklesia] there are divisions among you…Indeed, it is necessary that there be factions among you, so that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (1Cor. 11:19 NKJ).
In the only chapters, in the epistles, describing the manifestation (what does it look like?) of the Lord’s ekklesia, Apostle Paul said it is necessary to have factions when assembled. This is fully consistent with Greek ekklesia (democracy) needing representation from every sector of their city in order to legislate. It is necessary to hear from diverse perspectives and experiences concerning faith and Jesus Christ.
In a church setting, people from a contrary perspective will be marked as a trouble-maker or a divisive person if they voiced their opposing views. A church, led by a ministry, simply cannot tolerate a vocal opposition to a focal position of that ministry. This is reasonable and understandable.
However, the Lord’s ekklesia expects and welcomes believers from diverse perspectives. This is the reason Paul in the following chapter 12, says that as members in the Body of Christ, each member is different, none are the same. We all can’t be an eye, and an eye cannot say to the feet: I have not need of you. No matter how different, as long as a person declares “Jesus being Lord”, that person is a member of the Body.
What a freedom it is when the expectation is variety and diversity. In the Lord’s ekklesia, one can be who he/she is in Christ, and be accepted, honored, and loved. There is no need to conform and become uniformed. True love and equality of people from various races, with differing political leanings and views on social hot issues, are manifested in the Lord’s ekklesia, His Body.
Let’s build up the Lord’s ekklesia. Start hosting at your house and gather believers from differing persuasions to break bread: Have a meal together with the remembrance and declaration of the Lord’s death and resurrection. Encourage everyone to speak out and share their insights, perspectives, and experiences while lifting up Jesus Christ as Lord.
Do it once a year, a month, or every week. This is not to build up another group as a “house church” or another defined group. Since no one dominates, claims ownership, or controls the ekklesia, the Spirit is the One moving and directing within the liberty of each and every believer. This is the Lord’s ekklesia!