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The Ecclesia

Christians are called to separate themselves from the world; “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:17). They are: “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Pet. 2:9). What exactly though does this mean? What sort of separation is this?

The word translated church in the New Testament is “ecclesia.” This is actually a mistranslation as the correct Greek word for church is “kiriakon” which is literally “Lord’s place or property.” Ecclesia means “summoned,” literally “out-called.” Historically it referred to the governing bodies of the Greek city-states, which was essentially all the adult men of the city. They were the ecclesia, summoned to assemble together as a final ruling body, to make significant governmental decisions.

The Holy Spirit used this word to describe the local Christian assemblies. These assemblies were called to separate themselves from the local populations and to live under God’s law instead of Roman law and customs. The separation was not merely religious; it was a total change in lifestyle and allegiance. It was dangerous; a refusal to acknowledge Caesar as Lord could result in being fed to hungry lions. These early Christians took that risk and maintained that Christ and not Caesar was Lord. This was not merely a religious offense; it denied Caesar his claim of absolute ruler and was a violation of Roman law.

These ecclesias were much more than churches; they were outposts of the kingdom of God within the Roman Empire. They constituted a nation within a nation, in Rome but not a part of Rome. They obeyed Roman law only to the extent that it conformed to God’s law. Actual obedience then was only to God and Christ was the only Lord and lawgiver. They were the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy:

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed:  and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Dan. 2:34).

This is the kingdom of God that Jesus said we should seek (Matt. 6:33). It crushed Rome, the last of the great pre-Christian empires; it will consume all the nations of the world and will stand forever.

Today though, because the body of Christ has not done the work that the Lord assigned it (Matt. 5:13-16; 28:18-20), God’s kingdom has gone astray and is in a much weakened state. It started well, having, in a few short centuries, conquered Rome but subsequently lost sight of its mission, allowed itself to be reduced to a merely religious body, and gave the world over to the very nations it was to conquer and consume.

All this will be corrected; the kingdom of God will prevail and Daniel’s prophecy will be fulfilled in its entirety. The only question is when; when will a generation of true Christians wake up to their responsibilities and get back to the work that the Lord assigned them? It could begin now. You could be a part of it. This needs more discussion. I can be contacted through the Contact page.