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What does the Greek word Ekklesia (GK #1577) mean?

Word Origin: From a compound of Ek (GK #1537) meaning ‘out of’ and Kaleo (GK #2564)
meaning ‘to call’

1. Those who are called out (Key Word Study Bible)

2. An assembly of Christians gathered for worship (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)
3. Those who [regardless of location] are united into one body (NAS NT Greek Lexicon)
4. The whole body of Christians scattered throughout the world (NAS NT Greek Lexicon)
5. The assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven (NAS NT
Greek Lexicon)
6. The members of the Christian community on earth or saints in heaven or both (Key Word
Study Bible)
7. The Ekkletoi (those called out) constitute the Ekklesia (Key Word Study Bible)
a. Ekkletoi derives from Ekkaleo (to call out)
b. Ekklesia was a common term for a congregation of the Ekkletoi
8. The Christian community was designated for the first time as Ekklesia to differentiate it
from the Jewish community (Sunagoge) in Acts 2:47 (Key Word Study Bible)
9. Ekklesia denotes the N.T. community of the redeemed in its twofold aspect (Key Word
Study Bible)
a. All called by & to Christ for all times worldwide
b. A local assembly of believers

Does Ekklesia mean ‘church’?

No. The first English translation of the Bible (Tyndale’s Translation circa 1524) translated the
Greek word Ekklesia as ‘congregation’ or ‘assembly’. Most modern Bible translations translate
Ekklesia as ‘church’ out of convenience to the readers. However, that does not mean it is an
accurate translation. Webster’s Dictionary defines church as ‘a building for public and especially
Christian worship’. However, not one Scripture reference in the Bible connects Ekklesia with a
building for worship.

What do the Scriptures have to say about Ekklesia?

o Hell cannot overpower the Ekklesia (Mt. 16:18)

o The Ekklesia is to engage in discipline as needed (Mt. 18:17; 3 John 1:9-10)
o Total honesty is essential in the Ekklesia (Acts 5:11)
o The Israelites in the wilderness are referred to as the Ekklesia (Acts 7:38)
o The Ekklesia is persecuted (Acts 8:1,3; 12:1; 1 Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13; Phil. 3:6; 1 Thes.
2:14; 3 John 1:10; Rev. 2:9)
o The Ekklesia grows as it goes forward in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the
Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31)
o The early Ekklesia was centered in Jerusalem (Acts 11:22)
o The Ekklesia is to be discipled (Acts 11:26)
o The Ekklesia prays fervently for its brothers and sisters (Acts 12:5)
o In the Ekklesia there are prophets and teachers (Acts 13:1)
o Apostles appointed elders in the Ekklesia through prayer and fasting (Acts 14:23)
o The Ekklesia regularly hears reports of what God is doing in believer’s lives (Acts 14:27;
15:3-4; 3 John 1:6)
o The Ekklesia sends out apostles (Acts 15:3)
o The Ekklesia makes decisions through consensus (Acts 15:22)
o Ekklesia’s are strengthened in faith through traveling apostles (Acts 15:41; 16:5; 18:22)
o The Ekklesia grows daily (Acts 16:5)
o Apostles may convene elders from local Ekklesias (Acts 20:17)
o Idolatry causes confusion in the Ekklesia (Acts 19:32)
o The Ekklesia is to settle disputes among believers (Acts 19:39-41)
o The elders are to oversee and shepherd the Ekklesia (Acts 20:28)
o Women are important in the Ekklesia (Romans 16:1,4)
o The Ekklesia met in homes (Romans 16:5, 23; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Phil. 1:2)
o Traveling apostles frequent the Ekklesia (Romans 16:23; 1 Cor. 4:17; 2 Cor. 8:18)
o The Ekklesia is sanctified and filled with saints (1 Cor. 1:2)
o The Ekklesia is a place of reconciliation (1 Cor. 6:4)
o Believers in the Ekklesia ought to continue leading the life the Lord assigned them (1
Cor. 7:17)
o Judgment has no place in the Ekklesia (1 Cor. 10:32)
o Unity in the Ekklesia is paramount (1 Cor. 11:16, 18, 22)
o A multitude of gifts are present in the Ekklesia (1 Cor. 12:28)
o The gifts – prophecy, interpreted tongues, etc. - edify the Ekklesia (1 Cor. 14:4, 5, 12)
o Instruction occurs in the Ekklesia (1 Cor. 14:19)
o There is peace & order in gatherings of the Ekklesia (1 Cor. 14:23, 33)
o Tongues need to be interpreted in the Ekklesia (1 Cor. 14:28)
o Women were to keep silent in the Ekklesia in Corinth (1 Cor. 14:34-35)
o The Ekklesia is to take up collections for the saints (1 Cor. 16:1)
o The Ekklesia received letters from apostles (2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:2; 1 Thes. 1:1; 2 Thes. 1:1;
Rev. 1:4,11)
o God gives his grace to the Ekklesia (2 Cor. 8:1)
o The Ekklesia appoints apostles (2 Cor. 8:19)
o Apostles receive contributions from local Ekklesias to minister at other local Ekklesias (2
Cor. 11:8)
o Apostles have a deep burden in their hearts for the Ekklesias that they visit (2 Cor. 11:28)
o Apostles can receive contributions from Ekklesias (2 Cor. 12:13; Phil. 5:15)
o Christ is the head of the Ekklesia (Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18)
o God’s wisdom is to be seen through the Ekklesia (Eph. 3:10)
o Christ is to be glorified in the Ekklesia (Eph. 3:21)
o Christ is the Lord and Savior of the Ekklesia (Eph. 5:23)
o The Ekklesia is subject to Christ (Eph. 5:24)
o Christ loves and died for the Ekklesia (Eph 5:25)
o The Ekklesia is to be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:27)
o Christ nourishes and cherishes the Ekklesia (Eph. 5:29)
o Christ and the Ekklesia are one flesh (Eph. 5:32; Heb. 2:12)
o Ekklesias help support travelling apostles (Phil. 4:15; 3 John 1:6)
o Apostles are willing to suffer for the Ekklesia (Col. 1:24)
o Letters from apostles are read in gatherings and shared among other local Ekklesias (Col.
o When apostles visited local Ekklesias they would bring stories of God’s movement in
other local Ekklesiaes (2 Thes. 1:4)
o Elders must know how to oversee their own household before overseeing a Ekklesia (1
Tim. 3:5)
o Apostles help guide Ekklesias in how they ought to behave (1 Tim. 3:15)
o If possible, believers should meet the needs of their own families so that they will not
overburden the Ekklesia. This allows the Ekklesia to help those who have no one to help
them (1 Tim. 5:15-16)
o The elders of the Ekklesia are to pray over the sick, anointing them with oil (James 5:14)
o Seven angels oversaw the seven Ekklesias in Revelation (Rev. 1:20)
o The Ekklesia is to test the authenticity of apostles (Rev. 2:2)
o The Ekklesia is to steadfastly follow Jesus (Rev. 2:4-5)
o The conquering Ekklesia will be in Heaven (Rev. 2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 3:5; 3:12)
o The Ekklesia will be tested (Rev. 2:10)
o Jesus reproves and disciplines the Ekklesia because He loves the Ekklesia (Rev. 3:19)

o Miscellaneous References: Romans 16:16; [Romans 16:27]; 2 Cor. 8:18; 2 Cor. 8:23; 2
Cor. 8:24; Gal. 1:22; [2 Tim. 4:22]; [Titus 3:15]; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 22:16
 Scripture references in brackets come from the KJV and the authenticity of these
particular passages is questioned

There are hundreds of other Scriptures that directly or indirectly allude to the Ekklesia; however,
this study focuses solely on all the Bible verses that contain the Greek word Ekklesia. The
rationale behind this decision is that this is a Greek word study on Ekklesia and not a
comprehensive topical study on the Body of Christ (Ekklesia) which is beyond the scope of a
Greek Word Study.