Author: Ron Graham
Word Study: Church
Word family: church.
Synonyms: congregation, called assembly, body of Christ, family of God, kingdom of Heaven etc [more terms below].
Related ideas: Calling or vocation, preeminence of Christ, fellowship of the saints.
Definitions: The church is the "called out" people of God, considered either as the great world-wide kingdom of God, or as a particular local body of saints who regularly assemble. In the New Testament the word church is never used for a chapel, and never for a denomination or schism.
Greek References: εκκλησια (ekklesia) 1577 (Strong) cf 1537 ek out of, kaleo bidden or called. The English word "church" is related to κυριος (kurios) 2962 meaning Lord.
Christ and his church
- Matthew 16:18 "I will build my church..."
- Acts 2:47 kjv "...the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."
- Ephesians 1:22 "...head over all things to the church which is his body..."
- Ephesians 4:4-6,11-15 "There is one body...[which grows and is united by] speaking the truth in love..."
- Ephesians 5:25 "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... that he might present to himself the church glorious..."
- Revelation 21:2 "...a bride adorned for her husband..."
Some scriptural terms for the church and its people:
- Acts 11:26, "disciples...Christians",
- Acts 20:28, "the flock...church of God",
- Romans 1:6-7, "the called of Christ... beloved of God...saints",
- 1Corinthians 15:6, "brethren [brothers and sisters]",
- Colossians 1:12,13,18, "saints... Christ's kingdom... Christ's body",
- 1Timothy 3:15, "God’s household (family)",
- Hebrews 12:22-23, "church of the firstborn... made perfect,"
- Revelation 21:2, "The new Jerusalem... bride [of Christ]."
Comment: The word "church" is used so loosely today that in almost any dictionary its real scriptural meaning is smothered by the other uses and meanings that have become attached to the word. Some translators rejected the word and instead used "congregation", for example Tyndale (1525), Alexander Campbell (1826), and Hugo McCord, ThD (1988). McCord also uses "called out people".