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Cremer says it is “The common term for a meeting of the eklectoi, assembled to discuss the affairs of a free state.” According to Trench, “Ekklesia, as all know, was the lawful assembly in a free Greek city of all those possessed of the right of citizenship for the transaction of public affairs. That they were summoned is expressed in the latter part of the word; that they were summoned out of the whole population, a select portion of it, neither the populace, nor yet strangers, nor those who had forfeited their civil rights,-this is expressed in the first. Both the calling and the calling out are moments to be remembered when the word is assumed into a higher Christian sense; for in them the chief part of its adaptation to its more august use lies.” The word does not denote,

. except in rare figurative usage, a miscellaneous, unofficial assembly.


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11. USAGE OF THE SEPTUAGINT. In the Greek version of the Old Testament ekklesia is the usual rendering of kahal, which, according to Vitringa, denotes “The entire multitude of any people united by the bonds of a society, and constituting a certain republic or state."

Gesenius defines, as its ordinary meaning, “An assembly, a convocation of the people of Israel.” Thus, Moses said, “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the ekklesia of the Lord;" and David declares, “My praise shall be of thee in the great ekklesia, my vows will I pay in the presence of all them that fear him," where the word designates “the congregation of the Lord,” composed only of Israelites qualified to act as the Lord's people, and to participate in the worship of his sanctuary. It excluded the uncircumcised, the unclean, and “the mixed multitude.” The same restriction is evident in the use of ekklesia in the New Testament

when it refers to ancient Israel as "the congregation of the Lord(Acts vii. 38; Heb. ii. 12).

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III. THE CHRISTIAN USAGE. Ekklesia is used in the New Testament one hundred and fifteen times. Of these instances, two relate to the Hebrew "congregation of the Lord,” three to the Greek assembly, and one hundred and ten to the Christian church.

1. Its ordinary use in the New Testament is to designate a specific, local assembly of Christians, organized for the maintenance of the worship, the doctrines, the ordinances, and the discipline of the gospel, and united, under special covenant, with Christ and with one another; as, "the church at Jerusalem," "the churches of Galatia.” The word occurs in this local sense in ninety-two instances.

2. It denotes the entire body of the elect in heaven and on earth—all who are embraced in the covenant of grace and who shall be gathered into the everlasting kingdom of Christ. Here the word is used figuratively, the name of a part designating the whole; and all redeemed souls are conceived as forming one grand assembly. Thus, Paul said, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. v. 25–27). Here the church is conceived as the bride of Christ, the Lamb's wife, but not as the local church, for in this case innumerable brides will be presented to Christ at last-an image wholly incongruous. Plainly, the whole body of Christ's redeemed is meant, conceived as when at last, fully perfected, they shall be gathered in one glorious assembly and presented to him-an image eminently natural and beautiful. Thus, also, where Christ is declared to be “Head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all,” the language can hardly be applied to any one local church; but when spoken of the whole multitude of the redeemed, conceived as one body, it conveys a natural and adequate sense. Probably it is to be interpreted in this way also in Eph. iii. 10, 21; Col. i. 18, 24; Heb. xii. 23, and kindred passages. In Acts ix. 31, ekklesia, according to the best manuscripts, is to be read in the singular: “Then had the church rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria," where it would seem to designate the whole body of Christians in these regions, considered as forming a part of this universal church of Christ, "the whole family in heaven and earth."

Ekklesia, therefore, as used in this second sense, designates the invisible church, so called because it has no visible, earthly organization. Its predicates, as indicated in Scripture, are unity, sanctity, catholicity, and perpetuity—unity, because all its meinbers are united by a living faith to its one Head, and thus constitute his body; sanctity, because all are renewed, sanctified, and inhabited by the one Holy Spirit; catholicity, because all, though separated in time and space, are embraced within the one fold; and perpetuity, because the existence and glory of this church shall continue, world without end.

The following uses of the word church, though now common, are not found in the New Testament ekklesia : 1. As the designation of a universal visible church. No officers of such a church are designated, for the apostles' office was plainly temporary, and expired with them. No provision is made for the assembling of such a church,

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either actual or representative. No laws, ordinances, or discipline are given for such a church. All the elements, therefore, of such a body are wanting, nor is there any intimation of its existence. 2. As the designation of a national or denominational church. Different churches are expressly mentioned as existing in the same nation or district; as, "the churches of Judea," "the churches of Macedonia," "the churches of Galatia," "the seven churches of Asia." We read nothing respecting a "diocese," a "synod," a "conference," where many separate

, congregations compose one church; yet, had such been the apostolic organization of Christianity, we must have read of "the church of Judea," "the church of Macedonia,"

," "the church of Galatia." Plainly, ekklesia has nothing corresponding to "the Protestant Episcopal Church,” “the Methodist Episcopal Church,” “the Presbyterian Church,” when these titles designate a great national or district organization including in itself many distinct local congregations. Everywhere in Scripture a visible church is a local body.

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The unit in the church is a regenerate soul in liv

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ing union with Christ, and the church itself is an assemblage of such souls, attracted to each other by the spiritual affinities of the new life each has received, and by the common bond which binds them to the Lord. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" and a new spiritual birth was thus made for all ages the fundamental condition of membership in the Christian church. This is also shown by the following proofs: 1. The first church was composed only of such persons. The "one hundred and twenty who “continued with one accord in prayer and supplication,” awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit, were "disciples." At the Pentecost only those "who gladly received the word,” “such as should be saved,” were “added to the church," and the body is described as

the multitude of them that believed.” 2. The churches are always addressed as thus composed. The members of the church in Rome were “beloved of God, called to be saints," and their "faith was spoken of throughout the whole world." The Ephesian church was addressed as "the saints which are at Ephesus and the faithful in Christ Jesus." This is the babitual language of the apostles in addressing churches. No passage occurs in which members of a church are otherwise characterized, except when unfitness for membership is implied. 3. A marked contrast in spiritual character is everywhere drawn between the church and the world. Paul says of the Roman church,“ God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you. Being, then, made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness (Rom. vi. 17, 18). To the Ephesian church he says, “ You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. ii. 1). And John, whose Epistles everywhere em


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