What is the definition of ekklesia?Ekklesia (or ecclesia) is the Greek word translated in the New Testament as "church." It comes from ek, meaning "out from and to" and kaleo, meaning "to call," and has to do with a group of people called out from one place and to another. It is an assembly or a congregation. The ekklesia in the New Testament is a group of people who have been called out of the world and to God; it is the church.
A few important points about the church and its purpose can be made here. First, the church is a group of people, not a building. The church universal is made up of all believers in Jesus. Local churches are smaller gatherings of the worldwide church. And many local churches happen to meet in a building that we also call a "church." But it is the people, not the building, that is ultimately the church. Our article on "What is the universal church and how is it different from the local church?" explains more.
Secondly, the church is "called out." First Peter 2:9–11 says, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul." Jesus said we are to be as salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13–16). Though we live in the world and are part of it, the church is meant to be distinct. We are to be separate from the ways of the world and point to the truth of God. We are to love people as God does, share His invitation to salvation with them, and pray that they, too, will hear His call and join His church.
Hebrews 10:23–25 is encouragement for each of us who belongs to the ekklesia of God: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
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