Concerning the Church – An Alternate Translation of 1 Corinthians 1:2

3663061_300“To the Church of God which is in Qorinthus, called and holy, which is in Yeshua The Messiah, sanctified, and all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Yeshua The Messiah, theirs and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)  Aramaic Bible in Plain English

Yes, that translation is distinctly different from most, but it’s not what I am talking about.  Instead, I’d like to offer another translation:

To the ones who have been CALLED OUT of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light in Corinth, CALLED TO BE HOLY in Jesus together with all those everywhere who are CALLING on the name of our Lord and theirs Jesus, the Christ. 

Think of that translation more in the vein of  the Amplified version than a direct word for word translation.  Greek scholars, feel free to correct that or any of the following conclusions:

Notice that the word “called” is used in three places in three different ways.

First, the word “Church” (Ekklesia) or “called out ones.”  Yes, it does also include the ideas of congregation, assembly, or gathering, but “The Church” (Singular) is made up of all those who have been called out of the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light.  The words “called out” are embedded in the word “church.”

Second, the Church is called (klētois) summoned, invited, etc “to” something, in this case, to be holy.  The church is not just called out to assemble, but called out for a purpose.  Called out to be sent out.  

Third, calling (epikaloumenois) or better yet, “those who are calling,” appealing to, or naming among them.  Those who together reach towards the One who called them.

In summary then, according to 1 Corinthians 1:2, the Church is those who are called out, called to, and calling upon.  Called out by Christ, Called to be holy in Christ, and always Calling on the name of Jesus.

A further consideration: The word “churches”  (ekklesias) in 1 Corinthians 7:17 and many other places, in the plural form establishes and justifies the existence of many local assemblies within the greater context of the universal Church. 1 Corinthians 1:2  These local groupings of the called out ones also have all three characteristics mentioned above.

Does anyone take issue with my translation of 1 Corinthians 1:2? 

0 thoughts on “Concerning the Church – An Alternate Translation of 1 Corinthians 1:2

  1. Marshall says:

    Miguel, your translation work is encouraging. 🙂

    Still a bit stumped for how you seem to be leaning upon a modern (empirical) understanding of “plural” rather than a more koine Greek or paleo Hebrew one [pun intended].
    consider this: if you have 2 hands (I trust you do), and I should write that you built a house by hand, or if I write that you built a house by your hands, we can infer that both your hands function together to accomplish the work involved. If I do refer to your left hand, or to your right, it is only to something specific regarding that part/portion.
    We are all & together “called out”; One church being called (not many). We are Christ’s hand/hands (and more). Otherwise with our English grammar, shall we sadly “miss the forest for the trees”?

  2. Tim Day says:

    I find it useful to know that there were many assemblies that were/are part of the assembly – and not just from this particular text.

    • Miguel says:

      Yes Tim, there are many more texts. I’m having a terrible time identifying them all because many of the plurals are translated as singulars and vice versa. This is where Logos bible software would be handy.

  3. Tim Day says:

    I use http://interlinearbible.org. Above each word and next to the Strong’s number, the letter in brackets, e.g., [e] is a link to the texts where the word is used. You still have to scroll through and identify the passages where the noun is plural.

    Pretty handy, as long as the internet is accessible. They also have an app.

  4. Jim Wright says:

    Isn’t 1 Cor. 1:2 referring to the “church” singular in Corinth, but then 1 Cor. 7:17 to the various “churches” or assemblies that make up the one Corinthian church?

    In other words, there is the one “church” in Corinth (one “ekklesia” of those called out of but part of the local population of Corinth, to gather as an assemble which oversees the affairs of that city on behalf of and under the foreign King who rules that city – which is the primary meaning of “ekklesia” in the vernacular of the day) and it has many assemblies or “churches” that are part of it.

    I honestly don’t see the “universal” church in 1 Cor. 1:2, but the one church with many parts over Corinth.

    • Miguel says:

      Jim,

      You might have a point here, but It’s difficult to distinguish where the word “church” in its singular form refers to the universal church or a part of it. In 1 Cor 1:2 it’s prefaced by “the church of God” which is “in” Corinth.

      So, while we might want to say, “To the part of the universal church of God which is in Corinth,” I’m not so sure that would fly.

      Certainly in other places like “if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15, it refers to the universal church.

      Perhaps I’ll have to develop the argument for the universal church AND its segments from other passages.

      My purpose is to lay out an argument that speaks to the phrase “There is, and has always been, one single church.” Especially when used to deny the validity of local church gatherings.

      • Tim Day says:

        I love Romans 16 for that purpose. Some local gatherings listed:

        the church in Cenchrea
        all the churches of the Gentiles
        also the church that meets at their house
        Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them.
        Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy

    • David Woods says:

      May I add Jim, that taking the two references you mentioned by themselves (as people are so prone to do) one may be able to read your conclusion into them. However, taking the Bible as a whole, I think it’s obvious that churches refers to the people first, then, if at all, the assemblages secondly.

      Looking at Paul’s other greetings to churches in his other epistles for example, it becomes clear that he uses the words saints and churches interchangeably when he addresses them, and focuses on personal aspects such as holiness and sanctification before he addresses the need for assembly.
      1 Thess 1:1
      Colossians 1:2
      Eph 1:1
      Philippians 1:1
      Gal 1:2
      I’m not saying it’s never addressed, it’s just not focused on, and is certainly not indicative of the very definition of the NT church.

  5. Marshall says:

    Miguel, you have written:
    “My purpose is to lay out an argument that speaks to the phrase ‘There is, and has always been, one single church.’ Especially when used to deny the validity of local church gatherings.”

    Who denies “the validity of local church gatherings” that does not also participate in/with them?

  6. Miguel says:

    Marshall,

    I have heard the complete denial of the existence of the local church and our need to gather as such as recently as this morning.

    I’ll be happy to provide a reference, but I don’t think calling the person out will be fruitful.

  7. Marshall says:

    Miguel,
    most likely, there is a misunderstanding afoot?
    Otherwise, an argument from the use of plurals will not be of sufficient weight to persuade them.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Even coming from a conservative Baptist (with traces of Landmarkism) background, I’m not sure that I see a real controversy here. Each mention of the term “church” in our English bibles can be examined, via usage and context, for local or universal (I’d even be willing to add in “geographical” where a text refers to a church in a specific but very large portion of real estate). The overwhelming majority of mentions refer to local.

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