You've Been Duped! Ekklesia Does Not Mean "Called Out Ones."

rootIn a recent article called 7 Ways to do a Bad word Study,” the author lays out 7 bad ways of doing word studies from the Bible and making faulty conclusions.  The article reminded me of D.A. Carson’s book Exegetical Fallacies, chapter 1.  In this article, Regarding point number 1, he states: 

You’ve heard this: “The word ekklesia is a Greek word for the church that literally means, “called out ones””. Technically, this isn’t true. While combining the two root words (“called out from”) does indeed create something like “called out ones”, the truth is, the word ekklesia is never used that way in the New Testament or its contemporaries. In fact, ekklesia was used to refer to a group of philosophers, mathematicians, or any other kind of assembly in the Greco-Roman world. So unless we’re supposing that actors and gladiators were called to a holy lifestyle by assembling together, we can’t create a relationship between holiness and ekklesia necessarily. While it’s true that the church is composed of “called out” ones – that’s not the particular point of this word. It just means “assembly” or “gathering.”

While focusing on a good issue, namely fallacies regarding the roots of biblical words, I think he makes too many assumptions regarding ekklesia.  What about you? 

Can you justify “Ekklesia” as meaning anything other than “gathering” or “assembly?”  

Does it matter? 

0 thoughts on “You've Been Duped! Ekklesia Does Not Mean "Called Out Ones."

  1. Alan Knox says:


    No, I can’t justify “ekklesia” as meaning anything other than “gathering” or “assembly,” especially in common (Koine) Greek of the first century.

    Here’s as interesting entry concerning “ekklesia” in BDAG (the standard Greek lexicon): “Orpheus forms for himself ἐκκλησίαν (ekklesian), a group of wild animals, who listen to him, in the Thracian mountains where there are no people.”

    Like you said above, it’s hard for me to imagine these “wild animals” being described as “called out ones.” Orpheus forms an assembly or gathering of wild animals.

    Also, interestingly, Luke uses the term “ekklesia” almost synonymously with “ochlos” (“crowd”) at the end of Acts 19.


  2. Rob Kampen says:

    I don’t feel duped, I think it is just a play on words – there are many situations where people are “called out” and thus need to gather together for whatever purpose the calling out was for.
    All seems simple to me – it is just a term used for a gathering, crowd, assembly of individuals around or for a common purpose or need.
    To try and make this into something else serves what purpose?
    I think I’m missing the issue.

  3. Marc Winter says:

    I understand that literally “ekklesia” does not mean ‘called out ones’, but it is interesting that the root words could be a play on words, perhaps Jesus had that in mind? The larger question, the more pertinent question, is the obvious transliteration of the word ekklesia as our word “church”. We know the word “church” was translated from the word “kuriakon” not the word “ekklesia”.
    We know that Arch Bishop Bancroft, King Jame’s cohort, gave rules for translating the authorized version, that included using words that favored the Kings and Bancroft’s control of people, continuing the model the Roman church had used successfully for over 12 centuries to control who was in and who was out, literally controlling heaven and hell, by their approval or disapproval in the minds of the controlled. So I ask you, is this word important? If not why not?
    What does this means to me? For those who are educated enough to know these facts, I call into question what is the motive to perpetuate this lie? What does it mean for those who refuse to bare His reproach and come to Christ outside of the religious church camp, obviously of human origin?
    Who will be blameless in the midst of the congregation? Who will compromise as millions of churchmen have down through the ages? I will not sell my soul for the approval of men.

  4. David Woods says:

    I think Scribble Preach has been duped. I looked at the article, and others of his, and page after page affirmed that Scribble Preach has been highly duped by the institutional church. His opinions are not worth commenting on.

  5. Rick says:

    We all have a tendency to interpret scripture based on what we’ve already chosen to believe. If we want people to be more closely aligned with us, we’ll find ways to use scripture to push them that direction – like “over interpreting” ekklesia.

    While doing cp work in an Arabic speaking country, the believers referred to themselves as the “majmouah” – which literally means “group” in Arabic. I remember laughing with others that if this “majmouah” had been the first gathering of Christians, 2000 years from now people would be looking at all kinds of silly interpretations of the word and writing books on how to recreate “majmouah,” developing a culture of “majmouah,” and trying to identify the DNA of “majmouah.”

  6. Tom Schultz says:

    I think I miss what is lost. Is there some idea that the word carries more meaning than just an assembly? Could this be attacking preachers who have been taking ‘called out’ to mean something more like sanctified… called out to be holy?

  7. Words mean what people mean by them. In other words, a term is defined by usage. Dictionaries don’t define words, they report on the use people make of words. It seems that the writers and speakers of Koine Greek 2000 years ago meant ‘a gathering’ when they wrote or said ἐκκλησία. However, the ancestry of the word is literally ‘out-called’.

    It’s much like the English word ‘cupboard’. It’s a box with doors and perhaps a drawer or two, we keep things in it. The ancestry of the word is literally ‘cup-board’ and it was originally a table or shelf where cups were kept. To insist a box with doors is not a cupboard because it’s not used for storing cups would be foolish and go against everyday usage of the word.

    So ἐκκλησία does indeed carry somewhere inside itself more than just the idea of an assembly. But when people said it and wrote it 2000 years ago, they intended simply an assembly.

  8. Marshall says:

    by transliteration, in English “ekklesia” or “ecclesia” is coming to better mean “called out ones, coming together” or short for, εκκλησια του θεου, “ekklesia of God”.
    We do not anticipate this meaning to hold long, as many counterfeits are rising up to ply descriptive words as mere labels for their own project or agenda.

  9. Rick Meigs says:

    One might wonder how people knows to assemble if not called out.

  10. Jonathan says:

    I think I’ve missed the point of this “controversy “

  11. Will Wade says:

    The purpose of the Ekklesia is nothing like a Church. Thayer’s Greek lexicon give the best word definition and the primary word definition for Ekklesia Strong’s Greek word number 1577 Assembly of the people convened at the public place of council for the purpose of deliberating Page 196.

    Let Christ tell us what the purpose of his Ekklesia the warfare against the gates of Hades (Hell) (Mat.16:15-18).
    Peter (a surname meaning “a Small Rock”) said to Christ you are the son of the living God.

    Christ replies “And I say also unto you, the you are “The Little Rock” but upon this Petra
    (The context is, your confession that I am the son of the living God which truth is meaning that I am the unconquerable mountain fortress of “Petra.” The ancient Petra was know world wide as an unconquerable mountain fortress that no armies in the entire ancient world could overcome or conquer.)
    I will Edify
    ([See Strong’s Greek word number 3618 oikodomeo oikodomeo oy-kod-om-eh’-o edification 2a). Meaning to edify is the act of one who promotes another’s growth to become more “Christ Like” in wisdom, righteousness, piety, happiness, holiness. See another verse written with the same Greek word oikodomeo meaning to “edify.” Romans chapter 14 verse 19 meaning as a impaneled juror and through polemic Debate the entire assembly will decide true source of any disputed doctrine to stop division. Without Ekklesia or deliberating disputed doctrine the gates of hell will over come or divide like the 138,000 churches are divided who refuse to deliberate their disputed differences (Doctrines of Hades false instructions making the claim to be from God)
    my Ekklesia and the Gates of Hades will not overcome (or divide) against it.

    • Joe says:

      The calling is the invitation to obey the gospel the called out ones are those who have met the gospel in obedience .we must not use Classical Greek in defining Silesia but koania

  12. Lisa says:

    1. The Greek word ekklesia means assembly, or a gathering of called-out ones. It is used seventy times in the Septuagint for the Hebrew kahal (from which latter we have our word call), rendered in the Septuagint by sunagoge and ekklesia.¹ This latter word occurs in the New Testament 115 times (36 in plural), and is always translated “church” except in Acts 19:32, 39, 41 (assembly).
    2. kahal is used (1) of Israel as a People called out from the rest of the nations (Genesis 28:3); (2) of the tribal council of Simeon and Levi, those called out from each tribe (Genesis 49:6); (3) of an assembly of Israelites called out for worship or any other purpose (Deuteronomy 18:16; 31:30. Joshua 8:35. Judges 21:8); (4) any assembly of worshippers as a congregation (Psalm 22:22, 25. Ekklesia in Matthew 16:18; (18:17. 1Corinthians 14:19, 35, etc.); (5) the equivalent ekklesia of separate assemblies in different localities (Acts 5:11; 8:3. 1Corinthians 4:17, etc.); (6) of the guild or “union” of Ephesian craftsmen (Acts 19:32, 41), and verse 39 (the lawful assembly). Finally, the special Pauline usage of ekklesia differs from all these. Other assemblies consisted of called-out ones from Jews, or from Gentiles (Acts 18:22), but this new body is of called-out ones from both.
    3. Our word “church” ² has an equally varied usage. It is used (1) of any congregation; (2) of a particular church (England, or Rome, etc); (3) of the ministry of a church; (4) of the building in which the congregation assembles; (5) of Church as distinct from Chapel; (6) of the church as distinct from the world, and lastly, it is used in the Pauline sense, of the body of Christ. 4. It is of profound importance to distinguish the usage of the word in each case, else we may be reading “the church which was in the wilderness” into the Prison Epistles, although we are expressly told that there is neither Jew nor Gentile in the “church which is His body”. And when our Lord said “On this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18), those who heard His words could not connect them with the “mystery” which was “hid in God” and had not then been made known to the sons of men. Confusion follows our reading what refers to Israel in the past or the future into the present dispensation. Readers are referred to the various notes in the connexions.
    5. The word where qualified by other terms occurs thus:-
    Church of God; Acts 20:28. 1Corinthians 1:2; 10:32; 11:16 (plural), 22; 15:9. 2Corinthians 1:1. Galatians 1:13. 1Thessalonians 2:14 (plural). 2Thessalonians 1:4 (plural). 1Timothy 3:5, 15 (c. of the living God).
    Churches of Christ; Romans 16:16.
    Church in .. house; Romans 16:5. 1Corinthians 16:19. Colossians 4:15. Philemon 2.
    Churches of the Gentiles; Romans 16:4.
    Churches of Galatia; 1Corinthians 16:1. Galatians 1:2.
    Of Asia; 1Corinthians 16:19. Of Macedonia; 2Corinthians 8:1. Of Judæa; Galatians 1:22. Of the Laodiceans; Colossians 4:16. Of the Thessalonians; 1Thessalonians 1:1; 2Thessalonians 1:1.
    Church of the firstborn (plural); Hebrews 12:23.
    Church in Ephesus, Smyrna, etc. Revelation 2 and 3; and
    Churches; Revelation 22:16.
    ¹ kahal occurs in the Old Testament 123 times; congregation eighty-six, assembly seventeen, company seventeen, and multitude three times. The Septuagint uses sunagoge and ekklesia as practically synonymous terms. But the sunagoge concerns the bringing together of the members of an existing society or body excluding all others, whereas the ekklesia calls and invites all men, including outsiders everywhere, to join it. Sunagoge being permanently associated with Jewish worship, was dropped by the early Christians in favor of ekklesia as of wider import.
    ² Is derived from the Greek kuriakos, of or belonging to the Lord, house (Greek oikos) being understood. It comes to us through Anglo-Saxon circe (Scottish kirk).

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