Thursday, November 4, 2021

How Accurate is the Translation of "Church"?

What comes to mind when you hear the word "church"?  A building where Christians meet?  Christianity as a whole?  Something else?  The word translated as "church" in our Bibles is the Greek word "ecclesia", which is a compound Greek word that literally means "to call out".  This word appears in the Bible 118 times and is translated as "Church" 115 of those times in the KJV.  But how accurate is this translation?

If by "Church", you mean "congregation" or "assembly", then the translation is not accurate at all.  Nothing I could find about ecclesia has anything to do with gathering together or assembling.  It has everything to do with what some refer to as "the called out ones".  That is, the people who believe in Jesus.  A better word to translate as "Church" in the context of an assembly would be the Greek word "synagogue", which literally means "assembly".  The Bible also uses this to refer to the place where believers assemble.

If you mean the place where believers in Jesus assemble, then the phrase "house of God" or "house of the Lord" seems to be the best option.  Every place where this phrase appears in the Bible, it always refers to a physical location or building where the people assemble.  The word "synagogue" I guess can work, but that word is usually reserved for congregations that try to observe God's Appointed Times and Sabbaths as closely to what's prescribed as possible.

In two places in the New Testament, you'll find the phrase "God's household".  Paul uses this is 1 Timothy 3:15 to refer to "the called out of the living God" (literal translation).  Peter seems to use it in the same manner in 1 Peter 4:17.  So while the phrase "house of God" refers to the physical place of assembly, the phrase "God's household" refers to those who believe in Jesus.  Although some interpret "God's household" as synonymous with "house of God", which refers to the place of assembly.

If by Church, you mean those who believe in Jesus, then you have a whole host of phrases to choose from if you want to eliminate any ambiguity.  Phrases such as "body of Christ", "body of the Messiah", "the called out ones", "the called out of God", and a few others.  You also have the word "Christians".

In conclusion, the word "Church" is not the most accurate translation of ecclesia.  A literal translation of "called out ones" or "called out" seems to be the best translation in most (if not all) cases.  By the way, have you been wondering what exactly we have been called out of?  I believe that the answer is that we've been called out of sin.  That would mean "ecclesia" refers to those who have been called out of sin, and now walk according to that calling.  I also believe that God is calling everyone out of sin, but very few are going to answer it.  This is why I believe that this translation is the best.  Because by using this, we will constantly remind ourselves that we have been called out of sin, and into righteousness (Romans 6:11-14), which is obedience to God's commandments (Romans 2:13).

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