The word 'Church' in the Bible
My elderly mother is confused by
the word "church" in this scripture. She believes that the word "Church" would
not have existed in Christ's day. What is the actual meaning of the Greek word
used in this scripture please?
* * *
"Church" in the original text is "Ecclesia". The
word Ecclesia is also used (136 times) in the Septuagint, and is used 114
times in the New Testament itself. Therefore, Matthew 16.18 is not an
Ecclesia means convocation, gathering,
congregation, meeting, etc. "Ecclesia tou demou" (meeting of the citizens) was
in ancient Athens the meeting of the citizens of Athens to decide on the
affairs of their city. Ecclesia in the New
Testament (and the Old) is the people of the city of God, that is, not a part
of them (the clergy, monks or any part whatever), but all the faithful.
From this meaning comes also the naming of local
churches (ekklesiai), that is the whole communities of the faithful in
various cities, and again not a part of them. See, e.g. in Apocalypse, where
John writes to the Churches (Ecclesiai) of Ephesus, Smyrna, etc. Paul wrote
also to various churches, and writing to the church of Rome he says what the
church is: "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints"
- To all the faithful, that is a church.
What seems to be your mother's question, is what
this community of the faithful has to do with Peter's special function as the
rock of the whole church. And maybe this question comes from the meaning with
which papacy invested this passage.
Papacy has made many mistakes, and this one is
the base of all its mistakes. Papacy (without any grounding on the Bible) 1)
linked Peter with each and every Pope, that is with the See itself, as if
each Pope and Peter were the same person, and 2) interpreted Christ's
words as if they meant obeyance of all to Peter.
Christ here says that His church will be built
upon Peter, not because all will obey Peter, but because Peter showed a faith
in Christ, revealed by the Father in Heaven. That is, the rock upon which the
Church is being built is anyone who has faith in Christ revealed by the
Father, that is, upon all faithful to the degree that they have real
faith, real knowledge of the living Christ as the only begotten Son of God.
All men who have real and alive contact with the
Christ, are the rock of the Church, helping the others as much as they can, to
arrive (if they want) to the same living contact - and they help in the way of
Christ himself. Christ did not burn people to death, and did not force anyone
to obey Him. He didn't come as a heavenly all-mighty machine, He came as a
man, to love to be loved, and He was crucified because of this.
If the All-Mighty Himself was crucified, what
should we do? It needs a lot of corruption for one to distort a passage as
Matthew 16.18, in order to 'justify' the transformation of the church into a
prison and a camp, with the Bishop of Rome as Chief Oppressor.
* * *
Hobbes, Church and Ecclesia,
Obedience and Hypakoe, Bishop and Episcopus
The condemnation of Meister Eckhart by
* * *
to mail index