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The word 'Church' in the Bible


Sue writes: 

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?

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Hi Sue,

"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 exception.

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.Add a note!


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Hobbes, Church and Ecclesia, Obedience and Hypakoe, Bishop and Episcopus

The condemnation of Meister Eckhart by the Pope

The Bible

The Christian Way

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