This Greek term, ekklesia, is from two words, "out of" and "called."  This word had secular a use (cf. Acts 19:32,39,41) and because of the Septuagint's use of this term for "congregation" of Israel (Qahal, BDB 874, cf. Num. 16:3; 20:4), a religious use. The early church saw themselves as a continuation of the OT people of God. They were the new Israel (cf. Rom. 2:28-29; Gal. 3:29; 6:16; 1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6), the fulfillment of God's worldwide mission (cf. Gen. 3:15; 12:3; Exod. 19:5-6; Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8).

This term is used in several senses in the Gospels and Acts.

1. secular town meeting, Acts 19:32,39,41

2. universal people of God in Christ, Matt. 16:18 and Ephesians

3. a local congregation of believers in Christ, Matt. 18:17; Acts 5:11 (in these verses, the church in Jerusalem)

4. the people of Israel collectively, Acts 7:38, in Stephen's sermon

5. the people of God in a region, Acts 8:3 (Judah or Palestine)


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