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The Church

In trying to bring the gospel to our natural network of relationships, we run into existing
Christian institutions that are sometimes structured against the natural movement of the
gospel. How can we express church in a way that will help, rather than hinder, the
movement of the gospel?

The logical place to start is the scriptures. What does the Bible say is the church? The
Greek word ekklesia is the New Testament word that most people equate with church.
When we think of the word church, some people tend to think locally, while others think
only of the universal church. In fact, the word ekklesia is used in many ways in scripture.
Some of the numerous NT references to ekklesia are listed below. As best as you can,
place each reference into the categories that follow:

universal regional city house general sense Comments


Matthew 16:18
Matthew 18:17
Acts 8:1
Acts 8:3
Acts 9:31
Acts 11:26
Acts 12:1
Acts 14:23
Acts 14:27
Acts 15:4
Acts 20:28
Romans 16:5
1 Corinthians 1:2
1 Corinthians 4:17
1 Corinthians 11:18
1 Corinthians 12:28
1 Corinthians 14:4
1 Corinthians 15:9
1 Corinthians 16:1
1 Corinthians 16:19
2 Corinthians 1:1
2 Corinthians 8:1
Galatians 1:2
Galatians 1:13
Galatians 1:22
Ephesians 1:22-23
Ephesians 3:10
Ephesians 3:21
Ephesians 5:23-32
Philippians 4:15
Colossians 4:15-16
1 Timothy 3:5
1 Timothy 3:15
1 Timothy 5:16
Philemon 2

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Hebrews 12:21-23
James 5:14
3 John 6
3 John 9
3 John 10
Revelation 1:11
2. What do your observations in the above question tell you about the meaning of
ekklesia?

3. Read Acts 19:23-41. The word ‘ekklesia’ is used in verses 19:32; 19:39 and 19:41.
Most English Bibles translate the term as ‘assembly’. How does this add to your
understanding of the term ekklesia?

4. Consider the following passages. In your opinion, are these believers or groups
manifestations of ‘church’? Why, or why not?
Acts 13:1-3

Acts 13:44

Acts 15:1-21

Acts 15:22-23

Acts 16:6-10

Acts 16:25-34

Acts 20:17-18

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Ephesians 4:11-13

3 John 5-12

Summarize your observations:

5. Observe, in the following passages, the status awarded to the Church. Where does the
Church fit into God’s purposes?

SCRIPTURE OBSERVATIONS

Ephesians 1:18-23 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be
enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has
called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and
his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like
the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ
when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand
in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and
dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present
age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his
feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every
way.

Ephesians 3:10-11 His intent was that now, through the church,
the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers
and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal
purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 5:25-30 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved


the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing
her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her
to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other
blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought
to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves
himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and
cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- for we are members of
his body.

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SCRIPTURE OBSERVATIONS

Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is


the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in
everything he might have the supremacy.

Colossians 1:24-27 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you,


and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's
afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have
become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to
you the word of God in its fullness-- the mystery that has been kept
hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the
glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of
glory.

Where does the Church fit into God's purposes?

6. Write out any questions that you have about ekklesia as it relates to your situation?

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VERSES FOR “THE CHURCH” BIBLE STUDY

Matthew 16:18- And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I
will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Matthew 18:17- If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church;


and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a
pagan or a tax collector.

Acts 8:1- And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that
day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem,
and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and
Samaria.

Acts 8:3- But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to
house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.

Acts 9:31- Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria
enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the
Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

Acts 11:26- and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So


for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught
great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at
Antioch

Acts 12:1- 1It was about this time that King Herod arrested some
who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.

Acts 14:23- Paul and Barnabas appointed elders[a] for them in each
church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in
whom they had put their trust.

Acts 14:27- On arriving there, they gathered the church together and
reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened
the door of faith to the Gentiles.

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Acts 15:4 - When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by
the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported
everything God had done through them.

Acts 20:28- Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the
Holy Spirit has made you overseers.Be shepherds of the church of
God,which he bought with his own blood.

Romans 16:5- Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet
my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the
province of Asia.

1 Corinthians 1:2- To the church of God in Corinth, to those


sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those
everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord
and ours:

1 Corinthians 4:17- For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my


son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my
way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere
in every church.

1 Corinthians 11:18- In the first place, I hear that when you come
together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some
extent I believe it.

1 Corinthians 12:28- And in the church God has appointed first of all
apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles,
also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with
gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of
tongues.

1 Corinthians 14:4- He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but


he who prophesies edifies the church

1 Corinthians 15:9- For I am the least of the apostles and do not


even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church
of God.

1 Corinthians 16:1- Now about the collection for God's people: Do


what I told the Galatian churches to do.

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1 Corinthians 16:19- The churches in the province of Asia send you
greetings. Aquila and Priscilla[a] greet you warmly in the Lord, and so
does the church that meets at their house.

2 Corinthians 1:1- Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,


and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together
with all the saints throughout Achaia:

2 Corinthians 8:1- And now, brothers, we want you to know about


the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.

Galatians 1:2- and all the brothers with me, To the churches in
Galatia:

Galatians 1:13- For you have heard of my previous way of life in


Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to
destroy it.

Galatians 1:22- I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea


that are in Christ.

Ephesians 1:22-23- And God placed all things under his feet and
appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is
his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Ephesians 3:10- His intent was that now, through the church, the
manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and
authorities in the heavenly realms,

Ephesians 3:21- 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ


Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 5:23-32- For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ
is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now
as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their
husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ
loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy,
cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to
present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or
any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way,
husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves

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his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but
he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are
members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father
and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one
flesh."[b] 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ
and the church.

Philippians 4:15- Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early


days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from
Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and
receiving, except you only;

Colossians 4:15-16- Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea,


and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16After this letter has
been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the
Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.

1 Timothy 3:5- (If anyone does not know how to manage his own
family, how can he take care of God's church?)

1 Timothy 3:15-if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to


conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the
living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

1 Timothy 5:16- Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is


great: He appeared in a body,was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen
by angels,was preached among the nations, was believed on in the
world,was taken up in glory.

Philemon 2- to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and


to the church that meets in your home:

Hebrews 12:21-23- The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I
am trembling with fear."22But you have come to Mount Zion, to the
heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to
thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the
church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have
come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men
made perfect,

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James 5:14- Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the
church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the
Lord.

3 John 6-They have told the church about your love. You will do well
to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.

3 John 9- I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first,


will have nothing to do with us.

3 John 10- So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing,


gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to
welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts
them out of the church.

Revelation 1:11- which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and
send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum,
Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."

Acts 13:1-3- In the church at Antioch there were prophets and


teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen
(who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2While
they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set
apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called
them." 3So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands
on them and sent them off.

Acts 13:44- On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to
hear the word of the Lord.

Acts 15:1-21- Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were
teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the
custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." 2This brought Paul
and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and
Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to
Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3The
church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia
and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This
news made all the brothers very glad. 4When they came to Jerusalem,
they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to
whom they reported everything God had done through them.

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5Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the
Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and
required to obey the law of Moses." 6The apostles and elders met to
consider this question. 7After much discussion, Peter got up and
addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a
choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the
message of the gospel and believe. 8God, who knows the heart,
showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just
as he did to us. 9He made no distinction between us and them, for he
purified their hearts by faith. 10Now then, why do you try to test God
by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our
fathers have been able to bear? 11No! We believe it is through the
grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." 12The
whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul
telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among
the Gentiles through them. 13When they finished, James spoke up:
"Brothers, listen to me. 14Simon[a] has described to us how God at
first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for
himself. 15The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it
is written: 16" 'After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17that the remnant of men
may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the
Lord, who does these things'[b] 18that have been known for ages.[c]
19"It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult
for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20Instead we should write to
them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual
immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21For
Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is
read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."

Acts 15:22-23- Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church,
decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch
with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and
Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. 23With them
they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings.

Acts 16:6-10- Paul and his companions traveled throughout the


region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from
preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7When they came to the

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border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus
would not allow them to. 8So they passed by Mysia and went down to
Troas. 9During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia
standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."
10After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for
Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to
them.

Acts 16:25-34- About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and
singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations
of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and
everybody's chains came loose. 27The jailer woke up, and when he
saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill
himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul
shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!" 29The jailer called for
lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then
brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
31They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you
and your household." 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him
and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer
took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his
family were baptized. 34The jailer brought them into his house and set
a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to
believe in God—he and his whole family.

Acts 20:17-18- From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of
the church. 18When they arrived, he said to them: "You know how I
lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the
province of Asia.

Ephesians 4:11-13- It was he who gave some to be apostles, some


to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and
teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the
body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith
and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining
to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

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3 John 5-12- Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for
the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. 6They have told
the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way
in a manner worthy of God. 7It was for the sake of the Name that they
went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8We ought therefore to
show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the
truth. 9I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will
have nothing to do with us. 10So if I come, I will call attention to what
he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he
refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do
so and puts them out of the church. 11Dear friend, do not imitate
what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from
God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 12Demetrius is
well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also
speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.

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