Reading 3. The Church Is Not the Kingdom!

➡ Average Reading Time: 8 minutes
Observing the Text!

The Kingdom and the Church
How are the kingdom of God and the church to be identified? Are they different or the same? If they are not the same, what is their relationship to each other? These are important questions in light of current language which often implies that the terms and concepts are interchangeable.

It was St. Augustine (AD 345-430) who first identified the kingdom with the church. His idea has been maintained since the Reformation. The suggestion has been made by some that Jesus came proclaiming the kingdom, but the result was the church. Some systems of theology still view the church and kingdom as the same. The language we use today often exchanges the word kingdom and church. We may say something like, “Let’s build the kingdom.” What we are saying is “Let’s build the church.” It is my belief that the mission of Jesus was to invade this present evil age with his kingdom rule, the age to come. Those who chose to receive the proclamation of the rule of God are, in fact, the church. But, the two are now synonymous terms.The church and the kingdom of God are not the same. Click To Tweet

Interpreting the Text!

The Church as Remnant

His central mission was to proclaim to Israel that God was acting to fulfill his promises and bring Israel to her true destiny as his children.

He came as a Jewish man to Jewish people. He accepted, as binding, the authority of the Old Testament scriptures. He conformed to the practices of the temple. He worshiped in the synagogue. He lived and worked as a Jew. While he would sometimes travel outside the Jewish territory, he insisted that his mission was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 15.24). When he sent his disciples out to minister, he told them to go only to Israel (Matt. 10.5-6).

There are at least three exceptions to this fact of “to Israel only:”

  • the Samaritan woman: John 4.1-42
  • the Centurion’s servant: Matthew 8.5-13
  • the Canaanite woman: Matthew 15.21-28

These three stories all seem to have mitigating circumstances, which called for exceptional steps to be taken by Jesus.

His central mission was to proclaim to Israel that God was acting to fulfill his promises and bring Israel to her true destiny as his children.

Israel rejected the message of Jesus about the kingdom of God. His proclamation came early in his ministry (Mark 1.14-15) and drew instant denial (Mark 3.1-6) and only intensified during his ministry culminating in his sacrificial death on the cross.

While Israel refused to accept the offer of Jesus, the kingdom, a small group, a remnant, did respond in faith. The Jewish idea of discipleship was to call for a commitment to the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament). Jesus’ idea of discipleship was to call for a commitment to himself and his message. So he raised disciples who were committed to him and his message.

The Church and the Kingdom
Since Jesus proclaimed the kingdom to Israel as an offering of her fulfillment to her true destiny and they rejected, the mission was still accomplished in those followers who received his message and became his followers. These followers would come to be known as the church, the true Israel of God. The choice by Jesus of these twelve was an enacted parable in which Jesus authenticated that he was raising a new congregation to replace the nation of Israel who had rejected his message. Here are some illustrations from the Late Dr. Ladd in this book A Theology of the New Testament that will make this concept clear.[ref]Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 109-117.[/ref]

    • The Kingdom and the Church are Not Equal
      Since the kingdom of God is dynamic (his rule), the church and the kingdom are not the same. The church is made up of those who are ruled by the King of the kingdom, but the church is not the kingdom
    • The Kingdom and the Church are Not the Same
      The writers of the New Testament never equate the church with the kingdom. As the first preachers, they never preached the church but proclaimed the kingdom (Acts 8.12; 19.8; 20.25; 28.23, 31). One will have great difficulty in substituting the word church for the word kingdom in these verses. John Bright is correct when he says in his book, The Kingdom of God, that there is never the slightest hint that the visible church can either be or produce the kingdom of God.[ref]John Bright. The Kingdom of God. Abingdon Press. Nashville, TN. 1980. 236.[/ref] It is safe to say that the church is the people of the kingdom, but never the kingdom itself.
    • The Kingdom Creates the Church
      The rule of God as presented in the words and works of Jesus confronted men and women to respond and come under his rule, forging a new relationship with him as King (Mark 3.31-35). When the powerful rule of God impregnates an individual, he or she is made a part of the body of Christ, the church.
  • The Church’s Mission is to Bear Witness to the Kingdom
    The mission of the church is to give witness to the kingdom of God. The church cannot build the kingdom or become the kingdom. The church is the vessel through which the powerful redeeming acts of Jesus are performed. This is illustrated in the commission of Jesus to the Twelve (Matt. 10) and to the Seventy (Luke 10). The proclamation of the apostles in the book of Acts reinforces it.
  • The Church was to Witness to all humankind about the Kingdom.
    The seventy disciples that Jesus sent out was symbolic. Jewish tradition believed that there were seventy nations in the world and that the Jewish Torah had been first given in seventy languages. The sending of seventy missionaries appears to be an implicit claim that the message of Jesus must be heard not only by Israel but by all mankind (Ladd, 1993. 109-114).

In addition to Ladd’s list, there are two more that could be added.

The Rejection of God’s Offer of the Kingdom by Israel Became Irreversible

Jesus soberly announced that Israel was no longer to be the people of God’s rule.

Jesus soberly announced that Israel was no longer to be the people of God’s rule. Their place was going to be taken by others who proved trustworthy (Mark 12.1-9; Matt. 21.43—the inclusion of the Gentiles). Since the church is the recipient of the life and fellowship of the kingdom, then one of her main purposes is to demonstrate in the life and power of the age to come in this present evil age. The church lives in two ages at the same time. We are the people of the age to come living in this present evil age. The church must provide a model to display the life of the future perfected order.

Jesus soberly announced that Israel was no longer to be the people of God's rule. Click To Tweet

The Church Is a Conduit Through Which the Kingdom Acts.
The church is the conduit through which God’s kingdom acts are performed (Matt. 10.8; Luke 10.17). This makes discipleship important. The church has often fallen short of making true disciples of Jesus. The church tends to promote character and community to the neglect of performing such kingdom ministry as praying for the sick and casting out demons. Proclamation of the kingdom must be words and works combined.
Responsibility and Authority
Jesus left the keys to the kingdom in the hands of Peter (Matt. 16.19). The background of this idea comes from Isaiah 22.22 where God gave Eliakim the keys to the House of David commissioning him with its care. The art of caretaking is often understood as conserving or protecting. We must not make the mistake of the third servant in the parable of Jesus found in Matthew 25.13-40. He received his talent, conserved it by burying it, and by doing so earned the wrath of his master. Jesus redefined caretaking to involve investing and risking.

According to Jesus, the church is built on the rock of his Messiahship.

According to Jesus, the church is built on the rock of his Messiahship. Hell will not prevail against it. To ensure that the church understands its authority Jesus said, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Loosing denotes freeing those under the control of Satan. Binding means to prohibit or forbid Satan from harming the church. Binding and loosing do not automatically mean that God will do what the church speaks. Binding and loosing means that the church does in this Age what the Father has already ratified and determined in the age to come. The church is attentive to what God is doing, binding what he has bound, and losing what he has losed.

The kingdom of God is his rule and reign. The church is the fellowship of those who have experienced the rule of God and entered into the blessings of doing the words and works. The kingdom creates the church, works through the church, and through her demonstrates the rule of God to the world. The kingdom is not the church and the church is not the kingdom.

Living into the Text!

It is always important to apply what you have learned. Pause at this point and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to meditate on and put into practice some or all of the following.

  • How well do you conform to your religious beliefs?
  • How do these ideas fit into a Dispensational theological view of the past, present, and future?
  • How are you a part of the remnant?
  • How often do you interchange the word kingdom for church? What difference does the language make?
  • What are your responsibilities as kingdom people?
  • Does our Christian practice have both words and works?
  • In what ways are you a witness of the kingdom of God?

The articles below come from various Bible Dictionaries and other sources. The posting of these brief articles are to introduce some readers to the vast amount of information that is provided to enhance your reading of the text of the Bible with a hope that it will lead to a better understanding of the text and will lead the reader to an improved praxis in his or her community of faith and personal life. You might read the articles offline in a number of different Bible Dictionaries. If you do not own a Bible Dictionary, I would recommend New Bible Dictionary 3rd Edition. If you like lots of color pictures, try Revell Bible Dictionary. Revell Bible Dictionary is no longer in print but is available from Amazon. One of these should suit your personal needs.

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Read Me First


Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.


I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."


Happy Reading!

Read Me Second


Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.


Happy Reading!

Read Me Third


The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.


Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.


Happy Reading!



Guide Yourself into a Kingdom of God Mindset in 13 Readings, which covers a matrix through which you can view the writings of the New Testament about the subject matter of the kingdom of God. You can enjoy this material completely in just 13 readings. Of course, you can take all the time you want, say 13 Days or 13 Weeks. It's up to you. To get the most from your reading, it is important that you read the biblical text along with it. The New International Version (NIV: Electronic Version 2011) is the text on which the studies are built.

The first section of each reading is called Observing the Text, which is an introduction to the section that is being read. Next, you will encounter Interpreting the Text, which suggests an interpretation of the section your are reading. Then, there is Living into the Text, which suggests questions, which may help you live into the text. This final section BibleInfoResources!, provides you with some articles that may interest you. After all, the text of Scripture was originally written for a community of Yahweh or Jesus followers to help them in their pursuit of God. The text was never meant to be for the accumulation of personal knowledge. Of course, the Holy Spirit is the final word for living your life and for the life of a community of Jesus followers. Listen to what he may be saying to your community of faith and personally about what you are reading. But, on a personal level, don’t get a personal application for you mixed up with the meaning of the text in Scripture. Remember this easy rule of thumb: one meaning, many applications. NOTE: Throughout the text, you will see words that have a thin dashed underline. When you place your cursor over the word(s) a small tooltip box will appear with more information about the word(s).

Each reading may include some of the following icons and sections:

Observing the Text! What does the text say? Provides you with a quick overview of the passage.
Interpreting the Text! What does the text mean? Helps you gain an understanding of the meaning of the text as those who first heard or read it may have understood it.
Living into the Text! What does the text mean to my community of faith and to me? Some reflections to help assist your community of faith and you to live into the Story of God.
WordTreasures: Defining the Text! Definitions of key words and phrases.
Behind the Scenes: Historical Background of the Text! A look at the historical background of the text
BibleInfoResources! Helpful resources for further readings. The Resource Information appears at the end of each of the studies. Reading this material in the noted reference popup will enrich your comprehension of the material under consideration.





Bible, the English form of the Greek name biblia, meaning "books," the name which in the fifth century began to be given to the entire collection of sacred books, the "Library of Divine Revelation." The name Bible was adopted by Wickliffe, and came gradually into use in our English language. The Bible consists of sixty-six different books, composed by many different writers, in three different languages, under different circumstances; writers of almost every social rank, statesmen and peasants, kings, herdsmen, fishermen, priests, tax-gatherers, tentmakers; educated and uneducated, Jews and Gentiles; most of them unknown to each other, and writing at various periods during the space of about 1600 years: and yet, after all, it is only one book dealing with only one subject in its numberless aspects and relations, the subject of man's redemption. It is divided into the Old Testament, containing thirty-nine books, and the New Testament, containing twenty-seven books.

The names given to the Old in the writings of the New are "the scriptures" (Matt. 21:42), "scripture" (2 Pet. 1:20), "the holy scriptures" (Rom. 1:2), "the law" (John 12:34), "the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms" (Luke 24:44), "the law and the prophets" (Matt. 5:17), "the old covenant" (2 Cor. 3:14, R.V.). There is a break of 400 years between the Old Testament and the New.

The Old Testament is divided into three parts:,

  1. The Law (Torah), consisting of the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses.
  2. The Prophets, consisting of (1) the former, namely, Joshua, Judges, the Books of Samuel, and the Books of Kings; (2) the latter, namely, the greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets.
  3. The Hagiographa, or holy writings, including the rest of the books. These were ranked in three divisions:, (1) The Psalms, Proverbs, and Job, distinguished by the Hebrew name, a word formed of the initial letters of these books, emeth, meaning truth. (2) Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, called the five rolls, as being written for the synagogue use on five separate rolls. (3) Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2 Chronicles


Between the Old and the New Testament no addition was made to the revelation God had already given. The period of New Testament revelation, extending over a century, began with the appearance of John the Baptist.

The New Testament consists of:

  1. the historical books, viz., the Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles;
  2. the Epistles; and
  3. the book of prophecy, the Revelation.

The division of the Bible into chapters and verses is altogether of human invention, designed to facilitate reference to it. The ancient Jews divided the Old Testament into certain sections for use in the synagogue service, and then at a later period, in the ninth century A.D., into verses.

Our modern system of chapters for all the books of the Bible was introduced by Cardinal Hugo about the middle of the thirteenth century (he died 1263). The system of verses for the New Testament was introduced by Stephens in 1551, and generally adopted, although neither Tyndale's nor Coverdale's English translation of the Bible has verses.

The division is not always wisely made.

Easton's Bible Dictionary: Bible




Canaanites were the descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham. Migrating from their original home, they seem to have reached the Persian Gulf, and to have there sojourned for some time. They thence "spread to the west, across the mountain chain of Lebanon to the very edge of the Mediterranean Sea, occupying all the land which later became Palestine, also to the north-west as far as the mountain chain of Taurus. This group was very numerous, and broken up into a great many peoples, as we can judge from the list of nations (Gen. 10), the 'sons of Canaan.'" Six different tribes are mentioned in Ex. 3:8, 17; 23:23; 33:2; 34:11. In Ex. 13:5 the "Perizzites" are omitted. The "Girgashites" are mentioned in addition to the foregoing in Deut. 7:1; Josh. 3:10.


The "Canaanites," as distinguished from the Amalekites, the Anakim, and the Rephaim, were "dwellers in the lowlands" (Num. 13:29), the great plains and valleys, the richest and most important parts of Palestine. Tyre and Sidon, their famous cities, were the centres of great commercial activity; and hence the name "Canaanite" came to signify a "trader" or "merchant" (Job 41:6; Prov. 31:24, lit. "Canaanites;" comp. Zeph. 1:11; Ezek. 17:4). The name "Canaanite" is also sometimes used to designate the non-Israelite inhabitants of the land in general (Gen. 12:6; Num. 21:3; Judg. 1:10).


The Israelites, when they were led to the Promised Land, were commanded utterly to destroy the descendants of Canaan then possessing it (Ex. 23:23; Num. 33:52, 53; Deut. 20:16, 17). This was to be done "by little and little," lest the beasts of the field should increase (Ex. 23:29; Deut. 7:22, 23). The history of these wars of conquest is given in the Book of Joshua. The extermination of these tribes, however, was never fully carried out. Jerusalem was not taken till the time of David (2 Sam. 5:6, 7). In the days of Solomon bond-service was exacted from the fragments of the tribes still remaining in the land (1 Kings 9:20, 21). Even after the return from captivity survivors of five of the Canaanitish tribes were still found in the land.


In the Tell-el-Amarna tablets Canaan is found under the forms of Kinakhna and Kinakhkhi. Under the name of Kanana the Canaanites appear on Egyptian monuments, wearing a coat of mail and helmet, and distinguished by the use of spear and javelin and the battle-axe. They were called Phoenicians by the Greeks and Poeni by the Romans. By race the Canaanites were Semitic. They were famous as merchants and seamen, as well as for their artistic skill. The chief object of their worship was the sun-god, who was addressed by the general name of Baal, "lord." Each locality had its special Baal, and the various local Baals were summed up under the name of Baalim, "lords."


Easton's Bible Dictionary: Canaanites



Centurion was a Roman officer in command of a hundred men (Mark 15:39, 44, 45). Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, was a centurion (Acts 10:1, 22). Other centurions are mentioned in Matt. 8:5, 8, 13; Luke 7:2, 6; Acts 21:32; 22:25, 26; 23:17, 23; 24:23; 27:1, 6, 11, 31, 43; 28:16. A centurion watched the crucifixion of our Lord (Matt. 27:54; Luke 23:47), and when he saw the wonders attending it, exclaimed, "Truly this man was the Son of God." "The centurions mentioned in the New Testament are uniformly spoken of in terms of praise, whether in the Gospels or in the Acts. It is interesting to compare this with the statement of Polybius (vi. 24), that the centurions were chosen by merit, and so were men remarkable not so much for their daring courage as for their deliberation, constancy, and strength of mind."

Easton's Bible Dictionary (Public Domain)




Church (ἐκκλησία, ekklēsia). Followers of Christ who derived their identity and mission from Jesus and understood themselves to be the true eschatological community of God.

The church was a new movement that arose after Jesus’ resurrection. The members of the early church sought to adhere to the confession of Jesus as Lord in the midst of an idolatrous, pluralistic culture. As family members who had been included in the new “church of God,” early Christians strove for unity around the gospel, which was portrayed vividly in the Lord’s Supper.

An understanding of first-century Judaism and the eschatological perspective and expectations of unity in the early church writings are essential for discerning the formation of the early church’s identity in the decades following Jesus’ resurrection.

The early Christ followers were referred to by a variety of names and terms that suggests a development of identity (Twelftree, People of the Spirit, 64). The early followers of Jesus considered themselves “Christians” (Acts 11:26; 26:28) or members of “the Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22). The Essenes also used the term “the Way” to describe their identity as a true and faithful representation of Israel’s traditions (e.g., 1QS VIII, 12–14; IX, 17–18). First-century Jews referred to the Church as a “sect” (Acts 24:5, 14; 28:22)—a term Josephus used in reference to the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes (Jewish War 2.118–19; Twelftree, People of the Spirit, 58–61). The most common term used in reference to the early church in the New Testament is “church” or “assembly” (ἐκκλησία, ekklēsia). While this term most often referred to local assemblies of believers (Acts 5:11; 8:1, 3; 11:22, 26; 13:1; 16:5; 20:17), it could also apply more broadly to a large body of Christians (Acts 9:31; 20:28; Eph 1:22–23; 5:23; Roloff, “ἐκκλησία, ekklēsia,” 413–14).

The Early Church and Judaism
The early church developed its identity against the backdrop of Judaism and was intricately linked to the Judaism of its day. Jesus called 12 disciples, which corresponds to the 12 tribes of Israel (Acts 1:15–26; Twelftree, People of the Spirit, 55). According to Dunn, Jesus’ forgiving sins (Mark 2:1–12) is no less “Jewish” than what was found at Qumran (Dunn, Partings of the Ways, 73–75; Gärtner, Temple and the Community).

Rather than rejecting the main concepts of Judaism (temple, Torah, and monotheism), the early church reworked them. The earliest believers in Jerusalem continued to visit the temple regularly, even after Jesus’ resurrection (Luke 24:53; Acts 2:46; 3:3; 5:21, 42; 21:26). However, the early Christians reworked the temple concept around Christ. The temple of God no longer was to be seen as a physical building but was located in Christ and the church, His “body” (e.g., Acts 7; Dunn, Partings of the Ways, 92–95, 100–08). That Peter, James, and John could be called “pillars” of the church (Gal 2:9) may indicate that the church saw itself as the eschatological temple, with named pillars like Jachin and Boaz in Solomon’s temple (1 Kgs 7:15–22; 2 Chr 3:15–17; Dunn, Partings of the Ways, 80).

Many of the early Jewish Christians still sought to keep the Torah (Acts 21:20). In Acts 15, the Jerusalem council—while deeming circumcision unnecessary for inclusion in the people of God—seemed to draw upon the Law of Moses in requiring Gentile believers to abstain from various foods and activities (Lev 17–18; compare Bauckham, “James and the Jerusalem Church,” 459–62). Paul frequently visited the synagogues and may have taken the Nazirite vow (Acts 18:4–8, 18; 19:8–9; Twelftree, People of the Spirit, 54–56). Dunn contends that Paul did not reject the law but only the boundary-marking function of the law, and that while he stood outside the pale of Pharisaical Judaism, he still had the viewpoint of and was an Israelite (Dunn, Partings of the Ways, 192–97). Kim argues it is more likely Paul saw a problem with the law itself when he met the crucified Christ, signifying that a new era in salvation history had arrived (see Rom 7:7–12; Gal 3:23–4:7; Kim, Paul and the New Perspective, 22–45; Meyer, End of the Law).

The early church also continued to affirm monotheism, even while holding that Jesus was Lord. Jesus Himself affirmed the Shema as the greatest commandment (Mark 12:29–30; Deut 6:4–5). Paul, John, and James attest to this central tenet of Judaism in their writings (John 17:3; Rom 3:30; 1 Cor 8:4; Gal 3:20; Eph 4:6; 1 Tim 2:5; Jas 2:19). In his trials, Paul sought to demonstrate that the early church faithfully worshiped the God of Israel (Acts 24:14–15; Twelftree, People of the Spirit, 60). Nevertheless, the early church reworked its confession of monotheism to include Jesus in the identity of God (1 Cor 8:4–6; Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel, 127–39, 210–18). Philippians 2 and Colossians 1 indicate that Christians worshiped Jesus as if He was God (Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, 121–23, 134–53; contra Dunn, Partings of the Ways, 266–70; see also Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.96.7). Romans 9:5 may be a doxology to Jesus as God (Metzger, “The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5,” 95–112; contra Dunn, Romans 9–16, 529).

The Early Church as the Eschatological Community
Although the early church was related to Judaism, it began to develop a separate identity early on (contra Dunn, Partings of the Ways, 343–46). In the ancient world, ethnic identity was constructed around lines of social characteristics, kinship, and religious affiliation (Sechrest, A Former Jew). Conversion to Christianity included a transformation that affected a person’s deepest commitments of kinship and social ties. This ecclesial self-conception explains why Paul viewed the church as a third constituent element of humanity (1 Cor 10:32; 1 Pet 2:9), which was why the early church preferred to address one another in familial language, and why later generations could conceive of the church as a “third race” (e.g., Letter to Diognetus 1.1; Martyrdom of Polycarp 3.2; 14.1; 17.1; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 6.5.41).

Paul’s claims that, prior to his conversion, he persecuted “the church of God” (ἡ ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ, hē ekklēsia tou theou; Gal 1:13; 1 Cor 15:9; Phil 3:6; see also Gal 1:22) suggests that Christians in Jerusalem and Judaea adopted the designation “church” or “assembly” (ἐκκλησία, ekklēsia) rather early (Trebilco, “Why Did,” 442–43). If the term was first used by the Christians in Jerusalem, it likely was chosen for theological rather than political reasons (Trebilco, “Why Did,” 445; contra van Kooten, “Ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ, Ekklēsia tou theou,” 522–48). The Septuagint used the Greek term meaning “church” or “assembly” (ἐκκλησία, ekklēsia) to translate the Hebrew term “assembly” (קָהָל, qahal). Thus, the Greek term “assembly” (ἐκκλησία, ekklēsia) likely expressed the early church’s conviction that it was the fulfillment and culmination of the Old Testament people of God (Conzelmann, Outline, 254–55).

The early church understood itself to be the eschatological community, the recipient of God’s end-of-time saving promises (compare 1QM IV, 10; Beker, Paul the Apostle, 315–18). The Old Testament had promised that in the “last days” God would pour out His Spirit and make all things new (Isa 32:15; 44:3; Joel 2:28). At Pentecost, the early church interpreted the Spirit’s presence among them as the sign that God’s promises had arrived (Acts 2:14–40; Twelftree, People of the Spirit, 74–83). The early church conceived of itself as a new humanity in a new creation, for the old world had died along with its structures (1 Cor 10:32; 2 Cor 5:16–17; Gal 6:15; Eph 2:15; Martyn, Theological Issues, 87–140). This eschatological focus explains why the early church could refer to its era as the “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4) or the “last days” (Acts 2:17; 1 Cor 10:11; 2 Tim 3:1; Heb 1:2; 1 Pet 1:20; 1 John 2:18) in which the righteousness of God had been manifested ultimately in Christ (Rom 3:21–22).

The Early Church and Idolatry
As the true Israel and eschatological community, the early church was to flee idolatry. Idolatry was widespread in the Graeco-Roman world of the first century, and many believers (especially outside of Palestine) would have converted from lives of paganism. The conversion to Christianity could have had massive socioeconomic ramifications on believers, who may have found themselves shunned by their former communities. Paul and the other New Testament writers taught Christians to hold fast to their monotheistic confession of Jesus as Lord (1 Cor 12:3; see also Phil 2:11). Paul reminds the Corinthians of their common confession that, despite there being “many gods and many lords,” there is but one God (1 Cor 8:4–5). In 1 Corinthians 8:6 he rewords Judaism’s confession of monotheism (Deut 6:4) to include Jesus: “for us there is one God, the Father … and one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 8:6; Eph 4:4–6; Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel, 210–18).

The New Testament writers also provided new believers with instructions on how to live within a polytheistic world (e.g., 1 Cor 8:1–11:1). Paul called believers to “flee idolatry” (1 Cor 10:14), and John advised his readers to “keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). Christians were to refrain from eating meat offered to idols in the idols’ temples (1 Cor 8:1–13; 10:14–22). The presence of dining rooms in and around the sanctuary to Demeter and Kore on the Acrocorinth indicate that eating and religious ritual were often bound together in the ancient world (Gooch, Dangerous Food, 1–13). Gooch argues that “an objective separation between meals eaten ‘in an idol’s temple’ and meals involving idolatrous rites was highly improbable in Paul’s Corinth” (Gooch, Dangerous Food, 82). Hence, believers were to abstain from eating in an idol’s temple, although they were free to eat meat offered to idols, so long as they did not cause a weaker brother to stumble (1 Cor 8:9–13; 10:23–11:1; Fee, “Eidōlothyta Once Again,” 172–97; compare Fisk, “Eating Meat,” 49–70).

Acts 19:23–41 illustrates how dangerous the church’s rejection of idols was for its followers—especially new converts. Paul’s teaching in Ephesus that gods made with hands were not true gods threatened the livelihoods of idol-makers and silversmiths, who made their profit from selling idols. In response to Paul’s teaching, the silversmith Demetrius instigated a riot (see Acts 19:23–41).

The Unity of the Early Church
The early church sought to be unified around a common confession and practice. Jesus had described His family as those who did His Father’s will (Mark 3:34–35) and are “not ashamed to call [believers] brothers” (Heb 2:11 ESV). In Matthew 23:8 He instructed His disciples to call one another “brother” (Matt 23:8). The apostles thought of the church as a family and frequently spoke and wrote in familial terms (Acts 9:30; 15:13; Rom 12:1; 1 Cor 7:29; Gal 4:12; Heb 3:12; Jas 2:1; 2 Pet 1:10; 1 John 3:13). Such language portrays a deep unity in the church (Sechrest, A Former Jew, 118–33).

The early church demonstrated its unity in the regular observance of the Lord’s Supper. Following Pentecost, the early church partook of the Supper on a weekly or even daily basis (Acts 2:42–47; 20:7; 1 Cor 11:17–34; Didache 14.1; Van Neste, “Lord’s Supper,” 370–72). Their breaking of bread together in commemoration of Jesus’ death and resurrection was a sign of unity around the gospel. Paul makes this clear in 1 Cor 10:16–17 when he affirms that there is “one body” of Christians precisely because there is “one bread.” Hence, when believers do not act in patient and selfless unity, the Supper loses its unifying significance (1 Cor 11:17–34; Schreiner, New Testament Theology, 732–33).

Bauckham, Richard. “James and the Jerusalem Church.” Pages 415–80 in The Book of Acts in Its Palestinian Setting. Edited by Richard Bauckham. Vol. 4 of The Book of Acts in Its First Century Setting. Edited by Bruce W. Winter. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995.
———. Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.
Beker, J. Christiaan. Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980.
Collins, R. F. “Did Jesus Found the Church: Which Church?” Louvain Studies 21 (1996): 356–64.
Conzelmann, Hans. An Outline of the Theology of the New Testament. Translated by John Bowden. New York: Harper & Row, 1969.
Denaux, Adelbert. “Did Jesus Found the Church?” Louvain Studies 21 (1996): 25–45.
Dunn, James D. G. The New Perspective on Paul. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.
———. The Partings of the Ways: Between Christianity and Judaism and Their Significance for the Character of Christianity. 2nd ed. London: SCM, 2006.
———. Romans 9–16. Word Biblical Commentary 38B. Dallas: Word, 1988.
Fee, Gordon D. “Eidōlothyta Once Again: An Interpretation of 1 Corinthians 8–10.” Biblica 61 (1980): 172–97.
Fisk, Bruce N. “Eating Meat Offered to Idols: Corinthian Behavior and Pauline Response in 1 Corinthians 8–10 (A Response to Gordon Fee).” Trinity Journal 10 (1989): 49–70.
Gärtner, Bertil. The Temple and the Community in Qumran and the New Testament: A Comparative Study in the Temple Symbolism of the Qumran Texts and the New Testament. Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965.
Gooch, Peter D. Dangerous Food: 1 Corinthians 8–10 in Its Context. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1993.
Hurtado, Larry W. Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003.
Kim, Seyoon. Paul and the New Perspective: Second Thoughts on the Origin of Paul’s Gospel. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.
Martyn, J. Louis. Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul. Nashville: Abingdon, 1997.
Metzger, Bruce M. “The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5.” Pages 95–112 in Christ and Spirit in the New Testament. Edited by Barnabas Lindars and Stephen S. Smalley. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973.
Meyer, Jason C. The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology. NAC Studies in Bible and Theology 6. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2009.
Roloff, Jürgen. “ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia).” Pages 410–15 in vol. 1 of Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Edited by Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider. 3 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990.
Schreiner, Thomas R. New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008.
Sechrest, Love L. A Former Jew: Paul and the Dialectics of Race. Library of New Testament Studies 410. London: T & T Clark, 2009.
Trebilco, Paul. “Why Did the Early Christians Call Themselves ἡ ἐκκλησία (hē ekklēsia)?” New Testament Studies 57 (2011): 440–60.
Twelftree, Graham H. People of the Spirit: Exploring Luke’s View of the Church. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009.
Van Kooten, George H. “Ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ (Ekklēsia tou theou): The ‘Church of God’ and the Civic Assemblies (ἐκκλησίαι, ekklēsiai) of the Greek Cities in the Roman Empire: A Response to Paul Trebilco and Richard A. Horsley.” New Testament Studies 58 (2012): 522–48.
Van Neste, Ray. “The Lord’s Supper in the Context of the Local Church.” Pages 364–90 in The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes. Edited by Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford. NAC Studies in Bible and Theology 10. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2010.
Vos, Geerhardus. The Pauline Eschatology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952.


The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press. 2016. Shared from Logos Bible Software





Eliakim whom God will raise up, the son of Melea (Luke 3:30), and was probably:

  1. The son of Melea (Luke 3:30), and probably grandson of Nathan.
  2. The son of Abiud, of the posterity of Zerubbabel (Matt. 1:13).
  3. The son of Hilkiah, who was sent to receive the message of the invading Assyrians and report it to Isaiah (2 Kings 18:18; 19:2; Isa. 36:3; 37:2). In his office as governor of the palace of Hezekiah he succeeded Shebna (Isa. 22:15-25). He was a good man (Isa. 22:20; 2 Kings 18:37), and had a splendid and honourable career.
  4. The original name of Jehoiakim, king of Judah (2 Kings 23:34). He was the son of Josiah.

Easton's Bible Dictionary (Public Domain)





Samaritans was the name given to the new and mixed inhabitants whom Esarhaddon (B.C. 677), the king of Assyria, brought from Babylon and other places and settled in the cities of Samaria, instead of the original inhabitants whom Sargon (B.C. 721) had removed into captivity (2 Kings 17:24; comp. Ezra 4:2, 9, 10). These strangers (comp. Luke 17:18) amalgamated with the Jews still remaining in the land, and gradually abandoned their old idolatry and adopted partly the Jewish religion.

After the return from the Captivity, the Jews in Jerusalem refused to allow them to take part with them in rebuilding the temple, and hence sprang up an open enmity between them. They erected a rival temple on Mount Gerizim, which was, however, destroyed by a Jewish king (B.C. 130). They then built another at Shechem. The bitter enmity between the Jews and Samaritans continued in the time of our Lord: the Jews had "no dealings with the Samaritans" (John 4:9; comp. Luke 9:52, 53). Our Lord was in contempt called "a Samaritan" (John 8:48). Many of the Samaritans early embraced the gospel (John 4:5-42; Acts 8:25; 9:31; 15:3). Of these Samaritans there still remains a small population of about one hundred and sixty, who all reside in Shechem, where they carefully observe the religious customs of their fathers. They are the "smallest and oldest sect in the world."

Easton's Bible Dictionary: Samaritans


Jesus Followers


There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.


(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)