Session 7: Grasping The Ecclesiae

➡ Average Reading Time: 20 minutes

Session 7: Grasping The EcclesiaeWhen you finish this session you should be able to:

  • Understand what the ecclesiae is?
  • Comprehend if the ecclesiae and the kingdom are the same
  • Explore the idea that the remnant is the ecclesiae
  • Know what the ecclesiae means
  • Understand about Jesus’ relationship to the ecclesiae
  • Comprehend the idea of the body of Christ
  • Understand the theme of the temple of God
  • Explore the idea of the army of God
  • Examine the activities in the ecclesiae: worship, proclamation, and ministry

Session Preview

In this session, we will introduce you to the idea that the ecclesiae and the kingdom are not the same things. Second, we will explore the idea of the remnant of the ecclesiae. Third, we will help you know what the ecclesiae means, Next, we will help you understand the relationship of Jesus to the ecclesiae. Then, we will present the idea of the body of Christ. Next, we will introduce you briefly to the theme of the temple of God. Then, we will explore the idea of the army of God. Finally, we will examine the activities in the ecclesiae: worship, proclamation, and ministry.

Where We Are Going

What Is the Ecclesiae?
The Ecclesiae and the Kingdom are not the same
The remnant is the Ecclesiae
What does Ecclesiae mean?
Jesus’ relationship to the Ecclesiae
The Body of Christ
The Temple of God
The Army of God
The Activities in the Ecclesiae

What Is the Ecclesiae?

Jesus, as the founder of the ecclesiae, had very little to say about the ecclesiae. Only three times in Matthew’s Gospel does the word church (ekklesia) appear (Matt. 16.18, once, 18.17, twice) on his lips.

In Matthew 16.13 Jesus asked, Who do people say the Son of Man is? The Pharisees said Jesus was the devil (Matt. 10.24; 12.24). The devils said he was the Son of God (Matt. 8.29). Herod thought he was a reincarnation of John the Baptist (Matt. 14.2). The crowds thought of him as Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets (Matt. 16.14). All of these views saw Jesus as a spokesperson for God.

What Jesus wanted to know was what did the disciples think? Peter responded that he knew (Matt. 16.16): “You are the Messiah,” to which Jesus responded, “you have discerned this supernaturally. 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.”

There are several ways the phrase on this rock has been understood.

  • The rock is the supernatural revelation given to Peter.
  • The rock is Peter, he becomes the foundation stone of the community.
  • The confession of Peter, that Jesus was the Messiah, the son of God, was the rock on which the church is built.

In favor of interpreting the word-play between Peter and rock as a personal reference, is the rabbinic saying about Abraham, “When the Holy One wanted to create the world, he passed over the generations of Enoch and the flood; but when he saw Abraham who was to arise, he said, ‘Behold I have found a rock on which I can build and found the world,’ therefore he called Abraham rock as it is written (in Isaiah 51.1): ‘Look to the rock from which you were hewn.’” A similar metaphor is used, as applied to James and Peter in Galatians 2.9.
The phrase I will build my ecclesiae suggests that the ecclesiae belongs to Jesus and he is the builder.

The passage in Matthew 16.19 is often misused. “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.” Here are some interpretative thoughts:

  • Bondage is the characteristic of those who are under the power and rule of Satan.
  • Loosing is the freeing of those under Satan’s control.
  • In Matthew 16.19b the word binding means to prohibit or forbid and the word loosing means to permit freedom.
  • Binding and loosing do not mean that God will ratify in this present age what the ecclesiae speaks.
  • Binding and loosing do mean that the ecclesiae can do in this present evil age what the Father has already ratified or determined in the age to come (John 5.19).
  • It is simply watching for what the Father is doing, then binding (forbidding) or loosing (permitting) what he has already bound or loosed!

The second passage in Matthew that finds the word ecclesiae comes from the mouth of Jesus in Matthew 18.17, where it appears twice. The context is “discipline” in the ecclesiae. Just because God is kind and abundant in mercy does not mean that a person who chooses to continually live in error will be allowed to continue to do as he or she likes. A person living in error must be guided, directed, and if needed, disciplined back into the ecclesiae.

There are two sayings of Jesus in these verses which are governed by the discipline context. The first is bind and loose. As in Matthew 16.19, the word bind means to forbid, while loose means to permit. Binding and loosing means that the church is going to do what the Father has already ratified in heaven. If a person’s habit of life is causing destruction to the ecclesiae and he or she will not repent, then the ecclesiae can bind or forbid that individual fellowship with the family of God. On the other hand, if the person repents, the ecclesiae must loose or permit the continued fellowship with the family.

Life Perspective

As a part of the community of God, you have the authority to ratify what God has already ratified in heaven.

The second saying is also in the discipline context is “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18.20). This verse echoes the same thought as the former verse with two added dimensions: When the ecclesiae prays concerning their disciplinary decisions, the prayer will be answered and Jesus is present in his body in the matter of discipline. Matthew 18.18 is not found anywhere else in Scripture. It should not be used as a reference that when two or three are gathered together in a “church” service, small group, or even breakfast, for that matter, that because the number two or three has been satisfied, that the presence of Jesus is promised. If you are having breakfast by yourself, Jesus is there!

The Eecclesiae and the Kingdom are not the Same?

The concept of the kingdom of God appears many times in the Gospels. How is the kingdom of God and the ecclesiae 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 and in light of current language, often imply that the terms and concepts of church and kingdom are interchangeable. To identify the kingdom as the ecclesiae would be wrong. The ecclesiae is not the kingdom nor is it the present reality of the kingdom.

Life Perspective

As a member of the ecclesiae, I have received the rule of God in my life.

It was St. Augustine who first identified the kingdom with the ecclesiae. The idea has been maintained since the Reformation. Alfred Loisy made that “Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom, and what arrived was the Church.”[ref]Wikipedia. “Alfred Loisy“[/ref]

Dispensational theologians similarly see the ecclesiae and kingdom as the same. They believe that Jesus came to offer the Davidic Kingdom to Israel and she rejected him. When Israel rejected the gift of God, he introduced a new purpose, the ecclesiae, a parenthesis in his plan.

I believe that the mission of Jesus was to invade the 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 ecclesiae.

The Remnant is the Ecclesiae

Focus

Jesus did not seem to begin his mission with the focus of starting a new movement inside or outside of Israel. He came as a Jewish man to Jewish people. He accepted, as binding, the authority of the First 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 to Israel only (Matt. 10.5-6).

There are at least three exceptions to this fact:

    • The Samaritan Woman: John 4.1-42
    • The Centurion’s Servant: Matthew 8.5-13
    • The Canaanite Woman: Matthew 15.21-28

These stories all seem to have mitigating circumstances that 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.

Rejection

Israel rejected the message of Jesus about the kingdom of God. His proclamation came early in his ministry (Mark 1.15) and drew instant denial (Mark 3.1-6) and only intensified during his ministry, culminating by his sacrificial death on the cross.

Remnant

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 First 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 Ecclesiae and the Kingdom

Since Jesus proclaimed the kingdom to Israel as an offering of her fulfillment to her true destiny and she rejected, the mission was still accomplished in those disciples who received his message and became his disciples. These disciples were to become known as the ecclesiae, 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 who had rejected his message.

Not Equal

Since the kingdom of God is dynamic (his rule), then the ecclesiae and the kingdom are not the same. The ecclesiae is made up of those who are ruled by the King of the kingdom, but it is not the kingdom.

Not the Same

The writers of the Second Testament never equate the ecclesiae with the kingdom. These first preachers never preached the ecclesiae 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 ecclesiae can either be or produce the kingdom of God. It is safe to say that the ecclesiae is the people of the kingdom, but never the kingdom itself.

Creation of the Ecclesiae

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 individuals, they are made a part of the body of Christ, the ecclesiae.

Know About the Witness of the Kingdom

The mission of the ecclesiae is to give witness to the kingdom of God. The ecclesiae cannot build the kingdom or become the kingdom. The ecclesiae 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 the Seventy (Luke 10). The proclamation of the missionaries in the book of Acts reinforces this concept.

The ecclesiae 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, A Theology of the Kingdom. 1993. 112).

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. 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 ecclesiae is the recipient of the life and fellowship of the kingdom, then one of her main purposes is to demonstrate in this present evil age the life and power of the age to come. The ecclesiae lives in two ages at the same time. We are the people of the age to come living in this present evil age. The ecclesiae must provide a model to display the life of the future perfected order.

A Channel

The ecclesiae is the channel through which God’s kingdom acts are performed (Matt. 10.8; Luke 10.17). This makes discipleship important. The ecclesiae has often fallen short of making true disciples of Jesus. The ecclesiae 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 ecclesiae is built on the rock of his Messiahship. Hell will not prevail against it. To ensure that the ecclesiae 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” (Matt. 16.19). Loosing denotes freeing those under the control of Satan. Binding means to prohibit or forbid Satan from harming the ecclesiae. Binding and loosing do not automatically mean that God will do what the ecclesiae speaks. Binding and loosing mean that the ecclesiae does in this age what the Father has already ratified and determined in the age to come. The ecclesiae is attentive to what God is doing, binding what he has bound and loosing what he has loosed.

Conclusion

The kingdom of God is his rule and reign. The ecclesiae is the fellowship of those who have experienced the rule of God and entered into its blessings. the kingdom creates the ecclesiae, works through the ecclesiae, and she demonstrates the rule of God to the world. the kingdom is not the ecclesiae and the ecclesiae is not the kingdom.

What does Ecclesiae mean?

Ecclesiae was a political assembly in the Greek culture. It had come to mean an official gathering of all the citizens of a Greek city-state by the fifth century B.C. The ekklesiae would make political and judicial decisions. It was never used to refer to religious gatherings.

By the time of Jesus, the term synagogue was in common use. It was a place of Sabbath meeting and came to be identified with the Jewish faith in the Hellenistic world. The new community of Jesus followers broke with the common Greek usage when it identified itself as an ekklesiae. Besides, it also broke with its Jewish roots by rejecting synagogue. The writers of the Second Testament used the word ekklesia in a way that infused it with a distinctively Christian meaning.

Ecclesiae was an appropriate choice. The word’s common meaning is a called-out assembly. The good news was that Jesus called people out of the world to come together in a unique fellowship. Joined together, his followers formed a new community that was committed to Jesus and the radical lifestyle which was expressed by his teachings. It was a devotion of the new community to Jesus that made its members different from those not in the community. Its usage by Luke and Paul suggests how the early believers understood the word.

Ecclesia can be comprised of any number of Jesus followers, from a small group that met in homes (Rom. 16.5) to all believers in a large city (Acts 11.22; 13.1; 1 Cor. 1.2). It can also include a large geographical area such as Galatia (1 Cor. 16.1). It is difficult to see a theological distinction between the local expression of the ecclesia and the ecclesiae as universal. It seems more helpful to understand ekklesia as a technical theological term for a specific Christian community and ecclesiae as a grouping of communities.

Jesus’ Relationship to the Ecclesiae

The ecclesiae belongs to God (1 Cor. 1.2; 10.32; 2 Cor. 1.1; Gal. 1.13). At the same time, ekklesiae has a unique relationship with Jesus. It is his body, a vital living extension of Jesus. He is the head over everything for the ekklesiae which is his body (Eph. 1.22). This means that Jesus not only relates to individuals but also to believers in the community, i.e., the ecclesia in a local community and the ecclesiae in a larger geographic area.

The ecclesiae as the Body of Christ stands as a corrective to the proud individualism of our Western culture. Jesus followers must learn to live together as a “called-out of this world” people. Whenever the word ecclesia is used in the Second Testament, we are to understand it as a corporate identity and learn to see how we are to operate as a community, rather than how we are to function as an individual apart from the community.

The Body of Christ

Three major Second Testament passages deal with the concept of the body of Christ (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4). The key concept within each of these passages is interdependence, the gifts of the Spirit, loyalty to one another, and love. As a part of the body of Christ, we, like the parts of our human body, have different functions (Rom. 12.4-5; 1 Cor. 12.4-5; Eph. 4.11). The contribution of each member is essential (Rom. 12.5). Only as each member of the body of Christ ministers will the body grow and build itself in love (Eph. 4.14-16). Interpersonal relationships of love, intimacy, and involvement in one another’s lives are stressed in these passages. The image of the body teaches us that the church is to function as an interdependent, ministering community which is gathered, so that its members may serve one another and thus serve the larger physical community in which it lives. While folks may come together on Sunday to worship and be taught and call this going to church, we are not truly a functioning ecclesia unless we function as his body. Then, we may truly call ourselves an ecclesia.

Life Perspective

As a member of the Body of Christ, I am a part of a great interdependent community in which I am to serve.

The Temple of God

Paul identifies the church at Corinth as the temple of God (1 Cor. 6.19). The Jewish concept of God residing in his Temple with all his glory and majesty is at the root of this metaphor that Paul uses. The ecclesiae when gathered, like the Jewish Temple, houses the very presence of God.

Life Perspective

As a member of the Temple of God, I house the very presence of God.

The Army of God

Paul used this metaphor in Ephesians when he alluded to the six pieces of equipment which the Roman soldier used, which are analogous to the weapons the Christian soldier has at his or her disposal (Eph. 6.10ff). The ecclesiae is the army of God through whom God brings his rule into this present evil age. Here is our equipment. Suit up!

Life Perspective

As a member of the Army of God, I am an agent through which the rule of God comes into this present evil age.

The Belt Of Truth: Ephesians 6.14

Background: The Roman soldier used his belt to tuck his tunic up, so it would not become flowing attire amid a battle and impede him from fighting his enemy. Also, the Roman soldier’s belt was used to hold the warrior’s weapons: the large and small sword.

Application: Paul described the belt as being like the truth. Truth is truthfulness and honesty as opposed to phoniness, deceitfulness, and hypocrisy. To participate in these latter activities is to play the devil’s game. You should know that you cannot beat the enemy at his own game.

The Breastplate Of Righteousness: Ephesians 6.14

Background: When the Roman soldier wore this piece of armament, it covered his front and back. The breastplate covered his vital organs.

Application: Paul likens the breastplate to righteousness. In Ephesians 4.2 and 5.9, Paul used the word righteousness to mean the right character and conduct. Jesus followers are most vulnerable to Satan when they destroy their character and compromise their conduct. In short, when a follower of Jesus sins. If we continue to sin, it is like having a chink in our armament that allows the enemy a pathway into our lives. Think about it: Sin puts a chink in God’s armament. If we replace old sinful patterns with the right character and conduct, the enemy cannot get to us as easily.

The Boots: Ephesians 6.15

Background: The Roman soldier had special boots. They were made of leather with studded soles and allowed the toes to be free. They were tied to the soldier at his ankles and shins with ornamental straps. Wearing these boots equipped the soldier for long marches and provided him a solid, firm stance.

Application: The gospel of peace (rest during turmoil), which is given to the followers of Jesus, helps each follower to stand on a firm foundation. Remember that one of the deceptions of the enemy is fear. Most of what we fear does not happen. We use mega energy to worry. Fear is: False Expectations Appearing Real.

The Shield Of Faith: Ephesians 6.16

Background: The shield that Paul referred to was the larger of two shields that were used by the Roman soldier. It measured 4½ feet high by 2½ feet wide. It was like a small wall built of two layers of wood, glued together, and covered with leather. The shield could be planted in the ground and the Roman soldier could squat behind it. One of the weapons used in wartime was darts that had been dipped into pitch, lit, and fired at the opponent. The Roman shield would catch the dart and extinguish it.

Application: For the follower of Jesus, Paul likens the shield to faith. In this passage, it appears that faith means the Jesus follower’s ability to believe that God will protect him from ultimate harm. As Satan throws his fiery darts: unsought thoughts, desires to disobey, rebellion, fear, lust, hate, anger, sarcasm, etc., we can hide behind our shield of faith, knowing that God will protect us.

The Helmet Of Salvation: Ephesians 6.17

Background: The Roman helmet was made of a tough metal-like bronze or iron. It had a hinged visor for frontal protection. Nothing short of an ax could penetrate the helmet.

Application: Paul likened the helmet to the Jesus follower’s salvation. It seems that salvation means the means of deliverance based on the four other times this word appears in the Second Testament (Luke 2.30, 3.6; Acts 28.28; Titus 2.11). To be saved is to accept the deliverer and the deliverance, knowing that nothing the enemy can throw at you can penetrate you eternally.

The Sword Of The Spirit: 6.17

Background: The sword for the Roman could be an offensive and defensive weapon. In this passage, the word sword is machaira (makh-ahee-rah). This was the smaller of the two Roman swords. It was a twelve-to-fourteen inch knife-like instrument whose blade could cut in any direction and whose tip was pinpoint sharp. It was used for close personal combat. The soldier would use the larger sword to disable his opponent. Then he would use the smaller instrument to penetrate the chinks in his opponent’s armor and plunge the sword in.

Application: Paul likened this sword to the word of God. Word in this passage is rhema. It is used seventy times in the Second Testament. Five of these times it is used in the phrase word of God. On all five occasions, it should be translated a word of God, although it is translated the word of God in most translations. In Luke 3.2, the word of God appears to be a message from God which John preached. In Luke 4.4, the word of God is that which is provided to give humans life. Hebrews 6.5 suggests that the Jesus follower taste the word of God. In Hebrews 11.3, the word of God is an utterance by which God summoned into existence that which had not existed before (see Gen. 1.3). In light of the above, it seems best to take Ephesians 6.17 to also mean a word of God, a specific statement given by the Spirit to assist the follower of Jesus in defending against the enemy as well as assaulting the enemy during a battle. This may be a spoken word of Scripture or an impression from God. What it doesn’t mean is the Bible as we have it today.

Watch And Pray: 6.18-20

In Scripture, the phrase in the Spirit can have the meaning of in control of the Spirit (Matt. 22.43, Mark 12.36, Luke 2.27, 4.1, Acts 1, Rom. 8.9, 1 Cor. 12.3). With reference to prayer, it indicates Charismatic prayer in which words are given by the Spirit. Prayer in the Spirit includes, but is not limited to, praying in tongues. In addition, one can…

  • Pray in the Spirit: all kinds of prayers and requests.
  • Be alert and pray for all the saints.
  • Pray for Paul and others that as he shares the good news he will receive the right words and speak them fearlessly.

Activities in the Ecclesiae

There are many activities in which the ecclesiae is involved. Here are a few.

Worship

Peter told his readers that they were “…a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2.9). The chief-end of the ecclesiae is to worship God. The English word worship means to attribute worth to something. In Scripture, there are two main words for worship. The first means bowing down. It is to be prostrate before God as a sign of profound respect and humility. This action demonstrated a deep awareness of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. “Come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God our maker” (Ps. 95.6). The second means to serve.

Life Perspective

As a Jesus follower, worship is my highest priority. I should be a God-worshiper in every aspect of my life, at all times of the day and night. of instruments that were used in worship. Virtually any instrument can be used in the praise of God.

Scripture seems to indicate that it is God who initiates worship. We respond to what God has done in our lives. When the Spirit reveals the activity of God in our lives, then we can truly worship.

It is apparent in Scripture that we are to praise God by making a noise, singing and playing musical instruments, and bodily actions and gestures. Psalm 66.1 says “Make a joyful noise to God, all the land” (NRSV).

Jesus sang with his disciples at the Last Supper (Matt. 26.30). Paul and Silas sang at midnight while in jail at Philippi (Acts 16.25). Paul told the Corinthians that singing was important (1 Cor. 14.26). He told the Ephesian ecclesiae to address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart (Eph. 5.19). Individual and corporate singing strengthens faith. By lifting our voices we can lift our hearts to God. Psalms 150 includes a list of instruments that were used in worship. Virtually any instrument can be used in the praise of God.

It is the last area that often causes tension in the modern ecclesiae. Praise may be accompanied by the moving of one’s body. In the First Testament dance was a natural expression of God’s people. Miriam led the women in praising God with dance after the crossing of the Sea of Reeds (Exodus 15.20). David danced before the Lord with all his might as God’s ark returned to Jerusalem. His wife was somewhat displeased with his public display (2 Sam. 6.14-23). Psalm 149.3 encourages the people of God to praise his name with dancing. Dance is the natural language of the body. The one lonely reference to dance in the Second Testament is when the prodigal returned home (Luke 15.25). It is highly unlikely that this form of wholesome expression of joy and praise ended when Jesus came to bring his people fullness of joy. Most likely, it is not addressed within the Second Testament, not because it was not done, but because it did not become a problem in its use. In a world resistant to words, it seems apparent that dance is a useful part of praise for people who respond quickly to the language of movement.

Proclamation

The Second Testament ecclesiae was without question a proclamation ecclesiae. Luke gave us a vivid picture of this in Acts. Beginning at Acts 2, he showed the works and words dynamic duo. When the Holy Spirit prompted them to worship God in languages given by the Spirit, Peter stood up to preach and explain what was happening. When the crowds both saw and heard the proclamation of Jesus Christ and heard about his crucifixion and resurrection, they were cut to the heart and cried out: “What shall we do?” (Acts 2.37). Without hesitation, Luke told the story about the cripple being healed at the Gate Beautiful, causing him to walk, leap, and praise God. Peter took this opportunity to preach again. The result: something like 5,000 were converted (Acts 3). When taken before the same court that was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus, Peter, filled with the Spirit, proclaimed without fear that only by the name of Jesus could a person be saved (Acts 4.8-12). Even when this band of Jesus followers was scattered because of persecution, they went about preaching the word (Acts 8.4).

Life Perspective

As a believer, I should proclaim both the words and works of Jesus.

Luke used thirteen different Greek words to describe the variety and richness of verbal proclamation. He said they preached, heralded, testified, proclaimed, taught, exhorted, argued, disputed, confounded, proved, reasoned, persuaded, and pleaded. Outside of Luke, the early missionaries in the first century announced, explained, confessed, charged, admonished, rebuked, etc.

There are about thirty terms in all used. In Acts, Luke places preaching in tandem with the works of the Spirit. It appears that within the context of the power of the Spirit, that the proclamation of Jesus has better results.
Luke also emphasized the completeness the disciples used in their proclamation. In Corinth, Paul rented the Hall of Tyrannus every day for two years where he taught from about 11 AM to 4 PM. This was about 3,650 hours of teaching in two years during the worst part of the day. While the rest of Ephesus slept, Paul ran five-hour seminars, because he knew that the message of Jesus would bring people to an experience with Jesus that would change their lives forever. The result: all Asia heard the word, of the Lord, and the ecclesiae grew.

Ministry

Ministry is the call of the ecclesiae. All believers are called by Jesus to minister. The gracelets of the Spirit are some of the tools for ministry. God wants each of us to be a conduit for his ministry. He wants us to have the same passion for others that he has.

From the beginning of time, God has provided ministry for his children. Ministry is experiencing God’s presence to serve others. Jesus gave an example of what ministry consisted of in his address to his home town of Nazareth. He took the scroll of Isaiah and unrolled it to the place where he read:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4.19-19)

Life Perspective

Ministry is experiencing God’s presence to serve others.

Mark’s Gospel tells us that his ministry also included a message for the lost (Mark 10.45) and the needy (Mark 10.46-52). God desires to bring help to the hurt, power to the pained, blessing to the bruised, and bountifulness to the broken. He wants us to be whole and bring others to wholeness.

Community Discussion Questions

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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!

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.)

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!

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.)