Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why use the word "Assembly" instead of "Church" II: The Body of Christ

As presented in my previous teaching Why use the word "Assembly" instead of "Church" we know that the proper translation for the Greek word "ekklesia" (usually erroneously translated as "church") is the English word "assembly." I will show how exquisitely well the word assembly translates the word ekklesia by looking at the various English definitions of assembly and how they relate to the truth of scripture.

First we will look at how scripture describes the assembly of Christ.
"God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the assembly as head over all things. Now the assembly is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:22-23). We see here that the assembly is Christ's body. Read 1 Corinthians 12. Note verse 27, "Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it."

Here are some interesting English dictionary definitions of the word "assembly" along with related scriptures.
  • A group of persons who are gathered together for a common purpose.
    • Every day disciples continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts,  praising God and having the good will of all the people. (Acts 2:46-47)
    • When they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)
    • Peter went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many people had gathered together and were praying. (Acts 12:12)
    • When you are gathered together in the name of our Lord Jesus the power of our Lord Jesus is present. (1 Corinthians 5:4)
  • A group of parts that fit together to form a self-contained unit; A unit consisting of components that have been fitted together
    • From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:16)
  • The act of constructing something
    • Jesus said "I will build my assembly" (Matthew 16:11)
    • To equip the saints for the work of service, that is, to build up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12)
    • So the assembly throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the respect of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. (Acts 9:31)
    • Encourage one another and build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
    • You yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
  • Whole, unit - an assemblage of parts that is regarded as a single entity
    • There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
    • Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27) 
    • Jesus prayed, "I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who trust in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will trust that you sent me. The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one – I in them and you in me – that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me." (John 17:20-23)
We see that, while assembly can mean a group of people meeting in a particular place and time, biblically it can also refer to the body of Christ with similar or exact definitions to match those English definitions I presented above (a group of parts that fit together to form a self-contained unit; whole; unit; an assemblage of parts that is regarded as a single entity). The word assembly parallels to the body of Christ and its parts coming together as one. It all relates back to the body because another possible word to use for ekklesia (aside from assembly & congregation) is council which definitions start out with "body" & "A body of people" That goes way past the non-biblical word that is church.

In marriage two become one. We are the bride of Christ. Just as Jesus prayed for us to do so in John 17 quoted above, we become one with God. The assembly is the body of Christ. "For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body, so too is Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12). "The body is a unit, it is made up of many parts that form one body" (1 Corinthians 12:12, NIV). Christ is a body, Jesus is the head of that body, those who trust Him are the rest of that body. God has loved us with such favor that we are Christ with Jesus! Just as my hand is me and a part of me so too are we parts of the body of Christ and we are Christ. We aren't simply Christians, we are Christ because we are one with the head of the body, Jesus. How is this the case? Jesus explained in John 17:23 that God the Father loves you just as much as He loves Jesus.

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