The Bible is inspired, and God’s Word is infallible. Even so, human error can lead to translation mistakes. The mistranslation of ekklesia as “church” is acknowledged by scholars as a critical error, yet it is perpetuated in nearly all modern English translations. We’ve come to accept a substitute word! But God says what He means and means what He says. In this passage, He means ekklesia.
The word church derives from the Greek word kuriakos which means “belonging to the Lord.” In early church history, believers called the place in which they met kuriake oikia, “the Lord’s house.” Ekklesia, however, derives from two words: ek, meaning “out of,” and klesis, meaning “a calling.” It came to refer to an assembly because people were summoned or “called out” to assemble. It is used 115 times in the Greek New Testament. It is translated “church” in all but three verses (Acts 19: 32, 39, 41). An important dimension of our Christian identity has been lost through this translation mistake, diminishing the strength of our role in society.
By the time of Christ, the word ekklesia had been in use for over 600 years. It had specific, well-acknowledged connotations. When early believers heard ekklesia, they didn’t think of a building but of a ruling body. It was a political term, not a religious one. The ekklesia was an assembly of the government in Greek city-states. Open to all male citizens over the age of eighteen, the ekklesia was responsible for declaring war, military strategy, and electing military generals and other officials, including chief magistrates of the city-state. Members voted on decrees, treaties, and law proposals.
This means that when Jesus said He was going to build His ekklesia, He meant He was going to build His governmental center. He was going to establish His ruling body with the revelation that He is the Messiah and the supreme ruler of the earth. The gates of hell would not prevail against the kind of assembly Jesus intended to build. We can be sure, too, that when He said ekklesia, His hearers understood what an ekklesia was.
A change of mindset is needed in the Body of Christ. We are not just going to a building on Sunday. We are joining an assembly, a spiritual body governing our cities, states, and nations, with Christ as our Head. We are not just leading a prayer session in our houses of prayer. We are gathering an assembly around the throne of God, and releasing leadership. We are binding principalities and powers. We are part of an ekklesia.
Understood properly, an ekklesia is a threat to every corrupt government, drug lord, rebellious king, and demonic principality. The ekklesia of Jesus is equipped with weapons. It is not on the defensive, but the offensive. Gates don’t move of themselves. When He says the gates of hell won’t prevail against Hisekklesia, He’s identifying His people as an attacking body. We are going after the gates of hell. Whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Mt. 16:19). We’re in battle. We’re at war. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, and neither are our weapons of warfare “carnal.” They are “mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4).
We have been the “church” for too long. It’s time to build His ekklesia!
-This article is taken from Lou Engle’s teaching “The Contending House of Prayer” during our onething 2010
The devil isn’t afraid of your political opinion but when you pray the King of Kings to release righteous legislation, and to turn America back to God, that’s a whole another issue.