Dr Don: Whatever we wish to define as "church," we can be certain what Jesus meant by "ekklesia" isn't building.
On the other hand, an Ecclesia will always have a location since it is an assembling of kingdom citizens for the purposes of conducting kingdom business. Whether location for that consistently and constantly assembled group is a building is certainly not the issue. Assuming that the Ecclesia is tiny is both ridiculous and distracting. Assuming that the Ecclesia assembles every believers on earth and heaven is equally ridiculous and distracting. Assuming that Jesus said, "Ekklesia" and meant what we now define as "church" is as ridiculous and distracting as the other two considerations mentioned above.
When Jesus used the term "ekklesia," He was certainly referring to the technical term recognized by people of His generation as a kingdom culture assembly. Here's why:
1. The Greeks had another term to speak of "called out" and the compound "ekklesia" means "called into assembly." The prefix "ek" can mean out or in, and the technical term "ekklesia" speaks of a citizen assembly. When used in the Old Testament translation, it meant that the people were assembled before the Lord. In the Greek mind, it meant people were assembled before their leaders. In the kingdom of God sense, Jesus meant that He would assemble people from His kingdom instead of the kingdom of darkness.
2. Jesus says, "My ekklesia will displaced the strategically positioned authorities of Hades." The main gates complex of buildings housed those authorized to represent the king and regional leaders. In the main gates of the region, those strategically positioned could announce the intentions of the king of regional rulers. They would call together into assembly those citizens authorized to approve or disapprove these announced intentions, and implement those intentions in the culture of the region.
3. So, Jesus says, "I give you kingdom keys to approve or disapprove in your region what has already been approved or disapproved in heaven." Since the kingdom leaders represent the King, and they will be the apostles who represent His intentions, the ekklesia Jesus builds in the region will begin to displace the ekklesia of the authorities that represent His enemies.
4. I will build something that will expand, and its expansion of what it approved or disapproved in heaven will displace what is approved or disapproved by hell. All this centers upon the leaders who function in the gates. So, when the kingdom leaders are positioned at the gates, they can communicate the intentions of the King to the called together assembly of His kingdom citizens mature enough to implement what the King has decided.
Now, that could mean that assemblies with kingdom assignment have other meetings, as they should, with agape feasts, training and preparing conferences, commerce, law, medicine, education, arts, entertainment, family, and other aspects of kingdom culture. But, in the final analysis, Ecclesia responds to the kingdom leaders in the gates of the region positioned there to represent the King so His ekklesia gains greater influence than the ekklesia of His enemies.
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