What is the church?
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Question: What is the church?
Answer: The first two primary definitions, as found on dictionary.com, says it is a public building for Christian to gather. It is a PLACE, according to the site, where someone goes in order to worship God. When most people think of a church it is usually with this definition in mind. The first century believers of Jesus, however, defined this word in quite a different manner. The Greek word commonly translated church in the New Testament is ekklesia (Strong's Concordance #H1577). An ekklesia is not a building. The correct definition, based on the use of ekklesia in the Bible, is that it is a COLLECTION or assembly of true Christians.
As such, the word can mean more than one assembly of believers meeting together. It can also be used to refer to ALL true Christians living in the world. The church or ekklesia can also be used to refer to the collection of all converted believers who ever existed in history. Jesus said of the ekklesia or assembly he was to start:
"He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' . . . 'And I (Jesus) also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock (the understanding of Jesus being the Messiah) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:15-16, 18, NKJV)
The New Testament lists several locations where an assembly of believers met in homes to study the Bible and worship God:
In Jerusalem believers met at the house of Mary and other unnamed homes (Acts 2, 5, 8)
Believers met at Philip the Evangelist's house in Caesarea (Acts 21).
Christians met in Ephesus at the house of Priscilla and Aquila (1Corinthians 16, Acts 20).
Believers met in a least four separate homes in Corinth (Acts 18, 1Corinthians 1, 16).
God's assembly met in at least six different homes in Rome (Acts 28, Romans 16).
The house of Philemon hosted a weekly assembly in Colossae (Philemon 1).
A group met at the house of Nympha in or near Laodicea (Colossians 4).
The house of Jason in Thessalonica had weekly services (Acts 17).
A group of believers met in a home in Troas (Acts 20).
The New Testament refers to at least 21 separate homes where first century Christians gathered to strengthen each other in the faith.