About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman
Defined By Revelation 2:1
Revelation 2:1 reads:
"To the angel of
the church in
Our English word
"church" seen in the above verse and throughout the New
Testament is translated from the Greek word "ekklesia."
In the first-century Greco-Roman world an ekklesia was a group of
people taken from the general population for a specific purpose.
A fishing guild, a governing senate, or a ladies knitting group,
are all examples of an ekklesia. In
terms, then, of the culture in which the New Testament was written,
church is the group of people Jesus takes out of the general population
to fulfill His specific purpose.
In Biblical terms, the
concept of ekklesia or church originates in the Hebrew Old Testament
where the Jews were considered an ekklesia or a church, or in their
language, a "synago." In
those days the Jews were a people who God took from the general
population for a specific purpose, that was, to be a community of people
living in right relationship with Himself and with each other so He
could accomplish His will through their community.
Community was central to the individual Jew.
It was where the spiritual and material needs of the individual
were to be met. We thus add
the concept of community to ekklesia or church.
In terms of the church's Hebrew roots, church is the community of
people Jesus takes from the general population who live in right
relationship with Himself and with each other.
Within community all of the spiritual and material needs of the
individual believer are to be met as the community accomplishes Jesus'
In addition to the
above, we add another dimension to church.
In Acts 2 we note that the Holy Spirit entered the individual
believer and by so doing He also entered the corporate community of
believers, the later being something that is often missed when reading Acts 2.
The idea that the Holy Spirit exists within Jesus' corporate
community as well as the individual believer is seen in the word
"lampstand" in Revelation 2:1.
According to Revelation 1:20, the lampstand refers to the church.
It is thus obvious that the Holy Spirit's residency within the
lampstand, the corporate community of church, is the light that lights
the lampstand community. With
this in mind, and according to Revelation 2:5, if a lampstand community
of believers forsakes its love for Jesus, and all of which that entails,
the Holy Spirit will leave the community.
The lampstand community will no longer be a legitimate church,
which is the case with many groups calling themselves church today.
When understanding the
Biblical meaning of church, we cannot view church in terms of today's
western-world, often impersonal and non-relational church.
That is not how Jesus understood church when He asked John to pen
the letters we read in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. Church
is the community of people Jesus takes from the general population to
live in right relationship with Himself and with each other.
It is where all of the spiritual and material needs of the
believer are to be met as the resident Holy Spirit assists in
accomplishing the will of Jesus among His community, the church.