Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ekklesia? Church? Iglesia? Kahal? Synagogue? What's the difference?

In my studies, I came across this very interesting topic.  In the church today, there seems to be the idea that the "church" is something totally different than (and separate from) Israel.  A change in God's plan, so to speak.  An age ensconsed in parentheses.  And when the church age is finished, the church will be zapped away so God can deal with Israel separately.

I don't buy it.  In the septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, written a few hundred years before the birth of Yeshua), you will find the word ekklesia, which is translated church in the New Testament of modern English bibles.  The Hebrew word is actually kahal, which means assembly.  It actually has no religious meaning at all.  Also, the Hebrew word edah carries the same meaning.  Proverbs 5:14 is a verse that uses both words:  "I was on the verge of total ruin in the midst of the kahal and edah" (assembly and congregation). Both words are used frequently throughout the Hebrew scriptures and are interchangeable.

In the messianic writings (aka New Testament), the Greek words sunagoge and ekklesia are also used interchangeably - sunagoge in its various forms occurring about 50 times and ekklesia about 100 times.  Just like the words edah and kahal from the Tanakh, the words do not connote anything Christian, or even religious, at all.  Everywhere in the Greek world, people had their ekklesiai, or meeting places.  The Greek word sunagoge means gathering or gathering place, and does not have a Jewish context at all.  Today's notion that the church and the synagogue are respectively Christian and Jewish is simply wrong.

Consider the book of Ecclesiastes.  The Hebrew word is kohelet, one who speaks to the kahal.  The word Ecclesiastes is the Latin transliteration of the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew word kohelet.  Did you follow that?

Hebrews 2:12 is a quote from Psalm 22:  I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly (ekklesia) I will sing praise to You.  However, in Psalm 22, the word is kahal.  The word ekklesia here obviously refers to Israel.

Interesting!  The church of today is simply God's people, whether they be Jew or gentile... a continuation of God's remarkable dealings with mankind.  Can you say GRAFTED IN?

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