A few years ago, a young man from mainland China came to a small town not far from where we lived. When he arrived, he asked, ‘where is the church?’ He was bewildered when he was told the whereabouts of different churches; Baptist, AOG and so on. Obviously, he had only been aware of ‘the church’ in mainland China. To him the church was not a building and the church was one people, one body.
Perhaps this young man had a better understanding of church than many of us. Over the last few weeks I have been pondering on Jesus’ words regarding the church in
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” NKJV
What did Jesus understand and envision His church to be? What did Jesus intend when he used the Greek word ekklesia translated church in many of our Bibles? What are the gates? Who receives authority to bind and loose?
The Greek word ekklesia was to the Greeks and Romans of Jesus day ‘a legislative council’. In Jesus time, Roman ekklesia were regularly ‘called out of’ the wider community to actively participate in legislating, negotiating treaties, making alliances, electing officials all in co-operation with the Senate. Typically, an ekklesia met three to four times a month. The role of every ekklesia was to enforce Roman customs and laws ensuring each city looked and acted like Rome itself. The ekklesia colonized regions and were apostolic in nature.
Jesus’ disciples would be quite familiar with Rome’s ekklesia. Jesus was using the term ekklesia to give some indication of what He intended for His ekklesia. The difference being however, that His ekklesia would be a spiritual legislative council that would bind on earth what needed to be bound in heaven. The implication here is that first and foremost His ekklesia would be a House of prayer.
I like the TPT version of Matthew 16:18: “I give you the name Peter, a stone. And this truth of who I am will be the bedrock foundation on which I will build my church—my legislative assembly, and the power of death will not be able to overpower it. I will give you the keys of heaven’s kingdom realm to forbid on earth that which is forbidden in heaven, and to release on earth that which is released in heaven.”
These are the words Jesus spoke to his disciples after arriving in the distant region of Caesarea Philippi. They contain two of the most significant revelations of the New Testament. The first, that He was indeed the Christ, the Messiah. Second, His ekklesia, His redemptive agency, would stand victorious in the face of all evil. Greg Simas, who wrote ‘The Emerging Ekklesia’, writes “It’s no coincidence that Jesus released the name and function of His divine agency, the ekklesia, at the Gates of Hades in Caearea Philippi. The Bible says that when Jesus died, He first went through the Gates of Hades himself and plundered it, leaving it powerless. He took the keys of Hades and death and gave them to His ekklesia; Revelation 1:18; Ephesians 4:9-10; Colossians 2:15. This means the church, the ekklesia, has the keys, and the devil does not.”
In this past year I have found a lot being written about the ekklesia. We are being given a better understanding of the ekklesia that Jesus is building. William Ford III in ‘Created for Influence’ wrote “Once you understand what the ekklesia actually is, from its original state to what it has sadly become, you can’t help but seek to inform, transform and reform our current ‘church culture’” Thankfully there are many who are doing this.
As the Lord Jesus fulfils His promise to build His ekklesia in our towns, cities and nation it will be accompanied by increasing levels of spiritual authority.
God bless. Colin
Ekklesia Ed Silvoso
Ekklesia Rising Dean Briggs
The Emerging Ekklesia Greg Simas