1. The Greek word ekklesia means assembly, or a gathering of called-out ones. It is used seventy times in the Septuagint for the Hebrew kahal (from which latter we have our word call), rendered in Sept. by sunagoge and ekklesia. (*1) This latter word occ. in N.T. 115 times (36 in plural), and is always transl. "church" except in Acts 19:32, 39, 41 (assembly).
2. kahal is used (1) of Israel as a People called out from the rest of the nations (Gen. 28:3); (2) of the tribal council of Simeon and Levi, those called out from each tribe (Gen. 49:6); (3) of an assembly of Israelites called out for worship or any other purpose (Deut. 18:16; 31:30. Josh. 8:35. Judg. 21:8); (4) any assembly of worshippers as a congregation (Ps. 22:22, 25. Ekklesia in Matt. 16:18; 18:17. 1Cor. 14:19, 35, &c.); (5) the equivalent ekklesia of separate assemblies in different localities (Acts 5:11; 8:3. 1Cor. 4:17, &c.); (6) of the guild or "union" of Ephesian craftsmen (Acts 19:32, 41), and v. 39 (the lawful assembly). Finally, the special Pauline usage of ekklesia differs from all these. Other assemblies consisted of called-out ones from Jews, or from Gentiles (Acts 18:22), but this new body is of called-out ones from both.
3. Our word "church" (*2) has an equally varied usage. It is used (1) of any congregation; (2) of a particular church (England, or Rome, &c); (3) of the ministry of a church; (4) of the building in which the congregation assembles; (5) of Church as distinct from Chapel; (6) of the church as distinct from the world, and lastly, it is used in the Pauline sense, of the body of Christ.
4. It is of profound importance to distinguish the usage of the word in each case, else we may be reading "the church which was in the wilderness" into the Prison Epistles, although we are expressly told that there is neither Jew nor Gentile in the "church which is His body". And when our Lord said "On this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18), those who heard His words could not connect them with the "mystery" which was "hid in God" and had not then been made known to the sons of men. Confusion follows our reading what refers to Israel in the past or the future into the present dispensation. Readers are referred to the various notes in the connexions.
5. The word where qualified by other terms occurs thus: --
Church of God; Acts 20:28. 1Cor. 1:2; 10:32; 11:16 (pl.), 22; 15:9. 2Cor. 1:1. Gal. 1:13. 1Thess. 2:14 (pl.). 2Thess. 1:4 (pl). 1Tim. 3:5, 15 (c. of the living God).
Churches of Christ; Rom. 16:16.
Church in .. house; Rom. 16:5. 1Cor. 16:19. Col. 4:15. Philem. 2.
Churches of the Gentiles; Rom. 16:4.
Churches of Galatia; 1Cor. 16:1. Gal. 1:2. Of Asia; 1Cor. 16:19. Of Macedonia; 2Cor. 8:1. Of Judaea; Gal. 1:22. Of the Laodiceans; Col. 4:16. Of the Thessalonians; 1Thess. 1:1; 2Thess .1:1.
Church of the firstborn (pl); Heb. 12:23.
Church in Ephesus, Smyrna, &c. Rev. 2 and 3; and
Churches; Rev. 22:16.
(*2) Is derived from the Gr. kuriakos, of or belonging to the Lord, house (Gr. oikos) being understood. It comes to us through A.S. circe (Scottish kirk).