Evidence For Predestination And Election: The Meaning Of The Word Church
Posted by Job on September 20, 2008
The word translated “church” in the New Testament is ekklesia. Ekklesia means “called-out ones.” The church, then, is God’s particular people chosen from humanity. In this respect, Israel, who was called out from among the peoples and nations to be God’s unique people and form His unique nation, was the typological forerunner of the church. Now, did Israel choose God or did God choose Israel? Acts 13:17 specifically states that God chose Israel, and scripture further tells us that it was not because Israel was the strongest, mightiest, or most virtuous but rather by God’s own decision and grace. So if the old covenant was a covenant of God’s decision, how could the new covenant be one of man’s decision?
Also, go back to the term “ekklesia.” Now, it is easy to state the Remonstrant position by saying that God elects and predestines those whom He will make the offer of salvation to, but it is up to the human decision to respond. (This position would in fact resolve a great many of the issues with free will or Arminian Christianity.) However, were that the case, then the church, the body of Christ, would consist of people who both accepted AND rejected the offer of salvation, for “ekklesia” only refers to those that God called. It does not denote “those that accepted the call.” Free will Christianity would love to pretend that such is the meaning of ekklesia, but it is not. Also, please note that the New Testament writers – and especially the Holy Spirit that guided them – could have chosen a different word or group of words had the church been composed of those who both were called and chose to respond. Instead, the word “ekklesia” was used 112 times, indicating that those who were called had no choice but to respond.
So either the Body of Christ must include those who love Jesus Christ and those who hate Him because both were called and only some accepted and some rejected, or the body of Christ includes only those drawn into the church by the Holy Spirit’s irresistible grace. Were this not the case, the word that the Holy Spirit inspired the apostles to use would not have been “ekklesia”, those who were called out, but something similar to “ekklesia apokrinomai” meaning “those who were called and responded.”