The called-out ones

2. What, then, is the Ecclesia?

The Ecclesia is not a material building

The word for church in the New Testament is used 110 times and not once is it applied to a material building. Ecclesia means people meeting together. There is a sense in which the gathering only becomes the church after they are in fact met together. The citizens of a town met and then, because of this meeting the group, when met together, were called the ecclesia. Their purpose was then to discuss the affairs of the town.

Notice the language used in : Acts.2:47. the Lord added; Acts. 5:11. the church feared. Acts. 11:22. to the ears of the church. Acts. 12:1-5. Herod vexed the church.

The church is never made of inanimate stones but of LIVING stones fitly framed together for the habitation of God. God lives IN his people.

(Eph 2:20-22 NRSV) built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. [21] In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; [22] in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

(1 Pet 2:5-9 NRSV) like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. [6] For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”


There seems to be no end to the number of names men have adopted and purposed to name or describe the church. We must never confuse being a member of a denomination, (which just means a NAME.) and being a member of the Ecclesia. These two things are NOT the same. One can be a member of a denomination and not belong to the church.


The word ecclesia literally means, “The called out ones”. As a group it consists of a called out company of people. In this company we may find Jews and Gentiles, that is the chosen people (NATURAL Israel) and the unchosen, all as one in the body of Christ. This group is in God’s sight neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free, there is no male or female, for all are one in Christ Jesus …

(Gal 3:28 NIV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

What is important is the new creation.

(Gal 6:15 NIV) Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.


(2 Cor 6:17 NIV) “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

Being called:

Out of Darkness i. out of darkness into light.

(1 Pet 2:9 NIV) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

To a worthy life. ii. to a vocation.

(Eph 4:1 NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

To one hope iii. to a calling of hope.

(Eph 4:4 NIV) There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called–

To a holy life. iv … to holy calling.

(2 Tim 1:9 NIV) who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.

Heavenward. v. to a heavenly calling.

(Phil 3:14 NIV) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

To His eternal glory vi. to eternal glory by Christ.

(1 Pet 5:10 NIV) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

To His kingdom vii. .to His kingdom and glory.

(1 Th 2:12 NIV) encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.


This ecclesia consists of those who will obey the call and come out of and away from, the world system of things, the calls of the fleshly life and the domination of the devil.

Be careful to understand that the callings of God are for all of His people. There is no “special vocation” or “special calling”. The much used idea that one is “called” to the priesthood or has a “vocation” is built on the mistaken idea that some of the ecclesia have been made members of a unique group that places them in a special relationship to all of the other sheep. Humankind has made this the subject of much pomp and great ceremonies, laying on of hands and childish spectacle as great organisations seek to reinforce the idea of a “clergy” and so maintain the power base of professional clergymen.

This is a very long way from the acts of Paul who visited local churches and because of his God given insight was able to appoint men and women to act as leaders for these groups and to exercise parental guidance. This parenting is just one of the jobs to be done in the local church. But do not forget that all of the saints gathered in these groups had been called. Each and every one had a vocation and every vocation was important and equal in the sight of God. Every saint of God was and is today worthy to be presented to the church in their calling as an important ministry and afforded equal thanksgiving and reverence.


The church is not national, international, denominational, undenominational, sectarian or non-sectarian — it is one NEW MAN.

(Eph 1:22-23 NIV) And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, [23] which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

(Eph 3:21 NIV) to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

(Eph 5:23-27 NIV) For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. [24] Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. [25] Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her [26] to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, [27] and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

The church is essentially an organism, not an organisation. It is the called out and assembled together people. Not so much assembling together because THEY have chosen to come together, but because God has chosen them to so assemble.

In the Greek sense the word ecclesia was not calling an exclusive group to assemble. It was an all-inclusive term. All citizens were to assemble and shoulder their responsibilities. So also with the saints, they ALL are called to meet and become the church as the congregation of the Lord. The call is inclusive!


There are many types and symbols for the church in the Bible.

A few of these are:


The Garden of Eden. Gen.1:2.; Song. 1:8.

The Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Exod. 25:40.

Israel — The Church in the Wilderness. Acts.7:38.


The House of the Lord. Heb. 3:6. (note the people are the house.)

The Royal Priesthood. Heb.7:1.; 1 Pet.2:5-9.

Church of the First Born.. Col. 1:17.


Christ is the Builder.

(Mat 16:18 NIV) on this rock I will build my ecclesia, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

If the Lord is not building the house all man’s labour is in vain.

(Psa 127:1 NIV) Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.

To be built by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

A spiritual house built of lively stones as a habitation of God.

(1 Pet 2:5 NIV) you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

(Eph 2:20-22 NRSV) built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. [21] In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; [22] in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
(Zec 4:6 NRSV) He said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

According to the pattern.

Just as the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and the Temple of Solomon were built according to the pattern supplied by God, so also Christ will build His church according to the pattern given by the Father.

In this regard consider …

a. Obey those set in authority over you.

b. Paul ordains Elders (plural) in every church and instructs them to take the oversight.(to share the authority)

c. How shall they hear without a preacher?

d. Jesus gave ministries for the perfecting of the saints in the work of their ministry.

e. Call for the Elders when sick.

f. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves.

g. Sets the solitary in families.

Christ and His builders

Jesus calls us all to build with Him under His supervision and direction. We are all sub-contractors in some way. The defining of our place in the pattern is called our ministry (service). It is the Lord who places each person in the church. He ” sets” the servers in place. The list of tasks is very long but we must be clear that all are equal in the sight of the Lord. He is no respecter of persons. He seeks faithful disciples.

Building by adding.

In building a natural house we gather the materials together. So also in the spiritual. First the gathering of “lively” stones together. Evangelism, (spreading the good news) both public and private is needed. Notice the church in Acts multiplied. This is a gathering of rough, unhewn and unplaced stones.

Building by Preparing the Materials.

The stones have to be prepared to fit into their place. The stone masons of the church are seen in the fivefold ascension ministries Jesus gave to the church. Ephes. 4:9-16

Building by Assembling.

A heap of stones is not a house. Adding must lead to edification. There must be an assembling together into a spiritual building. The individual stones must allow cutting in order that they may fit into the corporate building. To be built up, to be placed, to be put in order, to be arranged etc. In this way the stones find their place in the ecclesia. They come to fit with one another in God’s divine order.

Called Unto

When one is called out from, there is also a called unto. We are often misled into an attitude of mind that focuses our attention towards names and objectives that are the product of man’s restless need to have things according to his own idea of order. This is the modern day version of the spirit that in ancient days caused men to say, let us make us a tower, let us build us a city, let us make us a name. This ambition is still very much alive on planet earth.

Consider this List:

a. Gathering to a form or type of government. i.e. Apostolic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congregational.

b. Gathering around a Doctrinal Emphasis or Truth. i.e. Grace Church, Holiness Church, Pentecostal Church, Charismatic Church.

c. Gathering around a Particular Personality. Usually someone who has been used of God in a particular revival.

d. Gathering around an Experience. i.e. Water Baptism, Holy Spirit Baptism

e. Gathering around a Popular Message.

f. Gathering around a Specialised Group Activity.

Reflection on these things may well cause us to rethink the reasons why we gather and re-establish our personal motivation.

Gen.49:10 … Shiloh comes, and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.

(note the meaning of “gathering” in this Scripture: obedience, expectation, hope.

Heb.10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith …