“To Him be the glory in the church [ekklesia] and in Messiah Yeshua to all generations forever and ever, Amen.” (Ephesians 3:21)
Through the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God) and what we call today the church (ekklesia in Greek), Yeshua (Jesus) empowered and officially authorized His disciples to take the Kingdom of God to everyone.
Let’s take a brief look at how this is true and what our responsibility is as members of the modern-day church / congregation.
The Kahal of Israel
Throughout Israel today, Believers in Yeshua worship in what is called a kehilah, the modern term for congregation.
This word Kehilah is only used twice in the Tanakh (Old Testament) to mean an assembly.
However, the masculine form of this Hebrew word is kahal. It can be used in many ways, such as a contingent for battle (Judges 20:2), but it is translated over 100 times as an assembly of people (such as in Ezra 10:14).
It also refers to the specific community of people chosen by God called Israel.
The first time we see the word kahal in Scripture is when the patriarch Isaac blesses his son Jacob, whose name was later changed by God to Israel. He became the patriarch of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Isaac spoke over Jacob:
“May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community [kahal] of peoples.” (Genesis 28:3)
Here, we see a chosen man of God — Jacob — being anointed to bring forth an elected community or assembly of people — a kahal called Israel.
The God of Israel, would one day entrust this kahal with His instructions for daily life.
He gave those instructions throughout the Tanakh (Old Testament) by giving them various ways to remember Him:
- His Torah — instructions that reveal God’s standards of holiness.
- His Appointed Times — holy days by which to remember His character and His miracles;
- His prophecies — to remember His warnings, judgments, and revelations of who the Messiah would be and what He would do.
Through His Word, God appointed the Kahal of Israel to become a nation of priests for Himself.
It was a kahal / community of Believers that the disciples of Yeshua formed among themselves, only this kahal would add two essential ingredients to the Kahal of Israel as they had known it at the time:
- Belief that Yeshua (Jesus) is the prophesied Messiah and Son of God, and
- The need to be born again through Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit).
In the New Testament, which was written in Greek (not Hebrew), the word that the Jewish disciples used to describe this community of born-again Believers was ekklesia.
This Greek word ekklesia has been translated into English as church, but few in the church understand the depth of what ekklesia signifies for them.
The Ekklesia of Messiah Yeshua
In the common Koine Greek language spoken in Yeshua’s day, ekklesia has a beautiful meaning — called out ones and comes from the word ékklētos, meaning summoned.
Just as Israel was called out by God to be a kahal, an assembly of people separate from the nations, so we as Believers and as a corporate Body of Messiah are called out by God to be set apart, revealing His love to a broken world.
However, there is more to understand about this word ekklesia, since it was being used in the context of government structures long before Yeshua arrived.
In ancient Greece, an ekklesia comprised thousands of people who were “called out” to vote on laws, decide military strategy, and elect magistrates.
It was the ekklesia that gathered around the emperor to hear and record his words as well as make sure his will was implemented.
In ancient Greece, the ekklesia met in a building called the ekklesiasterion. By the 6th century, it met twice a year at the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus in Athens (above is the restored site),
The word “ekklesia” continued under first century Roman rule and even appears in the Book of Acts.
In the city of Ephesus, a crowd of angry people who surrounded Shaul (the Apostle Paul) and his friends was called the ekklesia.
As well, the legal assembly that would hear the crowd’s complaints against Paul was called the ekklesia. (Acts 19:32, 39)
When Paul, himself a Roman citizen, wrote about the Ekklesia of the Believers being called out of darkness to implement the Kingdom of Messiah (Colossians 1:13), Paul was evoking this governmental structure.
God has called all of us to speak and act with the authority of King Yeshua, spreading His Gospel (Good News) into every sphere of life. This is even more meaningful when we understand that the word “gospel” had also been used in the language of Roman government.
Under Roman rule, the word “gospel” referred to the edicts of the emperor, who was thought of as the divinely chosen agent of the god Zeus.
For Roman citizens and others within the Roman Empire, the emperor had earthly authority to reign over and protect all people who abided by his edicts, while crushing those who did not abide. In this way, the emperor’s edicts were good news for those who lived according to them.
Likewise, Believers in the Gospel or Good News of Yeshua (Jesus) have been called out and sent out by the Supreme Ruler Yehovah (YHVH) to implement His Kingdom on earth.
Yeshua said to His disciples,
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing (immersing) them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and know that I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20)
These ancient meanings of the ekklesia and gospel help us see that God has bestowed upon the Ekklesia of Messiah Yeshua a governmental anointing.
The Kingdom of God Is Near
While the kahal of Israel was looking forward to the kingdom of God coming to earth, the crowds in Yeshua’s day personally experienced God’s Kingdom on earth with every physical, emotional, mental healing, and every casting out of demons that Yeshua performed.
“If it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you,” Yeshua said. (Matthew 12:28)
Yeshua’s Ekklesia is commissioned to continue bringing the kingdom of God near to others.
They have the authority to do this because they have accepted Yeshua as their Deliverer, Master, and King of the Universe.
Moreover, they are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Holiness); they have been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb and have the authority of Yeshua to heal, cast out demons, raise the dead, and preach the Good News, bringing His kingdom to others here on earth.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12)
The Kingdom of God can only be proclaimed through Yeshua.
Proclaiming Messiah Yeshua to the Nations
Yeshua is the beautiful thread of the Gospel that runs through both the Kahal of Israel in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the Ekklesia of Yeshua in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament).
In the Tanakh, God revealed the identity of the Messiah through images, metaphors, and events to happen in the future (prophecies).
Though they longed for the coming of the Jewish Messiah, the Jewish people did not fully understand what God had revealed to them.
In the Brit Chadashah (New Testament), the Jewish disciples of Yeshua’s Ekklesia found Him:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16–17)
Yeshua entrusted His disciples with telling everyone about His Ekklesia, an Eternal Kahal that one can only be a part of by accepting salvation (in Hebrew, Yeshua) through the cleansing of their sins by the blood of the Lamb — Yeshua’s death and resurrection.
This is how Paul explained it to the believers in Rome:
“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
“How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:10–15)
While we are commissioned to tell others about salvation through Yeshua, we must also remember that we are told to make disciples in word and deed.
“Go and make disciples of all nations,” Yeshua said. (Matthew 28:19)
One way to begin this discipleship is to start up a kahal or havruta (a Bible study in your home). Invite people from your workplace and community, friends, and family to come and learn the Word of God.
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Messiah.” (Romans 10:17)