BLTC Press Titles


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The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite


The Characters of Theophrastus

Theophrastus


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll


Notes on ecclesiology

by Thomas Ephraim Peck

Excerpt:

II.

Terms And Denominations.

"church." This word, and German Tcirche, Saxon circe, and Scotch kirk, are derived, probably, from the Greek xuptaxoz, or To xoptaxov, that which belongeth to the Lord. "As a house of God is called a Basilica, i. e., regia a Rege, so also it is named Kyrica, i. e., Dominica a Domino (xuptoz) says an old author (quoted in Gieseler's C. H., § I.) It appears from Ulfilas that, in general, the Greek names of Christian things were adopted among the Goths. The Greek origin of the word is confirmed also by its being found not only in all the German dialects, (Swedish kyrka, Danish kirk, etc.,) but also in those of the Sclavonian nations who were converted by the Greeks (Polish cerkiew, Russian herkow, Bohemian cyrkew.) (See note to the section in Gieseler ut supra.)

"synagogue." This word is used in the LXX. often, as well as in the New Testament. It is put for any kind of an assembly, whether sacred or civil (Exod. xii. 3, 19 ; Num. xvi. 2), nay, even in a bad sense, for a profane and impious assembly (Psa. xxvi. 5); sometimes for the place of meeting (Luke vii. 5), in which the Jews were accustomed to assemble to hear the law, offer prayers and perform other offices of devotion beside those which were to be performed in the temple. Thence the so frequent mention of synagogues in the New Testament, the origin of which, according to some, was in the time of Moses (Acts xv. 21) ; according to others in the time of the captivity, when they were deprived of the temple services. Hence, the "synagogue" has come to denote the Jewish church, in like manner as "the church" has been applied to the Christian church.

"eccxesia" is a Gentile, as synagogue is a Jewish, denomination (Turretin, Vol. III., pp. 7, 8). Hence, in the Epistle of James (ii. 2), which is addressed to Jewish Christians, the assembly of worshippers is called the synagogue; but the churches under the gospel being composed for the most part of Gentile converts, the term ecclesia is most commonly used (Turretin ut supra"Witsius, Exercit. Sac. in Syrnbolum, xxiv., p. 451, Amstelod, 1697).

The Greek Exxbjota answers precisely to the kahal and gheda and moid of the Old Testament, all these terms signifying an assembly, especially one convened by invitation or appointment. (Mason's Essays on the Church, No. 1, Works, Vol. IV., p. 3.) "That this is their generic sense," says Dr. Mason, "no scholar will deny; nor that their particular applications are ultimately resolvable into it. Hence it is evident, from the terms themselves, nothing can be concluded as to the nature or extent of the assembly which they denote. Whenever either of the two former occurs in the Old Testament, or the other in the New, you are sure of an assembly, but of nothing more. What that assembly is, and whom it comprehends, you must learn from the connection of the term and the subject of the writer." A few instances will exemplify the remark:

In the Old Testament, kahal1 is applied: To the whole mass of the people (Exod. xii. 6) ; to a portion of the people, who came upon Hezekiah's invitation to keep the passover (2 Chron. xxx. 24) ; to the army of Pharaoh (Ezek. xvii. 17); to an indefinite multitude (Gen. xxviii. 3); to the society of Simeon and Levi (Gen. xlix. 6.) So also gheda is applied: to the whole nation of Israel (Exod. xvi. 22); to the particular company of Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Num. xvi. 16); to the assembly of the just, as opposed to the wicked (Psa. i. 5); to the judicatory, before whom crimes were tried (Num. xxxv. 12, 24, comp. with Deut. xix. 12, 17, 18.) In like manner exxAyota, in the New Testament, is applied: To the whole body of the redeemed (Eph. v. 24, 27) ; to the whole body of professing Christians, whether more or less extensive, as in the apostolic salutations and inscriptions of the Epistles; to a small association of Christians meeting together in a private house (Col. iv. 15, Phil. i. 2); to a civil assembly lawfully convened (Acts xix. 39); to a body of persons irregularly convened (Acts xix. 32). In application to the church, note the following meanings: 1st, The church invisible. 2d, The church visible, in the sense of a single congregation worshipping statedly in one place. 3d, Separate congregations united under one government, (Church of Jerusalem). 4th, The church visible, vaguely and indefinitely so called—the whole body of professing Christians, without reference to external organic unity (Confession of Faith, Chap. XXV., Art. I.; compare "Jews"). 5th, The church representative, the church court.


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