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What is the church?

The New Testament’s Word for the English Word “Church”

The New Testament was written in Koine Greek. It was a common dialect form of Greek language widely used in ancient times, including the New Testament time. So, the English Bible is a translation from this original language in which the New Testament was first written. The root of the English word “church” is ekklesia. In Koine Greek, it refers to “a gathering of the citizens” or an “assembly of people.” In Romance languages such as French and Spanish, the Greek word ekklesia from the New Testament is used with a little change in spelling. For example, the French word for church is église. The Spanish word for church is iglesia.

The English word “church,” however, seems to have come from (originated from) the German word kirche. This is so because English belongs to the family of Germanic languages. Where, then, does the word “kirche” come from? Most likely, it goes back to the Koine Greek word kurios (kyrios), which means “Lord” or “Master.” In the New Testament, Jesus is revealed as the “Lord” or “Master.”  Therefore, in the early church, the houses where Jesus was worshipped as the Lord God was called kuriakon (kyriakon) doma (the house of the Lord). Here the word doma means “house” and kuriakon means “of the Lord.”

In summary, the English word, “church,” comes from the Greek word kuriakon doma, which refers to the house where Jesus is worshipped as the Lord God. Christians, then, are people who accept and serve Jesus as their Lord.  To be Christian, means to know as God. And to know Jesus as God means to know that God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in One (Trinity).

Author: Miyon Chung
Section: Systematic Theology