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Recommended Reading:
Feed My Lambs by Tim Gallant (You can Purchase Here)

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14)

God calls His people to live in community before a watching world. The purpose of this page is to show what the Bible teaches about the purposes, objectives and structure of Christian community.

The Local Congregation as a Community

Scripture leaves no room for doubt that God intends for the Church to encompass the community of the faithful. Moreover, the Church did not, as some teach, begin in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost.

In other words, when Jesus said, “I will build my church [Greek, ekklesia]; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” He did not mean to introduce a new institution. (Matthew 16:18)  Also notice that in Acts 7, Stephen used the same term -- ekklesia, church -- in reference to Israel:

This is he, that was in the ekklesia in the wilderness with the Angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us. (v. 38)

Ekklesia in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament or LXX)

The Greek word rendered church in the our English New Testament is ekklesia. English versions of the Old Testament use the word congregation instead of church. It would probably prove less confusing to consistently use the term congregation throughout Scripture.

Here is a list of references where the word ekklesia appears in the Septuagint -- the Greek version of the Old Testament Scriptures:

Deut. 4:10; 18:16; 31:30; Josh. 8:35; 10:2; Judges 20:2; 21:5; I Kings 8:14, 22; I Chron. 13:2; 28:2, 8, 10; 29:1, 20; 2Chron. 6:12, 13; 20:5, 14; 28:14; 29:23; 30:4, 17, 24; Ezra 10:8, 14; Neh. 8:2; 13:1; Job 30:28; Psalm 22:22, 25; 35:18; 40:9; 89:5; 107:32; 149:1; Prov. 5:14; Micah 2:5.

To quote just a few examples from the above-listed Scriptures:

And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation (ekklesia) of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended. (Deut. 31:30)

And David said unto all the congregation (ekklesia) of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the LORD our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us. (I Chronicles 13:2

I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation (ekklesia) will I praise thee. (Psalm 22:22)

Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and His praise in the congregation (ekklesia) of saints. (Psalm 149:1)

And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation (ekklesia) both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. (Nehemiah 8:2)

In the LXX, the term congregation (ekklesia) is interchangeable with the term synagogue. For example:

Speak ye unto all the synagogue of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house. (Exodus 12:3)

The Local Synagogue/Congregation (Church) in Hebrew Culture

Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. (Leviticus 23:3)

Convocation = A Calling Together (i.e., an assembly or congregation)

From the Scripture cited, you can see that God established the local congregation in His Law, and that He enjoined the congregation to assemble weekly, on the Sabbath. 

Another passage reveals the origins of the Hebrew tradition that forming a congregation requires ten covenant men, and that such an assembly constitutes the smallest administrative unit of the kingdom:

Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. (Exodus 18:21-22)

More to come . . . .