The Greek word for church is ἐκκλησία, and means called out. But it doesn’t simply refer to a group of people who are supposed to get out of one place to gather in another. Rather, it refers to the place and the people from which a call issues. It is the place and the people who do the calling. It is “an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating” (Thayer’s Greek Dictionary).

We might better translate it as leaders, but the context being biblical, we would need to make it Christian leaders. And again, it is not simply that the church is the gathering of those who lead Christians, but the church is the gathering of public leaders who are Christian. It refers to people gathered together, and does not have a plural form. Prior to its New Testament use, it referred to Greek government, to those who gathered to discuss and adjudicate the concerns of the community, town, or city. It is a governmental word.

(from In Christ, the church at Ephesus, forthcoming)

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