Today’s article is written to reflect and build upon a recent group bible study I participated in, and my goal today is to introduce an idea that I will dive into with much more depth in the coming months.
Ekklesia is the Greek word that we translate to “church” in most English bibles. For our purposes today, I will use the word Ekklesia instead of the common English word church. We’ll dive into this at another time as well, as the goal of today’s post is simplicity.
Our primary Scripture references today are: Matthew 16:13-28, Ephesians 3:1-11, & Revelation 1:4-8
What is the identity of Jesus’ Ekklesia?
The Ekklesia that Jesus is building is a government. But it is not just any kind of government. It has distinct characteristics that make it different from the governments of the earth.
The most common descriptions of the characteristics of Jesus’ Ekklesia found in the New Testament can be easily summarized in the book of Revelation. Jesus’ Ekklesia is described as Kings, Priests, and the Bride.
Interestingly, these are the same characteristics that the Law and the prophets use to describe Israel. Jesus is the Jewish King of the nation of Israel, covenanted (married) to the Jewish people, Jewish lands, and Jewish promises. When Jesus first made His promise to establish a “Kingly, Priestly, & Bridal Government”, he made the promise to twelve Jewish men.
Later, Paul speaks of a “great mystery” called the Mystery of Christ. This mystery is that Jews and Gentiles are co-heirs in the promise of Christ – which is the eternal rule and reign of Jesus from the throne of David in earthly Jerusalem. Ekklesia is the governing body of Christ, composed of Jew and Gentile alike.
This important truth leads us to a point where I believe it is necessary to make an important distinction. Has anyone other than Israel become, replaced, or superseded Israel? Most certainly not! We have been joined (adopted) into their promise and their inheritance by the better blood of a newer (more recent) covenant. Our covenant with God does not replace God’s promises to Israel, but rather expands the “Ekklesia” government of Jesus to many languages, nations, tribes, and tongues beyond Israel.
Why is this important to Ekklesia?
Because now, in Christ- men, women, children, widow, orphan, prisoner (you get the idea) all get to have equal access to participate in fullness of fellowship in the full covenantal promises that Jesus granted to His “Kingly, Priestly, & Bridal Government”. It is also important because it means that while salvation and participation is not merited by our gender, age, ethnicity, geography, or position in life — it also means that we get to keep everything that is good about those identities and use them to govern and to give glory to Christ.
The Jews didn’t lose their covenantal identity by being joined to the Ekklesia, so neither do we. So then, what promises and inheritance has God planned for you? God’s covenants in the Bible are typically effected upon ethnic and geographic peoples, because the original command to Adam was to multiply and subdue the earth with the authority given to him. This is also why spiritual principalities are assigned to ethnic and geographic peoples, such as the archangel Michael’s role as the “prince (principality) of the Jews”.
Jesus’ Ekklesia is a restoration of God’s command to Adam. Who are the people and where is the geography to which God has called you? If you can answer this question, you know where you are called to govern as Jesus’ Ekklesia. If you can’t answer this question, you have liberty in Christ to join in with the Ekklesia wherever you are, for it says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
Jesus’ Ekklesia is “Kingly” in the sense that we are called to be discipled in the humble and servant leadership example of Jesus. It is also Kingly in the sense that wherever Jesus is called to govern, we are also called to govern. Isn’t He the King of kings and Lord of lords, the ruler of heaven and earth? Well, now you know where you are called to govern. If Jesus can supplant earthly and heavenly forces, you shall also do this in His name.
Jesus’ Ekklesia is “Priestly” in the sense that we are called to the same great and merciful call to intercession as our Great High Priest. Who will stand in the gap for a dead and dying world, to both intercede for and to proclaim to the lost the great and marvelous “day of God’s favor”? Kings may be able to open the door of the prison for those who are bound, but a priest tells him where to go after he is free. You friends, are called to be kings and priests unto our God and King.
Jesus’ Ekklesia is “Bridal” in the sense that we are covenanted to Him in glorious fellowship and unity. When the first Adam was alone in the garden, God knew he needed a suitable helper. It was better for Adam to have a co-inheritor, and God had the wonderful idea of covenantal union and family. God didn’t give Adam a slave or a subordinate. God gave Adam a wife. A wife is a co-inheritor of promises made in covenantal love and purpose. Jesus’ Ekklesia likewise is His “bone of bone” and “flesh of flesh”. We are His partner, His beloved, His friend, and His co-inheritor. He has made covenantal promises to us and He refuses to inherit the promises of His Father without us.
One last thing to consider…
The Book of Revelation is the saints’ “Garden of Gethsemane, Golgatha, & Eternal Resurrection Experience”. This will be the greatest hour of history for Jesus’ Ekklesia. It begins with the greatest time of worship and prayer of human history, when God’s people will not “fall asleep” like Jesus’ disciples did in Gethsemane. During this time, we will partner with Jesus in the final overthrow of the adversary, Satan, and the angels who follow him. Throughout, there will be times of intense persecution, as the Ekklesia will go to its own “Golgatha”. However, we do not lose hope, for eternal resurrection in endless ages of glorious fellowship with Christ will be our reward. The trial will be fierce, greater than any in human history, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that the fierce trial will be bookended with supernatural power and miracles culminating in the resurrection of the dead. We will go into this trial with boldness because we are well equipped by Holy Spirit to overcome.
One day in the future, Satan and his angels are going to be thrown out of heaven to be judged by Jesus on the earth, and they will no longer have any claim or authority to be called the principalities and powers of the air. At the resurrection, Jesus tells us we’ll be like the angels. Have we ever considered that at least part of our calling is to fill the governmental vacancy that is created in the heavenly realms?