The Berean Expositor
Volume 29 - Page 129 of 208
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The LXX translators of Genesis do not use the word ekklesia to translate kahal, the
"assembly" or "congregation", but the word synagogue. We must never forget that the
"church" began in the synagogue. After he was "separated" by the Holy Ghost at
Antioch, we read that the Apostle "preached the word in the synagogue of the Jews"
(Acts 13: 5). Further on in the same chapter we read that "they came to Antioch in
Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down" (Acts 13: 14).
Upon being invited to speak, the Apostle gave that wonderful address which contains the
first positive statement in the N.T. concerning justification by faith (Acts 13: 39).
Moreover, when the Gentiles desired to hear more concerning this truth, it was to the
synagogue that they had to go (Acts 13: 42). Even though the Apostle turned from
Israel in Acts 13: 46, we find him in the very next city preaching in the synagogue
(Acts 14: 1). Not until we reach Acts 19: do we find the believers withdrawn from the
synagogue and meeting on neutral ground (Acts 19: 8, 9).
In Paul's own summary of his life in Acts 22: we read:
"And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that
believed on Thee" (Acts 22: 19).
James also, who tells his hearers to call the Elders of the church, speaks of the
synagogue as the place of worship (James. 2: 2; 5: 14).
When, therefore, the Apostle confesses in  Gal. 1: 13  that "beyond measure I
persecuted the church of God", we must remember that that church, as the Acts of the
Apostles shows, largely was associated with the synagogue, both of the land and of the
dispersion. To-day in the light of the Mystery, the word "church" has taken upon it a
higher meaning. The church of Ephesians was most certainly not within the range of
Moses and the Prophets; but, while Israel as a nation stood before God, there was the
kahal, the called-out people, the church of God, and while the hope of Israel remained, as
it did until the end of the Acts (Acts 28: 20), there could be but one "assembly", or
"church", and to this the Gentile believer was added.
We trust that the reader has by now satisfied himself that Paul meant exactly what he
said in his defence before Agrippa. Should further and fuller confirmation be sought, let
each reader take up the Book and examine its testimony. We do not fear the result. Not
only did Paul say that he had not said anything outside the testimony of Moses and the
Prophets, but he also said at the close of this first ministry:
"I have not shunned to declared unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20: 27).
This, of course, did not mean that Paul had exhausted the mind of God; but simply
that everything that had then been made known he had honestly and unreservedly
In conclusion, may we say that we are grateful to the correspondent who originally
challenged us on this question? Truth has nothing to fear from examination: the more it
is investigated in the right spirit, the clearer it will become.