Sometimes I'm asked "Why all the Greek and Theology?" Two main reasons: 1) Understanding the Theological and Biblical Foundations are essential to envisioning, planning and implementing a local church Sports Outreach that meets the "4-Fold Evaluative Rubric:" Strategically-Relevant & Efficiently-Effective; and 2) Sports Ministers who know their theology and Bible are granted a respect by their Senior Pastors, Elders and other Church leaders. Too often Sports Ministers are seen only as "pray & play guys." I'm challenging all Sports Ministers to "study to show themselves approved," so local church Sports Outreach can be truly respected and esteemed within the "ecclesiastical world." Are you up to the challenge?
This week's blog focuses on six New Testament words or phrases that describe and define The Church and its local congregations...
Six Biblical References to The Church
Six New Testament words are used in reference to what is commonly called The Church: A) Kuriokos; B) Ecclesia; C) Laos Theos; D) Soma Christos; E) Nymphe; F) Koinonia. Don't worry so much about how to pronounce the words but do pay attention to what they reference and how they are to impact local church Sports Outreach. Each offers a unique perspective of what is called The Church and each provides insights into what/who is The Church as well as what the purpose and function of The Church is. Only after The Church is understood can local congregations, or assemblies, of The Church be understood.
1. Kuriokos - The Church
The first word in the English language is actually where the word Church stems from - Kuriokos. Literally it means “of the Lord.” It is found twice in the New Testament, Once in reference to the Lord’s Supper and the other to the Lord’s Day. This sense of being “of the Lord” or “belonging to the Lord” became the etymological root for the word Church. This root is found in many other languages such as: Kirk (Gaelic); Kirche (German); Kirkja (Norse); and Kerke (Dutch), but all stem from the Greek Kuriakos.
2. Ecclesia – Those Called Out
The second Greek word is ecclesia which means “called out.” Thus, ecclesia refers to people who are “called out” to be God’s people.
3. Laos Theos – People of God
The “people of God” theme runs throughout the entire Bible. The Old Testament frequently references the Jews as the people of God. This repeated reference of God choosing and calling out a people to, and for, Himself is one of the most abidingly strong themes of the Old Testament. This concept finds continuing fulfillment throughout the New Testament, although the actual phrase “people of God” or “God’s people” is only found in a handful of verses. This sense of “God’s People” not only continues in the New Testament but it is strengthened as it corresponds with, and its significance is expanded by, both the kuriokos and ecclesia themes referred to in the two previous points.
4. Soma Christos – The Body of Christ
The concept of The Church (ecclesia) being the body (soma) of Christ takes another step in the deepening significance of what/who the Church is. It is important for anyone attempting to exegete (interpret) the body of Christ passages to differentiate between those that are referencing His body (such as his earthly body and the Lord’s supper passages) and those that specifically address The Church, but even so, a clear message is communicated: The Church (kuriokos) is called out (ecclesia) to be His people (laos Theos) and is considered His body (soma Christos). This profound truth must not be under-valued nor overlooked! In fact in many of these passages the soma Christos is paired with the term ecclesia. The Church – Christians – is the very “body of Christ.” This concept exudes incarnational theological ramifications. The Church is to be Christ’s ongoing outreach to the world.
5. Nymphe – The Bride of Christ
While the perspective of the people of God (laos Theos) being the bride of Christ is more metaphorical and perhaps eschatological than other references to The Church (Kuriokos), it still communicates a vital message. Those called out by God (ecclesia) are to be “wed” to Christ and should thus be pure and fully focused on Christ (the bridegroom).
6. Koinonia – A Christian Community
With a basic root meaning joint communion, Koinonia, when used in reference to The Church (Kuriokos), connotes a community of believers that is known for its rich fellowship and exemplary unity of faith and purpose. Its distinction from the first five terms has to do with an emphasis upon the interaction of the constituent members rather than their standing before God or their relationship to Him. It is more descriptive of what occurs in terms of human interactions and relations as a result of their relationship with Jesus.
 1 Corinthians 11.20 and Revelation 1.10.
 To list just two: Judges 20.2 and 2 Samuel 14.13.
 Hebrews 4.9 & 11.25; 2 Corinthians 6.16; Revelation 21.3.
 Colossians 1.18-24; Ephesians 1.22f & 5.23.
Next week's blog will outline general theological concepts related to The Church and its local assemblies.
This blog is an excerpt from Dr. Linville's yet to be released book. All rights reserved. For any reproduction right, including copying, computer reproduction, etc. contact:
Dr. Greg Linville at CSRM International C/O The World Outreach Center 5350 Broadmoor Circle N. w. Canton, Ohio – USA 44709 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Other blogs and articles on Local Church Sports, sports theology and ethics written by Dr. Greg Linville are archived at: www.csrm.org