Someone very wise once said, “we are most blinded not by things we don’t know, but by things we think we know.” Take for example, words we freely use today such as “church” or “synagogue.” We assume that “church” is a Christian institution, while “synagogue” is a Jewish institution, right? Well… not really. Those distinctions may be true today, but this was not the case during New Testament times.
The word translated as “church” is the Greek word “ecclesia” which basically means a body of people who are unified by something. In other words, there was nothing particularly Christian about this term in the first century. Therefore, it is simply inaccurate to translate this word today as “church,” instead of using a more appropriate word like, “assembly,” or “gathering.” (Rev. 2:1).
On the other hand, the word commonly translated as “synagogue” did not refer to something exclusively Jewish. Synagogues were places where people gathered for meetings in the Greco-Roman world; places where anyone could come and engage in community activities. Jews took a great interest in this phenomenal institution to be sure, but they were not there alone. (Acts 15:21) Translating the Greek word (sunagoge) as a “meeting/assembly” when it is used in a positive context (James 2:2) but translating it in a negative sense as “synagogue” of Satan (Rev. 3:9) should cause to stop and think.