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.

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69 COMMENTS

    • I think the point, Elizabeth, is that the two are in fact extremely similar. One is more people-related while the other is more place-related. You might call a meeting (bible study, family reunion, craft guildsmen) and you might locate it at a local synagogue.
  1. It is important to note that THE Church is the Bride of Christ and is comprised of ALL true believers everywhere (including ethnically Jewish believers) who have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. (see Romans 8:9). Yes, any local assembly could be called a "church" or "synagogue" and would contain some believers and some unbelievers (see the letters to the Seven Churches of the Revelation). But there is only ONE universal Church. And the Lord Jesus Himself has built it by the power of His Spirit. :-)
    • Amen. I focus on definitions given in the Bible for accuracies in my knowledge like you put it.

      The doctor I saw after a good while has widen his scope to provide corrections to common inaccuracies in editions, translation & understanding.

      The Lord’d told me to learn Hebrew & I thought learning Bible Hebrew would be great! I can’t now so maybe I can call others’ attention to it.

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    • No ,The Church is not the Bride of MaShiach ! The Church has not replaced Yisrael or the Jews .The Gentiles has been grafted into the Natural Olive Tree .Read Romans 11 .Y'Shua Himself is a Jew and all of His Talmidim and Emissaries were also Jews .Jews were Called to preach the Word of G-d to both Jews and Gentiles /Goyim .When Y'Shua returns at the last or seventh shofar He will gather His people both Jews and Gentiles .

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  2. I would really like to see more people realizing that we are not a church, we are the body of Yeshua and when we come together we are an assembly, or a group of people gathered together to worship our God. I did not know that a synagogue was not just what was considered a place where Jewish people congregate, but was a place where Romans and Greeks would gather together. When i looked up the deffinition in Strongs dictionary, the meanings I found were a meeting place, congregation, or assemblage. Thanks for teachi g us the truth.
  3. Dale You say that church should be more appropriately translated as assembly yet the church is not an assembly but it is what you say it is translated as. A church buildind however may rightly be translated as synagogue or meeting place etc. Maybe meeting place of the particular church that comes together there. This may help people overcome what they think church is.
  4. Thank you for this most important understanding. It is so vital for proper interpretation of the Scripture and to our Christian faith, yet so tragically misunderstood for far too long. You have helped me greatly.
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