Things we think we know

In Jewish Culture and History by Dr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

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.” Church is a Christian institution, while synagogue is a Jewish institution. Right? Well… not really. It is so today, but this was not the case in 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 the term in the first century. Therefore, it is simply inaccurate to translate this word today as “church,” instead of the more appropriate word “assembly” or “gathering.” (Rev. 2:1).

On the other hand, neither did the word translated as “synagogue” 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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