Assembly, church - Berry's New Testament Synonyms

Assembly, church

συναγωγή, ἐκκλησία, πανήγυρις.

According to their derivation, συναγωγή is simply an assembly, a mass of people gathered together; ἐκκλησία is a narrower word, also an assembly, but including only those specially called together out of a larger multitude, for the transaction of business. ἐκκλησία usually denotes a somewhat more select company than συναγωγή. A significant use of ἐκκλησία in strict harmony with its derivation was common among the Greeks. It was their common word for the lawful assembly in a free Greek city of all those possessing the rights of citizenship, for the transaction of public affairs. They were summoned out of the whole population, "a select portion of it, including neither the populace, nor strangers, nor yet those who had forfeited their civic rights" (Trench). συναγωγή had been, before N.T. times, appropriated to designate a synagogue, a Jewish assembly for worship, distinct from the Temple, in which sense it is used in the N.T. Probably for that reason, and also for its greater inherent etymological fitness, ἐκκλησία is the word taken to designate a Christian church, a company of believers who meet for worship. Both these words, however, are sometimes used in the N.T. in a non-technical sense. πανήγυρις, occurring only in Heb. xii. 23, differs from both, denoting a solemn assembly for festal rejoicing.