Points to Remember When Reading an English Bible

Here are some points to keep in mind as you read an English Bible.

English Bibles Are Translations

Those who originally wrote the documents which comprise the Bible did not know English.  They wrote in ancient languages, mainly Hebrew.

English Bibles Are Translations of Ancient Documents

The newest documents in the Bible are dated in the 1st Century A.D.  That makes the Bible a collection of documents almost 2,000 years old at the very least.

The Order of the Books Vary

The order of the books in English Bibles varies depending on whether the Bible is being produced for Jews or Christians.  Further differences in order exist depending on which of the three major branches of organized Christianity is in view when the particular Bible is being produced.  Nonetheless, the core books of the Bible are essentially the same, even though their order may vary.

To be more specific, the Hebrew Bible has the same books at the Protestant Old Testament.  The Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Old Testaments have all these same books, plus a few more (often called the Apocrypha).  All New Testaments have the same 27 books.

The Terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament” Were Not Applied to the Original Texts

We use the terms “Old Testament” to apply to those Bible books written before Christ.  We use the term “New Testament” to apply those books written about Christ in the 1st Century A.D.  However, these terms did not arise until well after the last book of the Bible was written.  As divisions of the Bible, therefore, these terms were completely unknown to those who wrote the Bible.  That’s why you don’t see these terms in the text itself.  Instead, you references to “the Scriptures,” “the Law of Moses, ” “the Prophets,” and so on.  (For more, see What the Bible Calls Itself.)

Punctuation Is a Feature of Translation

There was very little, if any, punctuation when the Bible’s documents were originally written.  Neither were there the uppper-lower case distinctions in print we are used to seeking in print today.  Words were often printed in block letters, one right after another without even any space between the words.  Readers, who were often reading aloud for a congregation, had to unpack “GODISMYHELPER” and say to the crowd, “God is my helper.”  Capitalization and punctuation are therefore the work of translators and not the authors.  Therefore, don’t obsess over punctuation.  It’s just the translators’ way of trying to help you understand the words.

The Chapter and Verse Divisions Were Not There in the Original Texts

The chapter divisions we see in our Bibles were not added until the 13th Century.  The verse divisions were not added until the 16th Century.  We should therefore understand that these divisions do not proceed from the minds of those who wrote the documents.  They are a mechanism for finding and identifying locations in the Bible, designed for use by those who study it – not a means by which Bible authors organized their thoughts.  Therefore, recognize that sometimes the Bible’s writers thoughts extend across chapter and verse divisions.

Thee’s and Thou’s

The “Thee’s” and “Thou’s” we find in some English translations – most notably the King James Version – have come to connote the opposite of their original intent.  Many, if not most, people today regard the use of “Thee” or “Thou” as a way of addressing God with particular respect.  However, in the days of King James such terms were used of common folk and thus the intent was to convey God’s approachability, not His transcendance.  Ironically, therefore, modern readers often infer from a “Thee” or “Thou” the very thing they shouldn’t.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Ten Commandments Are the Ten Words

The expression “ten commandments” shows up three times in the text of the Bible.  Here they are:

Exodus 34:28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

Deuteronomy 4:13 “So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.

Deuteronomy 10:4 “He wrote on the tablets, like the former writing, the Ten Commandments which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me.

In all three cases, the New American Standard Bible shows in its marginal notes that the literal rendering of the word translated “commandments” is “words.”

In somewhat similar fashion, the apostle John speaks of “commandment” and then uses “word” to refer to the very same thing.

1 John 2:4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
1 John 2:5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:

Speaking more precisely, we may say that “commandment” is a subset of “word.”  That is, all commandments are words, but not all words are commandments.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Differentiating Elders and Deacons

We have seen elsewhere how any New Testament reference to “elders,” can also be considered a reference to “overseers,” “bishops,” “shepherds,” “pastors,” and even in some cases “ministers”and “priests.”  These words are all used synonymously.  Deacons, however, are a different matter.  Although the term “deacon” is invoked infrequently when compared to all those other terms, it is still worth understanding properly.

Deacons can be clearly distinguished from elders (and all its synonyms).  This is from the very inception of the deacons’ role.  See Acts 6:1-6.  There, the apostles said that they could not stop preaching and praying in order to serve food to needy widows.  The apostles did not despise the job of feeding widows; it was a very important one.  There needed to be, however, a division of labor so that praying and preaching would not suffer from resource limitations.  After stipulating the demanding criteria for selection to be a deacon, seven men were chosen.  (The reason for choosing seven of them was that the problem to be solved was the daily serving of food to widows.)  As the apostles served spiritual food to the flock of God, so the deacons were to dispense material food to the people of God, at least the ones who were too poor to provide it for themselves.  As churches were established in various cities, so deacons were established along with, of course, elders.

This same pattern can be seen in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 where the qualifications first for an overseer (who must be “able to teach”), and then for a deacon (who was not expected to teach), are laid out.  Again, one office had to do with spiritual food and the other office focused on physical food.  (According to James 2:15-16 and 1 John 3:17, both kinds of food are important in the economy of God.)

We also see these two different offices referenced in the first line of Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  There, he addresses “the overseers and deacons.”  He does this because they are two different groups with two different sets of responsibilities.  Note that Paul did not address “overseers and elders” or “overseers and shepherds” as that would only have redundantly referred to the same group.

Peter also alludes to this division of labor when he says:

1 Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

That is, elders had speaking ministries, whereas deacons had serving ministries.  This idea of the elders speaking and the deacons serving is reinforced in 1 Timothy 3 where Paul writes in verse 2 that overseers (synonymous with elders) must be “able to teach” and in verse 13 that deacons “serve.”  All this is, of course, consistent with the paradigm established between the apostles and the original deacons in Acts 6:1-6.

The distinction between elders and deacons is thus one between word and deed.

Colossians 3:17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the deacons never spoke (the deacon Stephen certainly did in Acts 7!) or that the elders never performed deeds of service.  It simply means there was a divison of labor which economized efforts for the best total result.

Since God took control of His church in the late 1st Century, He has had no need for there to be an organization of “elders and deacons.”  Those two functions of spiritual feeding and physical feeding will go on as long as there are people on earth who need either.  God directs whomever He will to do these things when and as needed.  (Remember the story of the Good Samaritan…and take note.)  In the kingdom of God, everyone speaks for Him and serves Him.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Elder, Bishop, Overseer, Shepherd, and Pastor Are Synonymous Terms

Contrary to modern church practices, the New Testament uses the terms elder, bishop, overseer, shepherd, and pastor synonymously.  All these terms refer to the same office and the same duties.

In Acts 20:17, Paul calls to himself the elders of the church in Ephesus.  In Acts 20:28, he tells them that God has made them “overseers” – thus equating the terms overseer and elder.  Overseer can also be translated from the Greek as “bishop,” thus equating that term, too.  (By the way, an equally valid translation would be “supervisor” – which is to “see over.”  And you could make the same argument for “superintendent,” which follow the same sort of dual construction of “over” and “sight”.)  In verse 27, Paul goes on to tell these elders/overseers/bishops/supervisors to “shepherd” the “flock” of God, which is the church – thus equating shepherd with all the other synonyms.  “Shepherd” and “pastor” are different English translations of the same Greek word (“poimen”), in the same way that “overseer” and “bishop” are different English translations of the same Greek term (“episkopos”).  Therefore, “pastor” is as much a synonym of these words as is “shepherd.”

Similarly, in Titus “elder” (Titus 1:5) and “overseer” (Titus 1:7) are used interchangeably.  Paul says there that the person holding this title is expected to teach, which is of course the function for which “feeding the flock” is a metaphor (i.e. the duty of a shepherd).

Nor was Paul the only one to speak this way.  For in 1 Peter 5, Peter tells the “elders” (verse 1) to “shepherd” (verse 2).

And in Hebrews 13:17 reference is made to “leaders” of the church who “watch over” (there’s that dual expression again: similar to “over-seer”).

Thus, elder = overseer = supervisor = superintendent = bishop = leader = shepherd = pastor, at least as far as the New Testament is concerned.  They are various terms for leaders of the churches appointed by the apostles and those under the apostles’ direction (e.g. Timothy and Titus).

We can also see that “minister” and “priest” are terms associated with the preaching and teaching task, as demonstrated in Romans 15:15-16.  These two terms are more easily associated with the apostles than with the elders/overseers/bishops/pastors/shepherds.  However, they would, by definition, equally apply whenever and wherever there was preaching and teaching taking place in the name of Jesus.

Denominations carve up all these terms and define them in different ways…but there is no biblical justification for doing so.

P.S. The term “deacon” is a different matter; it is distinguished from all the terms above in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Apostolic Bible Polyglot – General Introduction

Charles Van der Pool says (starting at about 3:00 to 3:35):

“One of the greatest advantages in using the Apostolic Bible is the wonderful correlation between the Greek Old and New Testament words, so you can look up a New Testament word, its number, and go back to the Old Testament and find out how the word was used in the Old Testament and all this information of the context of that word will give you more information for the New Testament usage, and vice versa.”

YouTube description:

Join Charles Van der Pool the translator of The Apostolic Bible Polyglot with chapter-by-chapter video seminars going through The Apostolic Bible. The Apostolic Bible Polyglot is a numerically coded Greek-English Old(LXX) & New Testament interlinear Bible. The AB-Strong numbering system corresponds to The Lexical Concordance , The English-Greek Index and The Analytical Lexicon of The Apostolic Bible Polyglot. With twenty-five years of experience in translating the Greek scriptures Charles Van der Pool offers an insight into the Word with emphasis on the wonderful correlation of Greek New Testament words which appear in the Greek Old Testament (LXX) and vice versa. Go to www.apostolicbible.com for the in-depth website.

I have owned and used this tool for several years and value it highly.

(This was originally posted here.)

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Why I Love Strong’s Concordance

Strong’s Concordance is an index of every word in the English Bible.  That’s why you’ll often see it titled as “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.”  Originally compiled in the 19th Century for the King James Version, it has since been produced for the New American Standard Bible (and other translations as well).  This Wikipedia article on Strong’s will give you more background on the man (James Strong 1822-1894) who produced it long before the computer age made such tasks easier.  As well, this article will give you some descriptive information which will help you better appreciate this tool’s benefits and limitations.  Nevertheless, I hope you will use it for yourself before you make a final decision on its worth.

My introduction to Strong’s was a watershed moment in my life.  I was a new Christian in the late 1970′s when I found myself in a large discount Christian bookstore in Atlanta, GA.  Bookcases lined the walls of this huge single-room strip mall location.  The floor was filled with table after table of books.  Things weren’t busy that day, and after a while the elderly sales clerk on duty behind the cash register walked over to where I was browsing.

We made a little conversation and in a few minutes he puts a Strong’s Concordance in my hands and says something to the effect of, “This is THE book you NEED to get.”  His point was that with the Strong’s, I’d be able to have one part of the Bible teach me about another part…and that Strong’s Concordance would thereby become the most important book besides the Bible that I could buy.  I had a sense that I should heed him, but I had no idea of just how profoundly true his words actually were.

Over the years, I have gained so much from using Strong’s to let the Bible be “a commentary on itself.”  While other people were reading innumerable commentaries and theology textbooks which often led them away from Scripture, I was being taken by Strong’s deeper into Scripture itself.  That’s the great value of the tool.  It helps you study a word from one end of Scripture to the other.  It keeps you in the Scripture, closer to God’s word.  Instead of reading endless stacks of books about other people’s interpretations of Scripture, you learn to read it for yourself.

Strong’s does not enable you to know Greek or Hebrew.  I would never think that I could translate a single sentence of either.  But it does allow an English speaker to find his way around an ancient text in a way that would otherwise be impossible to him.

Of course, Strong’s works best on a literal translation like the New American Standard Bible.  Paraphrastic translations lack the discipline of translating words consistently to make a Strong’s beneficial.

If I were allowed to own only two books, it would be the NASB Bible and a Strong’s Concordance.  Print editions are still valuable in our age, even though you can find Strong’s Concordance as well as Bibles online, too.  The NASB site has a Strong’s concordance built into the searchable NASB text, so it is very, very helpful.  I use it constantly, as well as the print versions of both.

(This was originally posted here.)

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Why I Love the NASB

I love the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and believe it is the most useful of all English translations of the Bible.  Here are my reasons:

1. It is the most literal of all English translations.  For a native-English-speaker who is not fluent in Greek or Hebrew, the NASB is as close as I will ever get to what the prophets and apostles originally wrote.

2. Because of its faithfulness to the what the prophets and apostles originally wrote, the NASB makes an exhaustive concordance (e.g. Strong’s) most effective.  That is, it is much easier to do study specific words with the NASB, allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture.

3. Most editions of the NASB include a cross-reference apparatus which correlates a given verse with other similar verses, many of which a concordance word study wouldn’t necessarily catch.

4. Those who created the NASB translation were convinced that the Scriptures are the word of God.  While many Bible translators have this conviction, the breadth and depth of this belief among the NASB translation committee is noteworthy.  I believe it drove them to literalness and discouraged undocumented emendations to an unparalleled degree.

The only improvement I could see to make to the NASB would be to have its Old Testament based on the Septuagint text (i.e. Greek) rather than on the Masoretic text (i.e. Hebrew).  This is because, of course, the New Testament when quoting the Old Testament seems to be referring much more often to Greek than to Hebrew renderings of the Old Testament text.

There are other literal English translations of the Bible (e.g. the King James Version, the English Standard Version, the New King James Version), and they are all useful.  There are also good translations of the Bible which are less literal (e.g. the New International Version, the Good News Bible, the Living Bible), and they, too, have their appropriate uses.  And there are certainly other worthwhile English translations which I have not mentioned specifically here.  My favorite of all English Bible translations, however, remains the NASB – for the reasons I have given.

(This was originally posted here.)

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Word “Grace” in the Old Testament

“Grace” is one of those prominent New Testament (NT) words which are not as easily found in the Old Testament (OT).  This is not because such words are not prominent in the OT, too, but because of translation issues.  The purpose of this post is to help you see better where the word “grace” shows up in the OT and how it is translated into English, at least in the New American Standard Bible (NASB).  (The NASB is one of the most literal English translations, so finding such words in less literal translations would be even harder.)

The Strong’s Concordance number for “grace” is 5485– charis.  That word is translated in the NASB NT in the following ways (the number of occurrences of each is shown parenthetically):  blessing(1), concession(1), credit(3), favor(11), gift(1), grace(122), gracious(2), gracious work(3), gratitude(1), thank(3), thankfulness(2), thanks(6).  You can see that while the 156 occurrences of 5485 are translated in a variety of ways, the most common way, by far, is as “grace”  (i.e. 78% of the time).

The list of OT verses below is taken from the ABP Lexical Concordance, which is an interlinear translation of the Septuagint (LXX).  Specifically, this is the ABP’s list of the occurrences of charis 5485 in the OT.  (The ABP includes in this listing the 8 occurrences of charin 5484, which is the accusative form of charis 5485.)  To the right of each chapter-verse citation I have shown how the ABP translates the verse, making bold the English word translated from the Greek charis 5485.  Then following in italics is the NASB OT translation of the verse.  Thus this list is a correlation of ABP and the NASB.  More precisely, it is the correlation of ABP occurrences of charis 5485 in the OT with the NASB OT translation of those occurrences.

The ABP shows 79 verses in which the Greek word charis 5485 (and charin 5484) occurs in the OT.  Where the word occasionally occurs more than once in a single verse is it noted by an asterisk immediately after the chapter-verse citation.  And, of course. there will be more than one English word highlighted in the verse in those cases.

When it comes to which word in the NASB OT translation correlates to charis 5485, it is an inexact science.  This is because the NASB, like most English translations, translates the OT from the Hebrew (Masoretic Text – MT) and not the Greek (LXX).    In most cases, it’s quite clear which word in the NASB OT verse applies to the word for “grace” in the corresponding LXX verse, but in others some educated guesswork is involved.  In any case, you will be able to see both translations and judge for yourself.

Here then is the list of all 79 verses in the Old Testament containing at least one occurrence of the word that is usually translated “grace” in the New Testament. The ABP version is given first (followed parenthetically by Strong’s word number used and the transliteration of the word), and then comes the NASB version in italics. In both cases, the word in question is put in bold print.

Genesis 6:8  –  But Noah found favor before the LORD God.  (5484 charin)

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

Genesis 18:3  –  And he said, O Lord, if surely I found favor before you, you should not go by your servant.  (5484 charin)

and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by.

Genesis 19:19  –  since your servant found favor before you, and you magnified your righteousness, which you do unto me, that my soul may live, but I will not be able to come through safe into the mountain, lest evils overtake me and I die.  (5484 charin)

“Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die;

Genesis 30:27  –  And Laban said to him, If I found favor before you, could I foretell even – God blessed me in your entrance.  (5484 charin)

But Laban said to him, “If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the LORD has blessed me on your account.”

Genesis 32:5  –  And came to me oxen, and donkeys, and sheep, and manservants, and maidservants.  And I sent to announce to my master Esau, that your servant might find favor before you.  (5484 charin)

I have oxen and donkeys and flocks and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight.””‘

Genesis 33:8  –  And he said, What are these to you, all these camps which I have met?  And he said, that your servant should find favor before you, O master.  (5484 charin)

And he said, “What do you mean by all this company which I have met?” And he said, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.”

Genesis 33:10  –  And Jacob said, If I found favor before you, take the gifts by my hands!  Because of this I saw your face, as if one may have seen the face of God, and you shall think well of me.  (5484 charin)

Jacob said, “No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand, for I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably.

Genesis 33:15  –  And Esau said, I will leave behind with you some of the people of the ones with me.  And he said, Why this?  It is enough that I found favor before you, O lord.  (5484 charin)

Esau said, “Please let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.”

Genesis 34:11  –  And Shechem said to her father, and to her brothers, I want to find favor before you, and what ever you should have said we will give.  (5484 charin)

Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “If I find favor in your sight, then I will give whatever you say to me.

Genesis 39:4  –  And Joseph found favor before his master.  And he was well-pleasing to him, and he placed him over his house; and all as much as was his he gave through the hand of Joseph.  (5484 charin)

So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.

Genesis 39:21  –  And the LORD was with Joseph, and he poured down upon him mercy; and he gave to him favor before the chief jailer.  (5484 charin)

But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.

Genesis 43:14  –  And my God give to you favor before the man, even to send your brother, the other one, and Benjamin.  For as much as I indeed have been made childless, I have been made childless.  (5484 charin)

and may God Almighty grant you compassion in the sight of the man, so that he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

Genesis 47:25  –  And they said, You have delivered us; we found favor before our master, and we will be servants to Pharaoh.  (5484 charin)

So they said, “You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.”

Genesis 47:29  –  And the days approached for Israel to die.  And he called his son Joseph, and said to him, If I have found favor before you, place your hand upon my thigh!  and you will do for me a charity and truth – that is to not entomb me in Egypt.  (5484 charin)

When the time for Israel to die drew near, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “Please, if I have found favor in your sight, place now your hand under my thigh and deal with me in kindness and faithfulness. Please do not bury me in Egypt,

Genesis 50:4  –  And when the days went by of the mourning, Joseph spoke to the mighty ones of Pharaoh, saying, If I found favor before you, speak into the ears of Pharaoh!  saying,   (5484 charin)

When the days of mourning for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your sight, please speak to Pharaoh, saying,

Exodus 3:21  –  And I will give favor to this people before the Egyptians.  And whenever you might run from them, you will not go forth empty.  (5484 charin)

“I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed.

Exodus 11:3  –  And the LORD gave favor to his people before the Egyptians, and they treated them.  And the man Moses became exceedingly great before the Egyptians, and before Pharaoh and before his attendants.  (5484 charin)

The LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Furthermore, the man Moses himself was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, both in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.

Exodus 12:36  –  And the LORD gave favor to his people before the Egyptians, and theyfurnished to them; and they despoiled the Egyptians.  (5484 charin)

and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

Exodus 33:12  –  And Moses said to the LORD, Behold, you say to me, Lead this people!  But you manifested not to me whom you shall send along with me.  But you said to me, I know you above all, and you have favor with me.  (5484 charin)

Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’

Exodus 33:13*  –  If then I have found favor before you, reveal to me yourself knowingly!  that I might see you, how ever I should be found in favor before you; and that I might know, that this nation is your people.  (5484 charin  5484 charin)

“Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.”

Exodus 33:16  –  And how will it truly be made known that I have found favor by you – I and also your people, unless you are going with us, and both I and your people will be glorified by all the nations as many as are upon the earth?  (5484 charin)

“For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”

Exodus 33:17  –  And the LORD said to Moses, And this word which you have said I will do to you, for you have found favor before me, and I know you above all.  (5484 charin)

The LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.”

Exodus 34:9  –  And he said, If I have found favor before you, let my LORD go with us!  For the people are hard-necked.  And you shall remove the sins, and our lawless deeds, and we will be yours.  (5484 charin)

He said, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own possession.”

Numbers 11:11  –  And Moses said to the LORD, Why do you afflict your attendant?  And why have I not found favor before you to place the thrust of this people upon me?  (5484 charin)

So Moses said to the LORD, “Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me?

Numbers 11:15  –  But if so you do to me, kill me with my removal, if I have found favor with you, that I should not see my ill-treatment.  (5484 charin)

“So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.”

Numbers 32:5  –  And they said If we find favor before you, give this land to your servants for a possession, and do not cause us to pass over the Jordan!  (5484 charin)

They said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession; do not take us across the Jordan.”

Deuteronomy 24:1  -And if any take a woman and should live with her, and it shall be if she should not find favor before him, for he finds in her an indecent thing, then he shall write to her a certificate of divorce scroll, and he shall put it into her hands, and he shall send her from out of his house.  (5484 charin)

“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house,

Judges 6:17  –  And Gideon said to him, And if I found favor in your eyes, then you shall give to me a sign that you spoke with me.  (5484 charin)

So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.

Ruth 2:2  –  AndRuth the Moabitess said to Naomi, I should go indeed into the field, and gather among the ears of corn after of whom ever I should find favor in his eyes.  And she said to her, Go, O daughter!  (5484 charin)

And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”

Ruth 2:10  –  And she fell upon her face, and did obeisance upon the ground, and said to him, Why is it that I found favor in your eyes to recognize me, and I am a stranger?  (5484 charin)

Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”

Ruth 2:13  –  And she said, May I find favor in your eyes, O my master; for you comforted me, and because you spoke in your heart to your maidservant; and behold, I shall be as one of your maidservants.  (5484 charin)

Then she said, “I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.”

1 Samuel 1:18  –  And she said, Your maidservant found favor in your eyes.  And the woman went her way, and ate with her husband, and drank, and her face was not downcast any longer.  (5484 charin)

She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

1 Samuel 16:22 –  And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David indeed stand before me, for he found favor in my eyes!  (5484 charin)

Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.”

1 Samuel 20:3  –  And David answered Jonathan, and he said, In perceiving, your father sees that I have found favor in your eyes. And he said, Let not Jonathan know this lest he should prefer him! But as lives the LORD, and as lives your soul, that as I said, the space if filled up between me and between your father unto death.  (5484 charin)

Yet David vowed again, saying, “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your sight, and he has said, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, or he will be grieved.’ But truly as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is hardly a step between me and death.”

1 Samuel 20:29  –  And he said, Send me indeed, for we have a sacrifice of the tribe in the city, and my brethren gave charge for me.  And now if I have found favor in your eyes,  I will go forth indeed and see my brethren.  On account of this he does not come unto the table of the king.  (5484 charin)

for he said, ‘Please let me go, since our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to attend. And now, if I have found favor in your sight, please let me get away that I may see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king’s table.”

1 Samuel 25:8  –  Ask of your servants! and they will tell you.  Let us your servants find favor in your eyes!  for upon a good day we come.  Give indeed what ever your hand should find to your servants, and to your son David!  5484 charin)

‘Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we have come on a festive day. Please give whatever you find at hand to your servants and to your son David.'”

1 Samuel 27:5  –  And David said to Achish, If indeed your servant has found favor in your eyes, give indeed to me a place in one of the cities of the ones in the country!  and I shall settle there.  For why does your servant settle in a city reigning with you ?   (5484 charin)

Then David said to Achish, “If now I have found favor in your sight, let them give me a place in one of the cities in the country, that I may live there; for why should your servant live in the royal city with you?”

2 Samuel 14:22  –  And Joab fell upon his face upon the ground, and did obeisance, and blessed the king.  And Joab said Today your servant knows that he found favor in your eyes, O my master, O king, for my master the king did the matter for his servant.    (5484 charin)

Joab fell on his face to the ground, prostrated himself and blessed the king; then Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, O my lord, the king, in that the king has performed the request of his servant.”

2 Samuel 15:25  –  And the king said to Zadok, Return the ark of God unto the city!  If I should find favor in the eyes of the LORD, and he returns me, then he shall show it to me, and its beauty.  (5484 charin)

The king said to Zadok, “Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the sight of the LORD, then He will bring me back again and show me both it and His habitation.

2 Samuel 16:4  –  And the king said to Ziba, Behold, I give to you all as much as is Mephibosheth’s.  And Ziba said, I do obeisance, may I find favor in your eyes, O my master, O king.  (5484 charin)

So the king said to Ziba, “Behold, all that belongs to Mephibosheth is yours.” And Ziba said, “I prostrate myself; let me find favor in your sight, O my lord, the king!”

1 Kings 11:19 –  And Hadad found favor before Pharaoh, exceedingly.  And he gave to him a wife, the sister of his wife – the older sister of Tahpenes.  (5484 charin)

Now Hadad found great favor before Pharaoh, so that he gave him in marriage the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen.

1 Kings 14:16  –  And the LORD gave Israel favor from the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who led Israel into sin.  (5484 charin)

“He will give up Israel on account of the sins of Jeroboam, which he committed and with which he made Israel to sin.”

2 Chronicles 7:21  –  [no reference to 5484 or cognate found]

Esther 2:9  –  And the young woman pleased him, and she found favor before him.  And he hastened to give her the beauty treatment, and her portion, and the seven young women being exhibited to her from the royal palace.  And he treated her well, and her handmaidens in the chamber of the women.  (5484 charin)

Now the young lady pleased him and found favor with him. So he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and food, gave her seven choice maids from the king’s palace and transferred her and her maids to the best place in the harem.

Esther 2:15  –  And in the fulfilling the time, Esther the daughter of Abihail, brother of the father of Mordecai, entered to the king.  Not one thing she disregarded which the eunuch keeper of the women gave charge to her.  For Esther was found in favor by all the ones seeing her.  (5484 charin)

Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai who had taken her as his daughter, came to go in to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the women, advised. And Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her.

Esther 2:17  –  And the king loved Esther passionately, and she found favor above all the virgins; and he placed upon her the feminine diadem.  (5484 charin)

The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

Esther 5:2  –  And as the king saw Esther the queen standing in the courtyard, that she found favor in his eyes; and the king stretching out to Esther the golden rod, the one in his hand, that Esther approached and touched the tip of the rod.    (5484 charin)

When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter which was in his hand. So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter.

Esther 5:8  –  if I found favor before the king, let the king and Haman come upon the morrow to the banquet which I shall prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do the same!  (5484 charin)

if I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and do what I request, may the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king says.”

Esther 6:3  –  And the king said, What glory or favor did we do for Mordecai? And the servants of the king said, We did not do for him one thing.  (5484 charin)

The king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” Then the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”

Esther 7:3  –  And answering she said If I found favor before the king, let him give life to my request, and my people to my petition.    (5484 charin)

Then Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request;

Esther 8:5  –  And Esther said, If it seems good to you, and I found favor, let it be sent forth to return the letters being sent from Haman, the ones having been written to destroy the Jews who are in your kingdom.  (5484 charin)

Then she said, “If it pleases the king and if I have found favor before him and the matter seems proper to the king and I am pleasing in his sight, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces.

Psalm 45:2  –  More beautiful in beauty than the sons of men.  Favor was poured out on your lips.  On account of this God blessed you into the eon.  (5484 charis)

You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.

Psalm 84:11  –  For the LORD loves mercy and truth.  God shall give favor and glory.  The LORD will not deprive good things to the ones going in innocence.  (5484 charin)

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Proverbs 1:9  –  for you shall receive a crown of favors for your head, and a collar of gold around your neck.  (5484 charitwn)

Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head
And ornaments about your neck.

Proverbs 3: 4  –  and you shall find favor.  And think beforehand on the good things before the LORD and men!  (5484 charin)

So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.

Proverbs 3:22  –  that your soul should live, and favor should be around your neck; and it wil be healing to you flesh, and care to your bones;  (5484 charis)

So they will be life to your soul
And adornment to your neck.

Proverbs 3:34  –  The LORD resists the proud, but gives favor to the humble.  (5484 charin)

Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.

Proverbs 4:9  –  that she should give a crown of favors to your head, and should shield you with a crown of luxury.  (5484 charitwn)

“She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty.”

Proverbs 5:19  –  Let your hind of friendship and your filly of favors, consort with you!  and in particular let her be esteemed by you, and be with you at all time!  For in this friendship you will be accommodated a great deal.  (5484 charitwn)

As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.

Proverbs 7:5  –  that she should keep you from the strange and wicked woman, if she should put words for you for favor.  (5484 charin)

That they may keep you from an adulteress,
From the foreigner who flatters with her words.

Proverbs 8:17  –  I love the ones being fond of me; and the ones seeking me shall find favor.  (5484 charin)

“I love those who love me;
And those who diligently seek me will find me.

Proverbs 10:32  –  The lips of just men drop favors; but the mouth of the impious is perverted.  (charitas 5484)

The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable,
But the mouth of the wicked what is perverted.

Proverbs 11:27  –  The one contriving good things seeks good favor; but the one seeking evil things, evil shall overtake him.  (5484 charin)

He who diligently seeks good seeks favor,
But he who seeks evil, evil will come to him.

Proverbs 12:2  –  Better the one finding favor from the LORD; but a man who is a lawbreaker shall be silenced.  (5484 charin)

A good man will obtain favor from the LORD,
But He will condemn a man who devises evil.

Proverbs 13:15  –  Good understanding gives favor; but to know the law is of good consideration; but the ways of the disdaining end in destruction.  (5484 charin)

Good understanding produces favor,
But the way of the treacherous is hard.

Proverbs 15:17  –  Better hospitality of vegetables with friendship and favor, that a fete of calves with hatred.  (5484 charin)

Better is a dish of vegetables where love is
Than a fattened ox served with hatred.

Proverbs 17:8  –  Instruction to the ones employing it is a favorable wage; and where ever it shall turn, the way shall be prosperous.  (5484 charitwn)

A bribe is a charm in the sight of its owner;
Wherever he turns, he prospers.

Proverbs 17:17  –  For all time let the friend exist to you!  let the brethren be profitable in distresses!  for this favor they were born.  (5484 charin)

A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 18:22  –  The one who found a good wife, found favors; and he received happiness from the LORD.  The one who casts out a good woman, casts out good things; but the one holding on to an adulteress is foolishly and impious.  (5484 charitas)

He who finds a wife finds a good thing
And obtains favor from the LORD.

Proverbs 22:1  –  A good name is more preferred than many riches; and good favor over silver and gold.  (5484 charis)

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,
Favor is better than silver and gold.

Proverbs 25:10  – lest indeed the friend should berate you; and your fight and hatred do not go away, but will be to you equal of death!  Favor and friendship frees, which you give heed to yourself! that you should not be reviled.  But keep your ways conciliatory!  (5484 charis)

Or he who hears it will reproach you,
And the evil report about you will not pass away.

Proverbs 28:23  –  The one reproving a man’s ways shall have favors, rather than the flatterer with the tongue.  (5484 charitas)

He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor
Than he who flatters with the tongue.

Proverbs 30:7  –  Two things I ask from you; you should not remove favor from me before my dying;  (5484 charin)

Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:

Ecclesiastes 9:11  –  I turned, and I beheld under the sun, that not to the light of foot is the race; and not to the mighty ones in battle; and indeed not to the wise is the bread; and indeed not to the discerning ones is the riches; and indeed not to the ones knowing favor; for a season and a meeting shall meet with them all.  (5484 charis)

I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.

Ecclesiastes 10:12  –  The words of a wise mouth carry favor; but the lips of a fool shall sink him;  (5484 charis)

Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him;

Ezekiel 12:24  –  For there will no longer be any false vision, nor one using oracles for favor in the midst of the sons of Israel.  (5484 charin)

“For there will no longer be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel.

Zechariah 4:7*  –  Who are you great mountain before the face of Zerubbabel to set up?  And I will bring forth the stone of the inheritance of its favor equaling my favor.  (5484 charitos and 5484-1473 charita autas)

‘What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!””‘

Zechariah 6:14  –  But the crown will be to the ones waiting, and to the ones profitable of her, and to the ones recognizing her, and for the favor of the son of Zephaniah, and for a psalm in the house of the LORD.  (5484 charita)

“Now the crown will become a reminder in the temple of the LORD to Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen the son of Zephaniah.

Zechariah 12:10  –  And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the ones dwelling Jerusalem a spirit of favor and compassion.  And they shall look to me, because they treated me despitefully; and they shall beat over him with a beating of the breast, as over a beloved one; and they shall grieve with grief as over the first-born.  (5484 charitos)

“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

#####

Summary

As for the ABP OT:

The Greek word charis 5485 is identified in 79 verses of the OT.  In one verse (2 Chronicles 7:21), I could find no trace of the word.  That leaves 78 verses, of which two (Exodus 33:13 and Zechariah 4:7) have a double occurrence of the word.  That amounts to 80 occurrences of the word in 78 verses.

These 80 occurrences are all identified as 5484 (which is the accusative form of 5485).  (I do not know what accounts for this difference.)  The 80 occurrences break down as follows:  “charin” 63, “charis” 6, “charitwn” 4, “charitas” 3, “charita” 2, and “charitos” 2.

In terms of translation from Greek to English, 73 of the 80 are translated as “favor,” 6 as “favors,” and 1 as “favorable.”  Thus “grace” in the NASB NT shows up as “favor” in the ABP OT.

As for the NASB OT:

The Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word charis 1585 can be identified in 69 of the 80 verses.  That is, in 11 verses it is too difficult to determine which English word is the translation of the Hebrew equivalent of charis 5485.  Of those 69 remaining verses, in 54 cases the equivalent word is translated as “favor” 54 times, as “grace” 7 times, as “graceful” 2 times, and as “gracious” 1 time.  In the remaining 5 verses the word is translated in various ways (“pleases,” “”compassion,” “account,” “dignity,” and “adornment”).

The primary conclusion to be drawn is that when the Old Testament speaks of “favor” (or of “grace”) and the New Testament speaks of “grace” they are often, if not usually, talking about the same thing.

See also Notes on the Word “Grace” in the NASB.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

New Testament Expressions Which Originated in the Old Testament

This post is similar to New Testament Words Which Are Really Old Testament Words.  That post dealt with specific words which are often translated differently in the two testaments – causing us to miss their commonality.  This post is about expressions that appear in both testaments in essentially the same form, yet are often not fully appreciated as having originated in the Old Testament.  That is, people often seem to read the New Testament as if unaware that the writers were relying on their conceptions of Old Testament usage.

Son of God – This expression is largely rooted in 2 Samuel 7:14 and Psalm 2:7, 12, but also is referenced in Exodus 4:22-23 and Hosea 11:1.  Among 1st-century Jews it was considered a messianic title, referrring to the promised descendant of David who would one day rule Israel in glory.  The expression exploded into a whole new perception when Jesus was raised from the dead and exalted to heaven.  Nevertheless, New Testament usage of the term never lost sight of its 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 2 origin as a reference to Israel’s greater David.  (Trinitarian conceptions, by the way, are completely foreign to both testaments; they are post-biblical in origin.)

Son of Man – This expression appears over 200 times in the Old Testament (over 90 of these in Ezekiel alone), where it most often seems to be a rather mundane expression for a human being.  Jesus often used the term to refer to Himself, though this seemed more a way to cloak His messianic identity than to announce it (John 12:34).  However, the term is most notably mentioned in Daniel 7:13-14 and Psalm 8:4 where New Testament writers see the expression as a description of the resurrected and exalted Christ.  It is this understanding that drives New Testament usage of this Old Testament expression.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Word “Church” in Both Testaments

This post is a summary based on detail work done in these two prior posts:

The Word “Church” in the Old Testament

The Word “Church” in the New Testament

Nevertheless, you do not have to read them before you read this post.

Our English Bibles are, of course, translations from what the prophets and apostles originally wrote.  The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is one of the most literal English translations we have today.  What I am about to say is based on it, using the Apostolic Bible Polyglot (ABP), which is an English translation of the Septuagint, to provide some consistency between the two testaments.

If we disregard the Old and New Testament division, and just look at the Bible as a single collection of writings, we come up 183 verses in which the Greek word ekklesia (Strong’s Concordance Greek number 1577) occurs.  Every occurrence of the word “church” in the NASB can be tracsed to this Greek word – but this Greek word is often translated in other ways, too.  Here’s how the word in translated in those 183 verses:

as “church” or “churches” – 106 verses

as “assembly” – 64 verses (an additional verse translates as “assemble”)

as “congregation” or “congregations” – 10 verses

as “company” – 2 verses

You might wonder why a word is translated one way 58% of the time, and some other way 42% of the time.  It’s a good question.

You might also be interested to know that the 106 verses which translate the Greek word in question into “church” are in the New Testament.  None are in the Old Testament.  This is perplexing as well.

In spite of this confusion, you do not have to be frustrated when you read your English Bible.  Just remember that the word church can just as easily be translated “assembly” or “gathering” or “group” or some other synonym.  What special meaning it might have would come from the context in which it is used – not from the word itself, which was not coined by Jesus or the apostles, but rather carried forward from its Old Testament usage.

We should try to understand this word as the various biblical authors intended it and have our understanding crippled by two thousand years of institutionalism which none of them ever witnessed.

Read the Scripture with fresh eyes.  And, most importantly, pray to God and lean on the Holy Spirit.

Especially if you are going to insist that God wants an institutional church and for people to attend it, you need to study the Scriptures and see just what they say about this word.  You’re going to find that it is an important word in Scripture, but that it has nothing to do with the churches we see in the world today.

In any case, always remember that “church” was an Old Testament word long before it was a New Testament word.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Word “Church” in the New Testament

All occurrences of “church” or “churches” in the New Testament are translations of the Greek word ekklesia (Strong’s Greek number 1577).  There are 111 verses in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) New Testament which translate ekklesia 1577.  Of these, 106 verses translate the word as “church,” or, if plural, “churches.”

First, some technical points.  In three of these verses, there are two occurrences of the word.  They are Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 16:19; and Revelation 1:20.  These all result in “church” or “churches” being the translation of ekklesia 1577.  The NASB Strong’s Concordance search function will yield 109 verses, but note that in three of them (1 Corinthians 5:12; Colossians 1:25; and 1 Timothy 3:7) the word “church” is italicized, meaning that the translators supplied it based on context to fill an ellipsis.  This why I say there are 106 verses with ekklesia 1577 and not 109.

Subtracting these 111 verses by the 106 verses with “church” or “churches”  leaves five verses where ekklesia 1577 is translated as something else.  In three of them the translation is “assembly.”  Here they are [emphasis added]:

Acts 19:32 So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together.

Acts 19:39 “But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be settled in the lawful assembly.

Acts 19:41 After saying this he dismissed the assembly.

Since all these occurrences are from one story, you’ll find it helpful to read the whole story in context (Acts 19:23-41).

In the other two verses, the translation is “congregation” – and here they are:

Acts 7:38 “This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.

Hebrews 2:12 saying,
“I WILL PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN,
IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE.”

The “all caps” in Hebrews 2:12 is the translators’ tip to us that the writer is quoting an Old Testament verse.  In this case, it’s Psalm 22:22.  The NASB translation of that word in Psalm 22:22, by the way, is “assembly.”

You can see therefore that ekklesia 1577 can sometimes refer to something besides a religious service for Christ or group professing allegiance to Christ.  This will become even more apparent if you study how ekklesia 1577 is used in the Old Testament (Septuagint).  Many people today act as if Jesus Christ was coining a word and launching a humanly-governed institution when He said “Upon this rock I will build My church.”  That’s not the case at all.  He was using a term not only already in wide circulation, but one that was found repeatedly in the Old Testament – but just showing up as “assembly,”  “congregation,” or some similar word.  Our familiarity with almost two thousand years of institutional church history leads us to impose meaning on Jesus’ words that blind us to the way He and His contemporaries understood that word.

For a summary of how ekklesia 1577 (i.e., the word for “church”) is translated in both testaments, see here.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Word “Church” in the Old Testament

“Church” is one of those prominent New Testament (NT) words which are not as easily found in the Old Testament (OT).  This is not because such words are not prominent in the OT, too, but because of translation issues.  The purpose of this post is to help you see better where the word “church” shows up in the OT and how it is translated into English, at least in the New American Standard Bible (NASB).  (The NASB is one of the most literal English translations, so finding such words in less literal translations would be even harder.)

The Strong’s Concordance number for “church” is 1577 – ekklesia.  That word is translated in the NASB NT in the following ways (the number of occurrences of each is shown parenthetically):  assembly(3), church(74), churches(35), congregation(2).

The list of OT verses below is taken from the ABP Lexical Concordance, which is an interlinear translation of the Septuagint (LXX).  Specifically, this is the ABP’s list of the occurrences of ekklesia 1577 in the OT.  To the right of each chapter-verse citation I have shown how the ABP translates the verse, making bold the English word translated from the Greek ekklesia 1577.  Then following in italics is the NASB OT translation of the verse.  Thus this list is a correlation of ABP and the NASB.  More precisely, it is the correlation of ABP occurrences of ekklesia 1577 in the OT with the NASB OT translation of those occurrences.

The ABP shows 74 verses in which the Greek word ekklesia 1577 occurs in the OT.  Where the word occasionally occurs more than once in a single verse is it noted by an asterisk immediately after the chapter-verse citation.  And, of course. there will be more than one English word highlighted in the verse in those cases.

(For reference purposes, I’ll add that the ABP shows ekklesia 1577 occurring in 112 NT verses; this compares to the NASB showing it as occurring in 111 verses.  The list of verses is identical between them except that the ABP includes Acts 2:47.  I attribute this to ABP and the NASB looking at different Greek manuscripts for this verse.  The ABP fits with the translation you see in the King James Version of that verse.  Of course, the presence of absence of ekklesia 1577 in that verse does not change the meaning.  You would not consider the KJV and NASB to be saying different things.)

When it comes to which word in the NASB OT translation correlates to ekklesia 1577, it is an inexact science.  This is because the NASB, like most English translations, translates the OT from the Hebrew (Masoretic Text – MT) and not the Greek (LXX).    In most cases, it’s quite clear which word in the NASB OT verse applies to the word for “church” in the corresponding LXX verse, but in others some educated guesswork is involved.  In any case, you will be able to see both translations and judge for yourself.

Here then is the list of all 74 occurrences in the Old Testament of the word that is usually translated “church” in the New Testament:

Deuteronomy 4:10  –  Specially the day which you stood in the presence of the LORD your God in Horeb, in the day of the assembly; for the LORD said to me, Hold an assembly to me, and let the people hear my words!  so that they should learn to fear me all the days which they live upon the earth, and that they should have taught their sons.

“Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’

Deuteronomy 9:10  –  And the LORD gave to me the two tablets of stone, being written by the finger of God, And upon them he had written all the words, the ones which the LORD spoke to you in the mountain, from amidst the fire, in the day of assembly.

“The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written by the finger of God; and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken with you at the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.

Deuteronomy 18:16  –  According to all as much as you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb, in the day of the assembly, saying, We shall not to hear the voice of the LORD your God, and this great fire we shall not see any longer, nor shall we die.

“This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’

Deuteronomy 23:1  –  One with crushed testicles shall not enter (nor being cut off) into the assembly of the LORD,

No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

Deuteronomy 23:2  –  One born of a harlot shall not enter into the assembly of the LORD unto the tenth generation.

“No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

Deuteronomy 23:3*  –  The Ammonite and Moabite shall not enter into the assembly of the LORD; even unto the tenth generation he shall not enter into the assembly of the LORD, even unto into the eon,

“No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD,

Deuteronomy 23:8  –  If they shall bear sons to themselves in the third generation, they shall enter into the assembly of the LORD.

“The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD.

Deuteronomy 31:30  –  And Moses spoke into the ears of all the assembly of Israel the words of this ode, until completion.

Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete:

Joshua 8:35  –  There was not a word from all which Moses gave charge to Joshua, which Joshua did not read into the ears of all the assembly of Israel, to the men, and to the women, and to the servants, and to the foreigners going with Israel.

There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them.

Judges 20:2  –  And the region established all of the people in all the tribes of Israel in the assembly of the people of God – four hundred thousand men on foot unsheathing the broadsword.

The chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, took their stand in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 foot soldiers who drew the sword.

Judges 21:5  –  And the sons of Israel said, Who is the one not ascending among the assembly from all of the tribes of Israel to the LORD?  For there was a great oath concerning the one not ascending to the LORD in Mizpeh, saying, To death he shall die.

Then the sons of Israel said, “Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up in the assembly to the LORD?” For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the LORD at Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.”

Judges 21:8  –  And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel which did not ascend to the LORD in Mizpeh?  And behold, no man came to the camp from Jabeish Giled to the assembly.

And they said, “What one is there of the tribes of Israel who did not come up to the LORD at Mizpah?” And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly.

1 Samuel 17:47  –  And all this assembly shall know that it is not by the broadsword, and spear the LORD delivers; for the war is of the LORD, and the LORD shall deliver you into our hands.

and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”

1 Samuel 19:20  –  And Saul sent messengers to take David.  And coming they saw the assembly of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel stood ordained over them.  And spirit of God became upon the messengers of Saul, and they prophesied, even they.

Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied.

1 Kings 8:14  –  And the king turned his face, and blessed all Israel.  And all the assembly of Israel stood.

Then the king faced about and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing.

1 Kings 8:22  –  And Solomon stood in front of the altar of the LORD before all the assembly of Israel.  And he opened and spread out his hands into the heaven.

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.

1 Kings 8:55  –  And he stood, and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a great voice, saying,

And he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying:

1 Kings 8:65  –  And Solomon observed the holiday feast in that day, and Israel with him, a great assembly from the entering of Hamath unto the River of Egypt, before the LORD our God seven days and seven days – four and ten days.

So Solomon observed the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt, before the LORD our God, for seven days and seven more days, even fourteen days.

1 Chronicles 13:2  –  And David said to all the assembly of Israel, If it seems good to you, and by the LORD our God, that he should prosper the way, then we should send to our brethren being left in all the land of Israel, and the priests the Levites with them, which are in the cities of their possession, that they shall be gathered together to us.

David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is from the LORD our God, let us send everywhere to our kinsmen who remain in all the land of Israel, also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their cities with pasture lands, that they may meet with us;

1 Chronicles 13:4  –  And all the assembly said to do so, for the word was upright in the eyes of all the people.

 Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.

1 Chronicles 28:2  –  And David the king stood in the midst of the assembly, and he said, hear me my brethren, and my people!  It came to me in heart to build a house for a rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and a station to be the footstool of the feet of God.  And I prepared the things for the needful construction.

Then King David rose to his feet and said, “Listen to me, my brethren and my people; I had intended to build a permanent home for the ark of the covenant of the LORD and for the footstool of our God. So I had made preparations to build it.

1 Chronicles 28:8  –  And now according to the eyes of all Israel of every assembly of the LORD, and in the ears of our God, guard and seek all the commandments of the LORD our God!  that you should inherit the good land and should inherit it to your sons after you unto the eon.

“So now, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek after all the commandments of the LORD your God so that you may possess the good land and bequeath it to your sons after you forever.

1 Chronicles 29:1  –  And David the king said to all the assembly, Solomon my son, in whom the LORD has taken for himself, is young and tender, and the work is great; for the place of abode is not to man, but only to the LORD God.

Then King David said to the entire assembly, “My son Solomon, whom alone God has chosen, is still young and inexperienced and the work is great; for the temple is not for man, but for the LORD God.

1 Chronicles 29:10  –  And King David blessed the LORD before the assembly, saying, Blessed are you, O LORD God of Israel, our father from the eon and unto the eon.

So David blessed the LORD in the sight of all the assembly; and David said, “Blessed are You, O LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever.

1 Chronicles 29:20*  –  And David said to all the assembly, Bless indeed the LORD our God!  And all the assembly blessed the LORD, the God of their fathers, and bent the knees to do obeisance to the LORD, and to the king.

Then David said to all the assembly, “Now bless the LORD your God.” And all the assembly blessed the LORD, the God of their fathers, and bowed low and did homage to the LORD and to the king.

2 Chronicles 1:3  –  And Solomon went out and all the assembly with him unto the high place in Gibeon, of which the tent of the testimony of God was located, which Moses the servant of the LORD made in the wilderness.

Then Solomon and all the assembly with him went to the high place which was at Gibeon, for God’s tent of meeting was there, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness.

2 Chronicles 1:5  –  And the altar of brass which Bezaleel son of Uri son of Hur made was there before the tent of the LORD.  And Solomon and the assembly sought by it.

Now the bronze altar, which Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, was there before the tabernacle of the LORD, and Solomon and the assembly sought it out.

2 Chronicles 6:3*  –  And the king turned his face, and he blessed all the assembly of Israel.  And all the assembly of Israel stood by.

Then the king faced about and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing.

2 Chronicles 6:12  –  And he stood before the altar of the LORD, before all the assembly of Israel, and he opened and spread out his hands,

Then he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands.

2 Chronicles 6:13  –  For Solomon made a brass platform, and he put it in the midst of the courtyard of the temple – five cubits was its length, and five cubits was its breadth, and three cubits was its height.  And he stood upon it, and he bent upon his knees before all the assembly of Israel, and he opened and spread out his hands into the heaven.

Now Solomon had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.

2 Chronicles 7:8  –  And Solomon observed the holiday at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him; an exceedingly great assembly, from the entrance of Hamath, and unto the rushing stream of Egypt.

So Solomon observed the feast at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly who came from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt.

2 Chronicles 10:3  –  And they sent and called him.  And Jeroboam came, and all the assembly of Israel, and theyspoke to Rehoboam, saying, 

So they sent and summoned him. When Jeroboam and all Israel came, they spoke to Rehoboam, saying,

2 Chronicles 20:5  –  And Jehoshaphat rose up in the assembly of Judah in Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD in front of the new courtyard,

Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD before the new court,

2 Chronicles 20:14  –  And Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah the Levite of the sons of Asaph – came upon him spirit of the LORD in the assembly.

Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph;

2 Chronicles 23:3  –  And all the assembly ordained a covenant in the house of God with the king.  And he said to them, Behold, the son of the king, let him reign!  as the LORD spoke concerning the house of David.

Then all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And Jehoiada said to them, “Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the LORD has spoken concerning the sons of David.

2 Chronicles 28:14  –  And the warriors released the captivity and the spoils before the rulers and all the assembly.

So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the officers and all the assembly.

2 Chronicles 29:23  –  And they brought the winter yearlings of the ones for a sin offering before the king and the assembly; and they placed their hands upon them.

Then they brought the male goats of the sin offering before the king and the assembly, and they laid their hands on them.

2 Chronicles 29:28  –  And all the assembly did obeisance, and the psalm singers were singing, and the trumpets trumpeting, until of which time the whole burnt-offering was completed.

While the whole assembly worshiped, the singers also sang and the trumpets sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.

2 Chronicles 29:31  –  And Hezekiah answered and said, Now you filled your hands to the LORD, come forward and bring sacrifices of praise into the house of the LORD!  And the assembly brought sacrifices and praise into the house of the LORD, and all eager in heart brought whole burnt-offerings.

Then Hezekiah said, “Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the LORD.” And the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all those who were willing brought burnt offerings.

2 Chronicles 29:32  –  And the number of the whole burnt-offerings which the assembly offered was – seventy calves, a hundred rams, two hundred lambs;  all these for a whole burnt-offering to the LORD.

The number of the burnt offerings which the assembly brought was 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 lambs; all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD.

2 Chronicles 30:2  –  And the king planned, and the rulers, and all the assembly in Jerusalem to observe the passover in the second month.

For the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month,

2 Chronicles 30:4  –  And the matter was pleasing before the king, and before the assembly.

Thus the thing was right in the sight of the king and all the assembly.

2 Chronicles 30:13  –  And manypeople gatherered in Jerusalem to observe the holiday of the unleavened breads in the second month  – an exceedingly vast assembly.

Now many people were gathered at Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very large assembly.

2 Chronicles 30:17  –  For a multitude of the assembly was not purified.  And the Levites were to sacrifice the passover to all not able to be purified to the LORD.

For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves; therefore, the Levites were over the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was unclean, in order to consecrate them to the LORD.

2 Chronicles 30:23  –  And all the assembly counseled to observe another seven days.  And they observed another seven days with gladness.

Then the whole assembly decided to celebrate the feast another seven days, so they celebrated the seven days with joy.

2 Chronicles 30:24  –  For Hezekiah the king of Judah dedicated to all the assembly a thousand calves, and seven thousand sheep.  And the rulers dedicated for the people a thousand calves and ten thousand sheep, and were sanctified of the priests in  multitude.

For Hezekiah king of Judah had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep, and the princes had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep; and a large number of priests consecrated themselves.

2 Chronicles 30:25*  –  And all the assembly of Judah was glad, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the assembly coming from Israel, and the foreigners coming from the land of Israel, an the ones dwelling Judah.

All the assembly of Judah rejoiced, with the priests and the Levites and all the assembly that came from Israel, both the sojourners who came from the land of Israel and those living in Judah.

Ezra 2:64  –  And all the assembly together were as four ten thousand, two thousand, three hundred sixty;

The whole assembly numbered 42,360,

Ezra 10:1  –  And as Ezra prayed, and as he confessed weeping and falling before the house of God, there came together to him from Israel an exceedingly vast assembly, men and women and young people; for the people wept a great weeping.

Now while Ezra was praying and making confession, weeping and prostrating himself before the house of God, a very large assembly, men, women and children, gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept bitterly.

Ezra 10:8  –  Every one who ever should not come for three days, according to the counsel of the rulers and of the elders, all his substance shall be devoted to consumption, and he shall be separated from the assembly of the resettlement.

and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the leaders and the elders, all his possessions should be forfeited and he himself excluded from the assembly of the exiles.

Ezra 10:12  –  And answered all the assembly with a great voice, and said, According to your words which you said, thus we will do.

Then all the assembly replied with a loud voice, “That’s right! As you have said, so it is our duty to do.

Ezra 10:14  –  Let indeed our rulers stand in every assembly!  and to all the ones in our cities who settled with alien wives, let them come at arranged times, and with them the elders city by city, and judges to turn the anger of the rage of our God from us, on acount of this matter.

“Let our leaders represent the whole assembly and let all those in our cities who have married foreign wives come at appointed times, together with the elders and judges of each city, until the fierce anger of our God on account of this matter is turned away from us.”

Nehemiah 5:7  –  And my heart took counsel with me, and I did combat against the important ones, and the rulers.  And I said to them, Shall a man exact from his brother what you do?  And I put upon them a great assembly.

I consulted with myself and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said to them, “You are exacting usury, each from his brother!” Therefore, I held a great assembly against them.

Nehemiah 5:13  –  And I shook off my wrap, and said, Thus shall God shake off every man who does not stand by this word, of his house, and of his toil; and he will be thus shaken and empty.  And all the assembly said, Amen.  And they praised the LORD.  And the people did this thing.

I also shook out the front of my garment and said, “Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill this promise; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” And they praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.

Nehemiah 7:66  –  And all the assembly was in one accord, as four ten thousands and two thousand three hundred sixty, 

The whole assembly together was 42,360,

Nehemiah 8:2  –  And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, from man unto woman, and all the ones perceiving to hear, on day one of the seventh month.

Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.

Nehemiah 8:17  –  And all the assembly of the ones returning from the captivity made tents, and they stayed in tents;  for the sons of Israel did not do thus from the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day.  And there became a great gladness – exceedingly much.

The entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them. The sons of Israel had indeed not done so from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day. And there was great rejoicing.

Nehemiah 13:1  –  In that day they read in the scroll of Moses into the ears of the people.  And it was found written in it how that  the Ammonite and the Moabite should not enter into the assembly of God unto the eon.

On that day they read aloud from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and there was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God,

Job 30:28  –  I went moaning with out a rein; and I have stood in the assembly crying out.

“I go about mourning without comfort;
I stand up in the assembly and cry out for help.

Psalm 22:22  –  I shall describe your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.

I will tell of Your name to my brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.

Psalm 22:25  –  My high praise is about you.  In the great assembly I shall confess to you.  My vows I shall render in the presence of the ones fearing him.

From You comes my praise in the great assembly;
I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him.

Psalm 26:5  –  I detested the assembly of ones doing wickedness; and with the impious in no way shall I sit.

I hate the assembly of evildoers,
And I will not sit with the wicked.

Psalm 26:12  –  My foot stands in straightness.  In the assemblies I shall bless you, O LORD.

My foot stands on a level place;
In the congregations I shall bless the LORD.

Psalm 35:18  –  I shall make acknowledgement to you in the vast assembly; with grievous people I shall praise you.

I will give You thanks in the great congregation;
I will praise You among a mighty throng.

Psalm 40:9  –  I announced good news – righteousness in the great assembly.  Behold, in no wayshould I estrain my lips, O LORD, you know.

I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
O LORD, You know.

Psalm 68:26  –  In assemblies bless God!  the LORD from the springs of Israel.

Bless God in the congregations,
Even the LORD, you who are of the fountain of Israel.

Psalm 89:5  –  The heavens shall acknowledge your wonders, O LORD, and your truth in the assembly of the holy ones.

The heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD;
Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones.

Psalm 107:32  –  Let them exalt him in the assembly of people, and let them praise him in the chair of the elders!

Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people,
And praise Him at the seat of the elders.

Psalm 149:1  –  Alleluiah.  Sing to the LORD a new song, of his praise in the assembly of the sacred ones!

Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.

Proverbs 5:14  –  By little I came unto every evil in the midst of the assembly and congregation.

“I was almost in utter ruin
In the midst of the assembly and congregation.”

Lamentations 1:10  –  The one afflicting his hand spread forth upon all the desirable things of hers.  For she saw nations entering into her sanctuary – the ones which I charged them not to enter into your assembly.

The adversary has stretched out his hand
Over all her precious things,
For she has seen the nations enter her sanctuary,
The ones whom You commanded
That they should not enter into Your congregation.

Ezekiel 32:3  –  Thus says Adonai the LORD; And I will put my net upon you by an assembly of many peoples and I will lead you by my hook.

Thus says the Lord GOD,
“Now I will spread My net over you
With a company of many peoples,
And they shall lift you up in My net.

Joel 2:16  –  Gather together people!  Sanctify an assembly!  Choose elders!  Gather together infants nursing breasts!  Let the groom go forth from out of his bedroom, and the bride from out of her nuptual chamber.

Gather the people, sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and the nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom come out of his room
And the bride out of her bridal chamber.

Micah 2:5  –  On account of this, there will not be for you one putting a measuring line for a lot in the assembly of the LORD.

“Therefore you will have no one stretching a measuring line
For you by lot in the assembly of the LORD.

Now for the summary:

As for the ABP OT:

The Greek word ekklesia 1577 is found in 74 vereses of the OT.  In four of these verses (Deuteronomy 23:3; 1 Chronicles 29:20; 2 Chronicles 6:3; 30:25), there is a double occurrence of the word.  That amounts to 78 occurrences in 74 verses.  These double occurrences are translated with the same word in each case so I’ll stick with the 74 verse count from here on.  All occurrences of ekklesia 1577 in the ABP are translated as “assembly.”  (Two of them – Psalm 26:12 and Psalm 68:26 – are the plural form and therefore translated “assemblies.”)

As for the NASB OT:

The Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word ekklesia 1577 is found in 72 verses of the OT.  1 Chronicles 28:2 and 2 Chronicles 10:3 are the two verses which do not have an equivalent.  This just owes to the differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text, and, considering their differences in the textual heritage, such a number is incredibly small.

Of the 72 verses, 61 are translated “assembly,” 1 is translated “assemble” (Deuteronomy 4:10), 6 are translated “congregation,” 2 are translated “congregations” (Psalm 26:12 and Psalm 68:26, thus matching “assemblies” in the ABP), and 2 are translated “company.”

Except for “company” in 1 Samuel 19:20, the NASB consistently translates the Hebrew equivalent of ekklesia 1577 as “assembly” from its first occurrence in the OT all the way until the book of Psalms, where the variations begin.  (That is, 1 Samuel 19:20 aside, the variations from “assembly,” few as they are, occur in Psalms, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Joel.)

Since there are 109 OT verses containing “assembly” in the NASB OT and only 61 of them can be traced to the Hebrew equivalent of ekklesia 1577, you cannot assume that “assembly” in the NASB OT is the same as the word you see as “church” in the NT – but most of them are.

There are 136 verses in the NASB OT containing the word “congregation” or “congregations.”  However, we have only been able to trace 8 of these occurrences to a ekklesia 1577 equivalent.

There are 52 verses in the NASB OT containing the word “company”  However, we have only been able to trace 2 of these occurrences to an ekklesia 1577 equivalent.

For a study of how the word ekklesia 1577 (i.e. the word for “church”) is used in the New Testament, see this post.

For a summary of how ekklesia 1577 (i.e., the word for “church”) is translated in both testaments, see this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

New Testament Words Which Are Really Old Testament Words

When we read the New Testament (NT), we are often coming across words which are ostensibly absent or infrequent in the Old Testament (OT) – but which actually aren’t.  This isn’t a result of translators conspiring to hide anything from us.  Rather, it’s because of the vagaries of language and a variety of unrelated factors.  (The Tower of Babel described in Genesis 11 truly did invite a curse.)

The advantage of a literal English translation like the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is that it usually translates a given word consistently throughout the Scriptures.  This allows someone who knows English (but not the underlying original languages of Scripture) to use a concordance or cross reference system to compare one scripture to another – thus providing a broader set of examples to help understand the meaning of a word by multiple usages in varying contexts.  There are a few words, however, that even the NASB doesn’t translate consistently between the testaments (again, not through any malicious or corrupt intent), and this prevents us from more easily seeing the continuity of ideas between what we call the OT and what we call the NT.

Even without a concordance, you may be reading the OT and come across the word “Sheol,” then turn to reading the NT and come across the word “Hades,” without recognizing that these two words are referring to the same thing.  Or that “Jesus” in the NT is the same name as “Joshua” in the OT.  Or that “church” is often found in the OT, but usually translated as “assembly” or “congregation” instead of as “church.”  And so on.

There are not a lot of words that fall into this category, but some of them are important so I’ll list them in this post.  The comments below are based on the NASB and the Strong’s Concordance associated with it found at the NASB site.  (Other literal English translations may vary from this.  I will say that the NASB and the King James Version track closely on such issues.)

Christ  –  Shows up in the OT as “Anointed” or “Messiah,” but never as “Christ.”

church – Usually shows up in the OT as “assembly” (occasionally as “congregation” or “company”) but never as “church.”  Here’s a post on how “church” was used in the OT, and here’s a post on how it was used in the NT.  And here’s a summary post on how it’s used in both testaments.

Gentiles  –  Usually shows up in the OT as “nations,” but occasionally as something else and only once as “Gentiles.”  Even in the NT, it is sometimes translated as “nations” instead of “Gentiles.”

gospel –  Shows up in the OT as “good news,” but never as “gospel.”  For a little more detail, see this post.

grace  –  Shows up in the OT as “favor” and other words, but only occasionally as “grace.”  For more detail, see this post.

Hades  –  Shows up in the OT as “Sheol,” but never as “Hades.”  For more detail on this, see Appendix I of The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.

Jesus  –  Shows up in the OT as “Joshua” and never as “Jesus.”

saints  –  Usually shows up in the OT as “holy ones,” and only occasionally as “saints.”

If an English reader didn’t know better, he’d think most of these terms were introduced in the New Testament and weren’t used before that.  This just wouldn’t be true.  Moreover, we have to remember that the Old Testament was the only Bible that New Testament folks had.  What we call the New Testament wasn’t collected, bound, and distributed until most if not all the folks we read about in the New Testament were dead and gone.

Understanding the OT context in which these words were first used is critical to understanding what NT folks meant when they used the words.  The NT believers were deeply steeped in the OT.  If we try to understand their writings without reference to the OT, we are going to misunderstand them.  Even worse, if we import meanings to these words based on what has happened since they died we are going to impose foreign meaning on their thoughts – meanings they could not possibly have intended.

Related to this post, is a post on significant terms that translated the same in both testaments, but which are insufficiently appreciated as having been coined in Old Testament times:  New Testament Expressions Which Originated in the Old Testament

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.