Looking at the Greek word used to translate our English word church, Strong gives the etymology as "a calling out."

So, as we study Paul's writings, looking for the church of this dispensation, we have some additional idea of what we are looking for "a calling out." Can we locate this concept in Paul's epistle?

Let's take a look at Paul's first letter to the Corinthian saints:

"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus called to be saints . . ." (I Corinthians 1:2).

Paul identifies the church as "them that are sanctified." Sanctified means "to set apart." Believers are a called out people, set apart unto God.

Paul goes on to say that they have been "called to be saints." He did no just call them "saints" here, but said that they were "called to be saints." The church is a called group of people! The word saint means "one who has been set apart unto God." Once again, the church is a called out people, set apart as holy unto God.

But if we are God's called out people, what is it that we have been called out of?

Let's take a look at Paul's first letter to the saints at Thessalonica:

"For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had among you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (I Thessalonians 1:9).

Paul spoke these words to a people that he had just, only a few verses earlier in the greetings, identified as "the church" (I Thessalonians 1:1).

Now, the Thessalonian believers were called out of something. What were they call out from? From "idols!" They were Gentiles called out of their heathen religious system! And that's not all, they were also called unto something "the living and true God." That's why Paul called them ". . .the church . . . which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ . . . "

The true church is God's called out people. We have been called out of the Gentile religious system. And we have been called unto God. What a wonderful privilege to have such a calling, to be delivered from the bondage of such religious oppression.

Clyde Pilkington

Gladstone, VA

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