Ekklesia & The War Chariot of Agreement

by Dean Briggs

Ekklesia is one of the central revelations of the New Testament (and repeatedly modeled in the Old Testament). Paul used the word ekklesia dozens of times. On the other hand, Jesus only used it twice in all four Gospels: once in Matthew 16, another in Matthew 18. Each of these two instances was critical for understanding not only who the ekklesia is and what they do, but why and how they do it. In Matthew 18, Jesus revealed a powerful aspect of the how:

“Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (vss. 19-20)

It is one thing to be gathered for prayer; this actually happens quite often. But it is another to be gathered together. “Together” moves beyond geographic proximity toward additional dimensions of unity, love, common purpose, and relational trust and honor. In other words, when we gather together, agreement is fundamental. It is also necessary. Why? Because Jesus entrusts extraordinary power to His ekklesia when they pray in agreement both one with another, and with His will. Make no mistake: Jesus likes the idea of our prayers being answered! In fact, this is central to the constitutional charter of His ekklesia in Matthew 16 and 18. It’s part of our Prime Directive. No wonder the Apostle Paul delved deeper into this topic when He taught the ekklesia at Ephesus about the extraordinary reality of Christ’s many-membered Body functioning as a unified whole.

Paul said, “the whole body, being fitted and held together (knitted) by what every joint supplies…causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (Eph. 4:16). JB Phillips translates the “whole body…as a harmonious structure knit together” while the NIV says, “joined and held together by every supporting ligament.”

In short, the ekklesial “body” is not a metaphor, but a living reality. We are a conglomeration of many different Spirit-fashioned parts all working together (1 Cor. 12). That’s the power, and that’s the problem. With so many different parts in the mix—different construction, shape, and purpose—it would be easy for the whole thing to fall apart. In fact, when the essential unity of a human body gets disrupted, what happens? Just look at accidents and operating rooms. The whole thing very quickly becomes a bloody mess! A body needs to be connected and whole. Different parts must be joined. This is critical for health, growth and maturity. We aren’t meant to be a Frankenstein of disconnected, lifeless organs. The aim of the Holy Spirit is that we be “knit together.”

The phrase “knit together” is very powerful. It comes from the multi-compound Greek word, synarmologeō, and it is packed with meaning. Each part in this word contributes to a better understanding of how God produces agreement in His Body so that we can release Heaven on Earth through prayer. Let me briefly touch on the three building blocks in syn-armo-logeō:

1.  Syn — a Greek prefix which means “with, or together.” From this little chunk of language we have built such telling English words as synergy, sympathy, synonym, synchronize. Each of these reveal the power of “withness” — compatibility, expansion, timing, relationship.

2.  Harmos — The word harmos has various roots and related words that mean: 1) joint 2) betrothed, espousal (like a carpenter joining beams and planks to build a house); and 3) interestingly, war chariot. As you can probably tell, from this word we derive our English word harmony. Though we automatically associate harmony with music, it was originally indicative of carpentry. The Classical Greek harmonia came from the verb harmozo which carried a sense of joining, fastening or fitting together. This in turn stemmed from the earlier harma, which was used in reference to war chariots, especially the wheels. Why? Because the wheels required expert craftsmanship—the symmetry of spokes, hub and joints—precisely joined and fitted for the purpose of war. Hint: Paul is telling us something here!

3.  Logeō — the third part in this long word comes from Lego, which means “to speak.” It is the verb form of the better known Logos, frequently used in reference to Christ, i.e. the Word of God, the Logos, that became flesh. As a verb, however, legos means “Ask, boast, speak, affirm, teach, exhort, command, to call by name.” Paul is using truly inspired language. How are we knit together? In a sense, it is as simple as saying the same thing! In prayer, as a synergistic act of unity, purpose and relational wholeness, when we are dialed into the will of God, we use our voices to create harmony with Heaven. Isn’t that beautiful? In other words, don’t do this passively, quietly, or disconnected from others. Don’t merely think in agreement. Speak aloud until our heart and words are unified in proclamations of faith.

When this happens—when we agree on earth in true love and submission to one another; synergized, synchronized and sympathized together thru the hard work of unity; when we then speak our common agreement with heaven—Paul almost seems to winkingly suggest that in such moments the ekklesia becomes a war chariot for the purpose of Christ! To that, I add my agreement: Amen! Let it be.

 

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