While this is the most common launching pad of meaning for the term “ekklesia,” the meaning should be considered a bit more technical in nature than the sum of its parts. The term is a compound of two Greek words, “ek” and “kaleo,” that is certain, but the combination of their simplest meanings doesn’t produce our clearest understanding of the term, “ekklesia.”
Let us begin with a discussion of the word, “kaleo.” Certainly, its simplest meaning would be “I call.” Then, consideration must be made for the use of this simplest form. About a third of the time the word is used, it carries the idea of invitation, but more than two thirds of the time, the word means, “appointed, positioned, ordained, or designated.” Within this understanding of the root word from which ekklesia is built, we sense a more clear intention in the word we often translate “church.”
While the word kaleo denotes the idea, “to appoint, place, designate, position, or name” with equal substantive meaning, modern language no longer uses “call” for the concept “to appoint, designate, or position.” Previously in history, the king’s call or invitation to serve was equal to a royal appointment to a position, since none dared refuse the call of his monarch. Therefore, kaleo picked up a secondary sense of meaning from royal court protocol, a sense of inviting or bidding because an invitation from the king was equal to an appointment.
Now, let us apply this meaning to the term “ekklesia” and see that “invitation” does not enter into the meaning of the term. The “called” are “the appointed, designated, and positioned” with a sense of being placed. “Called together into assembly for a purpose” has a better sense of the meaning than merely “called out.” The “for a purpose” aspect of the meaning comes form the intentionality of the One calling them together.
For example, let us consider the words of Jesus: “I will build My ekklesia.” The sense that Jesus is inviting anyone and everyone to assemble and the gathered who respond to the invitation compose the Ecclesia does not fit the descriptors or purpose of His kingdom Ecclesia. The sense that Jesus builds an assembly of those positioned, appointed, and designated for a kingdom purpose does.
The “called together assembly” is built. Intentionality remains the impetus behind the assemblage, the building. Jesus does not throw out an invitation for everyone interested in hearing a Message and use that assembly to displace the strategically positioned authority of Hades. Jesus assembled appointed, designated, and positioned people from the kingdom, sets them into assignment, aligned with His kingdom leaders, and confronts existing entrenchments of the enemy.
This is not to say that gathering for other kingdom purposes are invalid, only to say that these gathering cannot fully define “ekklesia.”