I have a scholarly friend who believes if you examine the meaning of the word "ekklesia" in the original Classical Greek and later in the Septuagint it had the meaning of a "meeting"(an event in time) and was later transformed by the KJV translators into a "place of meeting", "a thing", a "church". This can have a profound significance on how you perceive or interpret many scriptures. What's your take on this?
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An accurate translation of εκκλησια would be 'assembly'. Also, εκκλησια is used as a near-synonym with συναγωγη. Here are a few examples of εκκλησια in the Septuagint (though I am using the common verse numbers, not the LXX's).
The word-family for εκκλησια was used mainly for groups of people, regardless of where they were meeting. However, we find εκκλησια often used for the assembling of the people of Israel.
While the word is used much more systematically in the New Testament, εκκλησια still carries this primary meaning of an assembly of the people themselves, not the building they meet in (if any).
As the New Testament authors use this word, they regularly apply it in one of two ways. First, they use it for Christians pocket communities in various cities: the assembly in Jerusalem (Acts 8.1; 11.22; 15.4), the assembly in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1.2), etc. Second, they also use it in a global sense, for all Christians throughout the world: the assembly (e.g. Acts 20.28; Ephesians 1.22; Hebrews 12.23).
From what we can see, the first time the word εκκλησια was used for the building, and not the people, was by Clement of Alexandria in about 200 AD:
He does elsewhere use εκκλησια the same way we find it in the bible (as referring to the people), but this particular statement shows that the idea was settling in that 'church' is a place you enter and exit, not a collective group you belong to.
In classic Greek, "ekklesia" referred to a political assembly of citizens. This word was borrowed by the New Testament writers to refer to an assembly of believers. It's not always easy to tell, because the English word "church" has multiple meanings, but the primary meaning in the NT is the gathering of believers.
Here are some of the less ambiguous passages that show this most clearly. (Since you asked about the KJV, I'll use that translation, but this is true for modern translations as well).
The same Greek word is used three times in Acts 19 to describe an assembly of pagans.
So your friend is mostly right: The Greek word "ekklesia" does refer to the gathered people and not the building. But a careful reading of the English translations will show that the word "church" is being used the same way.