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I've heard in times in the past that Christians were thought of, or called at one period of time or another, the 'called out ones' as being separated from the world. Is there anything that would indicate that in writing?

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    It is a misconception to over emphasize the root meaning of the word. Ekklesia and synagogue both means same thing, but a congregation. Church or Ekklesia word had been in use before the NT Church.
    – Michael16
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 4:06

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The very word ἐκκλησία, usually translated into English Bibles as “church,” is related to the verb ἐκκαλέω, meaning “call out.” Hence, the ἐκκλησία is literally an assembly of people called out from one place to another place.

According to Daniel McGinnis,1

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...the 'called out ones' as being separated from the world...

The Lord Jesus Christ said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”2 If Christians are in his kingdom, then Christians are likewise not of this world. Hence, he also said regarding those whom the Father had given him, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”3

Christians are in the world (i.e., physically living on earth), but they are not of the world, because they live spiritually “in Christ” who is in heaven. Hence, “Our citizenship is in heaven.”4


Footnotes

        1 McGinnis, p. 95
        2 John 18:36
        3 John 17:16
        4 Phlp. 3:20

References

McGinnis, Daniel. Missional Acts: Rhetorical Narrative in the Acts of the Apostles. Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2022.

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It is a biblical phrase, which is the earliest written record of this being applied to Christians that you could hope to get. The apostle Peter told Christians in his first letter:

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" 1 Peter 3:9 - emphasis mine.

He further says that Christians must not render evil for evil, but to bless, "knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing." (3:9)

Further, he concluded that they were called by God to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus (5:10).

This means that, right from the middle of the first century onward, Christians were spoken of, and thought of, as being called out of darkness into God's wonderful light - hence "called-out ones". It would not be surprising if that phrase was found in literature other than the Bible, but the Bible record is the oldest possible source.

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