"For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews"- 1Th 2:14
In the Ancient Greek and Rome empire, the word for "Church" has a distinctly different meaning than it does today. The greek word for church is"ekklēsia", and it means, "a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly." Ekklēsia is also a feminine noun, which works great with the understanding that The Church is the bride of Christ (2Co 11:2, Eph 5:25). But the word ekklēsia didn't have any religious significance to the Greeks from Thucydides (cf. Herodotus 3, 142) down. It just described an assembly of the people convened at the public place of council for the purpose of deliberating (Acts 19:39). Although the Septuagint does use the word for Israelites gathering for sacred purposes (Deu 31:30, 32:1 and Jos 8:35, 9:8).
Jesus was the first one to use the word in the New Testament, and He applied it to the company that gathered about Him, Matt. 16:18, recognized Him publicly as their Lord, and accepted the principles of the Kingdom of God. And that is the basis of the word, "Church". It is used to designate an assembly of the citizens of the kingdom of God to discuss matters related to their citizenship. This assembly could refer to the entire kingdom or local regions.
Specifically in 1Th 2:14, the word ekklēsia is being used in a Local Sense. In the local sense the word "church" is used of the group of professed believers in any one locality. Though, of course, the local churches together ought to be a faithful replica of the true Church, the universal Church; for the most part they fail in this respect and frequently very badly.
However, Jesus, of course, foresaw this departure from the ideal conditions and portrayed it in the parables of the kingdom of God (esp. in Mat 13).
So. What do you think? How do you like your citizenship in the Kingdom of God? Does it make you feel like a foreigner or an outsider to those of the World? What have you done as an ambassador of the Kingdom? Thanks for your input and God Bless!