One further note is that verse 21 is integral to understand this passage even though it is often not included. For this reason the NASB, and other translations often find it necessary to add an italicized “be subject” following “wives” in verse 22. The italics indicate that these words are not found here in the Greek text. I have removed this in the rendering below to show the ambassador’s actual wording:
…and be subject to one another in the fear of a king. Wives, to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as the king also is the head of the assembly of citizens, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the assembly of citizens is subject to the king, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as the king also loved the assembly of citizens and gave Himself up for it, so that He might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the assembly of citizens in all its glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the king also does the assembly of citizens, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to a king and the assembly of citizens. (Ephesians 5:21-32)
Next we provide the same treatment to a passage clearly referring to multiple local assemblies. This is my translation:
Paul, an ambassador (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through King Jesus and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, To the assemblies of citizens from Galatia.–Galatians 1:1-2
It seems that we have indeed accomplished our goal of finding an English equivalent for translating ekklesia that conveys the intention of the authors of the New Testament. In fact, we may have gotten even more than we bargained for. It is uncommon to find words that have a one to one correspondence when translating from one language to another. In the case of ekklesia it is usually translated as “church” but in three cases this is impossible. In Acts 19:32,39,41 it is almost always rendered as “assembly.” Here we find that “the whole city was in an uproar” (Acts 19:29) due to Paul’s proclamation of the good news of King Jesus at Ephesus. Look what happens when we modify these three verses with our new understanding:
So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly of citizens was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together… But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be settled in the lawful assembly of citizens… After saying this he dismissed the assembly of citizens.–Acts 19:32,39,41
Our rendition actually gives a fuller understanding of the event. It now becomes clear that Paul’s opponents were trying to take spontaneous political action against him. It was not simply a mob, but they were clearly following the Greek city-state model and gathered at the standard meeting place, where the dually appointed city clerk executed his office and told them they needed to reconvene a “lawful” ekklesia. It would seem that our hypothesis holds even better than we had hoped.