Is the word "Catholic" in the Bible?

A friend sent me this.


Acts 9:31 (Greek Bible), “ai men oun ekklēsiai kath olēs tēs ioudaias kai galilaias kai samareias eichon eirēnēn oikodomoumenai kai poreuomenai tō phobō tou kuriou kai tē paraklēsei tou agiou pneumatos eplēthunonto” EKKLESIA KATH’OLES.

The term “Catholic”, derived from the Greek word καθολικός (katholikos), which means “universal” or “general”, was also used to describe the Church in the early 2nd century. The term katholikos is equivalent to καθόλου (katholou), a contraction of the phrase καθ’ ὅλου (kath’ holou) meaning “according to the whole”. Thus the full name Catholic Church roughly means “universal” or “whole” church. END QUOTE

Acts 9:3l RSV: So the Church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied.

I know katholikos is Greek for Catholic, but is it – or a derivitive – in the Greek Bible?


Jim Dandy

This article breaks down the concept and its historicity:

I have not been able to find “katholikos” in particular, however, the verse you quoted states: kath and holos(oles)/throughout all, i.e. encompassing. Now, this is applied locally to Judea, Galilee, and Samaria in the verse, but the concept is reduced by the locality, and outside of that context, is wholly universal: throughout all. There’s your answer.

This is easily viewed from the perspective of the denoting of the Roman Catholic Church versus the Catholic Church as understood, as best as possible, and outlined rather extensively from the New Testament, the Patristic writings, and even up to documents like Lumen Gentium.

The application of the concept as a label, i.e. Catholic, was something that, as I can tell, came about to denote separation from heretical ideas and true Apostolic Christianity as passed down ultimately from Christ, and is retained faithfully by the Bishop of Rome.

Fun little linguistic tidbit, the word Kath:

kata: down, against, according to
Original Word: κατά
Part of Speech: Preposition
Transliteration: kata
Phonetic Spelling: (kat-ah’)
Short Definition: down from, against, according to, throughout, during
Definition: gen: against, down from, throughout, by; acc: over against, among, daily, day-by-day, each day, according to, by way of.

2596 katá (a preposition, governing two grammatical cases) – properly, “down from, i.e. from a higher to a lower plane, with special reference to the terminus (end-point)” (J. Thayer).

and holos/oles:

holos: whole, complete
Original Word: ὅλος, η, ον
Part of Speech: Adjective
Transliteration: holos
Phonetic Spelling: (hol’-os)
Short Definition: all, the whole, entire
Definition: all, the whole, entire, complete.

3650 hólos (a primitive adjective and the root of the English term “whole”) – properly, wholly, where all the parts are present and working as a whole – i.e. as the total, which is greater than the mere sum of the parts. This factor is especially significant in metaphorical contexts or those focusing on the spiritual plane.

What’s interesting about ὅλος vs ὅλη is that “ὅλη” is feminine whereas ὅλος is masculine. Notice later on in Acts 15:22, and in other areas, the feminine is used, because it refers to the whole Church, which is the Bride of Christ. This usage holds true in many examples to the believer and the Church, for Christ is a non-sexual model of a Husband.

Neat eh?

Here’s a list of all uses according to Strong’s Concordance:

Hope this helps.

there’s also katholou contraction in bible, but doesn’t have to do with Church

[Thayer] καθόλου

καθόλου (Dat 3:50 BGT)(i. e. kath olou ( as it is written in authors before Aristotle
(Liddell and Scott))), adverb, wholly, entirely, at all: Acts 4:18. ((Ex. 22:11);
Ezek. 13:3,22; Amos 3:3,4; Xenophon, Plato, Demosthenes, Aristotle, and following.)*

[LS] καθόλου

kath & olou, (olos) as Adv. on the whole, in general,
for kath olou, Arist., etc.; ou καθόλου not at all, Dem.

καθόλου in these verses:
Amos 3:3f
Ezek. 13:3, 22
Ezek. 17:14
Dan. 3:50
Dan Th. 3:50
Acts 4:18

The combination “the Catholic Church” (he katholike ekklesia) is found for the first time in the letter of St Ignatius, written about the year 110. The words run: “Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be, even as where Jesus may be, there is the universal [katholike] Church.”[15] Later, in the “Catechetical Discourses” of St. Cyril of Jerusalem we see the name “Catholic Church” to identify the church from various sects. St Cyril writes, “And if ever thou art sojourning in any city, inquire not simply where the Lord’s house is–for the sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens, houses of the Lord–nor merely where the church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of the holy body the mother of us all.”

Yep, and it took the world’s most powerful search engine to uncover it :slight_smile:

**1) **Copy the greek verse below

ἡ μεν ουν εκκλησια **καθ᾽ὁλης της **ιουδαιας και γαλιλαιας και σαμαρειας ειχεν ειρηνην οικοδομουμενη και πορευομενη τω φοβω του κυριου, και τη παρακλησει του ἁγιου πνευματος επληθυνοντο. Πράξεις τῶν Ἀποστόλων 9:31

**2) **Paste it on google translate, from greek translate it to english, and google says:

While the church s catholic of Judaea and Galilee and Samaria had been peace with porefomeni is constructed and attached to the fear of the Lord and the prayers of the Holy Spirit eplithynonto. Acts 9:31

3) Q: Now how about the “throughout” translation?? A: Remove the ς in καθ᾽ὁλης της and then hit translate:

s While the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria had been peace with porefomeni is constructed and attached to the fear of the Lord and the prayers of the Holy Spirit eplithynonto. Acts 9:31

4) Compare it now to the english version:

Acts 9:31

New International Version (NIV)

31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

5) Playing more with google translate will reveal the following:

καθ᾽ὁλης της = Catholics of
καθ᾽ὁλης τη = throughout the
καθ ὁλης της = throughout the entire
εκκλησια = church

εκκλησια καθ᾽ὁλης της = church throughout the entire = church throughout = catholic church = Universal Church
Isn’t that cool?! :slight_smile:

So, are you saying the c was intensionally dropped in all English versions including the newest Saint Benedict Press New American Bible Revised Ediction? Was not this Bible to have the very best translation possible using all the newest discoveries and information available? I don’t wish to argue with you. I just find it diffulcult to believe.That this could be the case, if this is true. So, please tell us why the Chruch chooses to ignore the true translation of Acts 9:31.

At the end of the day all this parsing of words is irrelevant. Christ came and created ONE Church, not multiple disjointed churches. There can ONLY be ONE, and thus the word can only apply to that ONE Church. Anything else out there is just a man made construct, and has nothing to do with the Bride of Christ.


Frankly speaking, we share the same question.

I do not even know if google got it right, or the greek source that I quoted is the original.
( or the google programmer is a catholic:) )

But I find it really surprising to see that it got translated that way, while most translations associate it to the word “throughout”

Notice that by just removing the last character, the translated phrase transformed greatly, from catholics of → throughout the. Maybe an error got introduced along the way but that is just a speculation of mine.

Or maybe back then It is unanimous that "churches throughout’ = catholic churches, since there is no other.

Btw, I got the greek source from someone in the net explaining that the word catholic is in the bible. He used transliteration to arrived at the word. I just verified his claim by using google translate.

The NAB-RE is not perfect.

Yes. After the fall of Jerusalum, I think the world lost a great tresure of scripture. But, cheer up! The Catholic Church has tradition and more importently the Holy Spirit at the helm also.

I found this passage very interesting! The greek seems to have a direct correlation to the word Catholic, or Universal.

The other reason I wanted to post on this old thread, is that I noticed the very next verse says this:

32.) Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints that lived at Lydda.

That should ruffle some Protestant feathers…:D:D:D