When any discussions ensue between a Christian and an atheist, the non-believer will likely state they do not believe in God or Jesus Christ based primarily on their view that the entity they understand is the topic of discussion is speaking about the Catholic religion, its unbiblical traditions and customs, and the recorded horrors it committed during the Crusades and the Inquisitions.
What most people fail to understand is that the word "Church" was actually inserted into the Bible by Greek scholars under the direction of King James to ensure he would be able to maintain control over the masses under his realm and the organized Catholic religion of that period (see The Great Ecclesiastical Conspiracy).
In reality the word church is neither the proper nor the official word that was used in the original manuscript. Those scholars were instructed to replace the two words, assembly and congregation, which in the original Greek language was speaking about God's Children of Promise.
The Greek word ecclesia means a people called out. In the original manuscript, the word ecclesia more concisely identified the people of whom today we refer to as the church of God. However, if we look into any Greek dictionary, we will find only the two words (assembly and or congregation) under the Greek definition for the word ecclesia.
As a matter of fact, look inside any Greek dictionary and you will not find the any definition whatsoever for the word church because that word was not used in any form or fashion in the original manuscript. When seeking the meaning of the word church in most Greek dictionaries, you will get the following message: * For CHURCH see ASSEMBLY and CONGREGATION.
I write rather extensively in the 1st chapter of my book, The End Times Passover, concerning this matter, because the failure to make this distinction has become the biggest stumbling block for people who debate two major issues of contention. Those two debates include (1) the failure to make a distinction between Israel and the Church throughout the Bible, and (2) the failure to recognize the difference between the organized religious organizations of today and the true disciples of Christ as they relate to eschatology.
When examined closely, God's ecclesia actually began before the Day of Pentecost, a claim we emphatically prove throughout our two books. One of the more successful aspects we discovered to present positive proof to the information we present in The End Times Passover when we researched the material therein was in utilizing the science of Etymology.
Etymology is study of word origins: the study of the origins of words or parts of words and how they have arrived at their current form and meaning, which is also the science of the history of a word: the origin of a word or part of a word, or a statement of this, and how it has arrived at its current form and meaning.
No Bible student should omit examining words in the Bible to their greatest extent and miss the opportunity to arrive at the maximum level of understanding the clearest meaning and intent by the author. Unfortunately, much unorthodox rendering of key words in the Bible is one of the main reasons why varying doctrines exist amid the theology community.
Having said all of this, we are fortunate to present one of the most extensive studies on the word CHURCH we have discovered, written by a brilliant young Bible scholar, Richard Anthony, who provides us with deep and unique insights to the word CHURCH and how that word was inserted into the Bible, and how its current usage has caused great confusion and many doctrinal battles amongst God's children of promise.
We highly recommend that you download this entire posting and keep it in your "resource file" to refer to it often as needed and as you continue in your studies of not only end times topics, but with all of the research you conduct regarding any Bible issues of concern. Enjoy!
Christ's Ekklesia and the Church Compared
Matthew 16:18, "…And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church (Greek - ekklesia)…"
The Greek word "ekklesia," is used 115 times in the New Testament, and in most bibles, it is always translated as "church" (except in Acts 19:32,39,41, where it is properly translated as "assembly").
The first complete English bible was the Tyndale bible in about 1524, and that bible did not use the word "church" anywhere in its pages, it used the word "congregation." Sometime after this bible, they started replacing the word "congregation" with the word "church."
Now, some people might say we're just mincing words; they say, "Church, assembly, what's the difference?" "You know what I mean when I say Church." But words are very, very important according to the Word of God. The following verses tell us that one of the duties of all followers of Christ is to diligently look at the words to describe His Body.
Matthew 4:4, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Proverbs 6:2, "Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth."
Proverbs 30:5-6, "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar."
One of the jurisdictions of the natural man is the Church. There are many Churches out there, even the Church of Satan. The Church of Wicka. The Church of Humanity. You name it, there's a Church for it. Even bars are like Churches, they go to worship the bottle, and fellowship around ungodly things, and play music that praises Satan and the things of the flesh because they love the creation more than the Creator (Romans 1:25), so everything they worship and all the songs they sing worship the creation. So, there's another Church for you.
This article will attempt to demonstrate how the State receives jurisdiction over the Church. We have to differentiate because Christ's ekklesia is not the Church. If you look in a dictionary, under the word Church, it's defined as "a place of worship of any religion as a Jewish or heathen temple." When the world says "Church," they are thinking of a building or a structure, and this is actually the original meaning of Church, but somehow it transferred over as being the body of Christ. But as we're told in scripture, God "dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Acts 17:24,48, 2 Corinthians 5:1, Hebrews 9:24).
There's many different definitions for the Church, and it's really an arbitrary and capricious word. And we're going to take a look at how the natural man got jurisdiction over that. They got jurisdiction over the Church because he's the one that created it, he's the one that took the word ekklesia to a word that has no substance.
The Meaning of Ekklesia
First, we'll look at the meaning of what Christ's ekklesia is, we'll look at the real thing first, then we'll compare the legal fiction that's being created as the substitute for Christ's ekklesia. The word ekklesia is the original Greek Word, it was used in the Septuagint. So, the seventy-two translators that translated the Septuagint around 280 B.C. were very much aware of that word ekklesia. They used it in the Septuagint as a replacement of the Hebrew for the "congregation of Israel."
If we go to the modern word studies on ekklesia, they'll always point to the secular meaning of the Greek, that it was a group of citizens called together. They rarely go to the original meaning. The first time it's spoken in the New Testament, by Christ, is at Matthew 16:18, "…And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my ekklesia…"
When you go to Tyndale's bible, which was the first English Bible, he translated ekklesia as "assembly." In the George Ricker Berry Interlinear Greek/English New Testament (it's a literal translation of the Greek into English), which was written in the late 1800's, he translated ekklesia as "assembly," and you won't find the word "church" anywhere in there. Christ only used the word ekklesia three times. It's not recorded in the book of Mark, John, or Luke. Matthew is the only one who recorded it.
In Strong's Greek Concordance, the word ekklesia (word #1577) is defined as "an assembly," and it's from the word "ek," (word #1537) which means "out of"; and the word "klesis" (word #2821) which means "a calling." So ekklesia means to be called out, and obviously Christ is the one that's calling us out. But is that the first time we were ever called out?
The apostle Paul wrote, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2 Corinthians 6:17). Now he's quoting the Old Testament from Isaiah 52:11, so we were called out in the Old Testament. In the Septuagint, Isaiah 52:11 reads, "Depart ye, depart, go out from thence, and touch not the unclean thing; go ye out from the midst of her; separate yourselves, ye that bear the vessels of the Lord."
When you go to the original Greek in the Septuagint and find out what those verses mean, you find out what you're being called out of. And that's what His ekklesia is, it is those who are called out.
When Isaiah says, "go ye out from the midst of her," what does that mean? Well, when you go to the original Greek, "out from the midst" means "out from the center." And the word "her" is from the Greek autos which means "self."
Basically, what this verse is saying is to depart and separate yourself from your self will (those wants of the world) and touch not the impure. So what we're called out of is our self! We're called out of the self-will and all of those things that have to do with the flesh. And that is His ekklesia. This goes along with: Matthew 10:38-39, "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." The apostle Paul said, "I die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31). What this means is to do His Will, and crucify the deeds of the flesh, kill our old man.
The Origin of the word ChurchFor example, the New Testament, at Hebrews 2:12, quotes the Old Testament, at Psalms 22:22, word for word. The word "congregation" in the Greek is "ekklesia." But since King James forbade replacing this Greek word with "congregation" (the true interpretation), it was replaced with a word which has a totally different meaning:
Hebrews 2:12, "Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."
And when we see what Vincent said about Patristic writings, we can see that "from the beginning it was not so," and it is a tradition of the elders that the word "church" has been retained. When you look in all of the word studies on the word "church", they put in there "the assembly," as if they were one and the same. But when you go to their own definitions, such as Elwells Evangelical Dictionary, it says the English word church "derives from the late Greek word kurioton, which means "the lord's house," a Church building. In the King James New Testament, the word translates from the Greek word ekklesia.
Notice this says "Church" is from a "late Greek word," it's not a word that's used in the original Koine Greek, it's a modern word. Therefore, one can see the problem.
Churches are Businesses
All Churches, including the incorporated Church, unincorporated Church, unregistered Church, etc., are under the jurisdiction of man. These Churches define themselves in particular ways that you do not find in scripture. In other words, Christ did not define his ekklesia to be those things. These designations were created by the natural man, because Christ never defines His ekklesia to be incorporated or unincorporated.
Isaiah 17:7-8, "At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made..."
We should not localize God: Acts 7:49, "Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?" 1 Kings 8:27, "…behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?"
Internal Revenue Service
Church: The term "church" is not specifically defined in the Internal Revenue Code. However, because special tax rules apply to churches, it is important to distinguish churches from other religious organizations.
Christ did not start a "religious organization." He did not start a religion. There is only one religion that His followers are to engage in. James 1:27, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." What Christ taught was from the "beginning," it did not start 2,000 years ago. Certain characteristics are generally attributed to churches. These attributes have been developed by the IRS and by court decisions. They include:
Notice these have been developed by "court decisions." Therefore we have everyone going to law with one another (1 Corinthians 6:1-8), which scripture condemns. And through courts, the natural man defines exactly what a church is. The following is what the natural man has jurisdiction over (because he created all of the following characteristics). Here are the 14 characteristics:
In other words, that which has "legal personality." For example, if it has a name (i.e. FIRST COMMUNITY BAPTIST CHURCH), and if it hangs a sign outside the church, it has a distinct "legal existence"). You do not find anywhere in scripture where any follower of Christ "named" some building and put a sign outside advertising themselves or their beliefs. All they did was speak and act according to God's Truth.
b) A recognized creed and form of worship
This would be putting down on paper, and formally organizing it, and having everyone agree to it. It's something you don't find in scripture. Our "creed and form of worship" is already in scripture; we don't have to re-state it.
c) A definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
None of these line up with scripture. You don't find a "distinct ecclesiastical government" in scripture. When you see the government of the Christ's assembly in the New Testament, it is not "definite and distinct," it is "however the Lord moves you!" There's no organization to it. The problem is whenever men try to organize things, they actually go against God because He has already put everything in order.
Now, we do have guidelines for conduct in the assembly, but those are His guidelines, not ours. And the problem with the church is that they design their own "definite and distinct ecclesiastical government," and that's why we have the Baptists, the Catholics, etc. They all have different forms. So obviously, all these organizations are doing according to their own will and not according to God, otherwise none of them would be different (1 Corinthians 1:12-13). God is not the author of disorder (1 Corinthians 14:33).
d) A formal code of doctrine and discipline
They're re-stating scripture, and each denomination has a different code and doctrine. They're divided (1 Corinthians 1:12-13).
e) A distinct religious history
All denominations have a distinct religious history. Each one of these distinct religious churches have their own literature to promote their own denomination.
f) A membership not associated with any other church or denomination
In other words, they don't consider themselves part of the Christ's whole lawful assembly. They have their own little world they live in and they're no part of anything else. They adhere to that particular denomination, not to Christ's words. And they are not brothers with all others, they've set themselves apart and said, "this is the kind of government we want." It has to do with self-will.
g) An organization of ordained ministers
Notice the word "organization," and who are the ministers ordained by? Are they ordained by God or by man? And when you see a pastor with several letters after his name, he is a minister ordained by man. Now, he may be ordained by God also, but if you look to the ordination of men and put that after your name, you're a man of letters, and Christ was not a man of letters (John 7:15). So, Christ was not formally educated, he was "unlearned," which means he didn't go to the schools of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9), or the seminary.
h) Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study
Ministers are run through the seminaries and their consciences are seared according to seminary doctrine (1 Timothy 4:2). This does not mean there can be no repentance, or that the Spirit of God can't move them. Some pastors say, "Well, that isn't what I was taught in seminary, so I can't hear that, I can't listen to you." They look to the seminary for truth. Then there's the other pastors who admit that their minds were polluted, but they try to keep it clean by washing it with the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26). We all get polluted in the world. We have to hold up His truth as our standard to weigh everything and judge everything. If you don't, you fall into error.
i) A literature of its own
Churches have literature to express their particular doctrine to bring you into their particular denomination so they can number you. Many churches put the numbers of how many they have in their congregation up on the wall. This was a sin of David (2 Samuel 18:1; 24:10, 1 Chronicles 21:17). If you put the numbers up for your own prideful reasons, or your own esteem of your church, then you're doing it for the wrong reasons. You should do it because God said to do it. He is the King and we are in His Kingdom. Are we out here doing things on our own making up our own rules, or are we looking to God's Word and His leading of the Holy Spirit to do what we do?
Numbering in itself is not a sin, but disobedience to God is, or not acknowledging Him in all our ways and letting Him direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-7). That's the sin. Even in the New Testament books it says how three thousand people were added to the Christ's assembly that day (Acts 2:41), but they weren't bragging about it, they were simply showing how powerfully the Spirit moved. They didn't say, "The church at Corinth has this many numbers now. Hey, man, the numbers are really getting pumped up! We're looking good!" There is a difference, and its the purpose behind why you're making the statement. It's really quite similar to what the government does on their census, because they want to pump up those commercial numbers for their asset books.
j) Established place of worship
You'll notice in scripture that Christ and the apostles never went to an "established place" to preach to the people. They did not have any one particular place of worshipping over and over. They preached in general everywhere! An "established place of worship" is not of God (Acts 7:48; 17:24, Romans 8:9-11, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Revelation 21:3). A "church" is not a building, but His people themselves are God's building (1 Corinthians 3:9), of which Christ is the builder (Matthew 16:18).and not man's hands. If you have a particular place you worship, the IRS will believe you are one of theirs. The world does need to regulate its own, and so it looks at something which looks like its own and they regulate it if it's going to operate according to their world system.
k) Regular congregations
Already covered in the comments to letter "i" above.
l) Regular religious service
Such as that religious service every Sunday morning (the so-called "Christian Sabbath"). During the "Lord's Sabbath," there are no "religious services" involved. There's no "vain repetitions" (Matthew 6:7). We are brought together for His purpose, by Him. Otherwise, if you systematize everything, you're into habits, and you're no better than the animals.
m) "Sunday schools" for the religious instruction of the young
We're back to the schools of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9). Families are commanded to bring up their young ones "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). We are not supposed to have someone else bring them up!
n) Schools for the preparation of its ministers
Schools are in competition with other schools, and with other congregations. When you are in competition with others, you're at war with them.
Although the foregoing list is not all-inclusive, and not all the attributes must be present in every case, these characteristics, together with other facts and circumstances, are generally used to determine whether an organization constitutes a church for federal tax purposes.
Therefore, when you engage in one or more of these, you're going to be coming under the tax codes because you're engaging in another law. This other law is a private law run by the natural man. It is not the Law of God.
"I disagree with your proposition that the Bible doesn't teach that people should meet together at "church". Church is simply a group "called out" or gathered apart."
The evidence does not bear this out. A people "called out", or "gathered apart", is called a "convocation, assembly, or congregation" in scripture; these terms refer to people. However, the word "Church" is defined as a place (physical building), and not as a people. That is the difference. Now, a group of people may go to a Church building to worship God, but the Church building itself is not the people; the Church building itself is not the called out ones. The people in the Church may be the called our ones, but not the physical building itself.
"The early Bible Christians couldn't worship in buildings because they didn't have any and they couldn't afford it. But if they could have they would have."
Actually, the scripture does tell us that believers in Christ worshipped in buildings. But it is not called "Church," it is called a synagogue. The word "assembly" in James 2:2, and the word "congregation" in Acts 13:43, is translated from the Greek word sunagoge, which is translated as "synagogue" in all 56 other places that it appears in the New Testament books. Christ's followers were still using synagogues. The phrase "assembling together" in Hebrews 10:25, and the phrase "gathering together" in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, is translated from the Greek word episunagoge, which is very interesting: . The prefix epi means "upon", and the rest of this word is sunagoge, the exact same word used for synagogue everywhere else in the Bible. You see, the apostles were all still worshipping in synagogues! That is what scripture calls it; not Churches. We are not saying we should go to synagogues today, but the proper name for a building of worship is synagogue, because that is the term scripture uses to describe a place of to worship God Almighty.
Thank you Richard for an insightful article, well researched, prepared and delivered.
To our audience, we welcome your comments, rebuttals and any corrections you may have discovered or are knowledgeable of that will help enhance the point we are trying to make, solely to provide greater wisdom and understanding as to what does it mean when and who is being identified when we we use the word CHURCH.
For more information concerning this blog, the author and his books, please click on Joe Ortiz.