Church

What does the word church mean?

The church is a beautiful thing, an allegorical bride being prepared by Christ for Christ, at what is called The Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Technically it should not really be used in any other context except with reference to the end times. However, some Bible translators were ‘obliged' to use the English word 'church' instead of ‘assembly’ in places where they should have used assembly.

The implications of this are quite serious indeed. The word ‘assembly' or ‘congregation’ didn't really support the hierarchical structures of government in the early Roman churches. So the word church was used in place of what should have been assembly. Here on we have the seemingly endless debates about what is and what is not church, because the semantics are at best misleading or wrong at worst. Today if you ask a person what church is you’ll have either building or group of people as an answer.  While we accept today that it is both, in reality we should use group, gathering or assembly. 

Theologian's understand the ramifications of properly translating the Greek word ‘ekklesia' into ‘assembly' or ‘congregation’. A correct translation exposes the unbiblical hierarchy in Churches and undermines man-made authority. The word church actually comes from the Greek word 'kyridakon' not ‘ekklesia’. 'kyridakon’ is really associated with words like building, circle, dorm; so it is a thing for containment and control rather than a living gathering of spiritual beings. There is nothing wrong with public meetings but this is not church (not ekklesia) it is kyridakon.

Uses of the word church:

Church: building (used culturally as a physical place but technically incorrect

Church: group (misleading better to use gathering)

Church: the end time bride of Christ (correct use of the word)

Ekklesia 

Ekklesia points to a gathering coming out of the home and into a public place. 

NOT structured from a public place and into the home.

Sadly many believers know little about the Bible original texts. In fairness, many are happy to be cosseted in a building, with all its trappings of security and to have a kind of church king(s) to tell them what to think. Some leaders may even argue that some people need that kind of sustenance delivery system. Theologians recognise this as a reoccurring theme throughout the Bible, that people would rather have an interface like a pastor or a leadership team and a building as a mediator between them and God: this is not God’s best plan. After reading about church check out the page discipline of God to find out why this system has never really worked.

However, the New Testament picture of the Church is quite a different scenario. Instead it presents a rough and ready yet intimately connected collection of groups. People from different class structures, moving around and fellowshipping in one another's homes. The power and self governing manifestation of the Holy Spirit came from the home. Each and every person bringing something to the gathering. Everyone was involved, everyone knew where 'everyone was at' and they helped one another.

There were public gatherings of course - however man has made this the weekly norm and a substitute for more intimate meaningful gatherings as God intended, and furthermore killed the power of intimate groups by making house groups into answerable mini versions of the bigger Sunday controlled environment - this is an unholy human creation, sinful, and not God’s best. Many of the practices of contemporary churches come from a blend of Bible truths and manmade traditions from pagan Roman political structures and workflows. 

What is the Significance of the Bible's use of the word Ekklesia?

The correct definition of the word "church" has great and far reaching implications. It precludes that there is no church hierarchy outside an assembly of believers. The only ekklesia the New Testament is a local assembly of believers. The New Testament only refers to believers universally once and this meaning and context is at the Second Coming of Christ. (Rev. 21:9). Believers are not called a church, but "the bride of Christ." At the Second Coming, there are no Church Age assemblies on earth because they will have been raptured, at the beginning of the Seven Year Tribulation.

New Testament model of Ekklesia

Fundamentally the Biblical pattern of Church is that it must originate in believer’s homes under the auspice of husband and wife (for example) as the heads and hosts. People come to the home and worship, read the word of God, prophecy  pray and heal and build up the believers. Itinerant teachers and apostles then circulate these gatherings. Occasionally people interested in the gospel will be invited to attend. In such environments fellowship is close, deception is easier to manage and people grow much faster (this is true NT discipleship ekklesia). Importantly, guests will travel within the locality to other gatherings, and there will be a cross pollination of ideas and faith and that 'city (or town or village) will be the church', because Christ has built it not men. Out of this pattern there will be public meetings (Sunday meetings perhaps?). When people set up a church as the 'main thing’ they are usurping Christ’s position and promise that HE will build his church. Corporate and public meetings must come out of the home not the other-way around. These are typically larger meetings in public places and in earshot of unbelievers. This is not a idealistic model, it is the building plan of Jesus Christ who is the builder. It may only seem idealistic because it is so far from todays common structures, and because people have got used to not seeking God on non-administrative positions in the church - which is sin because He specifically commands that non-administrative positions in the church are chosen by God. (see leadership).

Confusion around the temple era and the New Testament church

To reiterate, when people ‘set-up' a church they are usurping Christ’s position and promise that HE will build his church. The Old Testament temple period specifically involved sacrificial ritual on the part of the priest to propitiate for sin. This was done through elaborate and specific ritual. God’s revelation to His people was primarily through the prophet, the musician or the artist.

New Model

In the New Testament messianic period God calls people to individually 'be' the temple. To have the Holy Spirit, and function with the gifts that were once only manifest to prophets, musicians, artists and priests. The manmade ‘error’ alternatives are to create 'directors of peoples lives’ (in, or from, civic buildings) as is the case with many scenarios which include: father’s, pastors, leaders, leadership teams. The Bible teaches that people are to be individually taught by the Holy Spirit and live in a close context of teachers, musicians/worshippers and apostles as in the NT dispensation there must be no barrier between man and God as was the case in the various temple periods (Eg. leaders of men, prophets and kings).

There is little issue with attending a temple, church building or cathedral except that it is wrong to  believe that these places form the authority structure over peoples lives, or a hierarchical cascade down to house groups and individuals. These places are systems and machines that should serve for the public reading of the Bible, mass worship events, and the mass delivery of prophecy. The New Testament model is very clear, we are to meet in one anothers homes and the governance and authority is only from the home, from Holy Spirit filled individuals, which reaches outwards. That is why so much emphasis is made on qualifications for being a leader coming out of the relationship between husband and wife and the fruit in peoples lives around that individual or couple. The proof of this is that in the OT period God actually dwelt in the temple and walked in the camp, and the people went to the temple to be with God, and hear his voice through the prophet for example. Today God tabernacles in the hearts of individuals.

The biblical evidence (in Revelation) identifies that God regards cities and towns as churches. In his prophecy to cities. On a micro level because ‘people' are the temple; God speaks to individuals, gatherings, villages and towns in that order. Where the Holy Spirit speaks down to a church is in the case of heresy and the worship of human leaders, as clear in the scriptures. It is utterly flawed thinking to assume that because God has blessed a denomination, congregation or whatever, that this automatically means it is a correct model. God blesses because he is merciful not because we have all the answers - it is 'the He loved us first' typology. The fact remains that he has shown that format through the teaching of Paul. The fruit of that model is revival. (The Old Testament pattern of course was tribe / clan all looking to the prophet and priesthood offering sacrifices on behalf of the people. Christ has done this now through his exorbitant sacrifice!). 

Believers are to Learn both ‘milk’ and ‘meat’ Doctrines in Gatherings.

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16) 

"And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:28)

Believers - Under a ’shepherd’ in an assembly

Believers should be members of a local home gathering and under the general care of a 'risen up person or couple' called by God to shepherd that local group, culturally this was and should be the head of a household a husband. Alternatively for example Chloe, an individual woman (a spiritually single human, spiritually genderless, in equality is a valid rightful bearer of group authority). (Acts 20:28). 

The members of the group should be submissive to the head of the gathering environment, as it is their home, not necessarily because they have any special skill. Secondly the group should respect a speaker for example. All the group should be free to input, and everything must be tested. Obviously the owner can ask someone (a guest) to leave if they are being disruptive or domineering over the head of the household. This is true even if the visiting speaker is an extrovert male teacher with a PhD in Biblical Studies, and the owner is a woman or young person. The speaker must leave! There is a fine balance here, while there is no spiritual gender in single people before God, the owner (male or female) of the house is the authority in the gathering. We must remember that ‘feeding the flock’ is a Biblical term that means to teach the Word of God as a shepherd; to lead by example and only have authority to rebuke wrong paths concerning poor or false doctrine.

Below are some typical case studies that are generally observed in western circles.

Case Study A

1) As a case study gathering, Darren and Tina are a God fearing couple disappointed by the corporate church system and leave. They are happily married with faith filled teenaged boys. Tina has a gift of discernment and Darren is an avid student of the Bible. Both of them are musicians and good hosts and decide to invite another couple to their home for fellowship, and additional individuals join too. They realise they are doing the New Testament model of ecclesia! They break bread together, share testimony, read the scriptures and pray for and heal one another in Jesus name. If someone is in need they are helped by the others. They gather weekly as a group in their home. Occasionally the gathering swap around and meet in other homes at different times in the same city. The city is the ‘church’ a group of individual groups. They are not a denomination because they have fellowship with all believers.

2) Similarly Molly is a woman of God who has chose a life of celibacy and holds a group in her home. She breaks bread with her guests, she and they share testimony, read the scriptures and pray for and heal one another in Jesus name. If someone is in need they are helped by the others. They gather weekly as a group in their home. Occasionally the gathering swaps around to meet in others homes at different times in the same city. The city is the ‘church’ a group of individual groups. They are not a denomination because they have fellowship with all believers.

Discipline under the authority of the gathering

The disciplining of the unruly or believers in open sin is to be done by a local group. (Matt. 18:15-17, 2 Thess 3:6, Titus 3:10, 1 Cor. 5:1-13) The Bible lists the following:

  • False doctrine. Gal. 1:9, 2 John 10. 
  • Disregard of authority. Matt. 18:17. 
  • Contention and strife. Rom. 16:17, 1 Cor. 11:16. 
  • Immoral conduct. 1 Cor. 5:11. 
  • Disorderly walk. 2 Thess. 3:6, 11. 
  • A covetous walk. Eph. 5:5, 1 Cor. 5:11. 
  • Arrogant deportment. 3 John 9-10. Going to law. 1 Cor. 6:5-7. 

Case Study X

As a church case study, church ‘X', seems to have 'lay-by parked' itself for the following: The ‘team’ has allowed the enemy to make itself immune from the responsibility to adhere to the Biblical model for leadership and qualifications for leaders or adherence to the New Testament guidelines on worship and gathering. This has happened through the introduction of trendy western terms like 'the team’, a non Biblical name and functionality which as an unseen endgame facilitates a non-revival paradigm, because human control is at its heart.

In this model the church’s 'frame of reference' is away from resembling the Bible pattern and because of this it can never be a revival church that can sustain a long term revival. While it may have occasion inspirational gatherings (because God is merciful) these evaporate within days. It is simply a manmade gathering of wonderful and well meaning people, but without real accountability toward the Bible model because there is little that warrants accountability or intimacy with one another or the Holy Spirit to start with. Conversely there is a focus on attendance to Sunday meetings, home groups and extra Biblical works which is good in part except the model and authority is upside down biblically. Occasionally God moves in the congregation but only because he is gracious and sees the hearts of some, but in essence this is an ungodly model where man not Christ is the builder of the gathering. 

Case Study Y

As a case study church ‘Y', has become a bit of a cult for the following reasons: The pastor has allowed the enemy to make him believe that his way is the only right way and everybody else are uncommitted, lazy, ungodly believers. The pastor is a gifted inspirational speaker in his own right and this is seen by his congregation as gifting and words from God through the Holy Spirit.

Yet in private with close friends and family, the pastor is foul mouthed and emotionally cruel to his wife and dominates everyone and everything he touches. Conversely on the 'public exterior' he fits perfectly the model for leadership and qualifications for leaders. He believes that he leads his church on strict adherence to the New Testament guidelines on worship and gathering. As a result the church is both a place for lively spiritual and fleshly revival simultaneously. The fruit is a mixture of constant revival but also many victims and injured individuals who fail to maintain the speed or mandates of the pastors vision. In fact in an environment like this even the word ‘victim' is seen as failure rather than an opportunity to help and heal.

In truth (beneath the surface) this model is far away from resembling the Bible pattern and because of this it can never truly be a church of love, while it may have inspirational gatherings many injured lay in its wake. It is another example of a manmade gathering of wonderful and well meaning people for which external activity and media profile plays the most significant role in its life, but in essence again it is an ungodly gathering.

Case Study Z

As a case study church ‘Z', has become resistant to revival because the leader(s) has been unwilling to break with tradition. To risk losing everything that has seemingly worked right over the years. This model has been a well structured means of delivering a range of gifting and tasks laid out in the epistles with one vital flaw. The psyche v pneumatic (flesh v spirit) principle clearly seen from Paul’s teachings and unequivocally described in the original greek text. 

This dead church model is where the organisers and accountants who largely comprise the ‘psyche’ contingent control the direction of the church, and the people more receptive to ‘pneumatic’ dynamics like women, artists and musicians are marginalised as people with their heads in the clouds and somewhat idiotic.

This popular condition is far away from resembling the Bible pattern and because of this it can never truly be a church of Christ. It is another example of a manmade gathering of wonderful and well meaning people for which external proper conduct and well meaning involvement in the community are the focus, sadly another example of an ungodly gathering.

www.OnlyGod.co.uk URL brand was founded on 3rd July 2006. The site in its current form was created in 2014. Third party logos and URL links are for illustration purposes only. Any other logo or pictures contained on this site are also subject to Copyright law. Photos and images are either designed or privately owned or Copyright paid from Shutterstock.