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."
Matthew 12:36-37, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
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…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."
Now, 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."
So, 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." So 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.
So, there's only one definition for ekklesia, and that's "assembly" (or "congregation"). Now, how is it possible to take the word "church" (which means a physical structure) and insert it in there? Because the word "Church" does not mean "assembly" at all! It doesn't even closely correlate.
The Origin of the word Church
It's very difficult to get an exact handle on where the word "church" popped up, but there is some writings on it.
In Vincent's Word Studies, he comments on 1 Corinthians 11:18, "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it." Concerning the phrase "in the church, " he says, "not the Church edifice, a meaning which the word never has in the New Testament and which appears first in patristic writings."
The "patristic writings" would be the Church fathers after the apostles and Christ. So that's where the word "church" popped up, and it's not in the Word of God, so obviously it's a creation of man.
In 325 AD, "The Church" joined the State under Constantine, and it was carried through the Reformation. The Reformers, were all involved in civil government, such as John Calvin who set up the civil government in Geneva. The pope was the head of the Catholic Church and he was kicked out of England, and King Henry VIII took jurisdiction over the Church. And then when the King James version was done, it was very important for them to retain the word "church" because they had jurisdiction over it, so King James made fifteen specific edicts, as far as the translation goes, and one of those edicts (edict number three) stated that this bible was to retain the word "church" in the translation and it was not to be replaced with the word "congregation." That was his specific edict. He has no jurisdiction over the congregation (people), but he does over the church (physical buildings). So you can see he never wanted the word "assembly" associated with the original meaning of the Old Testament which meant "congregation." So he knew the correct translation, obviously, but he didn't want it in there, that way they retain control over "the church."
For 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:
Psalms 22:22, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee."
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," so it's not a word that's used in the original Koine Greek, it's a modern word. So you see the problem. Also, kurioton, means "the lord's house." In the Old Testament, the phrase "the lord's house" is used three times, and it has to do with a secular lord every time (Genesis 40:7; 44:8, Isaiah 22:18). So, who is the lord we're talking about? The secular lord always had jurisdiction of the Church because it was their realm to begin with!
In Smith's Bible Dictionary from 1884, at page 452,, it says "the derivation of the word 'church' is uncertain. It is found in the Teutonic and Slavonic languages and answers to the derivatives of ekklesia, which are naturally found in the romance languages and by foreign importation elsewhere. The word is generally said to be derived from the Greek kyriakos, meaning the lord's house. But the derivation has been too hastily assumed. It is probably associated with the Scottish kirk, the Latin circus/circulous, the Greek klukos, because the congregations were gathered in circles."
And if you go into congregations that were gathered in circles, that's what the pagans did, they gathered in prayer circles, that's all pagan religions. After reading that comment, you might see why that word "Church" was adopted, because so many of the people that were being brought into the Church were of pagan origins, and they accommodated those pagans.
Smith's Bible Dictionary goes on to say, "Although kyriakos is found signifying a church, it is no more the common term used by Greeks than dominicum (the Latin word for 'church') is the common term used by Latins (in other words, it's not a common term). It is therefore very unlikely that it should have been adopted by the Greek missionaries and teachers and adopted by them so decidedly so as to be thrust into a foreign language."
What he's talking about is how all these other languages have picked up the word "church" and they all have different derivations of it. In the Anglo Saxon it's circay, in Scottish it's kirk, etc. He's saying all these different languages picked it up by the similarity of sound.
Smith's Bible Dictionary goes on to say, "further, there is no reason why the word should have passed into these two languages rather than into the Latin. The Roman Church was, in its origin, a Greek community and it introduced the Greek word for Church into the Latin tongue. But this word was not 'Church' (or dominicum), it was 'ekklesia."
In other words, the Latin has the word ekklesia, it passed from the Greek into the Latin and it stayed the same. But this other word, dominicum (church), was brought in, which is something completely different from ekklesia.
Lidellan's Scott's Greek English Lexicon confirms that the origins of the word "church" is shrouded in mystery. On defining the word "Klukos" which is one of the words church comes from, it says, "Of or for a lord or master (speaking of a secular lord). Assumed to be original of the Teutonic kirk, kirche, or church, but how this Greek name came to be adopted by the northern nations rather than the Roman name or Greek name ekklesia has not been satisfactorily explained."
We see from this Greek Lexicon that no one really knows how church got into the languages of the world to be used as a replacement for the Christ's ekklesia.
Church: "Derived from the Middle English word chirch/kirke, which is derived from the Old English word cirice (and the Old Norse kirkja), which is derived from the Germanic kirika, which is derived from the Classical Greek kyriake (oikia) which means "lord's house," and kyriakos which means "belonging to the lord," and kyrios which means "ruler," and kyros which means "supreme power," and all these words are derived from the Indo European base keu which means "a swelling, to be strong, hero," whence is derived "cave." 1. A building set apart or consecrated for public worship." Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, 1988, page 251.
Church: "The etymology of this word is generally assumed to be from the Greek, Kuriou oikos (house of God); but this is most improbable, as the word existed in all the Celtic dialects long before the introduction of Greek. No doubt the word means "a circle." The places of worship among the German and Celtic nations were always circular. (Welsh, cyrch, French, cirque; Scotch, kirk; Greek, kirk-os, etc.) Compare Anglo-Saxon circe, a church, with circol, a circle." The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894.
Church: "Derived probably from the Greek kuriakon (i.e., "the Lord's house"), which was used by ancient authors for the place of worship. In the New Testament it is the translation of the Greek wordecclesia, which is synonymous with the Hebrew kahal of the Old Testament, both words meaning simply an assembly, the character of which can only be known from the connection in which the word is found. There is no clear instance of its being used for a place of meeting or of worship, although in post-apostolic times it early received this meaning." Easton's Bible Dictionary.
The courts have ruled that "The word 'church' is used interchangeably to designate a society of persons who profess the Christian religion and the place where such persons regularly assemble for worship."
The word in Latin for ekklesia is also ekklesia, so even the Latin retained this word. When we know what the word ekklesia means, how can we take something unclean, such as "The Church," and make it clean (Job 14:4)? We can't.
So, most bible translators have interpreted the Greek word ekklesia as Church, but ekklesia has nothing to do with the word Church! Every word study and reference available all agree that the word Church does not come from the original Koine Greek word ekklesia, but comes from a late Greek word, which has a totally different meaning! So we must ask ourselves this question: "Why do bibles falsely use the word church in place of the Christ's ekklesia?
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. The laws of man have jurisdiction over the Church because they are man-made terms, and man has jurisdiction over man-made things. Whoever creates something is the same who controls something, and he retains the authority and the power to alter or destroy at will. So, if man creates an organization, no matter what he calls it, then man controls it. If God creates an organization, then He is the one who should control it.
If a church is incorporated by the State, they are legally defined as a business. And they are doing business on the so-called "Lord's day," which is prohibited by God. One of the evidences to show that they are truly a business, even if they are not incorporated, is that they want the money up front. In other words, they pass the plate before they even preach the Word of God. That's limited liability on their part, that's business, that's commercial activity, that's selling the word of God.
In other words, "I have the money up front, and if you don't like what I have to say, too bad. Even if I don't preach the Word of God, too bad. It doesn't matter, I already got my money. Besides, you won't know any different because I'm going to throw "Jesus Christ" in there now and then to make it 'sound' good. It'll look just like the Pharisees looked. I'll tickle your ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4)."
One of the original reasons for incorporating back in 1810 were things like, "I'm a pastor and I need a salary. I don't want to be paid by fee anymore. I want my guarantee of making a living at this." Which is directly against scripture. We're not supposed to make a living from the Gospel. Paul made tents! That calling was used to get him across from place to place to preach the gospel. Paul did not run up to people and say, "Hey! Give me 5 bucks and I'll tell you what it's all about." Today's pastor basically does that. When you walk into a church today, the church passes around a collection plate and basically compels you to give them money to hear what they have to say. And if you don't give any money, you are looked down upon by others. Churches have even told its congregation that it is a sin if you do not give them money (tithe). What you hear from modern pulpits is nothing more than what's called a sophist, which means "one who preaches ethics for payment." The Gospel is a life (1 Corinthians 9:14). If you are living the gospel, how do you make money off it? If you're living something you can't charge for it, because people see the witness that you bear, because you see and do things differently.
A State Church is a Church that is recognized by the State, serves the State, provides revenue for the State, and serves a public purpose that is not contrary to established public policy. State Churches are registered with the State, with tax identification numbers. State Churches are producers of revenue for the State by paying taxes to assure the alleged solvency of the tax system. Taxable organizations are answerable to the government, open to the inspection and dictates of the government. State Churches are agents of the State by confiscating and remitting to the State taxes that the State has ordered the Church to confiscate. State Churches are servants of the State by keeping records for and remitting records to the State. Most Churches today, whether incorporated or not, are State Churches.
Acts 7:44-52 is what Stephen preached just before being stoned to death. He said that God "dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:48). In other words, God does not dwell in "Churches" or any other buildings, our body is now the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells within us (Romans 8:9-11, 1 Corinthians 3:16,17; 6:19-20, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Revelation 21:3). Believers are now "God's building" (1 Corinthians 3:9, 1 Peter 2:5, Ephesians 2:19-22). We are to glorify God in our body in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24, 1 Corinthians 6:20), not in buildings made with man's hands.
Hosea 8:6, "...the workman made it; therefore it is not God."
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 (the Tax Company of the USA)
The Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service has available to the public Publication 1828, entitled "Tax Guide for Churches and Other Religious Organizations." The following excerpts are from page three of this publication. In this publication, it explains why and how the IRS acquires jurisdiction over Churches, whether they are incorporated.
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." So 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.
a) A distinct legal existence
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.
So, 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.
By Richard Anthony
This is what’s done in the USA; the world’s leading nation in many respects and the nation from which many other nations copy in many respects as well. Churches there get to enjoy tax-exemptions and other perks because they are under the laws of men. What about the churches where you are from? Is your church registered? Is your church legally recognized by the nation, the state, the world and the laws of men?
Jesus says “My Kingdom is not of this world”.
Indeed His Kingdom is not of this world nor is it recognized in this world.
But the churches of men surely are!