Part I - The Called Out Ones
(Part I of VI - Ekklesia versus church, assembly, and kings & men)
Matthew 16:18 KJV, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church (Strong’s 1577 ekklesia); and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Ephesian 2:20 KJV, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, [Yahoshua the] Christ himself being the chief corner stone;”.
1 Peter 2:4-9 KJV, “4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by [Yahoshua the] Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”.
1.a. Ekklesia is a Greek word. It is used in the New Testament, the Textus Receptus, to describe Christians. Strong's G1577 ekklesia, means "the chosen" or "the called out ones" both singular and plural. However, it is a problem because you will not find this translation of ekklesia in the King James or most any other translation of the Bible. Instead of translating ekklesia as Christian or the Body of Christ or the chosen, it is translated as church.
1.b. Church is an ambiguous word in English speaking Christendom. Church can mean only those people who are the called out ones, only those people who are born again Christians, only those people who are in the Body of Christ. But church has a whole other persona. Church has come to mean a building used as a religious meeting place. Church has come to mean a religious denomination. And in some places church has come to mean the head of authority over all participants in a particular religious system or business. These latter definitions have now forever blurred the true meaning of ekklesia. The word church has been destroyed as a proper means of describing what the New Testament teaches. Therefore, the only reasonable response is to throw out the word church in all translations and return to the use of ekklesia as it is properly defined.
2.a. Please bear with me while I explain why using church in the New Testament promotes heresy. Denominations and governing authorities over religious groups use the word church to support their organization. They claim authority over those who have been set free in Christ, and suppress them back into bondage to a church business. And they use the New Testament and the word church to do it. Let us be truthful. When you read the word church in the New Testament, what comes to your mind? That which comes to most people's mind is that church is referring to the worldly governing authority and organization that directs their religious life. This is absolutely not what the New Testament teaches when using the word church. This false concept of church was not even a concept until circa 700 AD.
2.b. Please, practice that which I do. Every time I see the word church in the Bible I translate it in my mind to ekklesia. And I keep myself fully reminded that ekklesia is referring to only Christian souls, those who are chosen or called out of the sea of humanity to be set apart as holy unto Yahowah. This single action will drastically change your perception about the doctrine of church and what is really being taught in the New Testament.
2.c. I am striving for a paradigm shift in people's perception of the meaning of church. Without this drastic change, many will forever be held in bondage to the idea of a governing church or denomination that exercises authority over their religious lives and endeavors, rather than Christ. I have yet to discover a Christian denomination or cult that does not employ the word church to enslave its members under the authority of the clergy. In the next paragraph are some stories I will share that are glaring examples of this usurped authority.
2.d. Circa 1995, having recently stopped attending a local Assembly of God church, I invited the pastor to lunch to discuss his theology with him. My relationship with him was not more than a year, but he had introduced me to my wife. Everything was fine at the lunch until I made the first hint of my concerns, that concern was his adherence to the preaching of Kenneth Copeland. He instantly went ballistic and left the meeting. In the spirit of Matthew 18:15-17, I contacted the AOG headquarters and asked for any literature regarding the "faith teachings". I considered them damnable heresies, but I did not say that to them. I did not even have a chance to say that to the local pastor, because his immediate reaction was so severe and final. He had made no attempt to clarify my concerns, instead he bolted. To my utter joy and surprise, the AOG headquarters did have a brochure on the faith teachings and in a peaceable and non-confrontational way (far gentler than the approach I would have used) explained their position. They were non-supportive of this heresy.
So, I retrieved a copy of the church membership with addresses from the church foyer, then mailed everyone a copy of the brochure. Within a week I had obtained a copy of the pastor's sermon and he was every bit as ballistic in the pulpit as he had been with me at the luncheon. One statement made from the pulpit by this pastor was "Some axx, who is dangling over the pit of hell, sent out a mailer to everyone here." The community was small enough that even though my name was not mentioned, my identity was not a secret. Nevertheless, I had not identified myself in the mailers. The fact that the mailers were provided by their denominational headquarters was all the information they needed.
Now I had been attending another AOG church in a neighboring city for a short time. A leader in this church came to me after the Sunday morning meeting and wanted to know if I had sent out the mailers. I said I did. Then he chided me for not having obtained permission from anyone at his church before doing so. I informed him that I did not need his permission, nor anyone else's. I acted in accordance with my own conscience. He walked away in a huff.
I do not attend AOG churches any longer. Every time I come into contact with one, there is such blatant disorder than it is hard to describe. Let me give you a couple of examples, since the offense far exceeds the "dangling over the pit of hell" statement. One AOG church had a video silently playing prior to a service. This video was filled with pagan images. I met with a leader of this church as well over a meal and he departed in a huff. Mind you, I do not yell or point an accusing finger in the faces of these reprobates, I speak the truth in love. And they do not want to be loved.
In another AOG church, I was listening to a sermon online and the pastor was quoting the words of a Michael Jackson song. You know, the Michael Jackson who likes to sleep with little boys and hangs his own children outside a two story window by the heels. This AOG pastor was not quoting the Bible, he was quoting MJ and ended with saying, "Tell it to us Michael." This AOG website also revealed that this pastor used numerous perverted rock stars in his sermons and posted some of their pictures on his site. When I confronted this man via email, his response was, "How dare you speak disrespectfully to a god called and ordained pastor of the gospel."
This denomination, as well as a few others with which I have much personal contact, base their authority on the word church. They are the church leaders, and we - the laity - better bow down and acknowledge it. But the doctrine of church is not in the Bible.
1 Peter 1:17 KJV, "And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:”.
3.a. Let us dig deeper into the meaning of ekklesia. Everywhere church is found in the King James New Testament (except 1 Peter 5:13) it is translated from the Greek word ekklesia. When the New Testament books were being written into the Koine Greek language of that time period, what did ekklesia mean? What did the chosen or the called out ones really refer to, or did it always refer to only Christians?
3.b. To the contemporary secular writers ekklesia meant the chosen. Robert Young, in his literal translation of the Bible translates ekklesia to assembly. This is really no different than translating ekklesia to church. The point is that ekklesia does not refer to the church as a whole or to an assembly as a whole. Instead, it refers to individuals with the same qualifying characteristics as all the other individuals in the group. When these individuals are gathered together in one common place, it then becomes an assembly of the ekklesia. It is not the gathering together of qualified individuals that make them the ekklesia. They were already ekklesia before being gathered together. But once gathered together, they are then called the assembly of the ekklesia.
Several examples follow regarding the usage of ekklesia by secular contemporaries in the first several centuries prior to and just after the coming of Christ.
(1) If a meeting was called of the Roman senate, then only senators would show up. This then could be called an assembly of the senators. Only the ekklesia would attend.
(2) If a union would have a meeting of its members, then only those members would attend. This then could be called an assembly of the union members. Only the ekklesia would attend.
(3) If a meeting was called for all Blood bought members of the Body of Christ, then only true Christians would attend. This then would be called an assembly of true believers in Christ. Only the ekklesia would attend.
3.c. In other words, to the secular writers of Biblical times, ekklesia meant the chosen or those qualified to attend. You cannot invite yourself to the senate meeting if you have not been elected or appointed as a senator. You cannot attend the union meeting if you have not qualified, been accepted and joined. You cannot attend the assembly of believers in Christ if you have not been washed in the Blood, saved from your sins and born again. You must be of the ekklesia, otherwise you will be found out and thrown out.
Matthew 22:11-14 KJV, "11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen."
4. I belong to Christ. I am a Christian. I am born again. I am a member of the ekklesia of Christ. In common usage, it would be explanatory to say I am the ekklesia. If two or more are gathered together, then we are the ekklesia. Remember, ekklesia means the chosen, both singular and plural. When I read the New Testament and see the word church, I always substitute the word ekklesia in its place. It helps me keep in perspective what is really being said.
5. Church crept into the Greek language circa 700 AD/CE. Church was derived from the Latin word Circe - check most any large dictionary. Circe is an interesting word. In Homer’s Odyssey, written circa 800 BC/BCE, we meet the witch Circe in book ten. Circe also has deeper meanings. Circe refers to a circle or circling. To make a long story short the name Circe and its expanded meanings reflect directly back to ancient paganism, which is satanism. Therefore, since church is not in the Bible, I cannot advocate for its continued usage.
6. The bottom line is that the concept of church as practiced by today's church businesses, whether as a denomination or an independent group, is not taught in the Bible.
7. We only welcome constructive input supported by Scriptures from the Bible. Please contact us by using the contact icon. Copyright © 2005 and ©2012 Richard Douglas Mauck and/or Sandra Faye Mauck. All rights reserved. This material is copyrighted to protect the integrity of this work. Permission is hereby granted to copy this treatise in its entirety as long as no editing is done, no charge is made to those with whom it is shared, and full credit is given to the authors.