Part II - Should They Form Churches?
(Part II of VI - Ekklesia versus church, assembly, and kings & men)
1.a. In Part I - The Called Out Ones, we discussed that the word church is not in the Bible. Instead, the Greek word ekklesia, that is translated into church in the Bible is an invalid translation. The ekklesia are the chosen or the called out ones, both singular and plural. In other words, true Christians, those born again and indwelt by the Holy Ghost are the ekklesia of God.
1.b. So, if the doctrine of church organizations, businesses, and denominations is not taught in the Bible, then what does the Bible teach about how the ekklesia should organize together, worship together, study the Bible together, and fellowship together? This is the question we strive to answer in Part II.
2.a. When reading through the New Testament, please pay attention to every usage of the word church. Letters were written by the Apostle Paul and other apostles and men to various cities and persons. They addressed these letters to the ekklesia. But most New Testament translations would have you believe that these letters (epistles) were written to an organized local church body. There is no evidence of this. The evidence points to groups of ekklesia meeting in a person’s home.
2.b. Not only is there no evidence of church organizations and buildings in the New Testament, there is also no instructions given by any leaders that such assemblies should be organized at that time or in the future. Nevertheless, there are ample positions of leadership amongst the ekklesia. The titles of these positions in the Body of Christ are apostle, bishop, brethren, Christian, deacon, disciple, ekklesia, elder, elect, evangelist, minister, pastor, preacher, presbyter, prophet, saint, servant, shepherd, and teacher. The function of these positions will be the subject of another teaching. But keep in mind, that these positions do not need a church to operate in; they function within the Body of Christ, i.e., within the ekklesia.
3.a. We know that Yahoshua and the Apostles and others that came later, would preach and teach anywhere that was available. They would teach in the Temple, in synagogues, in the countryside, on the street, in market places, in homes, basically anywhere. But, if the people did not seek them out in the countryside or in the streets, then their efforts were oft thwarted. In the synagogues, the Jews would kick them out and take other actions against them to keep them from changing that which they grew up with. It was not an easy first century for Christianity. Constructing their own church buildings was not practical, if even possible at all. The Jews were not the only antagonists but the pagan religions were as well, and so was the government. Nevertheless, if that is what Yahoshua wanted, He would have given them instructions to do so, and He would have provided a way for it to be done. But He did neither, nor did His disciples.
3.b. With this information in mind, it would be reasonable to assume that home gatherings were the maximum organization that was profitable for the Body of Christ. God never wanted to succumb to the organizations of men. God did not want Israel to have a king. We saw the evil that came from Nimrod setting up a kingdom, and all the other kingdoms as well. For centuries God did not even desire that a Temple be built for Him by the Hebrews. Our Father works on a more intimate basis. I must conclude that God did allow men to eventually build churches just as He allowed them to have kings. And He has worked through those organizations from time to time, but it is not His preferred method, anymore than He wanted Israel to have a king.
3.c. But it behooves us to point out that nowhere in Scripture are we instructed to organize and build churches. And, nowhere in Scripture, is any Christian church organization or building ever identified. Where the Bible appears to identify church(es) is the mistranslating of the Greek word ekklesia. In fact, the 1611 King James translators were not allowed to translate ekklesia as their education and knowledge may have directed these scholars. Instead, they were given a rule that they must translate it as “church”, period. See (located at this URL as of this writing) www.kjvonly.org/other/kj_instructs.htm rule #3. If you tie a scholars hands and refuse to allow him to follow his conscience and education, then why employ him to begin with?
4.a. If the Bible does not instruct or require us to build church businesses, then what justification do we have for doing so? I suggest that we have no justification for building churches. Moving from a home fellowship into a formal church setting changes everything. The intimacy is destroyed. The opportunity for those with specific spiritual giftings to use those gifts is often bankrupted. A church is a perfect setup for men to control other men. A church is a perfect setup for men to shirk their spiritual duties and to shirk the study of the Bible for themselves. They, like the Hebrews in the desert on the way to the Promised Land, take no responsibility to enter into a personal relationship of their own with God: Let Moses go up the mountain and speak to God for us, we don’t want to go.
4.b. In a home meeting we can question immediately, if a teacher is telling us something that we do not understand. You cannot do that in church. In a church the teacher sits in a position of authority and looks down upon the pews. Over time, the pew sitters begin to idolize their teacher, and the teacher becomes conceited and arrogant. Home gatherings keep everyone looking eye to eye and man to man. Yes, error and heresy can still enter in, but it is easier to see and to deal with and it does not infect a larger body of believers.
5.a. What did Yahoshua the Christ teach us about gathering together?
Matthew 4:17,23-25 KJV, “17 From that time [Yahoshua] began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 23 And [Yahoshua] went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. 24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. 25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.”
Yahoshua preached in the synagogues, called his apostles, and healed the sick.
Matthew 5:1 KJV, “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:”. Yahoshua preached in the open air.
5.b. Matthew 10:11-13 KJV, “11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. 12 And when ye come into an house, salute it. 13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.” Yahoshua taught his disciples to preach the gospel, but to lodge themselves in a person’s home.
Matthew 23:8-10 KJV, “8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.” Yahoshua taught that He was every believer’s Master, and that they are not to idolize or reverence other men.
Matthew 23:11-12 KJV, “11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Your leaders will be servants, not your lords.
In Matthew 28:19-20 KJV, “19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Yahoshua commanded us to go and teach and baptize all nations. No instructions were given as far as how we were supposed to organize ourselves in order to carry out these instructions.
5.c. Acts 2:14-47 was the beginning of organized Christianity. The twelve apostles were the leaders. They preached in the open air, in the Temple, and in homes. Three thousand came to believe on the first day, which was Pentecost (known to the Jews as Shavuot). But many of these new believers were from other provinces and countries. They would leave Jerusalem and go home. It was obvious that some type of structure would be needed to disciple the new believers and to add more believers to the ranks.
5.d. Here is yet another Scripture that supports how the apostles preached in the early days, prior to any elaborate organization or provisions being made for a separate and common building in which to meet. Acts 5:42 KJV, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach [Yahoshua the] Christ.”
5.e. Some of the Scriptures, such as Acts 2:41-47, 4:32-5:16, show that they did have some communal living and sharing of food and possessions. Also, miracles and ministry was done at their place of residence. But it is not taught that this was a “church” that we today have come to know in our society. Besides, not every one could have lived in one place. Acts 2:41, 4:4 alone show that there were 8,000 new believers in a very short time; and they were only counting men, so there were most likely many more if women and children were included in the count.
5.f. When complaints arose, Acts 6:1-4, then more organization was introduced. The organization was introduced, however, to free the apostle to continue in prayer and ministry. The office they created was that of a Quartermaster. A quartermaster is one who keeps track of supplies, food in this case, and its equitable distribution. This was not a new spiritual leader position being created. Thus far, it appears that we are still dealing with only the twelve apostles as spiritual leaders.
6.a. Was there a hierarchy of leaders? What role did the apostles play? Who are the elders? Who are the deacons? Who are the bishops (overseers)? Who are the pastors? Were they elected or appointed?
6.b. The Greek word episkope is used four times in the New Testament. Twice it is translated as visitation. Twice it is translated as bishop. Acts 1:20 KJV, “For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick (Strong’s G1984 episkope) let another take.” 1 Timothy 3:1 KJV, “This is a true saying, if a man desire the office* of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” In Acts 1:20 the word bishoprick is used to identify the work of an apostle. Peter is making his case for replacing Judas Escariot. I need a better lexicon, but the best I can determine that episkope means superintend by visitation.
*NOTE: The word office is not there in the Greek. The translator (actually it appears that Richard Bancroft inserted this word office into the text after the translators were dismissed) made this word up (and thereby was attempting to establish a non-biblical doctrine).
What type of leaders should we be looking for? Mark 10 gives us some answers. Mark 10:42-45 KJV, “42 But [Yahoshua] called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. 43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. 45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Parallel passage is Luke 22:25-27.
Here is an example of leaders being servants. John 13:13-17 KJV, “13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”
The Holy Ghost is our true teacher. Yes, those with the gift of teaching can help us; they can impart information to us; but we must never forget, that the Holy Spirit must quicken this information to us. Our spirit and the Holy Spirit within us must come into agreement on those things taught to us by men. And how do we commune with the Holy Ghost and get confirmation from Him? We do it by studying the Scriptures that pertain to the topic at hand and by prayer. We pray by asking God for guidance and then we listen to Him to see if He will impart to us the answer to our prayer for wisdom. Do not be discouraged if the answer is not immediate. Many times those answers that I do receive come hours or days later, sometimes years go by. But in the meantime, I keep asking throughout the day and during my routine activities. John 14:16-17,26 KJV, “16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
What does Yahoshua, in the Scriptures, tell us about asking for wisdom? Matthew 7:7-8 KJV, “7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Parallel passage is Luke 11:9-10. James 1:5 KJV, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
Also, your teacher must be teaching by the Holy Ghost. He cannot do this unless he is truly born again and infilled with the Holy Ghost. He cannot do this if he is following a script prepared for him by the denominational headquarters or if he went online to sermons.com to look for a topic to teach on. He must teach that which the Holy Ghost gives him to teach. 1 Corinthians 2:13 KJV, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
6.c. After teaching us that the original twelve apostles were leaders in the early days of Christianity, especially since Judas Iscariot was replaced by Matthias in Acts 1:26, the next time any discussion of men as leaders in Christianity was brought up was in Acts 14:23 KJV, “And when they had ordained them elders (Strong’s G4245 presbyteros) in [the ekklesian], and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” The Greek word presbyteros means elder, one who because of age and experience is expected to be wiser than those who are younger. However, it must be admitted that all were new believers in Christ, both young and old. These elders could not have had any more experience in dealing with the doctrines of Christ than those they were appointed over. But a beginning was made. Plus, do not forget, those who are appointed over others are to minister to others. In other words, they were to serve others, not become bossy or dictatorial, nor lording it over those they were given charge to. Obviously there had to be open discussion about issues. And when disagreements arose that could not be settled, because of the immaturity of all new believers, then - it would seem reasonable - they would have to resort to the elders to contact in person or in writing, an apostle.
No other instructions are given yet. No instructions were given to build church buildings. The apostles were still teaching in the Jewish synagogues, in homes, and in open areas. No indication was even given if these new believers were introduced to the ideas that were common in Jerusalem in the the early days: Communal living and sharing of resources. Although, some of the new believers that were evangelized may well have already been previously evangelized on a trip to Jerusalem. The point is that the Scriptures are thus far silent on these issues of organizing.
6.d. Paul and Barnabas returned to Jerusalem. An organization was growing there. Acts 15:4 KJV, “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the [ekklesias], and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.” We see here that the believers were referred to as the ekklesia, the apostles were given separate recognition as were the elders. Yet still no mention is made of a church. What is interesting and even astounding though, is the fact that the apostles were still operating in Jerusalem. After Stephen was stoned, followed by the apostle James being slain by Herod, then Peter being imprisoned and slated for death by Herod, many believers fled the city. But many were apparently still there. We can only assume that they were no longer going to the Temple to preach and teach, and it is highly doubtful that they had a church building erected or purchased to meet in. I would suspect they were somewhat in hiding. But I must admit, with the Scriptures being silent regarding their security from the Jews and from Herod, I can only assume that they were receiving supernatural protection from God.
6.e. In Paul’s epistle to the Romans he speaks to the need of a preacher. Romans 10:14 KJV, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher (Strong’s G2784 kerysso)?” This Greek word kerysso refers to one who proclaims the gospel with authority. I cannot relate this, however, to one who officiates over an assembly or church of believers. A kerysso will preach and teach with authority to people, but that does not establish that preacher with an administrative office of being in charge of an assembly. At least not at the time in history that Romans was written.
6.f. Paul mentions two more apostles in Romans 16:7 KJV, “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”
6.g. 1 Corinthians 3:5 KJV, “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers (Strong’s G1249 diakonas) by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?” Here Paul is calling himself a minister. Yet, the Greek word diakonas is actually the word for deacon. A deacon is one who serves, a servant. And this is also what a minister does, he serves, he is a servant. But it is obvious that Paul is also an Apostle. Apollos is not identified in the Scriptures, but his name comes up a lot. He most likely is an evangelist, preacher, and teacher. And now he too is described as a deacon/minister. But these two men, Paul and Apollos, serve the ekklesia, the Body of Christ. They are not assigned to a local congregation. Indeed, congregations or assemblies or churches do not appear to have existed at this point in the history of Christianity. These ministers were still going into the synagogues, in the open air, and in the home of believers to preach and teach. Having an organized church did not seem to be a priority, or even much of a thought, to these early leaders of the ekklesia. And, did the ekklesia suffer harm from this lack of organization? Apparently less than we suffer today with church businesses and denominations. New believers were being added to the ekklesia all the time. These new believers were admonished to devote themselves to Christ, not to a minister.
6.h. Following is a group of verses that explain how the New Testament ekklesia were ministered to. This epistle was written to the ekklesia in Corinth, not to a church. 1 Corinthians 3:3-11 KJV, “3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is [Yahoshua the] Christ.” So, it would appear that several apostles and evangelists would be itinerant preachers and teachers to the various cities. Apostles were to lay down the foundation which is Christ. All doctrine added to this must compliment the foundation and be worthy of that foundation which is Christ.
6.i. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5,11-12 KJV, “4 In the name of our Lord [Yahoshua the] Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord [Yahoshua the] Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord [Yahoshua]. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?” It is clear that the group of believers in Corinth were expected to have some organization and a system of self-government. They were expected to take disciplinary action against one of their own if that person entered into serious sin. Yet the serious sins listed here disqualify one from being a brother. Paul says not to judge these that are not brothers, instead, simply have nothing to do with them.
6.j. 1 Corinthians 9:14,18-19 KJV, “14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. 19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.”
6.k. Galatians 1:19 KJV, “But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.” James, the half-brother of Yahoshua, became an apostle. This tells us that the original twelve apostles were not the only ones to hold this title.
7.a. Without any teaching given in the New Testament, suddenly in Acts 9:31 the KJV would have us believe that there were church organizations everywhere. Acts 9:31 KJV, “Then had the [ekklesiai] rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” When in actuality, the ekklesia were the ones receiving rest, not a church business.
7.b. Look at Acts 9:26 KJV, “And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.” Paul did not seek out a local church, not at all. He sought out the disciples, the ekklesia. No doubt, some organization was in place and more was to come. But this was the beginning of Christianity. Highly structured organizations, denominations, and meeting halls and buildings were not part of their makeup at this time in history. And it was not being taught. Until the Jewish leaders threw them out, time and again, the Christians did much of their preaching in the temple.
7.c. God did not tell the Ethiopian eunuch to seek out a local church. Acts 8:27-28 KJV, “27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.” Instead, He dispatched Philip to go and teach the eunuch the gospel of Christ.
7.d. Cornelius the centurion in Acts 10, was not instructed to seek out a local church. Instead, he sent for the apostle Peter. Then Cornelius filled his home with people to hear that which Peter would tell them.
7.e. In Acts 13 Paul and Barnabus were still preaching in the local synagogues. They still considered their ministry to be an extension of, a change in, and a continuation of Judaism. Christianity’s breaking with Judaism was caused by those Jews who rejected their Messiah and ousted the Christians. It was not the Christians who volunteered to leave the synagogues. Plus, new Gentile believers never went to the synagogues or temple to begin with; therefore, they did not begin to go just because they became born again. They were Gentiles, they were not welcomed into the Jewish places of worship, especially since they were not devoted to the teachings of Moses, but instead were followers of Christ.
7.f. Acts 20:17 KJV, “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders (Strong’s G4245 presbyteros) of the [ekklesias].” In this verse we see what has apparently become a common theme. Paul has returned to Ephesus where he had previously evangelized. Elders, from among the ekklesia, were now present in Ephesus. Please keep in mind, that no single person was identified as being in charge, or being the head pastor. Although, when men group together, it is inevitable that leaders, even one main leader will eventually surface and have more influence that the rest. This is evident at the council in Jerusalem where repeatedly we find that James (possibly the brother of Yahoshua or the apostle James son of Alphaeus, but not the apostle James the brother of John for he had been killed by Herod) appears to be presiding over the group as chairman. James sums things up and issues the decisions of the group. But he is never identified as a chairman, apostle, or pastor.
Then in verse 28 Paul refers to these elders as overseers. Paul gives the credit to the Holy Ghost as the One Who appointed these elders/overseers. Acts 20:28 KJV, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers [Strong’s G1985 episkopos], to feed the [ekklesian] of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Thayer’s Greek lexicon makes the claim that bishops, elders, and overseers are used interchangeably in the New Testament. I have studied this out in some companion treatises and agree with Thayer. I can see that episkopos means bishop and that means it is an overseer.
But listen to this strong warning that Paul gives, and this warning smacks at the heart of the topic of this treatise. Acts 20:29-31 KJV, “29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Evil men, described as grievous wolves, will seek to draw other men to themselves. These evil men are thieves, stealing the souls of other men. In order to do this, they must by subtlety take yours eyes off Yahoshua and have you fix yours eyes on them, or on another gospel that on the surface appears to be the real gospel.
7.g. As Paul continues his journey we come across Philip the evangelist, one of the seven quartermasters appointed in Jerusalem in the beginning, Acts 6:5. He is no longer living in Jerusalem nor, apparently, performing his quartermaster duties. It is understandable. Many fled from Jerusalem after the stoning of Stephen, the slaying of the apostle James, and the imprisonment of Peter. Philip now lived in Caesarea and he had four daughters which did prophesy. Acts 21:8 KJV, “And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.”
8. Romans 16:5 KJV, “Likewise greet the [ekklesian] that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.” Even though the translations says “church” I have substituted “ekklesia”. The ekklesia are the individuals, not a congregation and definitely not a church in a person’s home. If anything, it is more like a bible study group. A modern book, can give great insight as to how these groups probably operated. Please obtain and read The Heavenly Man written by brother Yun.
1 Corinthians 11:34 KJV, “And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.” The apostle Paul takes charge here. He does not advise them to fix things, he dictates: “I will set in order when I come.” There is no question that he is in charge, but not as a local pastor, but as an itinerant apostle. This is one of the things that an apostle does, he is the guardian and expositor of correct biblical doctrine. Nevertheless, every believer is expected to do as the Bereans did. Acts 17:10-11 KJV, “10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
9. There is a sharp contrast in the way the ekklesia Jews of Jerusalem initially interacted with one another and the way the non-jews of Corinth did. In Jerusalem they shared their assets with one another and helped met each others’ needs. In Corinth, under the guise of reliving the Last Supper, were bringing food to their gatherings, picnic lunches so to speak, and eating. There apparently was no sharing going on and the poor were left to sit there and have nothing while those who brought their own food feasted.
1 Corinthians 14:26-32 KJV, “26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the [ekklesia]; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” As can be seen in these passages, there appears to be no central leader, such as a pastor. Everyone is expected to participate in the service. I have attended congregations that operated this way, but under the watchful eye of a pastor. But in verse 29 is states: “[L]et the other judge.” It does not say, let the pastor judge.
10.a. 1 Corinthians 16:19 KJV, “The [ekklesiai] of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the [ekklesia] that is in their house.” Once again, Paul is referring to the believers that meet in Aquila and Priscilla’s house. That does not rule out that believers meet in other homes in the same city. No mention is made of a church building that believers meet in.
10.b. First and second Corinthians leave us with a generalization about organization. Having a hierarchy does not seem to be a priority. Yes, here is an itinerant apostle. Yet, when this apostle writes to them, or sends a proxy in his place, he addresses the ekklesia, not a pastor, nor elders. 1 Corinthians 1:2 KJV, “Unto the [ekklesia] of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ [Yahoshua], called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of [Yahoshua the] Christ our Lord, both their's and our’s:”. 2 Corinthians 1:1 KJV, “Paul, an apostle of [Yahoshua the] Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the [ekklesia] of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:”. In fact, this salutation cannot possibly be in one group or church of believers. Achaia is a province, possibly the size of the modern day country of Greece.
10.c. Galatians 1:2 KJV, “And all the brethren which are with me, unto the [ekklesiais] of Galatia:”. As in Corinthians, so it continues in Galatians; Paul addresses the ekklesia in his epistle rather than a pastor or even a group of elders.
10.d. Ephesians 1:1 KJV, “Paul, an apostle of [Yahoshua the] Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ [Yahoshua]:”. This epistle is addressed, not to the church (i.e., the ekklesia), nor to a pastor, nor to any elders or bishops or deacons. It is addressed to the saints. The saints are those who have been born again, washed in the Blood of Yahoshua, indwelt by the Holy Ghost, and have become a new creation.
11. In Ephesians chapter four, we have some information given to us that explains the organization within the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:1-16 KJV, “1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles (Strong’s G652 apostolos); and some, prophets (Strong’s G4396 prophetes); and some, evangelists (Strong’s G2099 euaggelistes); and some, pastors (Strong’s G4166 poimen) and teachers (Strong’s G1320 didaskalos); 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 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: 14 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; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 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.” Please notice in verse 12 that the purpose of the men who have the gifts as described in verse 11 is (1) for perfecting the saints, (2) for the work of the ministry, and (3) for edifying the body of Christ. We already know that apostles are leaders - but not over a single local gathering. We see prophets operating in the body of Christ everywhere, but they are not necessarily made into leaders just because they have a spiritual gift. Evangelists are everywhere just as prophets are. So, we come to pastors (Strong’s G4166 poimen) and teachers. Pastors are shepherds and they guard and lead the flock.
12.a. But now the hard part comes. Paul warns us in Acts 20:29 that grievous wolves will come in and seek to gather people to themselves. It is every believer's individual responsibility not to sit under the guidance and teaching of a wolf. A wolf is motivated by his stomach.
12.b. Philippians 1:1 KJV, “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of [Yahoshua the] Christ, to all the saints in Christ [Yahoshua] which are at Philippi, with the bishops (Strong’s G1985 episkopos) and deacons (Strong’s G1249 diakonos):” This is the first epistle which we have come to so far that specifically addresses more than the ekklesia. The salutation is given to bishops and deacons as well. An episkopos is an overseer, or supervisor. A diakonos appears to be in a position lesser than that of an episkopos. Therefore, if a bishop is an overseer, one of the things he oversees is a deacon.
12.c. Rather than follow men or a church, Paul urged his listeners to follow after God as he did. Philippians 3:17 KJV, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”
12.d. Philippians 4:22 KJV, “All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.” Here again, Paul refers to the saints that meet at a particular person’s home, rather than a church. It would seem reasonable, as people grew in number that they might seek out a larger place in which to meet, rather than a home. But I do not think we should go there. If we leave a home setting and begin attending a church, then we have lost a great deal that cannot be recovered: The close friendships are gone, the intimacy is gone, the fellowship is gone. I remember as far back as Chino Valley during the nineties, talking to a home bible study leader who was considering expanding his home gathering to a building. He asked, “What do you think, Rick?” And I replied that when a home outgrows the space that a group meet in, then they need to start meeting in two different homes, not start a church. Failure to do so limits those people who can operate in the gifts as listed in Ephesian 4:11 as well as other places in the New Testament. There will be fewer pastors and teachers, fewer evangelists, and fewer prophets. Go to a large church setting and the lectern and platform have a tendency to become a show. And the people who occupy the platform tend to become more elevated above everyone else. They become more professional, until they become employees of the church rather than servants to the Body of Christ.
I have attended so-called home churches, in fact, I was a mini-church leader/pastor, as defined by the mother church, for awhile in the late eighties. I prepared myself by attending as many of the home fellowships that I could. Every Wednesday night I would go to a different one. This was a very large church and they had over fifty mini-churches (as they called them) meeting throughout the cities every week. Unfortunately, the support from the leadership at the main church was not available. They were too busy taking care of their business at the main church. They had put this system together but failed to have some apostles circulate from time to time. There was a script given out from the main church from last Sunday’s meeting. We were supposed to go through it and discuss it on Wednesdays. But few, if any, really did this. Most of these home groups were very warm and friendly and I enjoyed the fellowship. They ranged in size from about 4 or 5 to 20 or more and of course everything inbetween. It had the potential to be the best of both worlds: home groups that could all meet together in a common place.
12.e. Not all churches that tried this approach were successful, actually I would have to surmise that even the one mentioned above was not a huge success story.
In some places, such as Chino Valley, the leadership in some churches lacked vision and confidence in the Holy Spirit. They got nervous, “What are those people doing out there when we (the leadership) are not watching them?” They tried to control the home fellowships and basically killed them. It has been my experience that the Assembly of God churches want to exert control over everyone. Even though I have not attended one with any frequency, I quickly discerned that controlling spirit in the many other churches as well. I am only scratching the surface here.
13. Colossians 1:18 KJV, “And he is the head of the body, the [ekklesias]: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” There is no mystery here about who the head of the ekklesia is.
Colossians 4:15 KJV, “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the [ekklesian] which is in his house.” Once again, a home gathering.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 KJV, “12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” These two verses reinforce the concept that there are of course leaders amongst the ekklesia. These leaders are to be esteemed, basically respected. They are not to be idolized. And the ekklesia are not to bury their head in the sand and let these leaders be unaccountable. That is why standards are published in 1 Timothy 3 as to their proper behavior.
2 Thessalonians 3:3-6,10 KJV, “3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. 5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. 6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord [Yahoshua the] Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” Here is a case that shows that the Apostle Paul expected obedience. Not that he could enforce obedience, but it was apparently a very important point. And since he established a precedence of working himself, he certainly did not deem it appropriate that no one else would fail to work for their own food. I strongly suspect that he was especially referring to local leaders such as shepherds, bishops, deacons and elders.
1 Timothy 3:1 KJV, “This is a true saying, if a man desire [to be] a bishop (Strong’s G1985 episkopos), he desireth a good work.” Episkopos means overseer, one who directs others. The words “the office of” are not in the text, they are made up out of thin air. Please refer to your Bible to see the words of “the office of” in this verse.
1 Timothy 3:8 KJV, “Likewise must the deacons (Strong’s G1249 diakonos) be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;”. Diakonos means servant.
2 Timothy 1:11 KJV, “Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” Here is an example of some men having more than one gift or position.
2 Timothy 3:15 KJV, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ [Yahoshua].” Here is an example, that some have spent many years in the Christian faith.
2 Timothy 4:22 KJV, “The Lord [Yahoshua the] Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the [ekklesias] of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time.” Here is evidence, that when a city or various locations grow in number, that a bishop is ordained. A bishop is an overseer. This could mean that there were two or more households in which the ekklesia would meet in this city.
Titus 1:5-9 KJV, “5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” These cities in Crete apparently had many ekklesia. Titus was to give them leaders, elders which are also called bishops. This certainly appears that some sense of order and organization was desirable. The natural course of events, at least from our current day perspective, would be that the home fellowships would eventually enlarge. But I do not see this being directed by anyone up to this point in the New Testament. So far, we only read about home fellowships, except when someone goes to the Hebrew Temple or synagogues to preach.
Titus 2:15 KJV, “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” Titus was left in Crete to ordain elders (bishops) in every city (Titus 1:5).
Titus 3:15 KJV, “All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen. It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the ekklesia of the Cretians, from Nicopolis of Macedonia.” Titus was a bishop (elder) given the authority by an apostle (Paul) to go and appoint other bishops (elders).
Philemon 2 KJV, “And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the [ekklesia] in thy house:” Once again, this epistle is addressed to a home gathering.
Hebrews 3:1 KJV, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ [Yahoshua];” Christ is referred to as an apostle.
Hebrews 3:6 KJV, “But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Highly significant, a point that most Christians know: We are God’s house.
Hebrews 13:7,17 KJV, “7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” But we have a choice as to who we submit to. We must judge who is a truthful and anointed teacher by learning to discern the Scriptures for ourselves. See our teaching on Hebrews 13:17.
James 5:14 KJV, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the [ekklesias]; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:”. Here we are shown one of the duties of an elder(s). Has that ever happened at your church? Do the elders come together and pray over a sick person, in person. This requires a personal visit. Sitting in a pew at a church and praying is not what is being described here. How can you anoint the sick with oil if you are not with them in person? This requires a commitment to your position of authority that goes beyond going to a church service every Sunday and Wednesday, rather it describes a new way of life. And, it still does not describe that a gathering of believers takes place in a church building.
1 Peter 2:25 KJV, “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” Here our Lord and Savior is described as a Shepherd (pastor) and a Bishop (overseer aka an elder).
1 John 2:26-27 KJV, “26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” We cannot deny that teachers are a good thing, the New Testament has many Scriptures that confirm this. However, this Scripture says that we do not need someone to teach us. This must be addressing the part where false teachers are seducing you (verse 26). But you have the anointing (verse 27), the Holy Ghost in you if you are born again. And with Him as your guide, you should have the discernment about false teachers and false doctrine. But of course, this must be combined with much prayer and Bible study. God can pop anything He wants into your head for you to gain instant knowledge. But we see Him working in a much different way most of the time. We see Him taking us through the dense forest and through the quicksand, we see Him making us work hard to gain our knowledge - so we do not take it for granted and so that we do not forget it. Also, it proves to us (the Father already knows) how much we desire the knowledge so that we can better serve the Living God.
1 Corinthians 3:5 KJV, “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers (Strong’s G1249 diakonos) by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?” Here Paul is calling himself a minister. Yet, the Greek word diakonos is actually the word for deacon.
Acts 1:20 KJV, “For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick (Strong’s G1984 episkope) let another take.” 1 Timothy 3:1 KJV, “This is a true saying, if a man desire [to be]* a bishop, he desireth a good work.” In Acts 1:20 the word bishoprick is used to describe the gift of an apostle. Peter is making his case for replacing Judas Escariot. I need a better lexicon, but the best I can determine that episkope means superintend by visitation. Romans 10:14 KJV, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher (Strong’s G2784 kerysso)?” This Greek word kerysso refers to one who proclaims the gospel with authority.
*NOTE: The words “the office of” are not in the Bible.
Acts 14:23 KJV, “And when they had ordained them elders (Strong’s G4245 presbyteros) in [the ekklesian], and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” The Greek word presbyteros means elder.
14. Ephesians 4:11 speaks of pastors (Strong’s G4166 poimen). Poimen are shepherds.
Ephesian 4:11 KJV, “And he gave some, apostles (Strong’s G652 apostolos); and some, prophets (Strong’s G4396 prophetes); and some, evangelists (Strong’s G2099 euaggelistes); and some, pastors (Strong’s G4166 poimen) and teachers (Strong’s G1320 didaskalos);”. Apostolos is an ambassador of the gospel, aka a messenger.
And he gave some, apostles (Strong’s G652 apostolos); and some, prophets (Strong’s G4396 prophetes); and some, evangelists (Strong’s G2099 euaggelistes); and some, pastors (Strong’s G4166 poimen) and teachers;". A prophetes is a messenger from God who relays God’s word, often foretelling the future, and exercising other spiritual gifts including healings and other signs and wonders.
And he gave some, apostles (Strong’s G652 apostolos); and some, prophets (Strong’s G4396 prophetes); and some, evangelists (Strong’s G2099 euaggelistes); and some, pastors (Strong’s G4166 poimen) and teachers;". An euaggelistes is a herald of salvation through Yahoshua the Christ.
And he gave some, apostles (Strong’s G652 apostolos); and some, prophets (Strong’s G4396 prophetes); and some, evangelists (Strong’s G2099 euaggelistes); and some, pastors (Strong’s G4166 poimen) and teachers (Strong’s G1320 didaskalos);". A poimen (pastor) is a shepherd.
And he gave some, apostles (Strong’s G652 apostolos); and some, prophets (Strong’s G4396 prophetes); and some, evangelists (Strong’s G2099 euaggelistes); and some, pastors (Strong’s G4166 poimen) and teachers (Strong’s G1320 didaskalos);". A didaskalos is a teacher.
15. 1 Timothy 4:14 KJV, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery (Strong’s G4244 presbyterion).” Presbyterion means the body of elders.
1 Timothy 5:17 KJV, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.”
There is not a church anywhere that will listen to this preaching. It means they would have to close their doors, sell their building, and break-up into home fellowships. Where is the pastor who is willing to let go of his flock and his income and retirement? Did the Hebrews ever repent before Yahowah and say, “We’re sorry. We should not have asked for a king. Give us back our prophets and judges and get rid of these evil kings (more of them were evil than righteous).” No, they never did. Besides, the kings have the power, the money, the armies; they will not give up their kingdom. The day will come that the kingdom will be ripped from their dying fingers and so will the corrupt church leaders have their dead churches ripped from their dying fingers too. God will not be mocked. Judgment is coming.
16. We have additional teachings on this subject. Please ask for “Ekklesia Versus Church And Assembly Part I - Ekklesia Defined” (aka KJV Translations VII - Ekklesia, Part I), “Ekklesia Versus Church And Assembly, Part II - Where Did The English Word Church Come From?” (aka KJV Translations VII - Ekklesia, Part II), “Kings and Churches I”, “Kings and Churches II”, and “KJV Translations Part VIII - Elect”.
17. We only welcome constructive input supported by Scriptures from the Bible. Please contact us by using the contact icon. Copyright ©2005 and ©2012, ©2016 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.
In Christ Yahoshua,