‘I also tell you this: you are Kefa,’ [which means ‘Rock,’] ‘and on this rock I will build my Community, and the gates of Sh’ol will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.’ ~ Matthew 16:18-19, CJB
And he told them yet another parable. ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with a bushel of flour, then waited until the whole batch of dough rose.’ ~ Matthew 13:33, CJB
It seems that almost every month there are well-known spiritual leaders in various mega churches who are praying either for a real move of the Holy Spirit (a real move of God) or for some kind of revival. It seems odd to this blogger that these spiritual leaders just keep praying for something God already is doing on this Earth with the Lord’s Body of believers.
For sure, God definitely is moving in His children via His Holy Spirit, and God absolutely is coordinating a revival to beat all revivals. The move of the Holy Spirit (or move of God) and the revival that God is doing on this Earth involve Father God reawakening His children to the first-century believers’ deep-rooted understanding of and genuine desire to be obedient to the Lord’s intent for His Ekklesia. Put differently, God clearly is restoring His sons and daughters’ interest in and/or their attitude about the Lord’s Ekklesia.
Now, contrary to today’s popular opinions about “The Church,” there truly are distinct differences between the conventional sense of “The Church,” which indisputably is a man-made organization, and the original intent of the Lord’s Ekklesia. These differences between today’s institutional “church” and the Lord’s perception of His Ekklesia are evident from the moment that Christ Jesus says to Peter:
…‘you are Kefa,’ [which means ‘Rock,’] ‘and on this rock I will build my Community, and the gates of Sh’ol will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.’ ~ Matthew 16:18-19, CJB
In the above Complete Jewish Bible’s version of the quoted verses, the English word Community is the equivalent translation for the Greek word Ekklesia. Thus, it should be noted here that, throughout the New Testament Scriptures, it is obvious that the Lord intended for His Ekklesia to be a Community of believers—to be a Tabernacle of God, which means a Temple not made by human hands. Without doubt, this Temple not made by human hands is exactly what the Lord intended for His Ekklesia, because He says:
…‘I will destroy this Temple made with hands; and in three days I will build another one, not made with hands.’ ~ Mark 14:58, CJB
For sure, even though it was the Lord’s enemies who conspired to have Him crucified, none of His enemies could have crucified Him if Christ Jesus Himself did not allow it to happen—if the Lord had not surrendered His Will to the Perfect Will of Father God. So then, in the above-cited verse, Christ Jesus is saying that, even though His enemies’ hands would be responsible for destroying His Temple or Body (His sacred edifice or sanctuary), which He has to allow to happen, His Father’s spiritual hands would be responsible for resurrecting His Temple or Body (His sacred edifice or sanctuary). Put differently, He is saying that by His resurrection He would become the new Temple of God, which was not made by human hands. In other words, Christ Jesus is, and always was, the true Tabernacle of God!
Furthermore, because of the Lord’s atoning sacrifice, His burial, and His resurrection, all believers in Him receive new life, salvation, sanctification, and glorification. More important, all believers in Christ Jesus also have become the Tabernacle of God, because for the first time since the beginning of mankind God now tabernacles inside of His children (inhabits their physical bodies), in the person of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul confirms this Divine Truth, for he writes:
Or don’t you know that your body is a temple for the Ruach HaKodesh who lives inside you, whom you received from God? The fact is, you don’t belong to yourselves; ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19, CJB
Now concerning the differences between the institutional “church” of today and the Lord’s original intent for His Ekklesia, the truth is that, first off, the early assembly of believers didn’t have any clergy who were distinct from the rest of the Body of believers. Clergy with titles and authority was foreign to the early believers in Christ Jesus, because no one was having a power trip.
Secondly, just as foreign to the early assembly of believers is the idea of worshipping and fellowshipping in a sacred building—in a House of God. Perhaps this foreign idea is why the New Testament Scriptures NEVER describe any sacred buildings in which born again, saved, and being sanctified Christians are worshipping and fellowshipping. In fact, it wasn’t until after Emperor Constantine ordered the construction of the great sacred worship building, the old Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the construction of which started around 324 A.D., that other physical structures in which believers would worship God and/or fellowship with one another began to be built.
The bottom line is that no one can find in the Greek New Testament Scriptures any descriptions of any “churches” with steeples, stained glass windows, sanctuaries, pews, foyers, baptisteries, choir rooms, class rooms, bathrooms, offices, banks, spas, gymnasiums, or reception halls. Why is that? Well, the Divine Truth is that nowhere in the New Testament Scriptures is there any reference to a “church”—neither a building nor an institutional “church” organization!
Furthermore, the late Greek word “kyriDakon,” which is transliterated as “kuriakon” (literally meaning “the lord or master of a property”), cannot be found anywhere in the Greek New Testament, and yet many word scholars claim that the term “church” comes from “kuriakon”! The Greek word that is found in earlier New Testament manuscripts is “kuriakos” (the possessive form of the root word kurios). Thus, it is from “kuriakos” and not “kuriakon” that the Old English language gets the word “cirice,” and it is from the Old English word “cirice” that the Middle English language gets the word “chirche.”
Then too, the modern English word “church” descends from the Middle English word “chirche,” which is from the Old English word “cirice.” As already mentioned, word scholars claim that the modern English word “church,” which is used in the King James Version of the Holy Bible, descends from the late Greek word “kyriDakon” or “kuriakon,” because supposedly this Greek word is a derivative of “kuriakos”—a Greek word that originally was used to describe “things belonging to the Roman Emperor.”
Now, if “kyriDakon” or “kuriakon” is NOT in the Greek New Testament, then how could “kuriakon” be used for the Greek word ekklesia, especially since the King James Version of the Holy Bible does not translate the Greek word “kuriakos” as “church”? “Kuriakos” loosely means “belonging to the Lord,” and in the only 2 places in the Greek New Testament Scriptures where “kuriakos” is used this Greek word is translated as “Lord’s”: 1. in1 Corinthians 11:20, as in the Lord’s supper; and 2. in Revelation 1:10, as in the Lord’s Day.
The hard truth is that of the 112 times that the New Testament Greek word ekklesia is translated in the English versions of the Holy Bible as “church,” ekklesia never suggests the idea of a “church” building or an institutional “church” organization. While the late Greek word “kuriakon,” from which “church” supposedly is derived, pertains to a physical building or physical property, the Greek word ekklesia never is used to describe a physical building in which believers worship and fellowship.
The true sense of the Lord’s Ekklesia either describes the “called-out” ones of Christ Jesus, or the Community of believers, or the special assembly of God. Once again, ekklesia never is used anywhere in the Greek New Testament to describe today’s “church” buildings, and ekklesia never is used to describe an established religious system! Bottom line is that the Greek words “kuriakon” and ekklesia are not synonymous; these Greek words do not mean the same thing, so it is reprehensible to replace ekklesia with the word “church”!
Furthermore, based on how the Greeks used ekklesia and how the Romans used ecclesia, it appears that the Greeks and the Romans had similar meanings for their words. By ekklesia, the Greeks meant a ruling body, which governed a city, territory, or nation. By ecclesia, the Romans meant that the called out Roman citizens would go into a conquered territory and teach the defeated people the language and culture of Rome, until everyone in said territory walked, talked, and behaved like the Romans.
Based on the Greek and Roman meanings for ekklesia/ecclesia, there can be no doubt that the way Christ Jesus uses the word Ekklesia, when He declares to Peter that the Lord would be the foundation upon which Christ Himself would build His Community of believers, is to express His original intent for His Ekklesia. That original intent for His Ekklesia is that the Lord expects every Ekklesia to be a Community of believers—disciples who not only are concerned about the world, from a Christ-like perspective, but also are representing the Kingdom of God on this Earth in such a way that they are causing the entire world to conform to the culture of the Lord’s Ekklesia. In other words, Christ Jesus’ original intent for His Ekklesia is that each Community of called-out believers would be changing the world until everyone in the world begins to walk, talk, and act like true believers in Christ are supposed to walk, talk, and act.
Additionally, the Lord’s original intent for His Ekklesia is that each Community of called-out believers would be like Kingdom of Heaven’s Leaven, as well as like Kingdom of Heaven Salt and Light. The Lord says:
…‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with a bushel of flour, then waited until the whole batch of dough rose.’ ~ Matthew 13:33, CJB
You are salt for the Land. But if salt becomes tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except being thrown out for people to trample on. You are light for the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Likewise, when people light a lamp, they don’t cover it with a bowl but put it on a lampstand, so that it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:13-16, CJB
What the Lord is declaring in the above verses is that everyone in each one of His Ekklesia is responsible for heavenizing this entire Earth. In other words, every one of God’s Household of faith children is expected to be in a participatory Christian Community that has intimate, open, unscripted, and spontaneous gatherings, as opposed to His children being in an aloof, closed, predetermined, and planned gatherings that take place in the spectatorial-like Christian “churches.”
What’s more, everyone in each one of the Lord’s Ekklesia would have all things in common (would demonstrate a spiritual oneness in their witness, worship, and fellowship or koinonia). Therefore, each believer not only would be winning lost souls for Christ in every city, state, and nation, but also each believer would be discipling saved souls so that the entire Body of Christ, believers in every Ekklesia across this globe, would be witnessing to, influencing, edifying, and encouraging people in every nation. For sure, heavenizing the entire Earth—being the Kingdom of Heaven’s Leaven, Salt, and Light—actually would accomplish the witnessing, the winning of souls, and the discipling responsibilities.
The bottom line is this: The differences between an institutional “church” and the Lord’s Ekklesia are more than a mere word change. Certainly, unlike a “church’s” congregation, which gathers together either for the purpose of worshipping and fellowshipping in a sacred building designated as the Lord’s House, or for the purpose of finding peace from the environments the “church’s” congregants live in, the Lord’s Ekklesia NEVER gathers in a sacred building designed for worship and fellowship; more important, the Lord’s Ekklesia ALWAYS directly challenges its environments’ existing cultural, social, economic, religious, and governmental/political issues.
Then too, while a “church’s” congregation requires everyone to be committed to and involved in either that “church’s” Saturday or Sunday programmed activities and/or ministries, the Lord’s Ekklesia expects every believer in its Community of witnessing, worshipping, and fellowshipping believers to represent the Kingdom of Heaven in all walks of life. Additionally, a “church’s” congregation only trains its congregants for “church” life, which pretty much amounts to teaching them how to look and speak “churchy” and how to behave during “church” services, but the Lord’s Ekklesia disciples every participatory believer in its Community for a global ministry, which would include spiritual warfare, evangelistic responsibilities, and outreaching deeds. Furthermore, while a “church’s” congregation affects a change in one individual congregant at a time, the Lord’s Ekklesia affects a change in the entire Community all at once!
Finally, based on the Lord’s original intent for His Ekklesia, it is ONLY the Lord’s Ekklesia that has a vision for everyone in every one of His Communities of believers. Then too, it is ONLY the Lord’s Ekklesia that develops a worldview, which from a Christ-like perspective means each Ekklesia would be prepared to influence and change every kind of environment. It also is ONLY the Lord’s Ekklesia that fulfills the Lord’s Great Commission of discipling whole nations, while focusing on serving others and stewarding the entire Earth. Lastly, it is ONLY the Lord’s Ekklesia that is truly One with Christ Jesus, One with the Holy Spirit, and One with Father God. More important, it is this ONEness that prevents obstacles like denominational and doctrinal differences and wrong interpretations of God’s Word from keeping one of the Lord’s Ekklesia from connecting with every other Ekklesia!
All of these stated differences between the Lord’s Ekklesia and the institutional “church” are why God is restoring His sons and daughters’ interest in and/or their attitude about the Lord’s Ekklesia. This restoration is the present ongoing move of the Holy Spirit (or move of God). There can be no doubt that Father God wants to revive the Lord’s intent for His ekklesia, which got lost centuries ago.
God always has wanted the Lord’s disciples (His past, present, and future believers) to heavenize this entire Earth with their heavenly Leaven—to cause the whole world to walk, talk, and behave like genuine Christians are supposed to be walking, talking, and behaving. Thus, there can be no denying that centuries of people who have called themselves Christians have failed to achieve this goal.
Then too, God always has wanted the Lord’s disciples (His past, present, and future believers) to heavenize this entire Earth with their heavenly Salt and Light—to witness to the whole world by demonstrating Christ-like characteristics, thinking, and living. Thus, there can be no denying that centuries of people who have called themselves Christians have failed to achieve this goal.
The Divine Truth is that the ONLY way this desired heavenizing can be achieved is if the Lord’s disciples (His past, present, and future believers) are participating in Communities of witnessing, worshipping, and fellowshipping believers. In essence, all believers must be actively involved in and committed to the Lord’s Ekklesia, which is NOT now, and never has been, a “church” or “The Church.” Amen.
For additional information about the Lord’s Ekklesia, please read my blog entries: Too Many “CHURCHGOERS” Are Spectators Instead Of Participants, The False Pretense Of Being Divided By FAITH, and Ekklesia Says It All: Christ Will Call His Bride Out of This World!