Some things break my heart to say. It is not because what is said is not true, it is because most people will either reject it, ignore it, or battle it.
I have been teaching that the English word church is a mistranslation of the Greek word ekklesia. This is more than a simple word change, it is a complete shift from what Jesus actually said and intended at Caesarea Philippi. It is a change into a system that is completely different in meaning and function.
Jesus said to Peter, “upon this rock I will build my ekklesia!” Jesus did not use the word kyriakos which is the Greek word best translated as church. Jesus did not say He would build His ‘heiron’, or His temple. Neither did He say he would build His ‘sunagoge’, which would have been His synagogue. Jesus deliberately said He would build His ekklesia, and everyone who heard Him say it understood this word and its concepts.
The ekklesia in the first century had become known as an arm of the Roman government. It was a called-out citizenry that was empowered to conduct the affairs of Rome in a particular territory. People knew that the local ekklesia had the full backing of the Roman government. It was this concept that Jesus used to express what He would build. He committed to building His ekklesia, and the government it would represent would be the Kingdom of Heaven.
Immediately after declaring His intent, He outlined the authority His ekklesia would have. First, the gates of hades would be powerless against it. Second, He gave it the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven which gave them access to all the heavenly government’s resources. He then gave it the authority to bind and loose on earth in accordance with the policies of the Kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19). It is clear that Jesus intended His ekklesia to be a force to be reckoned with. But something happened.
In 1611, King James commissioned a translation of the bible that would bear his name. In doing so, he gave his hand-picked translators a list of fifteen directives to use. It is the third directive that brings us back to where this blog began. King James specifically told the translators to use the word ‘church’ instead of ekklesia. It was a willful and deliberate mistranslation. On the surface it may appear to be a minor switch of words, but the reality is that this mistranslation literally changed the operational trajectory of the Body of Christ.
What do you think of today when you hear the word church? The first thing is usually a building, or a place to go to. Then we think in terms of our denominational affiliation, which has become our religious validation for separating ourselves from other brothers and sisters in Christ. Church is equally divided by race, ideology, and of course doctrine. None of these were intended by Jesus Christ at Caesarea Philippi.
Since the mistranslation was entered into the King James bible, the word church has become the common word for most believers. If you are like me, I was raised in the church. I was saved in the church. I have served in the church. I have seen many wonderful things take place in what we know as ‘the church’. I can honestly say that I love the people serving in what we know as ‘the church’. But the fact remains that Jesus never said or intended to build a church. He said He would build His ekklesia – a called-out ruling council that would represent the Kingdom of Heaven in the earth. Church is an illegitimate system operating in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Here's my point...
God was not caught off guard by the coronavirus. The current pandemic in the earth has served to expose the flaws in many earthly systems – religious and secular. The inability to gather has impacted churches around the country. Many are scrambling to survive. What will happen when this is over? Will the church go back to business as usual? Or, is it time to revisit what Jesus actually said and meant when He declared He would build His ekklesia? Maybe it's time to rethink what we know as church! Blessings!
The coronavirus blindsided the church. As a believer, you should never be caught off guard. Don’t be blindsided.
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About The Author
Tim Kurtz is the Founder of The Ekklesia Center. The purpose of this blog/vlog is to explore subjects that show how the mistranslation of ekklesia to church has impacted the Body of Christ. He has served in ministry over three decades amd is the author of several books. He and his wife Carolyn have been married 46 years and live in SC Michigan.