Why We Are An Assembly NOT A Church
On occasion we are asked why it is that we do not refer to ourselves or our place of worship as a “Church.” The following facts will show why, and though it may seem peculiar at first, if one is willing to research the matter out, the truth will become plain to anyone actually seeking it.
To most a “church” is viewed as a building. The etymology of the word, in fact, traces to the Greek term kuriakon, which is defined as “the house of the lord.” The Scriptures, however, never mean an edifice where the common versions read “church.”
The Greek copies of the NT use another word, ekklesia, and never kuriakon. The word ekklesia (Strong’s , Greek # 1577) does not refer to any building but rather to “a calling” (klesis) “out of” (ek) (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, “Assembly”). That is, the term used in the Greek copies of the NT refers to a people being “called out.”
Thayer’s Greek-English Lexocon of the NT, says ekklesia comes “(fr. Ekkletos called out or forth, and this fr. Ekkale); prop. A gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place; an assembly….” Thayer’s also states that ekklesia was used “in the Septuagint often equivalent to qahal, the assembly of the Israelites, Judges 21:8; 1 Chronicles 29:1, etc., Esp. when gathered for sacred purposes, Deuteronomy 31:30, (32:1); Joshua 8:35 (9:8), etc; in the NT thus in Acts 7:38, Hebrews 2:12…”
Today it is not infrequent to hear pastors contrasting between the “Church” and Israel. In the Greek copies of the Scriptures both are called ekklesia (supra). This is why Israel is called “the Church” in two places in the King James Version (Acts 7:38; Hebrews 2:12). Some of the newer versions “correct” this to read congregation, but they leave it “church” everywhere else. That is deceptive. That is making a distinction where the Scriptures do not.
The Scriptures state clearly that Yahweh’s people are to be “one body” (Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 10:17, Ephesians 2:16). When we use “Assembly” or even “Congregation” instead of “Church” we are affirming this truth. By using these more accurate translations of the term actually used we are affirming the connection between all of Yahweh’s people, ancient and present. Not two bodies. One Assembly.
In ancient days Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 15:7). Israel was called out of Egypt (Exodus 13). And in the latter days Yahweh cries out to His saints to come out of Mystery Babylon (Revelation 18:4). In the Greek copies of the OT and NT Yahweh’s people are all called ekklesia, or “called out.”
It should raise an eyebrow that a Greek word which does not appear in any manuscript of the Scriptures (kuriakon, “church”) is so widely used instead of the word which does appear there (ekklesia, “assembly”). The Compact Oxford English Dictionary explains that the word “church” was “brought to Britain (with many words expressing the outward apparatus of Christianity) by the heathen Angles and Saxons.” It also notes that “(long before they became Christians, the Germans were naturally acquainted with, and had names for, all the striking phenomena of Christianity.)”
The origins of the word “church” are obvious when we note that dictionaries relate it to circe ( and nearly all words containing “circ-”). The identity of Circe can be confirmed through most references. She is a false elohim, a daughter of the Greek Sun-deity, Helios. And so it becomes clear why most of the artwork in Churches is covered in halos. The truth is there for everyone with eyes to see it.
William Tyndale translated Greek copies of the NT into English before the King James Version. In fact, Tyndale was strangled and burnt at the stake for translating the NT into English. His work, it is said, was followed at least ninety percent by the KJV (M.B.A. Ramsbottom, How We Got Our English Bible,p.4)
Unfortunately, the KJV scribes did not follow Tyndale in more properly translating ekklesia as “congregation” instead of “church”. Tyndale only used the word “church” once, and that is because the text refers to heathen people! (Acts 19:37; cf. The New Bible Dictionary , pp 228-229)..
In the OT the Hebrew equivalent of ekklesia is qahal (Strong’s Hebrew # 6951). It means the same as ekklesia, to be “called out.” In Hebrew the book of Ecclesiastes is called Qoheleth. It is only called Ecclesiastes now because of the Greek translation which consistently translated qahal into ekklesia throughout the Scriptures
Throughout the OT in most English versions , the chosen people are called “the congregation of the LORD” and throughout the NT in most English versions the chosen people are called “the Church of God.” This presents a peculiar example of how translators have created a distinction where Yahweh did not.
Knowing that the word rendered “Congregation” in the OT (qahal) and the one rendered “church” in the Greek copies (ecclesia) both actually imply just an “Assembly” or group of people called out for a special purpose, it is very significant to note that in instances the Greek translators replaced Yahweh’s Name (rendered “the LORD” in most English versions ) with Theos, the Greek term that English versions usually render as “God”( i.e. Matthew 4:4; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3; etc.).
What this shows us is that both phrases, “the Congregation of the LORD” and “the Church of God” were originally the same, and should be restored to read “ the Assembly (or congregation) of Yahweh,” again affirming the single unit of people Yahweh has called. This also solves the riddle of how Yahweh’s people, from both Jewish and Gentile backgrounds, can be called by His Name (acts 15:16-18; Deuteronomy 28:10, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Amos 9:12). For this reason we are called Yahweh’s Assembly, as His people in the OT and NT were originally called.
Both of the words used in the Scriptures refer to those who are called out according to Yahweh’s purpose. It is no coincidence that the curses and blessings promised to ancient Israel are also applied to the “church.” It is not because they are two distinct entities. It is because Yahweh has one Assembly, or congregation that He has been working with throughout history.
The word “church” , in truth, is unacceptable as an appellation of Yahweh’s Assembly. Not only does it not accurately reflect the meaning of the words used in the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Scriptures, but it also originated in paganism. Therefore, wherever we encounter the word “church” used in reference to Yahweh’s people we properly restore the word “Assembly.”
MORE ABOUT THE CHURCH
The word “church” appears 116 times in the King James Version; 3 of those times it is properly rendered “assembly” and the remaining as “church” or “churches.” However, the Greek word which is erroneously translated “church” is “ekklesia” and literally means “a calling out,” “congregation.” It is used to designate the “called out assembly.”
Translators had substituted a completely different word for “ekklesia.” The Greek word for “church” is “kuriakos” which means “pertaining to the ‘Kurios’ [Master]” and eventually came to be used in the Old English form as “cirice,” to “churche” and eventually to “church.”
Why are we even using the word in reference to Scripture when it is NOT THERE? Like so many other things, there are other reasons not to use it as well but first and foremost, is it is NOT THERE!
“Circus” comes from “circe” and everyone loves a circus, but its place is not in scripture either. As a side note, originally the Latin “circus” was an enclosure for funerary games (athletic contests held in honor of a recently deceased person).
“Circe” (coincidence?) was a Homeric witch, able to transform men into sacrificial swine—how appropriate seeing how Yahweh detests swine. By most accounts she was the daughter of Helios. The story says that when Odysseus landed on her island, she transformed his men into animals, but with the help of the god Hermes, he overcame the goddess and forced her to release his men from her spell. Her name was derived from the Greek verb “kirkoo” meaning to “hoop around”; thus, we also get the word “circle.” My how things revolve around each other, don’t they?
Whether our modern word “church” comes from a Greek word meaning “pertaining to the Master” or from the pagan deity “Circe,” truly should not matter—it’s not scripturally correct. The word is “ekklesia” and means “called out ones,” “assembly,” or even “congregation,” but not “church.”