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Home : Articles : The Origin of the Word "church"
: Part 4: The Way We Were


The Origin of the Word "church"
By Andy Zoppelt

Part 4: The Way We Were

Let’s us now turn our attention to the scriptures and the workings of those early believers and what Jesus meant by “upon this rock I will build my assembly [ekklesia]”. the true definition of the Greek word ekklesia. Let us look at the intended function set by the apostles and Jesus and see if we can see a pastor, an audience, and a building.

1 Cor 14:26, “How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching [when we come together only one has a teaching], has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” NKJV

Does this happen when we come together? The reason we don’t see the power and the gifts should by now be obvious. Often groups will manifest the vocal gifts, but rarely the power gifts.

Rom 12:4-13, “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints [not a building], given to hospitality.” NKJV

But that is exactly what we see again here:

1 Cor 12:4-31, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body [no denomination or non denomination. We are dying in this competition of churches]. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body [not man, it is His body], having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” NKJV

Let us now turn to what we call the five-fold ministry. My comments in brackets [ ].

Eph 4:7, 11-16, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift…. And He Himself gave some [of “each one of us”] to be apostles [sent one – bondservants], some prophets [those who speak from God], some evangelists [those who evangelize], and some pastors [shepherds is a better word. It speaks of those who personally care for the sheep on a one to one basis] and teachers [those who instruct us to keep Jesus’ teaching – not information but instruction], for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry [so the saint could work the ministry once the apostle left] , for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity [Jn 17] of the faith and of the [full] knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man [are we seeing this kind of spiritual growth?], to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ [our focus has been diverted away from maturing the saints to numbering the saints. Discipleship works, audiences don’t]; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine [are we being carried away by every kind of teaching possible?], by the trickery [fraud]of men [translators included], in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting [keeping everything surrounding a clergy laity], but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies [not just one joint], according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” NKJV

We are not seeing anything near this. We are seeing men build around them and their groups. We see the saints reach a certain level and they stop growing or regress. We see the ministries creating lethargic audiences. We see cell groups that only mimic the larger group without power or body ministry.

It was the world that said, “Behold how they love one another” about the early believers.

Paul said this concerning the believers in Thessalonica, “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, [Why?] because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” 2 Thess 1:3

Part 5: Conclusion >

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