Origin of the Term Church
“The word ‘church’ is really not a translation of any word that was used by either Messiah or His Disciples, but is the Anglican form of a different word with Roman Catholicism substituted in place of the word used by Messiah and His Disciples ….
It is in our English Scriptures by order of King James, who instructed his translators of 1611 not to translate the word ‘ecclesia’ by either ‘congregation’ or ‘assembly’ but to use the word ‘church’ instead of a translation” (Gospel Advocate, 1915, p 589).
What is the Origin of the Term “Church”
The Greek term (ekklesia) ekklesia which is commonly translated as “church”, basically means ‘called out’ and was commonly used to indicate an “assembly” of citizens of a Greek city and is so used in (Acts 19:32 NAS). The citizens who were quite conscious of their privileged status over against slaves and non citizens were called to the assembly by a herald and dealt . . . with matters of common concern. When the early QODESHIYM Community understood themselves as constituting an “assembly” or “congregation”, they no doubt perceived of themselves as called out by YAHUAH in Messiah YAHUSHA for a special purpose and that their status was a privileged one in Messiah YAHUSHA (Eph. 2:19 ).
It should be noted that, (ekklesia) ekklesia was used more than one hundred times in the Greek translation of the Tanach in common use in the time of YAHUSHA. The Hebrew term from which (ekklesia) ekklesia is derived is (qahal) lhq which simply meant ‘assembly’ and could be used in a variety of ways, referring for example to an assembling of prophets (1 Sam. 19:20 ), soldiers (Num. 22:4 ), or the people of YAHUAH (Deut. 9:10 ). The use of the term in the Tanach in referring to the people of YAHUAH is important for our understanding of the use of the term ‘assembly or congregation’ (ekklesia) ekklesia in the New Covenant Scriptures.
The first QODESH Believers were Yahudiym (Jews) who in many cases, used the Hebrew of the Tanach. For them to use a self-designation that was common in the Tanach for the people of YAHUAH reveals their understanding of the continuity that links the Old and Renewed Covenant Scriptures. The early Netseriym Community understood themselves as the people of YAHUAH who had revealed Himself in the Tanach (Heb. 1:1-2 ), as the true children of Yashar’el (Israel) (Rom. 2:28-29) with Abraham as their father (Rom. 4:1-25), and as the people of the Renewed Covenant prophesied in the Tanach (Heb. 8:1-13).
As a consequence of this broad background of meaning in the Greek and in the Tanach , the term ‘congregation or assembly’ is used in the Renewed Covenant Scriptures of a local assembly/congregation of called-out QODESH Netseriym Believers, such as the ‘Mashicahiym Assembly/Congregation” (ekklesia) ekklesia of YAHUAH which is at Corinth’ (1 Cor. 1:2 ), and also of the entire people of YAHUAH, such as in the affirmation that Messiah is ‘the head over everything for the Mashicahiym Assembly/Congregation, which is His body’ (Eph. 1:22-23)”).
We have seen in the overview above the Greek word (ekklesia) ekklesia is consistently used in the Greek translation of the Tanach and is understood in all other Greek language literature as meaning “assembly” or “congregation”. The word used in the Scriptures should read “assembly” or “congregation” from the Hebrew ( qahal) lhq or (edah) hd[ or the Greek (ekklesia) ekklesia , but not “church.”
Why is it then that in the Renewed Covenant Scriptures the same word is translated as “church” and where does the word “church” come from? We will first examine the source of the word “church” and then examine several passages in the Renewed Covenant Scriptures in seeking to determine why (ekklesia) ekklesia would be translated as “church”, contrary to normal rules of translation.
So where did the word Church come from? It comes from the German word KIRKE. Gary Amirault, in an article on the internet entitled;”Circe (Church)–Daughter of the Sun” shares the following incites:
Those of you who have been in “church” or have “gone to church” for any length of time have probably heard that the origin of the word “church” is from the Greek word ekklasia written in English ecclesia which would translate into English as called out, an assembly, or collection. This may be the definition of the word ecclesia, but the English word “church” does not come from this Greek word. Webster says the English word “church” comes from the Greek word kuriakon meaning “the Lord’s” or “the Lord’s house or belonging”. Sounds plausible, doesn’t it? This is what the seminary students are taught when they enter into the halls or walls of christendom as they study to become “heads of the churches.” To most of you, this explanation would probably suffice, but I am a nosy type, and I like to dig. Looking into Young’s Concordance, I discovered this word kuriakon is not in the Greek text of our Bibles. Strange that the Creator of the Universe would name his body on earth kuriakon and then not use the word in His Holy Word. Something did not smell right, know what I mean?
I am in touch with many people who spend much time doing word studies, and play around with what has been called “etymology”, that is the study of word origins. I also read much material from different authors who have traced many of our “church” words to pagan mythology, especially Greek, Roman, Babylonian, and German or Teutonic mythology. Most of you are not aware of the fact that English is really a part of the German language. As a matter of fact, about 90% of the words in the King James Bible are German in origin. The English peoples are also called Anglo-Saxons. The Webster’s Dictionary says under Anglo-Saxon “A member of the nation created by the consolidation of Low German tribes that invaded England in the 5th and 6th centuries, together with native and Danish elements, which continued as the ruling power of England until the Norman Conquest.” Their language dominated England. Even the name England reflects this. I point this out so that you are aware of how German or Norse mythology has much to do with many of our English words.
Now Webster says that the root of this word “church” is a Saxon word “circe, or circ, or cyric.” Those of you who are versed in Greek mythology or in the Greek language should begin to be raising your eyebrows. This information is so embarrassing that Webster did what he could to hide this in his first edition, but later editions made it easy to uncover. In the Original Webster’s under the word “circ” are the simple words “see circus.” Who says our Father doesn’t have a sense of humor? But it gets more interesting than that! The first entry as to the etymological meaning and origin of the church is “circe.” Now for those who are versed in Greek, this connection is so obvious and embarrassing that Webster did not put this noun in his dictionary, but he did put the adjective which is “Circean” I cannot prove it, but I think this omission was intentional. Under “Circean” we find the following definition: “adjective; Pertaining to Circe, the fabled daughter of Sol and Perseis, who was supposed to possess great knowledge of magic and venomous herbs, by which she was able to charm and fascinate.” Later editions of Webster’s finally had the courage to enter the noun under which we find more information: “Circe noun [L., fr. Gr. Kirke.] In the Odyssey, an island sorceress who turned her victims by magic into beasts but was thwarted by Odysseus with the herb moly given him by Hermes-Circean, circaean adj..”
A couple of years ago Dr. Ernest Martin sent me a photocopy of an old book written in England with a cover page that went as follows: “The MYTH OF KIRKE: Including the visit of Odysseus to the Shades. An Homerik Study by Robert Brown, Jun., F.S.A..” It had a quote from the famous Milton on the title page that read, “Who knows not Circe, The daughter of the Sun?” It appears at the present time few people know her for who she really is. Dr. Martin opened my eyes and since then I have spent much time gathering the pieces to reveal Circe, Church, the daughter of the Sun.
Father willing, we will trace how the Greek Kirke became Circe in the Anglo-Saxon, which became Chirche in Church Latin who finally manifested in full glory as Church, daughter of the Sun, a woman who had the power to turn men into animals.
As we have just seen above the term “church” does not come from the Greek word (ekklesia) ekklesia . However one views it (whether from the Hebrew ( qahal) lhq or (edah) hd[ or the Greek (ekklesia) ekklesia , it never means “church” but an assembly, meeting, or congregation of people. So what then is the reason for translating (ekklesia) ekklesia as “church” when the Greek word does not mean “church?” Could it not be a matter of scholarship but simply a case of a plain and simple anti-semitic bias on the part of Bible translators?
Let us consider several examples:
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church (ekklesia)… (Mat. 16:18)
Compare this with:
I also tell you this: you are Kefa [which means Rock], and on this rock I will build my called out assembly… (Mat. 16:18)
So what’s the difference between church and assembly? Isn’t just a matter of words? Possibly, but which captures more the real sense of the Greek (ekklesia) ekklesia?
Assembly, Greek ekklesia, which means called-out ones, and is used in the Septuagint to translate Hebrew kahal lhq, assembly, congregation, community. The usual English translation of ekklesia is church; and from it comes the word ecclesiastical, meaning, having to do with the church. What is being spoken about is a spiritual community of people based on trust in YAHUAH and his son the Messiah YAHUSHA. This can be all people throughout history who so commit themselves, or a group of such people at a particular time and place, such as the QODESHIYM community in Corinth or Jerusalem. The phrase, the ekklesia that meets in their house (Ro 16:5), refers to a particular congregation. Unlike church, ekklesia never refers either to an institution or to a building.
The point Stern is making is that to translate ekklesia, as “church” simply does not fit nor is it warranted by the context of the passage. YAHUSHA is building a “community” an “assembly” of His followers. To Translate ekklesia as “church”, only confuses the issue – is YAHUSHA talking about a building or a community?
To translate ekklesia as “assembly” or “congregation” is not only consistant with the context of the passage but also consistant with the Greek translation of the Tanach and other Greek literature outside of the New Covenant Scriptures. So why would one risk clairity of translation just to use the word “church”, unless the translators are trying to make a point , “YAHUSHA is building a NEW community – the CHURCH – as opposed to Israel? Could it be that in translating ekklesia as “church” rather than “assembly or “congregation” the translators reveal not scholastic honesty but rather a case of a plain and simple anti-semitic bias on their part?
The case becomes even more clear if we look at Matthew 18:17.
And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church (ekklesia) ekklesia; and if he refuses to listen even to the church (ekklesia) ekklesia, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer. (NAS)
If he refuses to hear them, tell the congregation (ekklesia) ekklesia; and if he refuses to listen even to the congregation (ekklesia) ekklesia, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax-collector. (JNT)
If we look at these two passages, which makes more logical sense of the basic meaning of the word (ekklesia) ekklesia? Again the simple meaning of what Messiah is teaching is that in an area of disagreement between bretheren we are called to consult with other believers the (ekklesia) ekklesia the “assembly”. Again the Biblical translators choose to use the word “church”. Many of these same scholars do not even believe the the “church” came into existance prior to Pentecost (Shavuot) – so who then is the “church” – a non-existant body that is not yet around? The choice of the word “church”, only confuses the issue – is YAHUSHA talking about a building or a community?
To translate ekklesia as “assembly” or “congregation” is consistant with the context of the passage we seek the counsel of other believers, the “assembly” or “congregtion.” So why would one risk clairity of translation just to use the word “church”, unless the translators are trying to make a point , “YAHUSHA’s NEW community – meets in a New Building, the CHURCH – as opposed to a Jewish Synagogue? We will be considering the term synagogue (sunagoge) later in this article. Could it be that in translating (ekklesia) ekklesia as “church” rather than “assembly or “congregation” the translators reveal not scholastic honesty but rather a case of a plain and simple anti-semitic bias on their part?
For our next passage we will be comparing three translations. Let us now consider Hebrews 2:12:
“Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church (ekklesia) ekklesia will I sing praise unto thee. (KJV)
saying, “I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation (ekklesia) ekklesia I will sing Thy praise” (NAS)
“I will proclaim your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation (ekklesia) ekklesia I will sing your praise” (JNT)
I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation ( qahal) lhq will I praise thee. (KJV)
I will tell of Thy name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly ( qahal) lhq I will praise Thee. (NAS)
We can see here that Psalm 22:22 uses the word ( qahal) lhq, which as we noted above should be translated as “assembly” or “congregation.” Interesting to note between these two translations we have both meanings of ( qahal) lhq expresed.
We also noted above that (ekklesia) ekklesia was used more than one hundred times in the Greek translation of the Tanach in common use in the time of YAHUSHA.
Based on this we would expect that the Bible translators would then translate (ekklesia) ekklesia for ( qahal) lhq and arrive at a consistant translation of either “assembly” or “congregation” in Hebrews 2:12. But is this the case?
The (NAS) to it’s credit does. It translates both as using either “congregation” in the case of Psalm 22 or “assembly” in the case of Hebrew 12:2.
But what happened to the (KJV)? In Psalm 22:22 it did a good job in translating ( qahal) lhq as “congregation.” But look what happened to (ekklesia) ekklesia – it has suddenly become “church.” One might just wonder, what “church” did David attend? Was it First Bapist? United Methodist? Obviously such questions are : ludicrous! But so too is translating (ekklesia) ekklesia as “church.”
While we credit the (NAS) for translating (ekklesia) ekklesia as “congregation” in this case. We wonder why, in this case do they translate (ekklesia) ekklesia is more consistanly translated as “church” by the (NAS) but here choose to use “congregation”? Could it be that they consider David to be a Jew – and therefore – he would not be going to a “church” to “proclaim Thy name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation (ekklesia) ekklesia I will sing Thy praise.
What of the “Gentile Believers”, do they proclaim Thy name to their brethren, In the midst of the “church” they will sing Thy praise? One would be led to believe so by the way they consistanly translate (ekklesia) ekklesia as “church” in the New Covenant Scriptures. It seems as though may Bible Translators have bought into the “Two People of YAHUAH” heresy which plagues so much of the “church!” And again it must be asked; “Could it be that in translating (ekklesia) ekklesia as “church” rather than “assembly or “congregation” the translators reveal not scholastic honesty but rather a case of a plain and simple anti-semitic bias on their part?”
Stern in his commentarty writes:
Your synagogue. This is a Messianic synagogue, a congregation of believers in YAHUSHA, predominantly Jewish, expressing their New Covenant faith in a way retaining most or all of the prayers, customs and style of non-Messianic synagogues. The word in Greek is sunagoge; it appears 57 times in the New Testament. Fifty-six times it refers to a Jewish place of congregational assembly and is translated “synagogue” in virtually all English versions. Yet in the present verse KJV and the Revised Standard Version render it “assembly,” and other versions translate it by “church,” “meeting,” “place of worship” and other avoidances of the word “synagogue.” This reflects the translators unwillingness to acknowledge the Jewishness of New Covenant faith and the overall antisemitic bias that has infected Christianity over the centuries (see Ro 10:4&N 1). The New Jerusalem Bible prepared by Roman Catholics does use the word “synagogue,” but adds in a note, “James is writing to Jewish Christians; it is possible that they may even have still been attending Jewish synagogues, or it may be his word for the Christian assembly for liturgical services.” “Even…still…attending Jewish synagogues” – how backward of them! And how backward of Shaul, who made it his “usual practice” to do so (Ac 17:2 2)!
Yaakov is talking neither about a Christian church service nor a gathering of Jewish nonbelievers but a Messianic synagogue. He would not refer to “your synagogue” and assume his readers were in charge of seating visitors if the synagogue was not controlled by the Messianic Jews. There is no reason why “synagogue,” with its unmistakably Jewish connotation, should have been “his word for the Christian assembly ” in general, since the term the New Testament uses 112 times for that is ekklesia (ekklesia) ekklesia (usually rendered “church” in other versions; see ( Mt 16:18N); Yaakov himself employs it at 5:14 4 JNT). The idea that this synagogue was Messianic simply did not occur to the Jerusalem Bible note-writer. Rendering (synagogue) sunagoge “church” instead of “synagogue” robs Messianic Jews of their identity.
This verse establishes a solid New Testament basis for modern-day Messianic synagogues, provided they do not exclude Gentile believers. To do so would “raise the middle wall of partition” once again, in violation of Ep 2:11-16&NN 5. A Messianic synagogue, while committed to preserving and developing a Jewish rather than a Gentile mode of expressing New Covenant faith, must be open to participation by believing Jews and Gentiles alike.
So where did the word Church come from? It comes from the German word KIRKE.The word “KIRKE” is a word whose root goes back to circle – circe (the false goddess). Kirke is similar to the Hebrew word (kikkar) rKK meaning a disk or circle. Or SUN WORSHIP! (see Zech 5:6-11 NAS). The sun was worshipped as baal or lord by a full circle of pagans. Is it any question why some then worship on sun-day?
Edited by GWT