Misconceptions About “The Church”



The Truth About The “Church”


We already have an article here on the website titled, WHAT IS THE CHURCH ?   But because of the many misconceptions regarding the nature of this entity, another article is appropriate.

I would like to begin by addressing the very word, “church”.  The New Testament was originally written in the Greek language.  And the Greek word that is generally translated “church” in our English bibles, is “ekklesia”.  Ekklesia means “a calling out”.  In the bible, the word “ekklesia” is used to denote the people who have been “called out of darkness, into His marvelous light.”   (1 Peter 2:9)    The people who have been called out of darkness and into the light of Jesus, are those who have had their sins forgiven and who have been saved.  When any of these people are gathered into a group, they are called the “ekklesia”.  They are the “called out”.  And the word “ekklesia” refers to the “gathering” of these people together, and so it properly means, “the assembly” or “the congregation” of the called out people.  


The total of all saved persons would be properly called the “ekklesia”.  But a group of saved people in a particular location, such as in Jerusalem, or in Ephesus, would also be called the “ekklesia”.  And so we see that the same word refers to the total number of the saved throughout the world, as well as referring to the total number of the saved in a particular location.  If there was only one saved person living in a particular town, then that person would be the “ekklesia” in that town.  He/she of course would always a member of the “whole”, but in the town in which they live, they would be the “ekklesia” in that location.


The book of James is addressed to  “the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad..”   James 1:1.   This is a figurative expression referring to the whole number of Christians who are dispersed throughout the world.  The twelve tribes originally referred to the twelve tribes of Israel, who were the total number, of the people of the nation of Israel.  But now James uses this same phrase to designate the total number of God’s people in New Testament days.  So you can see that the  “twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad”  refers to the “ekklesia” as a whole.


The apostle Paul addressed a letter to “the ekklesia of Galatia”.   Galatians 1:2.   Paul is referring to all the Christians throughout the whole district of Galatia.  All these Christians didn’t assemble together in one place when they came together to worship, because they lived in various places around that district of Galatia.   But Paul is addressing his letter to ALL the Christians, throughout that whole area.


Paul addresses another letter to  “the saints who are at Ephesus”.   (Ephesians 1:1)    He could have said, “to the ekklesia which is at Ephesus”.  It would have meant exactly the same thing.   So this letter was written to the congregation of Christians who lived in the city of  Ephesus.  The letter to the Galatians was written to the entire assembly of saints who lived in the whole district of Galatia, not to just one congregation in one city.


So the word “ekklesia” means the congregation, or the assembly of saved persons in any given location, and it also means ALL the saved, collectively as a whole.  The word” church” actually comes from an entirely different Greek word.  When it is used in our English New Testaments, it is actually a “mis-translation”.   It’s an “incorrect translation”.  The word “church” originally meant..  “the house belonging to the lord”.  But the “lord” being referred to here wasn’t the Lord God, but it simply referred to a “lord” as a property owner, in other words, “the master of the house”.  It’s very similar to the expression “the landlord”.  So the word church did indeed originally refer to a building.  It referred to the building, or the property that the “landlord” owned.





The word was in common use long before the time of Christ, and it became typically used to refer to the “house”, or building, where pagan worshipers, worshipped their idols.  The reason that it’s used in our English bibles as a “substitute” for the word “ekklesia”, is that by the time the bible began to be translated into English, the word had undergone a “transformation” of sorts, and was already being used rather “loosely” by the Roman Catholic church, and by the church of England,  to mean the building where Christians met.  People today go to great lengths to explain that the word “church” doesn’t refer to a building, but rather it refers to the Christians who make up the congregation.  In reality, the word “church” shouldn’t be used at all, but rather the words “congregation” or “assembly” are the words that should be used.  The word “ekklesia” does NOT mean “church”.  It means the assembly of the “called out” of God.  The “congregation” of God’s people.


Jesus promised in  Mathew 16:18,  “I will build My assembly”.  Jesus was going to “build” His assembly of people who would be “called out from the world, and called into His kingdom”.   As I said previously, those who are “called out”, are those who have been saved by God Himself.  We’re told in  Acts 2;41,  “So then those who had received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about 3,000 souls.”   V-47  says,  “And the lord was adding to the congregation, day by day, those who were being saved,” 



The “Ekklesia” and The Kingdom are the same thing


We already looked at part of the verse from  1 Peter 2:9,  but here’s the whole verse..  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 


But now listen to  Colossians 1:13,   “For he delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the KINGDOM of His beloved Son.”  The saved are in the kingdom of His beloved Son!  The kingdom, and the “ekklesia” are the same thing.  So when God saves someone, He adds them to His congregation which is the kingdom of His beloved Son.  Many people believe that the kingdom is something that is yet to come, but God says very plainly that He has already transferred the saved into His kingdom. 




Jesus told His apostle Peter,  in  Mathew 16:18-19,  “I will build My ekklesia, and the gates of hades shall not prevent it  (in other words my death won’t prevent Me from building My assembly)  and  “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.”    After Jesus had ascended back to heaven, Peter was given the responsibility of preaching to the Jews on the day of Pentecost, how they could be forgiven of their sins and added to the kingdom.  That’s what Jesus meant by  “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven”.    Peter “unlocked the door” so to speak, to salvation through Christ.
And remember the words of  Acts 2:41,   “Then those who had received his words were baptized, and there were added that day about 3,000 souls”.   They were added to the kingdom of heaven.  They had been “called out” of this world of darkness, and “transferred into the kingdom of His beloved Son”, which is His congregation.    1 Peter 2:9  says,   “into His marvelous light”.



It’s NOT an Earthly Kingdom


This is something that seems hard for some people to grasp.  The congregation of God and of Christ, is NOT an earthly kingdom!   When Jesus had been arrested, just before His crucifixion, He said,  “My kingdom is NOT of this world.  If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews.  But as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”   John 18:36






Jesus tells us in  Luke 17:21,  “The kingdom of God is within you!”   So the kingdom is not earthly, but rather it is spiritual.  It’s within “our hearts”.  In other words, it’s in our spirits.  That’s why when the New Covenant was predicted, back in  Jeremiah 31;33,  God said,  “I will put My law within them, and on their hearts I will write it..”  

The people who have had their sins forgiven, and who have been added, by God, to His assembly, are members of the kingdom of heaven, which is the spiritual body of Christ.  But that kingdom is “within them”.  The kingdom lives in the “spirits” of those people who willingly put God’s laws within their hearts, and obey those laws.    “I will put My laws within them, and on their hearts I will write it, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”    We will be God’s people, ONLY if we obey His laws!


Here’s the part that really tends to confuse people today.  There is NO earthly “headquarters” for the congregation of God.  His kingdom doesn’t have a physical location where “business” is conducted out of.  All of the man-made “churches” have a headquarters somewhere on this earth.  For the Catholic church, it’s in Rome.  For the Mormon church, it’s Salt Lake City.  And for all the other denominations, there is a central location that is claimed to be the “headquarters”.  But God’s assembly doesn’t have any physical location of any sort.  Each congregation in any given city or area, probably uses a building to meet in for it’s worship, and for bible study, but the building is nothing more than a shelter from the weather.   There is NO building that serves as a “headquarters” of God’s assembly.


There is NO governing “council” to tell us how we should live and act and worship.  The bible tells us all those things.  There is NO need for a council of men and/or women, to tell us what God has already told us in His word.  We all have the same obligation to fulfill the words of  2 Timothy 2:15,   “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needs not to be ashamed, correctly discrerning the word of truth.” 



Six Truths About the Ekklesia


six-2Here’s a summary of six “truths” that we’ve learned so far in this study..


#1.  The word “church” is actually an incorrect translation of the original Greek word “Ekklesia”.  The word “ekklesia” means..  “the called out”.  It refers to the people who have been called out of this world, and into the kingdom of God.  As used in the New Testament, “ekklesia” means the “congregation”, or the “assembly” of the people that God has saved, by forgiving their sins and “adding them” to the kingdom of Christ.

#2.  The “ekklesia” and the “kingdom” are the same thing.  A misconception that many people have is that the kingdom is something that is yet to come.  But God says in  Colossians 1:13,  “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”  That was written almost 2,000 years ago, and people had already been transferred into the kingdom back then!

#3.  The “ekklesia” is not an organization that you can “join”.  It is common to hear the statement, “Join the church of your choice”.  We’ll, the only church that you can “join” is a church established by man.  The only way for you to be in God’s assembly of the saved, is for God Himself to “add” you to it.   We’re told in  Acts 2:41,   “And there were added that day about 3,000 souls.”  Then  V-47 says,  “And the Lord was adding to the assembly day by day, those who were being saved.”   Those souls were not “joining” the assembly of the saved, God Himself was “adding” them to His assembly. 

#4.  The “ekklesia” is not an EARTHLY kingdom.  It is a SPIRITUAL kingdom.  Jesus said in  John 18:36,   “My kingdom is NOT of this world..  It is not of this realm.”   And He said in  Luke 17:21,  “The kingdom of God is within you!”   The kingdom is within our very spirits.  It’s in “the heart” of us.

#5.  Jesus is the ONE head, of the ONE body.  The “ekklesia’ is the “spiritual body” of Jesus.  We learn from Ephesians 1:22-23,   “And he put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the ekklesia, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”   Eph 4:4  tells us “There is ONE body..”

#6.  The body is made up of many individual members.  God tells us in  1 Corinthians 12:27,   “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” 


Now all of these points are very important for us to recognize because they are distinguishing traits about the spiritual body of Christ that He gave His physical life for.  However please allow me to comment about point #6. 


There is a great number of people who try to “justify” the many denominations that exist today, in spite of the fact that  1 Cor 12:25   tells us  “That there should be NO divisions among you, but that the members should have the same care for one another.”  Also, the very first chapter of this same letter to the Corinthians says in  V-10,  “Now I exhort you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and there be NO divisions among you.  But you be made complete in the same mind and the same judgment.”   The apostle Paul went on to say in V-12,  “Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying;  I am of Paul, and I am of Apollos, and I am of Cephas, and I am of Christ.  Has Christ been divided?” 




The answer of course is NO, Christ has NOT been divided!  God, through the apostle Paul, is condemning divisions!  Is there any difference at all, between saying, “I am of Paul, and I am of Apollos, and I am of Cephas”;  And saying, “I am of Martin Luther, and I am of John Wesley, and I am of Saint Peter?”  What about saying, “I am of a Baptist belief, and I am of a Methodist belief, and I am of a Pentecostal belief, or I am of a Roman Catholic belief?”   IS CHRIST DIVIDED ?

Now here’s how men try to “justify” all that.  They say;  Our various denominations are the different members of the one body.  But that’s not what the scriptures say.  God didn’t say that various “groups” of you are members of the body.  He said,  “Now YOU are Christ’s body, and INDIVIDUALLY members of it!  Individuals are members of the body.   NOT “groups” of people, each with different opinions of what the bible says.  Each claiming that “I’m of this man”, or “I’m of that man”.   If you want to be in  “man’s church”,  that’s up to you.  But if you want to be SAVED, then it’s up to God!


There’s another scripture that people will go to, trying to “justify” religious division.  That scripture is  John 15:5.   “I am the vine and you are the branches;  He who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit;  For apart from Me you can do nothing.”   However, it’s easy to see from this verse, that “individuals” are the branches and not “groups” of people.  It’s exactly the same as the “individuals” who are the members of the body.  Jesus said “I” am the vine.  And “YOU” are the branches.  The word translated “you” is the Greek word “hymeis”.  This word is a “personal pronoun”, in the “singular form”.   In other words it refers to “individual” people, like you and I.  It does NOT refers to “groups” of people  such as “this denomination” and “that denomination”.  The bible says what it says..   “I, Jesus, the one and only Son of God, am the vine, and YOU, individual disciples, are the branches.”



The Structure of the Body of Christ


There is a certain “structure” that God has given for His body of saved persons.  And it’s a very simple “structure” that really is, TOO simple for a lot of people to accept.  When referring to the whole assembly of the saved, God says in  Colossians 1:18,   “He (Christ) is also HEAD of the body, (the ekklesia) and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, so that He Himself might have first place in everything.”   Now that’s pretty simple isn’t it?  Jesus is the ONE head of the body.  And we’re told in  Ephesians 4:4,  “There is ONE body..”




So there is ONE body, and ONE head of the body.  Now here’s where we come in..  A comparison is made to the human body, in  1 Corinthians 12:12,   “For even as the body is one, and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are ONE body, so also is Christ!  For by ONE Spirit (the Spirit of God), we were all baptized into one body!   Whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free , we were all made to “drink” of one Spirit  (drink means to “share” in the one Spirit of God).  For the body is not one member, but many!” 

V-27  says,  “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually, members of it.” 

One head, one body, many individual members, all sharing the same Spirit of God.


Please go on to the second part of this study titled  “MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE CHURCH – PART 2”  where we’ll examine a lot more about the individual  members of His “called out assembly”, the “body of Christ”.

May God bless you in the study of His word.








This article has 5 Comments

  1. It seems that you are saying that we are part of God’s kingdom as soon as we accept Jesus and ask for forgiveness of our sins. What exactly does it mean to us to be part of His Kingdom today? The Bible says that we dwell in heavenly places with Him. How does that apply to us today? How should I live my life today in the light of these scriptures?

    1. I’m glad that you commented Sue, thank you. We probably shouldn’t even use the term “accept Jesus”. That term is not in the bible and it leads to confusion. The bible says that we need to “Believe” in Him, and Obey Him. It doesn’t say we should “accept Him”. That term will lead to incorrect conclusions and will PREVENT us from being saved. John 8:24 says, “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins”. And Hebrews 5:9 says, “He is the author of salvation to all who obey Him.” So we know that we need to believe and obey. But exactly WHAT do we need to obey? Let’s look again at the example of the day of Pentecost when about 3,000 souls were saved and added to the body of Christ. The people who believed Peter’s preaching about Jesus being the Christ, were told by Peter to, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you..” Acts 2:38. So that’s what they had to obey. They had to repent and be baptized. Peter didn’t say anything about “accepting Jesus”. They already believed what Peter had preached to them, and then they were told to obey the command to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. No one is a part of God’s kingdom until they believe and obey. Elsewhere in the bible is the command of Jesus to “confess” the name of Christ. In Mathew 10:32, Jesus said, “If you confess Me before men, I will confess you before My Father who is in heaven.” So at many times in our life, as followers of Jesus, we will need to “confess” our faith in Him publically, “before men”, as Jesus said.

      But the very least that must be done before one can be added by God to His congregation is exactly what those on the day of Pentecost were told to do. After they came to believe that Jesus is the Christ, they were told to repent and be baptized. Only then, were they added to His congregation. The very same thing goes for everyone today. Before anyone is a part of the kingdom of God, they will need to believe that Jesus is the Christ, and then they will need to obey the commands to repent and be baptized, so that they can be forgiven of their sins. Then, and only then, will God add them to His kingdom. There is no such thing as “accepting Jesus”, and then being saved as a result of your “acceptance”.

      Since “accepting Jesus” is not a scriptural term, I can only speculate what people are thinking that the meaning of that is. But I believe that people think that if they “accept Jesus”, then Jesus will “come into their hearts” and they will be saved. This is an incorrect assumption, because it leaves out any obedience on our part. “Jesus is the source of salvation to those who obey Him”. And also, that puts the whole burden on Jesus, to come into our hearts, as soon as we are willing to “let Him” come in. But what the bible describes, is that WE are the ones who are responsible for “putting Jesus into our hearts”. And the WAY we “put Him” in our hearts, is by obeying His commands. Remember, “He is the author of salvation to all who obey Him.” And that’s why Jesus asked the question, “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not DO what I say?” Luke 6:46. That is also the way that the Holy Spirit dwells in us. When we obey the word of God, (the word that the Spirit has given us), then we are “putting the Spirit of God within us”. The Word IS the Spirit! The Spirit cannot dwell in us, unless we obey what the Spirit says. It would be silly to think that God’s Spirit dwells in us, and then go out and lie and steal and cheat and commit adultery and who knows what else. The only way that God’s Spirit dwells in us, is for us to obey His words, and NOT obey the “lusts of the flesh”. If we obey the “lusts of the flesh” then the spirit of satan is dwelling in us.

      Once a person comes to believe in Jesus as the Christ, and the Savior, then they themselves must go to “work” obeying His commands. That’s how the bible teaches that we are saved. And that’s why the bible tells us to “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12.

      Which scripture do you refer to when you say that we dwell with Him in heavenly places? Is it possibly Ephesians 1:3, where it says, “He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” ?

      Thank you again for your comments and questions, and for giving me the opportunity to go to God’s word for the answers.

  2. It sounds like you are saying only Church of Christ believers are saved. I do believe that there is salvation among the various denominations which adhere to the Bible but differ in a small way.
    For example, the Church of Christ does not believe that instruments should be allowed in the sanctuary during worship and I completely disagree. It would take me a while and more space to prove my point. Furthermore, Jesus gave us laws to live by but we are going to break them because we are human. Read Eph. 2:8-9, for by grace are we saved and not by works lest any man should boast.
    Thank you,
    Ed Mijarez

    1. Hello Ed and thank you for your response. Salvation is up to the Lord, isn’t it? We don’t know people’s hearts, but God does. I actually said nothing about any one particular group of people being saved as opposed to any other group. What I said was that when the Lord saves someone, He then “adds” them to HIS assembly of the “called out”. I don’t like using the word “church” because it’s an incorrect translation of the Greek word “ekklesia”. The word “church’ comes from a completely different Greek word. The word “ekklesia” means “the called out”. It refers in the scriptures to the “called out assembly of saved souls”. It is GOD’S assembly, not man’s. One of the reasons for this article, is to try to get us away from the word “church” so much, and to concentrate on simply the “body of Christ”, or the “congregation of Christ”, or “of God”. Whether we say, “of Christ”, or “of God”, it’s all means the same. I’m not trying to condemn the use of the word “church”. I’m simply trying to point out a more accurate translation. It all really boils down to the question, “Am I saved?” If we’re saved, then we’re automatically in God’s assembly, because that’s where God puts the souls that He saves. It’s really as simple as that. We don’t have any say in the matter.

      The scriptures are clear that God Himself is the one who “adds” the saved to His assembly, Acts 2:47. And the scriptures are clear that there is only one assembly, one body. Eph 4:4.

      A person doesn’t have to know very much to be saved, does he? But the scriptures are very clear, that there are things a person needs to DO to be saved. “Salvation has appeared to all men”, Titus 2:11, but all men don’t take advantage of the salvation that’s offered. Jesus said, “If you believe NOT that I am He, you will die in your sins”, John 8:32. So obviously the first thing we must DO is believe. If you don’t DO that, then Jesus said we’ll die in our sins. The very first souls to be added to Christ’s body, all came to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, as the result of Peter’s preaching in Acts chapter 2. Were they saved as soon as they believed? They didn’t think so! That’s why they asked Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we DO?” Well, what did Peter tell them? Did he say.. There’s NOTHING to do? You’re already saved because you now believe! No, Peter didn’t say that, did he?

      Here’s what he did say.. “Repent and let each one of you be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ (that of course means “by the authority of Jesus Christ), FOR the forgivness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38. Now that again is very clear. So we see that the very first souls that God added to Christ’s body, had to do at least three things, according to the bible, which of course is according to God. They had to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, they had to repent of their sins, and they had to be baptized by the authority of Jesus, to be forgiven of their sins. These three things are spelled out very clearly in the text. But they evidently didn’t have to know anything more than that, and they didn’t have to DO anything more either, because at that point, God Himself “added” them to His assembly of “the called out”.

      God’s word “calls us out of the world”. That’s how salvation “appears to all men”. God has already accomplished everything necessary for us all to be saved. The Word has become flesh in Jesus Christ. Jesus then suffered and died for us. He was resurrected by the glory of God, and He has ascended back to heaven. “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who intercedes for us.” Romans 8:34. With that being accomplished, God has offered salvation to all men, and there’s not anything that any of us could DO to earn this salvation, or to deserve it. It clearly is “a gift of God”. “By grace you have been saved, through faith, it is the gift of God, not as the result of works that no one should boast.” Eph 2:8-9. God has done His part, hasn’t He? But what do WE have to do? We have to believe, we both agree on that. But I also think we both agree that ALL souls will not BE saved. But those souls on the day of Pentecost were saved because they “received” Peter’s words. Acts 2:41 tells us, “Then those who had received his words, WERE baptized, and there were added that day, about 3,000 souls.” It doesn’t take a scholar to understand that they were saved, AFTER they had believed, repented, and were baptized. That’s when they were added to the body of the saved.

      Any person can be saved today in exactly the same way that those people were saved on the day of Pentecost. But should we assume that we can be saved today by doing any LESS than they did?

      Of course we are going to sin again. That’s why we have “an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous!” 1 John 2:1. And that’s why we can be forgiven again, when we sin again, IF we repent of that sin. “If we walk in the light, as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7. Isn’t it simply great, what God has done? What He has provided for us? The way of salvation from our sins, through faith in Jesus.

      We all know why Abraham was called “the friend of God”, James 2:23. It was because “When Abraham was called, he OBEYED..” Hebrews 11:8. “When he was tested, he offered..” Hebrews 11:17. If Abraham hadn’t obeyed, he wouldn’t have been called “God’s friend”. Remember what Jesus said.. “And you are My friends, IF you DO what I command you.”

      When we are “called” we must also obey! The two things that God has always demanded from His people are faith, and obedience. If we leave out either one, we’ll be lost.

      Thanks so much for your comemnts, and I hope that we can talk again. Yours in Christ, Jim.

    2. Hi again Mr. Mijarez. I did want to briefly touch on your comment about instruments of worship, and also about “only the church of Christ believers are saved”. I did go into detail in my previous response to you, concerning what the bible says about how we are saved. I hope you will read that reply and consider those verses that I pointed out. Actually, I know that you will, and I appreciate that. As you know, it’s individuals who will be saved. We don’t find salvation by being a member of one particular group or another. We find salvation by believing in Jesus, and by being obedient to His commands. If we lack either one, faith, or obedience, God will not save us.

      As far as instruments used in worship, I personally don’t agree with their use, but there are many congregations who are called “church of Christ”, who do use instruments. That’s their choice, to do what they believe is right. The only reason that I don’t agree with it, is that I don’t find where the scriptures call for their use. I believe that it’s much safer to stick with only what we can clearly substantiate doing, based on either commands from God, or at least from examples of what the first century Christians did, with the approval of the apostles. We do know from secular history that instruments were not used in the early assemblies, and it was many centuries later, when men first decided to introduce them into their worship.
      I do think that people in general are far to ready to condemn others, rather than to talk to one another about items of difference, and to try our utmost to come to agreement on such things.

      Who will be saved? Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who DOES the will of MY Father who is in heaven.” Mathew 7:21. Jesus also asked us, “And why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46.

      Thank you so much Ed.

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