- King James had the word ‘ecclesia’ translated in his English Bible (KJV, 1611) as ‘church’. This encouraged people to continue to think that this was a building.
- The primary meaning of ‘church’ today is as a building.
The issue: ‘ecclesia’ does not mean a building.
Success for King James. Success for the institutional church. Failure for what God clearly wanted.
Let me explain.
The Greek word that the translators for King James faced was ‘ecclesia’. This did not mean a building; it is best translated ‘congregation’ or ‘assembly’. They were the ‘called-out ones’, those who had joined the new kingdom announced by John the Baptist.
But this would have changed the meaning from the Bible at the time, a building, into something to do with the people. And that would give the people the power. Rather than the King. Unacceptable.
So, King James told his translators
“The old ecclesiastical words to be kept, as the word church, not to be translated congregation.”
And it has stuck to this day. So instead of thinking of a section of the Body, we think of a building. With all sorts of negative consequences for the proper functioning of the Body.
Change has got to begin somewhere. For me, I’m going to try and stop saying that I’m going to ‘church’. Instead, I will say ‘We are part of an assembly called Vision, meeting at a place in Fyshwick.’
Let’s get………Back to the Gospel.
- Put the word ‘church’ into a Google image search and you get a page full of buildings. ↑
- William Tyndale’s translation, the first English translation from the Greek. (Wycliffe’s Bible preceded him, but it was a translation from the Latin Vulgate.) ↑
- Andrews, E. D. (2019). History of English versions of the bible. Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House. ↑
- The top selling English translations all translate ‘ecclesia’ in Matthew 16:18 as ‘church’. ↑
- See, for instance, https://tedsherwood.com/are-our-churches-too-inward-looking/. ↑
The Liturgical Churches have very successfully re-established an Old-Testament styled priesthood, with ‘robes and banners, incense and nonsense’.
Despite the scripture from Peter that we believers are a royal priesthood – the priesthood of all believers.
“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
1 Peter 2:9 ESV
It’s not just The Liturgical Churches Simon. It is not uncommon to hear, in assemblies without a strict liturgy, strong references to the Old Testament way. For instance, in our assembly, it is not uncommon to hear ‘Welcome to God’s house’, or similar.