Church: Who Started It? Not GodMarch 19, 2021
The goal of this Bible study is:
1) to show that Christianity is not a religion. It is a personal relationship with
2) to show that God never gave any directions for, never endorsed, and never intended that His followers would form government-approved and licensed corporations, with membership, payment of “dues”, with self-appointed leaders hired and paid for by these organizations, to teach the members a specific set of doctrines acceptable to the specific organization, a set of doctrines endorsed by a human committee.
3) to show that Jesus, during His entire ministry on earth, including the time right before He was going to be crucified, never made any preparations for the setting up of an “Organized Church.” In fact, everything He did and said indicated that He did not want an “Organized Church” in any shape or form.
4) to show that His disciples were constantly trying to get Jesus to form an “Organized Church” as they were continually arguing about “who would be the greatest in His Kingdom” (Mark 9:34) and “who would sit on His right hand and His left.” (Mark 10:35-38) But Jesus would have nothing to do with that. He said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 8:36)
5) to show that God said, “I just want to be your God and I want you to be my people.” (Hebrews 8:10) (NO middlemen!)
The Israelites in the Wilderness
When the Israelites were brought out of Egypt by God, with Moses as God’s representative, there was no building where people came to assemble to hear a sermon.
In Exodus, Chapter 19, God told Moses that He wanted to meet with the people and talk to them directly. God appeared in fire and smoke on Mt. Sinai while the people were gathered, outdoors, at the foot of Mt. Sinai.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify (consecrate) them today and tomorrow and let them wash their clothes
“And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.” Exodus 19:10,11
“And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that were in the camp trembled in awe.
“And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.“And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered Him by a voice.”
Then God spoke the Ten Commandments, as given in Exodus 20:1-17. But Exodus 20:18,19 describe how the people reacted.
“And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, ‘Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let NOT God speak with us, lest we die!
We want a Middleman!
The people were afraid of God and did not want Him to talk to them directly. They wanted a human intermediary, Moses, to talk to God and then Moses would talk to the people. In this way, the people refused to have a personal relationship with God.
The Exodus from Egypt occurred at Passover. The Ten Commandments were given to the people at the time of Pentecost, fifty days after Passover, the time when God wanted to begin putting His Spirit, His disposition, into each of the Israelites. But they refused to deal with God directly.
(So, Pentecost – with the outpouring of God’s “Spirit” – God’s disposition placed in the heart – had to wait for another 2,000 years – until after Jesus was crucified and resurrected and the disciples of Christ were in the Upper Room. Finally, Christ’s followers were willing to allow Christ to put His Spirit (His disposition) in them, to begin changing them into His image.)
Because the Israelites in the wilderness wanted an intermediary between them and God, God set up the Sanctuary, the Sanctuary service, and the system of Priests, who were designated to be the intermediaries between the Israelites and God (between man and God). But we must clearly see that this was not God’s original intention. His original intention was to speak with the individual Israelites directly, not through an intermediary!
In Exodus, Chapter 21, God gave the Israelites a whole list of civil laws to follow. However, these were only given after the Israelites had refused to be ruled individually – and directly – by God. They, instead, wanted to be led by man, in this instance – Moses.
If the Israelites had allowed God to put His Spirit, His disposition, into them individually, God could have, at that time, written the Law – the Ten Commandments – on their hearts, so they would Do Right because it Is Right, not just because they were afraid of God and His “punishments.”
Ten Commandments on Stone – Not in the Heart!
But because they refused His offer to deal with them individually and directly by writing the Law on their hearts, God had to write the Ten Commandments on Tables of Stone, to show the Israelites that when the Ten Commandments are on Stone and not in their hearts, they would have no power to do what is right. They, instead, would become hopelessly rebellious and keep turning away from God. They would repeatedly become involved in Pagan and Satanic religious practices.
So God set up the Sanctuary and the Sanctuary Service to give the Israelites what they wanted – a human intermediary between God and man.
Please note that this is an illustration of God’s “wrath” – God giving people what they want, when they want to do it their way, rather than God’s way.
Paul, in Romans 1:18,24,26,28 defines God’s wrath as “giving us over” to our earthly lusts and desires, to eventually reap what we have sown.
But also note that the Sanctuary in the wilderness was just a small tent. It had no place for the people to come in and sit down and hear a sermon. Furthermore, only the priests were allowed to go inside the Sanctuary, not the common people!
In the entire Old Testament, God made no provision for any type of religious service in which people would assemble into a building, or even a regular weekly assembly outdoors, to hear a sermon or any other religious service.
Neither the word “church” nor the word “synagogue” appear anywhere in the Old Testament.
So, for 4,000 years, God made no provision for people to assemble together for a man, a human being (priest, rabbi, or minister), to tell them about God!
God’s presence was visible to the Israelites as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night. And later, God’s presence resided in the Most Holy Place in the Sanctuary, where no one but the High Priest could enter, and even then, he could enter only once a year.
In the Old Testament, God spoke of His followers as the “Chosen” people, “Chosen” to exhibit His character to the other nations, a job given to them at which they failed miserably!
The word “church” never appears in the Old Testament. In addition, the word “synagogue” never appears in the Old Testament – – – – except for one time that it has been improperly and inaccurately translated (more precisely – “written in!”) by the translators. And that is in Psalm 74:8.
King James Version:
“They said in their hearts, Let us destroy (margin says: oppress) them together; they have burned up all the synagogues (margin says: meeting places) in the land.”
The word mistranslated “synagogues” is the word Hebrew mowadah which means: an appointed time, or a feast, not a meeting place or a synagogue. It refers to a “time” or “event”, not a place! Indeed, the Septuagint, which is the Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek, translates this Hebrew word mowadah as “feasts.”
“They have said in their heart, even all their kindred together, Come, let us abolish the feasts of the Lord from the earth.”
The New Testament:
The word “synagogue” and the word “church” appear in the Bible only in the New Testament. The first time the word “synagogue” is used in the New Testament is in Matthew 12:9
The Intertestamental period, the period between the Old Testament and the New Testament, was approximately 400 years in length. No books of the Bible were written during that time. It was apparently during this time that the tradition was instituted of people coming together weekly, in a building, to sit down, and listen to a sermon or a teaching by a human being telling people about God.
Nowhere in the Bible is there any indication that God wanted, or approved of, an “Organized Church.”
No “Church” in the Bible
First, the word “church” does not appear in the Bible – even in the New Testament! The word consistently mistranslated as “church” in Greek is ecclesia. It does not mean “church.” It means the “Called ones” or the “Called-out ones.” It has essentially the same meaning as the “Chosen people” in the Old Testament and the “Elect” in the New Testament.
King James ordered the translators to improperly translate the word ecclesia as “church” for political reasons. The word ecclesia has no hierarchical implications. It just means “believers” with no suggestion of buildings, memberships, leaders or any organizational structure.
God’s Presence was in the Temple – Not in the Synagogues
In the New Testament, the Temple in Jerusalem contained a Most Holy Place where the presence of God resided, above the cover of the Ark that contained the Ten Commandments.
At the beginning of Christ’s ministry, He visited the Temple and found that it had become a business, with the selling of animals for sacrifices. He drove the moneychangers out of the temple with their hordes of animals and said, “Make not My Father’s house a house of merchandise.” (John 2:16)
Clearly, Jesus was stating that God’s presence was in the Temple.
God’s Presence was not in the Synagogues
The synagogues apparently were places where the Israelites assembled to sit down and hear religious teachings.
Often, the New Testament speaks of Jesus going into “their” synagogues, clearly implying that the synagogues did not belong to Jesus or His Father!
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues . . .Matt 4:23
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues . . . Matt 9:35
But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. . .Matt 10:17
And He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee. . . Mark 1:39
And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. Luke 4:15
Never does the Bible say, or even intimate, that God’s presence was in the synagogues. God’s presence could not have been in the synagogues. God’s presence was in the Temple!
The Leaders of the Organized Church of Jesus’ time were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They were continually making plans to kill Jesus because He did not support the Organized Church.
Jesus abhorred the Organized Church of His day. This is what He said about the Organized Church and their Religious Leaders, the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes, in Matthew, Chapter 23:
“They bind heavy burdens that are heavy to bear and lay them on men’s shoulders: but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
And they love the places of honor at feasts, and the chief place in the synagogues, and greetings in the marketplaces and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
Jesus knew that if “men” started ruling over “men” in religious matters, they would become hopelessly corrupt. That’s why He said that He alone would be their teacher! Verse 8:
But you should not be called Rabbi: for One is your Teacher, even Christ; and you are all brethren.
Here Jesus, Himself, is saying that He alone is the Teacher of all His followers, and human beings are all brethren, none is above another. They are all the same. They should not be religious “leaders” of the people. That is the job of Jesus. ALL human beings are equal! None should be leading the other. Jesus Christ is our only “leader.”
This is what Jesus had to say about the Organized Church of His day! He did not make it difficult to understand! His feelings are quite clear!
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be lifted up.
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither do you allow them that are entering to go in.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses (possessions), and for a pretense make long prayers: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation (judging).
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell (gehenna) than yourselves.
Woe unto you, you blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing: but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is obligated to perform it.
You fools and blind: for which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing: but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is obliged to perform it.
You fools and blind: for which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? . . .
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not left the other undone.
You blind guides, you strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you make the outside of the cup and saucer clean, but the insides are full of extortion and self-indulgence.
You blind Pharisees, cleanse first that which is inside the cup and saucer, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, that indeed appear beautiful outward, but, inside, are full of dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness.
Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (lawlessness).
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets, and adorn the tombs of the righteous, and say, If we had been alive in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood (killing) of the prophets.
Wherefore, you are witnesses against yourselves, that you are the sons of them that killed the prophets. You are filled up with the measure of guilt of your fathers.
You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell? (judging of gehenna)
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify: and some of them you shall scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city; that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar.
Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets, and you who stone them that are sent to you, how often would I have gathered you children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!
Then Jesus gave the death knell to the Organized Church! He said, regarding the Temple, in vs 38:
Behold, your house is left unto you desolate!
Remember that at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when He cleansed the Temple, He said:
“Make not My Father’s house a house of merchandise.” John 2:16
But at the end of His ministry, he no longer called the Temple “My Father’s house.” Instead, as He was speaking to the people and their religious leaders, He referred to the Temple as “your house” and He told them “your house” is now left to you desolate.” God’s presence was no longer there. Jesus was leaving the Temple for the last time. The Temple would now be “desolate!”
People were not allowed in the Temple in Jerusalum.
As stated earlier, no one was allowed inside the Temple except the Priests, so obviously this was not a place for worship by the people. The two rooms of the temple were very small and could not accommodate more than a few, even if the people had been allowed inside.
Therefore, it is clear that God made no provision for, and therefore did not want, people to come together in a specified building to start an organized church.
The early Christians met in homes and along the river bank to study God’s word together. There was never to be a hierarchical structure with buildings, membership and “‘man” telling “man” what to believe.
God’s presence is no longer in buildings!
The Leaders of the Organized Church, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the scribes were the ones who wanted Jesus dead. It was the Organized Church, both the leaders and members, who yelled. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
When Jesus was crucified on the Cross, the Temple curtain was rent in two from top to bottom, signifying that it was rent supernaturally by God. Tradition says that the curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place was 16-18 inches thick. The Temple curtain was rent from top to bottom, exposing the Most Holy Place to human eyes, because no longer did it contain the presence of God. It was “desolate!”
But Jesus’ followers were not a part of the synagogue. The leaders of the synagogues not only plotted to kill Jesus, but they actually accomplished the dastardly act. Then, apparently they were plotting to kill His followers as well, because we are told that the disciples, after the crucifixion, were hiding in the Upper Room “for fear of the Jews!” (John 20:19)
Jesus’ followers had left the Organized Church in order to follow Jesus.
The Out-pouring of the Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit):
The Holy Spirit of God (the Pentecostal “early rain”) was given only to those who were outside of the Organized Church, those disciples of Christ who were in the Upper Room hiding from the leaders of the Organized Church who apparently wanted to kill them for being followers of Jesus.
In addition, the Holy Spirit was given only to those who were not only outside of the Organized Church, but it was given to those who were being hounded and persecuted by that same Organized Church.
The Holy Spirit did NOT fall on ANY who were inside the Organized Church!
But Didn’t Paul Set Up An Organized Church?
Wasn’t THAT God’s Will?
Some may argue that after Jesus was resurrected and ascended to heaven, the apostle Paul was given the job of setting up the “Organized Church.”
The words “bishop”, “minister”, “deacons”, and “elders” are often used by supporters of an “Organized Church” to imply that these terms denote an organizational structure that God endorsed.
However, the English word “deacon” is a variation of the Greek word diakoneo which means an attendant (such as a waiter who waits on tables) or a servant or slave. The definition does not, in any way, imply a “leader.”
This same word, meaning servant, is sometimes arbitrarily translated “minister.”
The word “elder”, presbuteros in Greek, just means an older (in age) or senior person. It does not denote a “leader” in an organizational structure.
The following Bible passage, 1 Timothy 3:1-15, is often used to suggest that God endorses an “Organized Church” hierarchical structure.
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity’
(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.
Now, let’s look at the literal translation of this passage and be amazed and saddened at the license that the translators have taken!
Faithful is the saying: ‘If anyone is craving the vision, he is desiring ideal work.’
The inspector (or one looking after or caring for), then, must be irreprehensible, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, well-ordered, hospitable, apt at teaching,
not a drinker, not a contentious one, not greedy of ill gain, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not loving money:
controlling his own household ideally, having his children in subjection with all respect
– now if anyone is not aware how to control his own household, how will he care for the ecclesia of God? –
no novice, lest, being conceited, he should be falling into the judgment of the Adversary.
Yet he must have a good witness also from those outside, that he should not be falling into the reproach and trap of the Adversary.
Servants, similarly, are to be reverent, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy of ill gain, having the secret of the faith in a pure conscience.
Now let these also first be tested: thereafter let them be serving, being without reproach.
The wives, similarly, are to be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.
Let servants be the husbands of one wife, controlling children and their own households ideally, for those having served well for themselves gain a good grade for themselves and much boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
These things I am writing to you, though expecting to come to you more quickly, yet if I delay, that you may know how one must behave in God’s house, which is the ecclesia of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
The word “Bishop” is episkopos in Greek, #1985 in Strong’s Concordance.
It means “inspector” or one who diligently looks after another individual or group – an overseer. There were those, like Stephen, whose job it was to watch out for the widows and other unfortunates, to make sure they had food, etc.
Let’s read the origin of this arrangement among the early Christians as found in Acts 6:1-5:
And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration (food distribution).
Please note: the Hellenists (the Gentiles or NON-“Jews”) were complaining that the Hebrews (the “Jews”) were taking all the food for the “Jew” widows and not giving any to the “Gentile” widows. This (the problem between the “Jews” and “Gentiles”) is the entire reason for setting up a system of “food distribution” and “serving at tables.”
Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
Wherefore, brethren,seek ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Spirit of holiness and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business (of serving tables!).
But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. (Not to organizing a “church.”)
And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of God’s Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nivanor, and Timon and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch.
Please notice that there are two groups of people mentioned here:
Group I was to take care of distributing food to the widows and waiting on tables;
Group II was to give themselves “continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Nothing is said here about organizing a “church” hierarchical structure with an administrative hierarchy, members, dues, and buildings.
Doesn’t the Bible speak of these supposed “Church leaders” being “ordained”?
What does it mean “to ordain”?
The English word “ordain” is a translation of at least twelve different Greek words! Again, the translators seem to have no rules for their translation. When they arbitrarily translate twelve different Greek words as one English word, their translation becomes capricious and meaningless. One certainly cannot make a doctrine out of such careless translations.
(Please note the following list of Greek words translated “ordain” or “ordained” from Strong’s Concordance.)
Jesus made no preparations for the setting up of an Organized Church:
• Even as Jesus’ death by crucifixion was drawing near, He made no move to set up an Organized Church, nor did He instruct any of His disciples to do so.
• At the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter suggested building tabernacles (churches?) for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. (Mark 9:4,5) Jesus just ignored Peter’s suggestion.
• When James and John came to Jesus to ask Him if they could sit on His left and right, Jesus said, “No.” (Mark 10:35-38)
• And when that didn’t work, James and John asked their mother! to ask Jesus for the same thing. Jesus again said, “No.” (Matt 20:20-24)
• The disciples were repeatedly arguing about “who would be the greatest in Christ’s kingdom.” (Mark 9:34)
• Repeatedly Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world!” (John 8:36)
• When Jesus healed the man born blind, only after the man had been thrown out of the Organized Church (synagogue) did Jesus come back to him and reveal to the man that (Jesus) was the Messiah. He did not reveal this to the healed man until the previously blind man had been thrown out of the Organized Church. (John 9:35-38)
• After Jesus ascended to heaven, Peter, in the Upper Room, decided that HE (Peter) had to start leading the “church” by picking the twelfth disciple to take the place of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ.
Peter, arrogantly picked two people, then asked God to bless his (Peter’s) choice. Mathias was picked by casting lots. (Acts 1:15-26) The Bible never again speaks of Mathias. However, the Bible does tell us that when the time was right, Jesus, Himself, picked HIS OWN twelfth disciple. And that was Saul of Tarsus, who became the apostle Paul. And Jesus picked Paul personally, on the Road to Damascus.
Saul of Tarsus (Paul) was not even on Peter’s “short list” of candidates for the disciple slot, as at the time of Peter’s “taking charge” Saul was busy imprisoning and killing Christians.
Peter was totally out of line in what he had done. Jesus was perfectly capable of running things, whether He was on earth or in heaven. He didn’t need Peter to “help Him out” with the task of picking His disciples.
Jesus picked Paul, and Paul was arguably the greatest of Jesus’ disciples, as well as the author of the bulk of the New Testament.
• After Jesus was crucified, resurrected and ascended to heaven, the Bible tells us that now our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit – not some building!
Know ye not that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit? (1 Cor 6:19)
• In Hebrews 9:11 we are told that Christ no longer dwells in buildings made with hands:
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building.
God has always said, “I just want to be your God, and you be my people.” Jeremiah 7:23
God wants NO middlemen!
The Organized Church has blasphemously taken the place of God!
God has never commanded nor endorsed an Organized Church of ANY kind!
God wants to run our lives, directly and personally, with no one in between!
Here is Jesus’ final word on the subject! (Matthew 20:25-28)
Jesus said to His disciples, You know that the princes of the Unbelievers (mistranslated “Gentiles”) lord it over one another, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
BUT IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant; And whosoever will be first among you, let him be your slave;
Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for (the) many.