FROM WHERE DID WE GET THE WORD CHURCH?
NOTE: Most of the following research was compiled by a fellow believer, who, for personal reasons, has chosen not to have his name affiliated with this site.
Walk up to almost any church of any denomination in any nation on earth, and it immediately distinguishes itself from all other kinds of buildings. First, you might notice near the highway or on the sidewalk, a marquee with a name such as, Church of the Nazarene, or First Baptist Church, or Our Lady Catholic Church. These unique buildings we call churches have many things in common, not the least of which is the designation of the word “church” itself. What does the word “church” mean, and from where did it come? The Scriptures? No. The word “church” is neither Hebrew nor Greek, so when these languages were translated into English Bibles, the word church was already in existence.
The word “church” found in most (not all) Bibles is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia,” and it means “called out ones.” The word “church” is defined in most dictionaries as: “A building for public worship, especially Christian worship; the company of all Christians as a spiritual body.” This, however, tells us nothing concerning the origin of this word and its original definition, meaning, and usage. Some theologians have erroneously stated that the word church comes from the Greek “kyrios” which means “lord,” and thus “church” is those who belong to the Lord, or references the “Lord’s house.” This is not, however, the origin or original meaning of the word “church.”
“Church” is a very early English word that means “circle” (the shape of a circle), while the Greek word translated “church” is “ekklesia” and means “called out ones,” and more properly answers to the English words: congregation, assembly or group.
In Acts 19:32 ekklesia refers to a riotous mob. And ekklesia is never applied to a building for worship. Furthermore, there can be only one “Lord’s House,” and that was the temple in Jerusalem, only. Local congregations and synagogues or assembly halls were never designated “The Lord’s House.”
“Bethel” is the word for “Lord’s House” in Hebrew. Yet, this “Lord’s House” became an abomination to the Lord, along with all other such “Lord’s houses.”
“For the saying that he cried by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass… Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places… And this thing became SIN unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth” (I Kings 13:32-34).
And so, in rebelling to God’s commands, “Bethels” were built throughout the land. And just as Israel continually looked to the heathen for their religious practices (see Jeremiah 10:1-5, for example), so did the heathens borrow from Israel. These “Bethels” or “houses of the Lord” became popular among the heathens. Bethels were being built throughout Europe, West Asia, and North Africa. They usually used the Greek spelling “baetyls,” but they were the same high, religious places of worship, which God condemned. So even if a “Bethel” was a “house of the Lord,” it was still condemned by God. Here are the historical facts regarding the word “Bethel” [From the Dictionary of Proper Names and Places in the Bible, by O. Odelain and R. Seguineau, Doubleday & Company, 1981]:
The word Bethel literally means “House of God,” and was the name of a town about 17 km north of Jerusalem on the road to Shechem. Bethel was also the name of a Canaanite deity venerated at Bethel. In the ancient world Bethel is one of the camping places of Abraham and Jacob. From there Abraham sees the land God is giving him. It is also here where the dream of “Jacob’s ladder” occurs, and where God later appears to Jacob. Thus Bethel becomes a sanctuary of the patriarchs. Along with Ai, it is one of the first towns conquered by Joshua. Later, in the ninth century the town is the residence of a brotherhood of prophets centered around Elijah and Elisha. It also becomes for the Northern Kingdom the national center of worship, with its golden calf, “the sin of Jeroboam.” Amos pronounces God’s judgment upon this cult (Amos 3:13-15; 5:4-7), and is expelled from Bethel by the priest Amaziah. Hosea waxes ironical about Bethel, the “House of God,” that it has become Beth-aven (Hosea 5:8; 10:5), which means “the house of nothingness (or iniquity).” Josiah’s religious reform affects Bethel, where these altars and high places are destroyed (see II Kings 23:15-20).
Now concerning the word “church,” Professor Smith of Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible states that “church” comes from a word meaning “circle,” which is akin to our word “circus.” Professor Lipsius (German theologian during the Reformation) also shows that “church” came from “circle.” Professor A. F. Fausett of Home Bible Study Dictionary” agrees with Professor Lipsius. The exhaustive ten volume Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature under the word “church” states that:
“It was probably connected with the Latin circus, circulus, and with the Greek kuklos. Lipsius, who was the first to reject the received tradition, was probably right in his suggestion” (Vol. II, p. 322).
Robert Brown’s work The Myth of Kirke” also confirms that “kirke” (church) means “Circle” or “Circular” (p. 22).
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, under the entry “church” adds this:
“The etymology of this word is generally assumed to be from the Greek, kurious oikos (house of God); but this is most improbable, as the word existed in all the Celtic dialects long before the introduction of the Greek. No doubt the word means ‘a circle.’ The places of worship among the German and Celtic nations were always circular [witness circular Stonehenge, one of the most ancient stone megaliths on earth]. Compare Anglo-Saxon ‘circe,’ a small church, with ‘circol,’ a circle.”
In Scotland it is called “Kirk” and in Gemany it is “Kirche,” in England it is the word “Circe” (the “c” having a “k” sound).
But according to Brown’s book, “Kirke/Circe” was also the name of a Goddess.
Kirke or Circe was the daughter of the Sun god, who was famous for taming wild animals for her circus. But get ready for this: Circe is pictured holding a golden cup in her hand mixed with wine and drugs, by which she controlled the kings of the world. Now where have we heard that before?
“And the woman [always the symbol for a church/kirke] was arrayed in purple and scarlet color [these colors symbolize wealth and high position], and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” (Revelation 17:4).
What else are we told is in the golden cup of this church?
“…the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Verse 2).
But there is something else. Remember that Brown above also mentions drugs along with wine. Is our lady church of Revelation 17:4-5 “MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” also involved in DRUGS?
Notice what Revelation 18:23 lists among her many abominations:
“…for the merchants were the great men of the earth; for by your sorceries were all nations deceived.”
Just what are these “sorceries?”
The Greek word translated “sorceries” in this verse is pharmakeia. Dr. Strong’s first definition of this word is “medicine.” Our words “pharmacy” and “pharmaceutical” (DRUGS) are derived from this word. This harlot church peddles spiritual DRUGS to the world! And so, clearly this pagan goddess Kirke not only stamps Christian religions of the world with her name: “Kirke, Kirche, Church,” but also she is the Mystery Babylonian Harlot Church of Revelation 17 and 18. This Church has committed spiritual fornication among the leaders of the world, and has caused the inhabitants of the world to be made drunk and drugged by the contents of her golden cup.
What about you? Are you yet so drugged and drunk on this Harlot Church that you cannot see to walk the straight and narrow way of Christ, which leads to life?
This brief synopsis of the word “church” is in no way meant to be an indictment toward the many wonderful people who attend churches. Lord only knows how much worse the plight of Hurricane Katrina victims would have been if it weren’t for the generosity of the area churches, who met many personal needs where government agencies such as FEMA and the Red Cross failed. I am confident that our Lord Jesus will remember good deeds such as these on Judgment Day. But good deeds alone will not qualify one for first-resurrection status (see Matthew 7:21-23).
First of all, those who worship God must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. They must proclaim Christ as Savior of the world, and believe that He will indeed SAVE the world!
- “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe [that He is the Savior of ALL men, and that He will INDEED SAVE ALL MEN]. These things command and teach. (I Timothy 4:9-11)
These are the things that our Lord commands His laborers to teach concerning Him. Now how many church pastors do you know of that are doing this? Instead, most believe and teach that our heavenly Father will cast the majority of mankind away into a fiery furnace for all eternity. Because of this erroneous teaching, they lead their flocks astray (see Jeremiah 50:6). The way to life [via the first resurrection] is indeed a narrow one.
Secondly, those who take a stand for the Truth (Jesus) must be willing to do so even in the face of violent opposition. Remember these sobering words of our Lord:
- “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘ A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:18-20)
- “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (II Timothy 3:12)
For some, this may even mean being forsaken by the members of one’s own household:
- “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth… For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39)
Christ will become top priority to those who wish to find the narrow way that leads to age-abiding life. Not everyone will be able to make that type of a commitment. This is why Christ tells us to “count the cost” of following Him (see Luke 14:26-33).
And finally, Christ makes it clear that it is the one who endures to the end who will be saved [or attain to age-abiding life] (see Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13). But those who have been appointed to walk the difficult to find narrow road can take heart:
- “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
You will notice that it is God who began the work, and it is God who completes it!
- “Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:38,39)
- “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” (Revelation 21:7)