What Does "Church" Mean?

Posted in: 2007
By Tom L. Ballinger
Feb 26, 2008 - 3:19:05 PM

March 2, 2007

Chapter One

Understanding Ekklesia

The word, church, has become a word, to which it seems, that no-one can give a fixed meaning. In fact, Martin Luther fought against using the German word, kircke, in the German translation of the Bible. Kircke, if translated into English, would be our word, church. However, Luther did not prevail.

The English word, church, comes from the Latin word, meaning circle. Our word, circus, is a derivative of the word, circle. You know, “three ring,” as in a “three ring circus.” Perhaps, very early-on when meetings, or assemblies, convened, they sat in a circle like a “round table;” from that, the word, church was coined.

Frankly, when viewing, or observing, the pretentious parades, religious extravaganzas, or Holy Ghost revivals which are put on display for everyone to see, I am convinced the correct word for such is CIRCUS!

If you had an auditorium full of theologians and asked them to define what a church was, you probably could not find an agreement on its definition.

After looking into six Dictionaries, it was discovered that the word, church, has no fixed definition. Instead, what is found for definitions turns out to reveal that the word has no basic meaning, out of which all other usages are derived.

After considering the definitions, it was deduced that the word is a fickle, elusive, and indefinable word upon which no exact meaning can be fixed. Therefore, it can be used in any way one wants to use it.

The Christian Religion has taken over Biblical words and has bestowed upon them meanings as to fit their own purpose. The word, church, is one example. The Greek word, ekklesia, is translated church, or churches, in our English Bibles 113 times and assembly, three times.

The New Testament word for church has no relationship, or connection, with the great religious monstrosity that parades under the name of “the church” today.

The Acts period Church (Ekklesia) and the Church (Ekklesia) Which is His Body bears no resemblance at all to what the Christian Religion calls its Church.

The churches of this world's religious systems are entities which men have built. Many of them trace their roots back to some man: Luther, Calvin, Aquinas, Knox, Wesley, Eddy, Smith and on and on. To lay claim that this is what the Lord Jesus meant, when He promised to build His Church, borders on blasphemy.

“ ... And upon this rock I will build My church ...” (Matt. 16:18)

Men without number have sought to reproduce the Divine Church (Ekklesia) which existed in the days of Peter and Paul. They make exaggerated claims and have succeeded in gathering a few, or a multitude of, followers in some form of organization with themselves as the head-man. They bestow titles upon themselves and others with Biblical labels of leadership, such as: apostles, elders, deacons, bishops, fathers, or priests. Some bestow titles of un-Biblical origin - popes, cardinals and etc. Then, when the organization grows and prospers, they pragmatically insist, based upon outward results, that the true church has been restored.

They are masters of deception and self-deception (2 Tim. 3:13). We can expect their numbers to increase in the last days of this dispensation.

We are so steeped in Christian tradition that when we read, or think, of the Biblical term, church, we are conditioned to think of a concept which is not Biblical at all. The word, church, is not connected to what, today, is referred to as “the church.” May the Lord give us a clean slate to write upon!

The Greek City-States Body Politic─The Ekklesia

Let us write anew, on the tables of our hearts, the genesis of the Biblical meaning of church. The Greek City-States were perhaps the first highly organized Democratic societies. Their legislative assemblies, the political body, were called the Ekklesias.

Members of the Greek Ekklesias were chosen, or appointed, or positioned to be ministers of state, legislators, senators, or representatives. These members of the Ekklesia were ordinary citizens. They may have been butchers, bakers, bankers, tinkers, cobblers, candlestick-makers, merchants, weavers, or stone masons. When they were not in session, they probably lived ordinary lives. In pursuit of their trade, they did not carry any official Ekklesia authority.

But, when they were summoned, or called into session, they became the City-State’s Ekklesia. When they were in session, they were rulers. They were the governmental authorities. They administered government.

Ekklesia means - those called out from among others; those who were appointed, or summoned, or designated.

Many Christians understand ekklesia to mean; “called-out ones from the world.” That's not bad, but it doesn't do justice to the more profound meaning.

In order to amplify, let it be stated that the Greek City-State’s Ekklesia derived their position and authority from the citizens. It could be compared to the U.S. Congress. Congressmen derive their position from (or out-from) the citizens who elect them. The people have given them the authority to make laws for the country. Strictly speaking, in the sense of the Greek word, Ekkelsia, Congress could very well be referred to as an Ekklesia. But, in no way could it be referred to as a Church in the understanding of the Christian Religion.

Congressmen have been chosen, elected, called-out, or appointed out-from among the citizens of their districts. When they are officially assembled in Washington D.C., it is as if all of the United States citizens are assembled there; but in the persons of their chosen and elected representatives.

Ancient Heads of State Had Their Own Ekklesia

Every ancient king, monarch, or potentate had his own ekklesia. If he had a company of men, large or small, whom he had appointed, or chosen, who had a station out of him; they were his ekklesia. When the ancient ruler summoned these men together for official purposes, they were assembled as his ekklesia.

An Old Testament example is pointed out in Daniel 3:2-3:

“Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.”

Here, Nebuchadnezzar issued a summons to the princes, governors, captains, judges, treasurers, and so on to convene. When they assembled as a result of Nebuchadnezzar’s call, they were officially in session as the King’s Ekklesia. They were the King’s ministers of state.
It is very hard for Christians to comprehend that as members of Christ’s Ecclesia during the Acts Period, they were part of the Divine Body Politic waiting for the Kingdom of God to be manifested world-wide. Likewise, the “Church Which is His Body” (to wit, today’s Ekklesia) has been, or is being chosen, and selected to become Christ’s most exalted Ministers in His future universal Government.

Presidents Have Their Own Ekklesias

In the United States, the President has the authority to choose, appoint, select, and position people to be members of his Cabinet. When the Senate exercises its advice and consent, and Cabinet members are approved, they become ministers of state. They are given their positions out of the one who positioned them, the President.

Cabinet meetings are not official unless the President has called for the meeting. When he convenes the Cabinet meeting, they become his Ekklesia. They are not his Ekklesia until he calls them into session. He is the only one who can officially call, or summon, the assembly.

All of the above has been written to find a true Scriptural meaning of the word, “church.” The Greek word, ekklesia, is such a technical word that it has been incorporated into the English Language. The spelling has been anglicized to ecclesia.

Ekklesia Became the English Word “Ecclesia”

Please observe some definitions of Ecclesia.

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary: “ECCLESIA - 1. an assembly of citizens. fr. ekkalein; to call forth, summon. fr. ex + kalein to call.”

The New World Book Dictionary: “ECCLESIA - 1. a political assembly of the citizens of ancient Athens.”

It should be pointed out that from the word, Ecclesia, we get the English word, ecclesiastical. In Webster's Dictionary of 1828, ecclesia is not found; however ecclesiastical is: “ECCLESIASTICAL - Gr. ekklesia, an assembly, or a meeting, whence as church, to call forth or convoke, to call.”

The word, whence, is telling us that the word, church, comes from the words, assembly or meeting. Think about it. How can you come up with the word, church, from the words, assembly or meeting? It’s beyond me!

In the definition of Ecclesiastical, it should be noted, “to call forth or convoke, to call.” In order for an Ecclesia to come together as an Official Assembly, it must be the result of convocation. It goes without saying that in order to call together, summons, or convoke, there must be someone of authority to send out the call, or summons, to convene. The one with the authority would be the “Convocator.”

Ekklesia is used 116 times in the New Testament. It is always translated, “church,” or “churches,” except three times in Acts 19. Acts 19 relates the uproar caused by the Apostle Paul’s ministry. The silversmiths of Ephesus broke into the meeting of the City Council, the Ekklesia of Ephesus. Here, the translators translate ekklesia as “assembly,” not “church.” Three times in Acts 19, the ekklesia is translated “assembly” (vs. 32, 39, 41). “Assembly” is a government term—as in an assemblyman. Assemblymen made up the Assembly in Ephesus. Evidently, it was not on the Assembly’s agenda to consider the case of Paul. The town clerk [The KJV spells it as one word, “townclerk”] said in verse 39 that the matter about Paul had to be discussed in a lawful assembly; to do so now would be unlawful because the Assembly had not been convened to consider the matter. Then, as the one in authority, the town clerk dismissed the Assembly.

An interesting sidelight is the translation of verse 37; “For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches [hierosulos] nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.” It should read, neither robbers of temples (see note in Companion Bible).

Was there an attempt to veil the truth concerning the true nature of the ekklesia by the translators of the Authorized Version? Did they have a vested interest in the Church of England to suppress the truth? I don’t know—just asking.

An Ecclesia Must Have Its Convocator

For the President's Cabinet to officially convene, the President, as the Convocator, must convoke. For the U.S. House of Representatives to officially convene, the Speaker of the House, as the Convocator, must issue the convocation. Both the Cabinet and the House are technically ecclesias.

In an earlier illustration, Nebuchadnezzar was the Convocator when he convoked his ecclesia. A member of the ecclesia does not have the authority to convoke (i.e. convene). Only the Convocator has the authority to issue the convocation. As the Convocator, he convened the ecclesia. Only he can dismiss the ecclesia. The President adjourns the Cabinet; only he can do it.

The Great Convocator of the Christian Ecclesias—Jesus Christ

Regarding the Christian Ecclesias during “The Acts of the Apostles,” they were fully operational. They performed their functions as the Ecclesias of Christ. Christ, as the Great Convocator, convened the Jerusalem Ecclesia on the Day of Pentecost. And, as each Ecclesia sprang-up throughout the Roman Empire, Christ convened them into session.

The Ecclesia during the Acts Period was “The Ecclesia of God.” It had sub-ecclesias, such as, the Ecclesia at Thessalonica, the Ecclesia (1 Thess. 1:1), the Ecclesia at Antioch (Acts 13:1), the Ecclesia at Ephesus (Acts 20:17) and etc. The ecclesias, during the Pentecostal Dispensation, need to be differentiated from the Ecclesia over which Christ Jesus is the Head. It is revealed in truth for today that while individual members are being called and chosen, the present Ecclesia has not been called into session by the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, since it has not been convened, it has no official and ordained function today. We are awaiting our “high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” This “call” will convene our Ecclesia, to wit, we will be in session and operationally functioning. Titus 2:13 and 2 Timothy 4:1 will result in the “high calling” which we live, looking for—the Blessed Hope.

The 1967 World Book Dictionary defines ECCLESIA as: “1. A political assembly of the citizens of ancient Athens. They met on the famous hill of Pnyx, where the Ecclesia, the first of the great legislatures of a sovereign people, generally sat when the city was at the height of its glory. 2. an assembly. 3. a congregation. 4. a church [late Latin ecclesia <Greek ekklesia church>.”

It is interesting to note The World Book Dictionary shows no root words from which we get our English word, “church.” It stands alone. However, by comparison, the dictionary lists eleven English words from the root word, “ecclesia.”

A Person Cannot Join AN Ecclesia

Let it be pointed out, parenthetically, that one doesn't join the U. S. House of Representatives. Technically, it is an ecclesia. You don't join an ecclesia. You are chosen, positioned, selected, or elected to a ecclesia.

You don't decide one day that you are going to join the President's Cabinet. The Cabinet is an ecclesia. You must be called, selected, positioned, or chosen. You cannot walk into a Cabinet meeting and declare; “I want to join this ecclesia.” Nor, can you walk into the House of Representatives, when they are in session, and announce; “I want to join this ecclesia.”

Think about it! The Christian Religion’s Churches compared to the Ecclesia of Jesus Christ. You can join a church if you so desire. You can have your membership transferred by letter. In local churches, folks are encouraged to join and become a member of the church. You can sign a membership card.

The Ecclesia that Christ said He would build was not open for people to join. He chose, selected, designated, positioned, or elected those who were to be His Ecclesia. It was His work, it was His doing, and it was so important to Him that before He made His first choice, He went out into a mountain to pray. He continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called to Him the disciples—and out of them, He chose twelve and named them apostles (Luke 6:12-13). The Twelve were the first He chose. They did not join—they were selected. The disciples were simply learners. They were not designated to any position.

The Apostles were given awesome power and authority. In Matthew 10:1, we learn that Christ gave them authority (power) over unclean spirits and over all manner of sickness and disease. This authority was not based upon their faith, devotion, or holiness. It was even given to Judas Iscariot (Matt. 10:4). Based upon them being chosen by Christ and being given authority, they were to administer the Government of Christ during the “Acts of the Apostles.” Christ ruled over the Israel of God (i.e. the commonwealth of Israel) during the Acts period. Even though He was enthroned in heaven, He ruled through His earthly administrators—His Ecclesia. This new order of things touched every phase of life of those believers who submitted to the heavenly rule. Believers who did not conform to this Divine arrangement had to be brought into conformity, or suffer the consequences.

C. I. Scofield, in his reference Bible, noted the following on ekklesia; “(ek= “out of,” kaleo = “to call).” From this, orthodoxy teaches that the church is a “called out body of believers,” that is, called out from the world. However, for some reason, most lexicons leave out the primary definition and emphasize the secondary meaning, as did Scofield. From other sources, it has been learned that the primary meaning of ekklesia means designated ones, appointed ones, positioned ones. The Greek Ekklesias, as it has been pointed out, were the rulers of the City-States.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says of the word Ekklesia, “To the Greek it would suggest a self-governing democratic society; to the Jew a theocratic society whose members were the subjects of the Heavenly King. The pre-Christian history of the word had a direct bearing upon its Christian meaning, for the ekklesia of the New Testament is a "theocratic democracy" (Lindsay, Church and Ministry in the Early Centuries, 4), a society of those who are free, but are always conscious that their freedom springs from obedience to their King.”

The phrases, “self-governing democratic society” and “theocratic society,” of necessity, would mean a government of God from whence we get the Kingdom of God.

Vines definition of Ekklesia ― “Was a word used among the Greeks of a body of citizens gathered to discuss affairs of State (see Acts 19:39).”

So, it can safely be deduced that ekklesia has to do with government, rule, dominion, sovereignty, and authority. The English for this is ecclesia.

Christendom’s use of the word, “church,” does not by any stretch of the imagination, convey the idea of governmental authority, or rule. However, the Holy Spirit chose the word, ekklesia, to describe what the Lord Jesus Christ was going to build. So, we are on safe ground to refer to it as the eccelsia instead of the “church.” As English is the language of the world, today, Greek was the language of the civilized world at the time of the writing of the New Testament. First century folks in the Greek speaking world understood that ekklesia meant a legislative body which administered governmental affairs.

Plainer Words Online
Tom L. Ballinger


March 8, 2007
Chapter Two

Principalities of Heaven

As Bible believers, we should not let the slightest things in the Word escape our attention. One of the Scriptural facts which most of us have overlooked is the unparalleled period of world history as recorded in “The Acts of the Apostles.”

It is generally accepted that the Acts Period lasted about thirty-three years; however, admittedly, this is based on conjecture. During this thirty-three year period, supernatural events were common-place in Christian communities. The sick were healed, the dead were raised, the dumb spoke, the blind saw, the crippled leaped, devils were cast out, men spoke in foreign tongues, Christians worked miracles, and many had the supernatural gift of prophecy; some had the gift of divine government; others, wisdom and supernatural knowledge. The manifestation of these unheard-of qualities stirred up much of the Roman Empire; so much so, that it was said of these Christians:

“…These [Christians] that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6).

You would think that the record of secular history would have made mention of the actions of this group of people who turned the world upside-down between 29 A.D and 62 A.D. But no, history is silent about it. You would think with such miracles abounding, that headlines in the chapter heading of history books would shout—“MIRACLES ABOUNDED EARLY IN FIRST CENTURY!” As is the case with unpopular historical events, there was a conspiracy of silence. The utter uniqueness of the period was totally ignored by secular historians.

On the other hand, in many Christian circles, especially among Pentecostals, the supernatural uniqueness of that interval has been significantly minimized and watered down. By minimizing the distinctiveness of the Acts Period, these Christians can audaciously claim the only difference between THEN and NOW is that believers, today, are weak in faith; therefore, their faith has not been “anointed.” During the Acts Period, the believers were “on-fire-for-God.” They had the “anointing.” That’s what’s missing today. [ 1 ]

We have a one- word reply for such nonsense—BALONEY!

Therefore, we are witnesses to popular schools of thought among modern-day Christians who believe the miraculous events of “The Acts of the Apostles” are still in operation, today, “If only Christians exerted enough faith.” None of these sects are able to discern a cessation of the miraculous at the end of Acts 28. Not only that, they fail, miserably, in comprehending the Biblical concept of the Ecclesia of God during Its short but miracle abounding life.

During the Acts period, wherever Christ’s Ecclesias were located, signs, wonders, and miracles were common place. They were “the order of the day.” The manifestation of actions that defied the laws of nature did not occur in proportion to the faith of the believers in the ecclesias. The most carnal Christian Ecclesia, mentioned in the Bible, was at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:1-4). Every believer, no matter how carnal, possessed a “spiritual gift” (1 Corinthians 12:7). Even though the Ecclesia at Corinth was a most carnal ecclesia, the supernatural abounded. So, the erroneous idea that the lack of faith is the cause for so few miracles, today, doesn’t pass the “smell test.”

During the Acts Period, the Lord Jesus Christ was setting the stage and making ready a people for the soon coming Kingdom, to wit, His Government in which He would rule the world. His would be the Government of the Heavens. The people He was preparing were those who made up the Ecclesias of God in:

Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), Antioch ((Acts 13:1), Caesarea (Acts 18:22), Ephesus (Acts 20:17), Cenchurea (Rom. 16:1), Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2), Thessalonica (1 Thes. 1:1), Babylon (1 pet. 5:13), Galatia (Gal. 1:2), Macedonia (2 Cor. 8:1) and others throughout the Roman Empire. All of the ecclesias were part of the Ecclesia of God.

Throughout history, many capital cities of empires saw fit, for political reasons, to establish cities within the empire as extensions of the empire’s capital, itself. The empire would make a city a principality, or a protectorate, or a colony, or a city-state. Rome did this in 42 B.C. with the City of Philippi.

According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “The fertile plain of Philippi was the battlefield between Mark Antony and Octavian and Brutus and Cassius, in which the former conquered and the Roman Republic was overthrown in 42 B.C. In celebration of the victory the city [Philippi] was made a Roman colony with the special privileges this involved. Rome was reproduced, in miniature, in Phillipi. The City had voting rights, their own senate and magistrates, and the Roman Law.”

Heaven’s Principalities

Ecclesias (i.e. churches) were planted throughout the Roman Empire during the “Acts of the Apostles.” They existed as principalities of Heaven. A principality, in this sense, was a small miniature state, or a city-state ruled by a prince. As Heaven’s principalities, they may have been located within the geographical boundaries of certain cities, or countries, but their allegiance was not to earthly magistrates, kings, or a Roman Caesar, but rather, to another King (Acts 17:7), the One and Only King of kings ─ the Only Potentate (1 Timothy 6:16)—the Lord Jesus Christ.

As the “Ecclesias of Christ,” they were self-governing principalities of Heaven. Those who believed and submitted to the governing body of the ecclesias had their citizenship in heaven. The ecclesias had God ordained and commissioned princes. These princes, to wit, the rulers, didn’t rule as the result of popular elections. They were chosen as God’s elect by the Apostles, or their representatives. The officials, the princes of each ecclesia (i.e. bishops, deacons, and elders), were required to be Jewish. During this unique thirty-three year period, a Gentile, no matter how devout, was not allowed to hold an office in the ecclesia. The Jew had the priority.

God was forming a “new nation”—the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16); later, Paul referred to them as—the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12). Those who were joined to the Churches [the Ecclesias] of Christ made up the New Nation of Israel. Saved Gentiles submitted to the authority of the Ecclesias. They were not citizens of these Jewish principalities; instead, they were aliens from this Commonwealth of Israel, but they enjoyed the blessings and promises since they were Christ’s. Yes, as saved Gentiles, they were reckoned as Christ’s; hence, they were Abraham’s seed by faith. These Christian principalities were scattered all over the Roman Empire. As heavenly colonies, the ecclesias had had a taste of the heavenly gift …and had tasted of the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come (Hebrews 6:4-5). They experienced a preview of the soon coming Kingdom of the Heavens (i.e. the Kingdom of God).

Ecclesia Rulers

Those who had been Divinely designated as the officers were the ruling ecclesias, not only in spiritual-Scriptural matters, but, also, in civil matters. These facts are certainly not truth for today. These truths belonged to the past dispensation and should not be read into today’s truth concerning the Ecclesia over which Christ Jesus is the Head (Ephesians 1:22-23).

Acts Period believers were instructed to “recognize those who are over you in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 5:12). The Apostle Paul exhorted the saints in Hebrews 13 to “remember them that have rule over you” (v. 7), and to “obey them that have rule over you, and submit yourselves” (v. 17), and in verse 24, he wrote, “Salute all them that have rule over you.” Paul admonished the officials to rule with diligence (Romans 12:8). None of this is Present Truth. The Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head has only One Ruler—Christ Himself. There is no authority between us and Christ Jesus. The “Church-World” would refer to today’s church leaders as the “Ecclesiastic Authorities.” How foolhardy it would be to apply this to today’s churches. Every day, we read of church leaders who are appointed and selected by men who have fallen “from grace.”

Adultery, fornication, embezzling of funds, child molestation, pedophilia, sexual seduction and rape of church members, use of illegal narcotics, and homosexuality are the dark side of life some “church leaders” succumb to. Today’s leaders are called by men, or they are self-promoted. By contrast, the Acts Period rulers were ordained by God. If they stepped out of line, swift and severe recompense was meted out.

The Higher Authorities

When Romans 13:1-3 is read in the light of the rightly divided Word, as set forth above, we can clearly see that the “governing authorities” in the heavenly principalities, to wit, the ecclesias mentioned, have reference to the men who were commissioned by the Lord to exercise government during the Acts Period.

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same” (Romans 13:1-3).

“Higher powers” means powers higher than civil authorities. The “higher powers” would be those authorities ordained by God to rule and guide the Acts Period ecclesias. It is a glaring mistake to equate these authorities, or powers, to those of kings, emperors, presidents, magistrates, senators, or legislators, either past or present. To do so would validate the old claim of the Divine Right of Kings. This interpretation stands as one of the most preposterous ones in all of the Bible interpretations. The “higher powers” mentioned in Romans 13:1-7 are not a reference to civil authorities.

Our civil officials are not in power by an ordinance of God. To believe Romans Thirteen applies to officials of any civil government is to misunderstand and misapply the Scripture. Romans 13:1-7 clearly refers to spiritual authorities which God appointed as Ecclesia Rulers during “The Acts of the Apostles.”

Believers were to be in submission to these “governing authorities”—after all, they were God’s men, operating under His delegated authority. There are none in the world today! This authority was established by God. Those who would not submit to their rule were in open rebellion against Christ Jesus the Lord.

The Ecclesias of Christ, as they existed during “The Acts of the Apostles,” were principalities of the Heavens. They were being prepared to be part of the governing authority who will rule the world. The Apostle Paul had to remind the carnal Corinthians who were taking their grievances against one another to civil courts to get remedy:

“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2). If they knew, then, why didn’t they settle their own disputes? This manifested their carnality. They will be the judges of the world when the Heavens rule in the coming dispensation.

The Princes of the Ecclesia of God, during this unique period in human history, were endowed with awe-inspiring supremacy over the citizens of heaven’s principalities. One example was:

“Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:23).

No man, alive, has this authority; no, not the Pope, nor his priesthood. This supremacy was delegated to men who walked the earth during the Acts Period. When the Lord set aside Israel at the close of the Book of Acts, this supremacy of forgiveness of sin was withdrawn. Why? It was not because of a failure on anyone’s part. The reason was, God had accomplished all He intended to do during that time-frame.

These Princes of the Acts Dispensation were “ministers of God” for the benefit of the citizens of the ecclesias; as His ministers, they also bore the sword and used it when necessary to correct outrageous behavior (Romans 13:4).

The Apostle Peter, metaphorically speaking, used the “sword” on Ananais and Sapphira by pronouncing their sentence of death as recorded in Acts 5:3-10. The husband and wife lied to the Holy Ghost, and their death followed. Peter, a Prince in the Ecclesia of God, was “a minister of God for good” to punish evil within the Ecclesia. Every believer during the Acts Period was to be subject unto the high Authorities in the Ecclesia. They were to submit to their rule. The “rulers” were ordained by God. When saints rebelled against this Authority, punishment was meted out.

“Ministers of God” did not bear the “sword” in vain. They not only ministered the Word of God to their subjects, they meted-out justice which included praise, as well as, discipline, and punishment. Yes, even CAPITAL PUNISHMENT!

The Apostle Paul even pronounced that a believer was worthy of CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, who “hath done this deed.”

“To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5).

Paul later changed his mind (see 2 Corinthians 2:7-11).

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers …” (Romans 13:1) did not mean civil authorities during the Acts Period. It most certainly does not apply to civil authorities after Acts 28. If it did, that would mean that the British Colonies in America were guilty of criminality in their rebellion against King George III in 1776. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, beautifully stated that those who govern derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. He rejected the idea that God Almighty ordained those who govern. The rightly divided Scriptures also reject this ludicrous idea.

The reason the word, “ecclesia,” was used in these papers, instead of “church,” should be obvious. The word, “church,” does not suggest, or define, what the Spirit of Truth meant when He selected the word, “ecclesia.”


[ 1 ]. Jim Rutz, the author, says, “People have been coming back from the dead by the hundreds during the past 15-20 years. All over the world, stone-cold-dead people are being resurrected by the fervent, focused prayers of Christians praying in the name of Jesus.” Jim Rutz is a charismatic Christian who is founder-chairman of Megashift Ministries and the Open Church Ministries. These ridiculous claims certainly diminish the Biblical facts surrounding the uniqueness of the “Acts of the Apostles.”
To read article: http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54559
The article appears on a respected internet site –WorldNetDaily. China and Mexico have had the most reported, as Rutz says, and the most confirmed resurrections.

Plainer Words Online
Tom L. Ballinger

March 15, 2007


Chapter Three

Bible Princes

“Prince” is a Bible word for someone in authority. A prince, in the Bible, is not applied to someone who is the male descendant of a king. It denotes a person, or persons, who have roles of leadership.

“These were the renowned of the congregation, princes of the tribes of their fathers, heads of thousands in Israel” (Numbers 1:16).

Israel had no king when Numbers was written. The “princes” referred to men of prominence in the Twelve Tribes of Israel. These men of renown were not heirs of a Throne; their fathers were not kings. They were the leaders of the Tribes and, as such, were part of Moses’ Government.

“These are those that were numbered, which Moses and Aaron numbered, and the princes of Israel, being twelve men: each one was for the house of his fathers” (Numbers 1:44).

As Israel’s population increased, the management and administration of the Government of Moses became more difficult, so, many more princes were chosen:

“And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers [princes] of thousands, rulers [princes] of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers [princes] of tens” (Exodus 18:25).

The same word for “rulers” is translated, also, as “princes.” Thus, these rulers were princes of Israel. They were those in authority. They were the chosen, appointed, and designated leaders. They were the elect men of Israel.

The leader of each Tribe was called a “prince.” In Numbers, they were twelve in number.

“PRINCE: A leader or ruler. The common elements in the many different words translated as prince in the Bible are leadership and authority. The word often denotes royalty, but it just as frequently describes leadership in general. Both Abraham (Gen 23:6) and Solomon (1 Kings 11:34) were called princes. Tribal leaders of early Israel were often designated as princes. Jesus, the coming Messiah, was referred to by the prophet Isaiah as the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6). In the New Testament, Jesus is called the Prince (Author, NIV) of life (Acts 3:15) and a Prince (Leader, RSV) and Savior (Acts 5:31). Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright.

Moses complained to the LORD about him having to rule over all of Israel, and he didn’t have enough help. We read, additionally, in Numbers 11:16-17; “And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.”

Here, the LORD had Moses select seventy men of known qualifications who were to help him administer the government in the wilderness. These seventy men were considered “princes” of Israel. They were men of authority who Moses had chosen to help him govern the Twelve Tribes. These men made-up “the body of Moses” (Jude 1), to wit, the ruling and governing body of Israel as they sojourned in the wilderness. These princes were “the Ecclesia (church) in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38).

The following statement is a “hard saying;” who can receive it? The Ecclesia referred to the men who were in authority. It did not refer to those who were their “subjects.”

Incidentally, the Church of Rome has seventy ecclesiastical princes—the Cardinals. This is not by accident. The Church of Rome believes they are God’s Government in the world today. They are, according to their precepts, ruling in all aspects of human life—to wit, religious, social, domestic, financial, and political.

Here is what “The Catholic Doors Ministry” states: “How long must the world remain blind, refusing to believe that the Kingdom of God is here, having arrived in the early days of the early Church? The first Catholic martyrs were among the first living members of the Kingdom of God on earth.”

The Roman Church has vainly attempted to institute God’s world-wide Ecclesia in the earth. If they had done so, the Kingdom of God which Rome administers is a grotesquely hideous monster. Whose testimony is that of having slaughtered Christians in bygone centuries, and in recent years, have been a “congress” of homosexuals and pedophilia. In the following article [link], the phrase, “priesthood of predators,” would be appropriate.

See the online article, “Theocracy Alert ─ The Roman Catholic Church of Corruption.”
See: www.onlinejournal.com/TheocracyAlert

Princes of Israel’s Kings

The Princes of Israel were the head of a Tribe. Arrayed under them were subordinate authorities—captains of companies, captains of thousands, of hundreds, and stewards of all substance and possession of the king.

“And David assembled all the princes of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and the captains of the companies that ministered to the king by course, and the captains over the thousands, and captains over the hundreds, and the stewards over all the substance and possession of the king, and of his sons, with the officers, and with the mighty men, and with all the valiant men, unto Jerusalem” (1 Chronicles 28:1).

During the days of King Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiak, Isaiah, the prophet, had this to say:

“Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them” (Isaiah 1:23).

This makes it abundantly clear that in the Word of Truth, the word, “prince,” or “princes,” referred to men in authority, to wit, rulers, or leaders.

New Testament Princes

“Ruler,” in the New Testament, comes from the Greek word, archon, which is translated as chief (ruler), magistrate, prince, and ruler.

“…behold, there came a certain ruler (archon)” (Matt.9:18).

“… He casteth out devils through the prince (archon) of the devils” (Matt. 9:34).

“Ye know that the princes (archon) of the Gentiles …” (Matt. 20:25).

“…and he was a ruler (archon) of the synagogue” (Luke 8:41).

“He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief (archon) of the devils” (Luke 11:15).

“When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate (archon) …” (Luke 12:58).

“Nevertheless among the chief rulers (archon) also many believed …” (John 12:42).

“Ye rulers (archon) of the people, and elders of Israel…” (Acts 4:8).

We have listed a sampling of thirty-seven usages of the word, archon, in the New Testament. It is also used as it related to the Ecclesia of God in Romans.

The leaders, rulers, princes, or magistrates of the Acts Period Ecclesia were those who were chosen, and selected, and ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ, or His Apostles. Notice in the context of the “higher powers” of Romans 13:1

“For rulers (archon) are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same” (Romans 13:3).

During “The Acts of the Apostles,” the Twelve Apostles were the Princes of the Ecclesia of God. And, in no uncertain terms, the Apostle Paul was a Prince of the Ecclesia, as well as, the Prince among the Gentiles.

“Prince” is a Bible term for someone in authority as a leader. The Ecclesia in each locale was the body of men who ruled over Christians while they lived waiting for the Kingdom of God to become fully manifested in the earth.

Plainer Words Online
Tom L. Ballinger

March 24, 2007


Chapter Four

Gathering of the Summoned

In the previous study, it was pointed out that the Greek word, Ekklesia, has been transliterated into English, giving us the word, Ecclesia. The classical Greek word, “Ekklesia,” in Latin is “Ecclesia.” The English wordsmiths adopted the Latin word; therefore, we have “Ecclesia.” Our additional studies indicated that the idea of the word being transliterated into English was wrong. English simply adopted the Latin spelling, and we have “Ecclesia.”

We should assign to the word, “church,” or ecclesia, the Scriptural meaning of the word; not the meaning which has been assigned to it by traditional usage.

The true meaning of the word, CHURCH, is found in the word, ECCLESIA. This Greek word meant the public legislative assembly of the Athenians, or a political assembly of ancient Greek States. We think that the “Encyclopaedia Brittanica” has a very significant definition and is truer to the actual meaning; “a gathering of those summoned.”

After His Ascension, Jesus Christ was King, and as the King, He chose, selected, designated, or positioned those who would serve at His pleasure. Only He could call the Ecclesia (church) into session. So, it goes without saying that in order to call forth, or summon, or convene this Ecclesia, only the Lord Jesus Christ had the authority to do so because it was His Ecclesia. When His Ecclesia was called into session, it was the result of His SUMMONS. He issued a summons to His Acts period Ecclesia. It was called into session and began functioning as a legislative assembly.

The Ecclesia over which Christ Jesus is the Head has been in the process of being chosen ever since the end of “The Acts of the Apostles.” But, it has not yet been called into session! Yes, Christian Churches are meeting, and they are in session on certain days of the week. But, they are “just churches;” they are not the Ecclesia.

The ECCLESIA WHICH IS HIS BODY is like a Government in Exile. It has not yet received its authorization to function. We who make up this Ecclesia live, and move, and have our being waiting to hear His Voice announce to the universe; “My Ecclesia will now appear with Me in all of My Glory. It is now in session, and I am present in It.”

Looking back, we notice that, twice, He promised He would call for the convocation of the Ecclesia. Once, in Luke 24:49; “And, behold, I send the promise of the Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power (authority) from on high.” Again, in Acts 1:4; “And being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of me.”

The Acts period Ecclesia was called into session on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and began to exercise Divine power and authority which has been unparalleled in all of human history. The Ecclesia during the “Acts of the Apostles” was the governing body; not of Greek City-States, but “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16), or said another way; “the commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians 2:12).

As previously noted, the Ecclesia were people who had been named to serve in some position designated by the Sovereign King, Jesus Christ. In the prevailing governmental systems that existed in New Testament times, the invitation by a King for a man to serve was equivalent to having been designated for a position in the King’s Government.

On the Day of Pentecost, the Ascended Jesus Christ called His Ecclesia into session. This meant that Christ was going to place His Government in the earth, and it would be administered by His Ecclesia. His Ecclesia only had jurisdiction over believers who were subject to the Ecclesia’s rule. For thirty-three years, His Government was active in administering justice, righteousness, and equity to all of the believers in Jesus Christ. Believers making up the Christian community were to be submissive to Christ’s Ecclesia. Romans 13:1-7 explains why believers were to be submissive to the “higher powers.”

The Commonwealth of Israel’s Government was fully functioning during the Acts period. The Ecclesia of God was in session and governing wherever believers assembled, even if it was in one house.

If we have eyes to see (i.e. spiritual enlightenment), we discern a microcosm of the coming Kingdom of God. As said previously, the Acts period believers tasted the good word of God and had a foretaste of the world to come (Hebrews 6:5). The “world to come,” in Hebrews, had reference to the full-blown dispensation when the Kingdom of God is fully manifested in all of the earth. This truth leaps over the Dispensation of the Mystery because it was still hid in God (Ephesians 3:9).

Among many Bible believers, there is and has been, an ongoing debate concerning when “the church” of today began. Pre-millennial dispensationalists often refer to this topic as, “When did the church age begin?” Some contend it began on the Day of Pentecost at Acts 2, others profess it began with Paul’s conversion in Acts 9, some teach other mid-Acts beginnings such as Acts 13, or Acts 18, or Acts 22. If Christians had an enlightened understanding of what the Scripture means when it employs the word, Ecclesia, then there would be no debate.

The Ecclesia of God was chosen, elected, and positioned prior to the opening of the Acts period. It was positioned and poised to rule during the Gospel Period. But, the Ecclesia of God did not begin to function until Acts 2. Christ did not begin another Ecclesia during Acts. God didn’t need two Ecclesias in operation at the same time. That would have been foolish. However, when His Acts period purposes were accomplished, the rule of His Ecclesia ended at Acts 28, and He adjourned the Acts Ecclesia. Only He could convene, or adjourn it. So, when the Acts Period ended, Christ Jesus adjourned His Ecclesia—to wit, His Heavenly principalities. When His Kingdom comes, His Acts Ecclesia will be summoned back into session. They will be called forth from the dead.

During Acts, Gentiles who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ became obedient to the King Eternal and His Government of Israel. The Apostle Paul was the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (Romans 15:16). The word, minister, is used here as a word depicting Paul as the representative “of a Sovereign [Jesus Christ] to a foreign court” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary). It speaks of a Government [Ecclesia] minister; not a “church minister.” The Greek word for minister in Romans 15:16 is Leitourgos, which means, “one who discharges a public office … a public servant, minister,” (Vines Dictionary of New Testament Words).

As the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, Paul quoted Isaiah 11:10 in Romans 15:12; “There shall be a root of Jesse and He that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in Him shall the Gentiles trust.” This happened during the Pentecostal Dispensation and was a preview of a greater fulfillment of this prophecy which will take place when Christ assumes universal sovereignty over the nations of the world when the Kingdom of God is manifested in all of its fullness. This will be a universal Empire.

After the close of the “Acts of the Apostles,” Paul reminded Gentile believers of what their dispensational position was during the Book of Acts:

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;” (Ephesians 2:11-14).

After Acts 28, Paul wrote; “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the Blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). This clearly indicated a dispensational change took place after Acts 28.

The Lord Jesus brought to light a secret administration, to wit, the Mystery, which had been hid from ages and generations, “but now is made manifest to His saints” (Colossians 1:26). If the Mystery was known about during the Book of Acts, why does Paul say, “but now.” It was not known until it was revealed after Acts 28.

Ephesians 3:3-5 says, “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” This, along with Colossians 1:26, cannot mean that the Mystery had been revealed before. It plainly states that it had never been revealed at all.

The logical conclusion is that it couldn’t have been revealed at Acts 9, or 13, or 18, or 22. The Pentecostal Dispensation ended suddenly and dramatically at Acts 28. The Mystery came upon the world as an unexpected surprise. Its revelation was the moment of its fulfillment.

The Ecclesia of the Mystery began when the revelation of the Mystery was made known to the sons of men after Acts 28. God had planned it “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), but kept it hid—a secret in His heart until He made it known to the Apostle Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ. By contrast, the Acts period Ecclesia was planned—“from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). This distinguishes between the two.

Plainer Words Online
Tom L. Ballinger

March 28, 2007


Chapter Five

Self-Governing Mini-States

Now, we should have a clear understanding that the word, “Church,” to wit, “Ekklesia,” is a name which the Spirit of Truth used to designate the “higher powers” (Romans 13:1) who were the princes, or rulers, of the local Ecclesias during “The Acts of the Apostles.”

During the Acts Period, the Ecclesia of God existed and was in full operation. It had sub-heads, such as, the Ecclesia at Corinth, the Ecclesia at Thessalonica, the Ecclesia at Cenchrea, the Ecclesia at Jerusalem, the Ecclesia of the Laodiceans, the Ecclesia at Ephesus, and all of the others named and unnamed. An Ecclesia of God presided over each of Heaven’s principalities. Members of the heavenly principalities, whether in Rome, or Jerusalem, or Corinth were all self-governing principalities whose governments were independent of those who were directed by the prince who is “the god of this world”(2 Corinthians 4:4). Each “Ecclesia-man” was appointed by God through His chosen representatives.

The principalities of Heaven were mini-States. These mini-States (the principalities) had heavenly, angelic representatives in the Court of the Sovereign of-the-world—the Lord Jesus Christ. These angelic representatives are identified in Scripture as “principalities;” i.e. arche. This would seem to indicate that the exalted, angelic “principalities” represented their earthly mini-States before the Throne of Jesus Christ in Heaven.

The Bible refers to these Ecclesia ministers as rulers, or leaders, or princes, or bishops, or elders, or deacons. The Apostle Paul appointed “elders” in every Ecclesia under his jurisdiction (Acts 14:23). “Bishops” and “deacons” were the names of offices in the Ecclesias (Philippians 1:1). These were ministers of State. These Ecclesias were God’s Government on earth, functioning during “The Acts of the Apostles.” Each had a foretaste of the heavenly gift, and of the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come (Hebrews 6:4-5).

Before more is said about the Ecclesia over which Christ Jesus is the Head, let’s get more information from the Bible about the word, “Ecclesia” (church). The Ecclesia is the word which the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of Holy Writ to use to describe those who were called-out and positioned by the Lord Jesus Christ to form a governmental body of rulers.

The Divine Interchange of Words

By means of Divine interchange which is the interchange of words from the Old Testament to the New Testament, we learn in Acts 7:38 that the ruling, or governing, body of Israel in the wilderness was “the Church in the wilderness.”

If “the Church (Ecclesia) in the wilderness” can be understood, then a clearer understanding of what the word, ecclesia, means in the New Testament, as well as, in the Prison Epistles.

There is a Divine interchange of words which carries the same meaning in both the Old and New Testaments. The New Testament word, “ekklesia,” has the same meaning as the Old Testament word, “qahal.” The English translation of “qahal” is “congregation” and “assembly.” Qahal is found 123 times in the Old Testament.

Another example of Divine interchange is found in Psalm 22:22; “I will declare Thy Name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation (qahal) will I praise Thee.” Paul quotes Psalm 22:22 and says in Hebrews 2:12, “I will declare Thy Name unto my brethren, in the midst the church (ekklesia) will I sing praise unto Thee.”

This informs us that the words “qahal” and “ekklesia,” are interchangeable; meaning the same thing. So, whatever the function of the congregation (qahal) was in the Old Testament, we can get a good working model of what the function of the New Testament Ecclesia was throughout the “Acts of the Apostles” and what is to be the function of the Ecclesia over which Christ Jesus is the Head.

The Ecclesia in the wilderness were men appointed by Moses to help him govern. He had the authority from God to select, or choose, or appoint the ones who made up the governing body of Israel. They did not make the laws. The Law was given to Moses by God. They, as the Ecclesia, were to enforce the Divinely given Law. The Law was in writing. It was penned by Moses. The Law covered every aspect of life within Israel.

Members of the wilderness Ecclesia were comprised of heads of tribes, heads of clans within the tribes, and heads of large families, or households (cf. Exodus 18:23-26). They numbered about 80,000. They were the Princes of Israel. Moses was the Governor of Israel, and he selected his Ecclesia to help him administer the nation’s affairs.

This arrangement was not completely satisfactory because we learn in Numbers 11:10-17 that Moses cried to the LORD, saying, “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me,” (v.14). The LORD responded by telling him to gather seventy men out of the elders of Israel and bring them to the tabernacle of the congregation (qahal) that they might stand with him there. Furthermore, the LORD declared, “I will come down and talk with thee there: And I will take of the same spirit that is upon thee, and will put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone” (v. 17). They partook of what Moses had—the spirit.

When Stephen, in Acts 7:38, said, “This is he, that was in the church (ecclesia) in the wilderness,” he was telling them that Moses was in the seventy, for, in fact, they were “the body of Moses.” Jude, verse 9, says Michael, the archangel disputed with the devil about “the body of Moses.” Satan was eager to seize control of the seventy men, thus ruling over the children of Israel. All of the other kingdoms and governments of the world were his. Naturally, he desired to rule over God’s chosen people. This fact is very meaningful because when the Kingdom becomes a reality in the earth, “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) will have lost his authority but will be alive and well, and he’ll be eager to seize control of the Ecclesia which is Christ’s Body. Note this well; here, we catch sight of what Ephesians 6:12 really means. The bona fide, spiritual contest will take place, for real, when our blessed hope is realized (Titus 2:13). Therefore, as the Ecclesia, which is His Body, we had better put on the whole armour of God …

“For we wrestle not against [evil] flesh and blood, but against [evil] principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

The seventy men who made up the body of Moses became rulers of Israel, under Moses, but were empowered by God to function as the Ecclesia (Qahal). The Lord imparted to them the spirit which was upon Moses, so it can truly be said, “he (Moses) was in the Ecclesia in the wilderness.” This was just as Christ is in the Ecclesia over which Christ is the Head, but even more so and to a greater extent. “And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the ecclesia, which is His body, the fullness of Him that fillleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

“The Amplified New Testament” provides some additional insight which is found to be helpful in understanding the complicated phrase, “the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” It states, “Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all—for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself” (v. 23).

The “Ecclesia in the wilderness” ruled the nation of Israel while they wandered for forty years. Moses was the head of this governmental body. During the thirty-three year Acts Period, the Ecclesia of God ruled the “Israel of God” under the direction of the ascended Christ Jesus.

When the economy of the Old Testament ended, and the economy of the New began, the meaning of the ruling body politic didn’t change. The Hebrew word for it changed from “Qahal” to “Ekklesia,” but the meaning remained the same.

When the Dispensation of the Mystery burst on the scene, following the Book of Acts, the word, “Ecclesia,” remained in place. It still carried with it the meaning of Ecclesia in the wilderness and the Ecclesia of God during the Acts period.

“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the Ecclesia, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:22). Today, the Ecclesia of the Mystery is silently being selected. It is not joined, nor is it open to membership; rather, those who believe “the testimony of the Lord’s prisoner” are joined to it and come into vital union with the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Royalty By Means of Adoption

This high calling of God in Christ Jesus is an operation of God and is referred to as “the adoption:”

“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1:5).

By this adoption, we become heirs of the King of kings, the only Potentate. Those who will make up this royal aristocracy were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the eon (Ephesians 1:4) to be to the praise of the glory of His grace (Ephesians 1:6).

The Ecclesia over which Jesus Christ is the Head finds its status, calling, and structure in the Ephesians and Colossians Epistles. In these epistles, the Ecclesia is referred to as “One New Man” (Ephesians 2:15), or, “One Body” (Ephesians 2:16). It is never likened to a female, whether Bride or Wife.

The goal of the Ecclesia, Which is His Body, is that of a “perfect man” which is to be attained through the full knowledge of the Son of God, “unto the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

The Ecclesia of God, during the “Acts of the Apostles,” had fully functioning Ecclesias in various localities throughout the Roman Empire. They administered equity, justice, and righteousness (i.e. political, as well as, spiritual) over those who were in their jurisdiction, such as: The Ecclesia of God at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:2), the Ecclesias in Galatia (Galatians 1:2), the Ecclesia of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1), the Ecclesias of God which, in Judea, are (1 Thessalonians 2:14), and the Ecclesias of Macedonia (2 Corinthians 16:19). There were, also, fully operational Ecclesias exercising rule and authority out of some homes (cf. Romans 16:5 & 1Corinthians 16:19). These local Ecclesias exercised governmental control and authority over their local constituents. These were the mini-States of Heaven who were waiting for the manifestation of the Kingdom of God. They knew perfectly well, at the time, that the Kingdom was to come before Christ does.

Unfortunately, many students are willfully ignorant and are adamant that the Parousia of Jesus Christ ushers in the Kingdom of God. By insisting that this interpretation is true, it means, as far as they are concerned, that the Kingdom of God is the same thing as the one-thousand-year Parousia. The fact of the matter, the Millennium follows the Kingdom of God!

Dispensational Change Occurred When Acts Ended

The reading of Paul’s epistles makes it abundantly clear that a dispensational change took place at the close of “The Acts of the Apostles.” Orthodox Christianity refers to Paul’s Acts epistles as the “Church Epistles.” As pointed out, they were addressed to the different Ecclesias scattered over the Roman Empire. However, his Prison Epistles are not addressed to any Ecclesia, but rather, “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1), and “to the saints and faithful brethren which are at Colosse” (Colossians 1:2). These two Prison Epistles set forth the calling and doctrine of the Mystery.

Immediately after the setting aside of Israel (Acts 28), the Acts Period Ecclesias still existed but had not been informed that Christ had adjourned His Acts Ecclesia and, in so doing, took away their jurisdiction over the saints. That’s why Paul, in Colossians 4:15-16, says, “Salute the brethren which are at Laodicea, and Nymphas and the Ecclesia which is in his house. And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the Ecclesia of the Laodiceans , and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea” (probably the Ephesian Epistle). The same holds true for Paul’s letter to his friend, Philemon, and the “Ecclesia in thy house.”

Ephesians is called a “circular epistle.” It was probably circulated around all of the scattered Ecclesias, making them aware of the change in God’s program. This change in the dispensation resulted in the Ecclesia of God (the Acts Ecclesia) being adjourned. A new Ecclesia was to be formed—the Ecclesia over which Christ Jesus is the Head.

The Ecclesia which is revealed in present truth of the Mystery is not currently functioning in any governmental role, or capacity. The Lord Jesus Christ is silently calling out and designating those who will make up the exalted Ecclesia when He calls It into session. It has not been convened, as yet. Therefore, the Ecclesia over which Christ Jesus is Head has no jurisdiction at all in any location in this present, evil world. But, when He issues the convocation, the inauguration of this Ecclesia will begin Its regal reign as the Lord Jesus Christ’s Executive Administrators in the “ages to come” (Ephesians 2:7).

The Ecclesia, Which is His Body, is being saved “by grace through faith,” and “it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Ephesians 2:10 indicates the Lord is preparing today’s Ecclesia which He created in Christ Jesus unto good works. As His workmanship, we are now being trained to perform the good works which will be done in the “ages to come.” The good works which He has before ordained will be that of ruling with Christ as His most exalted Ecclesia.

When the hope of His Body becomes a reality, then will the Lord Jesus Christ convene today’s Ecclesia. Then, will we be presented to God by the Lord Jesus Christ as holy and blameless before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4).

Christ so loves this Ecclesia that He is continually sanctifying and cleansing It “with the washing of the water of the Word” in order that He might present It to Himself a Ecclesia of glory, “not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that It should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26-27).

The Ecclesia of the Mystery will be filled to the full with the glory of Christ because the full measure of the glory of Christ will be in His Ecclesia “throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).

We, as the future Princes of Christ’s exalted Ecclesia, should be able to recognize, in Scripture, the event that will summon us to the Great Convocation of the Ecclesia of Jesus Christ, Which is His Body! Dearly beloved, friends, and Mountaineers, our hope is not an early phase of the 2nd Coming, as some imagine. No, the EVENT WHICH CALLS US INTO SESSION, in plainer words, is the EPIPHANY OF THE GLORY OF OUR GREAT GOD AND SAVIOR, YES, INDEED—THE LORD JESUS CHRIST (Titus 2:13).

March 28, 2007

Plainer Words Online
Tom L. Ballinger

April 11, 2007


Chapter Six

Three Ecclesias

Christians are so steeped in tradition that when they consider the word, “church,” they have a conditioned reaction in thinking that the “church” they attend is built upon the foundation of Christ’s teaching as found in Matthew 16 18, “…and upon this rock I will build My church.” By adhering to the traditional view of what the “church” is, Christians have, totally, missed the point of what the Spirit of Truth has endeavored to convey.

Because of the inaccuracy in the comprehension of the “church,” we have chosen, in this series, to use “Ecclesia,” which is Latin for the Greek word, “Ekklesia.” Ekkelesia was the Greek word the Holy Spirit selected when He first used it in Matthew 16:18:

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My ekklesia [church]; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Ekklesia became the English word, Ecclesia, which is a noun, and it referred to the body of legislators of the Greek-City States in ancient Greece. The Ecclesia which Christ said He would build was to be the body, to wit, the organization that would govern Israel and the world. The Christian’s idea of what the church means is far different from that of the Bible.

This commentary, What Does “Church” Mean?, has identified three Ecclesias:

1. The Ecclesia of God
2. The Ecclesia in the Wilderness
3. The Ecclesia, which is His Body

The Ecclesia of God functioned during the “Acts of the Apostles.” It was the Government of the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). Wherever Christians were located during the Acts Period, the Lord had chosen special men who were called out from among believers to preside over these Christian communities—they were the Ecclesia. These communities were colonies of heaven which the Lord had planted in the earth and had given them a foretaste of the coming Kingdom of God. Their allegiance was not to an earthly king, but rather, to their King, Jesus Christ, Who was enthroned in heaven. The Ecclesias of God had jurisdiction over these heavenly principalities. However, their jurisdiction ended at Acts 28:31. Some of the “princes” who made up this ecclesia, such as the Apostle Paul, moved on and became incorporated into the Ecclesia over which Christ Jesus is the Head. Others were not chosen to be part of the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Sometime after Acts ended, they died-out.

When God, again, takes up His purposes with Israel after the Dispensation of the Grace of God ends, the Ecclesia of God will be raised from the dead and will, again, govern the “Israel of God.” David will be raised from the dead and will be their King. The twelve Apostles will rule over (judge) the twelve tribes of Israel. The Government of God comes to Israel in stages and without observation.

The Lord Jesus described the stages in which the Kingdom of God would come upon Israel in the Gospel of Mark—and this is not Millennial Truth!

“ …So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear” (Mark 4:26-28).

The three stages of Kingdom growth is likened to “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” This informs us that the growth of Israel’s Government, while being supernatural, appears to just be the normal outgrowth of events taking place during the Kingdom of God. It grows, develops, and matures just as an ear of corn does. It grows, but the average man “knoweth not how.”

Any honest interpretation of Mark 4:26-28 cannot possibly place this Parable, spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ, as taking place at the 2nd Coming [the Parousia] when the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth is ushered in; to do so, causes the Kingdom of God to suffer much violence (Matthew 11:12).

The Lord Jesus said that the Kingdom will come to Israel, not only in stages, but it will come without “outward show,” or observation.

“Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed”” (Luke 17:20) RSV.

The Amplified New Testament adds: “Nor will [people] say, Look! Here [it is]! Or, See, [it is] there! …” (Luke 17:21).

By contrast, the Parousia [2nd Coming] of Jesus Christ most certainly can be observed—the Lord Jesus descends from heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and a rapture of both the living and the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The Parousia will be seen and even pin-pointed as taking place on the Mount of Olives.

We have pointed out two separate events: 1) the coming of the Kingdom, and 2) the Coming of Jesus Christ.

This clearly distinguishes a difference between the coming of the Kingdom of God and the coming of Christ and the Millennial Kingdom. When the 1000 year Parousia comes, it comes with a magnificent, supernatural display of power. By way of contrast, the Kingdom of God appears to come as a natural outgrowth of human events with no spectacular display of power. Only the enlightened spiritual eye will be able to discern the hand-of-God shaping the course of events.

The Old Testament saints, as well as the Acts Period saints, will be resurrected, every man in his own order (1 Corinthians 15:23) and will live under the Kingdom (Government) of God. These resurrections will be the product of the Lord Jesus Christ judging the “quick and the dead at His Appearing and His Kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1). The Ecclesia of God will be the human agents while Christ remains in heaven, presiding over the re-gathered and resurrected Israel.

The Ecclesia in the Wilderness will never again function as it did in Israel’s wilderness wanderings. Some of them may be part of the ruling body in Israel, by way of resurrection, when the Kingdom comes. Those who were chosen to rule under Moses were referred to as “princes.”

“These were the renowned of the congregation, princes of the tribes of their fathers, heads of thousands in Israel” (Numbers 1:16).

The Ecclesia in the Wilderness was Israel’s Government for the forty years of wandering. Satan zeroed-in on Israel’s princes and exerted every effort he could muster to thwart justice, truth, and righteousness within the Wilderness Government—the “body of Moses” (Jude 9). An example of Satan contending for the “body of Moses” can be seen in Numbers Chapter Sixteen. Notice the following concerning Korah and his followers who were part of the “body of Moses,” and who mistrusted Moses’ authority:

“And they [Korahites] rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?” (Numbers 16:2-3).

The wicked architect causing the dissention, jealousy, and envy within the ranks of the “body of Moses” was Satan. A subsequent revelation, given to Jude, tells us this:

“Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (vs. 9).

Satan, as the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) ever since the fall of Adam, has been orchestrating the “course of this world.” The Ecclesia in the Wilderness challenged his authority, as it related to Israel, as the “prince of this world” (John 16:11). In his effort to protect his domain, he stirred-up Korah and his followers.

Satan was also instrumental in promoting dissention and division among believers during “The Acts of the Apostles.” He was the author of the party-spirit, that is to say, believers becoming followers of men, as in “…I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephus; and I of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:12).

The Devil even stirred-up Saul of Tarsus to such an extent that he persecuted the Acts Ecclesia; even “wasted it” (Galatians 1:13). It’s clear that the Devil has a hatred for those who make up the Ecclesia, whether in the Wilderness, or during the Acts period:

“Concerning zeal, persecuting the Ecclesia [church]; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:6).

We’ll even submit to the reader that the wicked-one will even have a greater loathing for the Ecclesia over which Christ Jesus is the Head than he will have ever manifested toward another.

Many of the Old Testament princes will, no doubt, live again as ministers in Israel’s Government when the nation will be a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9).

The Ecclesia, which is His Body, today, is being identified by the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who have been identified as the designated ones will make up this Ecclesia when it is called into session. This Ecclesia is what Paul calls “the high calling of God” (Philippians 3:14). “High,” in the sense that it will be a calling with greater honors, greater blessings, and greater rewards than the Ecclesia of God. The Body over which Christ Jesus is the Head will either be changed to have bodies likened to the body of the glory of Christ, or raised from the dead (2 Timothy 4:1) to participate in a place of service in a calling which is the highest calling of all.

The Ecclesia, which is His Body will be convened and be called into service before that of the Ecclesia of God.

If Satan contended with Michael, the archangel, over the Ecclesia in the Wilderness, and if he caused Saul of Tarsus to breathe out “threatenings and slaughter” (Acts 9:1) against the Ecclesia of God, how much more will he be in contention with the “Ecclesia, which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all?” (Ephesians 1:22-23). A great deal more!

Satan, today, cannot rail against, contend with, accuse, or slander the Ecclesia over which Christ is the Head, because it is not yet a functioning Body.

Tens-of-thousands of this Ecclesia is still asleep in the dust. Those of us who are living have no Ecclesia-purpose to fulfill. We are not operating as The Ecclesia. We are waiting for the Great Convocation—when Christ Jesus convenes His Ecclesia—then will we become His “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

As the corporate Body, the Ecclesia of the Mystery, we will take our stations of service at the direction of Christ at His Appearing [Epiphaneia] and His Kingdom (2 Timothy 4:1). It will be while we are manning our battle-stations, during the Kingdom of God, that the Apostle Paul’s admonitions in Ephesians 6:11 will really come into play ─ “to put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” This will be when the bombardment of the fiery darts will begin.

We may think we wrestle with the evil-forces now, and if we do in some manner, it is only child’s play compared to what the reality will be when we recognize the full value of the entire weight of Paul’s immortal words:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

When the Kingdom of God becomes an actuality, we should not think that the Divine task set before us will be one of leisure, ease, sequestration, or relaxing in the noon-day sun. It will be in this setting that the Ecclesia over which Christ is the Head will be called upon to perform spiritual work which only full-grown men can do, i.e., who have been made unto the measure of the stature of “the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

The “good works” we’ll be called upon to execute will prepare and equip us for our future vocation during the one-thousand year Parousia of Christ, and the subsequent ages to come.

God will continually demonstrate the riches of His kindness to the Ecclesia of the Mystery throughout the coming ages.

“That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).

April 11, 2007