THE BIRTH AND GROWTH OF THE HARLOT Church
by Andy Zoppelt
I have often wondered about the Harlot mentioned in the book of Revelation. But one day while reading Revelation 17:6-7, something caught my attention. As I read the following scriptures, a light dawned and I had a new insight into the meaning of the harlot: “I saw the woman [the harlot], drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement. But the angel said to me, "Why did you marvel? [Did you notice that even the angel picked up on John’s amazement] I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her.”
What did John see that could account for his amazement in seeing this Harlot? I believe that when John saw the Harlot, he saw something that had the form of the bride of Jesus, but which had been transformed to something far beyond his imagination, something far beyond the falling away of the body of Christ in his time and something far beyond what he saw in Jesus’ response to the seven assemblies in chapters 2 and 3. I can almost hear the words of John as he gazed at this Harlot, “What is this, they are using the name of Jesus? They are scattering His kingdom everywhere and each going by different names. What has happened to God’s kingdom, the power and the Glory? What is this that speaks of Jesus and yet is so full of corruption? They are using the name of Jesus and they are not doing any of the things we told the assemblies to do. What has happened? This harlot is living a totally different life from the one Jesus modeled for us, yet they are using the name of Jesus and acting like they are a part of us.”
When we say the Harlot church, we are saying Harlot twice. The harlot that John saw eventually became known as the “church”, a word which gives the body of Christ a totally different form and purpose, that which is against scripture and the purposes that Jesus intended for his body, his bride. Using the word “church” to define the body of Christ was the invention of men that had fallen from truth. The word Church is a word based on a "structure" that does not reflect the purposes God outlined for His body, His bride. The Greek word ekklesia comes from two words, ek, meaning "out" and "kaleo"meaning "called". It defines a people collectively "called out" of the world and joined as one supporting and functioning body. They don't come together as an audience as the word church indicates and where their presence has no meaning, but to come together to grow in love, faith and in support of one another.
Church is a word abundantly sown into our bibles to create and allow for a "system" of Christianity under the influence of a false anointing that drove it completely outside of the foundation of Jesus and those He sent. We need only to compare the early body of Christ to the “church” in order to see the vast differences between the two. What is strange is that we, who claim the infallibility of the word of God, have accepted the insertion of a word that in essence is antithetical to the Word of God. There is no actual word “church” in our scriptures originating in the Greek; it is in our translation, but it is not a translation of ekklesia the words of Jesus and His disciples. It is a word not inspired by the Holy Spirit, and yet it is a word that we have built on.
The word church came about as a sequence of events that began with the falling away of the true assembly and the rising of a clergy within the body. The establishment of a separate Clergy system within the body required a word by which definition would justify its existence and purposes. This did not happen overnight. John describes these seeds of deception in his first letter when he talked about the “false anointing” coming into their midst and finally departing from the instructions of Christ…the anointed one. What we actually call antichrist is the Greek word brought into the English. The word antichrist represents a false anointing, an anointing against and an anointing that replaces the true anointing of Christ. This “false anointing” began to disguise itself within the first century to lead many away from the truth and the true anointing. John originally saw this false anointing in his time, yet he never believed it would go as far as we see it today or in the image he saw of the Harlot.
Here are John’s words in relating to the early stages of the falling away, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist [false anointed one] is coming, even now many antichrists [many false anointed ones] have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. [How do we know them John?] They went out from us [Jesus, His disciples and the commands given by Jesus], but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us [doing and walking in the same anointing]; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” 1 John 2:18-19, NKJV
In Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins, there are five wise virgins having oil (or the anointing) and five foolish virgins having lost their oil and now having no oil (not having His anointing). Both at the beginning were anointed. By virtue of the foolishness of the five virgins, they moved away from the source of the anointing and acted foolishly. Could any serious reader of scripture visualize thousands of churches scattered throughout our cities, being the representation on earth as it is in heaven? Would that not define an extreme heresy and a departure from the faith and as John put it “went out from us” under a false anointing?
To use the word “harlot” is to say that she derives her life from a false anointing which is assumed to be true. The Harlot develops a false purpose and then fulfills it. The Harlot incorporates just enough truth not to be exposed by the foolish and in time she solidifies herself in a widespread recognition among the masses of people. This false anointing needed a new and different word placed into our scriptures to perpetuate itself and give itself an authentic appearance of Christianity in order to exist. There is nothing of the Harlot (the word church) that is true or found in scripture that weds itself to Christ and His body; therefore, the word “church”, on its face is against Christ and His bride. This one word has corrupted the way we practice our faith and it can be traced back to the disagreements, the infightings and divisions found within the first century… She, the Harlot, has established herself with a name that indicates she is alive but in fact she spreads death everywhere she goes…she carries the seeds of a false anointing and builds disciples around men, buildings and the names given to them.
“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” Acts 20:29, NKJV (Each man having his own church…)
After Christ’s death, His resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, John saw the beginning of Jesus’ called out assembly (ekklesia). He saw the first love within the kingdom of God, their unity and the glory under the anointing of the Holy Spirit; he later saw the beginnings of its falling away. Jesus pointed out to John all the works of each assembly in Revelations 2 and 3 as they began to fall away. John heard the threats and the warnings and the call to repentance for them to come back to their beginnings…or else He would remove them as His faithful followers. But regardless, there was still hope if they would repent. If we look at the false works of each assembly mentioned, we would see the beginnings of the Harlot that we see today… organized under the word church and each using different names to be identified separately. Yet John did not marvel with great amazement at this early stage of the falling away; but John was shocked when He saw the works of the Harlot in the fullness of time riding the beast (the world system).
As God’s assembly began to spread throughout the pagan world, the carnal side of man within the body of Christ began to manifest itself: the existence of pagan temples and churches began to influence the local assemblies to build temples and churches. Many of the pagan’s ways and teaching began to find its way into the assembly. Even the Jews tried to move the assembly back under the influence of the old covenant. As sin began to abound within the assemblies, the love of many began to grow cold and differences turned into conflict with one another. Men began to betray one another. Division began to take hold within the assemblies and everyone began to do what was right in their own eyes…there was no king and no established kingdom. The people felt secure being under leaders and they began to align themselves under these men as Israel did in their desire for a king to rule over them.
At the close of the first century with all the heresies pouring into God’s assemblies in each city, there seemed to be a need for great men to defend the faith against these heresies. Thus men began to assume positions of authority and gave themselves titles. Bishop became a title early on and the bishops assumed authority over large geographical areas setting the stage for the eventual church as we see it. Still there was no church, no buildings, no names and no sinner’s prayer.
In 313 AD, Constantine declared the edict of Milan declaring religious freedom for the Christians. He embraced Christianity and officially joined it to the state (the beast). The assembly needed a new name that would redefine itself with a new standard of living. It didn’t take long before the called out assembly was given a new name under a different authority having a different purpose. It was called “church”, and established the building as its center of activity…thus the identity and practices of the Harlot were established as the norm. In all the churches, regardless of their thousands of names, they maintained the same structure around a building and the clergy.
The church defined buildings as God’s house and established a paid clergy that brought in the damnable heresies of division and competition. These were men that both Jesus and Paul called wolves, men who did not follow the teachings of Jesus and His followers. They set up the traditions of men that we see in practice today. Unlike the seven assemblies in the opening of Revelation, there was no offer of repentance to the Harlot made by Jesus, it could not be restored. The church has destroyed the unity of the body of Christ and the dumbing down of the functioning of the body of Christ into an audience to be amused. The format of the church separates people from knowing one another and creates an atmosphere that hinders Godly love. The church was geographical, confined within walls, demanding money to continue…everything about it spelled the harlot and antichrist. This new structure removed Jesus as a unifying head and set up many heads and many churches in each city. In its beginning, it was the church that was responsible for the death of many believers and the name church still hold those deaths within its roots. What was once a unified, functioning body now became a passive audience meeting once a week to learn from their “pastors”.
In time the word Christianity and church became synonymous. The physical structure of the church itself dictates its limited abilities; it is locked into the practices of the beast and with roots deeply planted into the world. When the church wants to grow, it looks to Madison Avenue, entertainment, easy grace and programs to fill the needs of the masses to fill its pews… “How many people are in your church?” “Where do you go to church?” “We are taking up a collection for our church.” “The pastor of my church is…” Could anyone imagine such statements in our bibles? This is a complete and total heresy; it is anathema to the name of Jesus.
The church structure is uniquely designed to fulfill the demands required to carry out the activities of men. The building itself cannot be the object of restoration because of what it represents and its purpose found in history. Do you know of any pastor who is willing to give up “his” church, repent and follow Jesus and build the kingdom of God within each city? That would take repentance, love and obedience and a following of Jesus’ commands.
The church speaks of walls of division from other churches. Its raised podium, its pulpit, its auditorium with all its seats facing the pulpit dictate what we are to expect in the gatherings. No one can speak; the body is silenced and considered unimportant during the meeting. The pew sitters have two main functions: to fill the seats and pay for the entertainment. .
The harlot grew through entertaining the saints and the marketing ideas of Madison Avenue and dramatically changing the demands of salvation into the sinner’s prayer making it easier to be “saved”. Their promises of salvation and the walk as a Christian became a wider gate for all to enter with no fear of losing anything.
Has anyone stopped to ask, “Is the church in the form as we know it now, from God or Satan?” Is it gathering or scattering? Is it building itself up in love and putting the things of the kingdom first? Does it matter to God that we are not doing any of the things He commanded in reference to the building of His kingdom and establishing His rule to where the world sees our love and faith for one another? Today the word “church” and what it represents is so well accepted, no one stops long enough to realize that Jesus would never have used that word if He spoke English. How do I know this? I know this because there is no word to support the word “church” in the Greek. Jesus would never had said, “Upon this rock I will build my church”, because of the very implications of that word. He spoke in terms of a called out assembly (ekklesia) with no hint of a building with a pastor with a passive audience not intimately supportive and connected to one another. The early assembly was identified as a people who came out of the world, who saw and entered into the kingdom through a meaningful born again experience in God and a gathering together in Him as one new man.
Here is Paul’s thankfulness to the early assembly collectively gathered together in Ephesus: “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith [as one body] in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you [collectively] the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the [full] knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in [all] the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” NKJV
The structure of the church is actually preventing this from happening and that is why I say that the "structure" of the church is synonymous with the Harlot and is in fact the harlot. The Harlot’s use of the word church has given its right to exist and to replace Jesus’ right to rule. Today we find many, like myself, who know that something is wrong. When I first came to the Lord, I was always an ardent reader of scripture accepting what it said. What I saw as described in the word was a kingdom, a compacted people tightly built together ministering to one another, loving one another and supporting one another. What I saw in practice and in the church did not match what I saw in the Bible. When I challenged pastors about these differences they quickly told me that times had changed…meaning even they knew we were different. I was a pastor for about 30 years and know something about what I am saying.
In my search I could not find in the scriptures buildings, pastors, pulpits, and names on buildings, divisions accepted as common, indifference, lethargy and infighting. Many justified the church’s existence because it has a name that sounds alive…it has been with us so long, who would be suspicious that its "system" embodies the Harlot as the beast the world system? Certainly church is a name that is alive; because once we are saved we go to church. Not!
John would not have been greatly amazed with the temples, churches and building of the pagans and the worship of their gods, but he was amazed when he saw people using Jesus’ name claiming to represent His eternal purposes without following His commands. What he saw was a woman riding on the beast…the world.
“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of HER, my people [what were they doing in there in the first place?], lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven [they got as far and as long as God is going to permit], and God has remembered her iniquities [from the beginning]. Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her [millions are going to hell because of her and her watered down message. It is a man-centered and a man-centered gospel]. In the measure that she glorified herself [can you hear a tingle of Babylon mixed in here?] and lived luxuriously [anointed through money], in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.' Therefore her plagues will come in one day [the foolish virgins were not prepared for this… they saw some good in their religion and were convinced they had the right anointing] — death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her. NKJV
Many people go to and work for their church, and don’t understand what they are doing is supporting the work of the harlot. What will it be, the kingdom of God or the church? It is like feeding the people from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil while preventing them from Life. The will find only a form of godliness through the church while never experiencing the kingdom of God and the full expression of the body of Christ and power.
God never brings His final judgment until iniquity is full. It isn’t until the enemy comes in like a flood that the Spirit of the Lord raises up a standard against him (Isaiah 59:19).
The church in its name, form, and function is unbiblical and it is in perfect agreement with the structure of the Harlot, which purpose is opposed to that of the bride. The five foolish virgins without the oil are the Harlot by definition. Can we see why the early called out assembly met in homes, exhorted one another, supported one another and functioned as one assembly in each city? These first-love, holy saints, who repented and forsook all of self and sin, made up the kingdom of God to His praise and glory on earth as it is in heaven.
If you want to see this progression in time, I challenge you to read the first four chapters of Ephesians with an open mind comparing them to ourselves. Then read the letter to the Ephesians in Revelation chapter two. You should then understand John’s amazement when he saw the harlot in Revelations 17:6-7. There is no call to repentance for the Harlot. No hope for her. It is “come out of her my people!!!”
“The light of a lamp shall not shine in you [the harlot] anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore.”
The true saints, the five wise and anointed virgins will have all left the deception and false anointing of the Harlot… they paid the price for the true anointing outside the camp. The church sees such people as extremists and will fight them trying to protect themselves when in reality it is they who are the extreme.
Even the house churches have lost the purposes of the kingdom…they too have their little networks (denominations) and go by numbers in search of a better “way or program” to do house church. Its conventions exalt the successful, those demonstrating numbers and good programs…even the network have names and their specific leaders with “their” groups scattered around the world. It is because we don’t have the anointing to build under God’s full purposes…another subject all together.
Pick up Ephesians and pray to God to direct you back to Him and His kingdom. Look for people who are willing to forsake all and follow Him…a holy loving people. This will take repentance on our part and a prayer to come together as one assembly in each city as a testimony to Jesus. “Lord restore all that makes up Your kingdom” … with nothing left out as most movements do. What are we to do? First repent, establish the reality of the cross in our daily lives… dead to self and alive to all that He is. Establish our life on things above where we are seated with Him in heavenly places; obey His commands… all of this by faith. Look for those who want to come together and seek the kingdom first… very, very few exist in this country.
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