By George Davis, Michael Clark & Kirk
This book was written as an expose' of an 1800 year old conspiracy.
It is intended to define the conspiracy, leaving you to judge for
yourself. Consider it a primer, covering only the basic elements of
the subject. It is not intended to be exhaustive, since the total
truth of this matter could not be told in such brevity. It is written
with the utmost confidence that its readers will be its perfecters. It
is the result of a million prayers, asking, "Why? Why Lord, is the
Church before me so unlike the one I read about in the Bible? Why O
God is there so much failure and defeat in what is supposed to be the
representation of you in the earth?" This book may present more
questions than answers, but questions are not to be feared. God is not
like the haggard parent who resents the seemingly unending barrage of
questions proceeding from the inquisitive child. God is eager and
attentive to them all.
While not written for everyone, this book is dedicated to those
analytical ones who have dared to ask the forbidden question, "What is
wrong with the church?" It is dedicated to all those who are willing
to pay the price to see Christ's Ekklesia restored. The
reformation is not over. In fact it is just begun, and this book is
dedicated to all reformers everywhere. It is dedicated, as we are, to
the restoration of all things. It is written to those who willingly
suffer the loss of all things for the excellence of the knowledge of
Christ. It is written in the deepest respect and honor for those of
whom the world is not worthy, who laid down their very lives to expose
this conspiracy. What qualifies us to write such a work? Nothing,
except perhaps an indescribable burden, a passion that can only be
characterized by the heart of a Father yearning to see His children
set free from their oppressors, and a desire for the final deliverance
of His family from the conspirators' hands.
George Davis and Michael Clark
The King's New Bible
History is brimming with men whose hearts were forged in times of
religious tyranny. The abuses increased until someone came forth with
God's cry for freedom. Men like Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, John Hus,
Savonarola, Martin Luther, Huldreich Zwingli, and John Calvin, to name
a few. Some of these gave their very lives for that declaration. These
were men crying for reformation. The word reformation implies
that the church to be reformed was deformed or malformed. What was in
need of reformation? What was wrong? Some things seemed obvious, but
average people had no way of proving or disproving their suspicions.
If they did speak up their lives would be endangered by the very
institution that claimed to speak for the God of love. The terror that
plagued the hearts and minds at the very mention of the word
heretic kept them silent, for the end of everyone who was given
the title was the same--burning at the stake.
There was one that would not keep silent. His keen mind had been
honed in the finest schools of 15th century England. William Tyndale
was a graduate of Oxford and Cambridge, a Greek scholar. He was a man
moved by compassion for the plight of the people of England. He
despised the tyranny of the papal Church, showing his contempt by
referring to its priesthood as scribes and Pharisees.
"Moreover, because the kingdom of heaven, which is the scripture
and word of God, may be so locked up, that he which readeth or heareth
it, cannot understand it: as Christ testifieth how the Scribes and the
Pharisees had so shut it up (Matt 23) and had taken away the key of
knowledge (Luke 11) that their Jews which thought themselves within,
were yet so locked out, and are to this day that they can understand
no sentence of the scripture unto salvation, though they can rehearse
the texts everywhere and dispute thereof as subtly as the popish
doctors of dunce's dark learning, which with their sophistry, served
us, as the Pharisees did the Jews…" (Tyndale's New Testament,
Furthermore, he accused them of altering the scriptures to suit
their own purpose.
"I thought it my duty (most dear reader) to warn thee before and to
show thee the right way in, and to give thee the true key to open it
withal, and to arm thee against false prophets and malicious
hypocrites whose perpetual study is to leavn the scripture with
glosses, and there to lock it up where it should save thy soul, and to
make us shoot at a wrong mark, to put our trust in those things that
profit their bellies only and slay our souls."(Ibid, Preface)
Later George Fox wrote:
"Master Tyndale considered this only, or most chiefly, to be the
cause of all mischief in the Church, that the Scriptures of God were
hidden from the people's eyes; for so long the abominable doings and
idolatries maintained by the pharisaical clergy could not be espied;
and therefore all their labor was with might and main to keep it down,
so that either it should not be read at all, or if it were, they would
darken the right sense with the mist of their sophistry, and so
entangle those who rebuked or despised their abominations; wresting
the Scripture unto their own purpose, contrary unto the meaning of the
text, they would so delude the unlearned lay people, that though thou
felt in thy heart, and wert sure that all were false that they said,
yet couldst thou not solve their subtle riddles." Foxe, pp.
Tyndale's assessment of the problem was that the scriptures were
hidden from the eyes of the people. As a result, the people could not
solve the priest's subtle riddles. The clergy covered up their
abominations and idolatries by hiding the scriptures from the people's
eyes and darkening the right sense of the scriptures by their
fallacious arguments. This went well beyond mere verbal deceit to
tampering with the scriptural text.
Tyndale set himself to solve this problem by producing the world's
first English New Testament, translated from the original Greek into
the common vernacular of the people. In doing so, he exposed what we
call the great ecclesiastical conspiracy that was at the heart
of all the abuses. The church had something to protect and protect it
they did, and in their usual manner they began to plot the death of
Michael Scheifler tells of the general sense of ill will toward
Tyndale by those of the papal church, and why.
"Sir Thomas More, had this to say about Tyndale- he calls him 'a
beast', as one of the 'hell-hounds that the devil hath in his kennel',
discharging a 'filthy foam of blasphemies out of his brutish beastly
"So what had Tyndale done in his translation that was so heretical?
According to David Daniell, Tyndale had translated the Greek word for
'elder' as 'elder' instead of 'priest', he had translated the Greek
word for 'congregation' as 'congregation' instead of 'church', the
Greek word for 'repentance' as 'repentance' instead of 'penance' etc.
Why were such differences important to the church? The Roman Church
has priests, not elders. A congregation implies a locally autonomous
group of believers guided by the Holy Spirit and not a hierarchical
unified church subject to a Pope. The Roman Church is built on penance
and indulgences to the priest and Church, not repentance to, and
forgiveness from God. In trying to faithfully render the Greek into
English, Tyndale's translation exposed the errors of the church to the
people which quickly brought the wrath of the church down on him."
(Michael Scheifler William Tyndale - Heretical Blasphemer?)
Even the casual reader of history will discover that there was in
fact an attempt by the Church of Rome to adulterate the scriptures. An
attempt to replace the Greek and Hebrew text with Latin to keep the
true meaning of the scriptures from the people, concealing them in a
dead language that only scholars knew. It was a conspiracy conceived
Let us digress for a moment.
By 600 AD Latin was the only language allowed for scripture. The
scriptures were thus subject to Papal interpretation and were most
certainly altered to suit the church's ecclesiastical paradigm. This
explains the hatred for the Hebrew and Greek texts, since the original
texts exposed their façade.
Albert Gilmore explains,
"The languages of the early Bibles, Hebrew and Greek, were no
longer of interest. So marked did this lack of interest become that
when, after the Renaissance, Cardinal Ximenes published his Polyglot
edition with the Latin Vulgate between the Greek and Hebrew versions
of the Old Testament, he stated in his preface that it was 'like Jesus
between two thieves" (Gilmore, The Bible: Beacon Light of History,
Boston: Associated Authors, 1935, p. 170).
Tyndale was right. They were wresting the scriptures unto their own
purposes. How far had the church fallen from its original norm?
Suffice it to say that it was nothing like its founder (Jesus)
intended. Amazingly enough, the Bible itself was the primary tool for
deception. By the adulteration and misrepresentation of the
scriptures, ambitious men justified their jobs in a system ruled by
despotic pontiff kings and their hireling bishops. This is no less
than a conspiracy that continues to this very day.
The following questions may help us see the depth of this
How did the Greek word Ekklesia, meaning a called out
assembly, come to be translated church, a word that is
neither Greek or English but is of doubtful Latin or perhaps Scottish
origin and implies temple worship? Some believe it to be of pagan
origin. Regardless, what is a word that is neither Greek nor English
doing in a Greek to English translation?
Why did the Greek words "presbytery (the elderly),
apostle (envoy or sent one), and deacon (servant) remain
untranslated into their Anglicized form? Why was the Greek word
presbuteros (older or elderly) translated priest? Why
indeed! There is little doubt that these words remained untranslated
so the clergy could redefine them, interpreting them with the
strongest institutional and hierarchical connotations. Was this mere
ignorance, or a means of creating a ruling class of super saints? It
is clear to us that down through the years the scriptures have been
subjected to papal tampering. There even remains evidence that some of
the early manuscripts were altered.
"But almost all authorities on the text agree that they preserve a
better text than the standardized 5th century one, which shows clear
signs of having been edited." (Erdmans handbook to the Bible, pp.
It is also clear that this tampering was to promote and justify a
system of church government ordered after the government of "the kings
of the Gentiles," which Christ had strictly prohibited, saying,
"But you shall not be so." (See Luke 22:25-26). Whatever happened
to the servanthood that Jesus and the early Church modeled? How did
these servants of the first century give way to the pontiff kings of
the fourth and fifth centuries? Had Christ's declaration, "But you
shall not be so," been forgotten?
The early believers followed the Lord's example and instructions on
this all-important matter, and they viewed servanthood as the highest
vocation. But by the close of the first century, the subtle signs of
the rise of the bishops began, ever so cunningly, to corrupt the
simplicity of the faith and to defile the example of the lowly Christ.
As absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely, so the corruption
began. Like a dead corpse rotting away, in time the Church bore only a
vague resemblance to what was once living and vibrant.
In the third century, the wound worsened by the full marriage of
this apostate church to paganism. This new "Christianity" became the
imperial religion of the Roman Empire. It was there at Constantinople
that the very first Christian temples were constructed. They were
merely christianized pagan temples. The priesthood was fashioned after
a mixture of the Old Testament and pagan priesthoods. Finally, Rome
had done it. If they could not add Christ to the pantheon, they would
bring the pantheon to Christianity. The Romans had long since tried to
further unite their empire by uniting all its gods in one temple, the
pantheon. There the worship of the Son was mixed with the worship of
the sun, so much so that a third century mosaic from a tomb found
under Saint Peter's in Rome depicted Christ as the sun god in his
chariot. It was not until the fifth century that the worshipers in
Rome stopped bowing to the sun before entering Saint Peter's basilica.
"Pope Leo 1, in the middle of the fifth century, rebuked
worshippers who turned around to bow to the sun before entering St
Peters basilica." (Erdmans' handbook to the history of Christianity
The deception reigned unchecked for 925 years, until William
Tyndale challenged this religious institution with the light of the
truth. He revealed part of the conspiracy that had enslaved the family
of God in this twisted, abnormal thing, which the pharisaical clergy
called the church.
Although he revealed some of the conspiracy, changing history
forever, it none the less remains. The light sent it scurrying into
the shadows only to return in a more subtle, congenial form, an
anglicized form. It now smiled as it placed the dagger between the
forth and the fifth rib. A tame beast is still a beast, and though
defanged and declawed, it can still cripple and maim.
After Tyndale was martyred for his efforts, and all but two of his
Bibles destroyed, several important events occurred. First, Henry VIII
evicted the Catholic Church from England because the Pope refused to
annul his marriage with Catherine of Aragon and sanction his illicit
relationship with Anne Boleyn. The break with Rome came in 1534, when
Parliament passed the Supremacy Act, making Henry head of the Church
of England. Henry was somewhat sympathetic to Luther's views, which
opened England as never before to Protestant influences, including
translating, printing and importing Protestant Bibles. Some men, such
as Coverdale, were inspired to continue in the spirit of Tyndale's
work. There was also the Geneva Bible, which effected great changes
throughout Europe. In the tradition of Tyndale, these Bibles no longer
promoted the divine right of kings and ruling bishops, but instead
recognized the priesthood of all believers. To kings and bishops who
exercised absolute authority over the masses, this was intolerable.
More than anything else, this set the stage for the translation of a
new Bible. The king's new Bible was translated to solidify the station
of both king and bishops, preserving and advancing a system of Church
government that stood in antithesis to Christ's example and teachings
and continues to do so until this very day.
We believe in the inspiration and accuracy of the koine
Greek texts of the New Testament. However the translations that have
followed are not as reliable for a number of reasons, not the least of
which is ecclesiastical ambition. Historically, this love letter from
God that we call the Bible was shaped into a scepter of power in the
hands of popes, kings and would-be kings to further consolidate their
power over the masses. Undoubtedly this very ambition has tainted the
translations from Jerome onward. This reached new heights at a time
when bishops sought the approval of kings to authorize translations
that had been purposefully skewed toward their ecclesiastical
It is ludicrous to many that the Protestant Church could be guilty
of carrying on any of the traditions of the Catholic Church that it so
loudly objected to. To some, the idea of an ongoing conspiracy is even
more unbelievable, because they already possess the unadulterated
truth. They hold it in their hands, professing that it is the ultimate
authority, the only true Bible, the authorized Bible, the King James
Bible. Authorized by whom? No less than King James himself! King James
did his part in preserving the conspiracy.
An understanding of the political climate of the early 16th
century is crucial if we are to comprehend the motives and logic
behind the king's new translation. King James was a staunch advocate
of the divine right of kings, as facilitated by puppet bishops. This
was the Anglican answer to papal succession, in which active
resistance to pope or king was considered a sin worthy of eternal
damnation. In his Basilicon Doron, in the second sonnet
entitled "THE ARGUMENT OF THE BOOK" (written to his son), we catch a
glimpse of James' exaggerated appraisal of kingship.
"GOD gives not Kings the style of Gods in vain,
For on his throne his Scepter do they sway:
And as their subjects out [sic] them to obey,
So Kings should fear and serve their god again".
Using similar language, in his first address to the Parliament,
James defended his doctrine of the divine right of kings. He did not
mince words regarding his intention to be an absolute monarch over
England. He presented the following logic as grounds for his
"THE state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth,
for kings are not only God's lieutenants upon earth and set upon
God's throne, but even by God himself they are called gods."
True to his words, James dissolved Parliament and for ten years
thereafter he ruled England without it.
Considering James' overstated view of kingship and his disregard
for the parliamentarian style of leadership, it is understandable that
he would also have apprehensions regarding Presbyterianism. This style
of church government was developed by Calvin in Geneva, and had no
place for kings or bishops.
In his excellent book entitled In the Beginning, Alister
McGrath tells of a particular event that took place in Scotland, which
shaped James' views on this matter.
"His views on this matter were shaped to no small extent by some
unpleasant experiences with Scottish presbyteries, particularly under
Andrew Melville, a Scottish Presbyterian who had taught at Geneva
Academy, and formed a close personal relationship with Calvin's
protégé, Theodore Beza. At a heated encounter between the king and
senior churchmen at Falkland Place in October 1596, Melville had
physically taken hold of James and accused him of being "God's silly
vassal." Melville pointedly declared that while they would support
James as king in public, in private they all knew perfectly well that
Christ was the true king of Scotland, and his kingdom was the Kirk - a
kingdom in which James was a mere member, not a lord or head. James
was shaken by this physical and verbal assault, not the least because
it suggested that Melville and his allies posed a significant threat
to the Scottish throne." ("In The Beginning" - Pg. 140)
James also developed a dislike for the Geneva Bible, which was
widely read and promoted by the Puritans. At that time it was in fact
the most popular Bible in England. James' disdain for the Geneva Bible
was not so much due to the translation itself but primarily because of
its marginal notes that promoted the notion that all believers
comprised the New Testament priesthood and that they, not the king,
were God's anointed.
The Geneva Bible notes on Psalms 105:14-15 read,
Psalm 105:14 He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reprove
kings for their sakes;
(g) That is, the king of Egypt and the king of Gerar, (Ge
Psalm 105:15 [Saying], Touch not mine h anointed, and do my i
prophets no harm.
(h) Those whom I have sanctified to be my people.
(i) Meaning, the old fathers, to whom God showed himself plainly,
and who set forth his word.
The anointed that should not be touched were not kings. In fact, God
reproved kings for their sake. The anointed consists of ALL those whom
God has sanctified to be His people, not a king or a special breed of
ruling ministers. The Geneva Bible notes on Luke 22:24 reads,
Luke 22:24 8 And there was also a strife among them, which of them
should be accounted the greatest.
(8) The pastors are not called to rule but to serve.
Gary DeMar comments further,
"In 1620 the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth with their Bibles and a
conviction derived from those Bibles of establishing a new nation. The
Bible was not the King James Version. When James I became king of
England in 1603, there were two translations of the Bible in use; the
Geneva Bible was the most popular, and the Bishops' Bible was used for
reading in churches.
King James disapproved of the Geneva Bible because of its
Calvinistic leanings. He also frowned on what he considered to be
seditious marginal notes on key political texts. A marginal note for
Exodus 1:9 indicated that the Hebrew midwives were correct in
disobeying the Egyptian king's orders, and a note for 2 Chronicles
15:16 said that King Asa should have had his mother executed and not
merely deposed for the crime of worshipping an idol. The King James
Version of the Bible grew out of the king's distaste for these brief
but potent doctrinal commentaries. He considered the marginal notes to
be a political threat to his kingdom.
At a conference at Hampton Court in 1604 with bishops and
theologians, the king listened to a suggestion by the Puritan scholar
John Reynolds that a new translation of the Bible was needed. Because
of his distaste for the Geneva Bible, James was eager for a new
translation. 'I profess,' he said, 'I could never yet see a Bible well
translated in English; but I think that, of all, that of Geneva is the
worst.'" (The Geneva Bible: The Forgotten Translation by Gary DeMar)
This helps us to better understand why the Geneva Bible was so
despised by King James. It is not an overstatement to say that much of
James' conduct as king of England was reactionary, done to counter an
unacceptable turn toward egalitarianism. There is little doubt in our
minds but that a clandestine scheme lay at the heart of James'
decision to translate his new Bible.
After James came to England and was crowned king, a bishop by the
name of Richard Bancroft, soon to become archbishop, sought to save
the church and the nation of England from the puritan "false
prophets." Bancroft was aware of James' exalted view of kingship and
used that knowledge to promote his own agenda. In presenting the
Puritans as a threat to the crown, Bancroft solicited the king's help
in suppressing this greatest threat to his position and power and in
so doing made himself the highest authority in the Church of England,
second only to the King himself. There can be little doubt but that
the true motive behind Bancroft's intrigue was a desire to preserve
the power of the unbiblical bishoprick.
Alister McGrath explains Bancroft's strategy.
"Bancroft's strategy for coping with James was simple. He would
persuade James that the monarchy was dependent upon the episcopacy.
Without bishops there was no future for the monarchy in England." ("In
The Beginning" - Pg. 152)
This political cunning played a significant role in the decision to
translate a new Bible, an Authorized Version that would make
all other versions unauthorized. From all appearances, the new
translation was a calculated initial step toward ridding England of
the despised Geneva Bible and its marginal notes. This new Bible would
preserve and promote the divine right of kings and bishops to rule.
Bishop Bancroft was placed in charge of the translation. This move was
akin to a CEO entrusting the company finances to a known embezzler!
There is little doubt that Bancroft stacked the translation panel with
a goodly number of translators who shared his views.
Mr. McGrath explains,
"A further point that helped win Bancroft over to the new translation
was that he was able to secure for himself a leading personal role in
selecting the translators, and then in limiting their freedom.
Bancroft had realized that it was better to create a new official
translation that he could influence than to have to contend with the
authorization of the Geneva Bible. It was decidedly the lesser of two
evils. He was in a position to exercise considerable influence over
the new bible, by laying rules of translation that would insure that
it would be sympathetic to the position and sensitivities of the
established church of England. And finally he would be in a position
to review the final text of the translation, in case it needed any
judicious changes before publication…" ("In The Beginning" - Pg 164)
Determined to ensure that the translation process was prudently
guided, Bancroft limited the freedom of the translators by drafting
fifteen rules of translation, which were approved by King James.
Two of these rules are of special importance.
1.) "The ordinary Bible read in the church, commonly called the
Bishops Bible, was to be followed and as little altered as the truth
of the original will permit."
3.) "The old Ecclesiastical words to be kept, vis. The word Church
not to be translated Congregation &c."
The Bishops Bible was a revision of the Great Bible, which was
expressly translated in hopes of replacing the Geneva Bible.
Archbishop Matthew Parker commissioned this revision. A company of
bishops did the translating - thus the name "The Bishops Bible."
Archbishop Parker faced considerable opposition from the Puritans for
his insistence upon the use of robes and his writings that held to the
Ironically the Bishops Bible, which until that time had been
ineffective in accomplishing its original purpose of replacing the
Geneva Bible, would now, in the hands of another ambitious bishop, be
used to that very end. In order to preserve their precious power base,
King James and Bishop Bancroft took a giant step backwards in order to
negate the Tyndale, Coverdale, and Geneva Bibles.
Rule number three was clearly designed to insure that Tyndale's
translation of the Greek word ekklesia as congregation
instead of church would not be used in the King's new Bible.
Tyndale had translated the Greek word ekklesia as
congregation, and revealed his contempt for the word "Church"
by using the word "churches" in acts 19:37 to refer to heathen
temples. Could he have been trying to tell us something?
Clearly, an accurate translation was not the objective of Bancroft
and his team. As if that were not enough, when the translation was
complete, Bancroft took the final draft into his home and further
altered it before giving it over to the king to be published.
Alister McGrath explains,
"Having completed their recommendations for revision (of the work
of the translators of the Kings new Bible), the text was passed on to
Miles Smith and Thomas Bilson, who were charged with the adding of the
finishing touches. It is not clear whether their role was to review
the overall text of the translation, or simply to comment on the
specific changes proposed by the editorial committee that had met at
Stationers' Hall. Then, in an apparently unscripted development,
Richard Bancroft reviewed what had been hitherto regarded as the final
version of the text. It would be one of his final acts; Bancroft died
on November 2, 1610, and never lived to see the translation over which
he had held so much sway (by order of the king). Smith complained
loudly to anyone who would listen that Bancroft had introduced
fourteen changes in the final text without any consultation. Yet we
remain unclear to what those alleged changes might have been." (In
The Beginning - Pg. 188)
This is only a sample of the kind of political jockeying that was
going on behind the scenes and the ambition that sponsored the
translating, editing and publication of the king's new Bible, which
could not escape being tainted by such ambition.
King James prohibited his translators from removing the old
ecclesiastical words that had taken generations to weave into the
text. He had to make a special emphasis in order to keep them, since
any honest translator would have translated them out. Bancroft and
King James intended to keep them no matter what the translators
"I am convinced that the King James Translators, laboring under an
'institutional church' mentality, selected the strongest words
possible which conveyed the idea that the people must submit to the
authority of the clergy. In this way King James could control the
people through the Church, of which he was Supreme Ruler." (Dusty
Owens - quote taken from "It shall not be so among you" by
Now let us begin to look at a few of the passages that we believe
were altered to advance the authority of king and clergy, some of
which are not translations at all but are either paraphrases or
Although the KJV is called a translation, we should note that in
some places it is not a translation but a paraphrase. We should be
leery of all such portions of scripture. A word for word translation
would have left the readers to decide the truth for themselves, but
that was unacceptable. This brought about use of entire phrases to
redefine one Greek word, in order to promote the ecclesiastical
paradigm. One such case is found in 1Timothy 3:13.
"For they that (1247) have used the office of a deacon
well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in
the faith which is in Christ Jesus."
The words have used the office of a deacon were all used to
define one Greek word, diakoneo, which is defined as:
"To be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon…"
The words have used the office of a deacon are a paraphrase of one
Greek word - (diakoneo), which simply means, to serve.
It is only translated have used the office of a deacon in first
Timothy 3:13. Throughout the rest of the New Testament, Diakoneo
never implies office or rule, but the service of a slave to his
master. The words have used the office of a deacon were clearly
an attempt to redefine what was once descriptive of the loving service
of a slave and make it a hierarchical office.
W.E. Vine explains,
"…the R.V. rightly omits "office" and translates the verb diakoneo
Lets take a look at how the Greek word diakoneo is used in
other scriptures in the New Testament, as it will give us a better
understanding of its true meaning. Here are a couple of examples.
Matthew 8:15: And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and
she arose, and ministered (diakoneo) unto them.
Matthew 20:28: Even as the Son of man came not to be
ministered (diakoneo) unto, but to minister (diakoneo),
and to give his life a ransom for many.
Lets use the KJV definition of the Greek word diakoneo in
1st Timothy 3:13 - have used the office of a deacon in the
Matthew 8:15: And he touched her hand, and the fever left
her: and she arose, and used the office of a deacon unto
Matthew 20:28: Even as the Son of man came not to be
ministered unto, but to use the office of a deacon, and
to give his life a ransom for many.
You can substitute this definition throughout the scriptures
wherever the Greek word diakoneo is found and it will sound
just that silly. Why? Because the act of serving is not an office, it
is not a clerical job, nor a seat of authority, but the labor of love,
of a life laid down.
Romans 16:1 is one of the most revealing passages.
"I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant (diakonos)
of the church which is at Cenchrea…"
To translate the Greek word diakonos as servant when applied
to a woman–Phebe--when it was normally transliterated deacon
when applied to a man reveals the translators' bias. For to them a
woman could not hold an office, and the idea of serving being
an office was what they were trying to justify. The Greek word
diakonos should be translated servant in every instance.
Throughout the entire New Testament, the word office is
found nowhere in the Greek text in connection with the ekklesia.
Yet it is so used five different times in the KJV.
One instance in which the King James translators tried to preserve
their old Ecclesiastical words and imply office rather than
service is Romans11:13.
"For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the
Gentiles, I magnify mine office." (diakonia).
Nowhere else in all of the New Testament is this word (diakonia)
translated mine office.
Let us look at a few other passages in which the Greek word
diakonia is used, as this will give us a greater sense of its
In Luke 10:40 diakonia is translated as "much serving."
"But Martha was cumbered about much serving (diakonia),
and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister
hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me."
Was Martha magnifying her office, or was she just serving?
What was the nature of her service? Was it domestic or clerical?
Diakonia is translated my service in Romans 15:31,
to do you service in 2 Corinthians 11:8 and service
In Revelation 2:19. As you can see, diakonia speaks of
service to others, not official tenure.
Another instance is found in Romans 12:4.
"For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not
the same office:"
The Greek word that was translated office here is praxis,
which has absolutely nothing to do with office. Praxis means
a doing, deed and the above passage is descriptive of the
functioning of the individual members of the body of Christ. Not every
member has the same function. Praxis in no way implies an elite
cast of official ministers defined by title or office. This was a very
clever mistranslation designed to overwrite relational body ministry
This is the only instance in which praxis is translated
office. We find this extremely interesting, especially considering
that this obvious mistranslation is in the context of the
every-member-participation of the Body of Christ.
Praxis is correctly translated in Romans 8:13.
"For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the
Spirit you put to death the deeds (praxis) of the body, you
will live." (NKJV)
Again, the word office is never used in relationship to the
ekklesia. Neither the Greek noun hierateia (a priest's
office, Luke 1:9; Heb. 7:5), nor the Greek Verb hierateuo (to
officiate as a priest, Luke 1:8) are used regarding the community of
Christ in the original text. The concept of office or a special priest
cast is alien to the purpose and nature of the body of Christ, where
differences are defined by function, not by managerial positions. The
arm has a different function than the leg but does that make one
better than the other, thus ruling over the operation of the other?
According to the teachings of the New Testament, the old covenant
priesthood has been discarded, and in its place is the priesthood of
ALL believers - a priesthood that functions relationally rather than
True first century serving was not done in the context of a
religious service; it was done in the context of life in general. In
the homes and on the streets, wherever the needs were, there the
faithful in Christ served. There was no altar, pulpit or pew, no
starting time or final benediction. There were no clergy, and no laity
or spectators, but a royal priesthood consisting of all believers.
They were not building a church; they were serving Christ, and
encouraging others to do so, and in that, Jesus built the church.
We do not deny that there were those whose lives were set aside to
serve the saints in the first century church. However, when they said
the word diakonia it meant something different to them than it
does to us today. They were simply following the example of Jesus who
"made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a
servant…" (Philippians 2:7). They had seen it with their own eyes--God
on his knees washing human feet. Jesus came to serve and leave us with
a supreme example. We cannot, even with a wild stretch of the
imagination, believe that the early believers saw their service to be
official or hierarchical.
Another instance of the baseless use of the word office can
be found in 1Timothy 3:1.
"This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop,
he desireth a good work."
What in the world is a bishop? We thought it was a piece on
a chessboard! There is that word office again! Does it make you
suspicious? Us too! Here once again, the King James translators, in
obedience to Bancroft's fifteen rules of translation, were preserving
the old ecclesiastical words, even the ones that were not in the
original Greek text, such as office"
W.E. Vine explains,
"…the word "office" in the phrase "the office of a Bishop," has
nothing to represent it in the original."
John Bland further explains:
"The translators, under the king's injunction to keep the main
terms of the Church of England's ecclesiastical form, make two main
errors. The first is adding a word to the text that doesn't appear in
the Greek, i.e. "office". There is neither a word in the text for
office NOR the idea of office outside their own paradigm. The second
is an error in translation. The word translated "Bishop" is
episkopos. The word means to "oversee", to "tend". Vine defines it
thus: "EPISKOPOS, lit., an overseer (epi, over, skopeo, to look or
watch), whence Eng. "bishop"..." The passage in 1st Timothy actually
reads, "If a man wants to oversee, he desires a good work" (John M.
Bland "MEN WHO WOULD BE "KINGS")
The expression to oversee does not imply office in the sense
of one being superior to another. It is a job description, not an
office title. It describes those who have the God-given ability to see
the needs of others and to tend to those needs. They are caregivers,
The literal Greek stresses "a good work" of serving the community
of Christ, not an illustrious office called Bishop. Please note
this difference: the latter is spawned out of the desire to be first,
the formeris motivated by love. Which do you think was the meaning of
the author who laid his life down, in service and in martyrdom, for
Christ's sake and the sake of his body, the ekklesia? If Paul
had sought to promote an office and himself as an officer, early
church history would be a much different. The truth is that he loved
not his life unto death, and thought little about his own promotion.
He had a job to finish, a course to run, and his thoughts were
preoccupied with its faithful completion. History bears this out.
The meaning of the Greek word episkopos, in a Christian
context, is watch over, not as a superintendent but as a
caregiver. Episkopos does not refer to an authoritarian
position within the church but is a description of the function of
those who have advanced in maturity, both naturally and spiritually.
That maturity is manifest in their selfless and godly care for all
believers. We should listen to such individuals, but this does not
mean they are our lords and we are to render them unquestioned
obedience. Such men and women are not distinguished by titles and
robes, but by their loving devotion and service to Christ and His
Where then did we get the concept that bishops are rulers? Perhaps
a lesson in history would help the modern reader to better understand
how it is that we inherited the current hierarchical system of church
From the first century until now, the political mindset of each era
of history was adopted by the church of that particular era. Hence the
concept of ruling bishops evolved, with each generation and nation
adding its own peculiar twist. When the church falls to the level of a
mere institution it will always adopt the political style of the
nation where it resides. Generally speaking, the bent of the natural
man was to make the word bishop a title of a ruling position
instead of the function of a caregiver and servant, such as the godly
elderly of the early church. It was somewhat due to the influence of
Ignatius in the 2nd century that this concept arose. It was Ignatius
who held the concept that the Bishop (overseer) was a different
person from the elder (which means an older wiser one). Ignatius was
received well because of his affiliation with the Lord's aged disciple
John. He over-emphasized obedience to bishops and stressed the
unbiblical clergy-laity distinction, which was already spreading
throughout the world.
Eventually the concept of a head Bishop over the other bishops in
each city began to evolve, which developed further into a mother
church concept in that a bigger city held reign over its smaller
surrounding cities and villages. This eventually led to the invention
of such grandiose titles as archbishop, cardinal, and pope. None of
these titles are found in the scriptures or in the writings of the
early church fathers. After this the local character of the
ekklesia was lost because there was now one worldwide hierarchy,
with the pope at the top. The concept of one Catholic (meaning
universal) church was brought into full swing, divided into
administrative districts known as dioceses, another concept that was
borrowed from the Roman government.
Then there was the European influence. The prevailing political and
economical system of Europe was the feudal system. The lands were all
owned by either the king or his lords. The common man was permitted to
live on that land that surrounded the castle of each lord, and the
peasants were taxed on what they produced as well as paying rent to
the lord. In exchange, the serfs could run to the shelter of the
castle and its moat if there was an invasion of the land by another
army, or they could turn to the gerefa, the scirgerefa
(sheriff, who also doubled as tax collector) to keep the thieves at
bay and maintain order.
The Roman model of the church coat-tailed on this system. The
bishop or archbishop reigned from a cathedral. These were very
political positions often occupied by members of the ruling class. The
right of primogeniture was part and parcel of the feudal system. The
king and his lords gave the entire inheritance to the oldest son. As a
result the younger sons, disgruntled and rejected, often sought power
and identity by gaining office in the church. These two systems worked
hand in hand to maintain control over the serfs. One used the threat
of an army and sheriffs; the other threatened the heavenly displeasure
of God Himself. The very possibility of being branded a heretic and
having to face the torment of the church's inquisitors and their
various methods of torture often kept would-be dissenters at bay.
After all, the church could always depend on the armies of the kings
to back it up in time of need, just as Herod and Pontius Pilate came
to the aid of the Jewish Sanhedrin when it came time to crucify Jesus.
It is interesting to note that the cathedrals had a second desired
effect besides giving the bishop and his servants a place reign from.
These structures were an engineering feat and very intimidating.
Compared to the thatched roofed mud huts of the common serf, these
giant structures that dominated the skyline were like putting a man on
the moon in terms of the technology of the day. The common man was
humbled by the very structure itself and was prone to think that the
one who was the "pilot" of such a building as this must be like unto
The American Church is an amalgamation of all of the above
influences, and adds its own unique cultural bias to the mix. Hence
the American church is run like a corporation and its leadership is
modeled after the entrepreneurial CEO.
None of these influences can be found in the Lord's teachings or
the example of the early church. The presence of such societal values
in the church indicates that the world has been more influential in
shaping the church and its leadership than has the Spirit of the lowly
Christ, who said, "my kingdom is not of this world."
Now let us consider another old ecclesiastical word that has been
used to advance this notion of office. BISHOPRICK is a strange
sounding word that appears only once in the New Testament, in Acts
chapter one, verse twenty.
"For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be
desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick (episkopes)
let another take."
One of the definitions of episkopes is visitation,
which we feel comes closest to capturing its true meaning.
Visitation speaks of a work, not an office. Nevertheless, the term
bishoprick sure sounds official.
It is important to note here that the word visitation
throughout the Old Testament primarily applies to the judgment of God
upon the nations. Even Jerusalem, the city of peace, would know such
judgment. Standing on a hill, overlooking this beloved city, Jesus
wept as he spoke the following words,
"If you, even you, had known today the things which belong to your
peace! But now, they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come
on you, when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you,
surround you, hem you in on every side, and will dash you and your
children within you to the ground. They will not leave in you one
stone on another, because you didn't know the time of your
visitation (episkope)." (Luke 19:42-44 WEB)
Jesus selected the apostles for this specific purpose. Just as He
stood before the high counsel as a divine testimony against them, so
these men He selected stood before the governors and kings of the
nations for a testimony against them.
"And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake,
for a testimony against them and the Gentiles." (Matthew10:18)
They were to attest to a New Kingdom with a new King. This could
explain why they were not long upon this earth. They were as ill
treated as their Savior was. They were not called to execute judgment
upon the ekklesia but to lift the standard of the gospel of the
kingdom before all, including governors and kings. They filled up the
measure of Jesus' sufferings. It was a thankless job, rewarded by
stripes and imprisonment and finally death. They had been called to
suffering. The Lord spoke to Ananias regarding this call on Paul's
life saying, "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for
My name's sake" (Acts 9:16 NKJV). Paul commented on this further in
1Corinthians 4:9 saying, "For I think that God has displayed us, the
apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a
spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men."
Jesus spoke about this to Peter in John chapter twenty-one.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded
yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will
stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where
you do not wish." This He spoke, signifying by what death he would
glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me."
(John 21:18; 19 NKJV)
They knew the fellowship of his sufferings. They
drank deeply from his cup. Let everyone who aspires to be an
apostle fully understand the job description. It is not an opportunity
to be first and rule over God's saints, but to glorify Him in being
set forth as last, appointed to death, as the filth of the world and
the offscouring of all things, as a testimony and a witness. Do you
still want the job?
The Greek word translated elder by the KJV translators is
According to W.E. Vine, Presbuteros is "an
adjective, the comparative degree of presbus, an old man,
an elder....of age, whether of the elder of two persons...the
eldest...of a person advanced in life, a senior..."
How is it that the Greek adjective presbuteros,
("older" or "elderly") mysteriously became a noun,
represented in the English text by two official sounding titles, i.e.,
presbyter and elder? Among 54 translators in the KJV
panel, at least one of them should have known the difference between
an adjective and a noun.
They changed the translation of the Greek word presbuteros,
which was formerly translated priest by the papacy, to elder,
Tyndale's translation of the word. They did, however, do all that was
within their power to give the term elder the same priestly and
In his book entitled The Royal Priesthood, Carl Ketcherside
exposes this conspiracy, revealing how the Catholic Church, through
sophistry, sought to make presbuteros (elder) into a
priestly office, aloof from the rest of the believers.
"The original word which is mistranslated "priests" by the Roman
Catholic version is the Greek "presbuteros" which literally means "an
aged person." The word for priest is "hiereus." Nothing can be more
palpably misleading than the deliberate translation of a word to
justify a practice; thus changing the Bible to suit a human system,
rather than changing such a system to suit the Bible. To prove this
grave charge I cite the very book of Acts, from which Dr. O'Brien
quotes. There were both "priests" and "elders" among the Jews. Since
Rome translates the word "presbuteros" (an aged man) by the term
priests in Acts 14:22, what does she do when the words for both
"priests" and "elders" occur in the same verse? Notice the Douay
Version at Acts 6:23: "And being let go, they came to their own
company, and related all that the chief priests (archiereis) and
ancients (presbuteroi) had said to them." In Acts 23:14, the Douay
Version reads: "Who came to the chief priests (archiereusin) and the
ancients (presbuterois)." In Acts 25:15, "When I was at Jerusalem, the
chief priests, and the ancients of the Jews, came unto me." Why did
the translators from the Latin Vulgate not render the above by "chief
priests and priests"? They knew that it was obvious that there were
both priests and elders among the Jews, and an arbitrary translation
of priests for "presbuteros" would be easily detected. Therefore they
translated it by the word "ancients," which can be and is used in both
an official and non-official sense in the New Covenant scriptures. Why
then did theynot translate Acts 14:22 in conformity with their
translation elsewhere, to read: "And when they had ordained to them
ancients in every church, they commended them to the Lord in whom they
believed"? Rome had to get her priestcraft in, even if she violated
all laws of interpretation and forfeited all claims to consistency. Of
such fragile, fanciful tissue is the great fabric of priestcraft
The difference between the orthodox model of leadership today and
the first century model is that one says, Do as I say, while
the other said, "Do as I do." One is positional and the other
is relational. The world is starving for examples; people are
desperately looking for heroes, someone to show them the way. The
first century elderly understood that the only power they possessed to
influence others was the power of love and of their example. Perhaps
you are asking, but doesn't the Bible say that elders are responsible
to rule OVER the flock?
It is amazing how much one little word can change the meaning of a
passage of scripture. Such is the case with this word over.
Take for instance, Paul's words to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over
(en) which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the
church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."
This is a deliberate mistranslation. It could be nothing else for it
required that the simplest Greek preposition, en (in or among),
which is used 2,700 times in the New Testament and is nowhere else
translated over, should be translated over only here and
that in the context of leadership.
Peter instructed the presbuteros of his day regarding the
nature of their work, reminding them of the perimeters set by the Lord
"Neither as being lords over (katakurieuo) God's
heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." (1Peter 5:3)
The Greek word katakurieuo translated lords over in the
above passage is a compound verb consisting of kata, down,
and Kurieuo, to exercise lordship. Katakurieuo
describes how a lord typically relates to a minion. He relates down (kata)
because he is thought to be above or over. It is certain that Peter
was remembering the words of Christ, who said "You know that the
rulers of the Gentiles lord it over (katakurieuo) them …
It shall not be so among you…" Jesus forbids His followers to
lord-down upon each other. Instead, he reminds us that he who would be
great must be a servant and whoever would be first must be a slave,
even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give
his life as a ransom for many. (See Matthew 20:25-28)
In his commentary on 1 Peter 5:3, William Macdonald wrote,
"Elders should be examples, not dictators. They should be
walking out in front of the flock, not driving them from behind. They
should not treat the flock as if it belonged to them. This strikes at
the very heart of authoritarianism! Many of the abuses in Christendom
would be eliminated by simply obeying the three instructions in verses
2, 3. The first would abolish all reluctance. The second would
spell the end of commercialism. The third would be the death of
officialism in the church."
The first century presbuterion were the elderly who followed in
Christ's example of servanthood and were recognized (See Philippians
3:17). These men were not lords over or controllers of God's heritage.
They were, "…examples becoming (ginomai) the flock…"(Morris
Literal Translation). Ginomai is the Greek word from
which we get our English word generate. It is a primary verb,
meaning to cause to be ("gen"-erate) or bring into being.
Ginomai speaks of the power of example, the power to energize and
inspire what they modeled. What we are talking about is the power of a
life laid down. "Greater love has no man than this," and as sacrifice
begets greater sacrifice, the body of Christ is energized
toward greater and greater service. This is the example Jesus left us.
He came to serve. Not to receive service as a king, but to give
service as a slave. In this up-side-down kingdom, there is no thought
of ruling over another; no thought of promotion, for if the King came
as a servant, what then are we to do?
Have you ever known someone who so inspired your admiration, that
you caught yourself taking on their manners, their gestures, even
talking like they talk? What you experienced, for good or bad, was the
life altering power of an example.
When I, Michael, was a young man, my aunt pointed out to me one day
that I laughed and smiled like my dad. One day in my adolescent years
I even caught myself walking like he did. That was strange, because my
father had an artificial leg that made him walk with a slight limp.
If Jesus, the ultimate example, the one who is altogether lovely,
the one who suffered the horrors of Calvary on your behalf, should
stand before you right now, you would become like him. You could not
do otherwise. For it is in seeing Him that we are transformed. The
scriptures say that when He appears, we shall be like him, for we
shall see him as he is (2 Corinthians 3:18). When the power (Ginomai)
of example is gone, all you have left is the tyranny of demanded
Because the true church is relational, not institutional, it makes
sense only in a social context, a family context. In every truly
healthy family, there is second and third generation communion. You
have the grandchildren, the parents, and the grandparents. In that
context, the grandparents are the elders. They possess the wisdom of
years, and if godly, are in a position to teach by their words and
example as no other family member can. Satan has done all he can
possibly do to destroy the very concept of family, and to encourage
the young in disrespect for the elderly, ignoring their counsel. Thus,
we have witnessed the breakdown of the family and the church. The
church is a family. It began in the heart of a loving Father who sent
his only Son to bring many sons to glory. Oh, what manner of love the
father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God!
Paul wrote to Timothy, telling how he should relate to the elderly
(presbuteros) in the family of God:
"Rebuke not an elder, (presbuteros) but intreat him as a
father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder (presbuteros) women
as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity." (1Tm:5:1-2)
The context of this scripture is completely relational, not
institutional, and makes sense only in a family context. There is the
mention of father, mothers, sisters and brethren. This
sounds like a family to us. In the Greek, presbuteros is used
for both old men and old women. In an attempt to institutionalize, all
of these dear family terms became offices in the papal church.
And since they could not recognize any title without ordination,
everything that was once relational and family was displaced, and all
but lost in the institution. Leadership gradually became more and more
hierarchical until the supreme leader of this fallen church bore both
the temporal and spiritual swords, sitting on a luxurious throne in
extravagant robes wielding the kingly scepter of power and rule. Such
men have bequeathed to us much that is called Christian leadership
I (Michael) am reminded of a story that a brother in Christ told
me. One day a pair of Mormon missionaries came to his door and they
introduced themselves as Elder Jones and Elder Smith (not their real
names). My friend said that the oldest one could not have been more
than twenty years old. Finally my friend, who was much older than
them, asked, "Elder to what?" They were totally flustered.
In the New Testament we have Timothy, who some call an apostle and
others call a pastor (the scripture calling him neither), being
instructed to relate to the elderly man as he would his father, with
honor and respect. There is something unnatural about the young
rebuking the elderly. In an ecclesiastical, hierarchical context,
where authority is positional rather than relational, the issue of age
is irrelevant. It all depends upon who has the title and position. In
today's institutional churches it would be perceived as a compromise
of a pastor's authority to relate to any untitled individual as his
senior. However, in the family esteeming others as better or superior
to yourself is normal, or at least it should be. (Philippians 2:3) The
church itself has become the greatest enemy of the family by its
institutionalized example. This was a masterstroke of the enemy. God
wants his family back!
Paul wrote to Timothy:
"Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by
prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery (presbuterion
)." (1Tmothy 4:14)
Since it is one of the transliterated words we referred to earlier,
Presbytery should be suspect. For what reason did it go
untranslated? In what way would that make the passage clearer?
Did Timothy receive a gift by prophecy, with the laying on of the
hands of the presbytery? Yes he did! But what in the world is the
presbytery? Oh, it has come to mean something to us through word
association, as you can teach a baby that a cat is a rat by simply
calling the cat a rat. And if you did it long enough, no one could
convince him otherwise. Such is the power of tradition.
In his Non-ecclesiastical New Testament, Frank Daniels
interpreted presbuterion as the elderly.
"Do not neglect the gift that is in you which was given to you
through prophecy with the laying on of hands of the elderly."
We recognize that being elderly does not necessarily make one
Godly. There are old sinners as well as young ones. The elderly in
reference here are the godly elderly who laid down their lives for the
flock, who followed in the footsteps of the serving Christ.
Had the King James translators translated the Greek word
presbuterion correctly it would have been a direct violation of
the King's rules of translation. This was one of the key dominos that,
if tipped, would bring down all the rest. They did, however, add their
ecclesiastical translation in the margins as "council of elders." If
the 16th century reader had known what a true elder was, that might
have helped. To them an elder was someone who advanced his own brand
of orthodoxy at the expense of the people. They knew nothing of the
kind of love that motivated the godly elderly of the first century.
"While older members (presbyters) owe a special responsibility to
the younger members in teaching and example, the church is without
officers to rule or make decisions. It is a body of loving interaction
and full participation." (Dr. Norman Park "It Shall Not Be
So Among You")
The House of God
The people of God are the ekklesia, not a church building or a
system of worship. The called out ekklesia is the household of
God. This brings us to a verse that is among the most misleading
passages in the entire New Testament.
"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to
behave thyself in the house of God,(Oikos)which is the
church (ekklesia) of the living God, the pillar and ground of
the truth." (1Tmothy 3:15)
There is a very simple conclusion that Bishop Bancroft and King
James hoped that the reader would make. House of God = the church = a
temple with its priesthood and ceremonies. The use of the term
house of God, which was used exclusively of the temple in
the Old Testament, was very crafty on their part.
Although the Greek word oikos is often translated house
or home, it most often refers to the occupants of a house,
i.e., the household or family. Oikos speaks of a family,
not a building, a household rather than a material house. If you look
at its usage throughout the rest of the New Testament, you cannot
avoid this conclusion.
The literal translation of oikos is, Household, family,
those who live in the same house. (The Bible library CD) There is
a great difference between the houses that we live in and our
households. There is an old saying, "a house does not make a home."
Neither does a church building make those who enter it the ekklesia
of God. Our houses are dispensable but our families are not. The
important thing is the family. Let us advance a new equation. Oikos =
Household of God = congregation of God = family of God. Oikos
is always associated with family, not a material building or temple.
It does not refer to the place or building where the Oikos or
family meet, but of the family itself, the household.
Where, in this new dispensation, is God's house? The scriptures
make it quite clear; that God does not dwell in temples made with
hands. We, the body of Christ, are his temple made of living
stones, Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone as well as the
foundation (see 1 Corinthians 3).
If 1Timothy 3:15 were translated properly it would read as follows.
"But if I am gone long, you may know how you should conduct
yourself among the household of God, his dwelling place, which is the
congregation of the living God, the pillar and the ground of truth."
(Our own translation)
Below are a few of the passages where the Greek word oikos
applies to family rather that a physical house.
Acts 10:2: A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house
(oikos), which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God
Acts 11:14: Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy
house (oikos) shall be saved.
Acts 16:15: And when she was baptized, and her household (oikos),
she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the
Lord, come into my house, (oikos) and abide there. And she
Acts 18:8: And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed
on the Lord with all his house (oikos); and many of the
Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
This brings us to the question of where the ekklesia of the
first century met.
Did they meet in temples? Did they meet in church buildings? Where
did they gather? Where is the logical place for a family to meet?
Where does your family gather on a daily basis? The family of God in
the first century met in homes. Where else would a family gather? Here
are some of the verses that bring this out.
Acts 8:3: As for Saul, he made havock of the congregation |1577|
(ecclesia,) entering into every house, and haling men and women
committed them to prison.
Romans 16:5: Likewise greet the church that is in their house.
Salute my well beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia
1Corinthians 16:19: The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and
Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in
Colossians 4:15: Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and
Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
Philemon 1:2: And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow
soldier, and to the church in thy house:
Acts 12:12: And when he had considered the thing, he came to the
house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many
were gathered together praying.
With the exception of Solomon's porch, where the early believers
gathered to hear the apostles teach and which was available to them
for only a short time, there is no mention of a routine gathering
place other than their homes.
"…how I didn't shrink from declaring to you anything that was
profitable, teaching you publicly and from house to house…" (Act 20:20
Paul lists two primary places where he taught, in public and in
homes. In all of the New Testament there is not one mention of Paul or
any other apostle teaching or preaching in a church building. This
came much later, as the full apostasy of the church started to take
You may be asking by now, "Don't the scriptures say that elders are
to rule over the ekklesia?"
It is apparent that the selection of the English word rule
was with design, to promote this ecclesiastical conspiracy. The use of
the words rule or have the rule over to lend weight to
the argument that the church is hierarchical was a masterstroke, that
we are still reeling from today.
What is the English definition of the word rule?
To exercise dominating power or influence…(The New Century
(n.) The right and power to govern or judge:
Words that mean the opposite of rule include the following:
• servility (antonym)
• weakness (antonym) (The American heritage dictionary)
You will note here, that the English definition of the word rule
is devoid of any connotation of service, as the word servitude
is listed among its antonyms. This alone should arouse our suspicions,
considering that Christ-like leadership is servanthood.
The King James translators have Paul telling Timothy:
"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double
honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." (1
Timothy 5:17 KJV).
Referring to this Dr. Norman Park wrote:
"These writers made short shrift of the claim that elders have the
authority to 'rule.' They knew the history of the 1611 version and the
determination of King James to confer on both bishop and king the
divine right to rule: 'No bishop, no king.' Hence his demand that the
Greek word proistmi be rendered 'rule,' though it actually
carried no connotation of authority, power, or governance. It merely
meant that elders should be 'foremost' in zeal, knowledge, quality of
life, and concern for the welfare of the church - a quality which
rightfully should be embodied in all saints. In a very real sense,
then, 'ruling' was not the preserve of the few, but the duty of all."
(Dr. Norman Park "It Shall Not Be So Among You")
How is it that the word rule, which in the mind of the
English reader bore dictatorial overtones, found its way into the
text? Paul wrote:
"Not that we have dominion over (archo) your faith, but are
fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand." (2 Corinthians
Paul counted himself as a fellow worker, not as one who ruled over the
flock of Christ, knowing that one stands by faith in God, not by the
scaffoldings of domineering men.
Now we will examine three verses that are the favorites of those
who desire to rule over the ekklesia of God:
"Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken
unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of
their conversation." (Hebrews 13:7, KJV).
It is important to note that this verse is in the past tense but has
been translated to read as though it were in the present tense. It is
referring to those who have died in the faith, not to living
individuals presiding over the body of Christ. The word over
in this verse has nothing to represent it in the original. So, as
usual, we will dismiss this word and all that it implies. The words,
"them which have the rule over" are a paraphrase of one Greek word -
hegeomai (2233) - a verb - meaning to lead, TO GO
BEFORE as a guide. In a Christian context hegeomai is
descriptive of the act of guiding, going on ahead, leading the way as
an example, not sitting as overlords.
Hebrews chapters eleven and twelve are filled with accounts of
those who have gone before us as examples, starting with Abel and
ending with Jesus Himself, Godly examples of those who have walked by
faith. The reader is exhorted to remember such, to reflect on their
faith, calling to memory "the end of their conversation."
Hebrews chapter eleven is a memorial to those exemplary guides who
had gone before. By faith these heroes overcame kingdoms, wrought
righteousness, obtained promises, stopped lions' mouths, quenched the
power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, became strong out of
weakness, became mighty in war, made the armies of strangers give way.
Women received their dead again by resurrection, and others were
tortured, not having accepted deliverance, that they might get a
better resurrection. Others underwent trial of mockings and
scourgings, and of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawed in
half, tempted, and killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins,
in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, evil treated, "Of whom the world
was not worthy." They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in dens
and caverns of the earth. These were some of the exemplary guides, the
hegeomai that were to be remembered. (See Hebrews 11:33-40)
Then there were the early Christian martyrs such as Stephen and
James, who loved not their lives unto death.
Regarding Hebrews 13:7, Clarke's Commentary states:
"Remember them which have the rule over you."] This clause
should be translated, Remember your guides, who have spoken
unto you the doctrine of God. Theodoret's note on this verse is
very judicious: "He intends the saints who were dead,Stephen the first
martyr, James the brother of John, and James called the Just. And
there were many others who were taken off by the Jewish rage.
'Consider these, (said he,) and, observing their example, imitate
their faith.'" This remembrance of the dead saints, with admiration of
their virtues, and a desire to imitate them, is, says Dr. Macknight,
the only worship which is due to them from the living.
Considering the end of their conversation] "The issue of whose
course of life most carefully consider." They lived to get good and do
good; they were faithful to their God and his cause; they suffered
persecution; and for the testimony of Jesus died a violent death. God
never left them; no, he never forsook them; so that they were happy in
their afflictions, and glorious in their death. Carefully consider
this; act as they did; keep the faith, and God will keep you."
Having remembered those who had gone before them, the author of
Hebrews turned to the hegeomai still living out the example of
Christ among the early believers, those who continued in the example
of those who had gone before. Following on the heals of Hebrews 13:7
is a verse that at first seems out of context, but upon careful
consideration must be viewed as a transitional thought. This verse
ties the exemplary guides of the past to those of the present in a
continuum, revealing the fashion and style of leadership in the
ekklesia. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for
ever." The hegeomai of the first century followed in the
example of Christ, filling up "that which is lacking of the
afflictions of Christ," (Colossians 1:24) "being made conformable unto
his death…" (Philippians 3:10).
These contemporaries of the writer of Hebrews also were tortured,
refusing the deliverance that was offered to them if they would but
deny their Lord, that they might get a better resurrection. They too
underwent trials, mockings, scourgings, bonds and imprisonment. They
also were stoned, tempted, and killed by the sword, destitute,
afflicted and evil treated. They did not live in luxury. They did not
receive large salaries or sit in offices with honorific titles on the
Now, let us look deeper into the damage done by the King James
translators in promoting a ruling class among the ekklesia.
Hebrews 13:17 is another verse that seems to be loaded in the favor of
those who would rule over the saints.
The English words rule and ruler, in a Christian
context, can only rightly refer to Christ. He is our sovereign, our
king and ruler. He is our Lord! Those among us who are so impudent and
deluded that they can refer to themselves as rulers should blush.
Ruler does not roll well off the Christian tongue. Even the most
dictatorial among us intuitively knows that the idea of ruling over
others stands in stark antithesis to the example and teachings of the
With this in mind, let us look at Hebrews 13:17.
"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit
yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give
account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is
unprofitable for you." (Hebrews 13:17).
Note: The word over is not in the original Greek, but was
added, so we should dismiss it and all that it implies.
The King James scholars translated key words in this passage with
supposed English equivalents that bear much more autocratic overtones
than did the Greek.
For instance, the Greek word, Peitho that was translated
obey appears only 55 times in the New Testament. It is only
translated obey seven of those times. It would sound ridiculous
to use the English word obey in most of the other passages
where the Greek word Peitho appears. You be the judge.
The word Obey (peitho) is in the passive voice and
simply means be persuaded.
"Peitho: To persuade, i.e. to induce one by words to believe.
To make friends of, to win one's favour, gain one's good will, or to
seek to win one, strive to please one. To tranquillise. To persuade
unto i.e. move or induce one to persuasion to do something. Be
persuaded. To be persuaded, to suffer one's self to be persuaded; to
be induced to believe: to have faith: in a thing. To believe."
(Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon")
"peitho, to persuade, to win over, in the Passive and Middle
voices, to be persuaded, to listen to.... (Acts 5:40, Passive Voice,
"they agreed"); The obedience suggested is not by submission to
authority, but resulting from persuasion." (W. E. Vine Expository
Dictionary of New Testament Words)
Consider the following verses.
Matthew:28:14: And if this come to the governor's ears, we will
persuade (pietho) him, and secure you.
Acts13:43: Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the
Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who,
speaking to them, persuaded (pietho) them to continue in the
grace of God.
Acts14:19: And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and
Iconium, who persuaded (pietho)the people, and, having stoned
Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
Acts18:4: And he (Paul) reasoned (Dialegomai…'To
think different things with one's self, mingle thought with thought.
To ponder, revolve in mind. To converse, discourse with one, argue,
discuss'. (Thayer and Smith Greek Lexicon) …in the synagogue
every sabbath, and persuaded (pietho) the Jews and the
Christian leaders are those who possess the spiritual
where-with-all to influence others for Christ. Here Paul is reasoning
with Jews and Greeks in the synagogue. He did not command them to
obey him. Rather, he reasoned with them. In this way, they were
persuaded (pietho). We cannot imagine Paul being concerned with
securing the loyalty and submission of the hearer to himself. He was
not there to advance Brother Paul's ministry. He was not building
Brother Paul's Church! He was not there to represent himself as an
apostle. Nonetheless, he was "one sent" (the meaning of apostle) to
represent Christ. We are confident that he did this very thing. This
is possibly the best illustration of Christian leadership in the
Bible. How is it that Paul was so persuasive? The answer is quite
simple. Paul himself was totally and utterly persuaded. He was
thoroughly convinced of what he spoke. Remember, we are still dealing
with the Greek word pietho that was translated obey in
"For I am persuaded (pietho), that neither death, nor life, nor
angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things
to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able
to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our
Lord". (Romans 8:38-39)
It was Paul's passion to persuade others for Christ. So effective
was he that the idol makers of Ephesus were feeling the crunch due to
their lost revenues.
"…this Paul hath persuaded (pietho) and turned away much
people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands".
When Paul stood before King Agrippa reasoning with him, he was so
convincing that Agrippa's response was"Almost thou persuadeth (pietho)
me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28).
From time to time, Paul expressed his confidence in other brothers
in Christ. Here is one such instance.
"And I myself also am persuaded (pietho) of you, my
brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all
knowledge, able also to admonish one another." (Rom:15:14)
Here are a few more scriptures where the Greek word (pietho)
was translated persuade or persuaded.
2Corinthians 5:11: Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we
persuade (pietho) men; but we are made manifest unto
God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
Galatians 1:10: For do I now persuade (pietho) men,
or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should
not be the servant of Christ.
2Timothy 1:5: When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that
is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother
Eunice; and I am persuaded (pietho)that in thee also.
2Timothy 1:12: For the which cause I also suffer these things:
nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am
persuaded (pietho) that he is able to keep that which I
have committed unto him against that day.
Hebrews 6:9: But, beloved, we are persuaded (pietho)
better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we
The Greek word pietho speaks of God-given grace to effect
change. "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from
heaven." (John 3:27) If a man possesses God-given influence, he has
no need, nor desire, to demand obedience.
We find a great illustration of this in the life of Peter. God gave
Peter a dream that shook his belief-system to the core. God sent him
to the house of a devout Gentile to declare the gospel. When he
returned to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision, who clung to the
teachings of Judaism, contended with him, saying, "You went into
uncircumcised men and ate with them." (Acts 11:3). What can we learn
from Peter's response? Did he remind them that he was an apostle,
i.e., "God's Anointed"? Did he ignore them as though he were above
such questioning? Was he short with them? No to all the above. There
is not a hint of offense in Peter's response. He treated them with the
utmost respect, explaining in detail the events leading up to his trip
to the household of Cornelius the centurion. Peter persuaded them to
the degree that his critics were silenced and began to give glory to
God. Peter did not demand blind consent. Because of the grace and
humility Peter handled this situation with, what potentially could
have caused a great schism in the Jerusalem Church resulted in an
occasion for glorifying God. This story profoundly reveals Peter's
posture toward the rest of Christ's disciples. He did not see himself
as above question nor above those who questioned him. He simply
exercised godly influence and those who heard him were persuaded.
Most abuses are the result of men trying to force their
preconceived ideas on others by the use of mistakenly perceived power,
without the slightest means of grace.
What about this word submit in Hebrews 13:17? "… submit
yourselves: for they watch for your souls."
We have heard the words submit and submission over
the last thirty years in relationship to those who desire to make
disciples of Christ by the overt power of their own wills. We have
also heard men teaching that wives are to submit to their husbands,
even the ones who are physically and mentally abusive. Consequently,
the words submission and submit have left a foul taste
in the mouths of most Christians because of the abuse in the church.
The Greek word that was translated submit in verse seventeen
above is hupeiko it simply means yield. It is closely
related to hupotasso, of which we will speak more shortly.
Hupeiko in no way infers any kind of outward force being placed on
the person yielding. It is a voluntary act in this case of a person
yielding to those who truly care about them in godly love. In the body
of Christ you cannot demand that someone submit to your authority. If
you do, it proves that you really do not have authority. He is not fit
to lead who is not capable of guiding.
The following translation comes closest to capturing the true
meaning of Hebrews 13:17.
"Be persuaded by your leaders, and be deferring to them, for they
are vigilant for the sake of your souls, as having to render an
account, that they may be doing this with joy, and not with groaning,
for this is disadvantageous for you." (Hebrews 13:17 - Concordant
Literal New Testament)
As you can see, there is nothing in this verse that would imply
super-ordination or hierarchy.
The third most favorite verse of those who desire to rule over the
ekklesia of Christ is found in Hebrews chapter thirteen verse
Salute (to draw to one's self) all them that have the rule
over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. (Hebrews
The Greek word hegeomai is once again translated them that
have the rule over. This is not a translation but a
redefinition of one Greek word. Another important thing to note here
is that this letter was not written to the hegeomai, but to the
ekklesia as a whole. This is in direct conflict with modern
leadership theory, where it is considered inappropriate to write
anything, especially something as doctrinal as this letter is, without
going through the chain of command, i.e., the ones who are ruling over
and who censor all such documents for correctness.
Along these lines Norman Park wrote,
"The Apostle Paul's example in writing to the churches in Galatia
and Corinth is in direct conflict with modern elder theory. There were
serious doctrinal, fraternal, and disciplinary problems in both
places. Yet, Paul did not write the elders to straighten out these
problems, he wrote the members and put the burden on the many. It is
highly significant that in his letters Paul practically never
mentioned elders. He looked to congregational responsibility and
congregational action. Once more we note in modern "eldership" theory,
Paul's appeal to congregational autonomy is an example to be avoided.
It has been replaced by eldership autonomy." (Dr. Norman
Park Jesus Versus "The Eldership")
As you can see these passages have nothing to do with obeying mere
men who desire to control and rule over God's heritage from their
pseudo offices like so many Gentile kings. What they DO refer to is
following the godly example of those who have paid with their lives
and those who continue to lay down their lives, exemplifying the
servant Christ before His saints. There is a big difference!
Nowhere in all the scriptures is the ekklesia referred to as
an army. The mistaken idea that God governs His family in a military
manner has been the source of much sorrow and abuse. To view God's
family in a military sense logically implies rank. Rank is someone
ruling over someone else, outranking them.
"Likewise, younger ones, be subject (hupotasso) to older
ones, and all being subject to one another. Put on humility. For God
resists proud ones, but He gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5
MKJV - Green)
Strong defines hupotasso as follows,
"Hupotasso: A Greek military term meaning, "to arrange [troop
divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader." In
non-military use, it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in,
cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden."
The Greek word hupotasso has a military and a non-military
usage. They are as different as night and day. The one speaks of
submission to a commander, while the other speaks of the willing
deference of a loving family.
According to Kenneth S. Wuest, "The word proud (in the above
verse) is the translation of a Greek word which means literally to
show above, and thus describes the proud person as one who shows
himself above others. The word humble is the translation of the
Greek word rendered lowly in Matthew11:29, where it describes
our Lord's character. The word is found in the early secular documents
where it speaks of the Nile River in its low stage in the words, 'it
runs low.' The word means 'not rising far from the ground.' It
describes the Christian who follows in the humble and lowly steps of
In his "Fuller Translation," Wuest translated 1Peter 5:5 as
"Moreover, all of you, bind about yourselves as a girdle, humility
toward one another, because God opposes himself to those who set
themselves above others, but gives grace to those who are lowly."
Contrary to popular opinion, Peter is not asking the believers to
submit to a hierarchical rank and file. Nor is he, as some suppose,
accusing those who refuse to submit to such ecclesiastical overlords
of being rebellious or proud. Pride is NOT the act of non-submission
to a hierarchy. It is the act of ignoring Christ's lowly example and
exalting one's self above others. Pride is not the refusal to come
under but an ambition to rise above. Even though Jesus was
God, He did not seek to rise above men. Pride is the act of setting
oneself above others, not the refusal to submit to those who have
wrongfully done so. Humility then is embracing the lowliness of
Christ, who, although He was God, humbled himself and made Himself of
no reputation. If humility is to make oneself of no reputation, what
then is pride?
Even Paul would not elevate himself above others.
"Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of
your joy: for by faith ye stand." (2 Corinthians 1:24)
A Lesson from our Past
In the early 70s there was a movement called Discipleship. The
leaders of this movement were sincere, upright and godly men. However,
they collectively missed God's mark. Embracing the military usage of
Greek words like hupotasso, they carrying their newfound
philosophy to its logical conclusion. The result was a sheepfold that
strangely resembled a concentration camp. In some cases, the most
mundane daily decisions of the faithful were abdicated to someone
called my shepherd. They also ascribed to this man the title of
Covering, saying of him, "He is my covering." They spoke of the
Pillars of Heaven, headship, the covering, delegated authority,
kingdom taxes and covenant loyalty. These things, taught in a
military, hierarchical context, served as walls to confine those who
submitted. Consequently, many forfeited freedom itself, only to
discover at last that their trust was misplaced. There are many
Christians still reeling from the residual affects of this twisted
teaching. Many still don't understand what happened to them. All they
know is that they trusted men who were in control and were hurt.
One of these leaders, whom we still hold in high regard for his
humility and honesty, in the aftermath of this experiment gone awry,
"Discipleship was wrong. I repent. I ask for forgiveness...
discipleship resulted in unhealthy submission resulting in perverse
and un-Biblical obedience to human leaders… for the injury and shame,
I repent with sorrow and ask for your forgiveness." (Bob Mumford)
In a publication entitled The Raleigh World, Steve Eastman writes
of Bob's current posture toward the errors of the past.
"Bob Mumford is perhaps best known for the Discipleship teaching he
practiced along with the other members of Christian Grown Ministries
in the 1970's. He admits the old teachings were often implemented
in a militaristic manner on the local level. 'That became the
whole control issue and it, itself, promoted the eternal childhood of
In 1977, Michael Harper insightfully expressed his concerns regarding
the discipleship movement in his book entitled Let My People Grow.
" The master-disciple relationship is, of course, used frequently to
describe the relationship that Jesus had with others on earth, and,
therefore, can equally describe our relationship to the Lord today. .
. . But it is never in the New Testament used to describe the
relationship which Christians have with one another. . . . It is best
not to use the "discipling" terminology at all. Not only is it
biblically unsound, but it also injects into this area an authority
factor which is inappropriate."
Why are men so eager to repeat the mistakes of the past? Someone said,
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over
again, expecting a different result." In spite of the injury and shame
that occurred in the discipleship movement, a new generation has been
deceived into thinking that, with a few alterations, they can get it
right this time.
It is apparent that many Christians, while viewing Christ in his
glorified ruling position, seated next to the Father, have forgotten
his earthly example as a servant. They have forgotten his words, "As
the father has sent me so send I you." He has been given a name above
every name, but we have not. We are not kings, in spite of the
fact that we are children of the King. All authority is His, not ours.
He has given us authority over all the works of the enemy, but that
authority is attached to His name, not ours. Moreover, He has given us
that same authority to serve others just as He did. It is not an
authority to rule over, but authority to serve. Do not be deceived! He
did not come serving, only to leave in his absence the stark anti-type
of a ruling clergy.
In Mathew 28:18 the Lord said "All authority has been
given me in heaven and upon earth." (Italic's mine) Note the word
all here. This does not give any place for men to have ownership
of any authority. It is true that the Lord Jesus lives in each one of
His believers and so His authority may pass through us at times, but
it is not permanently ours. Nor does the Lord even give it out as a
rental! This is why the scripture says we must submit to one another
in the fear of Christ because authority can and does express itself
from time to time in and through the words and deeds of fellow
believers in the Body relationship. (Sometimes it flows without their
even knowing it!) But our obedience is not to any mere member of the
body. Our obedience is to the Head, and only Jesus Christ is the Head!
In a Christian context, the Greek Word hegeomai, meaning
to lead, to go before, to be a leader, does not carry the
connotation of ruling over.
What is true leadership? It is nothing more than going on ahead.
Again, let us look to our divine model of leadership.
"For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all
things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their
salvation perfect through sufferings." (Hebrews:2:10)
"… That prince who was to lead them into salvation." (Knox)
The word captain (author) describes one who goes ahead to
prepare the way. It speaks of one who is a leader in a horizontal row
or file, a captain riding on ahead, into the jaws of death.
We must have our minds renewed to view leadership as going on
ahead, rather than presiding above. Do we walk the path, or, rule the
roost? Are we going on ahead or attempting to be the head? If we are
following the captain, we will inadvertently lead, but we will not
lord over the faith of others nor exercise authority and dominion upon
Two Models of Leadership
1.) H O R I Z O N T A L
Horizontal leadership is going on ahead, following the captain
of our salvation, out in front of the flock, leading or guiding, not
driving them from behind. Vertical leadership is one person
presiding over another. The very word over creates a mental
picture of one above, and another beneath. One involves climbing up
the ecclesiastical ladder of success, while the other is simply
following on to know the Lord and assisting others along the way.
Jesus gave us the first and only model of horizontal leadership. It
was so radical in comparison to the vertical that without divine help
the disciples could not imagine such a thing. The vertical,
pecking-order model of leadership has no place in the Christian
community. Referring to this vertical model, Jesus said; "But you
shall not be so…"
"And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be
accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, "The kings of the
Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority
upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that
is greatest (meizon) among you, let him be as the younger; and
he that is chief (hegeomai), as he that doth serve (diakoneo).
For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth?
is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth
(diakoneo)." (Luke 22: 24-27)
The Greek word meizon here translated greatest simply
means older, or senior. Those who have gone ahead in age
have usually gone ahead in experience, and so have much to teach. Here
Jesus is contrasting the relational and social guidance of elderly
family members to the kings of the Gentiles who exercised lordship
over. He even takes it one step further in saying that the elderly of
the family should willingly become as the younger, that they should
become servants. So not only were they not to be like the kings of the
Gentiles but they were also not to posture themselves as heads of the
family. They were to be as the youth, or servants in the family.
So in answering the strife of which one of them would be the
greatest, Jesus brought the disciples two giant steps down. He reduced
them from kings, to elders, and from elders to household servants.
Consider what that must have done to their egos!
Hear us dear reader! Jesus said, "It shall not be so among you."
This is an emphatic statement in the Greek. "It cannot be so among
you!" What is the Father's norm for his family? What shall be
so among us?
John Wesley gives us our answer,
"But ye are to be benefactors to mankind, not by governing, but by
Here are a few scriptures for your perusal. You be the judge. Did
Jesus endorse the vertical hierarchical model of leadership or the
Then he said to them, "Anyone who welcomes a little child like this
on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes my
Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest."
(Luke 9:48) (The New Living Translation)
Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the
greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 11:4) (The New Living
Don't ever let anyone call you 'Rabbi,' for you have only one
teacher, and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters.
And don't address anyone here on earth as 'Father,' for only God in
heaven is your spiritual Father. And don't let anyone call you
'Master,' for there is only one master, the Messiah. The greatest
among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be
humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew
23:8-12 The New Living Translation)
Also consider the following quote.
"Of how little avail has this condemnation of "lordship" and vain
titles been against the vanity of Christian ecclesiastics?" (Author
Love's Gentle Persuasion or Forced Orthodoxy
In our society, we incarcerate parents who use their children as
objects for sexual gratification, serving themselves at the child's
emotional and physical expense. In the institution called the church
(note: we do not refer to the body of Christ here) a similar condition
exists. The abuses are much more subtle, but equally painful. The
heart is ravished, not the body. The predators who continue to inflict
untold pain upon God's Children are not locked up but praised and
esteemed instead. I (George) have stood beside the victims; I have
witnessed their tears. I heard them say, "I feel like I've been
raped!" How else should they have felt? They had been violated. They
were expected to perform without being truly loved. They had become
the playthings of ambitious overlords, who cast them off when they
failed to perform up to expectations.
Even God himself will not violate the wills of men. He is set to
win them by love. "For God so loved the world that He gave his only
begotten Son…" This shows the depth of God's commitment and love
toward us. Jesus laid down his life as the evident token of that love.
Upon this backdrop, how is it that men, purporting to be leaders in
Christ's church, should do spite to the very Spirit of Christ by
resorting to tyrannical means to secure obedience? In an attempt to
police a forced orthodoxy, they violate the very sanctum that God has
made off-limits to all but love's persuasion. Obedience for any other
reason than love is unacceptable to God. God beckons, He woos, but He
does not force. Forced obedience is something akin to rape, - entering
or thrusting oneself upon another without invitation. Imposing one's
will and desires upon the unwilling is our definition of tyranny. It
is also the definition of rape.
We find a prime example of forced orthodoxy in 3 John 1:9-10. A man by
the name of Diotrephes sought to impose himself and his will upon the
Body of Christ, seeking the preeminence that only rightly belongs to
Christ – the One True Head of the body. John wrote:
"I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the
preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will
remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious
words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the
brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the
Here we have the first sign of apostasy. A man raised himself up,
desiring the preeminence, casting brothers who did not go along with
his overt grab for power out of the church. This sounds like the first
denomination to us. John wrote something to the congregation, not to a
select team of leaders but to all of the Ekklesia, but the one
desiring to be first intercepted it. I am sure as John was writing
this, the words of Jesus were echoing through his mind, "Whosoever
will be chief among you, let him be your servant."
Even Jesus Himself does not use this kind of control over His
church! In John chapter ten we see His opened handed kind of
"I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will
go in and out and find pasture. "The thief does not come except to
steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have
life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:9-10,
Did you get that? Jesus is a door! Doors not only let people in,
but let them out as well. "…and [they]will go in and out and find
pasture." Jesus came to set the captives free and to break every yoke
of slavery. Contrast that with the following verse, "The thief does
not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." There is
nothing here about giving or creating life, but rather exerting overt
and illicit power. The way of the thief is bondage and death.
How often have you heard it preached from the pulpit that you were
not to go elsewhere to be fed, but you were to stay put for your own
good? We have heard it many times. This sectarian spirit is not the
Spirit of Christ, who is so confident in the liberty He gives HIS
sheep that He readily leaves the 99 and seeks out the one that goes
too far astray.
True leadership in His kingdom is very open handed. His sheep are
completely confident that no one shall pluck them out of His hand. The
parable of the Prodigal Son is a wonderful example of a father who not
only allows his son to leave, but gives him his inheritance when he
asks for it. He knows that holding the son captive against his will is
the sure way to lose him. He believes that once the son has seen the
final fruit of his rebellion, he will come back to the one who truly
loves him. Anyone who does not truly love Jesus' sheep does not have
this kind of confidence. Do you want to see a body grow? Love builds
"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way
into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body,
joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied,
when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds
itself in love." (Ephesians 4:15-16, RSV).
What is this thing called "the church"?
Note at the outset that there is no biblical justification for the
institutionalized version of Christianity that now covers the globe.
In fact, there is no pattern in the scripture for setting up a church
institution of any kind.
The model for the current church is a mixture borrowed from the
governmental style of the kings of the Gentiles and the
corporate structures of today's business world. It provides the
mechanism for controlling the people and keeping them submissive to
the institution and its clergy/kings/CEO's. Today, the church
infrastructure provides these benefactors with employment and power.
They are paid for their services just like the employees of any other
business or organization. With one exception: they often set their own
salaries. This is what T. Austin Sparks called "the present disorder."
We should note here that Paul referred to these rudimentary
principles of religion as "the world."
"But far be it from me to boast save in the cross of our Lord Jesus
Christ, through whom [the] world is crucified to me, and I to the
world. For [in Christ Jesus] neither is circumcision anything, nor
uncircumcision; but new creation." (Galatians 6:14-15)
The word "world" here is a translation of a Greek word
kosmos, which means a system. In context, Paul was speaking
of the religious system at that time. We are not being trite when we
say, Christianity is NOT a system, it is not of the kosmos/world.
Christianity is a person and that person is Christ! Although Judaism
and the law originated with God, in the hands of the enemy it became a
system used to usurp and distract mankind from God's eternal purpose
in Christ and was even used to crucify the very Offspring of God
Himself. The same is true of the Christian system where the fruit of
living union with Christ, the Vine, has been supplanted by a codified
and systematized "Christianity." This is the sad world to which all
true believers are DEAD. For they are not preoccupied with principles
or Christian ethics but are new creations living by the spirit of life
in Christ Jesus.
Hence the true church is a living organism, NOT an institution or
system. It is NOT of this Kosmos.
The Example of Christ
The example of Jesus is the most powerful argument against the idea
of a ruling clergy. Did he model one thing, only to build another? We
think not! Did He come serving only to elevate His anti-type later?
The spirit of antichrist speaks not only of anything that replaces
Christ, but also of what is the opposite of Him. Christ's likeness in
a thing determines its legitimacy. Does it reflect Him or not? If not,
it is not His and it is most certainly against Him. As it is the
Father's will that His Son might fill all things, whatsoever does not
reflect him, is most certainly not His. If it is not His doing,
reflecting His image, His character, is it then His workmanship, His
Christ came as a servant. His servanthood is the new standard of
greatness in the kingdom of God.
"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes
of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great
exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but
whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And
whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: exactly
like the Son of man came not to be served, (diakoneo) but to serve,
(diakoneo) and to give his life a ransom for many." (Mt.20:25-28)
Here Jesus is contrasting the idea of Gentile ruling with
serving, the idea of dominion and authority over others is
contrasted by His own example. He did not come to demand service, as a
king, but to serve. The example of Christ cries no! A thousand times
no! "It shall not be so among you!" Historically, the church
has looked nothing like the serving messiah. It has traded the
servant's towel, for clerical robe and is above the washing of feet,
as kneeling has become so far beneath the priestly and kingly status
of its clergy. How far we have fallen from the divine standard only
God fully appreciates.
Forgive us Father, for ever wanting other than Your Son as our
example, our Divine mandate! Set before our eyes the image of the Lord
of heaven on his knees serving. Washing the road-weary feet, dirty,
perhaps smelly. Love constraining. Love bowing low. Love wrapped in a
servant's towel (see John 13:1-18)!
This is what the first century elderly modeled. This is what they
handed down. They were examples, not of some legal standard of
perfection as modeled by a lofty priesthood who says to itself, "If
Jesus is now ruling and reigning, then we can too." He has not left us
to rule and reign, but to serve just as He did. He contrasted the
servant leadership that He modeled, with that of the Scribes and
Pharisees, comparing the heart motivation and outworking of each.
"The thief (the Scribes and the Pharisees of chapter nine) does not
come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that
they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
Jesus is making a comparison here. Thieves and robbers come to steal
and take life. He came to give life. Here we see the glaring
difference between the Pharisee/clergy and Jesus. Speaking to the
scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said, "All that ever came (come) before
me are thieves and robbers." (John 10:8)
"All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers. Abbott holds
that the idea is, "All who came, not entering through the door, but
claiming to be before me, having the precedence, independent of me,
are thieves and robbers." This seems to harmonize with the context,
and is probably the Savior's meaning. He included the Jewish rabbis,
the Greek philosophers, the pretended prophets, and the "Infallible
Pope." These all refuse to bow to his authority." (John 10:8 - The
People's New Testament)
Such are hirelings who cared not for the sheep. (See verse 13.)
"I lay down my life for the sheep," Jesus said, and history
attests to the truth of it. Time is measured both before and after the
servant life of Christ, as if to pause in reverence, separating what
was BC, "before Christ," from what is AD anno DominI,"In the year
of our Lord."
All who come before (pro) Christ, in His place of eminence, are the
same as thieves and robbers, driven by ambition and self-interest.
They were and are motivated by private ambition. The money is good.
They love the recognition. They love the feeling of power and control.
Jude warned, "These are hidden rocky reefs in your love feasts when
they feast with you, shepherds who without fear feed themselves;
clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn leaves without
fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots" (Jude 1:12). They are
hirelings, shepherds feeding themselves. They flee when the sacrifice
of caring for the sheep becomes too great.
Here is the hireling's test. If you can pass it, you may not be a
hireling. Care for the sheep at no expense to the sheep. Don't receive
a wage; do it for nothing. Go beyond that and serve Christ's sheep at
your own expense. Do this for three years and you will have passed the
hireling's test. You will be walking in the footsteps of greatness,
the footsteps of the ONE who came to serve and lay down His life for
Christ's sheep have been corralled, mistreated and imprisoned by
thieves and robbers for the last 1700 years or more. Confined
and abused, they have viewed the Father's greener pastures from afar.
Beyond the walls of the sheep pen the green pastures beckon, but they
must not go forth. They remember the stories, like urban legends told
around a campfire, of the uncertain fate of those that left and never
returned, and the horrors of the many and mysterious dangers lurking
beyond the walls. Warned of the rebellion of feeding outside the
confines of the sheep pen, and handed yet another stale liturgical
biscuit, they whither away, somehow convinced it is their duty to so.
They say that if you put a grasshopper in a jar, at first he will
hop and bang his head on the jar lid a few times. Finally, he will
quit hopping. You can even take him out of the jar and put him back in
the field, but he will never hop again for fear of bumping his head.
So many in the church today are like that fabled grasshopper.
A Shake-up in Judea
His popularity was soaring, especially since the news of the
miracle had spread abroad. To raise to life again a corpse that had
been entombed four days, was unthinkable. The religious leaders,
fearing the loss of their status, were charged with nervous energy.
They were upset. "The world is gone after him," they said, as thoughts
of murder filled their minds. Even Greeks came saying, "We want to see
him, We would see Jesus."
The feast of Passover was at hand, and He must go, for this year
the fulfillment of the feast would be dependent upon his
participation. First, there was something he must do, something he
desired very earnestly. He would draw away from the crowds, and gather
the twelve, to eat the last Pascal meal; a meal teaming with types and
shadows, the fulfillment of which were only hours away. He yearned to
reveal the prophetic significance of this meal to His disciples, and
it would soon be manifest before their eyes.
When Supper was over, Jesus got up from the table, and the
disciples, thinking he was performing the usual ceremonial hand
washing, kept their seats. But something was wrong. Why was Jesus
straying from the traditional format? Perhaps He had grabbed that
servant's apron by mistake. Why is He filling that water basin? There
are servants for that! Now what is He doing? Why is He doing that?
Surely not! He knelt before them One by one, until every dirty foot in
the room was clean. Then He said, "Do you know what I have done to
you?" They were speechless. Never before had they seen a King wash His
servant's feet. They saw with their eyes what we can only imagine,
"God with us," washing human Feet.
The model of leadership in the ekklesia is not the CEO but
the household slave.
For from His knees in the upper room, Jesus said, "For I have given
you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you." (John
13: 15 WEB)
Father, set this example before us like frontlets between our eyes!
Jesus did leave us an example to follow - one that stands in stark
antithesis to the current notion of Church Leadership. This model from
heaven, like oil, will not mix with the waters of historic
"Let this mind be in you"
It is interesting to note all the instances in which Jesus avoided
even the appearance of the ruling class. From his birth to his grave,
he chose the most humble means. He really was born in a barn. His baby
clothes were swaddling clothes, mere rags wrapped about him. His crib
was a feeding box for livestock. Common shepherds came to pay Him
honor, while the local who's who chose to ignore His lowly birth. At
the Jerusalem dedication, his parents could only afford a pair of
turtledoves, or two young pigeons, which was the offering of the poor.
He grew up in the household of a working carpenter in the lowest of
all the towns in lowly Galilee. He made himself of no reputation.
Isaiah prophesied that He had no form nor comeliness, nor anything
about Him that would attract carnal men. That final week of His life
on earth, He chose to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, not as a
conquering king on a great horse. He washed the feet of his disciples
that last night. He died in the most shameful way possible, the death
of a criminal with two common thieves, although He was innocent. They
even buried His body in a borrowed tomb!
Those who posture themselves to rule have forgotten something very
important, the mind of Christ. Christ, who was equal to God, did not
cling to His prerogatives as the Son of God. On the contrary, he
emptied himself, and took upon himself the slave's apron.
"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God
a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a
servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human
form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on
a cross." (Philippians 2:5-8 RSV)
". . . But the surest way for this to be a better world is for
people to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. The
model for Christian leadership in America today is not the
entrepreneur, not the CEO - it is the suffering servant, Jesus
Christ." (Richard Halverson)
Dear fellow believers, we invite you to pray with us, that God
would inspire those with integrity of heart, like Tyndale, who are
free from the ecclesiastical paradigm, to translate a new Bible, minus
the old ecclesiastical words, so that this love story can no longer be
used as a scepter of power in the hands of would-be kings.
© Copyright 2002 In Search Of A City/Vision Publishing
This book may be freely copied and distributed provided it is given
It may not be printed and sold.
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