Those of you who love the King James Version, MUST read this short book. It shows how various words were intentionally mistranslated to promote the authority of the church and the king.
The Great Ecclesiastical Conspiracy
by George Davis, Michael Clark, & Kirk Pearson
(Third Revised Edition)
© Copyright 2002 In Search Of A City/ Vision Publishing
This book may be freely copied and distributed provided it is given freely.
It may not be printed and sold.
Furthermore, he accused them of altering the scriptures to suit their own purpose.
Later George Fox wrote:
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 the heretic.
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 in hell.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,
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 conspiracy.
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.
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.
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 paradigm.
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”.
“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.”
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 12:17,20:3)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.
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, anAuthorized 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.
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 old line.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.
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 outright fabrications!
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.
The words have used the office of a deacon were all used to define one Greek word, diakoneo,which is defined as:
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,
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.
Lets use the KJV definition of the Greek word diakoneo in 1st Timothy 3:13 – have used the office of a deacon in the above scriptures.
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.
To translate the Greek word diakonosas 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.
One instance in which the King James translators tried to preserve their old Ecclesiastical words and imply office rather than service is Romans11:13.
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 meaning.
In Luke 10:40 diakonia is translated as “much serving.”
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 andservice 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.
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 with hierarchy.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 nounhierateia (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 hierarchically.
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.
What in the world is a bishop? We thought it was a piece on a chessboard! There is that wordofficeagain! 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,
John Bland further explains:
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, not overlords.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 Body.
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 leadership.
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 (meaninguniversal) church was brought into full swing, divided into administrative districts known as dioceses, another concept that was borrowed from the Roman government.
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.
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.
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?
EldersThe Greek word translated elder by the KJV translators is Presbuteros.
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 priestby 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 hierarchical connotation.
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 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 which reads,
“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 Himself.
“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)
“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 allreluctance. 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 conformity.
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:
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 today.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!
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.
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.
The House of GodThe people of God are the ekklesia, not a church building or a system of worship. The called outekklesia is the household of God. This brings us to a verse that is among the most misleading passages in the entire New Testament.
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. Oikosspeaks 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.
Below are a few of the passages where the Greek word oikos applies to family rather that a physical house.
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.
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.
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 hold.
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?
Words that mean the opposite of rule include the following:
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:
Referring to this Dr. Norman Park wrote:
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:
“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.
“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 thehegeomai 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 door.
“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.
Consider the following verses.
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 obeyhim. 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 Hebrews 13:17.
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.
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.
Here are a few more scriptures where the Greek word (pietho) was translated persuade orpersuaded.
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 meansyield. 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.
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 twenty-four.
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 13:24, KJV).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.
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!
Strong defines hupotasso as follows,
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 his Lord.”
In his “Fuller Translation,” Wuest translated 1Peter 5:5 as follows.
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.
A Lesson from our PastIn 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, said,
“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.
” 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.
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 them.
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…”
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,
Here are a few scriptures for your perusal. You be the judge. Did Jesus endorse the vertical hierarchical model of leadership or the horizontal form?
Also consider the following quote.
Love’s Gentle Persuasion or Forced OrthodoxyIn 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:
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 leadership.
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 up.
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.
“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.
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.
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 His sheep.
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 ecclesiastical despotism.
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.
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