Home Bible Study, Lutz, Florida
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
2 Timothy 2:15
Is there more than one gospel in effect today?
Welcome back. We’re here to study the Word of Truth so let’s get to it.
Please open your Bible to Acts chapter 8.
1: Saul (a Pharisee) was in hearty agreement with putting him (Stephen) to death. (Why? Because Stephen confessed his belief in Jesus as the Son of God and these Jewish Religious Leaders declared him guilty of blasphemy. It was illegal according to Roman law for the Jews to execute anyone but sometimes they permitted it. When a Jew was executed by their brethren, they often chose to stone them to death.) And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
The Church, as we know it today, did not exist at this time in history.
The word “church,” as it’s used here, in the Greek, translates to ekklesia.
Ekklesia means – a called out assembly.
In our English Bible the Greek word, "ekklesia" is translated in most places "church." The word "ekklesia" is found in one hundred and fifteen places in the New Testament. It is translated in English one hundred and thirteen times "church" and the remaining times it is translated "assembly." In classical Greek the word "ekklesia" meant "an assembly of citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly."
The word as used in the New Testament is taken from the root of this word, which simply means to "call out." In New Testament times the word was exclusively used to represent a group of people assembled together for a particular cause or purpose.
It was never used exclusively to refer to a religious meeting or group.
When the Bible was first translated into English the concept of a universal church was already in existence in the form of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches of that day. The word "church" was first used by Theodore Beza in 1556, a Protestant, who followed John Calvin at Geneva, Switzerland.
As a Presbyterian, Beza believed in the idea of a catholic church and its hierarchal form of government and therefore chose to support this false concept by using the word “church" instead of "assembly." The reason is obvious in that the use of the word "congregation" or "assembly" would not support his church's hierarchical form of church government.
William Whittingham's Testament of 1557 followed Beza's usage of "church" and was actually the first edition of the Geneva Bible and was a revision of the Tyndale New Testament.
The first English Bible translated from Greek did not translate the word "ekklesia" as church.
Tyndale's translation was the first English Bible to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, the first English one to take advantage of the printing press, and first of the new English Bibles of the Reformation.
William Tyndale's translation (1526) correctly used the term "congregation."
Tyndale completed the translation of the New Testament and part of the Old Testament before he was martyred.
John Rogers, an assistant and friend of William Tyndale, completed the translation of the Old Testament using some work from Coverdale and published the first entire Tyndale Bible under the pen name "Thomas Matthew.” This Bible was called the Matthew's Bible (1537) and also used the term "congregation."
The next English Bible, the Great Bible (1539), also used the term "congregation." However, in 1557 the Geneva New Testament, produced by William Whittingham, was the first to translate "ekklesia" as "church." It is important to note the Protestant source of this translation.
Because the Geneva Bible was printed in Europe and not in England the English people desired a Bible published in their native country. This was the reason for the next English Bible, the Bishops Bible (1568) which was a revision of the Geneva Bible and this translation continued the use of the term "church" as has all subsequence English translations including the King James Version.
This shows that the use of the word "church" instead of "assembly" or "congregation" came from those who had a bias towards a hierarchical and unscriptural form of church government. To have translated the word "ekklesia" accurately into "assembly" or congregation" would have exposed their form of church government as being in error. By Cooper P. Abrams, III
FYI: as I’ve said before, history must be considered when you study your Bible.
Saul began his persecution of these Messianic believers about the year 36AD; which was seven years after the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3: But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.
4: Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.
The only “word” or gospel available to preach was the Old Testament.
People assume wrongly that the New Testament writings were available at this time.
The books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were not written until shortly before 70 AD.
Since the O.T. is all they had to work with, then it stands to reason the gospel they “went about preaching” was the Gospel of the Covenant, or “Jesus is the Christ!”
For those of you who know me understand that I don’t rely on common sense as a teaching tool. I go by what this book says. Skip down to verse 5.
5: Phillip went down to Samaria and began proclaiming (who) Christ to them
(Samaritans are more Jew than Gentile; they were half-breeds).
6: The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Phillip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing (Even though these are not full-blooded Jews in Samaria we see the same Jewish program as witnessed in the four gospels. Jews required a “sign” before they would believe; however, they seldom followed through. Jesus’ ministry is one example of this truth. He spoke and performed countless miracles and signs yet few believed in Him).
7: For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed.
Let’s go to verse 12. I said earlier the only gospel available at this time was the Gospel of the Covenant and this is exactly what the book says.
12: (Read your Bible carefully) But when they believed Phillip preaching the good news about (Jesus crucified and dying for their sins? No! What does the book say) the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.
Clearly Phillip is not preaching salvation to these Samaritans based upon their belief that Jesus Christ shed His blood for their sins.
The Covenant gospel goes all the way back to John the Baptist’s message in the book of Matthew. Do you recall what it was? “The kingdom of heaven is at hand, repent and be baptized.” This was the Jewish message. Why? Their promised King had come.
You need to know what your Bible says; but it is just as important to appreciate what your Bible DOES NOT SAY, especially in this age. Amen
Before we leave Acts chapter 8 there is one more example I want to direct your attention to. It’s the account of the Ethiopian eunuch. This Ethiopian was reading a passage from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53:8) but he did not grasp its meaning. Phillip was sent to help him understand what he was reading. Let’s drop in at Verse 34.
30: Phillip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31: And he said, “Well, how could I unless someone guides me?”
Skip to verse 34.
34: The eunuch answered Phillip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?
35: Then Phillip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached (Who) Jesus to him.
36: As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
37: [And Phillip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, (I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, was buried, and rose again on the 3rd day, according to the Scriptures? No! What does the book say?)
“I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”]
This is the only gospel message they had to work with folks.
I pray after all this time that you see this truth.
There wasn’t a separate gospel for Jews and then one for gentiles at this time.
There was no gospel message going out to gentiles in this era.
The Covenant Gospel is linked to God’s Prophetic Program, which in turn is linked to the Abrahamic Covenant. (Genesis 12; 15)
Those of you who have been with me these past few years have heard me say this, but for those of you who are new it bears repeating. Bible prophecy is directed to the nation of Israel in almost every case and these prophecies are usually given in a time frame.
God’s Prophetic Program is laid out for all to see in the book of Psalms.
1: Why are the nations (gentiles) in an uproar And the peoples (Jews) devising a vain thing?
2: The (gentile) kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers (Israel’s Religious Leaders) take counsel together (See Acts 4:27) Against the LORD and against His Anointed (God the Father sent His Son to be King of Israel, to set up His Kingdom on earth, and to bring salvation to the gentiles. But for this to come about the nation of Israel had to believe as one that Jesus was the Christ. But the leaders met) saying,
3: “Let us (Jew and Gentile) tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!”
(The rebels reveal the reason for their opposition. They view God’s Law as oppressive. They say. We will not have God or His Son rule over us! We have no king but Caesar!)
4: He who sits in heavens laughs, The LORD scoffs at them (God shows His contempt for man’s rebellion by laughing. Man’s conspiracies against God are foolish and doomed to failure. See Psalm 37:12-13)
5: Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying (this points to the coming tribulation period. See Matthew 25:21-2),
6: But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, (Jerusalem) My holy mountain (this speaks of the King and the Kingdom here on earth which the Old Testament prophets preached about and John the Baptist heralded).
I’m trying to help you understand what your Bible says. The only program the Jews and Jesus’ disciples were aware of is God’s Prophetic Program concerning the nation of Israel.
They knew nothing about the Church Age or salvation apart from the Law.
There’s not a hint of any of that either in the Old Testament or the four gospels.
And Jesus never spoke of it.
The Church Age was something God kept secret until He decided it was time to reveal it. This is just one of the “mystery’s” God revealed to the apostle Paul.
Turn to the book of Deuteronomy chapter 29.
29: “The (what) secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons (how long) forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
God is sovereign. If He chooses to withhold information from His creation, that is His prerogative.
(To be continued)
© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved