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Old 06-25-2009, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Will Kinney View Post
Is the word “church” wrong in the King James Bible?

Lately I have run into several articles on the internet and in print that tell us that the King James Bible and many other English translations are wrong or inaccurate when they use the word “church”. Is their any merit to their criticisms or are they just muddying the waters of revealed truth?

One such individual who criticizes the word “church” is Cooper P. Abrams the III, and his article can be seen here:

Bible correctors, like Mr. Abrams, are a funny bunch. Every single one of them, without exception, holds the belief that there is no such thing as a complete, inspired, inerrant and 100% true Bible in any language on the earth today. This includes their never defined and ever elusive “the” Hebrew and “the” Greek.

So when you run into any man like this who tries to tell us that the King James Bible is poorly translated, uses the wrong texts or is deficient in any way, we know that we have run into another Bible agnostic. He doesn’t know what the inerrant Bible is nor where you can get one either. Why? Because he does not believe that such a thing exists.

Let’s take a few moments to look at Mr. Abram’s complaints and then examine whether there is any merit to them.

Mr. Abram starts off by telling us: “The purpose of this paper is to show that the early translators of the English Bible mistranslated the word "ekklesia" using the English word "church" instead of "assembly" or "congregation." This mistranslation has helped promote the false doctrine of a universal church and a hierarchical authority over the local congregation. Showing how this mistranslation has adversely affected the proper understanding of the biblical doctrine of the church will demonstrate the absolute necessity of translating the text literally and rejecting the influence of any particular church's theology.”

A little later in his harangue against the word “church” as being the correct translation he informs us: “The English dictionary reveals that the English word "church" which is used in our English Bible is taken from the late Greek word "kyriDakon" not "ekklesia." The Greek word "kyriDakon" is not found in the New Testament and only came into being in the 16th Century long after New Testament times. Thus the English word "church" cannot be translated back into Greek because there is no word in the New Testament Greek that is the equivalent of the understanding of the English word. “

If we examine his words carefully, what we see from the get go is that Mr. Abram’s is a very confused individual with a particular theological axe to grind. He is against what he calls “the false doctrine” of a universal church, and he informs us about “the absolute necessity of translating the text literally.” Yet how does he himself recommend that we translate the word ekklesia? Well, it’s either “assembly or congregation.”!!!
Apparently Mr. Abham and others like him are unaware of the simple fact that neither “assembly” nor “congregation” are literal and neither one comes “from the Greek” either.

By the way, he misspelled the Greek word. It is not “kyriaDicon” as he twice spelled it. The word church comes from the Greek word “kyriakon”, with no “d”. No wonder he couldn’t find it in the Greek New Testament. The correct word is kyriakon and it IS found in the New Testament twice, and it means “of the LORD”. It is found in 1 Corinthians 11:20 “the LORD’S supper” and in Revelation 1:10 “the LORD’S day”.

God’s church is definitely “of the Lord”. However the words Mr. Abram uses to “literally” translate the word ekklesia both come from the Latin and not the Greek at all.

An “assembly” comes from the Latin ‘ad’ meaning “to, or toward” and ‘simil’ meaning “together”. The word “congregation” is from the Latin ‘com’ meaning “together” and ‘gregare’ meaning “to gather, or collect”.

People sometimes complain about the word “church” and tell us it can refer to the religious building or the people who are the believers in Christ. Well, that’s true. In common language the church can mean either the building or the people. Scripturally speaking, the true church of the Lord’s redeemed people is a building, and Jesus Christ is a corner stone and a foundation. It is a spiritual building made up of God’s people. “Ye are God’s building...I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon...For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 3:9-11. “Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house...Behold I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.” 1 Peter 2:5-6.

The words “assembly” and “congregation” lose the meaning and connection to a spiritual house or temple made up of living stones. Neither is either word limited to a spiritual community of believers in Christ. In high school we used to go to “assembly” and I used to work on an “assembly line”. Likewise a congregation can be a group of people gathered together for any purpose at all. We have the congregation of the Senate in the Congress and most of us do not relate to this to any kind of spiritual experience at all.

Additionally, Mr. Abrams is also mistaken when he tells us that the English word “church” (coming from the Greek word kyriakon and meaning “of the Lord”) didn’t come into being until the 16th century. If Mr. Abram were a baseball player, he has already swung wildly three times and missed. He has struck out.

Let’s take a look at the history of the English word “church” as found in our English Bibles. In 1380 John Wycliffe began translating the Scriptures into the English language. This is a full 2 Centuries before the 16th century Mr. Abram told us about.

Matthew 16:18 King James Holy Bible - “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my CHURCH; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Wycliffe Bible 1385 - “And Y seie to thee, that thou art Petre, and on this stoon Y schal bilde my CHIRCHE, and the yatis of helle schulen not haue miyt ayens it.”

In fact, Wycliffe’s bible has the words “chirche, chirches, and chirchis” some 111 times in the New Testament. So much for not existing in the English language till the 16th century.

Tyndale’s New Testament 1525 - It is true that when Tyndale came out with his translation he did not translate the word ekklesia as “church” but as “congregation”. But neither is this word “literally from the Greek” either. It’s from the Latin. Tyndale did use the word “church” but translated from a different Greek word as seen in Acts 19:37 where we read: “For ye have brought hyther these me whiche are nether robbers of CHURCHES nor yet despisers of youre goddes.” However the selective hypocrisy of Bible correctors like Mr. Abram is that I’ll bet he would not approve of the way both Tyndale and the King James Bible translate this passage either.

See my study on Acts 19:37 for more information on this and why the King James Bible is right and many modern versions are not.

The Coverdale bible was produced in 1535 and he also translated the word ekklesia as “congregation” but he was also familiar with the English word “churches” and used it four times in his translation. It is found in his English translation in Leviticus 26:31 -”And youre cities wyll I make waist, and brynge youre CHURCHES to naught” (KJB - sanctuaries), ; Hosea 8:14 “they haue forgotten him that made them, they buylde CHURCHES” (temples -KJB); Amos 7:9 and in Acts 19:39 “robbers of churches”.

The Bishop’s Bible 1568 and onward to modern times. Ever since the Bishop’s Bible came out in 1568 almost every major Bible version translated into the English language has used the word “church” when translating the word ekklesia. This includes the following Bible translations: the Geneva Bible 1560 -1602, the Revised Version 1881, American Standard Version of 1901, the Douay 1950, the RSV, NRSV 1989, ESV 2001, NASB 1963 - 1995, NKJV 1982, Amplified 2000, and the NIV 1984.

There have been a couple of minor translations like Darby 1870 and Youngs, but does anybody seriously think that either one of these bibles has made a lasting impact or is in any way the complete and infallible words of God? Does Mr. Abram believe that either one of these dust bin bible versions is infallible. I trow not.

Let it be known far and wide, that without exception, every person who begins criticizing the King James Bible is one who himself does not believe that ANY bible in ANY language IS now the complete and inerrant words of God. They have set up their own minds and understanding as their final authority.

So why not change the word “church” to something else like ecclesia, or assembly or congregation? Well, like it or not, agree with it or not, God has put the word “church” in His Book and we Bible believers will not change it.

What we see with the word “church” in the New Testament is that it has a godly origin, a long and fruitful history in the English language, an accurate spiritual meaning, and it is found in the only Bible believed by thousands to be the providentially preserved, complete and 100% true Holy Bible - the King James Holy Bible.

Will Kinney
Will, my question is an old one and oft repeated: What qualifies this idiot to judge? The OT says there was no king in Israel and every man did his own thing, what was right in "...his own eyes" "I've run into theses "ecclesia" "krypton" knucleheads before. The students at the college I attended said "it should have been translated "gathering". I can see that. The Roman Catholic Gathering, First Baptist Gathering of Indinapolis, etc. A translation of a Bible is a translation, not a transliteration. In translating context is as important as literal meaning, and since the KJV in it's totality passed through each of the translators for review, well, we see the result. It's endurance and the opposition to it are two dead give-aways that it is the word of God, along with the internal evidence and as Edward Hills stated, the rule of faith.

Grace and peace brother Will