When Alexander the Great conquered the world, he wept because there remained nothing more to conquer, and he set about to put a mark of Greek culture on every conquered land. To bring cultural influence into those nation states, he called an “apostolos” to his court and authorized him with an assignment. The apostle would represent the king personally, boarding an armada of ship as an admiral, carry on the ships money, experts in culture, and an army to enforce the decrees of the king.
Arriving at the shores of a conquered land, the apostle and apostolic company would travel to the city-state gates. In the gates, they would present the bona fides and prove that they represented the king. The apostle would arrive at the gates with money, experts in culture, and a marching army. He would inform the authorities at the gates of his mission or assignment.
Then, he would stand in the main gates of the city and call an “ekklesia” composed of citizens of that kingdom that had authority to accept or reject what he was announcing, and to implement the decisions and problem-solving of the ekklesia in the region.
The word, “ekklesia” does not mean “called out” as is commonly assumed. While “ek” can mean “out,” it also means “to,” and in this case, the compound means “called to assembly.” The commonly held evangelical meaning of “called out of the world” nowhere appears in Scripture though the idea is validated in the reality that we come out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. The reality is that when we discuss coming out, we are not talking “church-anity” but kingdom transfer: “You must be born from above to enter the kingdom of God.” (Jesus to Nicodemus, emphasis mine.)
The Greeks had another word to communicate “called out,” and “ekklesia” is a technical term for a “called together into assembly” legislative or voting to accept or reject group of representative leaders. In other words, children would not participate, simple-minded people would not participate. Non-citizens would not participate.
- W. Kirby, in discussing the use of that word, “ekklesia” in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, where it is used to speak of assemblies of Israel when they “gathered before the Lord for religious purposes.” points out that “the Jews had been ‘called out’ from the nations to be God’s special people. Yet, even here the scholar misses the greater point that the people were called together more than were called out.”
The idea of being called out of the world has left many believers with the false impression that were not called to assemble. Many still hold to the illogical idea that they are the church all by themselves, or their family is the church at home, or the “ekklesia” as a term has no relevant meaning at all in modern times.
The Ecclesia is “called to” and the calling to is a matter of building, just as Jesus makes clear in Matthew 16. So even when we consider the “ek” of “ekklesia” as “out” we still end up with the conclusion that “out” isn’t enough of a descriptor of the Building, Body, and Bride because She must also be called “to.”
The Ecclesia is selected, elected, chosen, positioned, called, and appointed from with the kingdom of God, believers being part of a kingdom by spiritual birth.
They are a Remnant from the nations, for sues, with Remnants within the Remnant. When Jesus builds them into His Ecclesia, they represent Him as the kingdom of heaven in the earth. They are not establishing community but culture. Whatever might be meant by the term “community” would be defined by the culture they establish, so that what is “common” among them that can be identified in principle, process, and protocol is what is allowed or not allowed by the Ecclesia, carrying kingdom keys.
Greek Ekklesia and the Hellenistic Era
For the Ecclesia Jesus builds, the kingdom keys release into earth what has already been decreed in heaven. The apostolic didache or apostolic preaching is an announcement of the King’s cultural norms, of His righteousness. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” refers directly to the culture of the kingdom.
So, when the apostle stood in the main gates and announced the decrees of the king, his decisions and problem-solving solutions, the ekklesia would hear and either accept or reject the announced intentions of the apostle, the one personally and specially representing the king. If they rejected, the army would attack the main gates and simply carry out the king’s desire to alter the present leadership, or wipe the whole lot of them off the face of the earth, or install leadership that would agree to carry out the king’s wishes.
In any case, the apostle would only represent the king once he was positioned in the gates, sent by the conquering king. He would arrive with all that was necessary to carry out the decrees.
Since Alexander wished all the conquered lands to emulate Greek culture, the apostle arrived with elders, men and women of expertise and experience in various aspects of Greek culture, to begin training the people of the city-state how to do business, conduct school, operate in courts of law, settle disputes, build buildings with Greek architectural influence, teach everyone to speak and write Koine Greek (the “common” Greek of everyday life and general discourse) and to follow the principles, processes, and protocols of Greek culture. This expansion of Greek culture is known as “Hellenization.”
Historic aside: Greek and Jewish culture and civilization entered into an intense dialogue beginning with the translation of the Septuagint, a translation of the Old Testament that remains our oldest copy of Law and Prophets. The cultural creep continued, influencing Jewish culture and literature. In the days of Jesus, common Greek language and Hellenistic culture was enjoying its greatest period of expansion. The New Testament reveals adaptations to literary Greek tradition – writing plays, epic poems, lyric poems, in the Greek language and style – carrying over into syntax and word choices for the Gospels and Epistles, reaching into John’s Revelation. Israel still yields fragments of literary examples from Jewish authors adopting Hellenistic literary forms.
As soon as the ekklesia agreed to the decrees, the elders of the apostle would begin to work with the elders in the city gates, gaining full entrance to the entire region, inside and outside, from the entry and exit point of government for the region.
The money to begin this process came through the apostle with elders applying funds to the points of influence, building, painting, dancing, writing, publishing, acting, judging, doing business. The army to protect the process came with the apostle. The elders of oversight, the new operating system of the city-state, with expertise and experience, would influence the present culture with Greek culture.
An ekklesia always responded to the authorities in the gates, and whoever had authority to call together into assembly those with leadership in the present kingdom operated from a position of authority in the main gates.
Apostle Jesus Builds His Ecclesia
When Jesus sends an apostle to a region, he arrives with money, elders, and army, presents his bona fides at the main gates, and take his position in those gates to announce the mind of the king who sent him. He manifested his authority, power, and wisdom, the strategy of the king to influence the city-state toward the purpose of that city-state within the kingdom.
When Jesus says, “I will build My Ecclesia,” He knew exactly what that technical term specified, and He knew that when He arrived to called together the leaders of His kingdom, the leaders with authority to determine “accept” or “reject” or He called “the kingdom keys” to “allow” or “not allow,” that these leaders would first displace the strategically positioned authorities of Hades already occupying the main gates. The gates of Hell would be the main gates authorities opposing His agenda and culture, so when He arrived at the main gates, He would first displace them, so they couldn’t assembly their ekklesia, and He would reset the kingdom with His own ekklesia.
Building My Ecclesia will displace the entrenchments of the present prevailing spiritual conditions and put into place a new called together into assembly of cultural leaders to determine what is allowed or not allowed in terms of cultural norms.
When He gave the Great Commission, we can absolutely certain He had this in mind: “I have all authority in heaven and earth. As you are going, disciple cultures, baptizing them into the Name and Authority of the ruling Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all I have assigned you to decree at the main gates of that culture.”
An Apostolic Company
When an apostle arrived, he had economic, military, and culture experts as part of his company. In Bible terms, the kingdom commerce is cultural, the military is angelic, and the experts are elders.
When the apostle arrives at the gates, validates his credentials, and calls an Ecclesia into assembly from the region, he is accompanied by a portion of the King’s army. The angelic army is hidden, but it responds to two specifics things:
- the obedience of the apostle;
- and, the obedience of the intercessors assigned to his mission.
The scope of the apostolic influence must be supported by the level of intercession that supplies it. The angelic army will respond to what the King is doing in any place or people, but the intercession measures the involvement of the King. In any case, an apostle will arrive supplied in money and military, but will bring with him the cultural experts needed to carry out the assignment. Remember, he is not sent to defeat what is already defeated but to apply and expand the victory of the King. He doesn’t arrive to destroy or enslave but to influence with superior spiritual authority.
The elders are the experts with experience who can influence the people and place to produce the culture of the King.
Now, we are geared to presume that when Jesus sends someone, that man or woman alone is all that is needed to bring fullness and fulfillment to the assignment. The scope of the assignment measures the boundaries of the mission. If the mission is personal, an envoy from the King to one person or a small group, the company is appropriate to the mission. However, an apostle sent to a region to bring cultural transformation will arrive with money, military, and experts.
We often think Jesus shows up alone, but He never does. He is the Lord of armies. When He manifests Himself to an individual, the person may not be aware of the army that arrives with Jesus, and there would be no reason to reveal them. When He manifests to a region, however, the called into assembly leaders of the region hear His message announced by His special representative apostle so they can decide whether to obey or rebel, or to determine to what extent they will do either of these two things. When they observe the army sent by the King, standing behind the apostle the King has sent, they are much more likely to obey! They may attack the apostle, but the army will respond to protect him.
Then, when the apostle announces that the culture of the kingdom will begin to influence the culture of the region, he presents the experts – leaders with expertise and experience – sent by the King as part of the apostolic company who will train the leaders of the region in kingdom culture. He will present the elder architect to train them in kingdom building. He will present the elder doctor to train them in kingdom medicine. He will present the elder in commerce who will train them in kingdom economics. He will present the expert writer to train them in kingdom literature – all the experts of the kingdom culture are present to teach them to obey all that He has commanded them.
Then, he will announce investment protocols for kingdom investments. He will say, “The King has sent money to assist in the great enterprise of kingdom cultural transformation. We are here to help!”
The apostle doesn’t come to defeat what is already defeated but to influence “what is” with kingdom culture. He comes with a company. He leads the company, for sure, but he is not a one man show. He comes to stay until the elders have proven they are able to influence and the Ecclesia is proven itself submitted to the King.
Dealing with Resistance
These parameters of understanding help us define and recognize false apostles. These objectives and the strategies to carry out the mission help the elders recognize the “wolf” among the sheep. A wolf will present people with principles, processes, and protocols different from those prescribed by the King and His apostle. At the “people point”, where the experts meet the daily lives, commerce, literature, and architecture of a place, they will discern wolves that mingle and infiltrate with a mind to create rebellions and insurrections. The apostle says, “Elders, hunt down the wolves! Do not tolerate influences that deter from the King’s commands.”
In the context of Ecclesia, using the meaning of the terms Jesus used, “wolves” are the people with influence within the population who disrupt the strategy for constructing the building, healing the health of the body, or preparing the appropriate adornment of the bride. They must be isolated from the sheep, so to speak or they will create fragmentations by giving people permission to rebel against the King and His apostle’s assignment.
The elders are the fivefold ministry leaders, the kingdom leadership dynamics of kingdom culture. They are not the special ambassadorial admiral apostle but some of them are apostles. The difference among apostles or any kingdom leader always goes to the measurement of “metron” or the scope or sphere of assignment each apostle is given by the King. Obviously, the elders form a council to provide counsel to the region, and all five kingdom leadership dynamics are included in that council. They recognize the points of resistance within the spiritual matrix between the kingdom Ecclesia and the natural existing Ecclesia. They engage in spiritual influence at that gates of the city, the several points of ingress and regress the main gates have built into the wall.
The authentic becomes the context for recognizing the counterfeit. No gratuitous list exists by which to checklist “false” or prove authenticity because the authentic is what exposes the fraudulent. Of course, as we would suppose, when someone is discovered in one Ecclesia as a wolf, the natural tendency would be for that person to leave and join another Ecclesia. Because they are under the influence of the wolf, those with a like heart follow the wolf.
So, the elders in any region each assemble an “ekklesia” of leaders who influence that area of culture, but the elders are all part of the King’s assignment, operation in alignment with that mission and its leaders, to spiritual influence the entire culture toward kingdom culture. No one particular “ekklesia” or elder can hope to have the influence needed to shift the region without operating in alignment with the assignment of the King and His ambassadorial apostolic leaders, but each and all legitimately work on a daily basis to influence marriage and family, literature and language, government and justice, commerce and communication, health and safety, so as to train the people in the cultural principles, processes, and protocols of the King and His kingdom culture.