My Scripture Studies
Remove the Blinders - Live the Bible!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What is the Church?

Depending on the translation you have, in my Scripture studies I found there are 70+ verses in the Bible's Newer Testament that use the phrase "the church."

The number "70" is important in the Bible. Interestingly, there were 70 nations who populated the earth after the great flood. This is shown in Genesis 10.

Not only that, 70 people in Jacob's family traveled to Egypt (read Genesis 46:26-27). Those 70 became the multitudes of Israel living in Egypt (see Genesis 46:27; Exodus 1:5 and Ruth 4:11).

During the exodus journey out of Egypt's slavery back to the Promised Land, there were 70 elders and leaders of the families that were invited to the top of the mountain to the first Lord's Supper.  See Exodus 24:1 or Numbers 11:16. 

Believe it or not, there were also 70 talmidim or as we call them today... disciples. There weren't just 12 disciples that met with Messiah Yeshua before He sent them out to witness in spirit and in power (see Luke 10:1-17 for the proof text). 

Bottomline, seventy (70) is an important Bible key and if we look into the Hebrew Scriptures and the words of the rabbis we can see that 70 speaks of the nations too.

The word church is traditionally translated from the Greek word ἐκκλησία which is "ekklēsia." The odd thing about {ek-klay-See'-ah} is this, the actual origin for the English word "church" is not from the Greek word ekklēsia at all, the reality is that the church word origin is kȳriakón. gives us the proper history lesson on the word church:
"Origin of church -before 900; Middle English chir(i)che, Old English cir(i)ce ≪ Greek kȳri(a)kón (dôm ) the Lord's (house), neuter of kȳriakós of the master, equivalent to kȳ́ri(o ) master ( kŷr(o ) power + -ios noun suffix) + -akos, variant of -ikos -ic; akin to Dutch kerk, German Kirche, Old Norse kirkja."
What happened? The Greek word ekklēsia should be properly translated as congregation or assembly. The Greek ekklēsia can be found some 77 times in the NASB Bible edition. The New Strong's Concordance gives further meaning to ekklēsia as the concordance defines this word as:
"a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly

a) an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating

b) the assembly of the Israelites..."

The assembly of the Israelites... 
Wait... are you serious??

Yes, that is what it says. The original 1890 Strong's Edition gives us more insight into the Greek meaning of ekklesia (ἐκκλησία):
"ekklesia {ek-klay-See'-ah} from a compound of 1537 and a derivative of 2564; a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation.
(Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both):--assembly, church. See Greek-- 1537 See Greek-- 2564

kaleo {kal-eh'-o} akin to the base of 2753; to "call" (properly, aloud, but used in a variety of applications, directly or otherwise):--bid, call (forth), (whose, whose sur-name (was (called))."
Did you notice the "kaleo" surname connection?

It is the name shared within common identity by the members of a family. Yes, you read that, a family name. In Scripture the family name of God's children is Israel and that name was not replaced or done away with in Acts 2.

Since 1890, the original James Strong concordance has been amended and re-published several times. The most recent edition I have was released in 2007. It adds the following modern explanation of ekklēsia that does not track too closely with Mr. Strong's original:
"in a Christian sense: 1) an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting 2) a company of Christian, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order's sake 3) those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body 4) the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth 5) the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven".
Why was it changed after Mr. Strong's passing? Should we notice that what started out as coming from the surname of "the called out ones" has now been changed by popular doctrine and morphed from the pulpit to pew into "religious rites, religious meetings, affairs, regulations prescribed" ? 

Is it important to note that the translators of the King James Bible originally chose to use "ekklēsia" with its original root meaning "assembly" is only found in the KJV only three times, just three (see Acts 19:32; Acts 19:39 and Acts 19:41), yet today "church" can be found many more times from the exact same Greek word ἐκκλησία.

Thank goodness we still have many of the Greek manuscripts. Speaking of them, while seventy citations tie to ἐκκλησίαν or ekklēsia there are only three instances of the Greek word Χριστιανός or Christianós. The three include these references in Acts 11:26 (City of Antioch) ; Acts 26:28 (King Agrippa); 1 Peter 4:16 (suffering). 

The NIV Bible translates "ekklēsia" with its original Biblical intent in Acts 7:30 NIV as the Jewish disciple and martyr Stephen declared Moses' leadership of the "ekklēsia" of Deuteronomy 18:15:
"This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people. He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us. "
Why did the word church not appear here in the King James Bible?

One reason: the sermons of the 17th century taught that the church started in Acts 2. It did not, the big assembly started at Mount Sinai. It's not new.

Considering the "expanded" concept of "the church" that prevails today in the form of a new religion, we have to ask ourselves a difficult question: have the English translators actually "translated" or have they changed the known identity of the assembly called out from Egypt by Almighty God into a 'new' religion not seen anywhere in the Holy Scriptures?

Before you make up your mind, keep reading from the 1611 version of the King James Bible that is based on the Textus Receptus and the translation of William Tyndale 85 years earlier.

The 47 translators that gave us the 1611 Bible appointed by King James from "the church of England" give us some defining words about "church" direct from the martyr Stephen, the man full of faith and power that did great wonders and miracles among people.

Just before Stephen was stoned to death, he declared these words from Moses as he was leading the wilderness "church" See Acts 7:36-38:
"He brought them out, after that He had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spoke to him in the Mount Sinai, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us"
Hey, wait a minute... are we reading the King James Bible's book of Acts correctly... do the words of the man of full faith and power actually call "the children of Israel" in the wilderness of Mount Sinai 1,500 years before Messiah's first coming "the church"??

Well, yes they do.

The host of Israel has always been the original. 

I repeat: Israel has always been the original assembly of people that believe in God, it's not new. The issue is this word in translation can change meaning according to doctrine and tradition.

The Exodus is the proof too that foreigners and sojourners of the nations aka former Gentiles, can be grafted in by their choice to follow and join the ranks of God's children in the assembly congregation of the God of Israel after turning from idol worship.

This adoption process started before the mixed multitude of sojourners, strangers and aliens that left Egypt and chose to follow Jacob's tribes and join with Israel's family in the joint exodus. It shown with Ephraim and Manasseh when Jacob adopted the boys whose mother was Egyptian.

Their descendants were among the mixed multitude witnessed the plagues and feared the name of The Lord, so they chose to walk with Moses and follow the God of Israel into the wilderness.

They all survived the sword and came out of slavery in Egypt together, both native born and sojourner. They all walked through the sea together, they gathered and stood together, united as one assembly at the base of Mount Sinai to hear the shofar call, see the thick cloud and consuming fire on the mountain top to hear God's voice shake the mountain with the covenant of the Almighty Elohim God of the universe.

They all ate the same manna and drank the same water from the rock. They all rested on the Sabbath except one man.

Whoa... wait a minute!

This is worth a pause on any religious ground you may stand on, it may be shaking under your feet.

There's good reason to pause... the congregation, the assembly of Jew and nations that left Egypt together believing the God of Israel would save them always requires two witnesses. They started as the Jew called out first and then the others that would follow with him. Both natural and wild branches in the olive tree family of the God of Israel and the Lord of the whole earth.

That reality is the metaphor image of two lampstand olive trees described in Zechariah 4:2-14 :
And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said,
"I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold
with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps
with seven pipes to the seven lamps. 
"Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl
and the other at its left." 
Then I answered and said to him, "What are these two olive
trees; at the right of the lampstand and at its left?"
And I further answered and said to him, "What are these two
olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two
gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?" 
Then he answered me and said, "Do you not know what these
are?" And I said, "No, my lord." 
So he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand
beside the Lord of the whole earth."
The whole earth restoration plan of God includes both native born and adopted living in covenant with the God of Israel as one new man in the commonwealth Kingdom of the God.

That's not my idea, its what Revelation 11:4 shows us:
"These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth."
The Kingdom constitution of the Lord of the whole earth is the very same Torah that is outlined by the Ten Commandments that were heard by the whole assembly and written by the finger of God on stone. The table of contents was followed by the written instructions given to Moses that will be inscribed by the Spirit of God on our hearts.

Jeremiah is the prophet that was chosen to deliver this message to be sung for Jacob because Jeremiah never turned from God's Torah and shouted for all to repent. The promise is seen in the words from Jeremiah 31 but don't stop here, read the entire chapter:
"For thus says the LORD,
Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
And shout among the chief of the nations;
Proclaim, give praise and say,
‘O LORD, save Your people,
The remnant of Israel. 
Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
And declare in the coastlands afar off,
And say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him
And keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock. 
I have surely heard Ephraim grieving,
You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained calf;
Bring me back that I may be restored,
For You are the LORD my God. 
Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD,
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant which I made with their fathers
in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt,
My covenant which they broke,
although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 
But this is the covenant which I will make
with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD,
I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it;
and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
Whether recognized by Judah or not just yet, Yeshua is at the right hand of God in authority as Messiah King of the congregation of Israel, both native born and sojourner. The truth is Jewish people have not seen Jesus as Messiah is because some church people who claim to follow Him, do not act like His brothers or His disciples and they do not understand the new covenant. For further study on the new covenant check out "Cutting a Covenant."

If we want to understand what Stephen was saying just before his death when "he saw the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the "right hand of God" we have to look with him first at the Bible's account of the wilderness story of the ekklēsia that Stephen was proclaiming as his faith when he was stoned.

Stephen knew nothing of a new religion, now collectively called "the church."

Let's read about his faith from the witness of the Hebrew Scriptures:
And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the congregation ( `edah עֵדָה) was assembled (qahal קָהַל) at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Leviticus 8:4

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly (qahal קָהַל) of the congregation ( `edah עֵדָה) of the children of Israel. Numbers 14:5

And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them [was written] according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. Deuteronomy 9:10
In these verses, the word "congregation" is the Hebrew word is `edah עֵדָה and the word "assembly" is qahal קָהַל.

If we look into the Greek version of these words of Matthew 16:18 and Matthew 18:17 we can see Messiah Yeshua's words there are translated using the Greek term "ekklēsia" to describe the assembly, the congregation `edah עֵדָה that extends from one end of the Bible to the other.

As noted, the Strong's concordance shows us that fact and Strong' matches the Hebrew word `edah 149 times in 140 verses and the Hebrew `qahal is seen 123 times in 116 verses according to the Hebrew concordance.

Wow!! We need to understand the origin of the Greek word "ekklēsia."

Words are important. The first English translation of the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament we have today were completed by William Tyndale. He was an amazing linguist who was gifted and fluent not only in Greek and Hebrew but also in French, German, Italian, Latin, Spanish as well his native English.

Tyndale's translation of the manuscripts was the first to be printed in English... the King James crew came on the scene years later. Not only that, Tyndale's translation was the first to make use of a printing press despite what you may have heard. His translation was completed in 1525 while he was in hiding in Germany and it was printed in 1526 in Switzerland during the Reformation. 

In it, Tyndale introduced a new word to the English language, it is "Passover" from the Hebrew word "Pesach."

Yes, believe it or not, William Tyndale gave the English speaking world the word "Passover" direct from the Hebrew Bible. Did you know that the word Christian appears only three times in the Greek manuscripts? It the word Christianos (Χριστιανός) and it means follower of Messiah. It's found in Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28 and 1Peter 4:16.

Tyndale's Bible was published years before 1611, and the word church (he spelled it 'churche') only appeared two times as written by one of the world's greatest linguists. You can check his keywords in Tynsdale's New Testament thanks to the amazing people at © 2002. You can also read Tyndale's New Testament as it appeared in its original print format from "The Matthew Bible".

"The Matthew Bible" also known as "Matthew's Version," was published in 1537 by John Rogers, under the pseudonym "Thomas Matthew." It combined the Newer Testament of William Tyndale, and as much of the Old Testament as Tyndale had been able to translate before being captured, in-prisoned and put to death by the church for his translation. Rogers added the translation of Myles Coverdale of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha, except the Apocryphal Prayer of Manasses. It is thus a vital link in the main sequence of English Bible translations." Excerpted from

You can also view it online in a copy of Jugge's Tyndale New Testament. The website Bibles-Online notes:

"The 1552 Jugge's Tyndale New Testament. One of the earliest available New Testaments by William Tyndale. It is based on his final lifetime revisions. This New Testament was most assuredly the edition that the great reformers in Geneva would have used in preparation for the 1557 Geneva New Testament. The Jugge editions were printed during the brief reign of the reformer boy King Edward VI."

Incredibly, Tyndale's translation did not have the word "church" in it to reflect the believers of Messiah, instead his focus was the called out assembly just as the Greek 'ekklēsia' intended.

He knew and understood that the Greek "ekklēsia" was the same as the Hebrew word "qahal." There's no word "church" except for two instances within Tyndale's translation in Acts 14:13 and Acts 19:37. But hold on to your church hat and grab a pew, because in both cases Tyndale's use of the word church isn't what you thought and it reveals why the church leaders of his day sought to destroy him:

Tyndale referred to the word "church" 
as an assembly of pagans, NOT believers in Messiah!!

Look for yourself... just click here. There is a reason Tyndale did this, so don't give up on the first English Bible translator just yet. 

Tyndale translated the Greek word "ekklesia" meaning the "called out ones" simply as "congregation" and in the olde English of the day he spelled it as "congregacion."

Tindale used the proper English way to translate "ekklesia" in 1525. Check this out:
"And I saye also vnto the yt thou arte Peter: and apon this rocke I wyll bylde my congregacion. And the gates of hell shall not prevayle ageynst it." Matthew 16:18
Tyndale’s translation was condemned in England, the reason, the official Church of England disagreed.

By the way, the Church of England is never an identity found in Scripture, that's not a stone's throw, its reality. Like Tyndale’s own horrific murder, copies of his English translations were hunted down and burned in public places. The sad news is that Tyndale’s use of the word "congregation" challenged the authority, traditional doctrine and name of the Roman Catholic "church" that claimed its birth a Pentecost in Acts 2.

Tyndale's message was simple and they burned him at the stake for it: don't confuse "church" with the congregation, the "ekklēsia" of the true body of Messiah.

There is more to the story of his murder and you should know...

Tyndale’s translation of the Greek word "presbuteros" as the word "elder" instead of "priest" also challenged the authority of the institution of the "Catholic Church" because Tyndale stripped away the power of Catholic priests granted by the "Church" hierarchy. The word "elder" showed that Catholic priests do not administer the "Church." It was the role of the elders, which implied that the power rested in the hands of the people, the assembly of believers, the body of Christ, the congregation, not a relgious institution of men. Finally, Catholic doctrine was challenged by Tyndale’s translation of the Greek word "metanoeite" as "repent" instead the Catholic doctrine to "do penance".

Tyndale believed that it was through faith that one was saved not through church hierarchy.

His translation differed from the views of "the establishment" of both the Catholic Church and The Church of England. The Catholic teaching was that salvation was granted to those who believed in Jesus and lived accordingly to their "Church" doctrine or manmade rules that required one to aks a priest for forgiveness though penances and participate in seven Catholic sacraments "to earn" salvation granted in religious control by the in power establishment.

The Bible never teaches religious control or power by the establishment.

Religious control is a precept of men. Its the same issue that Paul addressed in his letter to the Galatians. The reason, religious men involved in a power play. They were telling the Galatians that they had to be circumcised to be saved and that faith was not enough to believe the Torah teachings that Paul taught in synagogues every Sabbath that pointed to Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel.

The religious had their own tradition of house rules saying the Galatians had to be circumcised to be saved and be accepted as a convert into the family of God. The problem: God never said that, Moses never wrote that and Yeshua never taught that, so Paul tried to explain it from Moses meeting with God atop the mountain as the King of the universe explained His mercy and grace. Paul knew the truth and he was inspired to convey it from the Exodus story.

Just eight years before Tyndale's 1525 English Bible was produced, a German man also strongly disputed Catholic teaching. His opposition was focused on required indulgences. Unlike the teaching of the Catholic church, Martin Luther did not believe that freedom from the judgment for sin could be purchased with money by paying a priest. Luther wrote against the practice of indulgences in his Ninety-five Theses of 1517 and five years later, in 1522 he published his German translation of the New Testament.

Luther's writings that opposed religious church tradition caught the public eye in Germany and his writings contained truth, but he eventually mixed truth with lies and he too turned against the Jewish people. He hated the fact that they wouldn't respond to his teaching and his version of the gospel because they would not convert to a new Christianity that required they give up their Jewish heritage of the Bible. When his evangelical efforts at conversion failed, he became extremely bitter. You see, the thing is, Luther's form of gospel was not unlike the men that Paul labeled as the party of circumcision. Luther insisted that a Jew turn his back on the his family heritage and convert to a new religion. In Luther's view, after conversion, they were no longer a Jew despite the fact that Jesus, rather Yeshua was a Jew and a rabbi and King of the Jews. Luther forgot the words Jesus gave the woman at the well:
"Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews." John 4:22
To understand the protest of the "Protestant Movement" we have to look closely at Luther's essays and teachings against both the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, because in his later anti-Semitism he wrote against the Jewishness of Jesus.

Luther's words were so vehement, some 400 years later, Hitler's Nazis quoted Luther as justification for the mass murder, genocide and grave tribulation of the Jewish people that we call the Holocaust (Ha-Shoah in Hebrew).

Luther's published writing of "On the Jews and Their Lies" in 1543, proposed the very horrific, incomprehensible atrocities Hitler carried out including setting synagogues on fire, destroying Jewish books, prohibiting rabbis from teaching, confiscating Jew's homes, businesses and money.

Luther wrote these vehement anti-semitic words: "We are at fault in not slaying them" and the Nazi's carried them out.

Enough on Luther and Hitler, back in England the Greek words translated in William Tyndale’s English New Testament revealed that a believer had to repent of sin with a sincere heart, and God would forgive in His great mercy.

Tyndale's apostolic translation from the Greek manuscripts differed from John Wycliffe's translation from the Latin Vulgate that preceded Tyndale's English translation by some 125 years.

Tyndale's translation opposed Catholic tradition, his English Bible revealed to its readers that a believer did not have to earn salvation by conversion to a new religion, instead his translation revealed that salvation and eternal life is a promise given by God to all that believe in faith and choose to walk like Messiah walked, not follow new "church" doctrine requiring sacraments.

The truth, in the end cost Tyndale his mortal life.

The question before us is what is the "church" and is it new? Let's look to more witnesses, this time from both the Strong's and Vines concordances that tell us the word "ekklēsia" is derived from two Greek root words. They are: "ek" and "kaleō". So, just what do these words mean:

Strong's tells us that "ek" means: "out of, from, by, away from".

Vines tells us: "The primary meaning of ek is "out of," e.g., Matthew 3:17, "a voice out of the heavens"; 2Corinthians 9:7, lit., "out of necessity."

Strong's also tells us that "kaleō" means:
1) to call a) to call aloud, utter in a loud voice b) to invite

2) to call i.e. to name, by name a) to give a name to 1) to receive the name of, receive as a name 2) to give some name to one, call his name b) to be called i.e. to bear a name or title (among men) c) to salute one by name
To call out by name... and Vine's tells us that "kaleō" means:
Call, Called, Calling: derived from the root kal--, whence English "call" and "clamour" is used

(a) with a personal object, "to call anyone, invite, summon," e.g., Matthew 20:8; 25:14; it is used particularly of the Divine call to partake of the blessings of redemption, e.g., Romans 8:30; 1Corinthians 1:9; 1Thessalonians 2:12; Hebrews 9:15

(b) of nomenclature or vocation, "to call by a name, to name;" in the Passive Voice, "to be called by a name, to bear a name." Thus it suggests either vocation or destination.
Together, the two Greek words that we use as assembly at their root means the ones called out by name. Now let's look and see what "assembly" means in Hebrew, the language of the Bible. To learn, let's go back to the wilderness journey of "the assembly" whose destination was the land promised to Abraham.

"The assembly" found in the Hebrew Bible is the word קָהֵל "qahal". Strong's says "qahal" means "assembly, company, congregation, convocation". Today, we also call this a "community". A community of Beleivers.

Now, from a third witness: the Believer's Study Bible from Thomas Nelson, tells us, "the a compound word coming from the word kaleo, meaning 'to call,' and ek, meaning 'out of.' Thus...'the called-out ones.' Ephesians 5:23, "This is the same word used by the Greeks for their assembly of citizens who were 'called out' to transact the business of the city.

The Greek word ekklesia occurs 115 times in the Greek New Testament and 74 times in the Septuagint and it refers specifically to the assembly of Israel, assembled before God,. The first use of ekklesia in the Septuagint is Deuteronomy 4:10, when all Israel and the sojourners with them were  assembled at the rock of Mount Sinai to receive God's covenant. In Deuteronomy 9:10 and 18:16 this time is called "the day of the assembly."

So when we see that the Newer Testament tells us that Yeshua said "upon this rock I will build My assembly" in Matthew 16:18, we have to know Messiah did not create a new thing. More than that, we have to realize Jesus was not talking about Peter but about what was revealed to the disciple:

Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And Yeshua answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

The assembly of the people of God are to be built on the rock of Messiah the Son of the living God.

Now we can see that "qahal" and "ekklēsia" are in full agreement, in community if you will.

Indeed, all of the Bible declares "the assembly" the "ekklēsia", the "qahal" was first seen at Mount Sinai. After all, the Bible tells us Jesus commanded:
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, 'Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into [any] city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" Matthew 10:5-7

"But he answered and said, 'I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel'" Matthew 15:24
Many gloss over this thinking it is too difficult to understand, but if you deal with the fact that Jesus (Yeshua) is the messenger, He is "the angel", "the prophet" that was raised up paying the curse of sin at the crucifixion tree (Galatians 3:3) it may not be so difficult.

He is also the "One" that Stephen was talking about at the right hand of God. 

Most Christians tend to call themselves Gentiles in a church building called “the house of God.” But Stephen tells us no building is required: "However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house will you build for Me, says the Lord, or what will be My place of repose?" Acts 7:48-9

Noah Webster reveals a problem with the word Gentile. His 1828 Dictionary sheds some light saying: 

"GEN'TILE, noun [Latin gentilis; from Latin gens, nation, race; applied to pagans.]

In the scriptures, a pagan; a worshipper of false gods; any person not a Jew or a christian; a heathen."

Mr. Webster points to the issue of idol practices as being their key character distinction. They were linked to the heathens, the image-worshippers according to the 1880 McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia:

"As to the religion of heathenism, it is "a wild growth on the soil of fallen human nature, a darkening of the original consciousness of God's deification of the rational and irrational creature, and a corresponding corruption of the moral sense, giving the sanction of religion to natural and unnatural vices."

Does that still describe you?

Paul taught this as well, asking: "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16

Let's look even closer to Stephen's witness just before his death:
"He brought them out, after that He had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church {a.k.a. the "ekklēsia", the assembly of Israel} in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the Mount Sinai, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us" Acts 7:36-38
Wait a minute... many also preach that "the church", the congregation of called out ones was something "new" that started in an upper room at Pentecost in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago. But if we look closer, the Bible shows us much more... there is and has always been one body, one assembly, one faith, one family of the One God of Israel.

Indeed, as you have seen this is the exact perspective of Stephen the first martyr for His belief in the Messiah of Israel.

Paul wrote:
"Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Master, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Ephesians 4:3-6
If we continue to look deeply into the Bible's storyline, we have to notice that Peter wrote to five (5) people groups that were living outside of the Promised Land. According to the King James, he called them "strangers". But again, if we look closely at the Greek, we can learn much more about the meaning and depth of the Bible. The word the King James translators used as "strangers" is the Greek word "parepidēmos". 1Peter 1:1:
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout 1) Pontus, 2) Galatia, 3) Cappadocia, 4) Asia, and 5) Bithynia…
Remember, the Greek word is "parepidēmos". Strong's tells us it means: "the people that are living in a land that they are foreigners in."

Peter is writing to five people groups but he is not writing to people that are "native" to the areas of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia or Bithynia, but rather to people that were not originally from those regions of Turkey.

We must also consider the seven epistles from Paul. His famous letters were written to: 1) the Romans, 2) Corinthians, 3) Galatians, 4) Ephesians, 5) Philippians, 6) Colossians and 7) the Thessalonians.

There is a shared group that received these letters of encouragement. The Galatians received a letter from each witness to Messiah. These two letters were sent to those living in the land we now call Turkey, a land that also contained the ancient cities of not only Galatia but Ephesus, Pontus, Bithynia and Cappadocia. We may call it Turkey, but history calls it ancient Anatolia. It was founded by none other than the Hittites at the time frame of Abraham’s journey from Ur.

The Assyrians stormed into this area and took over about 400 years after the Hittites arrived… this happened near the time that the families of Jacob were baking bricks in Egypt. They were the 12 families that had descended from the 70 that had sojourned to Egypt as, you guessed it... "strangers".

So, if we look back to the time window of 722-734 BC when the “Assyrians” assaulted Northern Israel and took them captive as slaves… we have to ask just who were the Assyrians? Some of them were the ancient Hittites. But where would the Assyrians have taken their booty of slaves from the ten tribes of Northern Israel?

Back home, that's where. They would have taken them to the areas that Peter wrote his letters to.

Consider these words:
"Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." Romans 11:25

"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into [any] city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Matthew 10:5-6
Jesus, or rather "Yeshua", the Hebrew name that literally means "salvation" sent His disciples to the lost sheep, to the lost people of a congregation called Israel.

Salvation is to the Jew first (Romans 1:16), and it's clear, Peter was following the instruction of his Master, Yeshua the Messiah when he wrote his letters.

Many confuse the "fullness" of the Gentiles" thinking it only means a time of full measure or count of Gentiles. But is that a surface of Paul's deeper message as he taught of Jacob's prophecy about Ephraim in Genesis 48:17-20.

Might the fullness of the Gentiles refer to those keeping the way, 
the Torah walk of the Jewish Messiah?

Was Paul was revealing an amazing prophecy written by Moses of the time we are in today as the nations (aka non-Jews) are returning to the Jewish roots of their faith.

After all, that word fullness in Greek is plērōma and a key meaning is “keeping” and in Deuteronomy we see it 7 times as the Hebrew word shamar: to keep, guard, observe.

Today, a remnant among the nations are returning to the Jewish root of the faith because:
“I ask instead: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says: "I will make you jealous by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation without understanding." Romans 10:19

“I ask then, did they stumble so as to lose their share? Absolutely not! However, because of their trespass, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous.” Romans 11:11

“I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, in the hope that I may provoke my own people to jealousy and save some of them.” Romans 11:13-14
Was Paul's understanding a part of Jacob's blessing given to Ephraim? If so, that was not "a mystery" to Peter either. Peter was a part of the small group that asked Jesus…
"Is it at this time that you will restore the Kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6
Notice that Jesus did not correct them and say He was creating a new religion or a Gentile "church." Believe it or not, Jesus did not inspire Peter or Paul to start a new religious system called Christianity.

Jesus said He came to gather lost sheep into the Kingdom of God, not lead a group to switch the Sabbath or a Sunday "church" service. The service we are to do is the service of Messiah as the body of Messiah wherever we are. That service in the wilderness of life, not in a pew.

Please, please don't get me wrong, the mission of the Messiah, in His own words is to "restore" the assembly, the lost sheep, the people that God calls out in the name that He has given to them... "Israel", the people that have been scattered and lost in the wilderness around the globe, adopted back into the ways of The Lord Elohim, the God of Israel.

Yeshua is still calling the lost back into His Kingdom today across the globe. But this work is 24/7/365 and there is no building, no denomination membership or religion to accomplish it:
"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:26-27
Yeshua is calling the lost back to His Kingdom. Is it any wonder then that Revelation 21:12 tells us there are twelve gates into "New Jerusalem" named after the twelve tribes of the children of Israel?

You too can be a part of "the assembly" - the community of a faithful family to enter into the gates, you too can be a part of the called out ones of the God of Israel, it's an open invitation to everyone to follow Messiah and walk in His ways in spirit and truth just like Abraham.

You don’t have to fill out a membership form or give money. All you have to do is repent, believe, surrender your life and be set free to walk like Yeshua and tell others about Him. He is the Messiah, King of all Israel, both native and sojourner grafted in and yes He does recommend a mikveh baptism to fulfill righteousness. There's no need to worry about choosing a denomination though, your set free in Messiah to follow His walk in God's will. 
"My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law.... John 7:16-19 
The guidebook on how to be set free from religion and having a real relationship with our Creator is the Bible, not a denominational doctrine nor this website for that matter, and 'the teacher' is the Spirit of God:
"Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read…" — Isaiah 34:16

“It was for freedom that Messiah set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” Galatians 5:1 

The "book of The Lord" is our instruction manual for living in the Kingdom of God, so pick it up and read it every day and consider that when Jesus spoke these words... the New Testament had not been written:
"Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." — John 5:39
So start at the beginning, search the Scriptures just as we are instructed to do.

If you choose in faith to follow the Savior and "walk" in the Scriptures that testify of Him, you will be a part of "the assembly" that seeks to follow God out of slavery to sin. To do this shows love for God and what He has done. It is what the Apostle Paul and James wrote about:
"So faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1Corinthians 13:13

"Even so, faith on its own without works is dead." James 2:17
What does all this mean?

The authority we are submit to as an assembly is our Creator God revealed by the Written Word and the living Torah. Over the span of 19 centuries since Yeshua walked and taught throughout Israel, the traditions of men have added to the faith. Today, the opportunity is to make a conscious decision to return to a scripture lifestyle in action as an assembly before the God of Israel.

As Jesus taught in Matthew 5, the Torah still stands, the commandments are still valid and the Feasts of The Lord are eternal for His ekklēsia.

For me, Matthew 5 teaches we are to honor the Feasts described in Leviticus including the weekly Sabbath and even watch what we eat because God's instruction is there to protect us. For some it means its time to take a last look at Santa's Christmas and wave goodbye to the Easter bunny and Halloween. It means saying hello to the week long celebrations of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Sukkot. It even means seeing Hanukkah in John 10.

The Torah declares there is one law His ekklēsia, that means the Israelite and the same law for the foreigner wishing to follow and worship God. All of us are worth a half-shekel, in essence, that means that there is no separation in the Bible and there is no separation worship for the Jew and non-Jews. Ultimately, that means we are to become one new man, united and restored.

If you do not know your Messiah, it is time for you to know Him. You can return to God's covenant, return to hear and do His word and walk in the faith of His Kingdom path so that you can ready your lamp to show others how to do the same. Yeshua must not only be The Lord our lives as individual believers. He must also receive pre-eminence in the life of our communities, He is the head of the ekklēsia.

Messiah is calling to build His ekklēsia, a “faith community” and as He builds, He uses us as “living stones” loving our neighbor being “built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua Messiah” (1Peter 2:5).

God is the almighty sovereign God of the whole House, the ekklēsia of Israel. 

Do you believe God, if so do you follow and seek to honor his Kingdom mitzvot? Do you follow Yeshua the Messiah of Israel? Do you seek to walk and talk like Him? If so, you a part of the congregation (ekklēsia) of the commonwealth of redeemed Israel, an assembly of faith and spirit.

Each Sabbath day and the Feasts of The Lord are the set apart times which God has appointed for His people to assemble together for “holy convocations” (See Leviticus 23:2). The Hebrew word translated “convocation” (mikra), means a calling together.

YHVH is a loving God and He has provided the way to offer His salvation and eternal life to you and those you know. You can accept His gift of eternal life. Consider carefully what your life consists of, look at it and repent of any willful sin, ask God's forgiveness and accept His gift of love through Messiah Yeshua.

You can do this now!

Today is the time. If you know you need to get your life right with God, don’t wait for tomorrow, get it right with Him now!
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:16-17
Tell others about His life death and resurrection!

And, if you can, gather with others in a set apart assembly, an "ekklēsia" to worship Him and study His word, it is the Book of Life.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20
Shalom ya'll.