The Home Ekklesia

house ekklesiaHouse ekklesia, cell groups, and other terms refer to a popular movement today. Some have made a principle of separating themselves from denominations and emphasizing that only the house ekklesia is a viable representative of apostolic Christianity. Others have used the small group movement to infuse more vitality into a spiritless congregation. Others take a middle-of-the-road attitude, and engage in house ekklesia for practical reasons.

Both the Bible guidance and practical considerations are important. The simple fact is that there is not one single denomination in existence that adheres to all Ten Commandments. Most of them adhere to a majority of the commandments, but none to all of them. In fact, there is no denomination that adheres even to the three least kept of the commandments: one Eloah, the Sabbath, and prohibition of killing. So for practical reasons, the true believer simply cannot participate in any religious establishment.

While there are other issues to take into consideration besides the ten commandments, these form a good rule of thumb. They rule out all of the churches from the beginning. But just attending a house ekklesia is no solution at all. House ekklesia can and do participate in the same false doctrines that the denominations do. Finding or establishing a house ekklesia requires careful adherence to Scriptural guidance.

The reason why we use Ekklesia and not church in WLC content is because the word "church" does not accurately convey the meaning of the original Greek, "Ekklesia." Throughout the New Testament, Ekklesia refers to the Called Out Ones. The word "church," which emphasizes a group, is therefore an erroneous translation and should never have been used. Christians are literally the Called Out Ones. The true followers of Yahushua are indeed the Called Out Ones from the organized denominations and religions of fallen Babylon. When the call to flee Babylon has been heard, none are to again return to Babylonian churches and forms of religion.

The first home ekklesia, the one that remains the ideal, is that of Adam and Eve. They met with Yahuwah for worship every evening as well as Sabbaths. (Gen 3:8) "And they heard the voice of Yahuwah Elohim walking in the garden in the cool of the day."

Walking with Yahuwah is the basic form of worship. It continued with Enoch (Gen 5:24) "And Enoch walked with Elohim: and he was not; for Elohim took him." This daily, family meeting with Yahuwah for worship, this walking with him, is the preparation for being taken from this earth one day to meet the Master in the air. Those in the days of Enoch who neglected the form of worship instituted with Adam and Eve were eventually destroyed in the Flood. Only those who maintained it were saved. (Gen 6:9) "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations (that is, family or home ekklesia), and Noah walked with Elohim."

The original home ekklesia practice expanded greatly by the time of Abraham. (Gen 14:14) "When Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, three hundred and eighteen, born in his own house, and pursued them unto Dan." Even with such a large number, the home ekklesia of Abram had been divided as described in Genesis 13:8ff. While the reason for the separation was conflict, the separation resolved the conflict, rather than continuing it. That is precisely the opposite of what generally happens within the house ekklesia movement today, and that should be a warning indicator. The house ekklesia movement today, unless the group is based on truly Biblical principles, is just another expression of Babylonian faith.

house ekklesia One of the reasons house ekklesia go astray today is because they are merely fields for the abuse of authority. They are founded by people who were bitter because they could not get the power they sought over the congregation they were in. The Bible contains a principle that goes far to prevent that. Responsibility for the organization of home meetings should be that of the oldest son. The principle of the birthright was central in the home ekklesia in the book of Genesis. When children are given their rightful responsibility in reading the Scriptures in the hearing of those gathered and otherwise functioning visibly, then there is neither a problem of restless behavior on the part of children not the danger of adults angling for power, as they do in home ekklesia sometimes even more overtly than in established congregations.

In fact, the worship service can be made so simple that rather young children are capable of leading out. If it begins with silent prayer, where those gathered may break the silence with their petition, then continues with the leading child reading the Scripture lesson, after which study or discussion may take place, there is no point at which the leading child need feel that his role of leadership has been shunted aside. The elders can contribute to the bible study, give testimonies and exhortations, all without taking over the leadership of the meeting.

The birthright principle is in fact the thing that was given up when a national system of worship was instituted among the Israelites. The birthright was kept in principle, but in practice the firstborn was redeemed by giving money to the priests, who then took over their natural duties. This system prevailed under the judges and the kings. But like polygamy, this was not Yahuwah's original plan.

There were reasons for changing institutions during the times of the judges and kings. At the coming of the Messiah, this was reverted to the original plan. Yahushua established the original format of small-scale worship in Matthew 16-18, giving precise details for how worship should be organized.

The basic institution is in (Mat 18:19) Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. (Mat 18:20) For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Yahushua reduces the Jewish minyan or least number necessary for congregational prayers to two or three. Two or three can bind a matter, that is, establish a ekklesia that follows the Gospel order exactly. The principles are these:

  1. The ekklesia is founded on the declaration of Peter that Yahushua is the son of Yahuwah. (Matthew 16:16-18)
  2. The ekklesia is the authoritative representative of the kingdom of Yahuwah on earth. (Matthew 16:19)
  3. The ekklesia keeps a low profile, even at times a secret one, as it is at war with the kingdom of Satan in this world. (Matthew 16:20)
  4. The ekklesia is based on the plan of salvation of which the death and resurrection of Christ is central. (Matthew 16:21-23; 17:22-23)
  5. The ekklesia is the practice ground for that denial of self that in necessary for salvation. (Matthew 16:24-26)
  6. The ekklesia is based on the expectation of the soon coming of Christ. (Matthew 16:27-28)
  7. The ekklesia is visionary and prophetic, bringing the gathered into direct contact with the prophetic revelation from heaven. (Matthew 17:1-9)
  8. The ekklesia is the vehicle of divine blessing to the world in teaching and healing, empowered by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:14-21)
  9. The ekklesia wisely does what it must to avoid conflict with Rome. (Matthew 17:24-27)
  10. The central value the ekklesia is to maintain is humility, and a tender attitude toward the lowly. (Matthew 18:1-14)
  11. The ekklesia is a vehicle of reconciliation in the event of conflict, and it has the obligation to eject those who engage in offenses to their brothers. (Matthew 18:15-17)
  12. The ekklesia is established by the action of two or three gathering in the name of Christ for that purpose. (Matthew 18:18-20)
  13. Christ is invisibly but personally present in the gathering of the ekklesia. (Matthew 18:20)
  14. The ekklesia is the vehicle of divine forgiveness, which is relayed in the same measure as its members forgive one another. (Matthew 18:21-35)

These fourteen Gospel principles are essential to the kingdom of Yahuwah of which the Gospel is a proclamation. If any are missing, the institution ceases to be a valid ekklesia. The ekklesia is not an institution transmitted by apostolic succession. It is established directly by Yahushua Himself, who is present at its establishment and at every meeting.

apostolic home ekklesia The apostolic ekklesia generally gathered in homes or in secluded places out of doors.... That was the prevalent system before imperial Christianity, which started building large structures in order more easily to control the people and indoctrinate them with apostasy. Home ekklesia were established quite close to each other, such as that kept, apparently in her home, by the deaconness Phebe in Cenchrea, well within walking distance of Corinth, where another ekklesia gathered.

The Gospel ekklesia does not include the necessity of elders and deacons. These are offices that were established in the apostolic ekklesia to meet the specific needs of the times. During that time the mystery religions were very popular in the Roman empire. They were semi-secret home groups that had a form of initiation similar to baptism, but sometimes involving horrid rites of being washed in blood, had a sacred meal, worshipped a man-god who was claimed to have died and resurrected, and sang hymns and read scriptures to that effect. The similarity with the Gospel ekklesia was very close, so close that both Jews and Gentiles sometimes had difficulty telling the difference. Within this context, the offices of deacons and elders were necessary to maintain Gospel order. Given that we are faced today with the same challenges, hundreds of forms of paganism all claiming to be Christian, deacons and elders serve a valid and often necessary role today as well.

Paul writes in detail about these offices in 1 Timothy 3. While many today think that apostolic succession makes a valid ordination, this is not true. Only Christ himself can ordain, and Christ is only present in the gathered in his name to do so. Ordination by prayer and laying on of hands by those gathered in a valid Gospel ekklesia is the only valid ordination.

The ekklesia has the obligation to perform certain ordinances besides ordaining elders and deacons, generally through these officers, if they exist in the gathering. They include:

Ekklesia means the group of those called out, and is never used in reference to a building. They are called out of the synagogues of Satan, which are the established faiths of the world. The ekklesia includes people with specific spiritual gifts to benefit those around them. These are discussed in detail in 1 Corinthians 12-14. The list of such gifts is given in 1 Cor 12:28.

"And Yahuwah hath set some in the ekklesia, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." (1 Cor 12:28)

home ekklesia Failure to establish a home ekklesia is justified by lack of means, both economic and personal. We have already seen that it is enough that there is one person available who is old enough to read from the Bible. Even if no literate person can be found, an ekklesia can be gathered around the Word that is known from memory. And if no one is present who can repeat a Bible text by heart, then silence together is golden, and the voice can always be lifted in prayer and petition to Yahuwah.

"Poverty need not shut us out from showing hospitality. We are to impart what we have. There are those who struggle for a livelihood and who have great difficulty in making their income meet their necessities; but they love . . . [Yahushua] in the person of His saints and are ready to show hospitality to believers and unbelievers, trying to make their visits profitable. At the family board and the family altar the guests are made welcome. The season of prayer makes its impression on those who receive entertainment, and even one visit may mean the saving of a soul from death. For this work . . . [Yahuwah] makes a reckoning, saying: 'I will repay.'"--Adventist Home, p. 451.

The role of the man and the woman in the home worship carries over from the daily practice to the Sabbath gathering as well.

"Before leaving the house for labor, all the family should be called together; and the father, or the mother in the father's absence, should plead fervently with . . . [Yahuwah] to keep them through the day. Come in humility, with a heart full of tenderness, and with a sense of the temptations and dangers before yourselves and your children; by faith bind them upon the altar, entreating for them the care of . . . [Yahuwah]. Ministering angels will guard children who are thus dedicated to . . . [Yahuwah]."--Child Guidance, p. 519.

It was mainly the influence of the Seventh-day Baptists that turned the early believers towards establishing institutions. The institutions founded in the latter part of the 1800s were modeled after the Baptists, with boards, associations, and conferences. These, though perhaps not wrong in themselves, were eventually abused through over-dependence on organization, so that the early, proper home ekklesia principles were lost. 

We do not need a new organization, nor do we need to participate in the institutions engaged in apostasy. The home ekklesia that was established in Eden, affirmed in the Gospel, and maintained by  commandment-keeping believers through out history.


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