Editor Food for The Flock,
Dear Brother in the Lord.,
The first copy of Food for the Flock reached me a few days ago. I have read it a number of times.
The enclosed comments on the Forum are submitted in a spirit of love, trusting they will be helpful.
The Greek word Ecclesia is used in the Original one hundred and fifty times in the New Testament, in three instances (Acts: 19:32, 39, 41) it is correctly translated “assembly,” but in every other instance incorrectly translated by this unfortunate word, “church.”
In the Tyndale translation of the New Testament, the Greek word is translated rightly by the word “congregation.”
In the New Translation by J. N. Darby (thought highly of and used in the Cambridge University, England) the Greek word is translated “assembly,” and beyond question this is the simplest and the most proper translation.
This is the House of God aspect of the assembly where God dwells by His Holy Spirit. The assembly of God as such is the custodian of the “Mystery of Piety.” In 1st Timothy, where the House of God is seen in its manward aspect the word “godliness” or “piety” is used at least seven times and covers every detail of Christian life.
Yours in the Lord,
Dear brother T. H.
We do appreciate your prayers, interest, and letter. Do continue to remember us before the Throne of Grace.
Your remarks upon proposition No. 1, in the Forum have been noted carefully. We thank you for your information regarding the various translations into English of the Greek word ecclesia; thus, church, assembly, and congregation. We have already intimated that the word church is unfortunate. In Christendom it carries with it the idea of a material building; whereas, the words “assembly” and “congregation” definitely refer to the people gathered in a building.
The practice of comparing different reliable translations is excellent but in so doing we ever must remember that Divine Inspiration pertains only to the Holy Scriptures as they were written in their original languages, and that the different translations of the Bible vary in the degree of accuracy. In other words, infallibility, belongs only to the Holy Scriptures in their original manuscripts, but fallibility is connected with all translations. This explains in some measure certain imperfections of the King James translation; nevertheless, many a Christian missionary would praise God if he had a translation of the Bible in the tongue of those he seeks to win for Christ anywhere as good as the King James. In spite of its many weaknesses, through it many of us found, the Saviour, and through it many others were delivered from the confusion of Christendom.
Your remarks upon the House of God opens a vast field before us. Regrettably some have visualized the House of God as a building made up of several rooms, these rooms representing certain assemblies, and these certain assemblies being bound together in a circle of fellowship forming the House of God. Would not a careful and prayerful examination of the references to the House of God throughout the New Testament evince the mistake in such a conception? We need not doubt that the Church is viewed also as a building, but the two figures should not be confused.
We read of the house of David, the house of Israel, the house of Judah. These significant appellatives suggest a household or a family. In Hebrews 3:5 we read, “Moses was faithful in all His (God’s) house.” It is therefore patent that Israel was the House of God in a past dispensation. The suggestion that the House of God referred to in this passage is the tabernacle rests upon a wrong premise; Aaron was over the tabernacle, but Moses was over the entire household of Israel. The House of God is synonymous with the Household of God, and the Household of Faith; in the first we consider the Head of the Household, and in the second, the members of the Household. Would not even a cursory examination of this subject reveal the following definite characteristics?
That All Genuine Believers Are In The House of God: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the House of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?” (1 Pet 4:17-18). A perfect antithesis is formed between the House of God, the righteous; and those that obey not the gospel of God, the ungodly and sinner. All persons who are not in the one class, of necessity must be in the other.
That There Is Blessed Relationship In The House Of God: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the Household of God.” (Eph. 2:19). Through racial reconciliation in Christ, we are no longer strangers, but citizens together of the same heavenly city, the New Jerusalem; no longer foreigners, but members of the same Divine Household.
That There Is Reality In The House Of God: “But Christ as a Son over His (God’s) own house; whose house are we if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end,” (Heb. 3:6). It takes a life-time of constancy to prove that we are Christians. This verse might be paraphrased; Of whose household We prove ourselves to be genuine children, if we constantly maintain our confidence (faith) in God and the enjoyment of hope in Christ to the end of life. The person who does not abide in faith proves that he never was in faith.
That There Are Privileges In The House: Of God: “And having an High Priest over the House of God; let us draw near… Let us hold fast… Let us consider one another,” (Heb. 10:21-24). As Aaron the high priest of Israel functioned on behalf of the whole house of Israel, even so, does Christ, his great Antitype function today on behalf of the entire divine family.
That There Is Special Mutual Consideration For All In The House of God: “Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the Household of Faith,” (Gal. 6:9-10).
That There Is Authority Over The House of God: “Moses verily was faithful in all His (God’s) house, as a servant… But Christ as a Son over His (God’s) house,” (Heb. 3:5-6) Christ rules over the divine household by virtue of His being much more than a servant, a Son. Notice again, “Judgment must begin at the House of God, (1 Pet. 4:17), and compare this with Hebrews 12:5-11.
That There Is Responsibility In The House Of God: “That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the House of God, which is the Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth,” (1 Tim. 3:15). Every child in the family must learn how to behave himself lest the Head of the Household administer judgment proportionate to the disobedience.
Once more we thank you for your letter and comments. May the Lord richly bless you.
Very sincerely in Christ