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The Origins of the Word 'Church'

Updated on June 12, 2017
PlanksandNails profile image

PlanksandNails' goal is to be a catalyst in encouraging the followers of Christ to pursue Biblical truth for themselves.


Billions of people around the world go in through the doors of the man-driven institution called 'church.' Since the term 'church' is found within their Bibles, it is accepted as a supposedly divinely inspired word given to man from God. Buildings are erected on every other street corner to represent the word. When people ask each other what church they go to, they can give a particular address and point to a sign where they herd in through her doors to worship God.

These people that go to church call themselves Christians who partake in a conjured service based on a spiritual man-driven agenda conforming to their many denominational templates. They look to salaried officiates to make something happen for them in their spiritual lives within the four walls they call 'church.'


What many don’t realize is that in Scripture the body of Christ was not given a name, but identified in a metaphorical sense. It was never about erecting buildings with big signs on the front designating and segregating themselves into their many different denominations.

In contrast, the early ekklesia in the New Testament did not grow into thousands of different sects and denominations where each had their own separate visions and doctrines.

A deeper study into the word 'church' will reveal a counterfeit word that has been replaced by corrupted men to promote a religious man-made agenda instead of one that is to solely led by the Holy Spirit. Many will contend that 'church' is just a word, but when one looks closer at its origins, it reveals an entity that is completely foreign to the meaning of ekklesia.

There is quite a distinction between the two terms. It is vital, imperative and important to know this because it is the difference between seeking first the Kingdom of God or the religious kingdoms of men. It is the difference between walking on the narrow path that leads to life, or the wide road that leads to destruction.

The man-made term 'church' is about structures built with man’s hands with names they have given to themselves. Scripture does not attest to the body of Christ being associated with man-made temples, but the early ekklesiae were identified by the different localities (cities) they resided in. The ekklesia in a particular city were in unity being spiritually built by Christ. They were not separated in four-walled denominational structures run by hirelings called clergy.

The word 'church' is a tradition of man and the institutional church system has been built upon it. This term cannot be reconciled with 'ekklesia' because its origins come from a very different source. Although many attempt to do it, it just creates confusion and double-mindedness as many try define ‘church’ out of both sides of their mouth.

How is ekklesia distinct from church?

The purpose of this article will take a deeper look into the origins of the term 'church.' By following the history of the word, it will make it glaringly obvious that it is a counterfeit.

A Tradition of Man

The body of Christ is not a congregation established under the authority of ecclesiastical men, nor is it a hierarchical governing system either.

The problem with the word 'church' is that it creates a misconception of what the body of Christ truly is. When the corrupt modern understanding is discarded and replaced with the intended divine meaning, the physical and spiritual manifestation are very different.

Unfortunately, many have not taken a deeper look for themselves and many don’t even want to know because it would require a complete re-evaluation of their belief system.

Those who attend buildings called 'church' have conformed to the traditions of man and are clueless to what the word actually means and where its origins are from. ‘Church’ has been deemed the supposed English replacement for 'ekklesia,' but their meanings are completely different.

A Replacement

In Scripture, Christ and the apostles did not use the word 'church.' The fact is that King James ordered the counterfeit word to replace the genuine. He instructed his translators not translate it, but to completely replace it.

Unfortunately, many believe that ‘church’ is a translation of ‘ekklesia,’ but this is a great error and deception. The word 'church' neither originates form the Greek, or Hebrew. The word was already in existence when it was put into the English bible translations, but used as a pagan word.

Ekklesia means, the 'called out ones' who are a congregation, group or assembly. It has absolutely nothing to do with religious man-made denominational buildings, but followers of Christ who have been spiritually joined together by him. What you may find interesting is that word 'ekklesia' is actually in the English dictionary along with 'church.' It is very telling when comparing their definitions. Here are the two definitions to contrast from

Church - Noun

- a BUILDING for public Christian worship.

- public worship of God or a religious service in such A BUILDING: to attend church regularly.

- (sometimes initial capital letter) the whole body of Christian believers; Christendom.

- (sometimes initial capital letter) any division of this body professing the same creed and acknowledging the same ECCLESIASTICAL AUTHORITY; a CHRISTIAN DENOMINATION the Methodist Church.

- that part of the whole Christian body, or of PARTICULAR DENOMINATION, belonging to the same city, country, nation, etc.

- a body of Christians worshipping in A PARTICULAR BUILDING or constituting one congregation: She is a member of this church.

- ECCLESIASTICAL ORGANIZATION, POWER, and affairs, as distinguished from the state: separation of church and state; the missionary went wherever the church sent him.


Ecclesia - Noun

AN ASSEMBLY, especially the popular assembly of ancient Athens.



It’s quite easy to establish a striking dissimilarity between the two terms based on an English dictionary's definition.

Why wouldn’t later prints of the Bible correct this error and use the actual word that is meant to be in there?

Modern Bible scholars have a deceptive way of getting around this by using the Greek definition for 'church' (kyriakon), meaning 'the lord’s house.' Left simply to this explanation, many look no further and nod their heads to their trusted institutional church Bible scholars.

If we keep digging deeper and press further, other problems arise. Put simply, 'kyriakon' is not used in the Bible, but 'ekklesia' is. Many just assume the derivation, or the Geek etymology of 'kyriakon' and 'kurious oikos,' meaning 'house of God' is the status quo. After all, that is what the salaried clergy tell them as they sit passively in the church pews in what they call, 'the house of God.'



Digging a bit deeper reveals that the word 'kyriakon' existed in all Celtic dialects as 'cirice' (kee-ree-ke) long before the word was introduced into the Greek. 'Kiriakos' was used in Old English form as 'cirice' then 'kerke' (churche) and then evolved to what we know today as 'church.'

'Cirice' means circles. These were the many places of pagan worship of the Celtic and German nations. The ancient stone megaliths that still stand today, such as Stonehenge and Avebury attest to the pagan worship practices of that time.The Oxford English Dictionary gives that many derivations of 'church' as:(a) cirice, cyrice, chiriche, churiche, chereche(b) circe, cyrce, chyrce, cirke, etc…

The Oxford English Dictionary gives that many derivations of 'church' as:

(a) cirice, cyrice, chiriche, churiche, chereche

(b) circe, cyrce, chyrce, cirke, etc…

The Trail of Evidence

The source of the origin of 'church' can be established as an ulterior derivation that does not come from the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The evidence trail reveals that 'church' comes from the Old English form of 'cirice' and the Middle English form 'circe.' From there, we can move even deeper down the rabbit hole to see where we end up.

'Circe' as a dialect is found in the Greek as 'kirke.' Etymologists agree that the Dutch word for 'church' is 'kerk,' and in German is 'kirche.' The Scottish form is 'kirk' and Old Saxon is 'kirika' having the same linguistic derivation, connection or relation to 'kirke,' or 'circe.'

If you have followed thus far, the next trail of evidence to follow is finding out what is behind the origin of the term 'kirke,' or 'circe.'

From here, this is where things get even more interesting.

What is deemed 'church' (kirke, or circe) today in English can be traced to the name of a Greek goddess Pharmakeia who was a witch, or a sorceress who lived on an island called Aiaia. The ancient form of 'Aiaia' is derived from the name 'Gaia' who was a pagan goddess of fertility. She was the daughter of Helios, the Sun god who had the power to transform men into wolves, lions and even swine. Although she changed men into animals, they still retained their human senses being trapped in the physical bodies of an animal.

This is where the word 'circus' comes from. It is attributed to honouring Gaia’s father, the Sun god, hence where the term 'Cirque de Soleil' in French comes from, or in English, 'Church of the Sun.'

“Being entered, she placed them in chairs of State, and set before them meal and honey, and Smyrna wine, mixed with baneful drugs of powerful enchantment. When they had eaten of these, and drunk of her cup, she touched them with her charming rod, and straight they were transformed into swine, having bodies of swine, the bristles, and snout, and grunting noise of that animal; only they still retained the minds of men, which made them the more to lament their brutish transformation.”

— Adventures of Ulysses by Charles Lamb


The Greeks pictured their goddess as a woman with a golden cup in her hand.

Does this picture ring a bell?

If you are familiar with the book of Revelation, there is a striking resemblance of a woman with a golden cup filled with wine mixed with drugs. Upon drinking her wine, kings were seduced and controlled by transforming them into animals with man-like characteristics. This sounds a lot like John’s vision as written in the book of Revelation while he was on the island of Patmos.

“Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the KINGS of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the WINE of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become DRUNK.” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.

The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a GOLDEN CUP full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” – Revelation 17:1-6

For your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were DECEIVED by your SORCERY. – Revelation 18:23

Could the manifestation of the word 'church' be the conjuring of sorceries?

If 'circe' is a description of the goddess Pharmacia, and John in the book of Revelation used the word 'sorcery' (5331 [e]) that is the same as 'pharmacies,' could there be a connection?

According to some Greek accounts when Pharmacia died, she was buried in the Pharmacussi island group that can be seen from the Isle of Patmos where John was imprisoned.

The words 'pharmacy' and 'pharmaceuticals' are both derived from 'pharmakaeia,' meaning medicine.

Are we seeing the spiritual manifestation of 'church' happening today where the institutional system entices people within her doors with feel good religious doctrines getting them to drink from her cup of drugs (the opiate of the masses) glossing people’s eyes over so they have visions and hallucinations falling under the spells and power of the Great Harlot?

'Kirke' is also known as a 'hawk,' or an 'unclean bird' by Old Testament standards is a bird of prey. There was a mythological witch who the Greeks called 'Kirke' (hawk lady) who became the Circe of Roman poets.

You shall therefore separate the clean beast from the unclean, and THE UNCLEAN BIRD from the clean. You shall not make yourselves detestable by beast or by bird or by anything with which the ground crawls, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean. – Leviticus 20:25

And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every UNCLEAN BIRD, a haunt for every UNCLEAN AND DETESTABLE BEAST. – Revelation 18:2

Constantine's vision and his holy war.
Constantine's vision and his holy war.
Church torture methods
Church torture methods
John Calvin orders Michael Servetus to burned at the stake.
John Calvin orders Michael Servetus to burned at the stake.

The History of the Institutional Church

It is pretty obvious today that the institution called 'church' has fornicated with the ways of the world system and has been captivated by her sorceries. History attests to the blood that has been spilled by all those who have been slain because of her. Men like Constantine received visions from her to conquer with the sign of the cross. Many deemed as ‘witches’ and ‘heretics’ have been tortured and burned at the stake to appease those within the harlot church system.

Many people have naively believed in their church doctrines while many innocent people have been killed and slaughtered in her name. Rape, lynching, torture, murder and slavery has been defended and justified in her name. This did not bother the harlot daughters of the 'mother of all prostitutes' one bit.

All those who partake of 'church' and her harlot daughters conveniently ignore their institutional history and vehemently defend their man-made traditions.

'Church' is the religion of Mystery Babylon and Scripture states that we are to come out of her. The system of the Mother of Harlots has bred many harlot’s daughters. The fact is there are more than 38,000 of them. They have many names written above her doors, but they still share their mother’s maiden name.

If 'church' is a counterfeit word, then that would mean a complete evaluation of the foundation of the religious system that the word is built upon would be of vital importance.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my ekklesia [1577 (e)], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. - Matthew 16:18

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is building four-walled denominational structures called "church" run by salaried officiates?

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© 2016 PlanksandNails

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    • PlanksandNails profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago


      The only way to truly know the Hebrew name of our Saviour is that there would have to be found New Testament text in Hebrew; otherwise, we can only speculate.

      I came across some verses in Zechariah in the WEB translation that you might find interesting.

      Yes, take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them on the head of JOSHUA the son of Jehozadak, the HIGH PRIEST; and speak to him, saying, 'Thus says Yahweh of Armies, "BEHOLD, THE MAN WHOSE NAME IS THE BRANCH: and he shall grow up out of his place; and he shall build the temple of Yahweh; even he shall build the temple of Yahweh; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on his throne; and he shall be a priest on his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. – Zechariah 6:11-13

      Could there be a connection between the name of the high priest, Joshua (Yahushua, Yahshua) having the same name of the “Branch” to come? Obviously the prophecy here is not about the current high priest, but about the coming Messiah, yet the current high priest’s name is Joshua (Yahushua, Yahshua).

      Could the current high priests name be the same name 8034 [e] as the “Branch” to come since the prophecy speaks of a name?

      This maybe eisegesis, but I thought the verses were interesting.

    • profile image

      Neil Braithwaite 

      2 years ago

      Aaron -

      The "World English Bible" (WEB) translation is the best translation I can find for Hebrew scripture that uses the name Yahweh. The "Lexham English Bible" is about the next best. I have not found any NT translations that use Yahshua though.

      1 Praise Yah!

      Praise Yahweh’s name!

      Praise him, you servants of Yahweh,

      2 you who stand in Yahweh’s house,

      in the courts of our God’s house.

      3 Praise Yah, for Yahweh is good.

      Sing praises to his name, for that is pleasant.

      I use "Bible Gateway" which allows me to pull up 4-5 different translations at the same time.

    • PlanksandNails profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago


      The word "church" is seared on the minds of many. I believe it's the "golden calf."

      And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a GOLDEN CALF. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “TOMORROW SHALL BE A FEAST TO THE LORD.” - Exodus 32:4-5

      And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a GOLDEN CALF and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a STIFF-NECKED people. - Exodus 32:7-9

      And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the LORD your God. You had made yourselves a GOLDEN CALF. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the LORD had commanded you. - Deuteronomy 9:16

      And he appointed HIS OWN PRIESTS FOR THE HIGH PLACES and for the goat idols and for the CALVES that he had made - 2 Chronicles 11:15

      It is no different today. Stiff-necked people make themselves "golden calves" and and elect their own "priests for the high places" they call "church" proclaiming to "honor" God in their "worship."

      Thanks for your comment.

    • PlanksandNails profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago


      Good questions and they deserve an answer.

      I am in the process of wrestling with, weighing, testing and researching this matter to cover all the bases.

      I believe words, names and their meanings are important.

      I was just thinking about the Hebrew expression "hallelujah" this week and how the letter "J" is not in the Hebrew alphabet, yet it means "Yah be praised." What is interesting is that God's name is expressed in Hebrew four times in the book of Revelation in the New Testament, yet in the Old Testament in the Psalms “HalleluYah” in the Hebrew has been replaced with an English phrase and God’s name given a title.

      Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing to his NAME, for it is pleasant! – Psalm 135:3

      I noticed the translators took God’s name out of this verse, yet the second part of the verse says it is pleasant to sing His name. If they had left in the Hebrew expression, we would know His name to give Him praise.

      If you read the following verses in Revelation and the significance of them, there is importance given to God’s name in the expression.

      After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “HalleluYah! - Revelation 19:1

      Once more they cried out, “HalleluYah! - Revelation 19:3

      And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. HalleluYah!” - Revelation 19:4

      Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “HalleluYah! - Revelation 19:6

      This is where I had an “aha” moment.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      You must know that I see the value in what you say. And I applaud you for enlightening people to understand that "church" is not scriptural. I know this. I find it frustrating that more do not. I go to church to get what it offers. Fun and entertainment and community. I am moved by music in church. And I like getting a view - normally wholly different than mine but sometimes on the mark as I see it.

      But I do not lean on the church or a church for my understanding. I refuse to be hogtied by their dogma and doctrine.

      And then there are those I know without a real deep spiritual bone in their body. Some who have even tried. Some to ignorant and poorly educated that they could not read a bible and get a message. To them you say "nothing" would be better than church. I disagree. The church is at least an attempt to get at something God related. Not perfect and not even good in many circumstances. But normally better than nothing because these folks won't crack a bible on their own.

      We share the same concerns but come to differing conclusions.

    • PlanksandNails profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago


      The reason I am critical of the "church" goer because what they practice is not Scripturally based. The "harm" they cause is that they influence others with their false "church" doctrines that they have been fed, and twist Scripture to justify their traditions.

      Following Jesus Christ is not about building we go to, but it is a way of life.

      People go the "church" out of duty and obligation to get their "needs" met. They want feel goods to get inspired and love perform their "righteousness" in front of others. They pay an "expert" to guide their path, yet these type of behaviours are not endorsed in Scripture.

      You say, "I still think that an ecclesia can use a building." True, but the moment it is given a name, sign and follows the religious traditions of man it becomes a "church."

    • profile image


      2 years ago from those of the Ecclesia

      PandN- This is a well thought out article on where the word church comes from. It's evident you have done a great deal of research that supports this article. I truely hope others will make the time and effort to read this and let it really sink in. This is very strong evidence that ecclesia and church are NOT the same thing, nor do they both mean the same thing.

      Thank you again for such a great article on this subject. God bless.

    • profile image

      Neil Braithwaite 

      2 years ago

      Great post Aaron.

      But what about the counterfeit name "Jesus" that has been assigned to the Messiah instead of his Hebrew name Yahshua? And the use of titles like LORD instead of the name Yahweh that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob told His people to call Him?

      If the creator of all things tells us in Exodus 3:15 that His name is Yahweh, and if the name he gave to His son is Yahshua, why are they both missing from most bible translations and not being used by the very people who call on those names?

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting you did a great job showing the distinction. Perhaps I am most offended by the Catholics referring to themselves as The Church. But then I am reminded that church means nothing in real life. Isn't it interesting the KJ the protestant replaced the word into church but the Catholics adopted it to co-pt it.

      I still think that an ecclesia can use a building. I used to love to preach under a big Norfolk pine sitting in the grass but alas sometimes it rained or worse. We had a great worship service in our home the other day and it was a blast and good time to be had by many neighbors. Of course we invited and were blessed by a few non-theists also.

      This was good stuff. (except for your slamming of "church" goers who I believe do no harm)


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