A Prayer
of Jesus

I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise
and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will

WORSHIP and assembly
By Edgar Jones

But an hour comes and now is when the true worshippers will worship the father in spirit and truth, for indeed the father seeks such [to be] his worshipping [ones].

Oh, how far -- how very far -- Christians have wandered from true worship and true assembly according to our Lord and Teacher!  Therefore you my reader, whoever you are, should be prepared to have long held beliefs challenged and demolished as we examine the implications of these subjects in the Teaching of our one and only Shepherd (pastor).  I do not say that I will demolish them.  Far from that -- it is the only Good Shepherd that will demolish them and that only when you open your heart and mind to his holy Words, .

Worship and assembly are two different subjects, not necessarily related.  We consider them together because our conditioning in Christendom often causes us to think of them together. Ideas such as public worship, house of worship, place of worship and worship assembly have polluted our minds to produce distorted, false beliefs.  We need to show what each is in Truth, and then how they are and are not related.

The Worship

As always, we first look to the Light for our enlightenment, and the Lord does not leave us in darkness.  His definitive utterance on worship is this from the context of his discussion with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well.

Jn.4:10 19 The woman says to him: Lord, I perceive that you are [a] prophet.
20 Our fathers worshipped in these mountains, and you [people] say that in Jerusalem is the place where [one] must be worshipping. 21 Jesus says to her: Be believing me, lady, that [an] hour comes when neither in these mountains nor in Jerusalem will you [people] worship the father. 22 You [people] worship what you do not know, we worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour comes and now is when the true worshippers will worship the father in spirit and truth, for indeed the father seeks such [to be] his worshipping [ones]. 24
God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

Such is the prescription for true worshippers and for true worship.  Here we have the true worship that the Father seeks -- and none other; those that worship according to the prescription are the true worshippers.  All other worship is vain, being unacceptable to the Father.  It is imperative that every disciple receive, understand and abide by this prescription.  It is not difficult to understand, nevertheless adult individuals have a hard time with it due to their extended exposure to Christian ideas, including ideas about both worship and assembly.  We will examine worship first, and assembly thereafter.

The Word (above) begins:

Be believing me, lady, that [an] hour comes when neither in these mountains nor in Jerusalem will you [people] worship the father.

If not on Mt. Gerazim (in Samaria) or Mt. Moriah (in Jerusalem), where?  Given this introduction, this lady was expecting (and perhaps you are also) to be informed of the proper place.  But this is what we get:

23 But an hour comes and now is when the true worshippers will worship the father in spirit and truth, for indeed the father seeks such [to be] his worshipping [ones]. 24 God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

Not one word about place!  Instead, the subject has been severed from place and projected onto an entirely different level -- that of spirit and truth. "Place" is physical, worldly; The worship the Father seeks is not in the physical, but in Spirit and in Truth.  Further, this is definitive, for in no other utterance does the Lord speak of a place of worship.  This represents a radical transformation of the idea.  And attend carefully to when this change was initiated -- not at the Resurrection at the Last Day; not at the Parousia, not at the Judgment  -- but twenty centuries ago!  The hour now is!  Our predecessors had no way of knowing before they heard the Word, but they heard, and we continue to hear and are accountable to it.  Nevertheless men continue to utilize common words and phrases as though they were relevant.  Here is a sampling of typical statements:

1. That is my church, my place of worship.
2. Where
do you worship?
3. We come here to worship.

In the Light of the Word this is nonsensePlace of worship is an oxymoron -- made up of contradictory and incongruous elements.  It is a lost cause if you insist in keeping this and similar ideas bouncing about in your head.  You will never understand true worship or be a true worshipper such as the Father seeks to worship him.

A Higher Plane

The critical utterance is, again (removing all but the essence):

God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

As I stated above, this lifts the subject of worship onto an entirely different level.  It reminds me of the spiritual song, Higher Ground. I once sang it in harmony with Baptist congregations and, like them, not comprehending its significance:  The refrain goes thus:

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith on Heaven's table land.
A higher plain than I have found:
Lord, plant me feet on higher ground.

It's a true and wonderful message -- a prayer of disciples who truly want to be transplanted to heavens "tableland."  Our Lord Jesus speaks to us from this higher ground, and his prescription for worship is as defined from this high perspective.  This helps to explain why there is no reference to place in the Lord's prescription for worship.  As children of the Father in heaven, we are always striving to see things in the Light that shines from this higher level, which itself is better defined as a state rather than a place.

He, our Teacher, explains beginning with the statement of fact,
God is spirit.  This higher plane, this upper level, is the level of spirit.  The lower level that we inhabit is that of physics -- of matter, time, space, and countless places.  Therefore, the Father seeks those to worship Him in Spirit, as he is Spirit, and in truth -- all with no reference to place.

How do we do that?  How do we rise to the higher level -- the spirit plane -- so as to offer up acceptable worship, in spirit and truth?

The Word As Uttered by Jesus is the Key

Here I cite just four key statements critical to this question.

Jn.6:63 The spirit is the [one] making zoe-alive, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are zoe-life.


Jn.17:17 Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth.

We likewise need this:

Jn.8:31 So Jesus was saying to the Jews having believed in him: If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Finally, this too:

Jn.14:23 If anyone agape-loves me, he will keep my word, and my father will agape-love him, and we will come to him, and we will make our dwelling-place with him. 24 The [one] not agape-loving me does not keep to my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but of the father having sent me.

We could cite many other words from the mouth of the Father through Jesus our Lord and Teacher, but all lead to the same simple conclusion.

The Word is Spirit and the Word is Truth.  Through abiding in the Word, we abide in the Spirit, and we know the Truth and abide in it also.  Thus abiding in his Word, (And the word that you hear is not mine but of the father having sent me.) we abide in the Spirit and the Truth.  Then the ultimate miracle occurs: the Lord says:  we will make our dwelling-place with him. So our place is of no concern; wherever we are, they come and make their place with us when we worship in Spirit and in Truth.

It comes to pass precisely as stated:

23 But an hour comes and now is when the true worshippers will worship the father in spirit and truth, for indeed the father seeks such [to be] his worshipping [ones]. 24 God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

Thus we understand why the practice in Christendom of providing a church house, cathedral, chapel, tent or dwelling as a place of worship is vain.  People can go to church or gather in a certain place, there to pray, sing, play musical instruments, read scripture, testify, prophesy, preach, baptize, shout, speak in tongues, study the Bible, repeat creeds, observe a liturgy and the Eucharist, and anything else that they do in places of worship and it is all vain because the Father is not there.  He is on that higher plane where all abide that abide in His Word.  The Father is with all that abide in his Word, and not elsewhere, because the Father is Spirit and the Word is Spirit and Truth.  It is thus that we worship him in Spirit and Truth through the Word, and only through the Word.

God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

When Jesus our Lord worshipped, did he seek out others to assemble with him in a place of worship

He attended synagogues, but that was for the purpose of testimony, not worship.  But when he really had a deep need to worship our Father, what did he do? 

Yes, he went somewhere, but not to a place of worship

Jn.6:15 So Jesus having known that they were [about] to be coming and seizing him in order that they may make [him] king, withdrew again to the mountain himself alone.

Mt.14:23 And having dispersed the crowd he went up to [a] mountain by himself to pray.

I do not base this on silence, but given all the above, it should be noted that our Lord says nothing to us, in the Gospels, about building places of worship and going there to worship.  Seeing that all Christendom goes to places of worship to worship, should not the Lord have said something to establish this practice? 

No, because had he done so, he would have contradicted himself when he said,

God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

Not in Samaria and not in Jerusalem, but in Spirit and in Truth!

The Assembly

We first examine the utterances that speak of assembly since it seems reasonable that the Lord should have said something about worship in the assembly if that were acceptable worship.  Christians throughout the world and all ages have been assembling for worship in their places of worship, that generally
are church buildings.

The English word "assembly" or "gathering" comes primarily from two N.T. Greek words in most translations.  We look at them separately.


This is from the New Testament Greek which Christians translate "church."  Literally, the word is ek (from, out of) and kaleo (call), which means to call out from something into an assembly. In the Greek/Roman world of the First Century, it primarily a calling out of the citizens of a polis (city) from their home and shops to assemble for the conduct of public business, or to hear something relevant to that particular polis, as in Acts 19:39-41.  Jesus utilizes this word only on two occasions, the first being this:

Mt.18:15 But if your brother sins, go tell him between you and him only. If he hears you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he not hear you, take along with you yet one or two, that on [the] mouth of two or three testifiers might stand every word. 17 But if he not hear them, speak to the assembly. And if he refuse to hear the assembly, he must be to you as the gentile and the tax-gatherer.

This "assembly" is for the purpose of adjudicating disputes among brethren.  Not a word here about worship, even though it is an assembly of disciples or that includes disciples. It may be the synagogue assembly as indicated by the last phrase, which is distinctly Jewish:

. . . he must be to you as the gentile and the tax-gatherer.

That would only be appropriate to an assembly of Jews. It also may refer to the common definition -- an assembly of citizens of a polis for public business -- in this case, a city or village of the Jews.

Reading a little further, the Lord explains why this is to be done:

Mt.18:20 For when two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.

His presence in these assemblies is assured only because of his presence in their midst. This particular assembly is only for the purpose of adjudication.  Once again, not a word here about worship, or a place of assembly for worship. Keep in mind that when our Lord uttered these words, there was not in existence a place of worship where disciples could assemble, other than a synagog or the temple, nor any prior word to his disciples, including us, as to providing such a place of assembly for worship.  Hearing these words, they would not have conceived of anything remotely resembling what Christians call either the local church or the "church universal.".

Christian translators of the NT (from Greek to English) typically mislead their readers, with rare exceptions. The above translation is from the Faithful New Testament, but here is a typical Christian translation (RSV):

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

This exposes the blindness of Christian scholarship.  There was no "church" when the Lord uttered these words. To make of this assembly a church is to falsify the Word.  This utterance of the Lord has no relevance to worship, assemblies for worship, or places of worship.  In fact, he says nothing here that is relevant to worship.

Let us proceed now to the second and last instance where the Lord utters "ekklesia:"

Mt.16:13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea of Phillip he asked his disciples saying: Who do men say the son of man to be? 14 So they said: Some on the one hand John the baptist, others Elijah, others Jeremiah or [one] of the prophets. 15 He says to them: But who do you say I am? 16 And Simon Peter answering said: You are the Christ the son of the zoe-living God. 17 Jesus answering said to him: Blessed are you, Simon Barjonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal [this] to you but my father in heaven. 18 And I say to you that: You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

Please be reminded once more that the Lord also uttered this without having given instructions or even mention to anything resembling a Christian church, either the assembly or the place of worship.  Nevertheless, the Christian translators plug "church" in here as in Matthew 18:17 (above).  The effect is to cause millions to believe the false idea that the Lord is speaking of what they understand to be his "church universal."  Also, he speaks absolutely nothing here that is relevant to worship.

What does the Lord mean, then, by his ekklesia (my assembly) in this context?

I could state the answer to this question immediately, but it will be easier to understand if I first provide some introductory information.  To get at the essential Truth in this utterance, we need first to look to the last portion, separate from the focus on Peter and the "rock" that has distracted Christian interpreters until now.  Here is the focus of our immediate discussion:

. . . I build my assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

If we can define the gates of Hades that will not prevail against his assembly (ekklesia), this will give the insight we need to understand what he means by the latter.  Hades, far from being unique to Jewish and Christian doctrine, has ancient roots in Greek and Roman mythology.  You can read of this in detail in the on line encyclopedia, Wikipedia.com.  We get its name from the Greeks, but I suspect that it represents a universal idea from the earliest times as the underworld, the dark abode of the dead, where all go who go to the grave or the tomb. It was an idea common to the Jews, and this exact expression, gates of hades as it appears in the above utterance of the Lord, appears also in the Septuagint.  This is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament that was done by Jews in Alexandria, Egypt, in the Third or Second Century BC, for the use of Greek speaking Jews.  It was the Old Testament of the Greek speaking disciples of the Lord, and most of the Greek New Testament references to Old Testament texts are quoted from the Septuagint.  His disciples would have understood what he meant by the gates of hades.  We find it in Isaiah 38, RSV:

9: A writing of Hezeki'ah king of Judah, after he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness:
10: I said, In the noontide of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years.
11: I said, I shall not see the LORD in the land of the living; I shall look upon man no more among the inhabitants of the world.

The underlined expression is, in the Septuagint, precisely the same as uttered by the Lord in the Greek text of Matthew 16:18 above.  If you read the entire chapter of Isaiah, you will learn that king Hezeki'ah was ill and at the point of death, when the Lord extended his days fifteen years and he recovered.  Sheol (Hebrew) or hades (Greek) is the place where go the dead, and they enter through the gates of hades.  There they remain and cannot escape the bonds of death, except the gates of hades open to release them.  But of this the ancients had little or no thought, for those gates had never opened for anyone in their knowledge and experience.  For them, all of them, the gates of hades prevailed.  Other Old Testament texts have this idea, some of which speak of the gates of death (thanatos) rather than hades. These include Psalm 9:13 and 107:18, and Job 38:17.

That is to say that the gates of hades were conceived as being one way only -- allowing entry but never exit.  What I suggest here is that the Lord can open them for an exit, and that he will do so at the Resurrection, which is what he means in Matthew 16:18 above.  We have a key to his thinking in the Fourth Gospel, where he speaks as follows:

Jn.5:21 For as the father raises the dead and makes-zoe-alive, likewise also the son makes zoe-alive whom he wishes. 22 For the father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the son, 23 that all honor the son just as they may honor the father. The [one] not honoring the son does not honor the father who sent him. 24 Truly truly I say to you that the [one] hearing my word and believing the [one] having sent me has eternal zoe-life , and does not come into judgment, but is moved out of death into zoe-life. 25 Truly truly I say to you that [the] hour comes and now is when the dead will hear the cry of the son of God and those having heard will zoe-live. 26 For as the father has zoe-life in himself, likewise also to the son he has given zoe-life to be having in himself. 27 And he gave him authority to be doing judgment, because he is [a] son of man. 28 Be not marveling at this, that [the] hour comes in which all those in the graves will hear his voice, 29 and those having done good will come out to [the] resurrection of zoe-life, [but] those having done [as a practice] worthless [things] will come out to [the] resurrection of judgment.

To summarize briefly the above utterance, understanding that it is, from first to last, primarily involved with raising the dead (those that are dead to God) to zoe-life (eternal life).  First, it is a given that all that have not heard the Word of Jesus are dead.  Then, all that hear the words of Jesus (the cry of the son of God, vs. 25) and believe the Father (the Word of Jesus is that of the Father), are moved out of death into zoe-life. This began then (the hour that came and now is, vs. 25).  Those that go to the grave(hades), both the "dead" dead and those that have moved out of death into zoe prior to dying (vs. 24 above), will come forth at the cry of the Son of man (vs.28, will hear his voice).  Those that hear the Word but do not believe, having never moved out of death also come forth as the dead -- to the resurrection of Judgment; those that zoe live, having heard and believed the Word before descending into hades will come forth as the resurrection of zoe -- that is to say, of life everlasting.

Hades will not be able to hold them. The gates of hades will not prevail against them.  This is the ekklesia of which the Lord speaks in Matthew 16:18. This becomes his called out assembly when he calls them to come forth out of hades and they come out through the gates and assemble before him.  This second utterance of the Lord, like the first, has no relevance whatever to the church, to a place of worship, or to assembling for worship.

These are all of the utterances of the Lord that include ekklesia. Neither has relevance to worship, a place of worship or an assembly for worship.

God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

Not in Samaria and not in Jerusalem, but in Spirit and in Truth!


The second of the two Greek words that indicate a gathering in the utterances of the Lord, whether for worship or for any other purpose, is sunago and its cognates. It is the basis for synagogue, the gathering place of the Jews for study and worship.  This word appears numerous times in the Gospels, but never to indicate either a gathering (or assembly) of disciples for worship.  We list some of them there for your information, to see how the Lord utilizes this word.

Mt.24:30 And then will be manifest the sign of the son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the land will hide and will see the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with great trumpet-calls, and they will gather his chosen from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

This "gathering" of his chosen ones is not from hades, but from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.  It is the gathering of his disciples from all over the earth that will be abiding in the flesh when the Lord appears once more at the Parousia.  We have this parallel utterance from Mark that I list to confirm that this gathering is from the earth:

Mk.13:26 And they will see the son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send the angels and they will gather his chosen out of the four winds from the edge of [the] earth to the edge of heaven.

Sunago applies to the gathering of anything, animate or inanimate.  Here is another instance where it comes from the mouth of the Lord, and applies to the hen and her chicks, and also to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Mt.23:37 Jerusalem Jerusalem, who killed the prophets and stoned those sent to you, how often I would gather your children, just as [a] bird gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not.

If the Lord intended for this gathering to be into a church on the earth, for worship among other things, here is the perfect place for him to have utilized ekklesia.  It would have meant, in this application, his calling the people of Jerusalem out of the city and into his ekklesia.  This would have been an assembly on the earth but it is not his ekklesia.

If we now go back to the Matthew 18 text where we find ekklesia, we also find a gathering expressed by the use of sunago, almost in the same breath of the Lord as he speaks.

Mt.18:15 But if your brother sins, go tell him between you and him only. If he hears you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he not hear you, take along with you yet one or two, that on [the] mouth of two or three testifiers might stand every word. 17 But if he not hear them, speak to the assembly . And if he refuse to hear the assembly, he must be to you as the gentile and the tax-gatherer.
Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on the earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on the earth will have been loosed in heaven.
19 Again I truly say to you that if two among you be in agreement on the earth concerning any matter that they ask , it will come to pass from my father in [the] heavens. 20 For when two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.

The "gathered" in vs. 20 is from sunago, the "assembly" in vs. 17 is from ekklesia.  We have already seen that both the "gathering" of two or three, and the "assembly" of vss. 16 & 17 are for the purpose of adjudication, and that vs. 20 explains why the adjudication works -- the Lord is in their midst.  They are not gathered for worship -- either the two or three, or the larger assembly called the ekklesia.  We revisit these verses to show that, whatever word the Lord applies to a gathering on the earth, it is not for the purpose of worship.  I leave you, my reader, to do your own search to confirm this, but you will find no use of this word -- sunago -- coming from the Lord, to indicate a gathering for worship.  Since he utilized ekklesia only twice and neither of these refer to either a gathering for worship or to a place of worship, It follows that we find no utterance of the Lord in the Word of Truth that speaks of assembling or gathering his disciples on the earth to worship.  Not one!

The gathering of "two or three" according to which he promises to be in their midst was for the sole purpose of adjudication in the above utterances.  This does not mean that there is no other purpose for such a gathering, for there are others.  It does mean that it is not for the purpose of worship.

God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

Not in Samaria and not in Jerusalem, but in Spirit and in Truth!

The First Disciples

Places of worship and assemblies for public worship are ubiquitous in Christendom.  One finds a church or many churches in every hamlet, village or city and in remote rural areas.  Everywhere there are places of worship so that it seems hardly possible to consider the Lord apart from these material buildings that proudly proclaim the godly faith of the local citizens.  Jesus, as I have just demonstrated, said not a word to authorize this and, if we can accept that the Word we have in the gospels has been preserved by the Holy Spirit according to Jesus, then the Holy Spirit has said nothing to authorize them. 

We must ask the question: Who authorized these places of worship and assemblies for worship?

Perhaps we can find a clue in Acts, where it all began.  There, we find this relevant text:

From the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 2, written about 70 - 80, describing events of about 30 AD.

42 But on the other hand they were adhering to the teaching of the apostles and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers. 43 Now fear came to pass to every psyche-life, for many wonders and signs came to pass through the disciples. 44 Now all those having believed were together, having everything in common. 45 And [their] possessions and property they were selling and were distributing to all, according as anyone was having need. 46 [day] by day persisting with one mind in the temple, breaking bread [house] by house, they were sharing nourishment in exultation and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having joy towards all the people. And the Lord added [day] by day [to] all those being saved.

These first disciples, including the apostles, still think of themselves as Jews, and they are still resorting to the place in Jerusalem where Jews though that men ought to worship -- the temple (vs. 46) -- and also in their "houses."  They were together praising God and praying, having fellowship together, practicing communal living and "having joy towards all the people."
We think of these things as worship activities, as they are the things Christians continue to do in their assemblies for worship and places of worship.  The temple is long gone, but it has been replaced by millions of places of worship. 

We must therefore state that these worship activities that yet endure were initiated at the birth of the Christian faith, immediately after the Ascension of the Lord.  They do not tell us where they got the authorization for these practices, except in vs. 42 where we learn that they were adhering to the teaching of the apostles. 

So, in answer to our question, we can say with good probability of being correct that it was the Apostles that taught them to do these things in that we are plainly told that they were adhering to the teaching of the Apostles.

This was an extremely early time in the history of the new faith.  Perhaps the apostles themselves did not yet understand the teaching of the Lord concerning worship?  If we jump forward about a hundred and twenty years, we come to this early description of Christian worship:

From the First Apology of Justin Martyr, written shortly after 150. 

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.

The elements that Acts does not record here include the selection of a specific day for worship -- Sunday.  We also read of a "president" who gives instructions.  Then they rise for public prayer and the Eucharist follows with the distribution of the elements and more prayer and thanksgiving by the "president."  Next there is the collection, that is "deposited with the president" for him to distribute to the needy. 

But again we must ask, "Who authorized this time and place and assembly for worship?"

As in Acts, we learn that the apostles had a hand in it: "the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read."  The typical Christian will conclude, from this, that the memoirs of the apostles included the Word of the Lord as they recalled hearing him speak it, which may be correct.  Nevertheless, something vital is missing, which is any reference to the Lord himself as the authority for these things.  Furthermore, at the time of Justin, about 150 AD, Paul would have been included among the apostles.  We only need to go to him to see what kind of things he authorized.  They included this:

From Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 12:

27 So you are [the] body of Christ and members in particular. 28 And in the assembly has God placed first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then powers, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, [various] kinds of tongues.

Paul wrote this to the Corinthians in the early 50's AD, little more than twenty years after the events recorded in Acts 2.  Luke wrote Acts at an uncertain date, but surely after his gospel and the most likely date is in the late 70's AD. 

Assembly, in Paul's statement above, is from ekklesia!  Furthermore, it is almost universally rendered "church" in English translations as it is in the many instances of its use in his epistles, where it appears sixty-two times.  Luke placed it in Acts 24 times, of which most English translations render "church" 21 times.  The only exceptions in the KJV are in Acts 19:32,39 & 41. There it is in the narrative telling of the riot incited by silversmiths that were angry with Paul for having caused a severe drop in their business of making silver shrines for Artemis.  Isn't it interesting that, in the Acts, the translators render ekklesia as church every time it refers to an assembly of Christians, but when it is an assembly of rioting citizens, it becomes simply an "assembly?" 

I submit for your consideration a very simple explanation for this. The evidence from Acts from about 30 AD may very well be due to the true apostles, who had not yet had time to assimilate the teaching of the Holy Spirit so as to understand the Lord.  Paul was probably the first to apply ekklesia to an assembly of Christians.  His is
by far the earliest Christian testimony that we have.  Remember, we already have ruled out Jesus as having applied this word to an assembly of his disciples.   At some point very early in England, the assemblies of Christians were known as "churches."  Therefore it is natural that the translators, including those authorized by King James to produce the KJV, rendered this word as "church" wherever they found it, with the exception of Acts 19.  This was consistent with common usage at the time, and the practice has never changed so that, to this day, we continue to refer to assemblies of Christians for worship as churches.  Modern translators work in the same mold with rare exceptions, one of which is the Faithful New Testament

Justin Martyr, quoted above, was also working under the influence of Paul.  Though born in Samaria, he was in Ephesus -- the very same -- when he was converted to Christianity.  It follows that he was from the beginning in a position to be heavily influenced by Paul's teaching, and had no problem listing the offices and worship activities of the early Christians that included elements never authorized by our Lord.

All our indicators point to Paul as the instigator of the application of ekklesia to assemblies of Christians and to the initiation of many things concerning worship that our Lord Jesus did not authorize.  It then follows, as does the night the day, that translators, under the influence of Paul, render the Lord's uses of ekklesia as "church" in Matthew 18, and it suddenly becomes the assembly of Christians for worship, contrary to the Word of the Lord Jesus!  All of it was authorized by Paul.  You, my reader, will find it impossible to comply with the true teaching of our Lord concerning worship if you continue to be dominated by Paul's influence. We can with similar assurance also state that the same procedure rules in non English speaking areas of Christendom around the World.  From this it follows that Christendom is saturated with these millions of places of worship where Christians assemble to worship -- in vain.

God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

Not in Samaria and not in Jerusalem, but in Spirit and in Truth!

The Adulteration of Worship

Is it any wonder that worship, as Christians understand and do it is an abomination ot the Lord?  Many of the elements of Jewish worship were carried over into the Christian places of worship, where they reside to this day.  Here is the Lord's analysis of Jewish worship under the leaders of the early First Century:

Mt.15:7 Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you when he says:
8 This people honors me with their lips
But their heart holds off from me afar
9 Futilely they worship me
Teaching [as] teachings [of] God
the commandments of men.
What is the worship the Father seeks?

23 But an hour comes and now is when the true worshippers will worship the father in spirit and truth, for indeed the father seeks such [to be] his worshipping [ones]. 24 God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

We have placed together the two utterances of the Lord most relevant to our subject.  One is the worship the Lord abhors and is utterly futile.  The other is the worship the Father seeks.  The Christians have continually adulterated worship from the very beginning, and continue to do so today, making it utterly vain to assemble in their places of worship to praise God according to the traditions of men.  Well, it isn't altogether vain, not at least for the ministers -- those hired hands that get a living from it.

Let's take a quick look at, and inside of, a typical place of worship in Christendom and compare what we are most likely to see with the Word of the Lord Jesus.

First, we will need to go on a Sunday.  There is nothing in the Word to establish this practice; it is according to the traditions of men.

Second, they will assemble in a specific place -- church house, cathedral, temple, dwelling, even a tent -- but the Lord has lifted acceptable worship completely out of a designated place of worship as I have shown above.  The critical Word, once more for emphasis, is:

God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

Not in Samaria and not in Jerusalem, but in Spirit and in Truth!

Third, when you walk into the "worship service" you are very likely to see a pulpit in front of you with a "minister" nearby -- he will be paid for his services with rare exceptions, and is thus a "hired hand."

Jn.10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd appoints his psyche-life in behalf of the sheep. 12 But the hired-hand also not being shepherd, of whom the sheep are not his own, he sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees - and the wolf seizes them and scatters [them] -

Fourth, this hired hand and the congregation will claim him or her for their shepherd, or pastor, which is just another name for shepherd.  But look in vs. 12 above and see how our Lord views the hired hand:

hired-hand also not being shepherd

Our Lord denies that this hired hand is a shepherd (pastor), for there is only one of those for the entire flock, and the Lord claims that position for himself:

Jn.10:16 And I have other sheep that are not of this sheep-pen, and I must lead [these], and they will hear my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.

Fifth, the probability is good that this hired hand will be dressed in his long, embroidered ministerial robe.

Mt.23:5 But all their works they do to be seen by men, for they enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their hems, . . ..

Lk.20:46 Be giving heed from the scribes wanting to be walking [about] in long robes and philia-loving greetings in the market place and the first seats in the synagogues and first places in feasts, 47 who consume widow's houses and in pretense pray long; these will receive greater judgment.

Yes, they accept what the widows place in the offering that goes to their salary, they being hired hands.  First seats in the church (synagogue)?  Yes, that too.

Sixth, what will we find them doing as an act of praise and worship?  Very public prayers, often for a pretense (Lk.20:47 above).  But that is a small part of the problem that condenses to a matter of disobedience and therefore lack of love for their Lord.

Mt.6:5 And when you pray, be not as the hypocrites. For they philia-love to be praying [when] standing in the synagogues and in the street corners, in order that they be manifest to men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and having closed the door, pray to your father that [is] in secret, and your father who sees in secret will reward you 

This is clearly a commandment, therefore those that pray in the assembly, or anywhere other than in secret, are being disobedient, which proves, as I said, that they do not love the Lord.  He said it:

Jn.14:15 If you agape-love me, you will keep my commandments.

Seventh, inside that place of worship you will find a whole cadre of teachers, beginning with the hired servant that loves to be called a teacher of the Bible and of true doctrines.  There may be a Sunday School, with many classes each of which has one called a "teacher."

Mt.23:8 But do not be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, and all [of] you are brothers.

Eighth, in most non Protestant places of worship and many Protestant ones, you will discover that they love to call their hired hand, (and the hired hand loves to be called), "Father."

Mt.23:9 And do not call [anyone] your father on the earth, for one is your father in the heavens.

These are all further acts of disobedience that discredit their proclamations of love for the Lord Jesus and the Father.  There is more of this sort of thing, though I think I have selected the most obvious and egregious of them.  In every one of them, the Christians have adulterated the worship that the Father seeks, with the result that their worship is worse than vain, for it is self condemnatory.  Have they forgotten that it is by these very words of the Lord that all will be judged on the Last Day?

A place of worship means that people go there to worship, and that they assemble there to worship also.  Thus, this place of worship becomes a place of public worship.  In the Light of all the Lord's relevant utterances, we can firmly state that public worship, the expression, is another oxymoron.

They have taken what the Father abhors and called it worship.  The result is a complete and radical adulteration of worship according to the Lord Jesus, which is the worship the Father seeks.

God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

Not in Samaria and not in Jerusalem, but in Spirit and in Truth!

Concluding Statement

One simple statement of the Lord lifts acceptable worship to the highest plane -- that of Spirit -- in contrast to the physical plain where we normally find ourselves. The power to lift to this highest plane is the Word that is Spirit and Truth uttered by Jesus of Nazareth.  This, and only this, is the worship acceptable to the Father.  True worship is the supremely intimate transaction between the Father and his child.  The intimacy of husband and wife is a good analogy for to make worship a public thing is a desecration and a debasement. 

Dear Reader, I hope you got it!  But just in case, here it is once more:

God is spirit, and [his] worshipping [ones] must be worshipping in spirit and truth.

Not in Samaria and not in Jerusalem, but in Spirit and in Truth!