Adding words to the Bible to magnify functions of service
Almighty God warns us not to add or remove words from His Scriptures. Did you know the words “the office of” were added by King James to his Bible translation? Why? He did it to make certain church functions intended for service appear loftier than they are. Yahweh’s people are a family. That’s why I wrote in a blog a while back that I don’t call my brother “Mr. Shields”, and certainly wouldn’t address him as “father” or “holy father”. In fact doing so would go directly against Yeshua’s teachings. Israel is simply a family grown large. Any called-out believers are also a family. We’re children of Yahweh, part of His family, and part of spiritual Israel.
Ultimately over time, the family concept was dropped. The Catholic Church became the visible church and they copied the positions of authority in the Roman Empire. Bishops were over the priests. Cardinals were called a “prince of the church”. They started wearing fancy robes and living lavishly like kings –something the original apostles never did. Over time, they ruled whole nations and had castles and their own armies and waged wars. NOT what Yeshua had in mind at all! Leaders were given big titles like “holy father” – though Yeshua commanded us NOT to do that. Others have “presiding evangelists”, “pastor general”, “directors” and senior pastors and so on. This allowed a class system to arise and divide God’s family. So we have “the clergy” and the “laity”, instead of all being one big happy family. What did our King say? We have but one Lord.
6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues (at church), 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.' 8 But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Remember that though “Rabbi” translates to “teacher”, the word picture in Hebrew means “my great one”! Only ONE should be our “great one”! There’s only one “big name” – Yeshua! Jesus!
I said the Catholic Church became “the visible church” because I believe with all my being that the true “church of God” – or congregation of Yahweh, or assembly of believers – is not an organization nor can be confined to an organization. “The Church” is composed of anyone who has been called out of the ways of the world and has received and is being led by Yahweh’s Holy Spirit. Period. No matter where they live or where they attend. If someone has God’s spirit, he or she is my brother or sister. Period. They make up what I’ll call the true “invisible church” of our Father in heaven. The true one body of believers is not confined to any one organization but is composed of the scattered family members led by His Spirit. But that’s hard for humans to control.
Back to this matter of authority and offices. Yes, there has to be proper order and government, especially as a group grows in size. But that’s not the same as “lording it over others”. Yeshua taught His apostles to be sure they remembered they were brothers, and to try to see how much they could serve. He warned them not to pursue big titles and commanded them not to lord it over their brothers and sisters, but serve them. Jesus (Yeshua) called those lording it over others-- “benefactors”. It’s the attitude in the church that says, “If you cooperate with church hierarchy, you will be rewarded. You will be put on the speaking list. You will be ordained. You will be given titles and rewards”. We are to seek the praises of God more than the praises of men.
Luke 22:25-27 (also see Matthew 20:25-28)
25 And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.' 26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.
In the 1500’s and early 1600’s, the Catholic Church – and then the Church of England – started having more and more challenges to their authority. They felt so threatened when Bibles started being translated into everyday languages that they burned many men and women at the stake! So what did they do to entrench their power? They turned church service functions into positions of authority. Deacon for example – from the Greek diakonos – means “a servant, an attendant, a table waiter”. Even the word “minister” means “servant”. But they wanted these to be big and lofty titles, so King James added the words “office of” in 1 Tim. 3:1, 10, 13. More modern translations correctly removed those words, which are in italics; they weren’t in the original!
1 Timothy 3:1 “This is a true saying, If a man desires the office of a bishop…” (KJV)
Check out 1 Timothy 3:1, 10, 13. Read it in the King James version, then compare it to the Greek, then read it in most other newer translations. The words “office of” should not be there! Paul is really only telling Timothy, “Hey, if someone would like to help oversee things, that’s great! We could use some help.” Paul is reminding Timothy that qualified people could be helpful. He then goes on to talk about deacons. In verses 10 and 13, the words “office of” shouldn’t be there.
But even though modern translations have generally corrected that flaw, the damage was done. Some of you even now are thinking, “but it IS an office, Philip”. No, it’s not. It’s a function. There is government and order – yes – but lording it over, no. Function, yes. Office – no.
Moral of the story: we are family. We’re just brothers and sisters serving one another without needing an “office” over any family members. I used to think that way myself. No longer.