In Roman times, the “Apostle” (Apostolos) was the admiral of the fleet of ships that sailed from Rome to take Roman culture to a conquered land. He oversaw all the families that represented the Roman culture that was going to be taken into the foreign land. These include: teachers, philosophers, government officials, writers and journalists, artists and entertainers; as well as venture capitalists and business entrepreneurs. Jesus is the “Chief Apostle” who leads us (the ecclesia) to do the same – taking the culture of Heaven (of His Kingdom) to the world systems, which Christ already conquered 2,000 years ago. (Note: The only reason the enemy still rules and reigns in territory that’s been conquered by our Lord is because we (the Church/ecclesia) have been, like Ahab, passive in our responsibility and authority to rule and reign with Christ and engage/redeem/restore/transform culture.)
His Word in Isaiah 22:22 says, “Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, when he opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open.”
This verse is both a promise and a weapon through Jesus Christ our King. A key, symbolizing governmental authority is first mentioned in the book of Isaiah, within a prophetic passage concerning Jesus, the Messiah; but the second time keys, symbolizing spiritual authority, are spoken of in Scripture is at Jesus’ first mention of the Church.
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My (ecclesia) Church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” -Matthew 16:18-19
In the disciples’ day, the paradigm for an ecclesia (Church) was very different than today. In the disciples’ culture, an ecclesia was an assembly of people assigned to govern the affairs of a city, state or nation – in essence, a parliament or congress. To the Romans, it was an assembly of people sent into a conquered region to govern, but also to alter the culture until it became like that of Rome. They infiltrated government, language, social structure, schools, etc. until the people talked, thought and acted like Romans. In other words, they brought the culture and ideals of the Kingdom of Rome to their assigned region. When Jesus said He would build His “Church,” – His ecclesia – He was speaking of a Body of people that would legislate spiritually for Him, extending His Kingdom government and influence on the earth.
Christ’s statement that “the gates of Hades will not overpower it” makes much more sense when we understand that these gates are not physical, but rather spiritual, and also symbolize government. In Biblical times, city gates were often where judges sat to rule, and where governing councils met to make decisions; therefore the word “gate/s” often symbolized government (for example, see 2 Samuel 19:8; Proverbs 22:22-23; Ruth 4:4-10).
What does it mean to be relationally and organically driven? GEN groups are teams comprised of two or more people under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the work of Jesus that many local churches are not equipped to do. These “special forces” groups are self-governed under the leadership of Jesus. They last until the assignment is completed.