Archive for August, 2017

Scriptural guidelines for the proper appointment of leadership for God’s people;
and the care and reverence required of the people for their overseers.

Let me first say that I understand time is short, and that we might not have time to fully return to the old paths that are so well defined in God’s word. Nevertheless, through the light of God’s word we can see our sins, find conviction, and thereby come to a true godly sorrow and repent and be forgiven. Personally, I think a lot of Christians and churches out there desperately need to do such repenting before the Lord Jesus returns. So I hope you take the time to review this whole study.

Jeremiah 6:16 – Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

2 Corinthians 7:9 – Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

That said, please understand that I know, I truly know, that the modern “Christian” church system has been corrupted and how all true believers should come out from among them” and separate themselves from all its dead works. I get all that and understand the frustration of many and even partially agree, but that doesn’t mean those who truly want to serve God effectually, and worship Him in spirit and truth, and minister to both the needs of the church and the lost, should just throw out God’s biblical bath water just because some babies are unclean.

John 17:17 – Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.

Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; 26 That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.

Hebrews 10:22 – Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

1 Peter 1:22 – Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.

No, we shouldn’t throw out God’s sound doctrine, like old bath water, just because some babies are unclean, and, just as we were forewarned, hypocrites have risen up and misused God’s word to justified themselves, and have misrepresented Him in both their preaching and their character, and in so doing have spiritually abused and misled His church.

No, rather we should sanctify, or cleanse ourselves thoroughly by the washing of the water of God’s word; and faithfully endeavor to keep those decrees properly which were given to the Church by the unction of the Holy Spirit; which worked in and through the leadership of the apostles and elders of the early church. It doesn’t matter how many misinterpret or do things wrong, or have ill or selfish motives for why their doing it, all the hypocrites and apostates in the world can never change God’s written will; nor will all the hypocrisy and heresy of the ages ever alter those eternal truths given unto us in scripture. For today, when were closest to the end of ages, it remains an unshakable fact that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Romans 1:3 – Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 By whom we [all] have received grace and apostleship [or whatever your particular calling and gift], for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name: 6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

Thus, the purpose of this study is to help us to examine ourselves and our fellowship with other believers, and to compare both ourselves and our ministries to those who by God’s grace and their obedience to His word and Spirit had God’s blessing upon them; so that we might not follow those who have failed, or are failing. However, there is another danger that is ensnaring modern believers, and that is that many have come out so far and apart from those who are clearly not rightly dividing the word of truth or functioning according to the intent of the scriptures, that many of these believers are now like the proverbial sheep without shepherds; and are doing whatsoever is right in their own eyes.

Many of these independent believers will point to 1st John 2:27 to justify their not being part of a fellowship with a church government.  They will tell you, “I know Jesus, I have the Spirit of Christ, so I don’t need anyone else to teach me.”

1 John 2:27 – But the anointing which you have received of Him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, you shall abide in Him.

But what do you do when you have a group of these people all together and it quickly becomes evident that they don’t share the same convictions or teach the same thing? We have to ask, like Paul did the carnal Christians at Corinth, “Is Christ divided” that we should be speaking and affirming things that are contrary to each other? The answer is clearly “No,” we shouldn’t be divided and believing and speaking things contrary to each other, or worse, contrary to what is plainly written.

Nevertheless, many of these shepherdless sheep obstinately to refuse to acknowledge the wisdom given to us in the New Testament pertaining to proper church structure, or government. For many, the concept of submission is far from their heart and mind, and at best is done only in a social manner with those with whom they are likeminded. But as one preacher said, “It isn’t submission until there’s disagreement.” Hence the admonition to be “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:21).

So, as you go through this, remember that every word that proceeded out of God’s mouth was for the guidance of His people, that they with humble obedience and fervent love might come to Him and by their faith(fulness) please Him in keeping all things.

2 Corinthians 2:9 – For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether you would be obedient in all things.

1 Timothy 4:13 – Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15 Meditate upon these things; give yourself wholly to them; that your profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you will both save yourself, and them that hear you.

To start, I’ll first list those scriptures which pertain to the callings and offices within the Church given as “gifts” by God’s grace unto all men, and then review them with observations and commentary.

Acts 6:1 – And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Acts 11:29 – Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 14:23 – And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Acts 16:4 – And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.

Acts 20:28 – Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Romans 12:3 – For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

 I Corinthians 12:27 – Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Ephesians 4:7 – But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Philippi 1:1 – Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.

I Timothy 3:1 – This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.  10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15 But if I tarry long, 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. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

I Timothy 5:1 – Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

I Timothy 5:17 – Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.  19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. 21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. 22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. 23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. 24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. 25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.

Titus 1:5 – For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

James 5:14 – Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

I Peter 4:10 – As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

I Peter 5:1 – The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time:  7 Casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you.

 

Study and observations on above passages

As you can see, the list is quite extensive. So, let’s get started.

  • Acts 6:1 – 6

Verse 1 – And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

In this passage, apart from seeing people getting saved, we see that right off problems and attitudes arose and how the apostles wisely prioritized the needs of the growing church. Not lording their apostolic authority over anyone, they called for other disciples and gave to them the responsibility that they, according to their own prayers and the Lord’s guidance, might appoint other godly men who were full of the Holy Ghost to assist with the practical needs arising in the church. The practical requirements of God’s people needed proper attention, but not at the expense of the apostles leaving their post. They understood this, and apparently so did the other disciples, that as apostles they needed to be able to continue what they were doing and be allowed to focus on their studies of God’s word and prayer, so that the Holy Spirit could continue to open their understanding so as to enable them to continue preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ effectually.

a. …the number of the disciples was multiplied: the church was growing, not only among the Hebrews, but also the Grecians.

Acts 2:41 – Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls… 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 4:4 – Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

Acts 5:14 – And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

b.the Grecians: [Commentary by Albert Barnes] Of the Grecians. There has been much diversity of opinion in regard to these persons, whether they were Jews that had lived among the Gentiles, and who spoke the Greek language, or whether they were proselytes from the Gentiles. The former is probably the correct opinion. The word here used is not that which is usually employed to designate the inhabitants of Greece, but it properly denotes those who imitate the customs and habits of the Greeks, who use the Greek language, etc. In the time when the gospel was first preached, there were two classes of Jews– those who remained in Palestine, who used the Hebrew language, etc., and who were appropriately called Hebrews; and those who were scattered among the Gentiles, who spoke the Greek language, and who used, in their synagogues, the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. These were called Hellenists, or, as it is in our translation, Grecians. These were doubtless the persons mentioned here–not those who were proselyted from Gentiles, but those who were not natives of Judea, who had come up to Jerusalem to attend the great festivals of the Jews.

Acts 2:41 – Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls… 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 4:4 – Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

Acts 5:14 – And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

Spurgeon Devotional Commentary:

  • Grecians–Christian Jews who had lived in foreign parts.
  • Hebrews–Palestine Jews.

c. …a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their [i.e., the Grecians’] widows were neglected: Apparently the Hebrews were taking care of their own widows, but not those of the Grecians. This may have had contribution to the need of clarification of what were to be considered “widows indeed” and deserving of “the daily ministration.”

Spurgeon Devotional Commentary:

Perhaps, being strangers, they were not well known, and so were overlooked; we have no reason to believe that the neglect was intentional.  Mistakes will occur, and if not rectified they may create ill will and division.

d. …the daily ministration: Daily distribution of that which was freely given for such needs.

Acts 2:42 – And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 4:32 – And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

  • Verse 2 – Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

Clearly the task of ministering the gospel and laying the foundation thereof, which requires precious time to focus one’s self in prayer and study of God’s word, is a greater burden and responsibility for those called to preach. Taking on the added task of ministering to the carnal needs, which could easily be attended to by others, would neither be wise for such ministers nor beneficial for those needing to hear the Gospel and have a foundation of the tenets of faith pertaining to their becoming a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Verse 3 – Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

a. …look ye out among you seven men: most likely assigned to them among whom the complaint was being made, that is seven in total, selected from among both the Hebrews and the Grecians.

b. …honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom: of obvious integrity, believers who feared God (the beginning of wisdom) and were filled with the Spirit of Christ; walking accordingly.

c. …whom we may appoint: it was still under the authority of the apostles that these men were to be ordained to the task, though their selection was to be selected by it was still under the authority of the apostles that these men were to be ordained to the task, though their selection was to be made by the people and agreeable to all..

d. …over this business: “this business” being distinctly different from the business to which the apostles were called and thus obligated to. Consider Jesus’s own words-

Luke 2:48 – And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and His mother said unto Him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.  49 And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought Me? wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?

  • Verse 4 – But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

This is not a neglection of their moral obligation, or duty to the community of saints, but actually an embracement thereof. For they were given the task of overseeing the preaching of the Gospel, that both the King and the Kingdom of God had come unto men. Thus, they needed to be permitted to;

  1. …give ourselves continually to prayer: For who can successfully preach if they do not pray? Thus the need for the apostles to be allowed to be given “continually to prayer,” or constantly in prayer, not only for themselves in their continued enlightenment and empowerment, but for those to whom they would be ministering.
  2. …and to the ministry of the word: Not only preaching under the unction of the Holy Spirit, but sharpening their swords in prayerful study and examination of the Holy Scriptures that was now making them “wise unto salvation through faith” that had come unto all men through the man Jesus Christ. For in studying to show themselves approved unto God they were now being led into all truth by that same Spirit of Truth that once walked and dwelt among them, for now He was “in” them.

John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you… 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.  26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

  • Verse 5 – And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

I. …when they had prayed: Though the people had selected, their choice was still subjected to the prayerfulness of the apostles seeking the Lord’s approval. The following verse shows the results following this orderly appointment of deacons.

Philippians 4:6 – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

II. …they laid their hands on them: Openly confirming them through their apostolic authority and assigning a divine obligation thereby upon them to be faithful in their calling which was now to be publicly recognized.

I Timothy 4:14 – Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

II Timothy 1:6 – Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

III. The following verse shows the results following this orderly appointment of deacons.

  • Verse 7 – And (1) the word of God increased; and (2) the number of the disciples (original term used to reference followers of Jesus as the Christ) multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and (3) a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

It wasn’t merely the appointment of the deacons that brought about the various results mentioned above. No, it was God moving by His Spirit collectively, working in and through all, or each of His disciples; respectively functioning according to their own several abilities (divine gifts, not human talents) and callings (office/position/function).

I Corinthians 12: 27 – Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Ephesians 4:6 – One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ… 11 And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Acts 11:26 – And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

NEXT: The first mention of “elders” in regards to the Church

Acts 11:29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders <presbuteros> by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Presbuterov / presbuteros,  pres-boo’-ter-os: comparative of presbus (elderly); older; as noun, a senior; specially, an Israelite Sanhedrist (also figuratively, member of the celestial council) or Christian “presbyter”:– elder(-est), old.

  1. …the disciples, every man according to his ability: These eight words testify to the validity of the believers, for “every man according to his ability” moved with obedience to the witness of the Spirit to be mindful of the needs of their brethren. This they did by giving of their substance, be it money or supplies, to be sent to “the elders.”

Matthew 25:14 – For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

John 15:12 – This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Ephesians 4:8 – Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men…  11 And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Galatians 5:13 – For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Galatians 6:2 – Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

  1. Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

Verse 29.  Then the disciples-determined to send relief] These were probably Gentile converts; and as they considered themselves receiving the spiritual blessings, which they now so happily enjoyed, through the means of the Christians in Judea, they resolved to communicate to them a portion of their temporal goods; and every man did this according to his ability, i.e. he gave a certain proportion of the property with which the providence of God had entrusted him. The community of goods had for some time ceased.

Romans 15:26 – For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

I Corinthians 9:8 – Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?

 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

Galatians 6:6 – Let him that is taught in the word koinwnew communicate <koinoneo> unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

 Galatians 6:6 – (Twentieth Century NT) He, however, who is being instructed in the Message ought always to share his blessings with the man who instructs him.

koinwnew  koinoneo,  koy-no-neh’-o: share with others (objectively or subjectively):–communicate, distribute, be partaker.

  1. … and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul: Not for their own gain, but for their support and for distribution to the needs of those under their oversight.

Acts 28:9 – So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:  10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.

I Timothy 5:17 –  Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

I Thessalonians 5:12-  And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

NEXT:

Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Titus 1:5 – For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.

Spurgeon Devotional Commentary:

Churches must have pastors; those assemblies which have no ministers are not according to the apostles’ order.

  1. …they had ordained them elders in every church: There was not a church started where the apostles left them without consecrating overseers thereof; and that with prayer and fasting. Doubtless, these were men who met the criteria both the Apostle Peter and Paul have expressed. Men of sober character, apt to teach, full of the Holy Spirit. For these were men who upon hearing the Gospel, laid hold of Eternal Life, Jesus Christ Himself.

For in their preaching the Gospel, they were not looking for “profession of faith,” but for men whose heart were set ablaze with holy fire by the grace that comes “through faith.” These were true disciples, falling by divine conviction into obedience to walk after the Spirit and be set free from their sins by the “Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.”

Acts 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many [margin rendering “made disciples”], they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch.

  1. …they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed: Here is a good example of both the faith of the apostles and the faith of these disciples. Having fasted and prayed, and ordained selected men of good report and full of the Holy Spirit, they set them before the Lord “on whom they believed” and commit them to His care as the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of men’s souls.

I Peter 2:25 – For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

I Peter 5:2 – Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

NEXT:

Acts 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.

Not only were the apostles preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ whereby men could be saved from the fallen and corrupt nature, they were also delivering unto the believers “the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.” For how could the Kingdom of God practically come unto men if His decrees for His subjects were not openly being made known unto them?

Doubtless, these decrees included this very ordaining of elders, consecrating men in their office with prayer and fasting, and commending them unto the Lord for guidance in their ministries. For as we can see in all the passages in this study, these things were lacking when the Gospel was first preached in new cities and were needed for the proper order of things to be established. It is within this environment of God’s divine and holy order, defined by these very “decrees,” that every fellowship of saints is properly established and enabled to grow, minister, and come to a holy unity of faith and love. Otherwise, human nature will always cause men to return to doing what is right in their own eyes, though perhaps with a more “religious” flavor.  There must be accountability for proper growth, stability, and ministry.

Romans 2:3 – And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

1 Corinthians 14:40 – Let all things be done decently and in order.

Ephesians 4:11 – And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.

I Timothy 6:3 – If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

Titus 1:5 – For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.

NEXT:

Acts 20: 17 And from Miletus he [Paul] sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.  18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

  1. from Miletus he sent to Ephesus: Though Timothy was traveling with Paul at the time, it was Paul using his apostolic authority that called for the elders of the church of Ephesus.

Acts 20:4 – And there accompanied him [Paul] into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.

This is quite interesting, since Timothy has been often referred to as the Pastor, or Bishop of the Church of Ephesus. However, there is no actual scriptural authority for that other than a reasonable speculation. All we can truly affirm is that Timothy was placed in Ephesus under Paul’s apostolic authority, perhaps like Titus, to set things in order; both doctrinally and leadership wise.

Titus 1:5 – For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.

I Timothy 1:2 – Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine…  18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare.

I Timothy 4:12 –  Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

  1. …called the elders of the church:  This shows that because of Paul’s obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit in consecrating Timothy for his temporal position in Ephesus, (in the presence of some of the others who were among the first believers in Ephesus), that the church grew under the counsel and decrees given to it; first, by the Apostle Paul and second, by Timothy who obediently continued to set things in order there.
  2. …I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you (verse 20), …I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God (Verse 27).

As evident by Paul’s teachings to the Church of Ephesus, it must not be ignored that the ordaining of elders, and the temporary placement of Timothy as a pastor there, was part of that which was “profitable” to them and in perfect agreement with, “all the counsel of God.” Therefore, such ought to be taught and implemented even today within every body of believers that claim to be part of the “Christian church.”

Acts 14:23 – And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.  

Titus 1:5 – For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.

  1. Verse 28 – Take heed therefore unto yourselves: This is the same admonition Paul had given to Timothy –

I Timothy 4:13 – Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.  14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Those in leadership have two main responsibilities. First, to take heed of oneself to continue to give themselves to prayer and study of God’s word, “for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” Second, to oversee those whom God has placed under their care.

…and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God…

Proverbs 27:23 – Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.

Hebrews 13:17 – Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

  1. …feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood: Paul attesting here to the undeniable deity of Jesus Christ, that He was “God manifested in the flesh,” that He might purchase His church “with His own blood.”

NEXT:

Romans 12:3 – For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

I For I say, through the grace given unto me: Here, Paul is referring to his calling and position as an “apostle” as the grace God’s given to him, from which he addresses “every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.”

The fact that he addresses “every man” in the Corinth fellowship with this admonition to “not… think of himself more highly than he ought to think,” establishes two points worth noting.

a. First, that every man should have an aspiration to grow in Christ and be used of Him for His name’s sake.

I Timothy 3:1 – This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

b. Second, that one’s maturity in Christ naturally brings responsibility, and thus greater accountability. For once one has been proven in a calling/ministry, it is likely that the Holy Spirit will lay it upon those already in leadership to openly acknowledged this before other believers with a laying on of their hands and prayer, and that with an expectation of a continuance in the ministry. Naturally, there will also be an expectancy for the rest of the church to have respect the grace of God working in the person whereby all will benefit.

II Corinthians 7:15 – And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him.

Philippians 2:29 – Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation.

I Thessalonians 5:12 – And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

II …think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith: If a man is faithfully functioning in a ministry assigned unto him by God, it will benefit both him and others because it is in truth a manifestation of God’s grace unto His church. Therefore, such a man must be mindful to always utilize that measure of faith given to him, and not to trust in his own abilities, for the performance of those responsibilities given to his charge, and thus he should do it soberly.

I Corinthians 2:2 – For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

III …all members have not the same office …gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us: While we all do not share the same “office,” we all have been given gifts, different gifts, and thus need to be waiting on the Lord with prayer for the nurturing of our gifts. In this it can be seen how God did not create us to be equal, equal that is only in our individual functions. Nevertheless, all are certainly equal in His love for Jesus died for us and thus we should be equal, without partiality, in our love for and service to each other.

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Romans 12:9 – Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.

IV …according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith: Prophecy is not the creation of man, nor does it come from, meaning originates from within man. It is given unto a man as a gift via the unction of the Holy Spirit who speaks to and through holy men for the edification or admonition of God’s people. Prophecy can only be properly done “according to the proportion of faith” one has. Some people think that just because they feel goosebumps or a stirring within them that it gives them liberty to speak whatever they feel and that God will honor their words; that is neither faith nor prophesying.

V …ministry, let us wait on our ministering: Ministry here being service, or serving. If God has called you to this grace, then it is best fulfilled “waiting on serving” and not waiting till you’re asked to serve. For whatever grace given unto us, whatever our calling, it is our duty to fulfill it if we are to be about our Father’s business. For whoever cannot be faithful in such little things will never be entrusted with greater things pertaining to God’s Kingdom.

Romans 12:11 – Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.

VI Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: Even exhortation, simply encouraging others, is a grace of God that can spring up in even the least of saints. But often time we are not attentive enough when others need such. Such is why we are told to “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”

VII …he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity: If we see a need and it is within our means to meet it, then we should do it. However, too many times people with the means often feel the need to lecture, or share their expectations of people before giving to others in need. Such “giving” is often more a buying the right to address someone, or a speaking down to them, than a simple act of charity.

I Corinthians13:4 – Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.

VIII …he that ruleth, with diligence: This is not a lording over others, but a dutiful and godly watching over others to maintain God’s decency and order within the church. Hence, such an office requires diligence on the overseer’s part, as well as reverence on the part of others who are under their watch if they are going to accomplish their obligations well.

 I Timothy 5:17 –  Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

Hebrews 13:7 – Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

IX  …he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness: It is sad that such instruction has to be given. But when men are carnal, as they were in Corinth, strife and contention may best be overcome with such an adjustment of heart and attitude.

X  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits: Jesus’ words to His disciples remains applicable to all; they that would be greatest, need to become the least. For God earnestly desires we all had humble servant hearts.

Luke 9:46 – Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. 47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by Him, 48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in My name receiveth Me: and whosoever shall receive Me receiveth Him that sent Me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.

Psalm 123:1 – Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens.  2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that He have mercy upon us. 3 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. 4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

NEXT:

I Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Points in this passage:

1st – Paul was called to be “an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.” He did not take this upon himself, it was appointed unto him.

Acts 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? 5 And he said, Who art Thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Acts 9:15 – But the Lord said unto him [Ananias], Go thy way: for he [Paul] is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake.

This grace of God, as seen in the verses above, abounded towards Paul even when, in his zeal for God, he was persecuting the church. This grace continued with Paul and it alone is what enabled him to remain faithful and steadfast in his persecutions, afflictions, and apostolic calling.

I Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Ephesians 4:7 – But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men… 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Now Paul declares these gifts whereby God’s grace empowers men to fulfill their calling. Notice the calling fulfills the gift while the gift defines the calling-

  • An apostle apostolates.
  • A Prophet prophesies.
  • An evangelist evangelizes.
  • A pastor (or shepherd) shepherds the flock under his care.
  • A teacher teaches.
  1. (verses 4 & 5) – I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ. That in everything ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge: The gift that God gives unto a person works in and through them by His grace, and are given to the person that the body might all benefit from it.

I Corinthians 12:5 – And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal [or, for the profit of all].

  1. (verses 6 & 7) – Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Where men are not changed, or compelled to answer a divine call, a holy purpose, it can never be said that “the testimony of Christ was confirmed in” them. For part of the testimony of Jesus Christ is in this biblical affirmation that “when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”

Ephesians 4:1 – And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

I Corinthians 12:27 – Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

So now the question must be asked is whether you, your fellowship, or church, are falling “behind” as it says in verse 7, in these gifts? If so why? Surely God has not failed in the promise of His word in giving these gifts and graces unto you; so, it must be that you failed in making these calling and elections sure in your life. Have you neglected His gift unto you, or ignored these gifts in others? Or has there been a wicked contentment leavening of the whole lump, as it were, everyone remaining willfully ignorant concerning these things; a slothfulness concerning one’s accountability to God which will always hinder the testimony of Jesus Christ from being so confirmed in us?

1 Corinthians 16:15 – I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) 16 That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to everyone that helpeth with us, and laboureth. 17 I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.

I Timothy 4:14 – Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

II Timothy 1:6 – Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

I Thessalonians 5:12 – And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

NEXT:

The following passage requires a little bit of unpacking. It is evident that the Corinthians had started off well, for we saw in passages earlier how Paul praised them in his greeting at beginning of this first epistle. Now, he mentions that he “will come again shortly,” which show us that the epistle was written to them sometime between the recorded history of Acts chapters 18 and 20.

I Corinthians 4:19 – But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will…

I Corinthians 16:5 – Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. 6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. 7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.

However, it isn’t long into his epistle that it becomes clear that there were some very serious issues. Either Paul was unable to break through some serious strongholds among the Corinthians while he was there on his first visit for a year and six months, or after his departure problems arose due to false brethren who crept into the church. These” grievous wolves” he mentions after his second visit to Corinth when at Philippi when getting ready to depart for Jerusalem.

Acts 18:1 & 11 –  After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth…  And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Acts 20:29 – For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

By the letter that was sent unto him, it is also obvious that the Corinth leadership had become divided and was unable among themselves to address and settle a long list of issues. These things were now requiring his gift and wisdom as an apostle if the growth and unity of the church was going to be restored and survive.

I Corinthians 7:1 – Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me…

1st – There was fornication being tolerated, “such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.”

2nd – Even among the leadership, there were those who had not overcome their carnally mindedness.

I Corinthians 3:1 – And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

Hebrews 5:12 – For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

This carnality undoubtedly contributed to divisions within the church and rendered them incapable of restoring unity. It is sad how many so called Christians are more than content with their weekly cordial religiously social gathering that lacks true spiritual edification and unity.

3rd – There were among the people those that were prideful over their positions or puffed up over whatever truths they thought they knew.

I Corinthians 4:19 – But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

4th – There were marital issues.

I Corinthians 7:1 – Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

I Corinthians 7:10 – And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

5th –  There were expressed concerns about unmarried spouses, virgins, and widows.

I Corinthians 7:14 – For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

I Corinthians 7:34 – There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. 36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. 38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

I Corinthians 7:39 – The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.

6th – There were debates about circumcision, slavery, and eating things offered unto idols.

I Corinthians 7:18 – Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. 20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. 21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. 22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. 23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. 24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

I Corinthians 8:1 – Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth… 4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one… 10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols.

I Corinthians 10:19 – What say I then? that the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything? …28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.

7th – There were serious disputes occurring among the professing believers that were so bad that they were taking each other to the civil court system. Disputes so contentious that apparently the divided church leaders had neither standing nor wisdom whereby they could resolve the issues, either to a persuasion of righteousness concerning the conflict, or a compromise that was agreeable for each party’s satisfaction. Surely this was compounded by a prevailing lack of reverence for all the leaders whereby some simply refused to recognize their authority or receive their counsel. This is a problem that will always arise with religious people who are in truth self-centered, carnally minded, and insist on holding others to how they were known “after the flesh” and not according to the workings and gifts of the Spirit.

I Corinthians 6:1 – Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? …4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. …6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

II Corinthians 5:16 – Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more.  17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Paul’s attempt to introduce a remedy to this lack of reverence for the leaders was to point the people to true servants of God whose good works no man could not be deny. As we can see by the admonition below to the Thessalonians, this irreverence wasn’t an isolate problem within the early church; nor is it today.

I Corinthians 16:15 – I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) 16 That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to everyone that helpeth with us, and laboureth. 17 I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. 18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.

I Thessalonians 5:12 – And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

Now, all the above was simply to establish how the Church of Corinth was not only struggling, but nearly choking to death with some very serious problems. Again, many of which existed due to the poor leadership. For it is evident that the problems among them ranged from being immature, carnally minded, unlearned, and/or prideful; all of which of course would naturally reproduce the same traits in those they were trying to lead. Because you simply cannot lead people where you have not gone or are going yourself. Paul made it clear that the success of a Christian’s walk with God comes from walking in agreement with His word and subjection to His Spirit.

Romans 8:5 – For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Galatians 5:24 – And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

So, having defined the situation in Corinth, let’s go through Chapter 3 and see how Paul dealt with the both the people and the leadership.

  • Verse 1 – And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

Note the past-tense of Paul’s words above: “And I… could not …I have fed.” Clearly Paul is speaking of how he had to minister to them when he was living in Corinth among them. And Paul continues with “for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.”

  • Verses 3 & 4 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

Now Paul admonishes them for their having not change by addressing their present spiritual condition, “For ye are yet carnal…” The evidence is irrefutable, “envying, strife, and divisions” and their identifying with men rather than Jesus Christ.

James 4:8 – Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

God’s word is the discerner, it does not lie. If men draw nigh to God, then He will draw nigh to them and His grace will change them. But if instead you draw nigh to carnal men, then at best you will only become carnal like them.

I Corinthians 15:33 – Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

I Corinthians 4:15 – For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

I Corinthians 11:1 – Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Philippians 3:17 – Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

  • Verses 5 thru 7 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

Paul challenges the Corinthians to stop and give some serious thought to what these other men and himself really are; together they are all just mere men, who like all men everywhere, needed to be redeemed to God through the death of His only begotten Son. All any man can do, is by faith be obedient to Gospel and do whatever God has given each of them to do; that’s all and absolutely nothing more. Consider even Jesus’ words below –

John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth: and He will shew Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel… 30 I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.

Such is why Paul stressed that while he indeed planted and Apollos came along and watered, it was God alone who gave the Corinthians their increase.

  • Verses 8 & 9 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

Now it is important not to lose sight of who Paul is speaking of in verse 8 & 9. Because he speaking of those who are to be laboring in their gifts and calling, co-laboring together with God. For Paul categorically is making a distinction between the leaders and the people when he says “we are labourers together with God,” but of those to whom they minister, “ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”

  • Verses 10 & 11 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Paul often stressed that his apostleship was given him solely by God’s grace. For it is thereby that he laid the foundation of Jesus Christ; Who was crucified, buried, resurrected, and ascended to the right hand of God and is sitting in the position of all power and authority in heaven and earth. But note above Paul’s warning to these would-be teachers, “let every man take heed how he builds thereupon.”

Now, it is profoundly important that you pay attention to Paul’s clarification as to where these aspiring teachers would be laboring, or doing their theological building, for in verse nine Paul fittingly clarifies to the Corinthians that, “ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” Again, it is vital that we hold fast to this distinction the Holy Spirit through Paul intentionally established, an undeniable, clear and defined distinction in the text is made separating those who would be teaching and those who are being taught by them. I am stressing this because if we lose sight of this point, then we will end up like so many who unwittingly misinterpret the following verses; especially verse fifteen. For many have taught and hold to the vain idea that Paul is teaching here that in the end, when a person is judged, and even if all their life is revealed to be nothing more than wood, hay, stubble,that regardless, that person will still “be saved; yet so as by fire.” Such is why I have injected within the following verses brackets with clarifying annotations.

  • Verses 12 thru 15 Now if any man [teaching] build upon this foundation [his labor will either be] gold, silver, precious stones, [or it will be] wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work [that is, his ministry] shall be made manifest: for the day [of judgment] shall declare it, because it shall be revealed [when it is judged] by fire; and the fire shall try [prove] every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s [teacher’s] work abide which he [as a teacher] hath built [in the lives of young believers] thereupon [the foundation of Jesus Christ; crucified, buried, resurrected, and ascended to the right hand of God and sitting in the position of all power and authority in heaven and earth, then] he shall receive a reward. 15 [BUT] If any man’s work [as a teacher] shall be [proven to false by its being] burned, he [that is the false teacher] shall suffer loss [of his soul]: but he himself [who was correctly taught and holds to the sure foundation of Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected for his sins and justification] shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

In the verse following Paul explains why false teachers will “suffer loss.”

  • Verses 16 & 17 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man [false teacher] defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

This why James warns us, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” For leaders will not only be judged for their own lives, but also for the effect they had on others as well.

  • Verse 18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

 And so, Paul admonishes these “puffed up” teachers at Corinth to humble themselves, that they “may be wise.”

II Corinthians 12:20 – For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: 21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.

II Corinthians 13:1 – This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. 2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: 3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. 4 For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

  • Verses 19 thru 23 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.  21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

NEXT:

I Corinthians 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

In this passage, we see the church of Corinth being instructed to both openly address a professing believer who was continuing in fornication and to remove him from their midst. Yet, not only to remove him, but also to deliver him “unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved…”

This is not the task for a novice believer, but for the elders who were charged with oversight of the church. From Paul’s words, it seems some of these elders may have been engaged in the foolish thinking that they could “love the sinner to repentance,” for Paul rebukes their glorying in their tolerance of both the sinner and his sin.

I Corinthians 5:6 – Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

NEXT:

I Corinthians 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.  28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

This verse has been presented and covered more than once in this study. It seems it should be sufficing to simply say it is “God” who has so “set some in the church” according to His wisdom and good pleasure. But perhaps it may be profitable to be reminded of what Paul wrote a few verses earlier.

1 Corinthians 12:4 – Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

NEXT:

Galatians 5:7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. 11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. 12 I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

Paul addresses the error that crept in to the Church of Galatia via false teachers. He warns them that “he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.” Whether they are from without or within the local church body.

 1 Corinthians 3:16 – Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Paul’s statement, “I would they were even cut off which trouble you,” is severe. For what he is saying here is that he would prefer these men were dead, and in hell already, less by their false teachings they should cause any of those of whom he labored to join unto Christ, that they would be removed from Him by their false teachings.

Galatians 1:6 – I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Note, it is not once, but twice to the Galatians that Paul stressed his preference for such severe judgment upon false teachers. However, in the next passage of scripture we see how Paul remained compassionate towards those who may have been ensnared and led away by the cunningness of these false teachers.

NEXT:

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Here we can see Paul appealing to those “which are spiritual” to restore one who may had been led astray by the error of these false teachers. For Paul knows that the adversary is always looking for an opportunity to entangle the righteous believer in the law in an effort to remove them from the work of grace that brought them to Jesus Christ in the first place. When false teachers come in, they are guided by demonic spirits to the unlearned and weak who might be seduced by vain words and flattery, puffed up into thinking they have now been enlightened, when in fact they are being blinded from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Colossians 2:4 –  And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. 6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: 7 Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.

Please observe here how Paul mentions, “philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” For while there is much that could be classified and expounded upon here under these various headings, it is the “the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world” that help to define what “law” or laws that were being used to entangle weak believers and thus cause them to be removed from Christ. It isn’t the “law of faith” or “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” rather the parts of the Mosaic and Levitical law that had living oracles of God, that through the keeping and performing of them were prophetic in their actions as “shadows of things to come.” It was not the blood of bulls, goats, or lambs that would be the propitiation for the sins of the world, but the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:1 – For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.  2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.  3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

Christ having come, caused the once living oracles of the law established and required by God to proclaim the purpose and tragic necessity of His Son’s death, caused these ceremonies and rituals, in effect, to have died. For having fulfilling their prophetic purpose, they were no longer necessary.

Romans 7:6 – But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Galations 3:24 – Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.  26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 10:8 – Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said He, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second.

These false teachers that Paul was constantly having to deal with were preaching, “another Gospel” about “another Jesus,” completely different from the one who was God manifested in the flesh and justified in the Spirit. For these wolves in sheep’s clothing were preaching their heresy by “another spirit,” even the unholy spirit of the adversary.

II Corinthians 11:3 – But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him [who led you to Christ in the first place].

Back to Galatians-

  • Verses 2 & 3 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

Paul makes it clear that we are our brother’s keeper. Therefore, if someone has been led away by false teachers, or even deceived by their own vain imaginations, and wrongly convinced that they have been enlightened and therefore started teaching things they ought not, then those “which are spiritual [need to try and] restore such an one in the spirit of meekness,” considering their own selves, lest they also fall when so tempted.” It is for our own benefit that we are told to submit one to another in the fear of the Lord: recognizing the Holy Spirit knows full well, not only the strategy of the adversary, but his very movement among Gods people as a roaring lion looking for whom he might devour. Such is why when Jesus ascended and took the bondage of our sin into captivity that we might be free to serve Him, He then gave us all “gifts.” Now, as His body, when we humbly yield to God’s wisdom and the Spirit’s leading, we can discern these spirits, resist them and the adversary and maintain a good fight of faith and obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 8:2 – And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

II Corinthians 3:5 – Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

  • Verses 4 & 5 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

Ultimately, we all have to prove ourselves, fight the fight, and run the race that is set before us. For he who doesn’t strive to master his faith, will surely lose it.

II Peter 1:5 – And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

  • Verses 6 thru 8 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Here Paul stresses with a strong admonition that those who are taught are to “communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.”

Romans 15:27 – It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

I Corinthians 9:11 – If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

Note, Paul says in order not to have the gospel of Christ hindered, they did not use this power or right. But, he also says they “suffered all things.” Why would Paul have not taken what was rightly due him and for those ministering with him? Well, the answer is simple, the believers in Corinth where carnal men. They sowed to their flesh quicker than to the spirit with their resources.

So here Paul warns the believers in Galatia, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” But we must not fail to note here the severity within Paul’s admonition, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

Romans 8:6 – For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.

Romans 8:13 – For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Below is how the Bible in Basic English transliterated the passage.

Galatians 6:8 (BBE) Because he who puts in the seed of the flesh will of the flesh get the reward of death; but he who puts in the seed of the Spirit will of the Spirit get the reward of eternal life.

  • Verses 9 & 10 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

“Us” being whoever we are, whether the teacher or the one being taught. But understand that the only reason Paul did not take what was due him, was so that the Gospel would not be hindered as he preached it unto the Corinthians. Likewise, the only reason they didn’t give of their carnal things to Paul and those with him in ministry is because the Corinthians were carnal. Therefore, they all suffered because of it, and doubtless the gospel was measurably hindered. And yet, the responsibility for this hindrance was not to be laid upon the apostles, but upon those who being carnally minded failed to support the Gospel and those who ministered it unto them. Which is why we cannot afford to fail and take note of the severity of Paul’s admonition, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

I Corinthians 9:14 – Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.  16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

But now look at Paul’s addressment in his second letter to the Corinthians concerning this matter, as he now appears for a moment to be openly questioning the wisdom of foregoing his wages as a minister of the Gospel of Christ. Nevertheless, he concedes to their shame and discredit that it was necessary, but only because of their carnality and the false teachers there they had accepted.

II Corinthians 11:7 – Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? 8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. 9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. 12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

NEXT:

Ephesians 4:7 thru 16

While we have already covered many of the precepts contained in this particular passage of scripture, it would serve the reader well to glean, as it were, some of the meat still on the bone. For obviously Paul was not negligent to stress these things over and over as he declared “the whole counsel of God,” which he by the “grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” obediently established and ministered to all the churches by the Holy Spirit given unto him.

May we all heed Paul’s exhortation in verse 1 of this chapter and “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” So, while we may be many members with gifts differing, we are still to recognize we are yet one (unit) body, united by one Spirit, and share one hope in our various callings, that is to know and serve the one true Lord with a common faith, having been partakers of one baptism in Jesus name and thus reconciled to the one true God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.

  • Verse 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

This verse clearly states, that to every born again believer, that is, to every true Christian who has been reconciled unto God through Jesus Christ, there has been given divine favor and enablement from God. This “grace” was given unto us so that we too, like Paul, might fulfill our unique callings, or ministries, in that same spirit of holiness which Jesus Himself ministered unto men according to the guidance and revelatory will of His Father. Thus, Paul’s exhortation “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

It was Jesus’ love, made evident by His undeterred obedience, that kept Jesus engulfed in the Father’s love and worthy as a vessel of honor through which God’s power could both flow and work mightily. Likewise concerning us, it is as the Apostle John stated, “Whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. 6 He that saith he abides in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.”

John 10:17 – Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father.

John 14:21 – He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.  22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him. 24 He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings: and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.

John 15:9 – As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love. 10 If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

Romans 6:16 – Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 9:21 – Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath [specifically, the unbelieving Jews and the Nation of Israel that was at the time of Paul writing this epistle] fitted to destruction: 23 And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

I Thessalonians 4:3 – For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour.

II Timothy 2:19 – Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

1 John 2:5 – But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. 6 He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

  • Verses 8 Wherefore he saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

By the work of the cross and the shedding of His blood, Jesus took the dominion of sin into captivity that those who would believe the gospel might be set free from it. But not only freed from sin, but now also assigned both purpose and empowerment to live so as to glorify their Redeemer.

  • Verse 9 (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Heavens above, and the Earth below being the “lower parts” of God’s creation.

  • Verses 11 & 12 11 And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

God does nothing without specific purpose, but all things in accordance with His wisdom. Here we see part of that purpose being to His own, “that He might fill all things.” Yet as we saw in previous passages, it is those clean vessels that are vessels of honor fit for the Master’s intent.

This appointment of repentant sinners into various callings, or as the Greek word was translated in verse one “vocation,” creates the environment were our charity is proven. For without one’s lowliness and meekness, and willingness to long-suffer and forbear one another in love we will never fulfill the heart cry of our Savior in His prayer for us to the Father.

John 17:11 – …Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are.  17 …Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.  18 As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. 22 And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: 23 I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.

We are sanctified through truth, and these words in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians are truth, even the revelation of the will of the Father. Given unto us so that we may be one with our lord and Savior, our Father, and with each other. For by our obedience and acknowledgment of this “grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” to each of us, “the perfecting of the saints, … the work of the ministry, … the edifying of the body of Christ” is accomplished.

  • Verse 13 – Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

How can believers possibly hope to come to a “unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God” if as members both of Christ and one another, they will not acknowledge these things and stubbornly continue to willfully neglect their gifts? For Paul did not write, “I, by myself have come to the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” No, rather Paul states “Till we all come in the unity of” such. For these gifts are given to all to profit the whole body of believers. Thus, we cannot possibly say, “I have no need of you” to one whom Christ has redeemed and the Spirit has quicken.

1 Corinthians 12:12 thru 27 – 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

  • Verse 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
  1. …be no more children: In Paul’s inclusion of himself with the believers in Ephesus by saying “that we henceforth be no more children,” is not so much his condescending to men of low estate, which men of God ought to do, but rather his beckoning of all believers to press “in[to] the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” However, remember that all this by God’s design is accomplished through those “vessels of honor” which obediently exercise their faith in Him, through their “gifts,” and with the body of believers of which they are ministering unto acknowledging such that are so laboring among them.

I Corinthians 16:13 – Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, [be no more children, but] quit you like men, be strong. 14 Let all your things be done with charity. 15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) 16 That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.

  1. …the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive: These “men” being those that will undoubtedly rise up among believers if they are not properly taught and led by the example of godly men filled with God’s Holy Spirit. For without proper instruction and timely reproof, men will become puffed up and given over to their vain imaginations and become easily susceptible to seducing spirits who come as angels of light.

II Corinthians 11:13 – For such are false apostles, [false prophets, false evangelists, false pastors, false teachers, who are] deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

I Timothy 4:1 – Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.

II Peter 2:1 – But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

  • Verses 15 & 16 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
  1. …speaking the truth in love: Not just “speaking the truth,” for that can be done to the destruction of men’s souls. Rather, “speaking the truth in love” so that it may edify the hearers.

Ecclesiastics 10:12 – The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.

Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

II Timothy 2:24 – And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

I Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.

  1. …the whole body fitly joined together: Until men will humbly recognize the workings and wisdom of God, they cannot be “fitly joined together.” For two of the great destroyers of unity in the church is pride and stubbornness of men. Men either getting puffed up thinking they are something they are not, or stubbornly refusing to acknowledge others as men God has set over them to watch for their souls.

I Thessalonians 5:12 – And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

Hebrews 13:7 – Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Hebrews 13:17 – Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

  1. …and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part: The Greek word which was translated “compacted” is an interesting word. It is a compound word from two words, the first word meaning to cause, or to bring, or to force together by instruction and guidance, and the second word meaning to walk, or set pace, implication being with one’s foot or feet.

In another place, it was translated “proving,” where Luke wrote of Saul/Paul after his encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus and his going unto the Jews and preaching Christ unto them.

Acts 9:20 – And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. 21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? 22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

Saul’s preaching Christ had forced the Jews to either accept Jesus as the Christ or contrary to the witness of the scripture, to openly reject Him. For by his own undeniable conversion, and through the gift that was given unto him, the Spirit had enabled the now Apostle Paul to “prove,” without a doubt, that Jesus was indeed the “very Christ.” This forced men to the place of either humbling themselves and picking up their own crosses, denying themselves so they could follow Christ; or to continue, but now in willful disobedience and to by their rebellious lives to be blasphemers of the only name given under heaven whereby men can and must be saved. There was no neutral ground left for those who heard Paul’s preaching to stand on to justify themselves.

Who then can deny this “effectual working in the measure of every part” when it comes to this once persecuting Saul becoming the Apostle Paul? And yet this same Spirit and same grace is given and should be working through “every joint, …every part.” Therefore, we the members of the Body of Christ are forced together, “compacted” as it were by the diversity of our gifts. Believers need to humbly come together in open acknowledgement of these truths in God’s Holy Word, and strive to obediently function individually, not neglecting our gifts, but rather to make our calling and election sure through our endeavoring to work corporately together in holy love according to His wisdom to the fulfilling of His purpose to be glorified in His saints.

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

II Timothy 1:9 – Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

II Thessalonians 1:10 – When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. 11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Still, even more interesting is that this Greek word that was translated “compacted” in Ephesians was used in two other places, but in those verses, it was translated “knit together.”

Colossians 2:2 – That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

Colossians 2:19 – And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

So now I must ask you, what true believer, in the revelatory light of these two verses, would willfully fail to earnestly pray that by His grace God would so “knit” them “together” with other believers? What true believer would not earnestly pray that “their hearts [too] might be comforted?” What true believer, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, would not want to both know and wholly experience all these “riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ… from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increasing with the increase of God?”

Believer in Jesus Christ, ask and examine yourself whether these are your earnest desires or not? For if not, then though believing in Jesus Christ, you neither know Him or are known of Him. If this be you, then you need to earnestly pray and seek God as to whether you are truly being faithful and if you walk according to His way or righteousness, or simply are living a religious life doing that which is convenient or right in your own eyes.

II Corinthians 13:3 – Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me [Paul, a true apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ], which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. 4 For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. 5 [Therefore,] examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

II Peter 2:1 – But [beware, for] there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

Ephesians 4:1 – I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

NEXT:

Philippi 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.

Paul’s letter to Philippians stands apart from his other epistles to the other Churches in some very notable aspects.

  1. In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul had to deal with strife that existed on several fronts between the Jewish and Gentile believers; in which he addressed the weakness and limitations of the Ceremonial and Levitical Law, (or the Mosaic Law,) and the wonders of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, to whom the law was designed to direct believers.
  2. With the Corinth Church, Paul had to continue to reprove them for their persistent immaturity and carnality, social divisions and contentions over their favorite teachers. So much so that he had to remind them that, “your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” and that “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” Their lack of understanding had caused some to think that tolerance of sexual sin in their midst was godly and something to “glory in.” Thus, Paul in his epistles sought to remind them that their faith, if it is real, must be an extension of their love of God and each other as they endeavored to understand and do the will of God in their lives, both individually and corporately.

For these reasons, he stressed to them again the gifts and callings of God, as well as reminding them of the fruits of the Spirit and how they should have been abounding in them. I say “again,” for doubtless Paul had already endeavored to get them rooted and grounded in these truths when he was there in person with them. For you can sense his sigh as he writes unto them “…you are still in the flesh: for when there is envy and division among you, are you not still walking after the way of the flesh, even as natural men?” (I Corinthian 3:3 – Bible in Basic English)

  1. The Church of Galatia was swept away from Christ by false teachers who crept in and had managed to bring them back under the Mosaic Law which rendered God’s grace in effective in their walk and growth in the Spirit.
  2. Likewise, with the Church of Ephesus, Paul had to again deal with false teachers and brethren wanting to make distinctions between the Jewish and Greek believers. That regardless of their ethnicity, Jesus Christ had “broken down the middle wall of partition between us…” and “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” For he stresses to them that there should be an “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [For] There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

With the Church of Ephesus, Paul reminded them how Jesus Christ had given “gifts unto men, …He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

But with the Church of Philippi, Paul’s letter to them is more like a that of a proud father who is pleased and overwhelm with love for his children.

 Philippians 1:3 – I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.

What a testimony of their love for both Jesus Christ and Paul both, that they had maintained “fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” For this reason, Paul joyfully expressed his confidence that Christ was so able to work in them because of their love.

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

As you read through Philippians you get the sense they are well on their way in their growth in the Spirit and abounding in their ministry of the Gospel, almost worthy to be an example of what Paul had written to the Ephesians. They had a unity of the faith, knowledge of the Son of God, were behaving as perfect men, displaying a measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.  They were not acting like children who were tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. Instead, they knew how to speak the truth in love and were clearly growing up into Christ in all things. The Philippians were functioning as a body of believers should, fitly joined together with every joint suppling according to their effectual working, in the measure God’s grace to every part, and were thus they making increase of the body and edifying of each other in love.

Consequently, this positive and glowing report is what makes it noteworthy that Paul’s epistle to the Church of Philippi is the only one where he salutes both the bishops and deacons there.

Philippians 1:1 – Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…

It is the witness of scripture, that “from the first day until now” the believers at Philippi had wholeheartedly received the Gospel, recognized and laid hold of the grace that God have given unto them whereby they were living their lives to glory of Jesus Christ. They clearly accepted the wisdom of God, as if it was Christ speaking through Paul. Thus, he ordained elders (bishops) and deacons among them whereby the needs of the Church could be discerned and properly cared for. This leaves me wondering, how much further along could the Church of Corinth of been if only they had such discernment and humility? Or how much further along the churches with which we are most familiar with?

II Corinthians 13:2 – I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: 3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.

But to the Philippians Paul simply encourages them to “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else being absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit and with one mind are striving together for the faith of the gospel.” And that “in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.”

Perhaps, one of the best testimonies of the Philippians can be noted when one contrast Paul’s opening words, “to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons,” with his following words where there is no such distinction needed in his exhortation.

Philippians 2:2 – Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

It would seem the Philippia brethren instinctively humbled themselves both before God and to each other, regardless of their places or functions within the church. For it seems evident they fully knew it was Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior, who had given these gifts unto men and it was the guidance of His Spirit that places us all in the body… as it pleases Him.

I Corinthians 12:11 – But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will. 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him.

Therefore, as they continued their quest to comeunto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” Paul’s exhortation was simple –

Philippians 2:5 – Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Yet, once more as an affectionate father, Paul encourages them to do as they have always done since the first day, to continue to obey the word of God and work out their salvation.

Philippians 2:12 – Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

NEXT:

Paul’s instruction to Timothy, whom he left to set in order the things that were wanting in the Church of Ephesus.

I Timothy 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop <episkope>, he desireth a good work.

Who can deny these words of Paul are inspired by the Spirit of Christ, that for a man to desire the office of a bishop and serve the Lord as an overseer of His’s flock is a good thing indeed? For what was written here in Greek and translated “This is a true saying,” is the very same Greek phrase used by Paul in I Timothy Chapter 1 below, and who can deny the truth there Paul was affirming?

I Timothy 1:15 – This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

I am pointing this portion of Paul’s phrase out here because, as Christians, we should whole heartedly attest to the truth above. Yet, for some reason, many believers tend to be lackadaisical, or even half-hearted, in their willingness to attest to the truth regarding one’s desiring to be a bishop, or even personally desiring to be one. However, shouldn’t a true Christian be compelled to give open witness to the saving power from sin that comes from faith in Jesus Christ? So why wouldn’t a true Christian desire the gifts that would qualify them to be an overseer? Or perhaps even more applicable nowadays, why wouldn’t a true Christian, young or old, want to be under the faithful and loving watch of one who has the grace of God in them to oversee others and to instruct others in the way of righteousness?

The answer is that most believers are more familiar with the weakness of men than they are with the power of God. Therefore, people’s distrust in men being greater than their trust in God actually hinders the anointing which God has placed on men for His own purpose.  That is because they are either rejecting, or neglecting the truth of God’s words, or they are walking by their own sight and wisdom and are not by the Spirit exercising righteous faith in God’s word. Thus, by their mistrust, disbelief, and choosing to hold others to how they’ve known them after the flesh and not according to the working of God’s Spirit, they are actually guilty of hindering God in His desire and ability to bless them, both individually and as a church corporately.

Don’t believe it to be true? Then stop and read Psalm 78 where Maschil demonstrates the wisdom and power of God, and how in spite of His longsuffering and patience the Israelites continually provoked God with their carnally and disbelief.

Psalm 78:41 – Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

Or simply consider the testimony and life of our Savoir Jesus Christ.

Matthew 13:54 thru 58 – And when He [Jesus] was come into his own country, He taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not His mother called Mary? and His brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in Him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. 58 And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Mark 3:21 – And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

Mark 6:4 – But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5 And He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And He marvelled because of their unbelief. And He went round about the villages, teaching.

John 7:3 – His brethren therefore said unto Him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that Thy disciples also may see the works that Thou doest. 4 For there is no man that doeth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If Thou do these things, shew Thyself to the world. 5 For neither did His brethren believe in him.

Sadly, too often the truth of the matter is that many Christians are simply just too comfortable in doing things their own way, and they only want to live out their Christianity the way it seems right in their own eyes. They don’t want to be bothered with submission or burdened by having accountability to an overseer. Yet this is partly why such people are told to examine themselves to see if they are truly in the faith or just walking out their own belief-ism to spare themselves the offense of the cross.

But does unbelief in the truth or one’s refusal to obey God’s word negate it? Of course not. Paul clearly is attesting that for a man to desire the office of a bishop is both a good thing and work to put his hand to.  But what does “the office of a bishop” really speak to?

The Greek word translated “bishop” here is only used 4 times, so let’s look at those places to see how it has been translated and the context in which it was used.

  • Luke 19:44 – And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation <episkope>.
  • Acts 1:20 – For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick <episkope> let another take.
  • I Timothy 3:1 – This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop <episkope>, he desireth a good work.
  • I Peter 2:12 – Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation <episkope>.

From these verses, we see the Greek word was twice translated as “visitation;” once referring to Jesus incarnation and the second to His return to make war with the nations when He will establish His earthly throne at the beginning of His millennial reign. So, in these two verses the word is clearly referencing Christ doing something in the flesh among men.

Another one of the translations is a reference to Judas who betrayed Jesus, that his “bishoprick,” or office, should be given to another. The last translation is “bishop” here in the verse in I Timothy we are presently looking into.

This Greek word was derived from a Greek verb which has been used twice in scripture as shown below.

Hebrew 12:14 – Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently <episkopeo> lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.

I Peter 5:1 – The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight <episkopeo> thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.

Verses 2 & 3 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

Verses 4 & 5 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

Verse 6 – Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

This reference to the “condemnation of the devil” isn’t indicating that the novice would be in danger of being condemned by the devil, but rather of his falling into the same sin whereby the devil himself was condemned by God; the sin of pride. For the devil being puffed up was not content to function in his lawful and limited capacity as assigned by God, but moved beyond and pridefully sought to usurp God’s very own office and authority. Hence, those who would be appointed to leadership must be grave, sober, and walking in a fear of God, understanding the both their responsibilities and the accountability that they have to both God and others.

Verse 7 – Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Regarding Deacons –

Verses 8 thru 14 – Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12 Let the deacons <diakonos> be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For they that have used the office of a deacon <diakonos> well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:

<diakonos>

  • 3 times translated “deacons”
  • 4 times translated “servant,” 4 times “servants”
  • 14 times “minister,” 6 times “ministers”

Perhaps, what helps best to put all this regarding godly leadership into its proper perspective are the verses 3:14-16, written after Paul’s instruction to Timothy regarding bishops and deacons, as well as I Peter 2:25 seen below.

I Timothy 3:14 – These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15 But if I tarry long, 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. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

I Peter 2:25 – For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

NEXT:

I Timothy 5:1 & 2 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

This verse is not speaking of the office of an elder, but rather an older individual who should be treated with respect due to their age.

NEXT:

I Timothy 5:17 & 18 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

The “double honor” is correlated with both “labor” and “reward,” meaning those who are truly laboring in the church watching over the Lord’s sheep, should be supported by them when possible. For the very justification and argument by Paul is given straightway in stating that the ox which treads corn should be allowed to eat from that of which he is employed by his master to labor.

Verses 19 thru 21 – Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. 21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

This instruction is simply a reminder that in accusations of sin there must be at least two witnesses-

Deuteronomy 19:15 – One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

But if the accusation is discovered to be true, then the sinner must be addressed. However, when dealing with sins of those in leadership, who should be “blameless,” they are to be rebuked before all for the expressed purpose “that others also may fear.” This is different from dealing with one young in the faith, or perhaps just another brother in a personal matter. In those cases, such as those young in the faith, those that spiritual should endeavor to instruct them and restore them in a spirit of meekness.

Galatians 6:1 – Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

For a personal offense by another believer, we are instructed by the Lord to go to the offending party and first privately seek reconciliation.

Matthew 18:15 – Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

But regarding sin with those in leadership, such sin must be dealt with openly so as to cause “others to fear,” lest they too should be careless or casual with sin. This we see in its proper application when Paul withstood Peter and openly rebuked him when he “walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel.”

Galatians 2:14 – But when I saw that they [Peter and those who came with him] walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

Verses 22 thru 25 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. 23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. 24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. 25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.

First, it is very likely that verse 23 was but an injected marginal note of Paul’s to address an ailment Timothy was suffering from, and never actually intended to be actually injected in future transcription between the clear flow of thought from verse 22 to verse 24 and 25.

22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure… 24 [Because] Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. 25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.

Note, those which would carelessly put unproven people into leadership will be held accountable for these leaders sins which they might later commit against Christ and His church. Hence, “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.”

NEXT:

Titus 1:5 – For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

These points have already been addressed throughout this study and should be clear by now.

NEXT:

James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

In this passage the Apostle James, the Lord’s brother, is giving instruction for the care of the sick with an obvious assumption that there would be ordained “elders of the church.” That phrase indicates two things; 1st There ought to be an organized “church” to meet the needs of local believers and which would minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ to unbelievers in their area, functioning as a light on a hill for those who know not God and need illumination to seek Him by. 2nd Within that “church” there ought to be men, whose faith is evident by their self-discipline, with a recognized knowledge and understanding of both scripture and the Doctrine of God our Savior; men who have proven to be constant in their efforts to walk blameless before the Lord, who should be officially ordained, meaning officially recognized and set into a position of leadership as “elders” with corporate prayer and fasting. For why would the Lord allow His sheep to be wandering in the fields of the world without shepherds, when it is clear that He adds to the church such as would be saved and desires to do so by fitly joining true believers together?

Such elders could not only pray “the prayer of faith,” but would also be men who by reason of use are also men exercised in discernment; men who in their prayers would be earnestly petitioning the Lord, first and foremost, for illumination for understanding of the condition before them and possible circumstances contributing to its cause. Men who, by walking according to the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, are sensitive to the leading of His Spirit. Thus, if the sickness were an affliction directly connected to a hidden sin, one either willful or of ignorance, upon dutiful investigation of the elders and, reproof if due, instruction of righteousness could then be given. And then upon true repentance and an open confession of sin, there would be nothing to hinder “the prayer of faith [that] shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

But, if the sickness is truly a mere ailment, then proper (meaning practical) attention should be administered to the condition along with supplication made to the Lord in His name for His tender mercies and healing. For while “anointing with oil” was indeed use symbolically to represent God’s anointing specific individuals with His Spirit for divine appointment and enablement in positions of both kings and priests, it is also referenced in scripture as a practical ministering to wounds and ailments of the flesh. Thus, ought we to be true servants one to another and tend to each other’s infirmities.

Luke 10:33 – But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

NEXT:

I Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Again, the “gift” would be according to the “manifold grace of God” whereby He assigns every man a specific calling of service, both unto the Lord and His church.

Ephesians 4:8 – Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men…  11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.

NEXT:

I Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.

This phrase, “…which are among you,” implies that wherever there are those who are calling themselves “Christians,” there should be elders, or overseers; whose responsibilities before the Lord who saved them are well defined in the following verses.

2 – Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

Perhaps a study on submission would be beneficial. However, the key to true submission is revealed here, “be clothed with humility, for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”

6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time:  7 Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.

Live for the King!

Are you looking to improve your walking with God?

Here is an old book called “Walking with God” well worth reading. It was written Richard Baxter and first published in 1825. I had ordered this book since I was familiar with Richard Baxter’s work, having read “The Reformed Pastor,” a book which in my opinion is a must read for every man who has taken to himself the position of a “pastor,” or aspiring to be a leader or watchman in the church.

1Timothy 3:1 – This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

However, when I got my copy of “Walking with God,” the print was very small and poor, making it difficult to read. So, I determinedly searched, found, and downloaded the book in order to have ease of reading. Naturally, the book, due to its era of being written utilized words and scriptural references in archaic formats, which I have no issue with. But wanting to make the book available to others which might be burden down by such, I slightly edited these aspects so as to provide family members, friends, and other readers a more contemporary format. Don’t worry, the book is in common domain.

Examples of editing: knocketh/knocks;  obeyeth/obeys;  shalt/shall;  seeketh/seeks;  saith/said/says; etc., etc.

Again, I lightly edited the book solely for added ease of reading and studying and can assure you that Richard Baxter’s original message and intent remains spiritually unchanged, solid, and intact. I know this book will greatly benefit, convict, instruct, challenge, and generally will just greatly bless anyone truly desiring more “meat” in their spiritual diet.

You should be able to download the PDF to your own device for further convenience.

WALKING WITH GOD

Format for your iPhone or other smart phones.

WALKING WITH GOD for Phone

Enjoy!