In Paul's pre-prison epistles there is a regulation
as to order, as well as a readjustment of doctrine. In the
ecclesia in Corinth there was much confusion in the meetings, due, in
part, to the fact that too many insisted on talking. This led the
apostle to direct them to "let all occur respectably and in
order." First Corinthians 14:40. He had previously
said, "God is not for turbulence, but peace, as in all the
ecclesias of the saints," verse 33. Again he said, "Let
all occur for edification." This means up-building, and does
not mean inflating the ego of everyone who thinks he can
Early in his written ministry the apostle prescribed
that the ecclesia should have supervisors and servants, First Timothy
3:1-13. In the King James Version, supervisors are called bishops,
while servants are called deacons. In 5:17-20 he mentions elders,
and shows that they are to both preside and teach. The elder is to
be in charge of the meeting, as the presiding officer, and he is to
teach, or, as we say, preach. If he presides ideally, and toils in
word and teaching, he is to be counted worthy of double honor.
That part of this honor consists of being supported financially, is
clear from the quotation, "A threshing ox you shall not be
muzzling," and "Worthy is the worker of his wages," verse
18. Then in Titus 1:5-9 we find that elder and supervisor
designate different aspects of the same office. So the supervisor
is to be a teacher, as well as a presiding officer. In addition,
he is "overseer" of the ecclesia.
First Timothy and Titus are early epistles.
Thus it is seen that the apostle lost no time in regulating matters so
that the confusing meetings of the ecclesia in Corinth should come to an
end. There is to be ordera presiding officer, who is also a
teacher. The masses are not to bring turbulence into the meeting,
not are all to be regarded as teachers.
In the absence of any specifications as to the duties
of the servant, or "deacon," I take it that he is some what
like a domestic in a householdhis job being to look after matters
that will insure smoothness of functioning. The fact that he must
hold the secret of the faith, would also indicate that he is to be able
to teach when occasion requires it. Let it be understood that the
seven chosen by the Jerusalem ecclesia, Acts 6, are no pattern for
us. They were to look after the support of widows. While the
servants or deacons now probably should look after this matter when it
is required, this is by no means his only work.
In First Corinthians 12:4, we find, "Now to each
one is being given the manifestation of the spirit with a view to
expedience." This last word means that this was a temporary
arrangement. The last word means that this was a temporary
arrangement. The scriptures intended for the ecclesia were very incomplete, and it was necessary that the ecclesia should have various
gifts that would later be unnecessary, and would be abrogated.
Since the scriptures are completesince we no longer know by
installmentsthe matter of functioning gifts is settled once for
all, in Ephesians 4:11-14. There are apostles and prophets.
They wrote the scriptures. These offices are obsolete, but their
work standsthat is, the text which they wrote. Then, to teach
the scriptures to the ecclesia, and to all, there are evangelists,
pastors and teachers.
It is evident that all three are to teach. But it
seems that the work of the evangelist is to spread the truth, while that
of the pastor is to teach and supervise and to preside over the
ecclesias. Then there are teachers who are neither evangelists nor
pastors. It seems that the work of the teacher is to be purely
localin one ecclesia. The pastor need not confine his work to
This arrangement in Ephesians is final, and all in
the earlier epistles, that is at variance with this, is abrogated or repealed.
It is not hard to see the wisdom of this
regulation. Could a school function if all the students insisted
on being teachers? Neither can the ecclesia! Let us suppose
there is an ecclesia that cannot secure the services of a pastor.
(There are many such.) Even that ecclesia does not have to resort
to the unsatisfactory and confusing method of "roundtable" meetings.
That these might do good occasionally, I would not deny. But if
they are held to the exclusion of any other kind, there will not be very
much advancement in truth. Among those who attend there surely is
one who can teach, if encouraged to do so. The ecclesia
should choose this one, and ask him to teach. Moreover, they
should give him their mortal support, and also help him financially, so
he can give some time to study and preparation. He should have a
copy of the large Concordant Version with the Greek, the sublinear and
the marginal notes. Also he should have a copy of the latest
revision of that Version. With this equipment, and with time for sturdy
and preparation, a spiritual, intelligent saint can be a very effective
Also the ecclesia should endeavor to secure,
occasionally, the services of an evangelist or a pastor.
I am protesting against the growing idea that scriptural
matters are to be settled by the masses. Those who try this method
and follow it long enough will find themselves hopelessly confused, so
that they will not be able to see the doctrine of grace.
Ultimately they will turn away from Paul, and without Paul there is
endless confusion. Some who once saw the Pauline Interval very
clearly, have been led, through roundtable methods, to repudiate the
scriptures that tell of his special work for us. They seem to have
no use for his instruction to correctly partition the word of truth,
and, as I have already said, they seem to have forgotten that there is
such a thing as transcendent grace.
God equipped only a few men to write the Constitution
of the United States. The masses could not have done it. But
they could see the wisdom of it after it was written. So is it
true that the masses of the saints are able to see many truths in the
word of God, after specially equipped men have found them and brought
them to light. But if we repudiate Christ's arrangement of evangelists,
pastors and teachers, many a precious truth in the scripture will lie
undiscovered by us. And what a loss we will sustain!
Is it at all reasonable to suppose that the masses of
saints, are as able to dig out God's truths, as is Brother A. E. Knoch,
for instance? For almost half a century his mind has been almost
wholly employed in searching the word of God, testing most of its
passages, digging beneath the rubbish of tradition and false
translation, scrutinizing the Hebrew and the Greek. God has given
him to us in this day of confusion. Under God, we owe more to him
than to any other hundred men. Yet there is on foot right now, an
effort to repudiate his work, by trying to settle questions by the
In less important measure, there are men whom God has
called to teach His truth as evangelists and pastors. The
ecclesias lose much, if they do not avail themselves of these gifts, as
much as possible.
Not that the word of God is not simple. But it
is God's system to have these wimple truths brought out by men whom He
has called. The masses would not get them, otherwise. But
when they are presented, saints can see their beauty. This
is God's arrangement. We ignore it at our peril.
We are told in Galatians 6:6, "Let him who is
being instructed in the word be contributing to him who is instructing,
in all good things." This shows that there are some who are
supposed to be instructors. If all were teachers, all would be
contributing to all, if they obeyed this injection. The teacher,
or instructor, should not refuse to support himself, so far as
possible. But the injunction to contribute to him is in order that
he may give himself more to study.
It seems that some of our brethren think that only a
"creedal mind" can be settled on the teaching of the
word. They seem to think that unless we are uncertain about
matters, we subscribe to a creed. And what is the mater with a
creed, may I ask? Paul's writings constitute the creed of the
ecclesia. Human creeds are wrong, but Paul's is not.
(To Be Continued)