Sunday, June 7

Is shepherding a spiritual gift or a church office?

One of the on-going topics that continues to generate discussion amongst my peers is the role of women in church planting, and especially as these begin to take on more and more of a shepherding role with the new believers being added to the flock they have helped plant.

One of my missionary colleagues writes...
Could it be that, in the biblical sense, that a woman could be a pastor in the city/region church just as there were women prophetesses and a female apostle in the city/region church, but that women...not be elders in the house churches?
I confess these thoughts have gone through my mind as well: women functioning as Ephesians 4 apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers in the city/region church, and only men as "elders" of local assemblies.

In most of the churches we relate to we don't refer to leadership (whether men or women) as pastors. We don't use titles. All of us are hermanos(as) brothers/sisters. We teach that ALL believers are servants and ministers of the Gospel. Both men and women alike are charged with fulfilling the Great Commission. That package includes: going, making disciples, baptizing, and teaching.

Peter's own words in 2Pet2: "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood...that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light..." You=all of us.

Our part is to "make disciples." His to "build his church." When half of the work force are women, it only makes sense that a good percentage have shepherding gifts, as well as all the other lists of spiritual gifts mentioned in Paul's writings.

So, is shepherding/pastoring a spiritual gift (function) or a church office?

Because of what we have seen and experienced over the years, I personally lean towards shepherding as a spiritual gift (function) given for building up the body of Christ. I have seen plenty of evidence that the Spirit indeed gives this gift to certain sisters, just as He gives this gift to certain brothers.

What I have a hard time finding in the pages of the NT is where shepherding/pastoring is referred to as a church office. I don't see church offices in the New Testament. But do see much attention given to serving one another and to spiritual gifts for the building up of the Body of Christ.

That some sisters are given the gift to shepherd other believers seems perfectly normal--except, of course, when you make shepherding an OFFICE, and we know from the Baptist Faith and Message that women pastors is a no-no! But, then again, I don't see in the NT where pastor/shepherd is ever referred to as an office.

In Paul's two lists of ministries the Holy Spirit has given to the church for her edification--1 Cor.12:28 and Eph.4:11--only in the later do we find pastors being mentioned, and in neither are these referred to as offices. (If you see something different, please share book, chapter, verses. And if you use 1 Tim.3:1 where 'office' is used in some English translations, please point out to me how the term 'office' is arrived at from the Greek.)

Would it then be correct to say only men will be "elders" of local assemblies, but any believer (male or female) who possesses shepherding gifts, be encouraged to use their spiritually imparted gift to build up the church? In such a scenario, male elders (plural) would share the shepherding and care of the local church with all those who possess the gift and aspire to shepherd/oversee/pastor.

So, to recap, women cannot be pastors--in the sense of title or office. Why? Because offices and church titles are not to be found in the NT. But it also seems Biblical to say any sister who is spiritually gifted in shepherding ought to exercise their gift. Agree? Disagree?

Still open for input and instruction from anyone out there caring to share your thoughts on the matter. What's your take on this matter? Please share your understanding of these matters with us so that we might be corrected if we are wrong, and affirmed if we are headed in the right direction.

24 comments:

Randel said...

I believe you are unnecessarily raising a controversial issue, one on which it is unlikely to reach a consensus.

A couple of questions: First, when you deny that the concept of office is not found in the NT, doesn't that already put you at odds with the BF&M? (Art. VI The Church -- "Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons." "...the office of pastor is limited to men."

Second, isn't the distinction between offices and functions merely semantics. Here is one of the definitions of "office" from my ancient (Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictonary): "something that one ought to do or must do; an assigned or assumed duty, task, or role; the proper or customary action of something; function."

One of the greatest dangers to biblical living is the temptation of expediency. Be careful that you don't sacrifice God's best on the altar of pragmatism.

GuyMuse said...

Randel,

It isn't so much a controversial issue, but a growing reality that seems to be happening beyond whatever I may personally think or believe about these matters.

I agree, "One of the greatest dangers to biblical living is the temptation of expediency...

But what if we did away with titles, staff positions, offices, professional clergy, etc. and simply got back to being led by the Eph.4:11 and 1 Cor. 12:28 leadership structures as put forth by Paul?

In a sense, this is what we are beginning to see happen, and it is really exciting. I hope we aren't going beyond what Scripture teaches--and don't think we are--but that is why I share some of what is happening to get the kind of feedback you are giving.

We don't want to fall into error, but we also don't want to stagnate into what we see happening all around us where I see a very unbiblical stance being taken by many who do have the titles of pastor and abuse it terribly to the detriment of not only the churches they pastor, but the Kingdom at large.

We truly want to be aligned with what the Spirit is doing, and what Scripture actually teaches.

Now to your questions...

The answer to #1 is yes. But again, where is the Biblical evidence for saying, "its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons..." Does the church have shepherds/pastors and deacons? Of course. But are these the ONLY "somethings that ought to be done or must be done; assigned or assumed duties, tasks, roles..." as Webster puts it? What about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors/teachers, and the other Spirit gifted leaders the HS places in the church as found in the priority order listed in 1 Cor.12:28? Do we just ignore Paul and instead give sole credence to BF&M Art. VI? It seems there is more to this picture than what is stated in Art.VI. We need to take a second look at what these passages are actually teaching and see if the BF&M aligns itself with these and other NT passages dealing with the subject of shepherding.

Thanks for weighing in. You know I value what you have to share, but there seem to be a lot of yet unanswered questions that few seem willing to tackle. I repeat, we are still open for input and instruction from anyone out there caring to share your thoughts on these matters. We definitely do not have the final word on these matters. Rather we are exploring, seeking, trying to better understand what Scripture actually teaches. Shouldn't we ALL be doing the same?

A. Amos Love said...

Guy - Praise Jesus.

Thank you and God bless you
for the courage to raise these questions.
I’ve been really enjoying these blogs
and the people who respond.

I now love the word “semantics.”
dictionary - the scientific study of words
and their origins.

People would dismiss me and my questions
and try and put me down by saying,
“Oh, that's just semantics.”

It hurt. Then one day I looked up the word.
Jesus, you really love me.

Here are more questionable questions:

Is “Church Planting” in the Bible?

If Jesus is the head of the body the church;
Can anyone serve Jesus? male or female?

Could the problem arise because of a simple
word,“Leader.”???

Is “servant leader” in the Bible?

As the “Ekklesia,” the church of God;
Who are we to serve?

Ek - means out of, and kaleo - means to call.
Strongs - a calling out.
It always refers to people.
It was never a building,
an institution, a denomination
or a corporation.

I don’t know about Ecuador
But here in the states when someone
wants to start a so called “church”
they go to the government, the I.R.S.,
and ask for permission.

They fill out a form called a, 501 c3,
and if the request is granted they become a,
501c3, non profit, tax deductible,
religious corporation.

Should we call a corporation - “The Church?”
Or are people, “The Chruch?”

A corporation has to have offices
and leaders by law
in order to be a corporation
and get a tax deduction.

But the the church,
the body of Christ,
male and female,
are called to be servants.
Not serving people, serving Christ.
Jesus said,
No servant can serve two masters. Lk 16:13
Jesus said to His disciples,
Neither be ye called masters:(leader)
for one is your Master, (leader)
even Christ. Mt 23:10

Jesus then says, if any man serve me,
let him follow me. John 12:26
Paul also says, to serve the Lord Christ.
Colosians 3:24
Paul ( Romans 1:1), Jude ( Jude 1:1) and
Peter, ( 2 Peter 1:1 ) call themselves -
servants of Jesus Christ.
James ( James 1:1 ) is a servant of God and Jesus.

None call themselves leaders, only servants.

Can there be a higher calling then
servant of Jesus Christ ?

And women can serve the living God.

As long as they are not looking for
Power - Profit - or Prestige.


Keep asking questions. In His Service.

Anonymous said...

Guy,
Thank you for your blog. It helps me stay in touch with new ideas and reports of what God is doing in other parts of the world. I serve as an Associational Director of Missions back in the states. I want to see God do here what he is doing in other parts of the world. But I fear we are too afraid to let go of our traditions and simply let the Bible be our guide.
In the New Testament one who shepherded a flock of people was called a “shepherd” (pastor). One who taught was called “teacher”. One who evangelized the lost was called an “evangelist”. It was all about the role or function the person was serving. It was definitely not an official title for a position.
The “overseer” (bishop) and “servant” (deacon) roles in 1 Tim. 3:1 and 13 are an example of a traditional translation leading us astray. Nowhere in the Greek in these verses is there a word to be translated “office”. The translators simply drew from their ecclesiastical traditions of the offices of bishop and deacon. Assuming an overseer was a bishop and a servant was a deacon they added the word “office” to match their traditions.
I sense the Spirit moving away from an official titled ministry back to a gift based ministry calling for all His people. However the “laity” and the “clergy” are both uncomfortable with this move. They each have too much to give up. I pray for God to shake us up real good so we can get back to serving in true New Testament roles.
May God bless your ministry and you family.
Hershel Adams

GuyMuse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GuyMuse said...

A. Amos Love,

Funny you should mention semantics being the study of words and origins. I just finished reading last night the George Orwell classic, "1984." The appendix to this fictional--but highly relevant book to what is happening today politically, socially, religiously--is all about controlling the meaning of words, and reducing their meaning to only what those in power say they mean. Richly descriptive words are reduced to single staccato meanings where "Big Brother" approves the definition being used. By reducing the permitted words and their meanings, it soon becomes easy to manipulate people's thinking on just about any subject.

I am probably taking your point way beyond what was intended, but the book is fresh on my mind, and see just how crucial words actually are. The meanings we give to words play a huge role on how we interpret life, Scripture, theology, really, just about everything! He who controls the meanings of words, controls a lot more than just words.

On another note, thanks for the great set of questions you ask. These are kin to the questions I ask in another of my blog posts, Things I wonder about. Your sequence of questions presents a series of issues that need to be wrestled with and answered. In fact, several of them would make good topics for future blog posts!

GuyMuse said...

Hershel,

Like Amos commenting right above, you both make some excellent points and have given me some good food for thought and reflection.

I think you are spot on when you write, I sense the Spirit moving away from an official titled ministry back to a gift based ministry calling for all His people. However the “laity” and the “clergy” are both uncomfortable with this move...

The shaking up that you refer to has already begun here in Ecuador. I am amazed that after years of these ideas being all but taboo, suddenly they are being seen as mainstream by an increasing number of evangelical opinion makers, pastors, denominational heads, and media.

A quote that has helped me understand what is happening is attributed to Arthur Schopenhauer,

All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident.

At least here in Ecuador, I sense we are coming out of phase two and entering phase three. This shift seems to be taking place at a much faster pace here, than what we were able to observe there in the USA this past year.

Thanks for the wise and helpful words. You need to blog yourself!

Lance Johnson said...

Guy, you know me. I am so conservative I'm dusty, but I struggle with this same issue and others that you obviously do as well. I reject the concept of spiritual pragmatism. It is rampant in the church and is the single most destructive force in the church. At the same time however, I have to ask how much of what we 'believe' is biblical teaching and how much is centuries of tradition and efforts to maintain the status quo. Consequently, I threw away my last copy of the BF&M years ago. It was developed specifically to maintain the status quo. (I love bi-vocational ministry.)

I do believe much of what is taught about women in church is more tradition than good biblical interpretation. This puts me at strong odds with many of my conservative and reformed brothers, but we cannot ignore the scriptural accounts of prophetesses and deaconesses.

Like you, I believe we must move the church from its traditional structure to a less formal and more vital (flexible) model. This means doing God's work with less hired labor, fewer buildings, and less money. The offices of which you speak developed out of the concept of the vocational clergy. The roles to which you refer developed out of an obedient ministry.

As with all such issues, the devil is in the details. How do we transition from one model to another? We really must get together and talk about this sometime. I guess I need to get down to the post office and get that application for a passport.

GuyMuse said...

Lance,

Yes, first things first. Get your passport! As much as we enjoy talking about these issues, your coming down and DOING is more important.

What once seemed like such clear issues are no longer so cut and dried. I remember back in the year 2000 when the eight IMB M's, who at that time lived in Guayaquil, met to try to understand what God would have us do as his servants in this part of the world.

One of the first things He led us to do was to again read the NT, but do so through eyes as if we were reading for the first time. It is hard reading the NT without overlaying onto its pages all our inherited methods, interpretations, and traditions about what it is saying. This turned out to be harder than we thought. Traditional understandings of the church are deeply ingrained in us. However, as we started going through Acts and comparing what we saw there, with what we saw practiced and taught in our churches, we realized we had drifted from NT teachings. In some cases, we had strayed from Biblical teaching, and allowed our traditional practices to be elevated to the status of God's Word.

All that to say, we are still trying to understand many of the things we read in the NT and how we are to go about being the Body of Christ here on earth.

Like all those above, thanks for your contribution to the conversation.

Randel said...

I don't want to get bogged down discussing women and offices because they are not the point(s). Guy, I think that I proved myself to be as non-traditional as anyone during our time of working together. I have not changed in the years since, as the pastors and churches I work with can attest. In my struggles with traditions, one of the things I have learned is that most traditions are there for a reason, and it is best not to remove the tradition until you understand the reason and have a way to keep the principle it represents in place.

In life the way God designed it, form follows function. In life the way man lives it, sometimes the form remains after the function has been forgotten or fallen into neglect. The remedy is not always to destroy the form; it is usually to rediscover the function.

One of my seminary professors, I think it was Cal Guy, said that church organization is like the baskets used to harvest and preserve the fruit from the trees. He went on to say that when the trees quit producing fruit, the solution is not more baskets! I would add, that the solution is not destroying the baskets either. Our work is the health of the trees and the planting of more trees. We don't need to waste energy on issues that are not vital.

Another thing about the struggle with traditions -- it is absolutely imperative to not be divisive. The brotherly affection that protects and preserves the unity of all Christ followers is vital to our witness. The tension between maintaining human relationships and being zealous for the kingdom helps us to grow to be more like Christ.

One final thing -- if you feel you cannot work within the framework of the BF&M and the people who affirm it, wouldn't the ethical thing for you to do be to renounce your Southern Baptist support?

A. Amos Love said...

Now praying, with my understanding, in tongues, in the spirit, by the spirit, interceding for Guy and Randel.

A. Amos Love said...

Guy

Good stuff - Just might have to reread 1984.
Didn’t remember that part about words.
It's been awhile.

Amen to -
“The meanings we give to words
play a huge role on how we interpret life,
Scripture, theology, really, just about everything!
He who controls the meanings of words,
controls a lot more than just words.”

A constant question has become;
Where is that in the Bible?

When folks speak words
that are not in the Bible
I wonder why we use them
and where they came from.

It's difficult at best understanding
the truth of the words that are written.
How much harder word's that we make up.

Although there are some made up words
that I like. Oh my - breaking one of my own rules.

I now tell people; You need a Total Hysterectomy.

Right - Where is that in the Bible?

Well, here is the story.

A lady friend, late 60’s, says she heard God say to her, she needs a total hysterectomy.

She asked me what I thought that meant
as she was asking others.
I had no clue.

A few weeks later she told me
she received the answer.

How cool is God.
He said to her,
You need a total hysterectomy.
You need your total
History
Reckoned
To Me.

All things work together for good.
All things.
It brought her peace.

Blessings.

Randel said...

Apparently, Amos Love is concerned that my comments have an argumentative tone. Perhaps I have presumed too much on your friendship, Guy. I do not wish to argue over this issue -- that is precisely my point. I do not believe that championing women's roles in church is key to advancing the kingdom. It is a side issue that must not divert us.

Guy, I seem to remember our discussing one time the concept of "choosing your battles." At the time we were both in Ecuador, you used to insist on getting exact change from vendors who did not want to bother with the coins that were not really worth anything. That is how I see this issue or gender roles. It is better for us to just get on with the work God has called us to. The issue, to me, is not worth the uproar it can cause. And since God has called you as a Southern Baptist and has used you as a Southern Baptist missionary, the issue certainly is not worth your having to resign over. So please consider the risks carefully.

A. Amos Love said...

Women in ministry?
Doesn’t ministry mean service?

Doesn’t the whole body of Christ
have the ministry of reconciliation?

Doesn’t apostle mean sent one, messenger?

Isn’t the most important message
ever given to the human race,
HE IS RISEN,
delivered by at least five women
to the eleven apostles?

When the 11 didn’t believe them;
Didn’t Jesus show up and,
“upbraided them with their unbelief
and hardness of heart?”

Was Jesus the first women’s libber?

Mary Magdalene - the first to see
Jesus after the resurrection.
Jesus rebukes the eleven for
not listening to Mary Magdalene.
Mark 16:9 - 14

At least five women were the first
to see Jesus after the resurrection.
The Bible names three
and includes other women.
Luke 24:2 - 11

Mark 10:42-45 Ye know that they
which are accounted to rule over
the Gentiles
EXERSIZE LORDSHIP over them;
and their great ones
EXERSIZE AUTHORITY upon them.

But so shall it not be among you:

but whosoever will be great among you,
shall be your minister: (servant)
And whosoever of you
will be the chiefest,
shall be servant of all.
For even the Son of man came
not to be ministered unto,
but to minister,
and to give his life
a ransom for many.

Why would anyone want to be
a leader or be spiritual authority
if they can’t exercize authority?

Do servants think about exercising lordship?
Do servants think about exercising authority?

Do servants think about pleasing their master?

Just wondering. Or is it wandering?

GuyMuse said...

Randel and Amos,

Thank you both for your input. I am beginning to think that more is being assumed from this post than what was originally intended!

My intent is not to go against the BF&M by making this "side issue" a main issue. You are right, Randel, in that these kinds of things should not divert us from keeping "the main thing, the main thing."

I totally agree, ...our work is the health of the trees and the planting of more trees. We don't need to waste energy on issues that are not vital...it is absolutely imperative to not be divisive. The brotherly affection that protects and preserves the unity of all Christ followers is vital to our witness.

If you could see first hand what is happening, you'd see that our focus IS on the trees, and planting more trees! We have made it a priority to work alongside all the different Kingdom trees, not just our variety of tree. We are working closer today with our Baptist brethren than at any time since 1997. This very evening I will be training Baptist lay people on tree planting, baskets for collecting the fruit, etc.

In fact, we are so committed to the bigger picture of multiplying disciples and churches in our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and ends of the earth, that we are even willing to compromise our personal convictions about many of these issues, so as to NOT make them divisive issues that would keep us from working together.

As Paul says in 1Co.10, Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

On any given day, I find myself sitting down with brothers and sisters in Christ from all across the evangelical spectrum. Our approach and focus is to find out what they are doing to multiply disciples and churches. We then share with them how we might help them accomplish their mission goals within their understanding of the task, their denominational context, their interpretations of Scripture, their ecclesiology, church practices, traditions, etc.

To us, it is not about arguing and being divisive. That is satanic. It is all about DOING the Great Commission (not arguing about how to do the GC.)

What is happening, though, (and hence my bringing up a topic like "Is shepherding a spiritual gift or a church office?") when we do engage churches from across the spectrum who are actively seeking to make disciples, multiply churches, etc. THESE ISSUES ARISE--WHETHER WE WANT THEM TO OR NOT! They are real matters. I don't invent them to have something to blog about.

END OF PART I, SEE BELOW FOR MORE...

GuyMuse said...

PART II...

When you minister amongst ordinary hermanos(as)--lay people-- and not the professional class ordained, seminary trained pastors, these issues naturally arise on their own accord. Posts like this one are my attempt to interpret what we see happening.

The point is not to make controversial statements about the BF&M, but to take a second look at what Scripture ACTUALLY TEACHES!

Does it really say, women can't plant churches and shepherd the new believers as they go about doing what Jesus said to do?

To me it is far more unbiblical to say only men can be involved in carrying out the Great Commission. If I am going to err, I'd rather err on the side of empowering women to do what Jesus said to do, than to hold them back!

If we accept the fact that the GC was given to ALL believers, then why should we be getting upset when sisters begin to make disciples, baptize, and teach the new believers just like Jesus commanded?

I admit, it gets a little sticky when one tries to draw the line between Jesus command to "make disciples, baptize, and teach" and shepherding/pastoring those new believers. How can you make disciples without baptizing and teaching them? And if women engage in obeying these commands, are they going against the BF&M, Art.VI?

These are REAL missionary questions. The intent is not to stir up controversy (Lord knows we have enough of that already!) but to seek out honest Biblical answers for these things happening. This post is my obviously flawed attempt to ask questions that maybe shouldn't be asked. But then, when they are asked, how are we to answer?

I don't think anyone is trying to be argumentative, but some issues seem to generate a quicker pulse than others. This one seems to fall in that category. I wish things were a bit more black and white than what they sometimes are, but anyone who has served on the mission field knows that is not the case. I apologize if anything I have written has been taken as argumentative or divisive. That is the last thing on my mind. ALL I WANT IS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE ROLE OF WOMEN AND SHEPHERDING as they are equal partners in carrying out the Great Commission.

I hope this helps a bit in further clarifying where we are coming from.

Randel said...

I did not intend to write again in this thread, but I sensed some frustration in your last responses and I feel badly about it. I wish we could sit in your living room and discuss these things rather than debate them with all the world looking on. In part, that has been my concern. In an ideal world, you could ask for help with this issue and well-meaning people would calmly give your their thoughts. However, in today's world, some questions by their very nature provoke antagonism and division. The question for which you asked input is one such question.

I suppose I shouldn't have written since I probably don't have any thoughts on scriptures that you have not already thought of. Personally, I believe the whole weight of the Word indicates that men should, as a rule, be in leadership. Note that women such as Deborah in Judges are the exception rather than the rule. Jesus chose twelve men as apostles. But God certainly uses women, especially when men are unwilling or unavailable. Cho found this to be true in Korea. I inferred from your writings that you had already come to the decision that women could serve in any capacity with God's blessing. If you are looking for a biblical basis with thoughtful reasoning, I commend Wade Burleson's blog archives under the heading "Women in the SBC." I also believe there are practical benefits to waiting for male leadership to surface. But that is the decision that I have come to.

I guess what I am saying is this -- don't raise the question, just do it. As long as God gives His approval, what difference does the opinion of others make? If you truly are seeking guidance in order to make up your mind, do it more discreetly. To raise it publicly invites attack which may have unintended consequences.

GuyMuse said...

Randel,

Thanks for your last comment below. I appreciate your concern about possibly having frustrated us, but that is far from the reality.

I, along with many others reading, are grateful for a platform in which to dialog about these matters. It is not so much that we have our minds perfectly made up, but are testing ideas and seeking input so as to clarify things we are already considering.

The day we can no longer talk openly about the Word of God and have to do so privately is indeed a sad day. I hope we haven't come to that day already!

GuyMuse said...

Amos Love,

Again, thanks for the input and excellent questions you bring to the table. We too think about these things and the implications of answering them honestly. I loved your last sentence, Just wondering. Or is it wandering? That's how we feel much of the time as well! :)

Paul Burleson said...

Guy,

I have come late to the reading of a fine post. Your questions are, at least to me, thoughtful, thought provoking and needed.

I will admit that your dialogue with Randel was interesting and I commend you both for the spirit of your conversation. I think your words TO EACH OTHER reflect a deep friendship. You are both to be commended for wanting to guard that which any one who has close friends knows is important.

I would have to side with you, Guy, on this one. [Not meaning that anyone needs to or should pick sides. Just a phrase.] I think it IS the right time and maybe even the right forum to ask questions and research what we believe the text says on these issues afresh.

While the BF@M is a good enough document for the moment it is, after all, ONLY for the moment. It will be abridged eventually in some ways. Maybe discussions like this can be a part of that process. I would like to think so.

A. Amos Love said...

Guy - This one is in two parts also.

I am one who is,
“grateful for a platform
in which to dialog
about these matters.”

And believe it or not
I have some more questions. : o )
Please don’t banish me.
God loves me. xoxoxox

What would a rabbi with dyslexia
from Brooklyn say about our discussians?

Yo!

Dyslexia - a general term
for disorders that involve
difficulty in learning
to read or interpret words,
but that do not affect
general intelligence.

Does the ekklesia suffer with dyslexia?
Do they have difficulty in learning
to read or interpret words?

The Bible warns us about,
the commandments of men,
the philosophies of men,
and the traditions of men
that make the Word of God
of non effect. Mk 7:14

Are we spreading the
commandments of men?

I have been asked to leave,
excommunicated if you will,
when I asked questions about this one.

Eph 4:11 And he gave some,
apostles; and some,
prophets; and some,
evangelists; and some,
pastors and teachers;

Have you ever looked at the “some?”

Who does the “some” refer to?
Does the “some” refer to the saints?
Does the “some’ refer to apostles?

Did he give “some” saints, apostles?
And “some” saints, prophets?
And “some” saints, evangelists?
And “some” saints, pastor - teachers?

A. Amos Love said...

Part 2

Or did He give “some”
apostles,
prophets,
evangelists,
pastors - teachers
to all the saints?

Does every congregation
get all five, or is it four in Greek?
an apostle,
a prophet,
an evangelist,
and a pastor - teacher?

Do all the saints get to learn
from “some” apostles?
Or, only “some” saints?

When you’re in a room
or better yet a congregation,
with an apostle,
and a prophet,
and a evangelist,
and a pastor - teacher,
Who is the leader?
Who submits to who?
Who submits to God?
Is the pastor - teacher
in last place?

If they are titles and not
functions of the body
does the pastor submit
to the evangelist?
the evange....

My brain hurts....

If there are over 500,000
pastors in this country;
Where are the apostles
and prophets?

If there are no apostles and prophets;
why are ther still pastors?

Sorry, please forgive me.
I haven’t found anyone who
could answer these questions
in a reasonable manner
and I can’t stop.
New ones keep popping up.

GuyMuse said...

Paul,

Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by to add your wisdom to the conversation.

I was listening to "So Beautiful" this morning (new book by Leonard Sweet) where he quotes Bible translator J.B. Lightfoot as saying, "I find that my faith suffers nothing by leaving a thousand questions open, so long as I am convinced of two or three main lines."

Somehow, I see these words as relevant to what you share above about this being the right time (and maybe even the right forum) to ask these kinds of questions. As others have repeatedly stated, we shouldn't be divided over 2nd and 3rd tier issues. There is simply too much that unites us in the person of Jesus, to allow differing interpretations of difficult passages to stand in the way of our being able to cooperate together on the main tenants of our faith--such as the Great Commission.

It is disconcerting to me that legitimate Biblical questions, having a major bearing on the fulfilling of the Great Commission, are no longer welcomed matters for open discussion, except when discussed behind closed doors in an air of secrecy.

As I wrote somewhere above, where does one go anymore with their questions?

GuyMuse said...

Amos,

You ask many questions that we toss around in our heads as well. While not wanting to get into the matter fully here as a comment, in summary, much of your questions can be answered if we accept that a,p,e,p,t workers are given to the city/region church, but not necessarily to each local church.

Elders/pastors (plural)seem to the Biblical norm for the local (house) churches, and apostolic workers (apept) for the city/regional church.

Like I said, there is probably a lot more pieces missing in this equation, but this is our current understanding of how some of this might play out.

Hope this helps.