Christian Church     we preach what the Bible teach      

                                                                   

                                                               BIBLE STUDY - THE CHURCH.

The Church is a New Testament teaching. The Church was never mentioned in the Old Testament. The Church is not a building. The Church is made up of living stones. We as, born again believers are the bricks and make up the house of God. 1 Peter 2:5, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house”. 1 Timothy 3:15, “But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God”. 1 Corinthians 3:9b, “You are God’s building”. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands, Acts 7:48 and Acts 17:24. 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you”. Hebrews 3:6, “But Christ as a Son over his house, who we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope, firm to the end”. There are many more Scriptures to proof what the Bible teaches.

 

The Greek word for church is; "ekklesia" and it means 'called out assembly' or 'called gathering of people'. The word "ekklisia" comes from two Greek words; "ek" meaning 'from' or 'out of' and "kaleo" meaning to 'call'. In other words 'called out ones'. The word Church is mentioned 108 times in the New Testament but not once in the Old Testament. The Church can never be seen as the 'Kingdom of God', the Church is part of the Kingdom of God. We cannot inherit ourselves but we can inherit the Kingdom of God. The Church consist of true believers in Jesus Christ, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is a whole company of redeemed in all ages, in Heaven and on earth, Hebrews 12:23 and Ephesians 3:14 - 21.

A local Church may be defined as a company of redeemed people in a community, who unite themselves voluntarily together as a part of the universal Church for the purpose of establishing themselves in the faith of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to evangelize their community and to propagate the Gospel to the end of the earth. Local Churches are mentioned many times in the New Testament. A local Church may consist of two or three people, Matthew 18:20; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19. We believe that the believers are the ‘house of God’ and the ‘temple of God’. We do believe that we have to have a building, or a place where we can have fellowship. The building is to keep us from the weather and to accommodate a multitude. He makes His abode with - in us.

Have you ever heard the saying; “I want to welcome you in the ‘house of God” or “Are you glad to be in the house of God”. How ignorant can a person be after all these years? The old traditional Pastor will sometimes be the one uttering these words. I believe in “fire in the pulpit, fire in the pew”. Remember ignorance will never be an excuse in God’s eyes. We are a house of living stones, built and woven together by the Holy Spirit of which Jesus Christ is the corner stone. We are members and part of the body of Christ of which He is the head. No person must ever think that he or she is the head, the body does not have two heads. If we do not function in the body, we are dead; we will be cut - off and thrown away. 

Many man-originated organizations claim to be Christian churches. Any denomination that does not preach and teach what the New Testament teaches or add whatever they want to suit them; to enrich their status or pockets is not from God. The Church does not consist of saved and unsaved people.

The following points are essential for membership in a local Church:

1. The new birth and genuine Christian living.

2. The sole authority of the Bible, rightly divided and willful obedience to the Bible.

3. The freedom of conscience and personal responsibility to God.

4. Accepting the authority of the leaders and the organization in the local Church.

The sole purpose of the Church is to do what Jesus Christ did on earth. The body of Jesus is being formed by the Holy Spirit. The Church was founded when the ministry of Jesus Christ started, not on the day of Pentecost as many believe. This statement is clear as can be seen from Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 12:28, "God has set some in the Church, first apostles, etc". When did Jesus set up the apostle, certainly not on the day of Pentecost. On the day of Pentecost 3000 people were added, a few days later 5000 more were added. People are still being added daily, this addition will carry on until the day Christ will come in the air to take away His New Testament Church, together with the redeemed of all ages past.

The Holy Spirit unites members with Jesus as members of His Church upon their conversion. The church is compared to a human body with its many members. Christ is the head of the Church, Ephesians 1:22-23, ‘And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. Ephesians 5:23-24. Every born again believer is a member set in the body with a function to perform.

Scriptures stress the importance of church membership - of belonging to a local church. They teach us that it is not possible to be a Christian independent of the rest of the body of Christ because God has foreordained that each Christian has a place, a purpose and a function in the body that no other Christian can fulfill, Romans 12:4-8, ‘For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 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. See also, 1 Corinthians 12:14-18, 25; Ephesians 4:15-16.

God has set us in the body to suit His purpose not ours, and if we refuse to join ourselves to a church we are refusing to join ourselves to Christ, because He is the head of the Church, 1 Corinthians 12:12. It is not wise for anyone to assume that they can be intentionally separated from the body of Christ and still be a member of His body. A body is an organised group made up of parts and members, and nothing can function as a member if it is not attached or joined to the body. This applies in both the physical and spiritual realms. No member of a physical body can function if it is dismembered from the body, and neither can members of the spiritual body, the Church, function if they become dismembered from it, Hebrews 10:24-25.

The Church is self-propagating. It is a living organism reproducing itself as its members preach the Gospel of salvation, Romans 1:16, ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek’. Acts 2:38; 4:4; 5:12-14; 6:7; 11:19-26; 13:48; We see in Acts 11:26 that the term "Christians" was first used to describe the followers of Christ in Antioch. To be called a Christian is the highest honour any human being can receive, Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:14-16.

It should be noted here in the light of so many scriptures referring to the Church as the body of Christ, and that as Christ the head of the body is a man, it is so that a teaching persists in Christendom that the Church is a woman - the Bride of Christ. Apart from the fact that the real Bride of Christ is clearly identified in scripture as male, nowhere in scripture is the Church ever referred to by a feminine pronoun to support this teaching. In fact the Church is only ever referred to as a man in scripture, Ephesians 2:15-16; 4:11-13. Some modern translations and paraphrased versions of the Bible refer to the Church by feminine pronouns in, Ephesians 5:25-27, but this is a contradiction in terms because they refer to the Church as a man in, Ephesians 2:15 and 4:13. How can the Church be a “man” in one teaching in scripture, and a “woman” in another? God’s word does not contradict itself, it is the translators and interpreters of those versions who are responsible for this contradiction.

In Romans 7:4, Paul simply illustrates the Christian's freedom from the law with the analogy of marriage showing how the death of one partner frees the other from life-long obligations. He compares it to Christians, who having died to the law are now free to follow Christ, to become one with Him, see Romans 7:1-6.

Who is the true Bride of Christ, Revelations 19:7-9 with 21:2, 9-10, 18-27. This is the Bride of Christ: the Holy City, New Jerusalem. New Jerusalem is the Lamb’s wife that “made herself ready” in verse 19:7, and was “prepared as a bride for her husband” in 21:2. New Jerusalem is the City of God which God promised to all the Old Testament saints and Jesus promised to all the New Testament saints. They will all go to live in New Jerusalem together, John 14:1-3; Hebrews 11:1-2, 13-16; 12:22-23; 13:14; Revelations 3:12; with 14:1-5; 15:2-4; 20:4-6; 22:1-5. Finally, the Church is also referred to as a man in 2 Thessalonians 2:7. The he who is presently restraining Antichrist from revealing himself is the Church, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9. This refers to the rapture of the Church, when the Church will be “caught up” in the air with Jesus when He comes to take all the saints of God back to heaven with Him at the rapture, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelations 20:4-6 John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:12-23, 32, 42-44, 50-58. Many Christians believe that the he of 2 Thessalonians  2:7 is the Holy Spirit, but that is not correct as the preceding scriptures clearly show. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit will still be on earth after the rapture to convict the multitudes of their sins who get saved during Antichrist’s reign.

LET US LOOK AT THE 5 MINISTRIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH:

'And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ', Ephesians 4:11 - 16.

1.  APOSTLES:

The apostle is the highest rank in the structure of the ministry, 1 Corinthians 12:28 and still would be if we could get a person today qualified as an apostle. An apostle would come out of the elders in your congregation. The word apostle literally means 'one sent on a special mission'. We see in other words that the apostle is like an ambassador. One that would remain behind sends, the apostle. The one that is sent goes to accomplish the same work, that the one who has send him would do if he went instead, of the one being sent. The elders are there to feed the flock and to govern the spiritual flow in the congregation.

Jesus Christ was an apostle sent from God the Father, Hebrews 3:1, "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus". Jesus chose others to be apostles after His ascension as can be seen in 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11. When one gets to the place in God where he can do the works of Christ, he is a true apostle, John 14:12; 1 Corinthians 9:1-6; 2 Corinthians 12:12.

Most Christians believe that the ministry gift of apostle in the contemporary church has been fulfilled in the ministry of the missionary, and there are doubtless many missionaries who do function as apostles and should be recognised as such. The ministries of apostles and missionaries are similar, they both evangelise, plant churches, instruct, correct, and establish them in the faith, but whereas every apostle is a missionary, not every missionary is an apostle. Furthermore every apostle is a qualified elder in the New Testament church, but not every missionary is, and it is the elders, collectively and co-equally, to whom God has committed the direction and government of the local New Testament Church.

The apostle who pioneers the church may be the only one to start with, but others should be appointed as quickly as they are seen to be functioning in any of the ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11, and can satisfy the requirements God has laid down for their ordination in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, ‘This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; and Titus 1:4-9. The number of elders in any Church will depend entirely upon the size of the congregation. They then become co-leaders in the church with the leader, Acts 15:1-27; 21:17-25. These scriptures clearly confirm all that the foregoing scriptures teach - that the direction and government of the local New Testament church is not vested in the ministry of one man alone as it is in the contemporary church, but in the plurality of elders co-equally. Then there are false apostles - servants of Satan 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

2.  PROPHETS:

From the Greek word ‘prophetes’ means "a proclaimer of divine truth". The prophet's main purpose is to comfort and edify the believers, 1 Corinthians 14:3. The prophet is also mentioned as a class of minister to equip the saints for the ministry in the early Church as can be seen from, Ephesians 4:11,12; Acts 13:1-5. Then there is also prophecy as one of the Gifts of the Spirit. We read in 1 Corinthians 14:29-32, "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge". Verse 31, "For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged". Verse 32, "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets". Prophets are placed second in the order of ministry gifts Christ gave to the Church to prepare and equip it for service, Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Corinthians 12:28. Yet there are many who teach that together with apostles the ministry gift of prophet no longer exists; that it ceased with the first century church. But as our study on apostles show, that is not correct, Matthew 24:14; John 17:18-21; Ephesians 3:1-12; 4:7-16; 5:25-27. Scriptures clearly teach that Christ has given the ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11 to His Church and ordained them all to remain there while ever the Church exists. They are all vitally necessary - "for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry" It is their responsibility to bring clarification and illumination concerning God's word to the Church and to those they are establishing in the faith. They are both teachers and preachers. They teach that Scriptures are the only proof text we have against which we must measure every teaching in the Church.

Now let us look at some of the characteristics of false prophets in the New Testament church. Jesus, Paul, Peter and John all warn against them and we need to be able to discern them. Jesus said they come in sheep's clothing. That means their deception is subtle, they have the outward appearance of a true prophet but inwardly are ravening wolves. But Jesus said we shall know them by their fruit. That is why it is so important to be thoroughly grounded in God's word, because the only way we can ever test any teaching in the Church is by the word of God, Matthew 7:15-23; Acts 20:29-32; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 4:1-6. All teaching must be tested against the revelation of God's truth in Scripture. John's admonition to the Church in 1 John 4:1 to "try the spirits whether they are of God" makes it obligatory upon Christians to examine and prove every teaching in the Church, Acts 17:10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 2 Peter 1:16-19. Scriptures are the only proof texts we have, and if any teaching cannot be proved by them then it must be disregarded, irrespective of who is teaching it. Be aware of paraphrase translations of the Bible.

3.  EVANGELISTS:

If souls get saved when a person preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ that person has the office of an evangelist. Timothy had the ministry of an evangelist as can be seen in 2 Timothy 4:5, "But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry". We also read of Philip the evangelist, Acts 21:8, "On the next day we entered the house of Philip the evangelist. There is no confusion in the contemporary church over evangelists as there is with apostles and prophets. Evangelists, from the Greek word “euaggelistes”, are preachers of the Gospel; ones who declare the good news of Christ, Romans 10:13-15. Evangelists preach to the unsaved, whereas apostles and prophets preach to both the saved and the unsaved.

But evangelism is not only about preaching, it is also about the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and of power Mark 16:16-20; Romans 15:18-21; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5. Jesus not only preached; He also demonstrated the power of God over all the forces of evil that brought sickness, disease and death to the human race: He raised the dead; cast demons out of people, and healed them of their sicknesses and diseases. He made the lame to walk, the blind to see and the deaf to hear. He even exercised authority over the course of nature, Luke 8:22-56. These are but a few of the miracles Jesus wrought when He preached. He brought the good news of the Gospel by word and deed and not by word only, 1 Corinthians 4:20. The demonstration of the Holy Spirit and of power are signs that awaken others to a consciousness of the presence and the power of God and raise their faith in Jesus for salvation, Acts 6:1-10; 8:4-8. Over five thousand people were saved as a result of one miracle, the healing of a crippled beggar, in the first century Church Acts 3:1-4:4.

4.  PASTORS:

The term "pastor" is derived from the Greek word ‘poimen’, which means a "shepherd". ‘Poimen is used 18 times in the New Testament but it is only translated "pastor" once, Ephesians 4:11. The other 17 times it is translated "shepherd". It is used 11 times either directly or indirectly in reference to Jesus, Matthew 25:32; 26:31; Mark 14:27; John 10:2, 11-12,14,16; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; Jesus uses it twice in reference to others, Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34, and it is used 4 times of the shepherds who visited the baby Jesus, Luke 2:8,15,18,20. These scriptures prove the statement made earlier in our study on apostles, that nowhere in scripture is the term "pastor" ever used as it is in the contemporary church to define rank, authority or title of anyone, in the New Testament Church. A pastor is seen as a shepherd. The Bible also refers to a pastor as a bishop. He is one that watches over the flock of God. A pastor's assistant is a deacon as can be seen in the Scriptures. A pastor is a person that would come out of the believers where a church has been established in a community.

5.  TEACHERS:

A teacher is one that teaches others and they understand things better. Jesus is a good example of a teacher, John 3:2, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God". We read that Paul was also a teacher, 1 Timothy 2:7. A teacher is one that knows God, the Scriptures, is a leader and can have one or all of the above mentioned ministries. Teachers are placed third in the divine order of ministry gifts for the Church, 1 Corinthians 12:28. Teachers in the New Testament Church do not teach the mere letter of the word or doctrine as such, but being blessed with revelation in the word they teach prophetically, presenting deep truth in such a way as to build up faith in the Church, helping to prepare and equip it for God's service. The teacher's function is to teach, to instruct, to educate, to train, to discipline, to nurture, to influence the understanding of those being taught. The special task of teachers is to guard the gospel entrusted to them. They are to vigorously contend for the truth of scripture in the face of any teaching in the church that does not conform to scripture, and faithfully point the church to the original message of Christ and the apostles, 2 Timothy 1:8-14; 2:2; 3:16. Teachers should be able to speak with authority; they must be a voice and not just an echo like the Old Testament scribes and Pharisees. They must be sound theologians able to teach wholesome doctrine, 1 Timothy 6:3-4; 2 Timothy 1:13; 1 Peter 4:10-11. A teacher's life is one of study and personal preparation but they must always remain teachable themselves, Romans 2:21; 1 Corinthians 2:9-13. If teachers are not able to be taught themselves, they will not be able to teach others. They must always beware of pride of intellect, for knowledge "puffs up" 1 Corinthians 8:1-2; James 3:13-18.

There are false teachers in the New Testament church just as there are false apostles and prophets and there are many scriptures warning against them, and like false apostles and prophets they may outwardly appear to be genuine spiritual leaders and true ministers of the word, but inwardly they are ravening wolves, full of dead men's bones, given over to extortion and excess, and full of hypocrisy and iniquity, Matthew 7:15-23; 13:25-30; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Corinthians 11:12-15; Titus 1:10-14; 2 Peter 2:1-3; Jude 4; Revelation 2:20. False teachers, again like false apostles and prophets, may not always be immediately recognisable but their doctrine will betray them to Christians who test their teachings against the pure word of God, as we are commanded in scripture to do, 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1-6; 2 John 7-11. Christians must never just accept any teachings at face value, even those handed down in the church, unless they have been tested against the revelation of God's truth in Scripture, Acts 17:10-12.

While there are many false teachers in the church, there are also many false Christians willing to receive them, 2 Timothy 3:1-7; 4:1-4. However, the judgement that will be passed upon false teachers will be much more severe than that upon other sinners, Luke 12:41-48; Hebrews 10:26-31. These scriptures teach that just as there are degrees of glory in heaven according to our earthly works, so there are degrees of punishment in hell and the worst will come upon false teachers. True teachers and all other spiritual leaders in the Church must guard and defend the Gospel committed to them even when others depart from the faith. They must defend it against attack and challenge the Church if it is tempted to lay aside the truth.

WHAT ABOUT DEACONS?

Likewise deacons also can only ever be men. Like bishops, they too must only be the husband of one wife, if married, 1 Timothy 3:8-13. The term deacon primarily denotes a servant, one who ministers to the needs of others, without reference to the character of the work. In the New Testament, ‘diakonos’, the Greek word for deacon is used to refer to domestic servants, John 2:5,9; the followers of Christ in relation to their Lord, John 12:26; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 1:7; 4:7; the followers of Christ in relation to one another, Matthew 20:26; 23:11; Mark 9:35; 10:43; the servants of Christ in relation to preaching and teaching 1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 6:4; 11:23; Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:23,25; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Timothy 4:6.

We can see from scriptures that the term deacon has a much broader application than most Christians in the contemporary church realise. The general conception of deacons among Christians in the contemporary church is that they do most of the lesser tasks in the church, they open the hall up for meetings, switch on the lights, arrange the seating, distribute the emblems for communion, and take up the collection, etc, but as is seen here scriptures do not teach that. The confusion surrounding deacons in the contemporary church emanates from the teaching that the role of deacons in the New Testament church is defined in, Acts 6:1-6, yet scriptures do not designate the seven men in, Acts 6:1-6 who were chosen to distribute the alms and minister to the material needs of the Greek widows in the church at Jerusalem as deacons, Acts 6:1-6 with 1 Timothy 3:1-13. It is obvious from 1 Timothy 3:1-13 that the office of deacon in the New Testament Church is more than dealing with temporal things as distinct from spiritual things.

Temporal things have to be dealt with, but to limit the office of a deacon to just dealing with temporal things is to limit the effectiveness of the Church in God's eternal purpose. In the context of 1 Timothy 3:1-13 it is significant that the term deacons is used side by side with bishops, or elders. This indicates that deacons are assistant ministers or that they assist the ruling elders in the performance of their duties. They are the scriptural counterparts to the non-scriptural assistant pastors and elders in the contemporary church, Philippians 1:1. The qualifications for deacons, like bishops, and their role in the New Testament Church, are defined in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 not in Acts 6:1-6 as so many Christians in the contemporary church have been taught. It should be noted here also that although deacons assist the elders in the performance of their duties they have no ruling authority in the New Testament Church. Their ministry office as, 1 Timothy 3:13 clearly teaches is a proving ground

leading to greater responsibilities, but it is not a leadership position to start with, and for any local New Testament Church to be under the authority of a "board of deacons" is totally unscriptural. We cannot supplant God's order for the church and replace it with another. He has decreed the Church to be under the authority of ruling elders, not deacons.

ORDINATION OF CHURCH OFFICIALS:

God the Father ordained Jesus Christ to come as Saviour to this world as can be seen in Acts 17:30 - 31, verse 31b, 'He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained'. The word ordain means to choose, appoint and set apart a person called or sent on a special ministry. Ordination is simply the recognition of a qualified person to do what he is divinely called to do. It is the recognition by a church and its leaders of a man/women who has received certain preparation for a particular work for God. No person is to be ordained to an office until he is qualified to fill it. The person to be ordained should not only be chosen by God, but also be recognized by the congregation and set apart by proper Church officials in a special service of instruction, prayer, and laying on of hands as can be seen in, Acts 6:1 - 8; Acts 12:1 - 3; Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 5:22; 2 Timothy 1:6; Hebrews 6:1 - 3.   

As we learned previously on apostles, both ‘episkopos’, the Greek word for bishop/overseer, and ‘presbuteros’, the Greek word for elder/presbyter only refer to a male in the New Testament, thus signifying that men only are ordained of God to pastor the New Testament Church. Contrary to what a great many Christians in the contemporary church believe there is no provision in scripture for the ordination of women to public ministry in the New Testament Church. Also, the fact that anyone aspiring to be an elder must be the husband of one wife if married is further confirmation that elders can only ever be men, 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6. There is no provision at all here for the inclusion of women as elders in the New Testament Church.

WHAT ABOUT WOMAN IN PUBLIC MINISTRIES?

Paul is not forbidding women to educate, proclaim the truth, exhort, pray or prophesy. That is their God-given right as scriptures clearly attest, Acts 2:17-18; 18:24-26; 21:8-9; 1 Corinthians 11:5; 14:13; Philippians 4:3; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15; Titus 2:3-5. Women can teach other women, girls, and children, boys and girls, and they can assist their husbands in their ministerial duties, but they are prohibited from holding public office in the Church and exercising authority over men. 1 Timothy 2:10-12, ‘Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression’. This has nothing to do with the culture surrounding women in Paul’s time either, as many in the contemporary church teach to justify the ordination of women today. There is no allowance in scripture whatever for God’s word to be altered to suit the cultural changes in women that would justify their ordination to public ministry in the contemporary church, Luke 21:33; 1 Peter 1:23-25. God’s word never changes - it is exalted even above His name, Psalms 89:34; 138:2. What Paul forbade in 1 Timothy is still forbidden. In 1 Timothy 2:13-14, Paul explains that his opposition to women in public ministry is found in the original order of creation, and in the circumstances of the fall of man verse 13-14: man, Adam was formed first, then woman, Eve. Adam was not deceived but Eve was, and as a result women are prohibited from ever being teachers or exercising authority over men in the New Testament Church. 1 Corinthians 11:3, ‘But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.’ This confirms what other Scriptures teach against women in any leadership position in the Church. The Greek word ‘gune’ is also used in 1 Timothy 3:11. Here though it is clearly used in the context of a husband and wife relationship. It is not describing women deacons but the wives of men deacons if they are married, the same as the preceding passage refers to male elders and their wives, if married, 1 Timothy 3:1-13.

This leads us now to the question of women being ordained to public ministry in the contemporary church when there is no provision for it in the New Testament. Scriptures clearly teach that women are precluded from any leadership position in the New Testament Church. There are numerous references to women in the New Testament but nowhere do scriptures teach that they were ordained to public ministry in the church. In searching the scriptures we can only find male leadership in the New Testament Church as the model for relationship between the sexes, and we should accept that as God's order for the Church without any additions, subtractions or alterations whatever, 1 Timothy 2:8-14. Opinions differ among Christians as to whom this scripture refers - whether women generally or wives specifically. The Greek word ‘gune’ means either, and whether a woman generally or a wife specifically is meant depends upon the context in which it is used. Here it refers to women generally because all women who profess godliness, regardless of their marital status are to dress modestly and not draw attention to themselves in the assembly by any form of immoderate conduct.

Paul is dealing with the general conduct of all women in the Church here. It has to do with church order and the position of men and women in church worship and work, not with the relationship between a husband and wife as in 1 Corinthians 14; 14:34-35. In 1 Timothy 2:8, Paul wants men, as opposed to women, to conduct public worship in the Church. In verse 12 he prohibits women from holding any position of authority over men in the Church. Women cannot be teachers to teach doctrine and instruct men, which confirms what other scriptures in this study also teach, that men only are ordained of God to pastor His church. Women are precluded from this office.

Scriptures do not teach that Phebe was a "deaconess" in the church at Cenchrea. They simply teach that she was a servant of the church there, and as we have already seen the Greek word ‘diakonos’ can refer to anyone in a serving capacity, from domestic servants, to civil rulers, to Christ, Romans 16:1-2. We get a better insight into Phebe's ministry in the Church at Cenchrea from a study of the word "succorer" in verse 2 which defines her as caring for the affairs of others, who helps and aids them from her resources. ‘Succorer’ is from the Greek word ‘prostatis’, which is the feminine form of "patron" or "protector". It was used by the Greeks to describe those who care for and entertain strangers in their home. Phebe was evidently a woman of means who ministered to the needs of others in the Church at Cenchrea and looked after Paul and his companions on his apostolic mission journeys there. There are many women named in scripture who served with distinction in the first century Church, but none in a leadership capacity.

There is another issue that needs to be mentioned here. It concerns titles men and women in the contemporary church use to signify their rank and authority in the church. Doctor so… and doctor so… or professor so… or professor so…. The most common title used is "pastor" which is a complete misunderstood considering the word is never used in Scripture to define the rank or authority of anyone in the New Testament Church. But even more important is the fact that titles are totally opposed in scripture. Jesus himself condemned them, Matthew 23:2-12. We cannot mistake what these scriptures mean. God is totally opposed to titles and Jesus forbids Christians seeking after, or receiving them. Titles may count for something in hierarchical or denominational religions where they are used to distinguish between the so-called clergy and the laity, but they are totally unscriptural. Matthew 23:8 teaches that there is always to be a brotherly relationship between Christians regardless of their ministry gifts verse 8 with Mark 10:35-45 and Luke 22:24-27. Jesus was the instigator of every ministry gift in the Church yet He was the servant of all. He teaches us in these scriptures that every ministry gift in the church is to be one of service - not with ‘power’, but servant power, 1 Corinthians 4:14-15.

                                                             Compiled by: Chris Mengel Snr.

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