The administration of the Christian congregation according to the latest instructions of King Yehoshuah Mashiah
"He also subjected all things under his feet and made him head over all things with regard
to the congregation, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills up all things in all"
These last instructions are in the seven messages to the seven congregations (Revelations chapters 2 and 3). This section will answer the question of whether Christian congregations should have a world
headquarters, located in a particular city. Most major religions or Christian communities have made this choice of global centralization, in Rome, Jerusalem, Moscow and many other major cities of the world. The question is, if this is the right way to administer
the Christian congregations, as it appears in the message of Jesus Christ, to the seven congregations.
Christ is the head and the supreme holder of the authority in the congregation
(1 Corinthians 11:3). Did Jesus Christ suggest that the congregation would currently be administered in a centralized way, as in the days of the apostles? In the book of Acts, there was a Christian congregation centralized around the authority of the apostles
and some elders in the city of Jerusalem (Acts 15). However, for day-to-day administration, it was under the authority of the elders of the Christian congregations (Hebrews 13:17). In the first letter to the Corinthians, chapters 11 to 14, the apostle Paul
gave specific instructions for the proper administration of the Christian congregation locally.
Does this mean that we must currently retain this way of centralizing the administration
of the Christian congregation? For example, while all the Christian congregations are scattered all over the earth, would an international headquarters, in a specific city in the world, be required to administer all of these congregations regarding important
doctrinal matters? To do so, let the head of the congregation, the current King Jesus Christ, give an answer.
The reason for Christian centralization in Jerusalem
The reason for the centralization of the Christian congregation was mainly due to the fact that Jesus Christ had designated 12 apostles who constituted, the starting point of the beginning of the Christian congregation,
in Jerusalem. According to the narrative of the Acts, particularly after the death of the disciple Stephen, a wave of persecution scattered the Christians to the four corners of the Roman Empire, around the Mediterranean Sea, and even, much later, until Babylon
(1 Peter 5:13). The apostles and elders remained in Jerusalem. However, there are two factors that have contributed to the disappearance of this centralization, particularly in the city of Jerusalem. The first is the death of the twelve apostles, who were
not supposed, biblically speaking, to have successors to maintain this centralization. The second is the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, in the year 70 Common Era, by the Roman general Titus. So that the Christians no longer had an emblematic city that
would have represented this world centralization.
Shortly before his ascension, Jesus Christ gave these instructions to his disciples: "You will receive power when the holy spirit comes
upon you, and you will be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the most distant part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Thus, in this last instruction of Christ, Jerusalem is designated as the starting point of a worldwide preaching campaign
which would last until his return, that is, shortly before the great tribulation (Matthew 24 and 25). He never designated a city where a Christian world administration would have been centralized. What is interesting to note concerning the Catholic Church
which world headquarters is in Rome, the Pope presents himself as the successor of the Apostle Peter. Which clearly implies that this centralization was only justified by the presence of the apostles. The second point is that henceforth the new administration
of the many Christian congregations scattered throughout the world has been transmitted to the last living apostle, John, by the message to the seven congregations.
local administration of Christian congregations
In Revelation chapter 1, the seven congregations are represented by seven lampstands. The angels of the seven congregations are
represented by the seven stars in the right hand of Christ. In Revelation 2 and 3, the encouragements but also the reproaches, sometimes very serious, made by Jesus Christ, are written to the seven "angels" of the seven congregations. In that case, the "angels"
are not those in heaven who have no sinful tendency. In Revelation 1:1, John wrote that the Revelation has been transmitted to him by an "angel" (ἄγγελος "angelos" (Strong’s Concordanc G32): "Messenger, by implication
pastor"). According to the context, this angel was a heavenly messenger. In Revelation 1:20, the same word "angelos" is used to designate, this time, a human "angel" responsible for a Christian congregation. These seven angels therefore represent the stewards,
the shepherds, the elders or human messengers responsible, before King Jesus Christ, for the administration of the Christian congregation (The translation of the Bible Chouraqui "messenger"), ("messenger" ("messengers), "human leaders" Expanded Bible (EXB);
(GOD'S WORD Translation "messenger")) (1 Timothy 3:1-7).
These "angels" or "messengers" are the intercessors between Jesus Christ and the congregation (Jesus Christ being the only mediator
between God and the humanity (1 Timothy 2:5)). In this vision, Jesus Christ stands in the "Holy" of the spiritual temple, the usual place of priests who burned incense. These "angels" or "messengers" are also "priests" for the congregation, under the authority
of the high priest Jesus Christ. Moreover, in Malachi 2:7, they are "human messengers" or "angels" of Jehovah: "For the lips of a priest should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth, because he is the messenger of Jehovah of armies"
(Malachi 2:7). The priests, in the former Israel, had three major functions, burning incense (prayers (Revelation 8: 3,4)), teaching and judgment (Deuteronomy 17:8,10-13; 21,1,2,5 ; Numbers 5:11-31). The elders, the shepherds or the pastors of the congregations
have exactly the same priestly functions in the spiritual temple, the Christian congregation: the prayer (James 5:14), the teaching (1 Timothy 3:2 "qualified to teach"), judgment in the congregation (Matthew 18:18).
Before the Great Tribulation, King Jesus Christ will directly ask for accounts to the "angels" of the different congregations scattered around the world. According to Revelation chapters 2 and 3 these overseers of local congregations
have a great responsibility (Matthew 25). This is why the disciple James wrote: "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment" (James 3:1).
In the illustrations of the administrators of the "talents" (but also of the "minas"), who will render an account just before the great tribulation, they are these human "angels", of Revelation 1 to 3. However, in that illustration there are only three
administrators, probably to illustrate the three main judgment, two are favorable and one is condemnatory. Two administrators have done their job, one better than the other, however both will have the same reward from the master. A third who will not have
done his job and will be seriously condemned by the master (Matthew 25:14-30 (talents); Luke 19:12-27 (minas)). Jesus Christ will judge the congregations of a town or village and with their respective administrators. Consequently, the administration of the
Christian congregations is described as decentralized. They will have a direct responsibility before Jesus Christ, for the whole congregation of a town, or a village: "Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping
watch over you as those who will render an account, so that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you" (Hebrews 13:17).
Regarding the different
religious denominations of the Christian congregations, the Bible is clear, the disciple of Christ is quite simply a "Christian", without additional religious denomination: "It was first in Antioch that the disciples were by divine providence called Christians"
(Acts 11:26). In his concluding prayer on the evening of the last Passover, Jesus Christ made this request to his Father: "I make request, not concerning these only, but also concerning those putting faith in me through their word, so that they may all be
one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, so that the world may believe that you sent me" (John 17:20,21). All Christian congregations should unite before the great tribulation, doing
as possible in the best way, the will of God written in the Bible: "Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will" (Matthew 7:21-23;
"She did what she could" (Mark 14:8)).
WORSHIP JEHOVAH GOD IN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE CONGREGATION (THE TEMPLE-SANCTUARY)
THE TEMPLE AND ITS ADMINISTRATION
To understand how a Christian congregation
or a Christian church should be organized, it is important to refer to the spiritual administration of the Temple that was in Jerusalem, in order to worship Jehovah: "For all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction, so that
through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope" (Romans 15:4).
The Apostle Paul, in inspiration, wrote this, regarding the prophetic dimension of
the Law given to Moses by Jehovah God: "For since the Law has a shadow of the good things to come, but not the very substance of the things" (Hebrews 10:1); "Those things are a shadow of the things to come, but the reality belongs to the Christ" (Colossians
2:17). Moreover, in almost the last words of the prophecy of Malachi, it is written: "Remember the Law of my servant Moses, the regulations and judgments that I commanded at Hoʹreb for all Israel to obey" (Malachi 4:4). Why should such an exhortation be useful
for us today, when we are no longer under the authority of the Law given through Moses? Also, Christ is the end of the Law: "For Christ is the end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness" (Romans 10: 4).
We must make the difference between the fact that we are no longer, as disciples of Christ, under the authority of the Law and its prophetic dimension, because these are two fundamentally different ideas. The symbolism
of the prophecies of Ezekiel (37-48) and the biblical book that echoes it most, the prophecies of Revelation (along with other prophetic books), is completely modeled on the symbolism of the prophetic dimension of the Mosaic law. So that, to use the expression
of the prophecy of Malachi 4: 4, if one does not "remember the law of Moses", or if one did not read it, he will be in the absolute impossibility to understand or decipher them. So that to understand that the administration of the current Christian church,
must be modeled on the symbolism of the Law given to Moses, is an important biblical truth that even the first disciples of Christ understood.
The temple is a place where we worship Jehovah. The Great Temple had two major parts (see the photo of the Temple of King Herod, at the time Jesus Christ ministered on earth, comments are written
1 - The Outer Courtyard of the Gentiles (or nations), surrounded by external fortifications, constitutes the "great temple".
2 - The temple sanctuary is the tall T-shaped building, with the small inner courtyard in front of its large porch where there was the large copper sea of water and the sacrificial altar.
In the representation of the temple, seen in vision by the prophet Ezekiel, modeled in broad outline on the plans of the tabernacle and later the temple of Solomon, allows us to have a more
simplified view to better visualize the explanations that follow.
According to the prophecy of Revelation chapter 11, the great temple, with its temple sanctuary, inside, represents
both, the Earth Planet (The outer courtyard of nations), in connection with the Heavens with the temple sanctuary (The Most Holy). Here is what it is written in Revelation 11: "And a reed like a rod was given to me as he said: “Get up and measure the
temple sanctuary of God and the altar and those worshiping in it. But as for the courtyard that is outside the temple sanctuary, leave it out and do not measure it, because it has been given to the nations, and they will trample the holy city underfoot for
42 months" (Revelation 11:1,2).
"But as for the courtyard that is outside the temple sanctuary, leave it out and do not measure it", this simple sentence shows that the great temple
symbolized the planet earth, which in the long run, after the thousand years of Christ reign, will be organized in its entirety to worship Jehovah (Isaiah 11:9): "I did not see a temple in it, for Jehovah God the Almighty is its temple, also the Lamb is" (Revelation
For the moment, for as shocking as it may be, human sovereignty, without the intervention of God, is exercised in the "Outer Courtyard of the nations", according to Revelation
11:2. The court of nations is not measured because, for a time fixed by God, it is not under His jurisdiction, but rather under the jurisdiction of the devil, according to 2 Corinthians 4:4 ("among whom the god of this system of things" (the devil) currently,
reigns provisionally, on the earthly "outer courtyard" of the great temple because it has been given, provisionally, to him and the nations (Matthew 4:8,9)).
But what does represent the temple sanctuary? It represents the place where God has always reigned, especially through His Son Jesus Christ. There is a simplified plan of the sanctuary temple,
in three main parts (the description is as if one entered by the porch which is in the inner courtyard). Here is the description with their respective symbolic meaning:
1 - The Inner
Courtyard of the temple sanctuary, in front of the entrance to the sanctuary, where there is the water basin (Sea of bronze), the altar. Since all was made of copper, we understand that this is the small earthly part where God reigns today, through his Son
Jesus Christ: the earthly Christian Congregation (Acts 11:26).
2 - The Holy, the first room entering the sanctuary (Holy Place). It is the part of the earthly Christian congregation
in connection with the Heavens, of which Jesus Christ is the mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). In the book of Revelation chapters 1 to 3, the apostle John, is in vision in the Holy of the spiritual temple sanctuary, where is the glorified Jesus Christ. Among the furniture
all gold (which symbolizes the Heavens) of the Saint, there were golden lampstands. In the book of Revelation, there is the meaning of their symbolism: The Christian congregations that aim to make the light of the Word of God, shine. Jesus Christ designated
His disciples as "the light of the world" that gives glory to God (Matthew 5:14-16). These faithful Christians, lights of the world, when they are all together, constitute a congregation or local church, a lampstand, which is in the Holy of temple sanctuary.
According to Revelation 2 and 3, there are seven Christian congregations, in seven different cities, in this Holy ot the spiritual temple sanctuary where there is the glorified Jesus Christ. This shows that the Spiritual Holy, the Christian congregation, is
the link between the Heavens and the Earth. When Jesus Christ speaks to the "seven lampstands", he is speaking to the "angel" responsible for the "lampstand" or the congregation. Is it a heavenly angel? Obviously, no. Sometimes, the accusations made by Jesus-Christ
to him, are too serious, for imputing to a heavenly angel who is faithful to God. The word "angel" is to be taken in its etymological definition, that is to say, "messenger". And the word "messenger" is biblically linked to the priest: "For the lips of a priest
should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth, because he is the messenger of Jehovah of armies" (Malachi 2:7). This means that the angel of the congregation refers to the "priest" or group of "priests" responsible for the Christian
Congregation. These "priests", in Christian congregations, are symbolized by the seven stars in the right hand of the glorified Jesus Christ.
3 - The Most Holy, the Holy of Holies, where was the famous Ark of the Covenant. It
is the symbol of the place where Jehovah God lives, in the company of hundreds of millions of angels. Always, in the vision of the Revelation, from chapters 4, until the conclusion of chapter 12, the apostle John is (in vision) in the Most Holy of the spiritual
temple sanctuary. As it is written in Revelation 11: "And the temple sanctuary of God in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen in his temple sanctuary. And there were flashes of lightning and voices and thunders and an earthquake and a great
hail"(Revelation 11:19). There is no doubt that this is indeed the Most Holy of the temple sanctuary because it was there, where was the Ark of the Covenant, symbol of the Divine Presence.
The introduction to the book of Revelation, which runs from chapters 1 to 5, takes place at the Sanctuary itself. In his first vision, from chapters 1 to 3, John sees Jesus Christ glorified in his priestly garment, addressing to the seven earthly congregations, symbolized by the seven lampstands, in the Holy of the Temple Sanctuary. In chapter 4, John, by vision, is introduced into the very presence of God, namely into the Most Holy, where the Ark of the Covenant was. In chapter 5, John is still in the Most Holy, when God, in the presence of many angels, gives Jesus Christ the famous scroll with the seven seals, which will truly begin, the Revelation, from chapter 6, by the opening of the first six seals.
The presence of the glorified Jesus Christ who dwells in the heavens, in the Holy and the presence of the lampstands, the earthly congregations, seem to indicate that this part of the temple is mediator between God and humanity as a whole. This is confirmed by what the apostle Paul writes, pointing to Jesus Christ as the only mediator between God and mankind (1 Timothy 2:5). However, in his mediating role, the glorified Jesus Christ uses stars, or human angels or messengers, to head each of the earthly lampholders, the Christian congregations. These men at the head of each of the congregations are priests in the right hand of Christ, who have a role of visible mediation between God and humans, within the framework of adoration, whether by prayer and teaching.
Thus, when it is written that the great crowd serves God in his temple, mentioned in Revelation 7:9-17, it is in the same place as the seven lampstands, on earth. It is part of the sacred service in the temple sanctuary, either in the small inner courtyard, where the altar is, or in the holy, for men in charge of the priesthood, in the congregation, by prayer and teaching, as human angels.
In Revelation 6:9, at the opening of the fifth seal, reference is made to the resurrection of the holy ones who, for their part, ask God to avenge their innocent blood shed on account of murderous persecutions. It is written, that their soul or blood, representing their life, is at the foot of the altar. Indeed, at the foot of the altar in the inner courtyard of the sanctuary temple, there were a base with little canals, where flowed the blood of the animals sacrificed on the altar. According to Revelation 6:9, this time they were symbolically filled with the innocent blood of the holy ones who died for their faith, and which will be avenged by God at the great tribulation.
In Revelation 11:1-4, the apostle John in vision measures the Temple Sanctuary. In verse 2 it is written, that he does not measure the outer courtyard of the great temple, which was given to the nations. Therefore, the outer courtyard of the great temple represents humanity as a whole, apart from the sacred service rendered to God, in the sanctuary temple, or outside the framework of the Christian congregation. The measurement of the sanctuary temple by the apostle John, seems to indicate that the divine standards written in the Bible, must be applied, within the precincts of this sanctuary temple. The fact that it is John, a human, who makes the measurement, seems to indicate that these Christian standards are maintained in the pastoral work of the priests or overseers of the congregations. This is confirmed in Revelation 2 and 3, when the glorified Jesus Christ gives his instructions, sometimes very severe, to the seven human angels in charge of the seven congregations.
The measurement of the New Jerusalem is like to that of the Temple Sanctuary, made by the apostle John (Revelation 11:1,2). Thus, these two measurements represent a judgment (Matthew 7:2 (Jesus compares judgment to a measurement) and Amos 7:7-9 (Jehovah compares his judgment to the use of a plummet)). Jesus Christ in Matthew 19:28 described the period of "re-creation" or earthly resurrection as a earthly judgment of all of humanity being resurrected. However, in the case of New Jerusalem, this time it is an angel who measures with an angel's measure.
This time, in the earthly paradise, it will be measures certainly applied by humans, under the direct supervision of angels. They will be decided by the 144,000 in heaven, notified by princes and priests on earth, and effectively enforced by angels. This would also explain that the measurement is made by an angel, to the measurement of man (applied to humans (reed)), that is to say of angel (applied by angels (the gold symbolizes the heavenly matter that covered all the furnishings of the Holy and Most Holy in the temple sanctuary)) (Revelation 21:15-17).
In conclusion of this part, we can say that the Temple as a whole represents the Heavens, the dwelling place of God, and the Earth, the dwelling place of Humans. The outer courtyard of the Gentiles of the Great Temple, represents the earthly sphere apart from the Christian congregation, the place of which is represented by the temple-sanctuary with the inner courtyard. In Revelation 21:22 it is written: "And I did not see a temple in it, for Jehovah God the Almighty is its temple, also the Lamb is". This verse seems to corroborate the fact that the Most Holy of the temple sanctuary is Jehovah God, and the Holy, glorified Jesus Christ.
OF THE BODY OF CHRIST
The spiritual temple sanctuary (The Holy), is symbolized by the body of Christ, according to the Apostle John: "The Jews then said: “This temple was built in 46 years, and will you raise
it up in three days?” But he was talking about the temple of his body. When, though, he was raised up from the dead, his disciples recalled that he used to say this, and they believed the scripture and what Jesus had spoken" (John 2:20-22). This means
that the spiritual sanctuary is the pattern of the human body when he worships Jehovah. The spiritual body of Jesus Christ, represents the spiritual temple sanctuary, the Christian congregation administered to worship Jehovah. This is what the Apostle Paul
explained in 1 Corinthians 12: "Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you individually is a member. And God has assigned the respective ones in the congregation: first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then powerful works; then gifts of
healings; helpful services; abilities to direct; different tongues. Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform powerful works, do they? Not all have gifts of healings, do they? Not all speak
in tongues, do they? Not all are interpreters, are they? But keep striving for the greater gifts. And yet I will show you a surpassing way" (1 Corinthians 12:27-31). The administration of the Christians congregation, with their different spiritual gifts, given
by God, together represent the spiritual body of Christ and the spiritual temple sanctuary.
Nevertheless, the Apostle Paul and also the Apostle Peter emphasized that on an individual level, the human body of the Christian who worships God, may also represent the spiritual temple sanctuary made to worship God:
"Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that the spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16).
I consider it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you with reminders, knowing as I do that my tabernacle is soon to be removed, just as also our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me" (2 Peter 1:13,14).
The Holy represents the symbolic heart where Christ must symbolically live: "and that through your faith you may have the Christ dwell in your hearts with love. May you be rooted and established on the foundation" (Ephesians 3:17).
The human symbolic heart represents the spiritual inner part of the human being. This symbolic heart must have a spiritual circumcision, that is to say, to remove the symbolic "prepuce", the bad reasonings that can make impure: "However, whatever comes out
of the mouth comes from the heart, and those things defile a man. For example, out of the heart come wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, sexual immorality, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man; but to take a meal
with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matthew 15:18-20). "But he is a Jew who is one on the inside, and his circumcision is that of the heart by spirit and not by a written code. That person’s praise comes from God, not from people" (Romans 2:29;
The lampstand that illuminates the inner part of the human body, the spiritual heart, the spiritual Holy, according to Jesus Christ, are the eyes: "The lamp of the
body is the eye. If, then, your eye is focused, your whole body will be bright. But if your eye is envious, your whole body will be dark. If the light that is in you is really darkness, how great that darkness is!" (Matthew 6:22,23).
The altar and the offerings, made in the spiritual courtyard of the temple sanctuary, represents the lips (altar) and the words that come out of it (spiritual offerings): "And we will offer the praise of our lips as
we would young bulls" (Hosea 14:2). "Through him let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that make public declaration to his name" (Hebrews 13:15).
In the prophecy of Revelation, it represents the worldwide Christian congregation. But what does it mean that the Apostle John measures the spiritual temple sanctuary, and not the outer courtyard given to the nations. The "Measuring" is a judgment, or an authority that does not exceed the limits of the spiritual sanctuary temple (Amos 7:7-9). The fact that God asks the apostle John to measure shows that this authority was given to a man, the apostle John, who was probably the last apostle still alive. More generally, the measuring of the spiritual sanctuary, symbolizes the authority on earth, within this spiritual temple sanctuary, the Christian congregation, would be entrusted to men (and not in the outer courtyard of this Sanctuary): "They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world" (John 17:16)) ((Revelation 11: 1,2). It is again the Apostle Paul who showed how a congregation should be administered.
By remembering the texts of Hebrews 10:1 and Colossians 2:17, which show that the Law is the prophetic shadow of the fulfillment in the Christian congregation, makes it possible to better understand its administration. For example, the Elders represent the Priests in the Holy of the Temple Sanctuary. These Elders represent the Human Angels or Messengers of God and his Son Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Tite 1:5-9; Apocalypse 2 and 3). While Ministerial Servants represent the Nonpriestly Levites which mainly help the Elders in the material administration of the Christian congregation (1 Timothy 3:8-10,12,13).
The angel of the congregation: The Elders, The Overseers and The Stewards
As suggested by the glorified Jesus
Christ, the Christian congregation must be administered by at least one "angel", a "messenger" or a "priest" who transmits to the congregation the sacred declarations of God, through the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16,17; Acts 17:11). The Apostle Paul designated them
as "elders", "overseers" or "stewards":
"This statement is trustworthy: If a man is reaching out to be an overseer, he is desirous of a fine work. The overseer should therefore be irreprehensible, a husband of one wife, moderate in habits, sound in mind, orderly, hospitable, qualified to teach, not a drunkard, not violent, but reasonable, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, a man presiding over his own household in a fine manner, having his children in subjection with all seriousness (for if any man does not know how to preside over his own household, how will he care for the congregation of God?), not a newly converted man, for fear that he might get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed on the Devil. Moreover, he should also have a fine testimony from outsiders so that he does not fall into reproach and a snare of the Devil" (1 Timothy 3:1-7).
"For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might correct the things that were defective and might make appointments of older men in city after city, as I gave you orders; if there is any man free from accusation, a husband of one wife, having believing children that were not under a charge of debauchery nor unruly. For an overseer must be free from accusation as God’s steward, not self-willed, not prone to wrath, not a drunken brawler, not a smiter, not greedy of dishonest gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, sound in mind, righteous, loyal, self-controlled, holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his art of teaching, that he may be able both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful and to reprove those who contradict" (Titus 1:5-9).
24.10 | 07:22
Hi Jane, thank you very much for your encouragement. Thanks to Jehovah God and Jesus Christ who revealed to us the meaning of the Word (1 Corinthians 10:31). Blessings of God to you, Sister in Christ.
23.10 | 22:27
This is the most insightful explanation of scripture o have ever found! God bless you my brothers …. My eyes are devoid of fog!
26.05 | 10:51
12.03 | 10:37
Hi Fatima, as Jesus said to keep on the watch in view of prayers until the end to have the fulfillment of our Christian Hope, to be saved (Mat 24:13,42). Blessings and My Brotherly Greetings in Christ
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of the Greek text, translated as "overseer" is "ἐπίσκοπος" (epískopos) (Strong's Concordance (G1985)): "an overseer a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly,
any curator, guardian or superintendent, elder, or overseer of a Christian church". In the text of Titus 1:5-9, the word "presbyteros" is used for "elders", with other synonymic expressions, such as that of "overseers" (epískopos) and "steward" (oikonomos
(G3623)). If we merge all the spiritual functions of the elders, the overseers and the stewards, we understand that they are teachers of the Word of God, but also, they can be judges in the congregation (Matthew 18:15-17). The only function the Apostle Paul
does not directly write, is the prayer within the congregation, although it is obvious that they were praying on behalf of the congregation. The disciple James describes them primarily, as people who pray for Christians spiritually sick: "Is there anyone sick
among you? Let him call the elders of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him, applying oil to him in the name of Jehovah" (James 5:14). Thus, the elders, the overseers or the stewards, of the congregation have three major roles in the congregation:
The Prayer, The Teaching, and The Judgment of the congregation. Who in the temple sanctuary fulfilled these three functions? burning spiritual incense offerings, praying (Psalms 141: 2), teaching (Malachi 2:7) and judging (Deuteronomy 19:15-17)? The priests.
If the elders or supervisors are priests, why then did not the Apostle Paul and the other apostles directly use the word "priest" to designate the elders of the Christian congregation ("hiereus" (G2409); "chief priest" "archiereus" (G749)), which is well differentiated from the word of "elders", in Matthew (16:21; 21:23; 26: 3)? The expression of priest or high priest, is applied exclusively to Jesus Christ, in the letter to the Hebrews (2:17; 3:1; 4:14,15; chapters 5 to 8; 9:11). Obviously, that in the context of the explanations of the Apostle Paul, this expression can only be applied to Christ (and not to the elders of the congregations).
In addition, Jesus Christ insisted on the "pastoral" office, as spiritual shepherd, of the elders, particularly in one of the last conversations with the apostle Peter: "Shepherd my little sheep" (John 21:15-17). This pastoral function is repeated in the letter to the Hebrews: "Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over you as those who will render an account, so that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you" (Hebrews 13:17). The apostle Peter also insisted on the pastoral office of the elders: "Shepherd the flock of God under your care, serving as overseers, not under compulsion, but willingly before God; not for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly" (1Peter 5:2).
The first meaning definition of "hiereus" is that of "sacrificer" (and not of people who pray, teach or judge in the name of a congregation), whether in Israel, but also in the cities of Rome, Corinth and many others with Greco-Roman customs (1 Corinthians 10: 18-22). At the time, the fact of appointing the elders as priests, even in a spiritual sense, would have created, perhaps, a confusion: The image of the priest sacrificer of the temple of Herod, the Christians no longer under the Mosaic Law, and the Greco-Roman priest in the pagan temples. The word "elder" is closely associated, in their role, with the chief priests, as judges, in the narrative of the Gospels. The high priest finds his correspondence in Jesus Christ, himself (Hebrews 4:14).
However, does it mean that the function of the elder does not correspond to that of the priest? As we have seen, it is not the same as the priesthood of Christ. However, their function is quite similar to those of priests in Israel, this time making spiritual sacrifices: "Through him let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name" (Hebrews 13:15). The elders, in the right hand of Jesus Christ, are the priests of the spiritual temple sanctuary (Revelation 1:20).
Should the Elders of the congregation be called by a title linked to their function, such as "Father", "Rabbi", "Teacher" or "Pastor"? The answer of Christ is, not at all: "But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your Teacher, and all of you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called leaders, for your Leader is one, the Christ. But the greatest one among you must be your minister. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Matthew 23:8-12). The reason given by Christ, is that if the Elders have an authority in the congregation, it must be exercised with humility, without any condescension: "Not that we are the masters over your faith, but we are fellow workers for your joy, for it is by your faith that you are standing" (2 Corinthians 1:24).
Is there a minimum age required for a brother to be named Elder in the Christian Congregation? Yes, of course, for example, under one of the required conditions, it is written: "Not a newly converted man, for fear that he might get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed on the Devil" (1 Timothy 3:1-7). The function of Elder is like of the priests in the former Israel. Now, a man could only become a priest or be in office in the Temple Sanctuary, only from the age of thirty (numbers 4:1-3,22,23,30). Jesus Christ began his ministry, his priesthood, at the age of thirty: "Furthermore, Jesus himself, when he commenced his work, was about thirty years old" (Luke 3:23).
The Ministerial Servants
"Ministerial servants should likewise be serious, not double-tongued, not giving themselves
to a lot of wine, not greedy of dishonest gain, holding the sacred secret of the faith with a clean conscience. Also, let these be tested as to fitness first, then let them serve as ministers, as they are free from accusation. Women should likewise be serious,
not slanderous, moderate in habits, faithful in all things. Let ministerial servants be husbands of one wife, presiding in a fine manner over children and their own households. For the men who minister in a fine manner are acquiring for themselves a fine standing
and great freeness of speech in the faith in connection with Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 3:8-10,12,13).
The word "likewise" shows that the conditions required to be ministerial servant,
are exactly the same as for the "elders". The only difference is the teaching requirement, which is not mentioned directly. However, the expression "great freeness of speech in the faith that is in Christ Jesus", suggests a verbal declaration or a public declaratin
of his faith in Jesus Christ ("παρρησία" "parrhesia" (Strong's Concordance G3954)). In the framework of Christian meetings, the servant ministerial may speak out, to express his faith in Christ with freeness.
The Greek word used for "ministerial servant", is "διάκονος" ("diakonos" Strong's Concordance (G1249)): "an attendant, i.e. (genitive case) a waiter (at
table or in other menial duties); specially, a Christian teacher and pastor (technically, a deacon or deaconess):—deacon, minister, servant". Concretely, the ministerial servants help the elders of the congregation. How? Their christian minister allows
to the overseers to focus fully on their spiritual minister of prayer and teaching, to spiritually build the Christian congregation. More concretely, the ministerial servants are attendants for the material stewardship activities of the congregation, whether
to help Christian brothers and sisters, or stewardship in relation to the building that houses the congregation, if it exists. In the book of Acts we find a situation in which this division of labor is described between the elders and the ministerial servants:
"Now in those days when the disciples were increasing, the Greek-speaking Jews began complaining against the Hebrew-speaking Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called the multitude of the disciples together
and said: “It is not right for us to leave the word of God to distribute food to tables. So, brothers, select for yourselves seven reputable men from among you, full of spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them over this necessary matter; but we will
devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” What they said was pleasing to the whole multitude, and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith and holy spirit, as well as Philip, Prochʹo·rus, Ni·caʹnor, Tiʹmon, Parʹme·nas,
and Nic·o·laʹus, a proselyte of Antioch. They brought them to the apostles, and after praying, they laid their hands on them" (Acts 6:1-6).
This does not mean that the
appointed men, in this circumstance were ministerial servants, nevertheless, they did a material assistance work to allow the apostles to focus fully in their spiritual activities (In Acts 7, if Stephen was appointed for this food distribution activity, his
speech shortly before his death in martyrdom, denotes a great spiritual maturity that could have been that of a Christian overseer). What activity in the temple corresponds to the function of ministerial servant? To that of the non-priestly Levites who were
serving the priesthood. The tribe of Levi, in its non-priestly part, were material stewards of the tabernacle (Numbers 1:47-53), and later of the temple (1 Kings 8:1-6). The non-priestly Levites were in the material service of the Aaronic Priesthood (Numbers
3: 9,10: "You are to give the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They are given ones, given to him from the Israelites. You should appoint Aaron and his sons, and they are to carry out their priestly duties, and any unauthorized person who comes near should be
put to death").
elders are teachers, those who represent the congregation with prayers and if necessary, they judge in the congregation. The ministerial servants are primarily working in the material stewardship of the Christian congregation. In 1 Corinthians chapters 12
and 14, the Apostle Paul gives instructions for the Christian meetings to proceed in order. In 1 Corinthians chapter 12, the Apostle Paul shows that in a congregation there is a diversity of spiritual gifts to build the congregation, which represents the body
of Christ: "Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you individually is a member. And God has assigned the respective ones in the congregation: first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then powerful works; then gifts of healings; helpful services;
abilities to direct; different tongues. Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform powerful works, do they? Not all have gifts of healings, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not
all are interpreters, are they? But keep striving for the greater gifts. And yet I will show you a surpassing way" (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).
In 1 Corinthians 14, the apostle Paul insists
that Christian meetings should be conducted in order: "For God is a God not of disorder but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33). Let everyone speak for the purpose of spiritually building the congregation (1 Corinthians 14:26). This teaching must be understandable
for the whole congregation: "Nevertheless, in a congregation I would rather speak five words with my mind, that I might also instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue" (1 Corinthians 14:19).
As part of congregational meetings, in the spiritual sanctuary temple, in the framework of teaching, women are not allowed to speak in any way: "As in all the congregations of the holy ones, let the women keep silent in the congregations, for it is
not permitted for them to speak. Rather, let them be in subjection, as the Law also says. If they want to learn something, let them ask their husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the congregation" (1 Corinthians 14:33-35). The expression,
"As in all the congregations of the holy ones", shows that it is not simply a local decision, or only applying to the congregation of Corinth, but a divine instruction applied to all Christian congregations of holy ones. Moreover, this biblical instruction
is repeated in the first letter to Timothy: "Let a woman learn in silence with full submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but she is to remain silent" (1 Timothy 2:11,12).
All situations can not be written, it is up to the elders to make the right decisions, based on the Bible to administer the Christian congregation, in order to give glory to God and to encourage brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Corinthians
10:31; Hebrews 10:24,25).