FOURTH CONTINUATION IN ANSWER TO
NORMAN EDWARDS' CHURCH GOVERNMENT PAPER
Hebrews 13:17 Does Not Create Hierarchy. "Obey them that have the
rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your
souls, as they that must give account...." (Heb. 13:17 KJV). The
Greek peitho ("obey") is usually translated "persuade" or "trust"
- it contains the idea of becoming friends, cooperating. The
Greek pietharcheo, used for obeying the Eternal or kings (Acts
5:29; Tit 3:1) was not used here. The Greek hegemoai ("rule") is
more often translated "count" or "think" and here means "leaders"
or "those that must give account." The Greek hupotasso,
("submit") is the same word used for "people submitting to civil
authority" and members "submitting to each other" (Rom. 13:1-5, l
Cor 16:16, Eph 5:21, 1 Pet. 5:5). If hupotasso meant "under
absolute authority," how could the believers be "under absolute
authority" to each other? While this verse does give a strong
message about cooperation with the leaders of his congregation,
it does not set up the ecclesiastical monarchy that King James 1
wanted. Our leaders should tell us what Paul did: "Imitate me,
just as I also imitate Christ" (l Cor. 11:1) We find the same
Greek word for "rule" peitho used in Hebrews 13:7: "Remember
those who rule over you, who love spoken the word of God to you,
whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct."
Again, we are to consider the outcome or fruits of a leader and
follow his faith, not his every word. If leaders stop imitating
the Messiah and His Word, we stop imitating them! "
I have no big argument here with Norman Edwards, I fully
agree with what he states. But I do take exception to his
statement "...it does not set up the. ecclesiastical monarchy
that King James 1 wanted." Again poor old King James is blamed
for what Mr.Edwards finds objectional words used by his
These kinds of words are read routinely in many churches as
they study through the NT. There are more verses in the NT to do
with the same basic teaching than just the verse in Hebrew 13.
The churches that do not teach and do not practice an iron hand,
dogmatic authoritarian, jump to my tune, ministerial system(which
is really the teaching and working of a "cult") HAVE LITTLE
TROUBLE WITH SUCH VERSES! For they do not read into them a "blind
faith" or "stop thinking and let the elders tell you what to do,
when to do it, and how to do it" mentality.
It is organizations and leaders of such that turn their
followers into "cult members" who give their minds over to them,
sometimes done so slowly and cunningly, they do not realize what
has happened until they are so blinded that they cannot see the
trees for the forest. Then leaders can put a false interpretation
upon words as found in Hebrews 13:17 to perpetuate the cycle of
full blind faith dominance, upon their brainwashed followers.
Let's stay for a moment with the English words obey, rule,
and submit. How we understand them is a matter of semantics, and
the overall context will also determine our view of them. Let me
give you an example.
A father writes a letter to his child who is away on a
camping holiday with the Boy Scout troop he belongs to. He writes
to him as part of his letter: "Son, I want you to obey the Scout
Master and those who have rule over you, and I want you to be
submissive to them, for they watch for your wellbeing, as they
must give account to all the parents of the children in their
The child/children and all the parents are quite familiar
with the Scout Troop operation, they know how it is run, what the
teachings and overall objectives of the organization are. They
know the relationship the leaders have with the boys in the
Troop, and vice versa. The child receiving such a letter from his
father using the words obey, rule, and submit/submissive in it,
poses no threat or trepidation to the boy. For he is in full
understanding as to what his father means by those words WITHIN
THE CONTEXT of the organization he belongs to and is at ease
with. He automatically realizes his father is not talking about
"blindly following" like some mindless robot, the Scout Master or
those ruling him, if it should endanger his life.
He knows his father is not meaning to say that if the Scout
leader should tell him to jump from a fifty foot cliff into an
eight foot pool of water, and he is not happy about doing it,
that he must, unquestionably obey the leader.
So likewise it was with Paul and his readers. First of all,
the context was the true Church of God, not some authoritarian
mindless cult they were part of. Secondly, the context was also
talking about true faithful leaders (elders) of the Lord, not
some pompous dictatorial power hungry little Hitlers. Thirdly,
within that context everybody was living and acing as real
Christians who knew the truths of how Christ wanted His people
to interact with one another.
The context of Paul's writing to them was as the context of
the father we talked about above, writing to his child in the
camp out with the Boy Scouts. Nothing intimidating meant and no
Under such a context there is no fear in the words obey,
rule, and submit! Paul was writing as a loving spiritual parent
and it is written: "Perfect love casts out fear."
It is only when these verses in Hebrews and else-where, have
been TWISTED and MISUSED by vain egotistical "do as I say, even
to what I tell you to eat for breakfast" mind abusing cultic
leaders, that people start to fear the words obey, rule, and
submit. For those within the true church of Jesus Christ who are
all trying to function with love, in the various tasks they have
been given to do in the three overall classes of saint, deacon,
and overseer, there is no apprehension or trembling before those
three words under discussion.
The King James translators did not have some sinister, stick
a knife in your back, hold you at gun point, make you quake and
shake in your boots, mental mind set, when they chose the English
words, obey, rule and submit. I am sorry that N.E. had to
experience for so many years the mental abuse that the Worldwide
Church of God employed with its members through a dictatorial
hierarchical church government structure, but let's put the blame
where it truly belongs - on the abuse of men with a false
semantic use of words. We need to free ourselves not only from
the captivity of that tyranny, but also from the captivity of
seeing "an evil goblin" behind words used in the translation of
the scholars employed by King James.
The translators of 1611 did not do a perfect job by any
means, and they did a few times, fragrantly forget the Greek like
in Acts 12:4 before mentioned(which is a much more serious
mistranslation than anything Mr.Edwards talks about in his
paper), but even then in that, I do not believe they had any evil
clandestine plan in mind. I will give them the benefit of the
doubt, all will come to light in the judgment day. By and large I
praise and give thanks to the Lord for the King James English
translation of the Bible. It has and is still leading tens of
thousands of people to the light of the world and truths of God.
It is the perverseness of religious mind controllers and
their organizations who twist the scriptures and pollute even the
meaning of English words, that we need to watch out for and
avoid, not the words of the King James Version, imperfect as it
I could go into a long discourse about the Greek words that
N.E. brings out in the above quote, but it is not necessary here.
You can study them, all the places where they are used etc. in
works such as Stronq's Concordance of the Bible.
Yet I do need to touch on the truth of verses like Hebrews
Within the family of God which is the church of God, there
is obey/obedience, rule/guiding/overseeing. and submit/yielding.
God is the lawgiver, He lives and governs by law. He guides and
rules us in the way we should conduct our lives by law. He
expects us to yield and submit to Him and His righteousness. The
church is composed of those who have been begotten by the
indwelling of the Holy Spirit in their minds - the very nature of
God. The church is the flock of the Lord, and over that flock as
caring shepherds to feed and lead into green pastures, persons
called overseers or elders. It is they who are responsible to
teach in word and conduct, the way, the laws, the righteousness,
of the Eternal, to the flock. Sometimes, as we have seen in the
letters to Timothy and Titus, that leading and teaching must be
with power, strength, and correction, in season and out of
The NT, nay the whole Bible, shows very clearly that the
leading and teaching of the shepherds has to do with
righteousness and sin, NOT WITH GOVERNING THE SHEEP IN TRIVIAL
DAY TO DAY MATTERS, such as what car to buy, what dress to
wear for church services, what job to work at etc. unless of
course for some reason the matter does cross over into the clear
issue of sin and righteousness.
The pastors of the Lord do have the responsibility the
govern with law, the law of God. And within those clear areas of
the Eternal's laws and righteousness, they do have the right to
expect the sheep of the flock to obey! They should expect the
sheep who want to serve the Lord, who desire to grow in grace and
knowledge, to submit when it is plainly a matter of that which is
the commandment and law and righteousness of God.
Examples are often the best way to teach a point of truth. I
will give you some. A few from the NT itself, and one from my own
Turn to 2 Thessalonians chapter three and we shall begin
reading from verse ten: "For even when we were with you, this
WE(Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, chap. 1:1 - elders and overseers
in the church) COMMANDED you, that if any would not work, neither
should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among
you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them
that are such we COMMAND and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ,
that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread"(verses
Just no way around this, pretty strong stuff from those
three overseers. Paul hit the nail on the head, laid the cards on
the table, and just told them the law of the Lord on this matter.
Oh, you want to look up the Greek word here used for
command/ed to see if there is a way out. Please do! You will find
it is the word parangelloo. Here is what Vine's Dictionary says,
".......'to announce beside' (pare, 'beside,' angelloo, 'to
announce'), 'to pass on an announcement,' hence denotes 'to give
the word, order, give a charge, command', e.g., Mark 6:8; Luke
8:29; 9:21; Acts 5:28; 2 Thes.3:4, 6, 10, 12. See CHARGE, B.
Ah, it is used also in verses 4 and 6 of 2 Thessalonians
chapter three. Please look them up also.
Then turn to Mark 6:8, where this same Greek word is used in
connection with Jesus. Please read verse seven to twelve. Christ
did not "suggest" or "request" or "if you so choose" - to do, He
charged them, commanded them, to do and not to do certain things.
They went out and obeyed!
This Greek word is no weakling - it is STRONG! Look at Luke
8:29 if you still want further proof.
Now back to 2 Thes.3:10-12. Is Paul here talking about what
colour of shoes to buy, or what donkey to purchase for your
travels? No, not at all! He is talking about certain problems in
the church that PERTAIN TO RIGHT AND WRONG, TO SIN AND
RIGHTEOUSNESS, TO THE LAW OF THE LORD! Persons in the church
going about willfully not working and being disorderly busybodies
while living off the food of others, WAS CONTRARY TO THE PERFECT
LAW OF GOD! And with the very authority of Jesus Christ the three
men mentioned in chapter one verse one, were charging/commanding
them what to do about this unlawful and sinful situation.
Of course as in any breaking of any concrete law no man can
FORCE any other person to comply, unless you have a gun to their
heads. Then that would be acting as an authoritarian dictator,
and God's church is not to be governed by such commanded actions,
although some have tried to do so. Not literally maybe, but
If some did not want to obey this directive from these three
elders, then they gave more commands to the saints as to what to
do in verses 4 and 6. The same Greek word!
Again let's remember, Paul is here talking about deadly
serious matters, not "on which side of the river do we stroll
down on a Sunday afternoon" decision at all, but spiritual life
and death matters for certain ones in the church.
Stay in 2 Thessalonians and chapter three. Keep reading from
verse 12, "But you brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if
any man OBEY not our word by this epistle, note that man, and
have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him
not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother" (verses 13-15).
Here the Greek word for "obey" is NOT peitho as in Hebrews
13:17, it is a DIFFERENT word altogether - hupakouo. Here again
is what Vine's Dictionary has to say:
".......'to listen,attend' (as in Acts 12:13), and so, 'to
submit, to obey,' is used of 'obedience' (a) to God, Heb.5:9; 11
:8; (b) to Christ, by natural elements, Matt.8:27; Mark 1 :27;
4:41; Luke 8:25; (c) to disciples of Christ, Luke 17:6; (d) to
the faith, Acts 6:7; the gospel, Rom.10:16; 2 Thess.1 :8;
Christian doctrine, Rom.6: 17 (as to a form or mould of
teaching); (e) to apostolic injunctions, Phil.2:12; 2 Thes.3:14;
(f) to Abraham by Sarah, 1 Pet.3:6; (g) to parents by children,
Eph.6:1; Col.3:20; (h) to masters by servants, Eph.6:5; Col.3:22;
(i) to sin, Rom.6:12; (j) in general, Rom.6:16."
The Englishman's Greek Concordance, page 772 lists every place it
is used in the NT. This Greek word is not the same as hupotasso
mentioned by Mr.Edwards in his above quote. You can find that
word and all places it is used on page 780 of the aforementioned
This Greek word of 2 Thess.3:14 is again a "hit you between
the eyes" STRONG word, no punches pulled. You will see how strong
it can be in the verses of: Mat.8:27; MarK 1:27; 4:41; Acts 6:7;
Rom.6:16; Heb.5:9; 11:8.
What is the context? Having to decide what colour to paint
the house, and other trivial matters? NO! It is church matters so
LARGE and important that if people would not submit and obey,
the rest should note and sanction by having no company with them
and admonishing them not as an enemy but as a brother. If such
persons still will not repent after such reproof then the full
force of Matthew 18:15-20 must be put into effect.
And that is another subject which I have covered in detail
in my study called "Disfellowshipping - What the Bible Really
Teaches"(please request it if you do not already have it).
Yes indeed there is some strong authority at times(the
correct righteous times) invested in the overseers of the church,
as to how they are to shepherd the flock, within the LAW of the
Lord. Not man made laws, not the ideas and wishes of men who
pervert the scriptures or claim some "apostolic" inspiration as
"God's apostle on earth" or "only apostle of the Lord" mentality.
That appointed function of leading and teaching for the elders
does carry with it the necessity for the saints who are truly the
children of God to obey, not with blind faith, but with
respectful trusting faith, because such elders do watch for the
welfare of their spiritual souls, and must give account to the
Eternal one day for the job entrusted to them.
There is an aspect, a very real one, of obeying in no
"wishy-washy" term, the overseers of the church, when they are
teaching the written in stone spiritual laws and commandments of
the Eternal God. It is a great responsibility to take on the duty
and function of being a guide and helper to others in their
spiritual Christians lives. Quite frankly, many should back off
and think twice before undertaking such an awesome task, that is
why James was inspired to write what he did in verse one, chapter
three of his letter. And it is no light thing, and should not be
taken lightly, for a saint to ASK FOR HELP AND COUNSEL on an
issue of importance, from one or more of the overseers of
the church. The Lord has recorded for us the importance He places
on the subject of those coming to His chosen and appointed
guides/elders/overseers of His flock.
Turn to Deuteronomy the seventeenth chapter. Please read from
verse eight to verse thirteen.
Wow!!! Pretty heavy stuff don't you think? Now friend, I did
not write it. This is not "and Keith Hunt said" theology. This is
from THE ETERNAL GOD of heaven! Again, we are not dealing here
with coming to the ministers for counsel on what sheep to slay
for the evening meal, or which model of computer to buy for your
home. Many "cultic" organizations try to dictate their followers
lives this way, right down to small unimportant daily liberties.
Such is not the way of the Lord. This passage is talking about a
"matter too hard for thee in judgment." Serious matters! Notice
verse eleven - the priest(under the NT, the elders/overseers) is
to teach "according to THE SENTENCE OF THE LAW." Not something
out of his own head or "opinion" but out "of the law" - that
which has some teeth and grip to it.
If you just want some other persons "opinion" on what breed
of dog to buy for your child's birthday, you do not have to run
off to the ministers to answer that question. If you do I hope
they will tell you not to bother them with such none essential
matters, as their time is more valuable than deciding for you
what dog to buy. Most of them will probably be as expert on dogs
as they are on the "man in the moon."
It is serious matters the priests/ministers of the Lord are
to help you in, not things you can decide for yourself or with
the help of friends or other experts in other fields and
skills. It is in matters that pertain to the spiritual law in
your life, and where it is too hard for you, and you need the
service of God's chosen experts on this skilled trade - theology.
God instructs that under those conditions, you are to arise
and get thee up to His ministers for counsel. They are to render
judgment according to the "sentence of the law which they shall
teach you." Showing you clearly from the law the answer to your
hard matter. Then if you WILL NOT DO IT, IF YOU WILL NOT OBEY the
Eternal pulls no punches, He hammers the nail home friend. You
can again read it for yourself. Under the Old Covenant such
persons refusing to obey WOULD DIE! For such evil was to be put
away from Israel.
I think you will fully see what this is all about, if you
still have any doubts lingering in your mind, as I give you my
last example from my personal ministry.
I was pastering a small congregation near Toronto in the
early 80's. A Few young men came into our fellowship. They were
zealous for the word of the Lord, wanting to learn and obey the
way of God. Through the process of time, Bible studies, and
personal counselling with me, all seemed to be proper and correct
for them to be baptized. I did all I could to ascertain they were
ready to fully serve the Lord in their lives. They were baptized.
All went just fine for about one year. Then my wife and I both
noticed a few things about one of the young men, nothing really
major, but a certain gravitation to particular parts of the
Bible, and certain articles laying around our home when he came
to visit. We just "wondered" but did not think too deeply on the
matter. He did have a few male friends he introduced us to that
were in some ways a little "strange," yet we did not dwell
on....... our wondering.
Then one time he came to me privately and wanted to know
about "homosexuality" from the Biblical point of view. I showed
him in a general way what the word said, and we talked about it
in a general way, no more was said.
Sometime later his best friend who had been baptized at the
same time came to me quite upset. The young man in question had
finally confided to him that he was homosexual, and was keeping
company with homosexuals. He thought his friend would understand
and commiserate, but he did not, it just left him in total shock.
He did not come to church for a while, then slowly asked to
counsel with me, which I did. I thought he was trying to see what
God's word said about such a life style. I talked with him for
many hours. I think it was the third counselling period I had
with him that things got down to the nitty-gritty. He told me he
was thinking about moving into the city of Toronto to live. He
wanted to know what to do about overcoming homosexuality. I told
him he would have to be willing to obey me on two specific
points, namely: 1. As Toronto is the second largest city in North
America with a homosexual community(second behind San Francisco),
he should not go to live there. 2. He must give up going around
with homosexual men.
I told him that not to follow my directives on those two
points would sound the death bell for him spiritually.
He did not listen to me. He did not obey. He went to live in
Toronto, and never came back to church again. I have never seen
or heard from him to this day.
This was no "small fry" - just shoot the breeze matter. This
was a HARD MATTER - seriously IMPORTANT matter, one that was
clearly plain in the word of God. Practicing homosexuality is
SIN! It is an abomination to the Lord. Under the Old Covenant it
was punishable by the death penalty!
The young man came to me for counsel and advice. I
instructed him according to the sentence of the law of the Lord,
and gave him directives to follow, charged him to follow, I could
say "commanded" him to obey(but I did not use such words), if he
was going to stand any chance with the power of God to overcome
this sin. I could not make him obey, I could not force him to
follow my instructions. He and we all are free moral agents. He
went his way and chose to do his own thing, leaving behind his
fellow Christians that loved him so much. We all shed some tears
over the whole occurrence.
There is an interesting point of slight difference between
verse seven and verse seventeen of Hebrews chapter 13.
The Greek word for "remember" in verse seven is totally
different from the Greek word for "obey" in verse seventeen. In
verse 7 the word is mneemonuo and means to mentally keep in the
mind something. It is found on page 503 in the Englishman's Greek
Concordance. It is used in such verses as: John 15:20; Gal.2: 10;
Paul is telling his readers to keep in their mind the
leaders/guides/overseers that have taught them the word, and to
follow their conduct of character as it is in Jesus Christ. The
emphasis here is more on the conduct of life than on the words
they speak. But in verse 17 the emphasis changes somewhat to the
words that come forth from those leaders, the teaching they give
forth, as I've covered above in the three examples given.
The word "obey" in Greek is as N.E. says, the Greek word
peitho, pepoitha. And although it may not carry the connotation
of obeying as under the authority of a dictator, such as those
obeying Hitler during the second World War. Although it is an
obedience from a trusting belief persuasion connotation, it
nevertheless is still meaning the end result is OBEYING! The cake
of obedience is still being cut, but with a certain knife slicing
it from a different angle than some other knife(word) in the
This word peitho and every place it is used in the NT can be
found in the Englishman's Greek Con. on pages 609 and 610. It is
translated FIVE times as "obey" - in Gal.3:1; 5:7; Jam.3:3;
Rom.2:8; and here in Heb.13:17. You would do well to look up
the verses in Galatians, James, and Romans.
It is used by King Agrippa in Acts 26:28 when he said to
Paul, "Almost you persuade me to be a Christian." To be a true
Christian is to obey Christ. King Agrippa was close to wanting to
live as an obeying follower of Jesus Christ. Talking about Christ
in Heb.2:13, He says: "....I will put my trust in Him(the
Father)...." Jesus' trust or belief or persuasion in the Father
was manifest in obeying Him! The word peitho carries WlTHIN
itself to obey, which ever way you want to slice the cake!
The King James translators were quite correct in rendering
peitho as obey in Hebrews 13:17. For that is exactly what Paul
was meaning to say to those reading his letter. From the whole NT
they would understand(and from what Paul and others had
personally taught in teaching and preaching) this was not a
"blind" obedience to every whim of a minister, but obeying as "in
the Lord" just like a wife to her husband, and servants to their
masters(Eph.5:22; 6:5). Obeying that which is within the holy law
of God, that does not conflict with it, and only those things
that are important issues of spiritual life and death.
You do not have to obey a minister who orders you to wash
his car and the like. If any so called minister does that, my
advice to you is run from him as fast as you can and stay away
from him until he repents and asks your forgiveness. Such a man
is not in the true attitude of a humble shepherd of the Lord. Of
course you could try correcting him in love, but with that mind
set he has, it will probably be like water on a ducks back. Such
men with such attitudes of mannerisms have become a cult unto
All of the above does not contradict the truth of the matter
plainly taught in the NT, that every child of God is responsible
for studying the scriptures for themselves, in order to do as
Paul said: "Prove all things and hold fast to that which is
good." The example of the Bereans is given to us not to fill
space in the book of Acts, but to teach us a very important
truth of the Lord. They heard things, they were preached at, they
had been taught(teaching) by two apostles and overseers (Paul and
Silas) the word (the scriptures of God, not the ideas of men).
The Bereans were willing to listen, they had no prejudice,
but they were not gullible either. They were not going to have
"blind faith" and swallow everything coming out of the mouths of
these two men who claimed they were ministers of God. What was
said to them, they would make very sure was according to the
scriptures. They "searched the scriptures daily, whether those
things were so" (Acts 17:10-1).
Because of this correct action on their part it is written:
"Therefore MANY believed"(verse 12).
You need to also mark with bright yellow and never forget
the verse found in Isaiah 8:20, "To the law and the testimony: if
they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no
light in them."
You need to remember that the NT(and the old also) teaches very
clearly that some elders/overseers WILL NOT REMAIN FAITHFUL AND
TRUE TO THE WORD AND DOCTRINES OF THE ETERNAL GOD!! THEY WOULD
FALL AWAY INTO FALSE AND HERETICAL DOCTRINES AND TEACHINGS, IN
ORDER TO PLEASE MEN AND/OR GAIN A FOLLOWING AFTER THEMSELVES
(Acts 20:17-31; 2 Tim.4:1-5; 2 Pet.2:1).
You personally are to "work out your own salvation with fear
and trembling." You will not enter the Kingdom on the shirt tails
of the eldership, nor will Jesus entertain the excuse "well the
overseers said I could do it" or "the elders told me I didn't
have to do it."
The eldership is put there by God to teach/lead/guide and
set you the correct example in the truth and the way that leads
to life. Your responsibility is to make sure from the word that
they are on the straight and narrow path of righteousness, in
what they teach and how they live.
If leaders do stop imitating in word and conduct, the
Messiah, then certainly we need to do as Mr.Edwards says - "stop
The reader may want to request my article "When does a
Minister become Disqualified from the Ministry?"
It is also the plain truth of the NT that God does have in
His church, men whom He has called and chosen and appointed to be
spiritual leaders and overseers of His people. They have been
there from the start of the NT church on the day of Pentecost.
They have been there from that time forward and are there today!
Somewhere, in some places, on this "good green earth" are men who
have not been corrupted by Satan, the world, the flesh, or human
organizations. They are standing tall for the word of truth,
teaching and living it faithfully and pleasing to God.
It is also the responsibility not only for the shepherds to
seek the sheep who may be scattered, but for the sheep to seek,
look for, and recognize WHO THE TRUE SHEPHERDS ARE, for make no
mistake, the Lord has them out there ready to lead, serve, and
guide to green pastures besides the still waters.
THOSE ARE THE MAIN POINTS I HAVE DIFFICULTY WITH IN NORMAN
EDWARDS' PAPER ON CHURCH GOVERNMENT. THERE ARE SOME OTHER
SECTIONS I FEEL I DO NEED TO SAY A FEW WORDS ON HERE AND THERE
IN HIS STUDY.
COMMENTS ON OTHER POINTS
Voting References Suppressed(pages 5,6).
This is to do with that Greek word cheirotoneo. I have
covered that quite thoroughly in section or part two of this
work. There is no need to say any more here except N.E.'s
reference to the Weymouth NT translation and Adam Clarke and
other commentaries to back his assertion, really proves nothing.
I can find many more NT translations and Bible Commentaries in
support of the opposite.
Ekklesia Translated "Church" Instead of "Congregation" or
It is true that the Greek word ekklesia would have been
better translated as assembly, then again that is not correct
either. Ekklesia is from ek, "out of," and kleesis,"a calling"
(kaleoo, "to call"). So if we want to get real technical about
things, the best translation from the Greek ekklesia in the NT
would have been - "the called out of ones."
The English word "church" can be from the Old English circe,
but not necessarily.
The World Book Dictionary gives: "(Old English circe <
Vulgar Latin cyriaca < Greek kyriakon (dogma) the Lord's (house)
< kyrios master < kyros power)."
As the above dictionary brings out the English word "church"
can be understood in DIFFERENT ways. So we are again back to
"good ol" semantics of words. How YOU may interpret in your mind
the meaning of the word.
I grew up with the word "church" not only from the KJV but
from all the years (starting at the age of six) I attended a
religious school and local church, the "Congregational Church"
with the word to me NEVER containing the dark sinister meaning it
seems to convey to Mr.Edwards. I never saw any plot by King
James, his translators of 1611, nor the Church of England, to
make people attend THEIR church, or support them with money. To
read that into the word "church" takes from my view point, a HUGE
imagination, flamed by a paranoia that must come from having the
unfortunate experience of being a member of an "abusive church"
(there is a book by the name of "Churches that Abuse" I recommend
you read, the author is R.M.Enroth) using the name of Church of
You want to use the words "congregation" or "assembly" or
"called out ones" that is fine with me, I have no problem, but
please allow me to use the word "church" for I also have no
problem with that word. And please keep to yourself your sinister
notions about some clandestine plot on the part of King James and
his hired scholars. For the plain truth is the King James Version
of the Bible has done LESS damage to the minds of people over
nearly 400 years, than what Herbert W. Armstrong and the
Worldwide Church of God did in 20 years (1966 to 1986). He and
his organization may have taught many truths(so does the Roman
Catholic church), but the errors and heresies, twisted
and perverted his followers into mindless brainwashed robots,
whom he himself called "dumb sheep." Only now are some beginning
to see the truth of the matter and the errors he perpetuated as
"God's only apostle" and the "Elijah to come."
Kingdom Conflict(page 6).
No sinister plot here either on the part of the KJV
scholars, unless you are grasping at every straw to try to build
your case. Most people from the WCG do not understand this verse
of Luke 17:21 within its context. Nor do they understand, for
they have not been taught the Biblical truth about the TWO
aspects or fulfilments of the Kingdom of God - a present reality
aspect AND a future literal aspect. The reader can request my
article "Is the Kingdom of God 'Within' You?" and find the whole
answer from the scriptures.
What is the "Government of God?"(page 6).
From this heading to page 12, I have very little trouble in
agreeing with what Mr.Edwards has written. There are a few
thoughts and sentences I may not fully see eye to eye on. I have
either covered them in previous pages or they are not of
sufficient importance to elucidate upon here.
What are the Qualifications of an Apostle?(pages 12, 13).
Mr.Edwards is not the first to write on the so called
"qualifications" of an apostle, and will not be the last. Some
misunderstanding and a few hand-stands, and cart-wheels have been
done with the scriptures in regards to this subject of
First, let's look at what Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT
Words has to say in full:
" 1. apostolos is, lit., 'one sent forth' (apo, 'from,' stello,
'to send'). The word is used of the Lord Jesus Christ to describe
His relation to God, Heb.3:1; see John 17:3. The twelve disciples
chosen by the Lord for special training were so called, Luke
6:13; 9:10. Paul, though he had seen the Lord Jesus, 1 Cor.9:1;
15:8, had not 'companied with' the Twelve 'all the time' of His
earthly ministry, and hence was not eligible for a place among
them, according to Peter's description of the necessary
qualifications, Acts 1:22. Paul was commissioned directly, by the
Lord Himself, after His Ascension, to carry the gospel to
the Gentiles. The word has also a wider reference. In Acts 14:4,
14, it is used of Barnabas as well as of Paul; in Rom.16:7 of
Andronicus and Junias. In 2 Cor.8:23 (RV, margin) two unnamed
brethren are called 'apostles of the churches'; in Phil.2:25 (RV,
margin). Epaphroditus is referred to as 'your apostle.' It is
used in 1 Thess.2:6 of Paul, Silas, and Timothy, to define their
relation to Christ.
2. apostolee 'a sending, a mission,' signifies an
apostleship, Acts 1:25; Rom.1:5; 1 Cor.9:2; Gal.2:8.'
Note: Pseudapostoloi, 'false apostles,' occurs in
We note from the above the NT gives us TWENTY ONE men who
were named as apostles, men who were sent forth!
Really quite simple. You are functioning as an apostle for
God if the Lord personally Himself appoints you to go forth(as He
did with the 12 apostles, Paul and Barnabas. A "?" must be placed
on the other men concerning direct sending by God, for we are not
told, or if He uses the Church(as a whole) or a church(single
congregation) to send a person forth. The going forth and some
examples are by that of Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Barnabas -
journeying here and there to churches near and far, preaching
and teaching. Sometimes also doing Evangelistic work IF the Lord
had given you that gift of ministerial function. As we saw
earlier in section one, an elder could have more than one
function of ministry, or change functions as directed by the
It would seem from the NT there were 21 men at least who
functioned primarily as apostolic elders in the church as a
Did those men who were NOT OF THE TWELVE first apostles,
have to meet the qualifications that Peter gave in Acts 1:21,22?
NO, THEY DID NOT! And I will explain Acts chapter one and the
choosing of Matthias is a moment. The point here is that IF
God directly or indirectly through the church(inspiring the
elders and others) called you to go forth to the churches near
and far, you were functioning in the eldership of the church as
an apostle. It was and is just that simple, no big theologically
complicated doctrine, for the word apostle means "to go forth" or
"one sent forth."
The trouble for many begins when they smoke-screen this
simple truth of the NT with Acts 1: 15-26. They try to do
cart-wheels with the word in order to fit Paul(and some
others) into this context, WHEN THEY SHOULD DO NO SUCH THING!
Paul. Barnabas, Timothy etc. were NEVER a part of the twelve, but
they were just as much apostles as any of the twelve were, no
more and no less.
The TWELVE were a class of apostles quite unique from all
other apostles to come. No other apostles after them were or ever
will be a part of that distinct group of 12. They were unique as
a group of twelve apostles. But unique in what ways? Did they
have more dictatorial authority over other apostles and elders in
the church? No, they did not, as we have before proved in the
first part of this book. They had no more authority over each
other than any other elder in the church. Paul, we have seen,
certainly did not think any of them had authority over himself.
He respected them, said some seemed to be pillars in the church,
but he made it very clear he was not "under" them in authority.
As a unique group of twelve, did they have more talents and
abilities in theology than the other elders? Oh, not at all, far
from it! Paul in theology training could have run rings around
many of them I am sure. Even Peter found some things written by
Paul "hard to understand" so he stated(2 Pet.3:16). But not
Were they blessed with more of the gifts of the Spirit than
any other apostles or elders? No, they were not! Peter was able
to perform great miracles at the onset of the NT church, but we
are not told that the others of the twelve were able to do the
same. Then on the other hand Stephen and Philip, who were not
apostles did great miracles also. And Paul sure had as many gifts
of the Spirit as anyone.
So if it was not these things that made the 12 apostles
unique, then what indeed was it?
Three basic areas made them a special group of apostles that
will never be duplicated in the same way again.
1. They were personally picked by Jesus Christ while He was in
the flesh on this earth during His last three and one half years
of life and ministry (Luke 6:12-16), and called apostles because
He would send them forth.
2. They would be given a special commission of going forth to a
certain race of people - the "lost sheep of the House of Israel"
(Mat.10:1-6). This they did do. William Steuart McBirnie,Ph.D.
has written a fascinating book called "The Search For The Twelve
Apostles," published by Tyndale House, that verifies the facts of
history to prove they did what Jesus sent them forth to do, after
3. The twelve apostles were the only persons recorded for us of
all the children of God, that were in advance told specifically
what their reward would be in the Kingdom age to come
These three basic areas combined together make the original
twelve apostles unique among all apostles, elders, and saints.
The truth of Acts chapter one should now start to become
clear. A man HAD TO FILL the position of the dead Judas Iscariot.
To be as the other eleven, the man had to be qualified as the
others were, namely part of the disciples that were the large
overall group of persons that followed and toured Palestine with
Jesus during His ministry and witnessed His resurrection.
There is no need to try and do hand-stands with God's word
to fit Paul and Barnabas and other later apostles into these
requirements, for those requirements were not necessary to become
a member of the 12. Only the twelve were the twelve, no more
no less. It was important that another be found from the group of
men who followed Jesus from the baptism of John to the day Christ
was taken up into heaven. The twelve had to stay as twelve! And
be of the same basic bottom line qualifications - all had to
have the qualifications Peter laid down. All of them did, so the
one to replace Judas also had to have the same.
Because he would be one of the official 12 apostles given a
main basic commission to go forth to the "lost sheep of the house
of Israel." Paul and Barnabas and other apostles were never a
part of that specific duty in the way the twelve were, so the
qualifications of Acts 1:21,22, did not have to apply to them, in
order for them to be also called apostles, with just as much a
right to the word as the twelve had. For being an apostle is a
FUNCTION of the eldership ministry, not some position of "rank."
As we have before proved (see the appendix to part one) an
apostle is also an elder/overseer(Peter called himself an apostle
and also an elder in the same letter - 1 Peter 1: 1; 5: 1). We
have also before proved that an elder is an overseer who is a
bishop who is a shepherd of the flock(so a pastor and teacher).
All apostles are also elders, just as all Californians are
Americans. But not all elders are apostles, just as not all
Americans are Californians.
Then there is the question to be answered: WHY did they need
to have a twelfth apostle now that Judas was dead? Why not just
leave it the way it was with eleven? Could not eleven still go to
the house of Israel, would it not be enough? Probably to cover
that specific duty Christ sent them forth to do, it would have
been enough. Yet there is one more very important reason why a
man had to be chosen to take Judas' place. Have you figured it
out yet? I have really given you the answer already.
There had to be twelve and NOT eleven for the start of the
NT church, and to begin at least the commission Christ had for
them B E C A U S E EACH OF THE TWELVE was given the reward in
the Kingdom of ruling over one of the TWELVE tribes of Israel!
There were TWELVE tribes, not ELEVEN. Those specific rewards
had already been given out by Christ to 12 apostles. So there had
to be twelve not eleven original apostles of Christ.
Paul and Barnabas could not have applied for the position,
as they had not yet been baptized as Christians, let alone as
appointed elders in the church.
Then we must not forget perhaps an even greater reason why
someone had to be chosen to take Judas' place as one of the
twelve. IT WAS PROPHESIED, IT WAS WRITTEN IN THE PSALMS IT WOULD
BE SO! Peter knew it must be for the prophecy would have to be
filled and come to pass (Acts 1:20).
Were there apostles after the first century ended and the
death of the apostle John? Are there apostles today in the church
of God? Did that apostolic function end with the death of the NT
apostles? Not at all, not by any means! Ephesians 4:11-16 is for
the church through all ages, until the church has grown up in all
things, fully mature, completely perfect. And that my friends
will not reach its pinnacle until the day of Christ's return and
the resurrection of the saints into glory and perfection.
Are there apostles in every age and generation of the
church? Well, I did not say that! The word does not say there
will be any guarantee of that. But for sure God has had
some apostles down through the last two thousand years, who were
sent forth here and there, near and yonder, to teach and preach
to the churches of God. Who they were and if they ever had such a
functional title laid upon them by the congregations of God may
not be history. And what does it really matter, if they were
functioning as an apostle then God surely knew, and that is all
that matters. Better to have no official eldership title and
do what the Lord has called you to do and given you the means to
do it, than have some official title from men, and be sleeping at
the wheel whereby you end up in the ditch.
For the word of the Lord makes it very clear that no matter
WHO you are, WHAT you are given to do, HOW many natural abilities
and God given gifts you posses, IT IS POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO FALL
AWAY AND BECOME A BLIND LEADER OF THE BLIND!
The great apostle Paul talked about Pseudapostoloi - false
apostles, and the church at Ephesus was commended for trying
those who said they were apostles and were not, but were liars (2
Cor. 11: 13; Rev.2:2).
Timothy an official apostle = elder.
Before I leave this section, it is very significant for our
proof and evidence that Timothy was an officially appointed
elder/overseer of the church, to point out 2 Thess.2:6. The "we"
that Paul talks about in this verse is Silas, Himself, and
Timothy - verse one chapter one.
Paul clearly tells them and us today, that THEY, the three
of them(from the beginning of his letter) WERE APOSTLES! Paul
sure knew he was, he had seen Christ, was taught by Him -
Galatians chapter two - absolutely no doubt in Paul's mind that
he himself was an apostle of Christ. He elsewhere said he
believed he had the mind of Christ, was inspired to say and write
the things he did. He knew God was with him, guiding him, and
If ANYONE should have known who the true elders and apostles
of God were in the church of God, it would have been Paul! He
plainly said Timothy(and Silas) was an apostle. As far as Christ
was concerned He had put Timothy in the function of being an
apostle. We are never told specifically HOW, whether in a direct
personal manner or through the eldership of the church (as with
Paul and Barnabas on one occasion - Acts 13). It does not matter
to our point, the fact remains Paul tells us that both Silas and
Timothy were apostles, just as he was.
Being an apostle is ONE function WITHIN the
eldership/overseership of the church.The word elder being an
umbrella word under which lies the words and functions
of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and shepherd(pastor)/teacher.
Timothy was an official elder of the church, recognized as
such by other elders including the great elder and apostle Paul.
He was also an apostle and at times was admonished and encouraged
by Paul to "do the work of an evangelist" (2 Tim.4:5).
To be continued