Vol. 5, No. 4
Since You Asked
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Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld.
Brother Rushmore, Can a Person live so rotten before becoming a Christian that that would disqualify him from becoming an elder or deacon? ~ Al Lawson
Included in the qualifications of elders are stipulations that address your question. First Timothy 3:2 states that a "bishop" or an elder "must be blameless." (See also Titus 1:6-7). Blameless here means not worthy of rebuke or not culpable. Especially in contrast to a similar reference in verse seven of the same context that pertains to the way non-Christians perceive of a candidate to be an elder, verse two specifically represents the esteem in which members of the church hold a man being considered for appointment as an elder. In verse seven, the phrase "must have a good report of them that are without" notes that those outside of church membership must also consider a candidate for appointment to the eldership as blameless or not culpable.
A man whose past sins still overshadow his esteem in the minds of brethren and non-Christians lacks the esteem or confidence by brethren and non-Christians to be appointed to so important a responsibility as an elder in the Lord's church. It may be that those past sins have been forgiven by God and man, yet the consequences of the past sins may persist and make it impossible to serve in some capacities in at least the areas in which those things are known. However, if one's past sins, for which he has been forgiven, do not undermine the confidence of the congregation over which he is being considered for appointment as an elder or the confidence by the community in his reputation, one's past, forgiven sins would not prohibit a man from consideration for appointment to the eldership.
The apostle Paul was a murderer, yet he rose to a height of unparalleled Christian service in the first century. Most of his successes with the Gospel of Christ were in areas of the world where he had not committed Christians to imprisonment and death. He also penned more New Testament books than any other writer (13 epistles). The apostle Peter denied Christ but proved to be valuable servant, among other things, preaching the first Gospel sermon each to the Jews and to the Gentiles. He also penned two New Testament books. In addition to being an apostle, Peter was also an elder (1 Peter 5:1).
Brother Rushmore: Do you think in 1 Corinthians 11:33,34 where it states that they "tarried" (waited) until ALL were assembled before they partook of the Supper, that it CANNOT be done until all of the congregation is gathered together? If it is true that they did, where do we get the authority to offer it at two different times, i.e., once in the morning service and then again, in the evening service? Is the tarrying being done for the Lord's Supper or for the common meal? In Him, Rea Buttermore
The Corinthian church erred, among other things, regarding fellowship meals and observance of the Lord's Supper. The apostle Paul addressed these two errors in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. They couldn't even eat together correctly and they also corrupted the Lord's Supper.
Specifically, the Corinthians intermingled eating a common meal with the spiritual feast of the Lord's commemorative Supper. In the process, more well to do Christians ate of the corrupted meal they had devised to the exclusion of participation by Christians less well to do. The apostle proceeded to (1) separate the common meal from the spiritual feast and (2) restore the spiritual feast.
The assembly of the church for worship is described in verses 17-18, 20, 33-34 with the phrase "come together." Nowhere in the context does it state that they all had to be assembled before they partook of the Lord's Supper, which supposition fueled the question of the validity of offering the Lord's Supper at a second worship assembly on the Lord's Day. If a congregation could never observe the Lord's Supper unless all members of that congregation assembled, doubtless few if any congregations could ever partake of the Lord's Supper, because probably few if any occasions would occur where every member of a local congregation were present on the same day at the same service. Every time someone was sick and could not attend or on vacation or at work when the local congregation assembled, no one would be able to observe the Lord's Supper. In addition to the fact that the passage does not teach that a congregation must "tarry" or wait until every member is present to observe the communion, the absurdity of the logical conclusion to which this thought compels one to go is further evidence against such an interpretation.
First Corinthians 11:33 pertains to the Lord's Supper, whereas the following verse pertains to the common meal. Instead of teaching that a congregation must wait for all members of that congregation to be present before it observes the Lord's Supper, the passage teaches that those who are assembled are to partake of the Lord's Supper at the same time (as opposed to the manner in which the corrupted activity formerly was practiced at Corinth in that the wealthier ate and the less fortunate did not eat). Hence, nothing is taught in the passages respecting the number of times a congregation may assemble on the Lord's Day or the number of times a congregation may present the Lord's Supper for observance in those worship assemblies. We know from Acts 20:7 that the Lord's Supper is to be observed on the first day of the week. Beyond that, we have no further inspired directives regarding the frequency of observing the Lord's Supper. We have authority to observe the Lord's Supper each first day of the week, and are not authorized to legislate beyond that. That is, we lack sufficient biblical information to either require or disallow providing the opportunity for observance of the communion in an additional worship assembly on the Lord's Day.
In Gen. 10:21 it states that Japheth was the elder brother. I always thought that their birth order was a given: Ham, Shem, and Japheth. Am I wrong? ~ Marilyn LaStrape
A look at an interlinear Bible illustrates that the order of words in the original biblical languages does not correspond to the ordinary order of words to express the same thing in English. This principle is true respecting Genesis 10:21. The relationship of words to each other in the biblical languages must be considered as the translating process renders verses into another language, in our case, English. Some translations, therefore, better accomplish that task in various passages than other translations. Respecting Genesis 10:21, several translations better translate it and show the correct relationship between the words in the verse. As a case in point, note the following rendition of Genesis 10:21 from the American Standard Version: "And unto Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, to him also were children born." The birth order appears to be Shem, Ham and Japheth (Genesis 5:32; 6:10; 7:13; 9:18; 10:1). "The true rendering is, 'the oldest brother of Japheth'"1
1 Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft) 1997.