|Vol. 16 No. 11 November 2014||
Did Paul Have a Wife?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Someone posed the question, “Did Paul have a wife?” No, the apostle Paul was unmarried, and he made reference to the fact that he was not married. During a period of what the apostle called “the present distress” (1 Corinthians 7:26), Paul advised unmarried Christians to remain unmarried like him. “For I wish that all men were even as I myself. …But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:7-9 NKJV).
On another occasion in the same New Testament epistle, the apostle Paul noted that though he was not married, he had a biblical right to be married and to derive financial support for his wife and himself from the Lord’s church (1 Corinthians 9:4-15). “Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?” (1 Corinthians 9:4-6). “…Nevertheless we have not used this right… But I have used none of these things…” (1 Corinthians 9:12, 15).
Other Gospel preachers and other apostles, too, were married. Since they devoted themselves fulltime to the ministry of the Word of God, they refrained from secular employment, and they and their families were supported by the church. However, the apostle Paul did not choose to marry. Noting the highly active evangelistic ministry of this apostle and the greater travel difficulties associated with the first century, Paul was probably able to be more active and of greater service to the cause of Christ because he was not married.
Marriage is highly esteemed in both testaments of the Bible. God instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden when He presented Eve to Adam (Genesis 2:21-22). “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Yet, God does not require everyone to enter into matrimony (1 Corinthians 7, 9). In some instances, God forbids some people to be married due to their biblical ineligibility (Matthew 5:32; 19:9).
Great and Notable Day
Louis Rushmore, Editor
The phrase, “great and notable day” appears in Acts 2:20 (KJV) and was a part of the first recorded Gospel sermon, which was preached by the apostle Peter (Acts 2:16-21). Peter quoted from the Old Testament prophet Joel (2:28-32).
But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’ (Acts 2:16-21 NKJV; cf. Joel 2:28-32)
It is obvious that both Joel and Peter were using figurative language. The apostle Peter preached that the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy was the baptism of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles (Acts 2:1-4) and the subsequent miracles by which the apostles were able to speak in the native languages of the 15 nationalities of Jews who were present on that Pentecost (Acts 2:5-11). Neither Joel nor Peter referred to either natural or supernatural disasters in the physical universe, but those references were figurative and referred to the magnitude of the Pentecost day in Jerusalem when the Lord’s church was established and about 3,000 souls were added to it (Acts 2:38, 41, 47).
Is It Wrong for Christians to Protest?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
A visitor to Gospel Gazette Online posed the question, “Is it wrong for Christians to protest?” Right and wrong, of course, relates to what does the Bible instruct, and more specifically for the Gospel Age in which we live, we must turn for instruction to the New Testament portion of the Bible (Romans 7:6-7; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14). The New Testament guides those who will consult it about salvation, Christian worship, Christian living, Christian service, the Christian home, and Christian doctrine.
The New Testament teaches that Christians are obligated to abide by the laws of civil government. “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work” (Titus 3:1 NKJV).
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men — as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:1-7)
The only exception for the child of God in obeying the laws of the land concerns when the law of God and the law of the land directly contradict each other. In those instances alone, the Christian must defer to the higher law of God. For instance, when the apostles were forbidden to teach or preach any longer in the name of Jesus Christ, they defied that ungodly decree and chose to obey Almighty God instead. “So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:18-20). “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, ‘Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!’ But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’” (Acts 5:27-29).
Any protest, then, in which a child of God might participate must first be lawful. Secondly, the child of God must consider how his or her participation in a protest will reflect on him or her as a Christian, upon the churches of Christ and on Jesus Christ Himself. Christians must conduct themselves in such a way that they exhibit the finer qualities of being children of God so that non-Christians will be drawn to God. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16; cf. Philippians 2:15; 1 Peter 2:9). One of the qualifications for being an elder similarly says that “…he must have a good testimony among those who are outside…” (1 Timothy 3:7).
In the third place, the reason for which one may be protesting would need to be compatible with biblical teaching. It is conceivable that a Christian might involve himself or herself in a lawful and peaceful protest or demonstration against abortion, homosexuality or some other immorality out of harmony with the Bible.
No, it is not necessarily wrong for a Christian to protest. However, it could be wrong for a Christian to protest or demonstrate if doing so is in violation of the law. Civil disobedience is only permitted biblically when it is obligatory to do so. It could be wrong for a Christian to protest if it will reflect unfavorably upon Christianity or if the reasons for the protest are out of harmony with biblical instruction.