(continued - 2)

by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXIV

July, 1945

Number 12

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

In Paul's pre-prison epistles there is a regulation as to order, as well as a readjustment of doctrine.  In the ecclesia in Corinth there was much confusion in the meetings, due, in part, to the fact that too many insisted on talking.  This led the apostle to direct them to "let all occur respectably and in order."  First Corinthians 14:40.  He had previously said, "God is not for turbulence, but peace, as in all the ecclesias of the saints," verse 33.  Again he said, "Let all occur for edification."  This means up-building, and does not mean inflating the ego of everyone who thinks he can teach.  

Early in his written ministry the apostle prescribed that the ecclesia should have supervisors and servants, First Timothy 3:1-13.  In the King James Version, supervisors are called bishops, while servants are called deacons.  In 5:17-20 he mentions elders, and shows that they are to both preside and teach.  The elder is to be in charge of the meeting, as the presiding officer, and he is to teach, or, as we say, preach.  If he presides ideally, and toils in word and teaching, he is to be counted worthy of double honor.  That part of this honor consists of being supported financially, is clear from the quotation, "A threshing ox you shall not be muzzling," and "Worthy is the worker of his wages," verse 18.  Then in Titus 1:5-9 we find that elder and supervisor designate different aspects of the same office.  So the supervisor is to be a teacher, as well as a presiding officer.  In addition, he is "overseer" of the ecclesia. 

First Timothy and Titus are early epistles.  Thus it is seen that the apostle lost no time in regulating matters so that the confusing meetings of the ecclesia in Corinth should come to an end.  There is to be order—a presiding officer, who is also a teacher.  The masses are not to bring turbulence into the meeting, not are all to be regarded as teachers.  

In the absence of any specifications as to the duties of the servant, or "deacon," I take it that he is some what like a domestic in a household—his job being to look after matters that will insure smoothness of functioning.  The fact that he must hold the secret of the faith, would also indicate that he is to be able to teach when occasion requires it.  Let it be understood that the seven chosen by the Jerusalem ecclesia, Acts 6, are no pattern for us.  They were to look after the support of widows.  While the servants or deacons now probably should look after this matter when it is required, this is by no means his only work.  

In First Corinthians 12:4, we find, "Now to each one is being given the manifestation of the spirit with a view to expedience."  This last word means that this was a temporary arrangement.  The last word means that this was a temporary arrangement.  The scriptures intended for the ecclesia were very incomplete, and it was necessary that the ecclesia should have various gifts that would later be unnecessary, and would be abrogated.  Since the scriptures are complete—since we no longer know by installments—the matter of functioning gifts is settled once for all, in Ephesians 4:11-14.  There are apostles and prophets.  They wrote the scriptures.  These offices are obsolete, but their work stands—that is, the text which they wrote.  Then, to teach the scriptures to the ecclesia, and to all, there are evangelists, pastors and teachers.  

It is evident that all three are to teach. But it seems that the work of the evangelist is to spread the truth, while that of the pastor is to teach and supervise and to preside over the ecclesias.  Then there are teachers who are neither evangelists nor pastors.  It seems that the work of the teacher is to be purely local—in one ecclesia.  The pastor need not confine his work to one congregation.  

This arrangement in Ephesians is final, and all in the earlier epistles, that is at variance with this, is abrogated or repealed.  

It is not hard to see the wisdom of this regulation.  Could a school function if all the students insisted on being teachers?  Neither can the ecclesia!  Let us suppose there is an ecclesia that cannot secure the services of a pastor.  (There are many such.)  Even that ecclesia does not have to resort to the unsatisfactory and confusing method of "roundtable" meetings.  That these might do good occasionally, I would not deny.  But if they are held to the exclusion of any other kind, there will not be very much advancement in truth.  Among those who attend there surely is one who can teach,  if encouraged to do so.  The ecclesia should choose this one, and ask him to teach.  Moreover, they should give him their mortal support, and also help him financially, so he can give some time to study and preparation.  He should have a copy of the large Concordant Version with the Greek, the sublinear and the marginal notes.  Also he should have a copy of the latest revision of that Version.  With this equipment, and with time for sturdy and preparation, a spiritual, intelligent saint can be a very effective teacher.  

 Also the ecclesia should endeavor to secure, occasionally, the services of an evangelist or a pastor.  

I am protesting against the growing idea that scriptural matters are to be settled by the masses.  Those who try this method and follow it long enough will find themselves hopelessly confused, so that they will not be able to see the doctrine of grace.  Ultimately they will turn away from Paul, and without Paul there is endless confusion.  Some who once saw the Pauline Interval very clearly, have been led, through roundtable methods, to repudiate the scriptures that tell of his special work for us.  They seem to have no use for his instruction to correctly partition the word of truth, and, as I have already said, they seem to have forgotten that there is such a thing as transcendent grace.  

God equipped only a few men to write the Constitution of the United States.  The masses could not have done it.  But they could see the wisdom of it after it was written.  So is it true that the masses of the saints are able to see many truths in the word of God, after specially equipped men have found them and brought them to light.  But if we repudiate Christ's arrangement of evangelists, pastors and teachers, many a precious truth in the scripture will lie undiscovered by us.  And what a loss we will sustain!  

Is it at all reasonable to suppose that the masses of saints, are as able to dig out God's truths, as is Brother A. E. Knoch, for instance?  For almost half a century his mind has been almost wholly employed in searching the word of God, testing most of its passages, digging beneath the rubbish of tradition and false translation, scrutinizing the Hebrew and the Greek.  God has given him to us in this day of confusion.  Under God, we owe more to him than to any other hundred men.  Yet there is on foot right now, an effort to repudiate his work, by trying to settle questions by the majority.  

In less important measure, there are men whom God has called to teach His truth as evangelists and pastors.  The ecclesias lose much, if they do not avail themselves of these gifts, as much as possible.  

Not that the word of God is not simple.  But it is God's system to have these wimple truths brought out by men whom He has called.  The masses would not get them, otherwise.  But when they are  presented, saints can see their beauty.  This is God's arrangement.  We ignore it at our peril.  

We are told in Galatians 6:6, "Let him who is being instructed in the word be contributing to him who is instructing, in all good things."  This shows that there are some who are supposed to be instructors.  If all were teachers, all would be contributing to all, if they obeyed this injection.  The teacher, or instructor, should not refuse to support himself, so far as possible.  But the injunction to contribute to him is in order that he may give himself more to study.  

It seems that some of our brethren think that only a "creedal mind" can be settled on the teaching of the word.  They seem to think that unless we are uncertain about matters, we subscribe to a creed.  And what is the mater with a creed, may I ask?  Paul's writings constitute the creed of the ecclesia.  Human creeds are wrong, but Paul's is not. 

(To Be Continued)

[Return to main indexpage]