Bible 1 Yr – Day 177 – APPOINTED by the churches

Today we read Paul, prompting the Corinthians to give generously to the campaign to raise money for other Christians in need. These passages have a simple one to one correspondence with our modern lives. We too should give generously to those in need.

In addition, we can notice something else from today’s passages. Paul has spent parts of two letters (and possibly a third letter lost to history) defending his Apostolic pedigree and telling the Corinthians not to follow other people purporting to teach the Gospel. But Paul is not some egomaniac or tyrant who just wants to keep the Corinthians under his influence. Paul is perfectly fine to let others preach the Gospel as well. Look here:

18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel; 19 and not only that, but he has been APPOINTED by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work which we are carrying on, for the glory of the Lord and to show our good will.

So this person, whose name has been lost to history, was famous for his preaching and Paul is perfectly fine with him going to the Corinthians to instruct them. What then is the key difference?

We see that he has been APPOINTED. He has been authorized. This insures that he is communion with the Apostles and the Church. It insures consistency and fidelity of his teachings to the truth.

And WHO appointed him? Not Paul alone. Rather, he has been appointed “by the churches”. In other words, by the Church as whole, he has been appointed by the many churches speaking together with one voice through their leaders. Again, this insures communion, continuity and truth.

And notice, he is not going to Corinth of his own accord. Paul says, “we are SENDING the brother who is famous…” This brother who has been appointed by the whole church is now being sent out on a particular errand. Again, this insures his reliability and his communion with the true Church. The Corinthians, who after all are going to be giving him money, can be sure it is going to be used for its stated purpose because his does not come on his own but is appointed and sent.

On its surface this is a very human system. Kings appoint princes or dukes to run their far off lands. Generals appoint captains who appoint sergeants who appoint platoon leaders. This is how human organizations naturally work. So of course, God, who is the author of our nature and understands it better than we understand it ourselves, used our natural tendencies and structures his Church the same way.

Not only does Paul refer to this famous preacher but he also refers to two others who are involved in this mission. Therefore there are three people identified in this passage who are associates of Paul to whom tasks have been delegated. Paul specifically mentions Titus and says that, “we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found earnest in many matters.” Also, let’s not forget Timothy who is identified as co-sender of the letter in the books first sentence that makes a total of four people in this circle of Paul’s. The point is, Paul is building up a cadre of AUTHORIZED representatives. These are people who he identifies as associated with him and are appointed and sent and given authority to speak for him and the Church. This shows that from the beginning of the Church there is hierarchy and authority. It shows that it was your lineage, your pedigree, your close association with the line of the Apostles that insured that your gospel was the true gospel. Paul is telling the Corinthians that because these men come from the source you can trust their message. Juxtaposed with his previous admonitions of listening to those who did not have authority it is a powerful message.

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13 Responses to Bible 1 Yr – Day 177 – APPOINTED by the churches

  1. Chris Daley says:

    Are you saying that the only people authorized to preach the gospel are catholic priests?

  2. No. But there is a difference in teaching one person, say a friend or a few friends in a bible study the basics v. teaching a congregation and all the difficult questions of theology and life that will arise when you try to do that. The life of a Church prompts new questions as the lives of the congregants intersect with the world. Many of those questions will not be answered directly by scripture. How does a pastor answer those questions. St. Paul says that the CHURCH, not the Bible, is the pillar and foundation of truth. The Church proclaims the truth. It appoints ministers and teachers to the Churches. Those ministers guide the congregations. They oversee fidelity to the gospel. When new issues arise they go back tot he the Church for guidance.

  3. Chris Daley says:

    and when you say church, you mean the roman catholic church, not a Methodist or Baptist, etc?

  4. Yes. Jesus only founded 1 Church.

  5. Chris Daley says:

    “This shows that from the beginning of the Church there is hierarchy and authority. It shows that it was your lineage, your pedigree, your close association with the line of the Apostles that insured that your gospel was the true gospel.”

    So, are all the other churches preaching a false gospel?

  6. We don’t say that. We say that other churches “lack the fullness” of the Gospel. By definition, if the Catholic Church is the one Church founded by Jesus to which he has given the Holy Spirit to “lead us into all truth” then in has 100% of the truth God wants us to have at any given time. Thus, the only way for another Church to exist – that is to define itself – it must be and teach something different from the Catholic Church. It must reject some teaching or aspect of the Church and therefore by definition it must have less than 100% of the truth. That doesn’t mean it is all false. It might have 99% of the truth but it will lack something God intended the Church to have.

    You can see from the above that that is exactly what happens with every protestant church. Take the simplest thing like Baptism. Jesus says to go out and “baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit …” Over a thousand years the Catholic Church defined what that meant theologically, how to do it, when to do it, who could do it, etc. Now there are dozens of different opinions all using a different definition of baptism. Some say you can baptize babies, others only rational adults. Some say it is an effective sacrament, others just a symbol of an inward conversion. Some say when you change denominations you get “re-baptized”, others that it is once and for all. Some say you cite the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, others say, “I baptize you in the name of Jesus”.

    Who is right? The key is that someone must be right. Jesus is God, he founded a Church, he gave that Church the Holy Spirit and he gave its ministers authority, He said they speak for him and that the Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth and that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church. Find that Church and you find the fullness of truth. To think that God did all that and somehow failed to establish a Church that could last seems profoundly silly to me. Rather, it seems much more likely that He succeeded in founding a Church that despite our best efforts to ruin it somehow it still manages to keep chugging along.

    Further, we KNOW that we will not find the answers to theological questions in scripture alone. We’ve tried that and that is what as created the currently estimated 30k protestant denominations. Man, unguided by the Church, can’t agree on anything and inevitably splits and divides.

  7. Chris Daley says:

    “he gave that Church the Holy Spirit and he gave its ministers authority, He said they speak for him and that the Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth and that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church.”

    So when John said in 1 John 2:26-27King James Version (KJV)

    26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.

    27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.,

    was he talking to all believers or just the leaders of the church?

  8. I would say that this passage is addressed to all believers.

  9. Chris Daley says:

    If all believers are guided by the same Holy Spirit, why do they come to different conclusions about baptism, communion, etc?

    I think it’s got to be due to our own selfishness and ego. I have to believe if every believer in the world put aside their own desires and ambitions and focused solely on God, the way Christ wants us to focus on God, then the Holy Spirit would unite them and guide them.

  10. While I don’t disagree with the big picture idea that if we all put aside our egos we would all be united as perfect Christians (that what will happen one day in heaven), but the idea that the Holy Spirit speaks to people about every issue of theology is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Holy Spirit works.

    For example, the verse you sighted above doesn’t really say that the Holy Spirit will guide the believers into truth. What it says it that they will be able to recognized what is false – that which is not true. If you read it closely it implies that the reason they will be able to recognize what is not true is b/c they were taught the truth from the beginning.

    The promise that the Holy Spirit will guide us into truth is made by Jesus to the Apostles at the founding of the Church. Thus it is the Church that will be able to state the truth on these issues over time.

    Another very important aspect of the question (if all people are led by the spirit how do they arrive at different conclusions) is that no where are we told that we are supposed to rely ONLY on the spirit and / or scripture to answer questions. God gave us intelligent rational minds and we are supposed to use them. We are supposed to look to history, science, philosophy, etc to answer the questions we are presented with. For example, only the Catholic church can make the historical claim to be the Church founded by Jesus. Most people simply ignore that fact and join up with any denomination that sounds good to them. Further, I can show you documents from the the first century on many major topics that show the Catholic Church teaches today exactly what it taught in AD 100. Like how to baptize, how to perform the Mass and a prohibition on Abortion. This is a historical analysis. If you do it, is it the Holy Spirit leading you do so? Or is only reading scripture, praying and then coming up with your best guess how the Holy Spirit works. I would say a thoughtful historical analysis of the question of the history of Christianity and the founding of Church is just as much an act of the Holy Spirit – certainly the prompting in your heart to do so would be.

    If I want to know how to baptize isn’t reading a letter from A.D. 70 valuable assistance on that question? After all, these are the people that learned from the apostles. The idea that we can only use scripture is (a) un-biblical and (b) divest Christianity of one of its most important attributes that it, unlike all other faiths, is historical (except for Judaism). Of course, non-scriptual sources must be taken in their proper context but to give them no weight or consideration is wrong.

  11. Chris Daley says:

    “The promise that the Holy Spirit will guide us into truth is made by Jesus to the Apostles at the founding of the Church. Thus it is the Church that will be able to state the truth on these issues over time.”
    A reference to John14:26?
    John 14:26New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

    26 But the Advocate,[a] the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

  12. Chris Daley says:

    If that’s the case, then the whole of John 14-17, was only meant for the apostles and not for any other believer. Is that what you are saying?

  13. Unfortunately, I’m at work and can’t read 3 chapters and give you a definitive answer. However, I would say that just b/c Jesus is speaking only to the apostles doesn’t mean in is only for the apostles and not for us as well. context is key.

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