"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" The Christian's Jihad (6:12)


The Christian's Jihad (6:12)


1. A well-known term in the religion of Islam is jihad; sometimes
   translated "holy war", it literally means "struggle"...
   a. On a personal level - inner struggle against evil within oneself
   b. On a social level - struggle for decency and goodness
   c. On a military level - struggle on the battlefield, if and when

2. Christians are followers of the Prince of Peace...
   a. The kingdom is spiritual, and not expanded through carnal means
      - cf. Jn 18:36
   b. Our Savior taught us:  "...for all who take the sword will perish
      by the sword." - Mt 26:52

3. This is not to say we do not have a true struggle, our own jihad...
   a. We are to "fight (lit., struggle) the good fight of faith" - 1 Ti 6:12
   b. We are to "lay hold (lit., seize) on eternal life" - 1Ti 6:12

[Thus we are to battle and conquer.  What is involved in "The
Christian's Jihad"...?]


      1. We must contend for the faith
         a. That is, the doctrine in which we believe - Jude 3-4 cf. Ph 1:27
         b. A doctrine that has been delivered once for all 
            - cf. Ga 1: 8-9; 2Pe 1:3
         c. For false teachers have come - cf. 2Pe 2:1-3
      2. We must fight with the proper weapons
         a. Not carnal weapons, but mighty in God nonetheless - 2Co 10: 3-4
         b. With gentleness, patience, humility, correcting those in the
            wrong - 2Ti 2:24-26
      -- With the meekness and gentleness of Christ, we are to "cast
         down arguments" and bring "every thought into captivity to the
         obedience of Christ" - 2Co 10:1-5

      1. We must contend for our faith
         a. That is, our personal trust and conviction - e.g., 1Ti 4:12
         b. That which we must pursue in our spiritual development
            - 1Ti 6:11; cf. 1Pe 2:11
         c. For it is possible to develop an evil heart of unbelief - He 3:12
      2. Weapons to use in this struggle
         a. Frequent exhortation - He 3:13; cf. He 10:24-25
         b. The Word of God - Ro 10:17; Jn 20:30-31
      -- We must put on the whole armor of God in our struggle - Ep 6: 10-17

[What is the ultimate goal of "The Christian's Jihad"?  In the words of
our text...]


      1. Paul likely has reference to that which is yet to be realized
         a. That which is promised by God - Tit 1:2
         b. That which is our inheritance - Tit 3:7
         c. That which will be received at the Judgment - Mt 25:46
      2. To lay hold (seize) this hope, there are things we must do
         a. Be set free from sin, become slaves to God, produce holiness
            - Ro 6:22-23
         b. Do good, be willing to share - 1Ti 6:17-19
      -- Are we patiently doing good, seeking glory, honor and
         immortality? - cf. Ro 2:7  

      1. John uses the phrase "eternal life" as a blessing enjoyed in
         this life
         a. God has given us eternal life, it is life in His Son - 1Jn 5:11-12
         b. John writes that we might know we have this life - 1Jn 5:13
         c. This life involves a knowledge of the Father and the Son
            - Jn 17:2-3; 1Jn 5:20
      2. To lay hold (seize) this abundant life (Jn 10:10), there are
         things we must do
         a. Walk in the light - 1Jn 1:5-7
         b. Keep the commandments of the Lord - 1Jn 2:3-6
         c. Love the brethren - 1Jn 3:14-15
         d. Abide in the doctrine of Christ, that you might enjoy
            fellowship with both the Father and the Son- 2Jn 9
      -- Are we sacrificing self for Christ's sake, that we might enjoy
         blessings in this life and the one to come? - cf. Mk 10:28-30


1. Note what Paul wrote about his "struggle" as he came to the end of
   his life... - 2Ti 4:7
   a. "I have fought the good fight"
   b. "I have kept the faith"

2. Note also what he looked forward to receiving on the Judgment Day
   - 2Ti 4:8
   a. The crown of righteousness
   b. Given to him by the Lord, the righteous Judge

If we desire to receive the same, then let us heed his admonition given
to Timothy:

   "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which
   you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the
   presence of many witnesses." - 1Ti 6:12

Have you made the good confession (Ro 10:9-10)?  Have you been clothed
with Christ in baptism (Ga 3:27)?

Are you engaged in "The Christian's Jihad"...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Is the Papacy a Divine Institution? by Moisés Pinedo


Is the Papacy a Divine Institution?

by Moisés Pinedo

George H. Bush said of him: “When you are in his presence you say to yourself: ‘Here is a great man, a great leader.’ He is a man of liberty, of faith, who suffers every time the Church, or man, is oppressed. He will occupy, with all authority, a privileged position in the history of our time. I am not Catholic, but towards him I feel a deeply profound respect and a sincere affection” (quoted in Mirás, n.d.).
Of whom was the former President of the United States speaking? He was referring to the late Karol Wojtyla, commonly known as Pope John Paul II. Having been considered the “successor of the apostle Peter” for 26 years, and the alleged heir of an endless hierarchical legacy, John Paul II influenced the hearts of many Catholics, as well as many other religious people. He was a representative of the monopolized throne of the Catholic Church—the papacy.
What is the papacy? Is there scriptural basis for this Catholic institution? Did God designate a legacy of “ecclesiastical leaders” on Earth? Apart from what people may think concerning this institution or its members, and apart from any eulogies, blessings, insults, or condemnations that religious people may offer concerning this ecclesiastical order, we must open the pages of the Bible, as well as the pages of history, to analyze whether the papacy (with its long list of members) is a divine institution, or simply a human invention that is unworthy of the religious honor bestowed upon it.


The papacy is an ecclesiastic system in which the pope (considered as the successor of the apostle Peter) oversees the government of the Catholic Church as its universal “head” (see Joyce, 1999). Although people may disagree with the basis for the papacy, the truth is that this ecclesiastical order does exist, and thus its existence needs to be explained. Since Catholicism teaches that the basis for the establishment of the papacy is divine and biblical, we must turn to the Bible to verify or refute this teaching.
Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” This is the Bible verse to which the Catholic apologist quickly turns in order to defend the establishment of the papacy. Through an arbitrary interpretation of this verse—an interpretation which suggests that Jesus chose Peter, and ultimately his successors, to be the “rock” (foundation) upon which the church would be built—the Catholic Church has built a grand structure with a mere man as its head. But what did Jesus mean in this verse recorded by Matthew? Was He establishing a human hierarchy over the church? Was Jesus declaring that Peter was the “rock” of the church?
Before analyzing this passage, please think about it logically. From the reading of this verse, would anyone, without any preconceived religious idea, understand that Jesus was granting the title of “pope” to Peter? Would anyone arrive at the conclusion that a successive papacy was being established? In fact, absent any Catholic influence, the answer would be an emphatic “No!”
Matthew 16:18 relates an incident that took place in Caesarea Philippi, when the Lord asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13). The disciples answered by reciting the various popular opinions about Jesus’ identity. Then, Jesus, making the question more personal, asked His own disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15, emp. added). To this second question, only the impulsive Peter dared to answer, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Due to his response, Jesus addressed Peter with the declaration, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (16:18). Consequently, Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16:18 is connected exclusively to Peter’s   confession   concerning Christ’s deity and not to a future pontificate.
We must also examine the difference between two Greek words used in the text: “You are Peter (petros) and upon this rock (petra) I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). In reference to Peter, the Holy Spirit recorded the Greek word petros—“a detached stone or boulder, or a stone that might be thrown or easily moved” (Vine, 1966, 3:302). In contrast, in reference to the “rock,” the Holy Spirit recorded the Greek word petra, which denotes a solid mass of rock (Vine, 3:302). Furthermore, these two words are in a different gender; the word petros is masculine, while the word petra is feminine (cf. Boles, 1952, pp. 344-345; Coffman, 1984, p. 248). Therefore, petros refers to the Aramaic name Jesus gave Peter (Cephas, John 1:42), while the word used for “rock” (petra) refers to the very foundation of the church, i.e., the truth that Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah (cf. Matthew 16:16).
Although these two Greek words clearly show that Peter was neither the foundation nor the head of the church, it still is important to note what Peter himself said about the “rock.” Some Catholics, using their knowledge and speculations about the language of the text, will argue fervently that they understand, better than any other religious person, what Jesus was telling Peter. Nevertheless, if anyone could guarantee a proper understanding of Jesus’ message, it would have been Peter himself, who heard the words of Jesus firsthand.
In his first epistle, Peter, by divine inspiration, used the Greek word lithos to refer to Jesus: “Coming to Him as to a living stone (lithos), rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious.... Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chiefcornerstone (lithos), elect, precious’.... ‘The stone (lithos) which   the    builders    rejected has become the chief cornerstone’” (1 Peter 2:4-7). Then, in the following verse (2:8), the apostle interchangeably used   lithos  and   petra—the same Greek word recorded in Matthew 16:18—when he described Jesus as “a stone (lithos) of stumbling and a rock (petra) of offense.” In Acts 4, Peter, speaking again by divine inspiration (vs. 8), said of Jesus: “This   is   the ‘stone (lithos) which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone’” (4:11). Without a doubt, Peter, more than any religious person of our modern times, conveyed the true meaning of the word used in Matthew 16:18.
We need to determine what the other apostles and early Christians believed concerning the “rock,” the foundation of the church. If Jesus referred to Peter as the “rock,” it is logical to think that this was the “truth” that those closest to Him understood and believed, and not the “truth” that some religious people “discovered” centuries later. The inspired apostle Paul told the Corinthians that the Israelites in the wilderness “all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock (petra) that followed them, and that Rock (petra) was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). How much more clearly could it be stated? Since the Old Testament, the rock referred   to Christ, not Peter. In Ephesians 2:20, Paul stated, “[H]aving been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,    Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone...” (emp. added). By a study of these passages, it is obvious that the apostles and other Christians of the New Testament knew, believed, and taught that the “rock” referred to Christ, not Peter.
We also must consider Jesus’ teachings concerning the “rock.” In Luke 20:17 (following His parable of the wicked vinedressers), Jesus quoted the words of Psalm 118:22, as Peter did, which describe Him as “the living stone” (lithos). He went on to say, “Whoever falls on that stone (lithos) will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder” (Luke 20:18; cf. Matthew 21:42,44; Mark 12:10). His comments were directed at the Jewish people, particularly the chief priests and scribes who showed disdain toward those sent by God, including the Messiah. These religious leaders knew “He was speaking of them” (Matthew 21:45), and understood that He was referring to Himself as the chief cornerstone that would crush any who disbelieved in Him.
If Jesus prophetically said, “Upon this rock I will build   my church” (Matthew 16:18, emp. added), we would expect to find this prophecy’s fulfillment. The biblical evidence shows that the “rock” refers to Peter’s confession of Jesus’ deity, and by extension, to Jesus Himself. Jesus promised that   He  would build   His   church on the foundation of Who He is, “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” as described by Peter in Matthew 16:16. In fact, the realization that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah was the striking truth that compelled 3,000 people to believe in Jesus, repent, and be baptized to be part of the church of the Lord (Acts 2:36-47). In Jerusalem, on the Day of Pentecost, only 50 days after His resurrection, Christ fulfilled His prophecy that “upon this rock” (i.e., the fact that Jesus is God and the Messiah; Matthew 16:16; cf. Acts 2:22-36) He would build His church. On that memorable day, Peter stood before the crowds not to declare himself as the first “pope” of the church, or as the “father” of all believers. Rather, he stood humbly to give honor and acknowledge the deity of the One Who made the church a reality.


There is no biblical basis on which to defend the papacy. To adopt a rock (i.e., a foundation) other than that which is already laid, is to build upon a man-made foundation, which is unstable and one day will collapse. To accept a foundation other than Christ, is to usurp His God-given role as the Head of the church which He bought with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Paul wrote, “For   no other foundation can anyone lay  than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11, emp. added).


Boles, H. Leo (1952), The Gospel According to Matthew (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Coffman, James B. (1984), Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Abilene, TX: ACUPress).
Joyce, G.H. (1999), “Papacy” [“Papado”], [On-line], URL:http://www.enciclopediacatolica.com/p/papado.htm.
Mirás, Eduardo V. (no date), “What do People Say about John Paul II?: George Bush” [“¿Qué Dicen de Juan Pablo II?: George Bush”], [On-line], URL:http://www.aciprensa.com/juanpabloii/dicenjp.htm.
Vine, W.E. (1966), An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell).

Is the Kingdom Yet to be Established? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Is the Kingdom Yet to be Established?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The average American is aware of the periodic claim that “the end is near.” When Y2K was approaching, outcries of doom, global disruption, and Armageddon were widespread. Hal Lindsey achieved nationwide attention over thirty years ago with his national bestseller, The Late Great Planet Earth    (1970). A more recent repackaging of the dispensational brand of premillennialism is the popular Left Behind book series (see “The Official…,” 2003). Every so often, a religious figure captures national attention by announcing the impending return of Jesus—even to the point of setting a date—only to fade into the anonymity and obscurity from which he arose when his claim falls flat, but having achieved his “fifteen minutes of fame” (see Whisenant and Brewer, 1989). The sensationalism sells well, and tweaks the curiosity of large numbers of people. Incredibly, this pattern has been repeating itself—literally for   centuries!
One feature of the premillennial dispensationalist’s claim is that the kingdom is yet future, and that Jesus is not reigning now, but will commence His reign in His kingdom when He returns in the future to establish it in Jerusalem. However, several passages cannot be harmonized with such a view. First, the Bible teaches that the kingdom exists    now, and has existed since A.D. 30. While Jesus was on Earth, He went to Galilee, “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is   at hand: repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15, emp. added). He also stated: “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1). In fact, Jesus “has delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). To insist that the kingdom is yet to be established is to fail to recognize that the Bible plainly declares that the kingdom already exists on Earth.
Second, the words “kingdom,” “Israel,” and “church” all refer to the same group of people—i.e., the saved, Christians, the church of Christ, or   spiritua l Israel. Jesus predicted that He would build His “church” and give to Peter the keys of the “kingdom” (Matthew 16:18-19). Jesus did not build one institution and then give Peter the keys to a different institution. Paul told the Galatian Christians: “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. …and if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:7,29; cf. 6:16). He told Christians in Rome: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart” (Romans 2:28-29). Spiritual Israel is the church of Christ—that is, the kingdom.
Third, Jesus is reigning now in heaven, and has been since His ascension around A.D. 30. Peter explained that Jesus “has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him” (1 Peter 3:22). Daniel predicted over four centuries prior to its fulfillment: “One like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14). This prophecy was fulfilled at the ascension of Christ: “while they watched, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Jesus returned to heaven where He was given rule over His kingdom (Hebrews 10:12). When He returns a second time, it will not be to reign on Earth. Rather, “[t]hen comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:24-25).
On the Day of Pentecost, Peter announced to the gathered crowd that   Jesus was reigning at that moment over His kingdom: “God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke of the resurrection of the Christ.… This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore, being exalted to the right hand of God...” (Acts 2:30-33). Paul made the same point in his letter to the church of Christ in Ephesus: “He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet” (Ephesians 1:20-22). I repeat: the Bible repeatedly affirms that   Jesus is reigning and ruling now    over His kingdom.
Fourth, Jesus   completed   His work on Earth and, consequently, has no reason to return to the Earth to do any additional work. He explained to the disciples: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish    His work” (John 4:34, emp. added). Shortly before His departure from the Earth, He prayed to the Father: “I have glorified You on the earth.   I have finished  the work which You gave Me to do” (John 17:4).
Dispensationalists say that Jesus came with the intention to be King, and to set up an earthly kingdom, but that the Jews unexpectedly rejected Him. However, this claim is in direct conflict with the facts. On one occasion, after Jesus fed thousands of people with five loaves of bread and two fish—a feat that would constitute a tremendous advantage should war with Rome be forthcoming—John noted that “when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to a mountain by Himself alone” (6:15). Here was the perfect opportunity for Jesus to become the physical king that the dispensationalists insist He intended to become. But He refused! Why? He gave the reason to Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). The dispensational claim that Jesus is coming back to be a king on Earth on a physical throne is the very thing first-century Jews tried to get Him to do—but which He refused to do.
Premillennialists also maintain that the modern nation of Israel is the recipient of various promises made in Scripture, and that it plays a prominent and continuing role in God’s scheme of things. This contention has had a profound impact upon U.S. foreign policy, and in the way people around the world—especially in the Middle East—perceive America. It must surely be a shock for many people to learn that the Bible depicts no such favored status. All people stand on level ground at the foot of the cross of Christ. God is no respecter of persons, and makes no distinctions between people on the basis of ethnicity (Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:11,28-29; Galatians 3:28). The promises that were made to physical Israel in the Old Testament were fulfilled long ago.
For example, God announced to Abraham that He would give to his descendents (the Israelites) the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1; 15:7). This promise was fulfilled when Israel took possession of Palestine in the fifteenth century B.C. (Joshua 21:43-45; 2 Chronicles 9:26). What so many people today fail to recognize is that Israelites’ retaining the land was contingent upon their continued obedience (Leviticus 18:24-28; Joshua 23:14-16; 1 Kings 9:3-7). The complete and final forfeiture of physical Israel took place in A.D. 70. The reestablishment of national Israel, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple (i.e., the national promises of Deuteronomy 30 and Zechariah 12-14) were    literally   fulfilled in the returning remnant after the Babylonian captivity (Nehemiah 1:8-10; Isaiah 10:22; Jeremiah 23:3; Ezra 3:1-11).
Many of the Old Testament prophecies that predicted the return of the Jews after captivity were laced with predictions of the coming of Christ to the Earth to bring ultimate redemption. Hence, the national promises were    spiritually  fulfilled in the church of Christ, wherein both Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ. For example, premillennialists are fond of calling attention to the concluding prophetic remarks of Amos: “ ‘On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’ says the Lord who does this thing” (Amos 9:11-12). They insist that the fulfillment of this prophecy is yet future. They say the Temple, which was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans (Matthew 23:37-24:35), will be rebuilt on the Temple platform in Jerusalem (a site currently occupied by the third most holy shrine of Islam—the Dome of the Rock). They say that Jesus will return, set up His millennial kingdom, and reign on a literal throne for a thousand years, incorporating the Gentiles, in addition to the nation of Israel, into His kingdom. On the face of it, this prophecy certainly possesses terminology that fits the millennial interpretation placed upon it.
However, two Bible passages correct this interpretation, and settle the question as to the proper application of Amos’ prophecy. The first is the great messianic prophecy uttered by the prophet Nathan to King David regarding David’s future lineage and royal dynasty (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Nathan declared that God would establish and sustain the Davidic dynasty. Even though he also noted that a permanent form of the Tabernacle (that God refused to allow David to build—2 Samuel 7:1-7) would be built by David’s son (i.e., Solomon), God, Himself, would build David a house (i.e., a dynasty, a kingly lineage). It is this    lineage    to which Amos referred—not a physical temple building.
The second passage that clarifies Amos’ prophecy is the account of the Jerusalem “conference” (Acts 15). Following Peter’s report regarding Gentile inclusion in the kingdom, James offered the following confirmatory comment: “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written” (Acts 15:13-15). James then quoted Amos 9:11-12. In other words, on that most auspicious occasion, James noted two significant facts that had come to pass precisely as predicted by Amos: (1) after the downfall of the Jewish kingdom, the Davidic dynasty had been reinstated in the person of Christ—the “Son of David” (Matthew 22:42)—Who, at His ascension, had been enthroned in heaven, thereby “rebuilding the tabernacle of David that had fallen down”; and (2) with the conversion of the first Gentiles in Acts 10, as reported on this occasion by Peter, the “residue of men,” or the non-Jewish segment of humanity, was now “seeking the Lord.”
In light of James’ inspired application of it to the integrated church of the first century, the Amos prophecy, like all others in the Old Testament that premillennialists wish to apply to the future, finds ultimate and final climax in the momentous advent of the Christian religion on the planet. The premillennial treatment of prophecy is, in the final analysis, a demeaning and trivializing of the significance of the Gospel, the church of Christ, and the Christian religion as the final revelation from God to mankind. The kingdom is not future; it is here now. All accountable persons would do well to conform themselves to the preconditions that enable Jesus to add them to His kingdom (Acts 2:38,47; 8:12-13,36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:30-34; 18:8; 19:5: 22:16).


Lindsey, Hal (1970), The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
“The Official Left Behind Series Site,” (2003), [On-line], URL: http://www.leftbehind.com.
Whisenant, Edgar and Greg Brewer (1989), The Final Shout Rapture 1989 Report (Nashville, TN: World Bible Society).

Is Sprinkling an Appropriate Mode of Baptism? by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


Is Sprinkling an Appropriate Mode of Baptism?

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

In their definitions of “baptism,” most modern dictionaries include the sprinkling (and pouring) of water. Similarly, many in the religious world teach that “baptism” by sprinkling is acceptable and sufficient, while others disagree. Because of these conflicting messages, questions on the issue of sprinkling inevitably arise. What does the word “baptism” really mean? Does it, by definition, include sprinkling? The answers to these questions have a bearing on the meaning of Jesus’ command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,    baptizing   them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19, emp. added).
The English word “baptism” is transliterated from the Greek word baptisma, which signifies   dipping  or    immersion   (Thayer, 1958, p. 94; Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, 1979, p. 132). Immersion and sprinkling are two very different things, and the Greek language bears that out (Jackson, 2002a, p. 31). Forms of the word   baptisma  appear in various extrabiblical Greek writings, where it consistently carries with it the meaning of immersion. Aristotle, Polybius, Plutarch, Strabo, Diodorus, and Josephus all wrote of things that were “immersed” in water, and they all used forms of   baptizo  (Martin, 1991, pp. 208-210). In the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, there is a passage that plainly shows the clear distinction between the concepts of sprinkling and baptism. Leviticus 4:17 reads: “Then the priest shall dip [baptizo] his finger in the blood and sprinkle [rhantizo] it several times before the Lord, in front of the veil.” In this verse, the word translated “baptize” (or “dip”) is mentioned in the same sentence with the word rightly translated “sprinkle,” so it is clear that in the Old Testament, sprinkling is not baptism. The same holds true in the New Testament. In John 13:16, Jesus “dipped” (Greek bapto) a bread morsel and passed it to Judas. Every time “baptism” is mentioned in the New Testament, it means immersion, never sprinkling. In fact, the practice of substituting sprinkling for baptism was unheard of until A.D. 253 (Thompson and Jackson, 1984, p. 11).
Despite the fact that the word “baptism” has nothing to do with sprinkling, there are several passages of Scripture that frequently are used by advocates of sprinkling to justify their position.

LEVITICUS 14:15-16

Sometimes those who defend the practice of sprinkling claim that three of the most common modern “modes” of baptism (immersion in water, pouring of water, and sprinkling) are all authorized in Leviticus 14:15-16: “And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and   pour   it into the palm of his own left hand. Then the priest shall    dip   his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall   sprinkle   some of the oil with his finger seven times before the Lord” (emp. added).
Observe that Leviticus 14:15-16 was written about the process of purification of lepers after they recovered from their disease. This process of purification was the way by which the recovered leper could re-enter Hebrew society (Keil and Delitzsch, 1976, 1: 385). Leviticus 14:15-16 is part of the discussion of the second act of leper purification. This process is similar to one described in Leviticus 8:23, when Moses consecrated Aaron and his sons as priests. Both Leviticus 14:15-16 and Leviticus 8:23 are totally unrelated to New Testament baptism (both passages are addressing guidelines of Mosaic law, not Christian law—see Hebrews 7:22-28; Galatians 3:21-29), and thus cannot be used to justify sprinkling as an appropriate mode of baptism.

ISAIAH 52:15

Some contend that because this passage mentions the word “sprinkle,” the act of sprinkling must be a scriptural substitution for New Testament baptism. We must evaluate the validity of that contention by examining the context of Isaiah 52:15: “So shall He    sprinkle    many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; For what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider” (emp. added). This verse is couched in a portion of Scripture that discusses the sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world, so it is clear that the One Who shall “sprinkle many nations” is the Lord Himself.
The word “sprinkle” in Isaiah 52:15 is translated from the Hebrew word   nazah. Every time nazah  appears in the Old Testament, it is translated “sprinkle” (in the King James Version—see Exodus 29:21; Leviticus 5:9; Numbers 8:7), but some scholars believe that a more accurate translation of   nazah  here is “startle” (e.g., Hailey, 1992, p. 435; Keil and Delitzsch, 1976, 7: 308). Albert Barnes (1950, 2: 258) observed that the usage of “sprinkle” in this context is either an allusion to the sprinkling of blood in the Old Testament (and figuratively a link between that sprinkling and the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross), or to the ceremonial sprinkling of water to symbolize cleansing and purity (see Leviticus 14:51; Hebrews 9:19). However, if nazah    were translated “startle,” the emphasis of the verse would change completely. The verse would then tell us that Christ’s suffering was going to “startle” the nations. Many accept that interpretation because of the statement in verse 15, “Kings shall shut their mouths.” This interpretation indicates that many were going to be shocked or even speechless when the Word became flesh, died as a sacrifice for sin, and was resurrected from the dead (Hailey, 1992, p. 436; Jackson, 1991, p. 105). No matter which translation of nazah is correct in this context, there is nothing contained in Isaiah 52:15 that has any connection to New Testament baptism, so it cannot be used to justify the modern practice of sprinkling.


Those who suggest that sprinkling is a legitimate substitution for baptism sometimes appeal to Ezekiel 36:25 as a “proof text.” “And I will   sprinkle    clean water upon you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols” (emp. added). This verse, however, is not in a context concerning baptism. A study of Ezekiel 35 reveals that the language about “washing” is obviously metaphoric. It would have been a fitting metaphor for Ezekiel to use in relating to his audience, because of the Mosaic system of cleansing. Old Testament passages that use language like that used here about “washing” are numerous. For example, Moses recorded in Exodus 30:20: “When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, lest they die.” Exodus 29:4 reads: “And Aaron and his sons you shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall wash them with water.” Numbers 19:18 declares: “A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave.” The concept of sprinkling and washing is prevalent in Old Testament passages, but in such passages (like Ezekiel 36), baptism for salvation is not under consideration. What    is  under consideration in Ezekiel 36 is, literally, the destruction of one of Israel’s enemies, the nation of Edom, and figuratively, the future destruction of all the Lord’s enemies (Jackson, 2002a, p. 31).
Notice Ezekiel 36:24: “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.” Then, immediately following the verse that mentions the sprinkling of clean water, God said: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). These two verses present the immediate context from which many modern religious people remove Ezekiel 36:25 in order to justify sprinkling. If we are to believe that Ezekiel was writing about a literal sprinkling of water in this verse, then we would also be forced to understand Ezekiel’s usage of “heart of stone” in verse 26 as being literal. New Testament baptism is simply not under consideration in Ezekiel 36:25. Wayne Jackson noted that many denominational scholars who defend the practice of sprinkling as an authentic form of baptism do not appeal to Ezekiel 36:25, because it does not aid their cause (2002a, p. 31). The substitution of sprinkling for true baptism cannot be defended, based on Ezekiel 36:25.

ACTS 2:41

At times, those who accept sprinkling appeal to Acts 2 in an attempt to justify their position. Some suggest that the twelve apostles could not have immersed as many as 3,000 people in one day (Acts 2:41 records that “about three thousand souls” were baptized on Pentecost), so the apostles must have sprinkled water on the 3,000. However, if each baptism took approximately a minute, the apostles could have done the job in just over four hours (Jackson, 2002b, p. 32). Also, nothing in the New Testament demands that the apostles had to do all the baptizing themselves.
Still others claim that ample water was not available in Jerusalem to accommodate all the immersions. However, there were many pools in Jerusalem, some of which were large. The Virgin’s pool was about 132 feet square and three feet deep. The pool of Siloam occupied approximately 800 square feet, and was more than three feet deep. Lower Gihon covers more than three acres, and can hold a depth of twenty feet of water; plus, there were other pools (McGarvey, 1881, p. 201). Without a doubt, on the day of Pentecost, the believers were    immersed.


Those who support the substitution of sprinkling for baptism sometimes appeal to 1 Corinthians 10:2 to justify their position. The passage states that “all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea”—a direct reference to Exodus 14:22. Baptism into Moses is entirely different from baptism into Christ, but some who defend sprinkling assert that, because Paul called the crossing of the Red Sea a “baptism,” the Israelites must have been sprinkled as they crossed the Red Sea. [Israel certainly was not immersed in water—the people walked on dry ground (Hebrews 11:29).] What did Paul mean when he wrote that our fathers were “baptized into Moses”?
The meaning of baptism in 1 Corinthians 10:2 is both literal and figurative. The Israelites were baptized—in the sense that they were literally surrounded by water, though the water did not touch them. This is a legitimate use of the word “baptism.” When a body is buried in a cemetery, for example, the body is “immersed” in the ground (surrounded by dirt), though a casket prevents any dirt from actually touching the body. In that sense, the children of Israel were immersed in the Red Sea. Paul also wrote of baptism in a figurative sense: the children of Israel were “baptized” into Moses in that they devoted themselves to his leadership and, through him, God’s leadership. G.G. Findlay explained:
The cloud, shading and guiding the Israelites from above, and the “the sea” making a path for them through its midst and drowning their enemies behind them, were glorious signs to “our fathers” of God’s salvation; together they formed a washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5), inaugurating the national covenant life; as it trode the miraculous path between upper and nether waters, Israel was born into its Divine estate. Thus “they all received their baptism unto Moses, entering through him into acknowledged fellowship with God; even so the Corinthians in the use of the same symbolic element had been baptized unto Christ (cf. Romans 6:3f., Galatians 3:27; n.d., p. 857).
Baptism into Christ is not mandated by Exodus 14:22, though the example of the Red Sea crossing metaphorically foreshadows baptism into Christ, as does Noah’s ark (1 Peter 3:20-21; see Lenski, 1937, p. 391). In Exodus 14, though, the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea in order to save their physical lives, not to save their eternal souls, and the “baptism” of Exodus 14 was instituted by Moses thousands of years before the baptism of Christ came into effect. There is no identification of the proper “mode” of baptism in either 1 Corinthians 10:2 or Exodus 14:22, so the substitution of sprinkling for baptism cannot be justified based on either passage.


This verse often is cited as proof that people should be sprinkled in order to be saved, but a brief examination of the text reveals another meaning. Hebrews 10:22 reads: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts   sprinkled  from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (emp. added). This verse seems to draw its spiritual meaning from God’s old covenant with Israel. During that period of Mosaic law, the high priests had to wash themselves before they entered the Most Holy Place (see Leviticus 16:3-4). Notice Hebrews 10:19-21: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God….” These verses, and verse 22, both deal with how people “draw near” to God, and the message in verse 22 is clear: our hearts must be true. What apparently makes our hearts true is the “sprinkling” of our hearts. If the hearts of Christians are “sprinkled,” the “evil conscience” is removed and they no longer bear the guilt of sin. The evil conscience is one that does not object to evil (cf. 1 Timothy 4:2). Robert Milligan explained this:
Every act that we perform contrary to the known will of God defiles our conscience and also our consciousness; we have them both an evil conscience and an evil self-consciousness. And this, so long as it continues, must seriously interrupt our union, communion, and fellowship with God. The child that is suffering from an evil consciousness on account of its having transgressed the known will of its father can not, so long as the feeling lasts, approach Him with perfect confidence. But when it repents of the evil, confesses the wrong, and feels fully assured that the fault is forgiven, then what a change comes over it (1950, p. 281).
The Hebrews writer did make reference to baptism, but notice how he did it. Verse 22 says our   hearts   are sprinkled from an evil conscience, but that our   bodies    are washed with pure water. Sprinkling is indeed under consideration in Hebrews 10:22, but the reader must take care to observe   what, exactly, is being “sprinkled.” In this passage, the Hebrew writer illustrates the need to have our    hearts    sprinkled, so obviously the meaning is not literal, but must be understood as figurative or metaphorical. The only portion of the verse that potentially deals with literal water is the part that mentions a “washing.” What is this washing? It is the same “washing of regeneration” that is mentioned in Titus 3:5—baptism (Milligan, 1950, p. 282). However, the portion of the verse that deals with sprinkling does not apply to the portion of the verse that deals with baptism. The hearts of Christians are figuratively sprinkled with the blood of Christ, but their bodies are washed (they are buried in water for the forgiveness of their sins; see Acts 22:16; Mark 16:16). The modern practice of sprinkling for baptism is not authorized by Hebrews 10:22.


If the “proof texts” for sprinkling as a substitution for baptism do not prove that sprinkling is a form of baptism, then what is the authentic, scriptural form of baptism? The baptism Jesus authorized and commanded is precisely what is indicated by the Greek word   baptizo:    immersion. The book of Acts contains multiple accounts of baptism, and in every instance, the candidate for baptism was immersed. In every instance, that immersion was sufficient (see Acts 10:48; Acts 16:31-33; Acts 22:16).


Arndt, William, F.W. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition revised.
Barnes, Albert (1950), Notes on the Old Testament: Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Findlay, G.G. (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Hailey, Homer (1992), A Commentary on Isaiah (Louisville, KY: Religious Supply).
Jackson, Wayne (1991), Isaiah: God’s Prophet of Doom and Deliverance (Abilene, TX: Quality).
Jackson, Wayne (2002a), “Did The Prophet Ezekiel Preview ‘Sprinkling’ As A Form of New Testament ‘Baptism’?,” Christian Courier, 38:31, January.
Jackson, Wayne (2002b), “Notes from the Margin of My Bible,” Christian Courier, 38:31, January.
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1976a reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Lenski, Robert C.H. (1937), The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Martin, Luther W. (1991) “Translating Baptizo,” Firm Foundation, 106:208-210, July.
McGarvey, J.W. (1881), Lands of the Bible (Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott).
Milligan, Robert (1950), The New Testament Commentary: Epistle to the Hebrews(Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Thayer, J.H. (1958 reprint), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark).
Thompson, Bert and Wayne Jackson (1984), “That ‘Loaded’ Questionnaire,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1181.

The Organization of the Church by Trevor Bowen


The Organization of the Church 


The Bible teaches that the local church, which we should attend, will have certain essential characteristics.  The organization of the church has significant impact upon the work and activities of the church, so it should be considered when determining which church to attend.  However, before we study such an issue, we must first recognize that there is indeed a pattern for the church that God expects us to follow, and we must also understand some basics concepts about the church.  In this article, we will try to summarize the many complex issues related to church organization, which include cooperation among local churches and with other institutions.

What Is Meant by "Organization"

The term "organization" of the church refers to how the church is set up, or organized.  Should it have committees, or boards?  Or, may it use societies of cooperation or outside institutions to achieve its work?  Can local churches be part of a larger, earthly structure that is governed by men?  Who picks the local preacher, deacons, and elders?  How do local churches cooperate to achieve common goals?  All of these questions are addressed in a study of God's plan for the church's organization.

What this Question is Not About

Since this question is addressing organizations such as missionary societies and orphan homes, some people may accidentally mistake this article's intention to oppose taking care of orphans or spreading God's Word.  However, this article is most certainly not against these actions.  In fact, the Bible teaches that these are essential characteristics of a Christians life (James 1:26-27Matthew 25:31-46Luke 10:29-37).  Therefore, please do not mistake this question to be whether we, or the church should be involved in such works; rather, the question is how the work of the church should be accomplished.

The Heart of the Matter

Fundamental to this study is the proper understanding of New Testament examples in establishing authority.  Since most of the Bible commentary on church organization are the examples of New Testament churches operating under the approval of God, it is imperative that we determine the authority that is inherent in these examples.   This article will adopt the conclusion that was reached in the writings on "Examples and the Pattern", which is that all examples are binding until sufficient reason is found for dismissal.
As we study the Bible to determine the nature of the church's organization, we will find two reoccurring themes, or points that are at the heart of the matter.  First, organization of the church begins and ends with the local church, and it should be entirely autonomous of all other organizations, including other local churches.  Second, the New Testament churches did not participate in collective cooperation, but they did help each other through a form of cooperation that never violated their autonomous independence.

Church Cooperation

The Bible does clearly endorse a type of cooperation.  However, we must determine if the cooperation in which our local church participates is conducted according to the pattern.  Some misunderstanding may arise through people using the same word in different ways in different contexts.  Therefore, to help us clarify the use of the word "cooperation", we will divide the Bible teaching on church cooperation into three distinct categories, which we will define and discuss:
  1. Independent Distributed Cooperation
  2. Independent Conjunctive Cooperation
  3. Collective Cooperation
Although these words are not found in the Bible, we can use these labels to help us categorize and recognize the different ways in which churches can cooperate.  However, we will find that some of these forms of cooperation may be found in the Bible, while others may not.

Independent Distributed Cooperation

This category is best demonstrated through the work in which many churches participate to further the gospel.  Many congregations support a local preacher. Some support preachers in new areas. And, hopefully all promote the gospel through the efforts of their individual members.  Each of these churches could be acting independently and in complete ignorance of the others, and yet each would be cooperating in the fulfillment of a common goal.  It is only through this form of cooperation that the universal church ever works or operates.
Jesus Christ is the head of the universal church, and every member is in a sense cooperating with the others when they obey the wishes of the body's head (Ephesians 1:20-234:15-16).  Even though distributed over the expanse of the world and time, each Christian participates in the common work of the church and is, therefore, involved in a distributed and independent form of cooperation.  It is in this sense that the universal church works together as "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Timothy 3:15).

Independent Conjunctive Cooperation

This category is similar to the above category in that the people or groups involved act independently of each other.  However, this category is unique in that it includes those that deliberately and conjunctively cooperate together, or in parallel.  In the Bible we read of two exemplary cases that define the authority for this type of cooperation.  The best and most well known Bible example is the benevolent case of the Gentile churches sending aid to Judean Christians who were starving from a famine.  Let us focus our attention upon compiling and understanding the scriptures related to this first example, so that we may determine the boundaries for this type of cooperation.

Benevolent Church Cooperation

The background of this example involves a large scale famine that struck Palestine in the early days of the church, which left many Christians starving in Judea.  However, before it ever occurred, we read of other Christians contributing to the future need that was miraculously foreseen:
"And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch.  Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul."  Acts 11:27-30
From this we learn that one local church assisted other local churches by taking up its own collection and sending it to the needy by the hands of its own chosen messengers.  Moreover, when we read of the Jerusalem saints receiving contributions, we also find that the money was delivered to the local church's elders.  Therefore, using this passage as a pattern for church cooperation, we can determine that contributions should not be delivered to an organization or institution to accomplish the work, but it should be given directly to the elders who oversee the church in need - if we are going to follow the pattern.
Please note that at this point we must make a presumption.  We know that there were multiple congregations in Judea (I Thessalonians 2:14Galatians 1:22); consequently, we must presume that the single collective contribution was either given to one set of elders who divided the relief among the other churches, or we must presume that it was given to the local elders of each work based upon each congregations need.  However, one of the conclusion ceases to be a presumption and becomes a necessary inference when we realize that elders could not have divided or controlled the distribution without violating each church's autonomy.  This would put them in conflict with other Bible teaching to oversee the "flock among" them (I Peter 5:1-3).  Therefore, to assume that a single church acted as a "central" or "sponsoring" church is to make an unsubstantiated presumption and "add to" God's Word.

The Ongoing Benevolent Need

From other scriptures, we learn that 10 years after this first famine, a second need arose in Jerusalem that prompted a second collection from even some of the more remote Gentile congregations.  We can read passages from which we find that each congregation was ordered to take up a collection (I Corinthians16:1Romans 15:25-27II Corinthians 8-9), as it is part of the work of the church (Ephesians 4:16-16).  However, each church was allowed to determine the amount to send by their own messengers.  Consequently, each church cooperated concurrently, in parallel, to assist with this single need. However, we never read of any centralizing agency or institution.  Moreover, the example we have is messengers, chosen by the contributing church (I Corinthians 16:1-4), delivering the contribution into the hands of elders of the local church, or churches in need (Acts 11:27-30).  This substantiates the pattern from the other passage:  Each church needs to be involved in the work God gave it to do, but each church is responsible for its own collection and distribution.  There is no room in the pattern for a centralizing agency, sponsoring church, or institution of cooperation.  This prompts us to ask ourselves the repetitive, but essential question, "Will we venture outside and beyond this simple pattern that God has given us?"
We should also recognize that the congregation that received the contribution was always in need.  In each case, the needy church was suffering an emergency that was bigger than the local church's capacity to handle (II Corinthians 8:13-15Acts 11:27-29).  We nowhere read of a single congregation accumulating funds to undertake a benevolent need beyond its own membership.  Therefore, a third component of the pattern is the that the congregation to receive funds must be in need.  This excludes centralizing churches that collect funds from other churches to accomplish a work that is beyond their need, obligations, and boundaries of autonomy.

Evangelical Church Cooperation

The second Bible case of concurrent, but independent church cooperation is that of multiple churches supporting the apostle Paul in his evangelistic efforts to spread the gospel.  However, the Bible pattern for this second type of cooperation is not as elaborate as one might first suspect.
"I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you.  And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself."  II Corinthians 11:8
Although ingrained into a deeply involved context, this passage does introduce the authority for a preacher receiving funds from "brethren" to support his preaching in new fields, which included Corinth at the time of this reference by Paul (see also Acts 18:1-11I Corinthians 9:9-14).  But, who were these "brethren from Macedonia"?
"Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.  Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.  Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God."  Phillippians 4:14-18
Apparently, these "brethren" were those of the Philippian church.  These "Phillippians" were the members of the church in the city of Philippi to whom this letter was addressed (Philippians 1:1), and we learn that they at least supported Paul in his work at Thessalonica, which was one of his stops between Philippi and Corinth (Acts 16:11-124017:1,10,13-1618:1), and they probably were part of the those supporting his work in Corinth.
So, what do these passages teach us about the pattern for churches cooperating in evangelism?  Please notice that the Philippian church selected a messenger who delivered their contribution directly to the preacher, Paul.  There was no congregation or society that served as a mediating agency.  From these passages we see that the New Testament pattern is similar to that of churches cooperating for the purpose of benevolence:  Each congregation selects its own messenger and delivers their contribution to the preacher in need.  However, it is unique from the benevolent case in that the preacher is supported, not the church.  If we are to abide by God's pattern, then we must abide by the pattern established by this example.

Collective Cooperation

 This third and final type of cooperation involves the collective collaboration of churches towards a single goal.  It differs from the other types of cooperation in that multiple congregations unite their resources under a central controlling, decisive body.  This body could be a missionary society, orphan home, the elders of a sponsoring congregation, or any other institution.  It is also different from the other forms of cooperation in that the Bible contains no inference, example, or statement that authorizes such cooperation.  It is simply not in the Bible.  Although many questions and issues could be raised to defend this type of cooperation, when we carefully address these questions, we finds that there is still no Biblical basis for collective church cooperation.   Therefore, the specific Bible examples combined with the Bible silence for this type of cooperation provides a specific pattern of church organization which excludes this last type of cooperation.


We have examined Bible examples of two types of approved cooperation.  Isolated congregations in a sense cooperate by their independent efforts to spread the gospel and build up the universal church.  Secondly, churches may cooperate by directly helping a needy congregation or concurrently supporting a gospel preacher.  However, we find no pattern for congregations uniting funds and oversight under a central church or organization to collectively cooperate, such as through an orphan home, missionary society, or central sponsoring church.  This introduces an organizational framework that is not found in the Bible.  Moreover, it is specifically excluded by the specific organization that is given for us in the Bible.  Therefore, any use of organizations beyond the local church constitutes "adding to" God's Word and the pattern for accomplish His work for the church.
Next in our series, we will investigate the proper names by which a local church should be known.  However, if you are interested in further investigation of church cooperation and organization, then you are encouraged to read an article that addresses frequently asked questions about church cooperation.

Trevor Bowen