"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" A Faithful Saying (2:11-13)


A Faithful Saying (2:11-13)


1. Paul makes mention of the phrase "faithful saying" several times...
   a. Regarding Jesus' coming to save sinners - 1Ti 1:15
   b. Regarding the desire to serve as a bishop - 1Ti 3:1
   c. Regarding the value of godly exercise - 1Ti 4:8-9
   c. Regarding our salvation by God's grace - Tit 3:4-8a
   d. And also the passage that serves as our text today - 2Ti 2:11-13
   -- The Greek is "faithful is the saying" (JFB), and identifies that
      which is  "worthy of entire credence and profound attention"

2. The "faithful saying" we examine today may have been from an early
   a. "The symmetrical form of 'the saying,' and the rhythmical balance
      of the parallel clauses, makes it likely, they formed part of a
      Church hymn or accepted formula..." - JFB
   b. "...perhaps first uttered by some of the Christian 'prophets' in
      the public assembly (1Co 14:26)." - ibid.
   -- As many think other passages may have been 
      - cf. 1Ti 3:16; Ep 5:14 (RWP)

3. Paul's purpose was to encourage Timothy to endure hardship for
   a. As mentioned near the beginning of this chapter - 2Ti 2:3
   b. As Paul himself had done and would continue to do - 2Ti 2:8-10
   -- This "faithful saying" should encourage us to endure hardship as

[This "faithful saying" reveals much about our life with Christ, as we
note that the first 'verse' relates to...]


      1. An allusion to baptism, in which we are crucified with Christ
         - Ro 6:3-8
      2. It was not uncommon to speak of having died with Christ - Col 2:
         20; 3:3; Ga 2:20
      -- Have you died with Christ (i.e., been baptized)...? 
          - Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38

      1. We live with Christ now, in newness of life - Ro 6:4; Col 2:
      2. We shall also live with Him in the age to come, in glory - Co
      -- Yet living with Christ both now and then is contingent on
         having died with Him...!

[If you have started this new life by dying with Christ, you have every
reason to do what is necessary to maintain such life.  The second
'verse' tells of the need for endurance in suffering as...]


   A. "IF WE ENDURE..."
      1. Our life in Christ often involves hardship 
           - Jn 15:20; Ac 14:22; 2Ti 3:12

      2. Thus the need for endurance and perseverance 
          - He 10:36; Mt 10:22
      -- Are you willing to endure hardship to receive the promises..?
         - He 6:11-12

      1. A wonderful promise made by Christ Himself - Re 3:21; cf. 1:5
      2. A reign with Christ that...
         a. Begins in principle in this life - Ep 2:4-7
         a. Continues in practice in the intermediate state - Re 2:
            26-27; 20:4,6
         b. Culminates in glory in the eternal state - Re 22:5
      -- Participation in this reign depends on willingness to suffer
         with Him...! - Ro 8:17

[Implied in being willing to endure in order to reign with Christ is the
possibility of not enduring to the end.  What then?  The third 'verse'
refers to very real danger of...]


   A. "IF WE DENY HIM..."
      1. Refuse to confess Him, or being ashamed of Him - Mt 10:32-33;
         cf. Lk 9:26
      2. A very real possibility, even by those redeemed (bought) by the
         Lord - 2Pe 2:1; Jude 1:4
      -- Denying the Lord places one's life with Christ and His Father
         in a very precarious position! - 1Jn 2:22-23

      1. He will deny us before His Father in heaven - Mt 10:33
      2. He will deny us before the angels of God - Lk 12:9
      -- This denial is indicative of the terrible judgment that awaits
         those who having known the Lord choose to ultimately reject Him
         - cf. He 10:26-31

[Of course, Peter's own denial and subsequent forgiveness reminds us
that while there is life there is hope.  And so the fourth 'verse'
provides a hint of...]


      1. It is possible to develop an evil heart of unbelief 
          - He 3: 12-14
      2. In which like unfaithful Israel we can be cut off - Ro 11:19-22
      -- Unbelief can destroy those who were once saved; thus we like
         Israel need to 'make our calling and election sure' 
         - Jude 1:5; cf. 2Pe 1:10-11

      1. Some have understood this to mean He will save us even if we
         live in sin
         a. Yet Paul had just said that if we deny Christ He will deny
         b. We have seen that believers were warned to continue in their
            faith, or be cut off
      2. Rather, it means that Christ remains true and trustworthy, for
         He cannot be otherwise
         a. For those who persist in sin and unbelief, their
            condemnation is sure
         b. For those willing to repent, His promise of longsuffering
            and mercy provides hope!
            1) As illustrated in His words to Peter - Mt 18:21-22
            2) As demonstrated in His forgiveness of Peter, who denied
               Him three times - Jn 21:15-19
      -- While apostasy is a very real danger, restoration remains a
         viable hope because of the faithfulness of Christ and His
         Father - cf. 1Jn 1:9


1. Why should we be willing to endure hardship for Christ...?
   a. Because those who have died with Him will live with Him!
   b. Because those willing to endure for Him will reign with Him!
   c. Because those who deny Him will be denied by Him!
   d. Because those who are faithless know what they need to do to face
      Him who remains true to His Word!

2. Thus in this 'hymn' we are reminded of key elements pertaining to our
   life in Christ...
   a. How it begins (by dying with Christ in baptism)
   b. How it will end in glory (by enduring hardship with Christ)
   c. How it could end in shame (by denying Christ)
   d. How the faithless who deny Christ can regain it back (by obeying
      Him who can be trusted)

Have you started your life with Christ (Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38; 22:16)?  Are
you remaining faithful to Him who remains faithful (Re 2:10)?  May this
"faithful saying" encourage you to do whatever is needed to make your
life with Christ what it should be...!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Peleg, Pangea, and the Division of the Earth by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Peleg, Pangea, and the Division of the Earth

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Most everyone who has read Genesis 10:25 has been intrigued by a particular statement found there. The text says: “To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.” What does the statement, “the earth was divided” mean in this verse? In light of the modern idea of Pangea (see Butt, 2006), many have wondered if this verse could be talking about the breaking up of one supercontinent into the various continents that we see today. While this interpretation is not impossible, it is unlikely.
In the context, this verse comes just seven verses before Genesis 11:1. Of course, in the original language, Genesis was not divided into chapters and verses, so there would have been no chapter division. Thus, Genesis 10:25 would naturally have flowed into the discussion of Babel that immediately follows it. In addition, the word “earth” in the passage leads many people to believe that the division is of the physical continents, since, most of the time, in English, the word relates to the physical mass of land. Yet Genesis 11:1 gives us another clear meaning of the term as it was being used in the context. The verse says: “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.” What does the text mean when it says “the whole earth?” It is obviously referring to the whole human population that inhabited the Earth. It could not be discussing a physical, geological mass of land.
Interestingly, verse nine of chapter 11 states: “Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth, and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” Notice that in this verse, the first use of the term “earth” refers to the people on the earth, and the next use “over the face of all the earth” refers to the actual land. The important idea to consider is which “earth” is being divided in this context. The context shows that the “earth” that was divided was the people, and nothing is stated about the division of the land. As Eric Lyons wrote concerning the reference to Peleg: “This is a clear reference to the confusion of languages at the tower of Babel described in chapter 11. The “Earth” (i.e., people; cf. 11:1) divided when God confused the languages (11:7-8). Thus, the division in Peleg’s day is linked contextually to the linguistic segregation at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)” (Lyons, 2004). It seems the best interpretation of Peleg’s name and the division of the Earth during his lifetime is that the text is referring to the separation of the human population due to the fact that God confused their languages at Babel.


Butt, Kyle (2006), “Pangea and the Flood,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=1729.
Lyons, Eric (2004), “Only One Language Before Babel?, Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=6&article=760.

Origins and the "Created Kind" Concept by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


Origins and the "Created Kind" Concept

by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


The Bible speaks of things reproducing “after their kind.” What does the biblical word “kind” indicate?
Today, most creationists take the view that variation and speciation can occur only within created kinds. These kinds appeared for the first time in the creation week, and have since colonized the Earth. For land-dwelling animals, modern representatives would have to be the descendants of the kinds carried on the ark (Genesis 6:17; 8:17-19).
However, there is no consensus on the biological definition of kind, or the criteria for grouping animals within a kind. Some creationists equate the term with a particular taxonomic level higher than species, such as genus or family. Most, however, avoid such comparisons altogether. Byron Nelson wrote:
The “kinds” of Genesis refer not to the “systematic” species identified by men, but to those natural species of which the world is full, which have power to vary within themselves in such a way that the members of the species are not all exactly alike, but which, nevertheless, cannot go out of the bounds that the creator set (1967, p. 4).
In 1941, Frank Marsh coined the term “baramin”—a compound of the Hebrew words bara (“created”) and min (“kind”). He suggested that the nearest equivalent to the created kind would vary, depending on the greatest taxonomic level at which two organisms could interbreed (1976, p. 34). For example, while there are several species of cattle and bison, they probably belong to the same kind because they all can interbreed (Marsh, 1976, p. 31).
The differences of opinion, and the apparent flexibility in the idea, have given anticreationists cause for criticism. Joel Cracraft complained:
The “created kind” is the unit of creation event just as the species is the unit of evolutionary change. Consequently, if the concept of “created kind” cannot be defined so that it can be used to interpret and investigate nature, then it is of little or no importance for the growth of knowledge (1983, p. 169).
However, the same sort of criticisms leveled at kinds also can be turned on the species concept, which is neither well defined nor objective. First, the widely held biological species concept “holds that a species is a population of organisms that can at least potentially breed with one another but that do not breed with other populations” (Rennie, 1991). Unfortunately, two populations may not breed because they are isolated geographically. This may lead to taxonomic splitting, by which taxonomists give two different names to populations that could interbreed if given the chance. Practically speaking, very few species undergo extensive cross-breeding experiments before classification to test their reproductive isolation. Hybridization is another problem. Two seemingly distinct plant species may cross to produce fertile hybrids.
The potential for taxonomic splitting is especially acute in the fossil record, where it is impossible to apply the biological species concept. Instead, paleontologists tend to define species on their morphology alone. However, the soft parts of an organism rarely are preserved, and the identification must rest almost entirely on hard parts (e.g., bones, teeth, etc.). Any evolutionary relationships drawn from such studies are necessarily limited (Major, 1991).
Second, the species idea often takes on a definite evolutionary connotation. As we have already seen, Cracraft claims that the species is “the unit of evolutionary change” (1983, p. 169). He wants to replace the biological species concept with his own phylogenetic species concept, mainly because he is not satisfied with any definition that ignores alleged evolutionary relationships. Cracraft’s concept defines a species as “the smallest recognizable cluster of individuals that share a common pattern of ancestry” (Rennie, 1991).
The created kind concept can hold its own against these definitions. It proposes that a kind will consist of populations that can interbreed, while still allowing room for variation. If implemented systematically, the concept would reveal barriers or discontinuities between created kinds. “In order to make this evidence of creation available,” Kurt Wise has suggested, “there is a serious need for creation biologists to create, adopt, and employ a reproducible method of flagging identifiable phyletic discontinuities” (1990, 2:354). Creationists, like Wise, are continuing their work on kinds. In the meantime we face a taxonomic system encumbered with evolutionary presuppositions.


Cracraft, Joel (1983), “Systematics, Comparative Biology, and the Case against Creationism,” Scientists Confront Creationism, ed. Laurie R. Godfrey (New York: W.W. Norton), pp. 163-191.
Major, Trevor (1991), “Problems in the Interpretation of Variation Within the Fossil Record,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 28:52-53, September.
Marsh, Frank L. (1976), Variation and Fixity in Nature (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press).
Nelson, Byron (1967), After Its Kind (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship).
Rennie, John (1991), “Are Species Specious?,” Scientific American, 265[5]:26, November.
Wise, Kurt P. (1990), “Baraminology: A Young-Earth Creation Biosystematic Method,” Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creationism, July 30-August 4, 1990, ed. Robert E. Walsh (Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship), pp. 345-360.

Origin and History of Catholicism [Part II] by Moisés Pinedo


Origin and History of Catholicism [Part II]

by Moisés Pinedo

[EDITOR'S NOTE: To read Part I of this article, click HERE]


A new church was born, a church completely different from the church established by Christ. While the church of Christ was born in Jerusalem (Acts 1:12; 2:1; etc.), this church was born in Rome. While the church of Christ was born with spiritual power (Acts 2:2-4), this church was born with political and military power. While the church of Christ was born under the authority of only one divine Head (Colossians 1:18), this church was born under the authority of one human head—the pope. This new church soon invaded the Earth with its new doctrines.
However, an unexpected threat for this kind of Christianity was quickly approaching from the East: Islam. With Muhammad as its leader, the religion of Islam originated in A.D. 622 and spread aggressively. Less than 25 years from the beginning of the “Hegira” (i.e., Muhammad’s flight from Mecca), the followers of Muhammad had taken control of Egypt, Palestine, Persia, and Syria (Mattox, 1961, p. 173). With its thirst for conquest, this religion threatened to convert the whole world to its beliefs. Soon the threat to Catholicism became increasingly obvious. Many Catholics in conquered nations had converted to Islam out of fear; the advancement of this doctrine over Roman influence and its official religion seemed inevitable. The Roman religion, and the unity of the nation that depended on it, would collapse soon if something were not done quickly. Thus the conflicts between Catholics and Muslims gave rise to the infamous Crusades.
The Crusades (from 1096 until 1270) were military expeditions that started out as a fulfillment of a “solemn vow” to regain the “holy places” in Palestine from the hands of the Muslims. In November 1095, Pope Urban II encouraged the masses to fight together against the Islamic Seljuk Turks who invaded the Byzantine Empire and subjected Greek, Syrian, and Armenian Catholics. He also wanted to extend his political and religious power. To encourage Catholics to involve themselves in a bloody war in the “name of God,” the pope offered forgiveness of sins, care for the lands belonging to crusaders, and the prospect of plunder (see Hitchens and Roupp, 2001, p. 186).
Although multitudes of people answered the call to join the Crusades, they failed to accomplish the initial goal of recovering the Holy Lands. After many years of fighting and much loss of life, the Holy Lands were still in Muslim hands. Nevertheless, the Crusades improved the relationship between Catholic nations and stopped the advancement of the Turks in Europe.
Shortly after the Crusades, new ideologies, which Catholicism considered heresies, threatened the Catholic Church. Multitudes of people, led by relentless religious leaders, executed those considered to be heretics without judicial process. The need for judicial regulation concerning heresy, the Catholic concern about the growth of new revolutionary ideas, and the desire to increase the power of the Catholic Church, gave rise to another wave of bloodshed paradoxically known in history as the “Holy” Inquisition.
The Inquisition is described generally as the judicial institution created in the Middle Ages to deal with the enemies of the state religion (i.e., Catholicism). There were three types of inquisitions.
  1. The Episcopal Inquisition was established by Pope Lucius III in 1184. It was overseen and administered by local bishops. Once the orthodox doctrines were established, any deviation from them was investigated and studied by the bishop of the respective diocese. If the “crime” was confirmed, it was punished, primarily by canonic penances (see Chami, 1999a).
  2. The Pontifical Inquisition was created by Pope Gregory IX in 1231 (see Schmandt, 1988, 10:277). This type of inquisition was entrusted to the Dominican order which answered only to the pontiff. It was introduced in France in 1233, in Aragon in 1238, and in Italy in 1254 (Mattox, 1961, pp. 214-215). The inquisitors would go to the place of the alleged heresy, and with the help of the authorities, ask the heretics to present themselves voluntarily before the tribunal. The public also was encouraged to report heretics; anyone could accuse anyone else of heresy. The accused was forced to confess his “heresy” without an opportunity to confront his accusers or defend himself. A long imprisonment awaited the “heretic” who denied the charges. His imprisonment would be interrupted by numerous torture sessions until he confessed his “heresy.” If he continued to refuse to confess, he was turned over to the civil authorities who administered the death penalty to the “obstinate heretic.”
  3. The Spanish Inquisition is considered the most dreadful of all. It began in 1478 with the approval of Pope Sixtus IV, and it lasted until 1834 (see “Inquisition,” 1997, 6:328). This tribunal was different from the Pontifical Inquisition because the inquisitor was appointed by the king rather than the pope, so the inquisitor became a servant of the state rather than the church (see Chami, 1999b). Some of the principal reasons for this inquisition were:
    • The Jewish “threat”—In the 14th and 15th centuries, Europe was ravaged by grave economic crises. Many plagues and epidemics contributed to this situation. Because of their strict hygiene practices, the Jews in Europe survived these epidemics and plagues. While Europeans fell into despair and poverty, most Jews retained their economic status. This situation produced many protests against the Jews and increased the political and religious avarice for, and confiscation of, Jewish wealth. Forced to give up their economic activities, and being pressured by fanatical priests, many Jews converted to the Catholic religion at the beginning of the 15th century. Many Catholics became jealous of the continued financial progress and social position of these Jews and accused them of artificial, insincere conversion (see Domínguez, n.d.).
    • The need for unity in the kingdom—Spain was united politically under the “Catholic Rulers,” Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, but there still were different religious ideologies in the country. Hoping to unify their country religiously, the rulers asked the pope for permission to “purify” their kingdom of non-Catholic ideologies by means of the Inquisition (see Chami, 1999b).
These were some reasons for the cruel Spanish Inquisition. In time, this brutal tribunal dedicated itself to the persecution of Muslims, alleged witches, and supporters of Protestantism.
Though prior inquisitions were cruel, the Spanish Inquisition was devised to terrify even the vilest criminal. Its instruments of torture were even more innovative and inhumane than those of earlier times. Torture treatments included, but were not limited to (1) dislocation of the joints of the body; (2) mutilation of vaginal, anal, and oral interior cavities; (3) removal of tongues, nipples, ears, noses, genitals, and intestines; (4) breaking of legs, arms, toes, and fingers; (5) flattening of knuckles, nails, and heads; (6) sawing of bodies in half; (7) perforation of skin and bones; (8) tearing of skin from the face, abdomen, back, extremities, and sinuses; and (9) stretching of body extremities (see Rodriguez, 2007).
Although Catholicism may want to deny its past, history speaks loudly concerning the atrocities committed in the name of the Catholic faith. Catholicism may try to hide behind the injustices committed by other religious groups to cover its own disgrace, but the truth is that Catholic methodology was the inspiration for the bloody canvas of other religious “artists.” There is no doubt that the Crusades and Inquisitions played a major role in the development and growth of the Catholic Church in a world that did not want to conform to this kind of religion.


In the past, the Catholic Church used violent methods to destroy opposition to its teachings and practices. Today, without the torture, tribunals, and slaughter, Catholicism seems passive toward the growth of other religions.
The beginning of the 16th century added new fuel to the fire of the Inquisition. Ninety-five reasons for this were nailed to the door of the Catholic Church building in Wittenberg, Germany. Who was responsible? One man: Martin Luther. Although some men before him had attempted to ignite the fire of reformation (e.g., John Wycliffe, John Hus, et al.), the Reformation movement was ineffective until Luther.
Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Saxony, Germany in 1483. He was the son of a poor miner and paid for his studies at the University of Erfurt with alms he collected. In 1505, he became more interested in the salvation of his soul and the search for spiritual peace thanthe study of law. He entered the Augustinian monastery at Erfurt where he became a devout, but spiritually troubled, monk. By 1508, Luther had come to the conclusion that some teachings and organization of the Catholic Church were completely different from those of the New Testament. The immorality of the clergy in Rome, irreverence toward the sacraments by their own defenders, and the avarice of those who collected indulgences and other penalties set Martin Luther on a collision course with the Catholic Church. In 1517, his 95 theses disturbed the Catholic world to the point that, by 1520, the pope drew up a bull calling for Luther to recant his teachings or be excommunicated.However, he did not succumb to this threat, and continued to spread his teachings (see Mattox, 1961, pp. 243-261; Pelikan, 1988, 12:531-533). Others, such as Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531) in Switzerland and John Calvin (1509-1564) in France and Geneva, Switzerland, also contributed greatly to the Reformation and the development of Protestant religions.
Various conditions helped the progress of the Reformation in the 16th century. (1) The Renaissance—This cultural movement stimulated intellectual freedom and awakened enthusiastic study of the Scriptures in Europe. Many people began to realize the difference between Catholicism and New Testament Christianity. (2) Corruption of the hierarchy in the Catholic Church—Money bought rights and privileges, and immorality ruled the day, even among the Catholic clergy. Inconsistency between faith and practice became notorious. (3) Secular sovereigns’ support of opposition to Catholic hierarchy—By this time, the Catholic Church owned a third of the land of Western Europe. Kings and rulers were eager to possess this land, as well as other properties that the church had taken for itself. (4) The advent of the printing press—Luther and others used the printing press to spread their ideas and the Scriptures throughout Germany and other countries (see Mattox, 1961, pp. 239-246). By 1542, Protestantism was spreading to many places and was even penetrating Italy with its doctrines. Because of his fear of this new ideological rebellion, Pope Paul III incited the public and church leaders to return to the harsh levels of the Inquisition. In spite of this, Protestantism flourished.
The Catholic Church had encountered a great enemy that seemingly lacked the faintest intention of yielding. However, the “Holy Office” of the Inquisition continued work during the subsequent centuries and expanded to the colonies of Spain in the New World. The tribunal of the Inquisition had jurisdiction over other tribunals organized in Latin American colonies. In these colonies, the Inquisition did not reach the same disgraceful level it did in Europe since natives merely were beginning to learn the Catholic religion and did not yet understand every Catholic dogma. But the poor example of “kindness” shown in conquered nations could not erase the inherent cruelty of the “holy” tribunal.
In 1808, Joseph Bonaparte (brother of Napoleon) signed a decree terminating the “Holy Office,” but it was not until 1834 that the final edict of its abolition was published (see O’Malley, 2001; “Inquisition,” 1997, 6:328). Having its political, military, and social arm broken, the only thing left for the Catholic Church was to “follow the herd” and accept what seemed to be the end of its dictatorship.
In sharp contrast to its past, the Catholic Church has become progressively more tolerant of other religions in spite of its public, verbal opposition. This tolerance has led to a mixture of Catholicism with evangelical religions, such as Lutheranism, Pentecostalism, etc., resulting in serious repercussions for Catholicism worldwide. This situation clearly shows that this kind of religion is based not on the Bible, but on religious preferences. No one can say with certainty what the Catholic Church will become or accept in the future, but history vividly illuminates its past beliefs and practices.


Chami, Pablo A. (1999a), “Origin of the Inquisition” [“Origen de la Inquisición”], [On-line], URL:http://www.pachami.com/Inquisicion/Origen.html.
Chami, Pablo A. (1999b), “The Spanish Inquisition” [“La Inquisición en España”], [On-line], URL: http://pachami.com/Inquisicion/Espa.htm.
Domínguez, Antonio O. (no date), “The Jewish Problem” [“El Problema Judío”], [On-line], URL: http://www.vallenajerilla.com/berceo/florilegio/inquisicion/problema judio.htm.
Hitchens, Marilynn and Heidi Roupp (2001), How to Prepare for SAT: World History (Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series).
“Inquisition” (1997), The New Encyclopædia Britannica (London: Encyclopædia Britannica).
Mattox, F.W. (1961), The Eternal Kingdom (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
O’Malley, John W (2001), “Inquisition,” Encarta Encyclopedia 2002 (Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation).
Pelikan, Jaroslav (1988), “Luther, Martin,” The World Book Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: World Book).
Rodriguez, Ana (2007), “Inquisition: Torture Instruments, ‘a Cultural Shock’ for the Audience” [“Inquisición: Instrumentos de Tortura, ‘Sacudida Cultural’ para el Espectador”], La Jornada, March 9, [On-line], URL: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2007/01/09/index.php?section=cultura& ;article=a04n1cul.
Schmandt, Raymond H. (1988), The World Book Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: World Book).

Origin and History of Catholicism [Part I] by Moisés Pinedo


Origin and History of Catholicism [Part I]

by Moisés Pinedo

Often Catholics make two important assertions: (1) The Catholic Church is the oldest church. [Catholics are firmly convinced that the Catholic Church is much older than any Protestant group that exists today. Although this assertion is historically correct, is it true that the Catholic Church is the oldest church?] (2) The Catholic Church is the biblical church. [Catholics claim that their church is the one described in the Bible and, therefore, the church which God approves.]
These two claims bear some serious implications. First, if the Catholic Church is the oldest church, then: (a) there could not be any church prior to it; (b) the first church, which Christ promised He was going to establish, must be the Catholic Church; and (c) all biblical and/or historical record of the first church should point to Catholicism. Second, if the Catholic Church is the biblical church, then: (a) the Bible should have a record of this church; and (b) its teachings and practices should be approved by the Bible.


To determine whether the Catholic Church is the oldest church, we must go to the Bible to find a record of the first church. The prophet Daniel said that
...the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever (2:44, emp. added).
God had a plan for the followers of His Son to be part of a kingdom different from any other, a spiritual kingdom that would stand forever: the church (cf. Colossians 1:13). But when did this divine institution begin?
Matthew 16:18 records the first time the term “church” is introduced in the New Testament. Jesus said: “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” (emp. added). The term “church,” from the Greek ekklesia, was generally used by the Greeks to refer to a political assembly (cf. Acts 19:41). This term is used for the first time to describe the followers of Christ in Matthew 16:18.
When Jesus spoke of His church in this verse, He declared three very important things. First, Jesus said, “I will build my church.” The future tense of the verb indicates that the church was not yet established. It did not exist at that time. Second, Jesus said, “I will build,” indicating that Christ Himself would establish the church and be its foundation. Third, Jesus said, “My church,” indicating that the Church would belong to Him.
Notice again Jesus’ statement to Peter, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). Using two Greek terms—petros and petra—the New Testament makes clear that this “rock” (petra) would be the foundation upon which Jesus would build His church. But to what or to whom does this “rock” refer? Matthew tells us that Jesus had asked His disciples who they thought He was. “Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Matthew 16:16). Because of this declaration, Jesus made the statement mentioned above (Matthew 16:18). Therefore, it can mean only one thing: Jesus was going to build His church on the confession that Peter had made about Him. In other words, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” would be the foundation upon which the church was to be built. Jesus promised Peter that he would be the blessed person to open the doors of Christianity (or the church), but Peter (petros) would not be the rock (petra) of the church.
Although these verses in Matthew 16 do not give us the beginning of the first church, they do give us an exact prediction of its origin, including the following:
  1. This church was not yet built at the time Jesus was speaking (vs. 18).
  2. This church would be built by Christ, Who would also be its foundation (vs. 18).
  3. This church would belong to Christ (vs. 18).
  4. This church would be built on the confession that Jesus is Christ (vss. 16,18).
  5. Peter would open (symbolically) the doors of this church (vs. 19).
So then, when did these things happen, and when did the first church come into existence?
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them (Acts 2:41).
This verse, recorded by Luke, tells us the result of the sermon Peter and the other apostles preached on Pentecost. The Bible notes that the apostles had stayed in Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension, waiting for the promise of the Father (i.e., the arrival of the Holy Spirit; cf. Acts 1:4,12; 2:1). When the Holy Spirit was sent, the apostles began to speak in different languages (Acts 2:4-11). Many people believed, but there were also some who mocked (Acts 2:13). Then, Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and preached to those who were listening to him (Acts 2:14). After showing convincing evidence of the Messianic veracity of Jesus, Peter declared, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36, emp. added).
Luke’s account takes our minds back to the words of Jesus. Jesus had predicted that Peter would open the doors of the church, and that the church would be built on his confession (Matthew 16:16-18). In Acts 2:36, Peter not only opened the doors of Christianity, but he also confessed once more that Jesus was the Lord and the Christ (i.e., the rock on which the church would be built). Therefore, it was on this exact day that the words of Jesus were fulfilled. Acts 2:41 indicates that those who believed “were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” The question then becomes, “To what were the people who believed and were baptized added?” Verse 47 gives us the answer: “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” [NOTE: The ASVomits the word “church” and notes “them,” but the idea is the same. Concerning this rendering, Boles stated that the meaning is that those who were baptized, “were by this process added together, and thus formed the church” (1941, p. 52)]. This is the first biblical text that speaks of the church as being in existence; it is at this exact moment in Scripture that the presence of the first church is noted. Peter had opened the doors of the church through the preaching of the Word. He had confessed once more the deity of Jesus. And the Lord had added to His church the people who obeyed.
Which church, then, is the oldest church? The answer is, of course, the church that Christ built in Acts 2. But what church was this? Was this the beginning of the Catholic Church (as Catholicism teaches)? Note that Christ said He was going to build His church (Matthew 16:18), not the Catholic Church.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you (Romans 16:16, emp. added).
Although there were various congregations that praised God in many parts of the world when the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, there was still a unique characteristic about them: all of them belonged to Christ (i.e., they were churches of Christ), for Christ said that He would build His church. Therefore, all of them honorably bore the name of their Founder—Christ.
Acts 2 informs us that the church of Christ was established in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (c. A.D. 30). It had a unique foundation, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). Christ, not Peter, was the cornerstone of the church (cf. 1 Peter 2:4-8). The church was comprised of a group of believers who took the title “Christians” (not “Catholics”) by divine authority (Acts 11:26; cf. Isaiah 62:2). They made up the only body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4). The church also was considered the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:24; Revelation 19:7). Christ was its authority and its Head (Colossians 1:18); it had no earthly head. In its organization, human names and divisions were condemned (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). This was the wonderful, divine institution that God established on Earth—the church of His Son, the church of Christ (see Miller, 2007).


If the Catholic Church is not the oldest church, how and when did it become a historical entity? When the church of the Lord began in Acts 2, it grew rapidly. According to Acts 2:41, about 3,000 people believed the preaching of Peter and the other apostles, and were baptized. Acts 4:4 tells us that shortly thereafter the number of believers was at least 5,000, and Acts 6:7 informs us that “the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem.”
At the beginning, the Roman government considered Christians to be one of several insignificant Jewish sects. The book of Acts concludes by noting that even in Roman custody, Paul continued preaching and teaching “with all confidence, no one forbidding him” (Acts 28:31). The Romans underestimated the power and influence of Christianity, allowing the church time and opportunities to grow in its early years (Acts 18:12-16; 23:23-29). However, there was always great opposition from the orthodox Jewish leaders of that time who intellectually, psychologically, and physically persecuted the apostles and other Christians (e.g., Acts 4:1-3,18; 5:17-18; 9:1-­2,22-24; 13:45,50; 17:4-5,13; 21:27-31; 23:12-22).
Although persecution was a terrible scourge for Christians, they had been warned about it and knew how they should react. Jesus had warned His disciples on different occasions about the coming persecutions for His name’s sake (Matthew 10:22). He told them that they would be persecuted in the same ways He was persecuted (John 15:19-20). In fact, persecution from the Jews became a reality shortly after the church began (Acts 8:1). Because of their hypocrisy and ignorance of the Scriptures, the hard-hearted Jews hated the Gospel message.
Jesus also had advised His disciples to escape to other cities when they were persecuted (Matthew 10:23). He wanted them not only to seek safety but also to preach the Gospel in other places. At first, Christians did not want to leave the safety and security of their homelands, but persecution forced their departure (Acts 8:1; 11:19; etc.). As they scattered, Christians began to obey the Great Commission given by the Lord to “go into all the world and preach the gospel,” announcing the arrival of the kingdom of heaven (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19; cf. Acts 8:4; 14:4-7; et al.).
As a result of their worldwide efforts to teach and the jealousy of Jews in many of the places to which Christians traveled, Christianity gained not only religious interest but also political attention. The Roman government began to pay more attention to this “new religion” which frequently was accused of being troublesome and blasphemous toward the government (cf. Acts 17:6-9; 19:23-27).
Suetonius, a Roman historian, seems to confirm this fact by writing the following about Claudius Caesar: “He banished from Rome all the Jews, who were continually making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus” (1890, p. 318). Clearly, by the time of the Emperor Claudius (A.D. 41-54), efforts to intimidate and discredit Christians were already a serious matter (cf. Acts 18:2). When Claudius died, the infamous Nero took over. He had grand dreams of building a magnificent Rome to satisfy his own pleasures. Many historians believe that Nero was responsible for the great fire that consumed Rome in A.D. 64 and killed many of its inhabitants (e.g., Suetonius, Dio Cassius, et al.; cf. Nelson, 1985, p. 450). Many of his contemporaries also believed Nero was responsible. To suppress these rumors, Nero unfairly charged Christians with the crime and punished them in unbelievably horrible ways. His actions encouraged hatred toward Christians (cf. Tacitus, 1836, pp. 287-288). Christians never had enjoyed the approval of the Roman Empire, but Nero was the first emperor to instigate an intense persecution against them. Excessive, intense persecution continued for centuries. As James Baird wrote, “In actuality, Christianity was opposed more vigorously than any other religion in the long history of Rome” (1978, p. 29).
But beside the misfortunes brought upon Christians by the opponents of divine justice, there was another danger on the horizon, a danger even worse than the persecution itself: the predicted apostasy. In His earthly ministry, Jesus taught His disciples to live for the truth, to teach the truth, and even to die for the truth. The truth of His Word (John 17:17) was an invaluable treasure. Jesus knew that after His ascension, the truth would be challenged, and many would depart from it. On one occasion, Jesus warned His disciples, “Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Paul confirmed what Jesus said when he wrote, “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). The apostle John wrote about the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy as a present reality (1 John 4:1). The apostasy which Jesus predicted existed then, and many already had left the faith (cf. 2 Timothy 4:10).
However, the influence of the apostles still was strong and they guarded the purity of the truth. Many of the apostolic writings preserved in the New Testament were directed toward correcting false teachings, defending the faith, and warning new Christians of dangerous theological doctrines that would arise (cf. Galatians 1:6-10; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 1 Peter 3:15; 1 John). To set in order some things that were lacking in some congregations and to defend “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), God commanded (through the apostles) that a plurality of elders (also called “bishops” or “pastors”—Acts 20:17,28; Titus 1:5,7; 1 Peter 5:1-4) be appointed in each congregation of the church (Titus 1:5-9; cf. Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-7). The elders were in charge of guiding and feeding the Lord’s flock (Acts 20:28). It was their responsibility to watch over the church which Christ bought with His own blood (Ephesians 5:25; Hebrews 7:26-27).
Upon the death of the apostles (who left no apostolic successors), the elders, along with the deacons, evangelists, and teachers, took total responsibility of defending the faith. Many of them had been instructed directly by the apostles, and thus they were a fundamental part of the spiritual development of the church. [NOTE: Some of these men sometimes are called the “church fathers” or “apostolic fathers.”] In his book, The Eternal Kingdom, F.W. Mattox wrote:
During the first fifty years after the death of the Apostle John, the church struggled to maintain Apostolic purity. The literature of this period, written by men who are commonly called the “Apostolic Fathers” and “Apologists,” shows clearly the efforts made to maintain the New Testament pattern and the trends that later brought on apostasy (1961, p. 107).
Although monumental, many of these early apologists’ efforts to unify the church were based erroneously upon mere human rationality. Little by little, new ideas began to be accepted, which instigated changes in the church. The first main change had to do with the organization of the church, specifically with the authority of the elders. As we have noted, in the early days of the church each congregation had a plurality of elders who simultaneously watched over it. Nevertheless, many began to consider one elder as greater than the others, and eventually he alone was given the title of “bishop.” Disputes and contentions for power began. Later, “bishops” began to preside individually over various congregations in a city, which they called a “diocese” (Latourette, 1965, p. 67).
One of the people who strove to unify the church under only one man (i.e., “the Bishop”) was Ignatius of Antioch. In his letter to the Ephesians, he wrote:
For if I in this brief space of time, have enjoyed such fellowship with your bishop—I mean not of a mere human, but of a spiritual nature—how much more do I reckon you happy who are so joined to him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father, that so all things may agree in unity!... Let us be careful, then, not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God (Roberts and Donaldson, 1973, 1:51).
This new structure (i.e., one bishop having authority over others) began as a call to defend the truth, but it caused such a departure from the divine pattern that by A.D. 150, the government of many local congregations differed completely from the simple organization outlined in the New Testament. This “innocent” change in the organization of the church was the seed which preceded the germination of the Catholic movement many years later.
In time, the bishops who exercised authority in certain regions began to meet together to discuss matters that concerned all of them. Eventually these meetings became councils where creeds and new ideas were declared formally binding on all Christians, and alleged heretics were condemned.
Constantine, Emperor of Rome, assembled the first of these councils, the Council of Nicea (A.D.325). By the time of his reign, the Christian population had grown tremendously. In spite of constant persecution and the growing apostasy, many Christians had remained faithful to God, and their influence was growing. The faith, influence, and courage of these Christians (which led many to die for love of the truth) were obvious to Constantine. Christianity was thought to be, in some ways, a potential threat to the Empire if it continued to grow. Therefore, there were only two options: (1) try to eradicate Christianity from the Empire by increasing opposition to it (a tactic which had failed for almost three centuries), or (2) “go with the flow” so that Christianity would help unify and strengthen the Empire. Constantine decided not only to stop persecution against Christianity but to promote it. To help the church, Constantine ordered that 50 hand-written copies of the Bible be produced, and he placed some Christians in high positions in his government (Miller and Stevens, 1969, 5:48,51). Additionally, he restored places of worship to Christians without demanding payment (see “The Edict...,” n.d.).
Under Constantine’s direction, more changes were made—especially in the organization of the church. Since the end of persecution was something that Christians thought impossible, and since favoritism from the government seemed even less attainable, many Christians allowed themselves to be influenced by the government to the point that they deviated more and more from the truth. Under Constantine’s influence, a new ecclesiastical organization began to develop, modeled after the organization of the Roman government. Although “Christianity” thrived under his influence, it is ironic that Constantine himself was not a Christian. However, just before his death—and surely with the hope that his sins would be removed—he agreed to be baptized for the Christian cause (see Hutchinson and Garrison, 1959, p. 146).
Although Catholicism did not actually come into existence during the time of Constantine, certainly his influence and his legacy were fundamental stones upon which Catholicism soon built its power. As the church obtained benefits from the government, it became more and more similar to the government and moved further from the divine pattern. By the seventh century, many Christians, accepting the model of the Roman government, installed one man, the pope, in Rome to exercise universal ecclesiastical power. According to the model of the counselors for the Roman emperor, a group of cardinals was chosen to be advisors to the pope. According to the model of the Roman governors, bishops were appointed over dioceses. And, in accordance with the model of the Roman Universal (i.e., catholic) Empire, a new church—the Roman Catholic Church—was established. Consequently, the Catholic Church was established at the beginning of the seventh century, under the leadership of the first man to be called “pope” universally, Boniface III.


Baird, James O. (1978), “The Trials and Tribulations of the Church from the Beginning,” The Future of the Church, ed. William Woodson (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman College).
Boles, H. Leo (1941), A Commentary on Acts of the Apostles (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
“The Edict of Milan” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/edict.htm.
Hutchinson, Paul and Winfred Garrison (1959), 20 Centuries of Christianity (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co.).
Latourette, Kenneth S. (1965), Christianity through the Ages (New York: Harper & Row)
Mattox, F.W. (1961), The Eternal Kingdom (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Miller, Dave (2007), What the Bible Says about the Church of Christ (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Miller, Jule and Texas Stevens (1969), Visualized Bible Study Series: History of the Lord’s Church(Houston, TX: Gospel Services).
Nelson, Wilton M., ed. (1985), Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible [Diccionario Ilustrado de la Biblia] (Miami, FL: Editorial Caribe), fourteenth edition.
Roberts, Alexander and James Donaldson, eds. (1973 reprint), Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Suetonius Tranquillus (1890), The Lives of the Twelve Cæsars, trans. Alexander Thomson (London: George Bell and Sons).
Tacitus, Cornelius (1836), The Works of Cornelius Tacitus (Philadelphia, PA: Thomas Wardle).

Examples and The Pattern by Trevor Bowen

Examples and The Pattern


Many questions concerning the New Testament pattern for the church and our personal lives are reduced to questions about how to interpret New Testament examples.  "Are no examples binding?"  "Or, are all examples binding?"  "How can we decide which examples God intended for us to include in the pattern?"  Our conclusions on many issues, such as church organization, are built upon the answer to these questions.  Therefore, to properly examine these issues, we must first examine the root of all such issues, "When are New Testament examples binding?"

The Heart of the Matter

This study can be divided into and based upon two fundamental points.  First and foremost, as in all of our previous studies, we must recognize the supremacy and authority of God’s pattern.  Secondly and closely related to this first point, we must determine how the Bible examples fit into this pattern.  This second point is really the heart of the matter because the Bible does not provide direct commands concerning the church's organization and many other issues.  In these cases, the only Bible commentary is the examples of New Testament Christians and churches operating under the approval of God.

Authority and the Bible Pattern

In a separate article, we considered a closely related topic, the importance of Bible authority and establishing right from wrong.  In another, we explored the Bible's teaching on the danger of deviating from God’s pattern.  But, in this article, we would like to consider if New Testament examples are part of the pattern.  If New Testament examples should be included, then the well established warnings are clear for those who do not follow the pattern.
"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." (Deuteronomy 4:2)
"He answered and said to them, 'Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? ... "In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men"'" Spoken by Jesus to the Pharisees in (Matthew 15:3,9)
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'   And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who work iniquity.' " (Matthew 7:21-23)
In addition to these passages, the examples of Nadab and AbihuKing Saul, and Uzzah, clearly show that God’s wrath was directed toward those who acted contrary to His will.  Moreover, the final passage promises final condemnation upon Judgment Day for those who have disobeyed God, even with good intentions.  However, the question with which we are now concerned is, "Does the pattern include examples?"
From our studies of Bible authority, we learned that Jesus Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:2022-23), and that He promised His apostles would be guided "into all truth" (John 16:7-13).  Moreover, we find that His apostles did receive "all truth" through inspiration by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 2:10-16), and when we read their letters, we can develop the same understanding that they had (Ephesians 3:2-5).  Since we have their record in the Bible and consequently, all that we need "for life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3), we know that the Bible must contain God’s will on all matters.  Therefore, God’s will for the inherent authority in examples, church organization, and all other issues is contained in the Bible, and it alone should reign as the supreme standard in establishing the pattern for us today.
Determining this point leads us to our second question:  "Are examples part of the pattern?"  "How do we know which, if any, examples are binding upon us today?"

"Does the Pattern Include Examples?"

This is the issue that is truly at the heart of the matter - determining when, or if any, New Testament examples are binding upon us today.  Examples that are "binding" are those that have inherent authority and obligate us to obey them.  This phrase comes from Jesus’ statement in which He foretold of the authority that would be given the apostles to "bind" and "loose" (Matthew 18:18).   The question that we are now considering is the extent of "binding" authority that is inherent in their approved New Testament examples.
There are two extreme ways of approaching this question:  Either all examples, or no examples are binding upon us today.  While a few people hold to one of these views, most people realize that neither of these extremes are true.  Most people take a more balanced view that differs only in its bias:  Either all examples are binding until proven otherwise, or no examples are binding until proven otherwise.  These are the two viewpoints that we will primarily consider, while only briefly considering the two extremes.

Examples Can be Binding

Clearly, the two extreme views can be seen to be incorrect from an examination of a few Bible passages.  First, we know for certain that the Bible does use examples to teach and instruct:
"Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come."  I Corinthians 10:11
"Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.  Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern."  ... "The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."  Phillipians 3:16-17; 4:9
"For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.  Therefore I urge you, imitate me.  For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church."  I Corinthians 4:15-17
The New Testament contains these and numerous more instances in which the apostles gave instructions for people to pattern their lives after those who were doing right (I Thessalonians 2:14I Corinthians 11:1II Timothy 3:10-14II Thessalonians 3:7-9I Peter 3:1-2).  Since examples do teach and instruct, they are by definition necessarily binding, but they cannot all be exclusively binding.  We find examples of the apostle Paul traveling by both land and sea.  Obviously, each of these examples cannot be exclusively binding, since they we would exclude each other; therefore, this extreme must also be incorrect.  The Bible does teach and bind using examples, but not every example is exclusively binding.
Based upon this foundation, we will continue our study with the following question, "Which is the default?"  "Are all examples binding or loosed until proven otherwise?"  "How should we treat examples that have no commentary?"

"When Is a New Testament Example Binding?"

The answer to this question will be governed by one's attitude toward the Bible in general.  Obviously, the Bible should direct this attitude.  So, let's review some passages to see what kind of attitude is expressed in the Scriptures?
"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." Deuteronomy 4:2
"If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.  If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen" I Peter 4:11
"For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book:  If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Revelation 22:18-19
The answer is the same for this question as it is for the question of requiring a "Thou shalt not..." to parallel each "Thou shalt...".  We do not need to a "Thou shalt not" to know that something is wrong.  The silence of the Bible is binding.  If the Bible teaches a certain thing is right, then any replacement is an addition, and it is therefore wrong.  Specific examples are just exclusive as specific commands.  We must have either general or specific authority from the Bible to justify any practice.
The same Biblical attitude applies to both - "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it."  Therefore, until sufficient reason is provided for dismissal, all examples are binding.  This is the conclusion that we must default to prevent us being found guilty of "adding to" His Word.  However, this raises one last question, "What guidelines can we use for the dismissal of a New Testament example?"

"When Is a New Testament Example Not Binding?"

This previous conclusion profoundly shifts the burden of proof.  It should not be the responsibility of those trying to hold to the Bible pattern to find scripture condemning any and every addition.  Rather, the above scriptures teach that those desiring to defend a practice must find authority.  Similarly, it is not the responsibility of those defending the pattern to produce a specific command or corroborating scripture to back up an example.  Rather, it is the burden of those wishing to vindicate a tradition to find either an example, command, or necessary inference to justify its practice.  Therefore, it becomes not a question of "When is a New Testament example binding?" but rather, "When is a New Testament Example not binding?"  Consequently, the authority in a single example not only can exclude all others, but it is by default exclusive until shown to be otherwise.
As a side note, the importance of differentiating general and specific authority cannot be overly emphasized.  The Bible does not have to specifically authorize every action.  It often provides general authority through a general command.  Many practices fall into this classification, such as church buildings, located preachers, and song books.  Please review the article on general and specific authority for further examples and clarification.

Guidelines for Dismissal

To help us decide which examples we may dismiss, two guidelines are introduced here:  Consistency and Materiality.  These notions are not original with this author, but neither should their repeated use cause one to think they are a creed.  Rather, they should be seen as Biblically based guidelines that will help us determine if an example is exclusively binding or if it reflects one of many options that are justified by general authority.  Therefore, they should help us determine if an example provides general or specific authority.  Herein lies the real challenge for most Bible students.  Please recall that if these guidelines, or those similarly Biblically based, do not apply to a given example, then it is by default exclusive and binding.   Now let us examine these guidelines and the Scriptures upon which they may be based.

Guideline of Consistency:

Sometimes called the "Rule of Unity" or the "Law of Harmony", this concept is based upon the Bible idea that God cannot lie and the Bible, as His inspired word, must also reflect this inability to contradict or lie.  The harmony of God’s Word is taught by the following passages:
"Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us." Hebrews 6:17-18 - See also Titus 1:2
"If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?" John 10:35-36
Therefore, every scripture on any subject must be in complete harmony with all other scriptures, even examples.  So, if a certain activity is consistently repeated with no deviation, then this corroborates the exclusiveness of the authority vested in those examples.  However, if multiple New Testament examples demonstrate varying ways to do the same thing, then any one of those ways cannot be bound exclusively, or else the examples would be in conflict, violating the above passages.  Therefore, if we see more than one way to do any activity, then we have general authority to perform the activity in a way that is consistent with the rest of the Bible.  The example then illustrates an option under general authority rather than exclusive specific authority.

Guideline of Materiality:

This guideline simply gives a name to the idea that incidental matters should never be bound upon people.  Considering whether an example is material and relevant to God’s people and His will for them is an essential part of determining the exclusiveness of an example.  The same scriptures that were used above could also be brought to application upon this point.  All passages relating to any one subject must be in complete harmony and agreement.  Therefore, we must be careful to not bind incidentals that may elsewhere be de-emphasized.
Examples of this would be dismissing the circumstantial reference to Christians meeting in an upper room in Acts 20:1-7.  This is accomplished by considering other Bible passages that teach the location of worship is immaterial. Instead, the heart of the worshipper should be emphasized (John 4:21-24Matthew 18:20).  Therefore, any example that we interpret as binding must be material and relevant; otherwise, it becomes subject to dismissal from be considered exclusively binding.

Other Guidelines of Interpretation

Other Biblical rules of interpretation should, of course, be applied as they would for all other Bible statements.  Multiple uniform examples and references solidify and emphasize the binding quality of an example, although only one is sufficient.  All passages should be brought to bear and considered in their context.  Related to this idea is the recognition that some statements were applicable only to a certain audience or time period (I Corinthians 7 - "in view of the present distress").  The context will be the key to determining if such statements have limited application under whose jurisdiction we may or may not fall.  Finally, we must recognize the exclusive nature of God’s Word.  God does not have to specifically say something is wrong for it to be wrong.  If Bible references cannot be produced which justify a practice, then it is "adding to" God’s Word, and those guilty of such should take warning of God’s promised wrath.  Whether it is a command, inference, or example, all are binding until sufficient scriptures can be introduced to sustain dismissal.  This places the burden of proof upon those who wish to introduce or defend a practice.  This is something that we should be able to do for our Christianity and our faith (I Peter 3:15II Timothy 2:15).  To shift the burden of proof onto those denying a practice's justification would be to ignore the power of the Bible's silence and the exclusive nature Scriptures.  If you are still not convinced of the danger of "adding to" God’s Word, please review the examples of Nadab and AbihuKing Saul, and Uzzah, which were "given for our admonition" (I Corinthians 10:11).


Based on the Bible attitude, "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it", we have concluded that all New Testament examples are binding until sufficient scripture is introduced to prove otherwise.  The common-sense, basic Bible guidelines of "uniformity" and "materiality" were introduced as a basis for determining when examples are not specifically exclusive.  Examples that are either loosed by command, necessary inference, or differing examples serve as illustrations towards multiple means of accomplishing a work under general authority.  Recognizing this distinction between general and specificexamples is essential for determining the place of New Testament examples in God’s pattern for the church and our lives.

Footnote: As with all of our studies, please keep in mind that these articles are a work in progress.  We hope to continue to learn more as we study.  If you have any comments or thoughts about this article, its author would be glad to hear them.  Any improvements or corrections on this difficult subject would be much appreciated by this article's author.
 Trevor Bowen