Paul's Passing Thoughts

What’s Wrong with the Protestant Church? This Says it ALL

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 3, 2018

Originally published April 28, 2015

As I was reviewing this blast from the past I noticed that Mr. Peeler referred to the Jewish religious leaders as “control freaks”, yet he didn’t seem to have any problem in desiring control over me when I challenged him on his observation.  Notice in his comments how he equates being a “true believer” with things such as “church membership” and “being under authority.”   Needless to say, Mr Peeler hasn’t had me on his Facebook friend list for quite some time now.  I’m not losing any sleep over it, though.

~ Andy

OneTwoThreeFourFive

The Desire for and Qualifications of an Overseer – Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 22, 2017

Originally published on October 2, 2014

 andy-profile-1As I began to put my thoughts down on “paper” (I don’t actually use paper, I jot everything down in a Word document and then fill in the blanks) it soon became apparent that the nature of this topic would be too unwieldy to limit to a single article. Therefore I have decided to address this topic in two parts.

I was inspired to write this article after viewing Paul and Susan’s latest edition of Gnostic Watch Weekly (9/26/2014). At the end of the video, Susan made reference to the qualification of an elder found in 1 Timothy 3, and used that in contrast to the alleged qualifications that reformed bloggers feel one should have in order to be qualified to post a comment on their blogs. I wanted to expand on each one of those qualifications of an elder in detail. But before I do that, I think it is necessary to first make sure we have an understanding of what an elder is. And before we do that, we first need to discuss the definition of an “overseer”.

What is an “Overseer”?

The word translated as “bishop” in the King James comes from the Greek verb επισκεπτομαι (ep-ee-skep-toh-my). It is made up of the words “epi”, meaning “over”, and “skopos”, meaning to peer about or referring to a watch or sentry or lookout. Taken together, we get the idea of “over-seer”. The word “supervisor” has the same meaning: “super”, meaning over, and “visor”, having to do with vision, seeing, or watching. So an overseer is basically a supervisor. Interestingly enough, a supervisor is a secular role and not specifically a religious one. So Paul is referring to a role that is not inherently a religious one but has a counterpart in the secular world.

How is this different from an “elder”?

While “overseer” has more to do with the role itself, the term “elder” refers more to the individual filling the role. The word “elder” is the Greek word πρεσβυτερος (pres-byoo-ter-os). It comes from the word “presbus” meaning “elderly”. In the Jewish religious/political system, the Sanhedrin was made up of elected representatives of the people called “elders” or πρεσβυτερος. Typically, these representatives were elderly men who were well respected and honored by the people.

The Jewish “synagogue” teaching model was also usually supervised by an “elder”. So with the advent of the New Testament assemblies, followers of Christ (who at the beginning were all converted Jews) simply continued to follow the synagogue model. And each fellowship selected an elder (πρεσβυτερος) to supervise/oversee (επισκεπτομαι) them.

When we come to 1 Timothy 3, Paul is addressing the qualification for the role of overseer, thus the use of the word επισκεπτομαι rather than the πρεσβυτερος. Although, granted, the significance is minor, and in general the words could be used interchangeably to refer to the same thing.

However, there is a significant difference between the forms of the word “overseer”. Please notice the difference between the words in verse 1 and verse 2:

Verse 1   επισκοπη (ep-ee-skope-ay) – noun: oversight; supervision

Verse 2   επισκοπος (ep-ee-skope-os) – noun: overseer; supervisor

Notice, that the words come from the same root, but the words are different! Even though they are both nouns, the first refers to the function, the second refers to the role. Why is this important? Let me explain.

Disclaimer: I am about to say something extremely controversial. Now consider yourself warned.

I believe that Paul is NOT addressing the issue of someone who desires TO BE an overseer.  GASP!  “How can you say that?” you might ask.  Because of the way this reads in the Greek.  While the King James renders this verse this way:

“If a man desire the office of a bishop”

This is how it appears in the Greek:

ει             τις           επισκοπης             οργεται

if             any         (of) oversight        is craving

This is where the difference in the words used is important. It does not say, “if anyone desires to be an overseer.” Literally it reads, “if any is desiring of oversight”. The question we must ask then is to whom or what does the indefinite pronoun “any” refer? Remember the context of 1 Timothy. Paul has gone ahead to Macedonia and has left Timothy behind in Ephesus to act as his proxy. The purpose of the letter to Timothy is to advise him on how to handle certain issues within the various assemblies there. So the “any” in verse 1 of chapter 3 must be referring to the assemblies. Paul is saying, if any of the assemblies desire oversight, they desire a good thing.

Two things should become immediately apparent here. First, that there were some assemblies that did not have an overseer. And second, the implication here would be that an overseer is optional. That’s huge! And that flies in the face of 500 years of orthodoxy. But when you consider the context and the grammatical structure of the text, it fits together perfectly. Paul is telling Timothy, if there are any assemblies that want oversight, that’s a good thing. He then proceeds to instruct Timothy on what the job requirements are for an overseer.

This is very similar to what happened in Acts chapter 6 when the Hellenistic Jews were being left out of the daily distribution to the needy, and the ethnic Jews were getting preferential treatment. The assemblies came to the apostles to solve this problem. But instead, the apostles instructed them to look to themselves for the solution. They gave them a set of criteria for deacons and told them to find men who meet these criteria and have them manage it. The apostles could have very easily said, “Ok, we appoint so and so, and such and such, and they have the authority.” But instead, they believed that those in the assemblies had the ability to select their own deacons. Likewise in this instance, Paul did not instruct Timothy to appoint specific men to the positions of overseer. He left it up to the assemblies to select their own if they so desired.

So, having then examined the relationship of elders and overseers, in part two we will study in detail each of the qualifications of an overseer. You can think of this as a job description. If you were seeking a candidate to fill a role, think about what kind of attributes you would want. What are the attributes that make for a good overseer for a home fellowship?

Andy

What A Home Fellowship Might Look Like

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 8, 2017

The Body of Christ was intended to be a family.  The term “born again” should clue us in to that.  A believer is the literal offspring of God the Father.  We are born into God’s family.  Being children of the Father makes us all brothers and sisters.   The word “fellowship” is the Greek word “koinenia”, and it means “having in common.”  What we have in common as God’s children is being a part of the same family!

So when we gather together, it is nothing more than a family gathering.

Today I am offering you a look inside my home.  The video below shows you what a typical home fellowship in my home looks like.  Right now it’s just my wife and I and our five children.  But we would love to have you come fellowship with us!  It is unfortunate that the miles between us makes it impractical.  I ask that you pray that God will help us to be able to find other likeminded believers in our area who would come and fellowship with us.  I ask that you pray that we would be able to take the gospel to the people around us who need to hear it, so that they too can be a part of God’s family!

~ Andy

“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…And all that believed were together, and had all things common;”
~ Acts 2:42-44

A Believer’s Personal Bible Study

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on October 18, 2016

Revised from an article originally published August 22, 2014

andy-profile-1 It is a sad reality that most believers over the past 500+ years have not and do not really know what the Bible says.  I have been a believer for over 38 years, and I must regretfully admit, that up until about 7 or so years ago, I was included in that same lot.  I was taught ABOUT the Bible.  I was taught ABOUT doctrine.  And I dutifully towed the line of orthodoxy.  This, I think is indicative of most believers; they simply do not read their Bibles. (see also this article)

I think as Christians we intuitively know we should be reading our Bibles, but aside from the fact that the modern day institutional church purposefully seeks to keep the masses dumbed-down, one of the reasons I believe most Christians don’t read their Bibles as much as they should is that they don’t know where to start.  And those Christians who do read their Bibles on a regular basis aren’t getting as much out of it as they should be.  Their Bible reading time is ineffective because they don’t have a plan.  In either case, the results are the same:

  • boredom
  • apathy
  • distraction
  • resentfulness

Bible reading becomes a chore rather than a delight.  Do we simply trudge on ahead dutifully and have faith that the Spirit will work on us?  That seems a rather bleak prospect.  Or do we just rely on the work that others have done for us and expect them to feed us spiritual nourishment?  What hope is there for any maturity whatsoever with that mindset?

There are two key truths found in the Bible itself that must be reconciled.

Hebrews 4:12

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

2 Timothy 2:15

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

  1. The Word of God is active.

Hebrews 4:12 uses the words “quick” and “powerful” to describe the Word.  The word “quick” is the Greek word ζαω (DZAH-oh), and it means, “to live”.  It is alive! It is also powerful.  Here the word is ενεργης (en-er-GACE).  The idea is that it is full of energy.  God’s Word is different from any other written work in the world!  As we read it, because it is alive and active, we can expect it to actively work on us.  Its cuts are deep and clean, dividing and discerning.  It reveals truth to us because it is truth.  By it, we are sanctified (John 17:17).

But we don’t simply sit idly by and wait for the Word to work on us.

  1. Believers are to study the Word

The word “study” is the word σπουδαζω (spoo-DAHD-zoh).  It literally means, “to use speed.”  The implication is to make an effort, to be prompt or earnest.  Study the Word with the result of being able to use discernment (“rightly dividing the word of truth”).  The Bereans (Acts 17:10-11) were called “more noble” because they studied the Word.  They earnestly and diligently searched the scriptures daily to be able to discern truth from error.

So if we are to be good students of God’s Word, we first need to actually read it so that its life and power can work in us.  But we must also study it as well.  This places an emphasis that goes beyond merely reading a chapter or passage or verse every day.  This must include a dedicated effort to a searching for knowledge.  But unfortunately, most believers don’t know how to begin.

Let’s start with the basics.  And this is really very simple.  Just READ your Bible!  BUT…you must read with purpose.  A daily devotional book just will not cut it.  You are simply consuming someone’s pre-digested, pre-packaged orthodoxy.  You are not studying.  You must read the actual BIBLE yourself!  And you must have a plan if you want your Bible-reading time to be most effective.

Most people will tell you that you need to read your Bible through each year.  To some, that may sound like a daunting task, which is why many people will not attempt to undertake it.  Also, the Bible is comprised of many different genres of literature: historical, poetic, biographical, instructional, prophetic.  For this reason alone, simply reading your Bible straight through from Genesis to Revelation is not going to be an effective way to study scripture.  Your understanding of a passage is only going to be relevant within that genre.

The key is to include passages from every genre in your study each day.  There are many Bible-reading plans available to choose from, but there is one in particular that I use personally, and I highly recommend it.  It is called Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System (Click here to view the .PDF file).  Now, I have no idea who Professor Grant Horner is.  I don’t get any kickback for referring his system.  No, I do not know what his doctrinal beliefs are.  I don’t care.  I do, however, think he has devised a very useful tool for Bible reading and study.  Here is how it works:

This system divides the 66 books of the Bible into 10 lists.

  1. Matthew-John
  2. Genesis-Dueteronomy
  3. Romans-Colossians, Hebrews
  4. 1 Thessalonians-Philemon, James-Revelation
  5. Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
  6. Psalms
  7. Proverbs
  8. Joshua-Esther
  9. Isaiah-Malachi
  10. Acts

With this system you read 1 chapter from each list every day.  The next day, you go on to the next chapter in each list.  When you get to the end of a particular list, you start again with the first chapter in that list.  Since each list varies in length, the combination of 10 chapters you read each day will constantly change as you work your way through.  By following this system, you can actually read every chapter in the Bible in just 250 days, less than 1 year!

Now, that still may seem like a daunting task, but reading 10 chapters from your Bible each day actually only takes less than an hour to accomplish.  With practice, you will find that it may actually take less time than that.  But is 1 hour of Bible reading each day too much to ask of someone who desires to “show themselves approved”, or who wishes to be able to “rightly divide the Word of truth”?

Following this system will result in the scriptures revealing themselves to you in ways you have probably never seen before.  The Bible is its own commentary, and as you read through the various chapters each day, you will begin to see patterns emerge; phrases, and expressions repeated over and over again.  Themes will develop and will become familiar to you.  Prophesies given in the Old Testament will be expounded upon in the New Testament.  You will see teachings in one section of scripture clarified and expounded upon in another.  You will suddenly see connections throughout the Bible that you did not realize were there before!  That is an exciting prospect, and that is a tremendous motivation.  You will suddenly find that you cannot wait to get to the next day to find out what you will discover!  Consider the words of the Psalmist:

Psalm 119:97-104

“O how love I thy law!

It is my meditation all the day. 

Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies:

for they are ever with me.

I have more understanding than all my teachers:

for thy testimonies are my meditation.   

I understand more than the ancients,

because I keep thy precepts. 

I have refrained my feet from every evil way,

that I might keep thy word. 

I have not departed from thy judgments:

for thou hast taught me. 

How sweet are thy words unto my taste!

Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 

Through thy precepts I get understanding:

therefore I hate every false way.”

I exhort and encourage every believer to get deep into God’s Word.  These are the instructions for life and godliness.  You must know and understand them for yourself if you are to become a mature believer who is able to discern truth from error.  And these words will equip you to go out and give these same words of life to a lost world!

Andy

The Desire for and Qualifications of an Overseer – Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 28, 2016

Originally published on October 2, 2014

andy-profile-1As I began to put my thoughts down on “paper” (I don’t actually use paper, I jot everything down in a Word document and then fill in the blanks) it soon became apparent that the nature of this topic would be too unwieldy to limit to a single article. Therefore I have decided to address this topic in two parts.

I was inspired to write this article after viewing Paul and Susan’s latest edition of Gnostic Watch Weekly (9/26/2014). At the end of the video, Susan made reference to the qualification of an elder found in 1 Timothy 3, and used that in contrast to the alleged qualifications that reformed bloggers feel one should have in order to be qualified to post a comment on their blogs. I wanted to expand on each one of those qualifications of an elder in detail. But before I do that, I think it is necessary to first make sure we have an understanding of what an elder is. And before we do that, we first need to discuss the definition of an “overseer”.

What is an “Overseer”?

The word translated as “bishop” in the King James comes from the Greek verb επισκεπτομαι (ep-ee-skep-toh-my). It is made up of the words “epi”, meaning “over”, and “skopos”, meaning to peer about or referring to a watch or sentry or lookout. Taken together, we get the idea of “over-seer”. The word “supervisor” has the same meaning: “super”, meaning over, and “visor”, having to do with vision, seeing, or watching. So an overseer is basically a supervisor. Interestingly enough, a supervisor is a secular role and not specifically a religious one. So Paul is referring to a role that is not inherently a religious one but has a counterpart in the secular world.

How is this different from an “elder”?

While “overseer” has more to do with the role itself, the term “elder” refers more to the individual filling the role. The word “elder” is the Greek word πρεσβυτερος (pres-byoo-ter-os). It comes from the word “presbus” meaning “elderly”. In the Jewish religious/political system, the Sanhedrin was made up of elected representatives of the people called “elders” or πρεσβυτερος. Typically, these representatives were elderly men who were well respected and honored by the people.

The Jewish “synagogue” teaching model was also usually supervised by an “elder”. So with the advent of the New Testament assemblies, followers of Christ (who at the beginning were all converted Jews) simply continued to follow the synagogue model. And each fellowship selected an elder (πρεσβυτερος) to supervise/oversee (επισκεπτομαι) them.

When we come to 1 Timothy 3, Paul is addressing the qualification for the role of overseer, thus the use of the word επισκεπτομαι rather than the πρεσβυτερος. Although, granted, the significance is minor, and in general the words could be used interchangeably to refer to the same thing.

However, there is a significant difference between the forms of the word “overseer”. Please notice the difference between the words in verse 1 and verse 2:

Verse 1   επισκοπη (ep-ee-skope-ay) – noun: oversight; supervision

Verse 2   επισκοπος (ep-ee-skope-os) – noun: overseer; supervisor

Notice, that the words come from the same root, but the words are different! Even though they are both nouns, the first refers to the function, the second refers to the role. Why is this important? Let me explain.

Disclaimer: I am about to say something extremely controversial. Now consider yourself warned.

I believe that Paul is NOT addressing the issue of someone who desires TO BE an overseer.  GASP!  “How can you say that?” you might ask.  Because of the way this reads in the Greek.  While the King James renders this verse this way:

“If a man desire the office of a bishop”

This is how it appears in the Greek:

ει             τις           επισκοπης             οργεται

if             any         (of) oversight        is craving

This is where the difference in the words used is important. It does not say, “if anyone desires to be an overseer.” Literally it reads, “if any is desiring of oversight”. The question we must ask then is to whom or what does the indefinite pronoun “any” refer? Remember the context of 1 Timothy. Paul has gone ahead to Macedonia and has left Timothy behind in Ephesus to act as his proxy. The purpose of the letter to Timothy is to advise him on how to handle certain issues within the various assemblies there. So the “any” in verse 1 of chapter 3 must be referring to the assemblies. Paul is saying, if any of the assemblies desire oversight, they desire a good thing.

Two things should become immediately apparent here. First, that there were some assemblies that did not have an overseer. And second, the implication here would be that an overseer is optional. That’s huge! And that flies in the face of 500 years of orthodoxy. But when you consider the context and the grammatical structure of the text, it fits together perfectly. Paul is telling Timothy, if there are any assemblies that want oversight, that’s a good thing. He then proceeds to instruct Timothy on what the job requirements are for an overseer.

This is very similar to what happened in Acts chapter 6 when the Hellenistic Jews were being left out of the daily distribution to the needy, and the ethnic Jews were getting preferential treatment. The assemblies came to the apostles to solve this problem. But instead, the apostles instructed them to look to themselves for the solution. They gave them a set of criteria for deacons and told them to find men who meet these criteria and have them manage it. The apostles could have very easily said, “Ok, we appoint so and so, and such and such, and they have the authority.” But instead, they believed that those in the assemblies had the ability to select their own deacons. Likewise in this instance, Paul did not instruct Timothy to appoint specific men to the positions of overseer. He left it up to the assemblies to select their own if they so desired.

So, having then examined the relationship of elders and overseers, in part two we will study in detail each of the qualifications of an overseer. You can think of this as a job description. If you were seeking a candidate to fill a role, think about what kind of attributes you would want. What are the attributes that make for a good overseer for a home fellowship?

Andy

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