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Offline Reformer

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Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« on: Sun Oct 04, 2020 - 11:10:31 »
REFORMATION RUMBLINGS
BUFF SCOTT, JR.
_______________________________
 
Taking Another Look At The First
Century Assemblies

    Pre-Note— Sometime ago, I addressed this subject. You may remember. I’d like to touch upon it once more. Please stay with me, for this matter entails the activities of the early Christian communities and how they compare—or do not compare—with ours today.—Buff.
 
++++++

    An interesting concept is that the early Christian assemblies were similar to what is known today in the psychiatric field as “Group Therapy.” I participated, and assisted in, organizing and leading Group Therapy sessions when I was employed in the psychiatric arena for 34 years. Group Therapy in the psychiatric realm consists of numerous patients under psychiatric care, plus one or two leaders. The seating arrangement is among the most crucial expressions of each meeting.
 
    Each group was seated either in a circle or semi-circle. Everyone was able to see each other’s face, as opposed to  gawking at the back-of-heads. Unless a previously agreed-upon topic was announced, the leaders invited anyone with a problem, or simply someone who had a matter to share, to verbalize.

     No one person dominated the meetings by doing all or most of the talking. As participation makes for “therapy” and growth, most everyone in attendance was encouraged because his/her self-esteem was boosted. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings function on the same principle—mutual engagement.
 
     I envision the early believers practicing “group therapy” as their chief source of encouragement and support. It is assuring that not one scripture can be found that remotely indicates their meetings were dominated by one man, not even in Acts 20:7, where Paul was the visiting apostle and did a lot of talking in the form of reporting. Their meetings were formulated and led by shepherds called “Elders”—mature and older men

     Actually, the meeting at Troas was a verbal exchange, with Paul being the principal participant. The English Standard Version captures the Greek best by saying that “Paul talked with them.” Our oldest Greek manuscripts do not carry “preached” in Acts 20:7. This was another of King James’ blunders.
 
     Regular meetings called for the benefit of all believers consisted of general participation, but  there  were  occasions  when  a  gifted orator or visiting apostle or evangelist was invited to address the assembly on some special topic, issue, or problem. Paul’s visit to Troas was one of those occasions.

      Consider seriously the idea of all congregations dismissing the paid functionary and substituting group therapy or house meetings in his stead. Reflect upon one important result: A staggering sum of money would be available to alleviate the needs of the destitute and promote authentic evangelism, the two commanding ministries of the early believers.
 
   “Mutual ministry” is an attractive term to describe this type of setting. If group therapy—“mutual ministry”—were practiced in our assemblies, not only would a staggering amount of money be available to meet the needs of the genuinely poverty-stricken and promote evangelism, but the average believer’s faith would be strengthened through mutual or group participation.

     Believers would no longer need to be bottle-fed and pampered by an elite servant, the professional cleric or pulpit minister. Self-confidence would increase and he would be prompted to spur others on toward love and good deeds. Heaven’s testimony confirms this idea. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” [Heb. 10:24]. Motivated and insightful leaders would truly shepherd. They would no longer need paid professionals to do their shepherding for them.

     I challenge you to take a firm look at the model I am describing by turning to 1 Corinthians, chapter 14, verses 26-33. Mutual ministry was the order of each assembly. Yes, I know, as the old argument goes, “As time changes, so do cultures, including the assemblies or meetings of believers.” 
 
    But the core or central principle of growth for each believer or participant never changes, regardless of culture—not even in the domestic and secular fields! This principle or precept was designed by someone who knew—the God of wisdom. May He give us a portion of His wisdom as we promote heaven’s design.
« Last Edit: Sun Oct 04, 2020 - 23:10:56 by Reformer »

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Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« on: Sun Oct 04, 2020 - 11:10:31 »

Offline johntwayne

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #1 on: Mon Oct 05, 2020 - 10:02:49 »
Spoken like a true psychiatric aid. What were Timothy and Titus if not men suited to edifying the saints.

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #2 on: Mon Oct 05, 2020 - 11:16:12 »
Another "if we changed how we did the worship service everything would be hunky dory" argument.

Our churches now have the same issues as they did in the New Testament church.  That is why the letters to the churches were written by Paul, Peter, etc.  That is why they are timeless.

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« Reply #2 on: Mon Oct 05, 2020 - 11:16:12 »

Offline 3 Resurrections

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #3 on: Mon Oct 05, 2020 - 11:24:36 »
True, johntwayne, but you must also balance that thought with Romans 15:14, in which Paul gives a commendation for the saints excelling at this type of “group therapy” Reformer is describing.

“And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, FILLED WITH ALL KNOWLEDGE, ABLE ALSO TO ADMONISH ONE ANOTHER.”

It is extremely dangerous to depend mainly on the shepherd to do this kind of inter-relational admonishing in the church.  It leads to an almost idolatrous reverence for the ministry done by the shepherds of the flock, which God despises.

Never a good idea to put all your “eggs” in one “basket”.  I’ve sat in several broken church “baskets” myself.  Lots of broken eggs as a result.


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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #3 on: Mon Oct 05, 2020 - 11:24:36 »

Offline Texas Conservative

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #4 on: Mon Oct 05, 2020 - 11:54:36 »
True, johntwayne, but you must also balance that thought with Romans 15:14, in which Paul gives a commendation for the saints excelling at this type of “group therapy” Reformer is describing.

“And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, FILLED WITH ALL KNOWLEDGE, ABLE ALSO TO ADMONISH ONE ANOTHER.”

It is extremely dangerous to depend mainly on the shepherd to do this kind of inter-relational admonishing in the church.  It leads to an almost idolatrous reverence for the ministry done by the shepherds of the flock, which God despises.

Never a good idea to put all your “eggs” in one “basket”.  I’ve sat in several broken church “baskets” myself.  Lots of broken eggs as a result.

While I agree that it is dangerous to depend mainly on a single man, I think referring to it as "group therapy" is ridiculous.  I don't think the NT assembly was like that either.


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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #4 on: Mon Oct 05, 2020 - 11:54:36 »



Online DaveW

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #5 on: Mon Oct 05, 2020 - 12:17:31 »
Buff - first century assemblies looked a lot like the first century synagogue services.   Remember, our Lord's custom was to be in a Synagogue every Sabbath.  James (Lord's brother) who led the Jerusalem congregation also was head of one of the Pharisee schools in Jerusalem, most likely Beit Shammai. And Paul was THOROUGHLY involved in synagogue worship and had the creds to be invited  to speak in synagogues all across the eastern Mediterranean.  All of his early converts were from the synagogue.  The church in Corinth was right next door to the synagogue.

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #5 on: Mon Oct 05, 2020 - 12:17:31 »

Online RB

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #6 on: Mon Oct 05, 2020 - 14:23:05 »
While I agree that it is dangerous to depend mainly on a single man, I think referring to it as "group therapy" is ridiculous.  I don't think the NT assembly was like that either.
Agreed. Folks must remember that both Timothy and Titus were young men in both age and in the faith to the degree that many were~that being so, there ALSO a place where God does indeed call and gift these men and we MUST NOT despise them just because of their age. Also, Jesus Christ and his apostles were YOUNG MEN, vigorous, full of strength, energetic, lusty, qualities that most old men no longer enjoy, unless your name is Caleb! 
Quote from: Paul
1st Timothy 4:12-16~"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee"
Finding that scriptural medium is not easy~PRIDE is our greatest hindrances both from the young and old~OH LORD GOD FORGIVE US!  One thing for sure, there is NOT a single verse in the NT of a single man over a single church where he has absolute power.

3 Resurrection you gave an excellent scripture to support the CHURCH as being the ground and pillar of truth, NOT a single individual here and there. 

"Groups like therapies"~is NOT the answer WITHOUT someone directing/guiding the believers! There MUST be order in our coming together to hear the word of God, and words of exhortations.
Quote from: Paul
1st Corinthians 14:40~Let all things be done decently and in order.
How and who manages this order is something that should be determined by the elder men who have lived long enough to guide the believers correctly, so there is PROFIT in them coming together.
« Last Edit: Mon Oct 05, 2020 - 14:38:37 by RB »

Offline Reformer

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #7 on: Mon Oct 05, 2020 - 19:40:20 »

3 Resurrections:

    You noted, “It is extremely dangerous to depend mainly on the shepherds to do this kind of inter-relational admonishing in the church.  It leads to an almost idolatrous reverence for the ministry done by the shepherds of the flock, which God despises.”

    Shepherds in the primitive congregations were wise, mature men who led, admonished, and even disciplined. They were overseers and above reproach; not arrogant and quick tempered, hospitable and self-controlled. They were to give instructions in healthy doctrine and rebuke those who contradicted it.

    Rest assured they were not the only instructors. Each congregation practiced mutual engagement or ministry. The shepherds simply shepherded. They were guardians who protected and defected their sheep. Chapter 1 of Titus, written by Paul, entails this information.

    Paul’s letter to Timothy has some stimulating info as well. The apostle says overseers or shepherds must be ”able to teach”—not the only teachers, of course. “He must not be a recent convert,” the apostle says in I Timothy, chapter 3. Why not a recent convert? Because youth and immaturity often generate pride and egotism. Shepherds or elders must have a good reputation among outsiders, Paul adds.

    It is informative that both Timothy and Titus were evangelists, not pulpit elitists [see 2 Tim. 4:5]. Part of evangelism was to establish Christian groups or ekklesias and set them in order by appointing leaders or shepherds [see I Tim., ch. 3 & Titus 1:5]. If I might close by adding the following...

    Nowhere in the New Covenant scriptures do we find an example of any man being imported by a congregation of believers to function as the minister, the pastor, or the preacher. And that is because the early believers ministered to and edified one another.

    They didn’t find it necessary to import a professional ecclesiastic to do their ministering for them. They exported men to evangelize, and supported them financially, but no one was ever imported to do what all believers should be doing—ministering to one another. In our contemporary scene, we hire and pay big bucks to a specialist to function as a proxy, the exact opposite of what the early believers practiced.

Buff

Online RB

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #8 on: Tue Oct 06, 2020 - 03:15:52 »
Buff - first century assemblies looked a lot like the first century synagogue services.
I tend to agree and for good reasons I see a collation between Acts 13, 17 with 1st Corinthians 14.
Quote from: Luke
Acts 13:14,15~"But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on."
Quote from: THE HOLY GHOST
Acts 17:1-4~"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few."
These scriptures were not given to us just to be given! A few thoughts quickly:

1. Paul's manner was to go unto the Jewish synagogues of the Jews, NOT to hear a sermon by Reverend Diotrephes, but to hear the scriptures read and expounded upon by ANY who may have a WORD of exhortation, and Paul KNEW he would be given a chance to speak that word. That cannot be denied, even though modern-day, power-hungry pastors will labor to do so.

2. Also, their worship did not operate like a "Groups like therapies"~but the synagogues HAD LEADERS whose job was to make sure all things were done orderly and decently, just as Paul wrote to the church at Corinth.

3. Even strangers like Paul were given an opportunity to speak a word, not just regularly comers! What chance that would happen in ANY CHURCH TODAY? A meat wagon going through town losing some of its meat with hungry dogs around would have a better chance of not losing its meat! Enough said, but much more could be said to expose the modern-day church worship going on in the name of Jesus Christ.
Quote from: DaveW on: Yesterday at 12:17:31
James (Lord's brother) who led the Jerusalem congregation
Dave, you cannot prove that to be so~James was one of the TWELVE who also wrote the book of James and who was the brother of Jude one of the TWELVE. Our Lord's brother held NO special position among the apostles or the church at Jerusalem. The closest thing you may have is in Galatians one, yet that truly does not reveal very much to us, other than Paul saw him when in Jerusalem. You can speculate on those words but cannot prove anything with them.
Quote from: DaveW on: Yesterday at 12:17:31
Paul was THOROUGHLY involved in synagogue worship and had the creds to be invited  to speak in synagogues all across the eastern Mediterranean
Speculations again~It is NOT Paul was "THOROUGHLY involved in synagogue worship~for he was NOT, he only used that door of opportunity to CONVERT THEM to the truth! He went there with that on his mind. I would dare say, once he went to a Jewish synagogue he was never ALLOW BACK IN AGAIN.....those synagogues turned quickly into a modern-day church where they only allow certain individuals to speak they know they CAN CONTROL! Selah

 
« Last Edit: Tue Oct 06, 2020 - 03:20:39 by RB »

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #8 on: Tue Oct 06, 2020 - 03:15:52 »

Online DaveW

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #9 on: Tue Oct 06, 2020 - 08:36:30 »
3. Even strangers like Paul were given an opportunity to speak a word, not just regularly comers! What chance that would happen in ANY CHURCH TODAY? A meat wagon going through town losing some of its meat with hungry dogs around would have a better chance of not losing its meat!
Something that is lost in modern Christianity AND Judaism is WHY Paul was singled out to speak.  Why not Silas or Barnabas? Timothy?

In those days, (pre-rabbinic Judaism) the tzitzit (gr krespadon) tassels on the 4 corners of the outer cloak (now called a prayer shawl) had a series of knots and windings showing someone's discipleship and theological training.  Thus any synagogue leader would have seen in Paul's tassels that he had been trained under Gamaliel the Great, the foremost scholar of the day. OF course they would want him to speak since it was like having Gamaliel himself there.
Quote
Dave, you cannot prove that to be so~James was one of the TWELVE who also wrote the book of James and who was the brother of Jude one of the TWELVE.
The Jacob (changed to "James" by a certain king who was named that) that was part of the 12 was killed off in Acts 12, BEFORE the council of Acts 15 where a certain James was shown to be leading the Jerusalem assembly. Also many years before the book of James was written.
Quote
Our Lord's brother held NO special position among the apostles or the church at Jerusalem. The closest thing you may have is in Galatians one, yet that truly does not reveal very much to us, other than Paul saw him when in Jerusalem.

Actually that is exactly where we find out WHICH James (Jacob) was leading the Jerusalem congregation.

Offline Reformer

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #10 on: Tue Oct 06, 2020 - 13:01:15 »
RB:

“Also, their worship did not operate like a ‘Groups-like therapies.’ ”
_____

    That may have been true of the Jewish Synagogues, RB, but not the assemblies of the saints, as is so clearly recognized by Paul in I Cor. 14:26-33—and other passages of scripture.

Buff

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #11 on: Tue Oct 06, 2020 - 13:18:34 »
RB:

“Also, their worship did not operate like a ‘Groups-like therapies.’ ”
_____

    That may have been true of the Jewish Synagogues, RB, but not the assemblies of the saints, as is so clearly recognized by Paul in I Cor. 14:26-33—and other passages of scripture.

Buff

Talk about stretching scripture.

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #12 on: Tue Oct 06, 2020 - 13:59:37 »
Our churches now have the same issues as they did in the New Testament church.
Yeah, just last week a fellow at my church was cooked alive in a large bronze bull by the local authorities.

::peeking::

Offline 3 Resurrections

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #13 on: Tue Oct 06, 2020 - 16:00:26 »
So tell me, DaveW, if the 4 corner tassels on Paul’s cloak indicated how prestigious a man’s training pedigree was, would this be the actual origin of the phrase “riding on someone’s coattails”?

::pondering::

And TC, whether you think it’s ridiculous or not, I would relish the opportunity to sit in a church type of “group therapy” setting with you thrown into the mix.  Your kind of personality type is one that’s invaluable for keeping in check the type of leaders who tend to have illusions of god-hood.  Sort of balances out the naive and gullible sheep who believe everything coming out of a slick, silver-tongued orator’s mouth with initials after their name.

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #14 on: Tue Oct 06, 2020 - 16:49:20 »
So tell me, DaveW, if the 4 corner tassels on Paul’s cloak indicated how prestigious a man’s training pedigree was, would this be the actual origin of the phrase “riding on someone’s coattails”?

::pondering::

And TC, whether you think it’s ridiculous or not, I would relish the opportunity to sit in a church type of “group therapy” setting with you thrown into the mix.  Your kind of personality type is one that’s invaluable for keeping in check the type of leaders who tend to have illusions of god-hood.  Sort of balances out the naive and gullible sheep who believe everything coming out of a slick, silver-tongued orator’s mouth with initials after their name.

I am a preacher's son.  I don't put preachers on a pedestal to begin with.  I think "group therapy" is a way ridiculous way to describe it.  I am not a part of a congregation that is ruled by one man.  We have more than one elder, we have deacons, etc.  People can discuss on Sunday Night or Sunday morning in "Sunday School" and it is encouraged.   Even women can talk.

By Buff's scriptural reference, I will tell them in "Group Therapy" that they are to shut up until they get home.

Offline Reformer

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Re: Taking Another Look At The First Century Assemblies
« Reply #15 on: Tue Oct 06, 2020 - 18:21:07 »
DaveW – Jarrod – 3 Resurrections – RB:

    Since there seems to be an element of “mystification” by an unsettled comrade or two [not necessarily you] on what I pegged as “Group Therapy” in the early meetings of the saints, I’ll try to refine by filtering out the “mystification.” [I’m not sure it will help, though!]

    I borrowed “Group Therapy” from the kind of vocation I was involved in for 34 years, the same kind of therapy—treatment or rehabilitation—employed by Alcoholics Anonymous. Simply, it means no more than mutual participation, joint action or interaction, reciprocal engagement, communal sharing, common interchanging.

    My favorite term is “mutual ministry”—the same kind of discipline or function or principle exercised by the ekklesia at Corinth, chapter 14. When the brothers there came together someone had a hymn, another had a lesson or message, still another had a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.

    There were supernatural gifts among the brothers, as well as natural gifts. A “tongue” refers to the gift of speaking a different language not previously studied, and “interpretation” meant another brother had the supernatural gift of interpreting a foreign language.

    A “hymn” and “lesson” apparently allude to natural gifts. All of these gifts, both supernatural and natural, were to be “done decently and in order”—or to paraphrase, “To be exercised orderly or one-at-a-time, or, as Paul expressed it, “each in turn.” They were actually interrupting each other, because two or more were trying to speak at the same time.

    To see a longer list of supernatural gifts in the primitive assemblies, go to I Cor., chapter 12. The core substance of this whole matter is that all of the early assemblies employed mutual ministry, whether under natural or supernatural circumstances.

    No one in any congregation did it all or was designated or considered the primary or principal speaker or communicator. Spiritual growth and education were the results of communal sharing. Spiritual death or sickness or intellectual weakness are the results of the one-man system, the pulpiteer.

Buff
« Last Edit: Tue Oct 06, 2020 - 18:30:49 by Reformer »

 

     
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