Women Apostles?

May 4, 2000

All but one of the responses this time and the last time concerning apostles have been from men, I would like to allow the women to have a voice in this matter now, even though I know that is going against what Paul has taught in the Bible. The issue here today is women in the ministry and those that come against women in the ministry. The apostles were not always right, they quarreled in the book of Acts concerning legalism so they convened the Jerusalem Council. Maybe it's time for a New Jerusalem Council.

Oh Lord, help us with this. I find nothing more repugnant to hear that there are leaders in the church other than Jesus Christ. I am only able to submit to those that are able to submit. For me to follow another is to follow only those that are truly following Jesus and that means it is the example we are following and not the person. To consider the church in a follow the leader mentality is reminiscent of all the problems and divisions and errors of the church and the doctrines of men and devils that we are trying to put away. I must recognize that He is the supreme Leader and we are the servants and we are to submit to each other as to the Lord.

There must be a better way than the way that has been taught in the past by the church, the church is in a mess. I appreciate those in this edition that have recognized that any true authority in the church must come from the service and sacrifice of His followers to have any true leadership. Like Paul, we are to follow him as he follows Christ. Also in this edition is the issue of women apostles which I think that we should address before we come to any conclusions about authority. I had made the decision some time ago not to bring the issue up unless someone else does. Let me give you some background on this as regards to my involvement on the issue.

First of all, as regards women apostles is the issue of authority that we have been discussing. My own stand is that God has not specifically told me if there are women apostles or not but if there were, I would not want to be so prejudiced against them as to not recognize one if God did indeed send her. So in effect, I have left it open for the Lord to decide and have not been the judge. For the few of you that knew me before last December, you may know the trouble that this controversy got me in from an unnamed apostles group just for suggesting that we discuss the issue. The issue was authority there as well and I was cast out as evil because I allowed the idea of a gifted woman to prophesy over us because she felt led to. I did not know that I was doing anything wrong but was rebuked in the name of Jesus, another so-called apostle had called my wife demon possessed when the Lord spoke through her to me concerning the controversy and the Lord had promptly told me to separate from the group and start the latter rain list with Him in charge as the acknowledged leader to be able to fulfill my calling. It is still my belief that if a woman prophesies to a man, that it is the spiritual authority of Jesus that is behind the voice of the woman and this is not taking authority over a man in any way. Paul of course, would allow a woman to prophesy but not allow her to speak or teach in the church. We all know that all the apostles in the New Testament were men but this is now and that does not decide the issue.

I know that this is separate, but what of the men that thought me evil (and contentious) for merely bringing up the issue of women in the ministry? For sure, I am supposed to love these so-called apostles and put aside my bitterness and pray for them but what am I to think? This is still an issue of authority, however, the fact is that I see them as being terribly ignorant and stupid, lacking in wisdom and knowledge, usurping authority and setting themselves up in a false position as something that they are not. There were loving people in the group but the ones that were divisive and pushed their own false doctrine agendas were glaringly false and really stood out. No matter who is right in the matter of women apostles, can those that cannot love us and accept us as Jesus does be truly called as apostles simply through their ignorance? Or can it be possible that those that honestly believe that there are not women apostles be so right that the issue would divide us and think that others that even mention it are sent from satan? As fantastic as this sounds, these things actually happened to me and this is the attitude that they have. They believe that they are true apostles. Some of them are but the leader of the group has continually resisted any kind of discussion or correction or criticism or reasoning from anyone simply because he thinks because God has called him, he has the final word. He has said that God specifically told him that there are no women called as apostles. I have heard others say that God has told them that there are women as apostles. I will continue to keep the matter open and whatever is right, we should not be going around judging who is an apostle based on it, but when the lying, hateful, judgmental ones do appear, we should be able to recognize them as false and not follow after them just because they say that they have apostolic authority. An apostle is drawing many to himself because he says that he has the command from the Lord to bring apostles together. I believed and trusted him that what he said was true for as long as I could, because I loved him and wanted to believe, now I cannot. Now, am I wrong in learning that there should not be chief apostles to govern us but that we should be submitting to each other as in the Lord? Of course not, but what of those that presume to bring everyone under them and invoke the pits of hell on those that disagree? What of those that are being misled? Say nothing? Too late.

Mentioned below concerning rulers is "who is making the rules?" Peter tells me in my Bible that God is no respecter of persons, he may have been talking of nationality but it should apply to sex as well. Paul also teaches in Galatians 3:26: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." Neither male nor female seems clear to me but inconsistent with the other things that Paul taught about women.

I believe that Jesus is the One gathering the apostles together in these last days, as well as the rest of us, to a unity that cannot be of any one ministry or of any one man or of any one group or sex or denomination or church in any way except in the sense that we are the Body of Christ with Jesus as the Head and us as members in that body. The Head does the thinking and we follow that direction. Jesus will be the true shepherd and will gather us to Him by His spirit. We must realize that there will be others in these last days as if from a command from the Lord and speaking in His name, deceiving many and will try to do exactly what these false apostles are doing, telling us it is time and getting us to follow after them. Jesus told us not to. If God has truly called them, they would show the fruits of the spirit and be submissive and loving - hatefulness, judgmental attitudes, condemnations to the pits of hell, despising dreams, visions and prophetic utterances and calling them demonic are not the fruits of the spirit but rather blasphemy of the spirit. Whether there are women apostles or not, may or may not be a valid issue to discuss but if this is the spirit that comes from even bringing up the issue, then there can be no other conclusion to make but that they are false and cannot come to the love and humility necessary to be able to come to one accord. As For myself, I must ignore them, do what God has called me to do and pray for peace and understanding. If they are truly of the Lord, He will carry them along, if not, oh well. I am now ready to leave that completely behind and move forward. Pray for me that all of the hurt and bitterness will be taken away. What it makes me want to do is work that much harder and faster to do the work of restoration that Jesus has called us to do but we must be very careful in this. The mistake that others have made is to move in the flesh before God's own time, this is where other restoration movements have proved themselves false. We are to be led of the spirit in all things. Enough said on false apostles.

Again I will bring up what Jesus has said to His disciples which were also His twelve apostles:

Matthew 20, "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

I will repeat it once more on the issue of authority: "IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU." How are we able to explain these words away? To me, this is very clear, as plain as you can get. Why is it that we must come up with all kind of reasons and explanations to justify the idea of rulership and authority in the church? I understand that Jesus also said the He has given His servants the authority to rule, but as been very well said below, what kind of authority, what kind of rule. There are some good answers this time and they are used to reconcile the words of Jesus with the words of Paul. We need to bring them together and for us to speak as One. Everyone has an opinion. The one that counts is from the word of God according to the spirit. I am not yet convinced that the apostles are to govern and rule but if we are to be the representatives of Jesus, then His authority and rule are to be governed through us. We just need to refine exactly what this means without replacing servanthood with headship, ministrations with leadership and submission with governing. Read those responses.

The argument against women apostles are that women should not have authority over a man, but if Jesus said that it should not be so among us, then how can we say that men should have authority over men either. I don't know if we can come to agreement on this, if Paul had said the same things as Jesus, there would not be a problem with this, but the fact is that he didn't. As far as women in the ministry, this is what Paul has to say about it:

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

1 Timothy 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

I am not yet convinced that there should be leaders in the church besides Jesus. If we are truly following His lead and we are serving Him and allowing Him to be the leader by leading through us, then the church is going in the right direction. He is doing the leading through us. If there is to be governorship in the church, then Jesus is governing over the minds and hearts of His followers and uses us to be the examples of His life here on earth today. This is the kind of leadership and authority that I can accept and I am still open to what you have to say but we have already heard from a lot of men on the issue, let's hear from the women, men too but especially the women. And do not be afraid of Paul, we are just discussing things here, we are not evil for discussing no matter what those under the letter may say, even if we are wrong, we are just trying to get to the truth.

The first here below is a prophetic article of Marsha Burns. In it, she quotes Paul as speaking of the natural man and the spiritual man. Can we really believe that women are not included in what Paul is teaching here? According to Paul, women are not to teach a man or speak at all, just listen. So much for Marsha's words. I am sorry but I have learned a lot from women as well as men because I have a teachable spirit, want to listen to the Lord and do not discriminate or question how God as able to speak through people no matter what sex they were born into. Are we to dismiss the words of Marsha Burns because of Paul, or are we to re-evaluate the liberty that Jesus has brought us and able to believe that He really does want to bring us to higher ground and into rich revelation as sheep into higher pastures. Are we going to follow Jesus or the authority of men as if a command from the Lord. The issue is still authority but now I say that women are not to have authority over us either but rather Jesus should have all the authority, all the honor, all the glory, all the leadership and the government of the church should be on His shoulders. Once we are glorified like He is, then things will be different.


Words from the Lord to Marsha Burns
May 3, 2000

I am gathering you, My precious people and bringing you to higher ground spiritually and into rich revelation, much the same as a shepherd gathers his sheep and leads them to higher pastures.

For, where you have been the waters have become fouled and the land overgrazed, and you have begun to fight over what little is left. You have been over the same ground and remained in the same revelations until they have become religious doctrines.

Many of you don't even know that I have greater things in store for you. You have forgotten what fresh food and clear water look like, and have even lost your appetite for the rare delicacies found in untrodden ground.

I am now leading My flock to greener pastures. Will you follow? Will you stir up your appetite and begin to hunger and thirst and desire greater things in the kingdom?

Leave behind the strife and contention, jealousy and anger, criticism and judgment of your old stomping grounds. Come, follow Me!

1 Corinthians 2:9-14, "But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.' But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.

For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Hi Jay,

I have so little time that I rarely read much of the discussion. This time I've been reading concerning Apostles and have great interest. The Lord has shown me in the last five or so years that I have an apostolic anointing. It is difficult for me, as I desire to be faithful. I have not really understood what it means for ME to have an apostolic anointing. I feel that it is such a HEAVY thing that I cannot help but fall short. I believe that I have come to some conclusions concerning the whole thing. I have always had a great desire to be on the level of anyone and could not stand to think that someone could not talk to me about something. I am the leader of a Girl Scout troop, 3rd graders and have had them since 1st grade. I believe I am operating in the apostolic anointing in that. If a person is a singer, then they must sing from the passion of the spirit of God within them and when they do they will BE a singer. The heavens and earth declare the glory of God. The sun and earth and waves of the sea manifest the glory of God by doing what they were ordained to do. They do a work every day just by the earth turning on it's axis. I believe that when a person does the work of an apostle, it is no different than that. The apostle operates out of the passion within the spirit of God, the manifestation will be apostolic in nature. To God be the Glory.

Cathy Grant

Thank you for including me in your email discussion group...I pray that the Lord will use me to make worthwhile contributions.

As far as the question of "modern" apostles go, ie., their validity and role and authority, it would appear obvious that nothing which God has seen fit to grace the Body of Christ with from the beginning - whether offices or gifts - has ever been removed, regardless what the church has believed and taught throughout the various ages. Thus, just as there were apostles in the beginning other than the original disciples (Paul being perhaps the greatest example), we should expect there to be at the end.

Their role also would be unchanged, although just as with prophets and teachers (and others), we should expect it to be appropriate to the situation and times.

Likewise with their authority, that too we should expect to be unchanged. However, from the perspective of the one who believes himself an apostle, it would appear wise to consider a caution, I believe: What is true spiritual authority? How did Jesus approach and reveal His authority while on the earth? How did Paul? And how was that authority revealed to others so that it was recognized? Was it not in the power with which they taught and in which they moved and from which they acted? Was it not in the self-sacrificing love which was evident in all that they were...In the fact that their entire lives were poured out for those they served, ie., "governed"?

Perhaps the best answer to these questions is given by Jesus in his many teachings on humility and obedience. Those who are the true leaders in the Body of Christ - regardless of what title is given them - are those who serve. And their serving is undoubtedly to the other members, but first and foremost it is the Lord Jesus Who is served - and through Him, the Father. Those who seek the offices or the gifts for their own sake, or as something separate from Him, will sooner or later find themselves in spiritual trouble. As with all things spiritual, the most important aspect is seeking the Giver, allowing Him to lead as He will in His time. This is perhaps the most difficult thing to do, stay patient in our calling until He tells us it is time - and then walking only in the light which He has given us - no more and no less.

Hopefully this will add something to the discussion.

In His service,

Stan Dommert

The fundamental difficulty we have today with the idea of apostolic authority rest in our misunderstanding of what authority is all about.

Jesus taught that true authority manifests itself in servanthood. The last will be the first, the greatest will be the least, etc.

Paul used his authority as an Apostle to discipline the churches which he planted and those whom he had contact with. He did not abuse that authority, but certainly did not hesitate to use it when necessary. yet Paul considered himself to be the "chief of sinners, and the least of the Apostles".

A true apostle will have authority, but that authority will be evident only as he displays the humility and servants heart which God gifts His apostles with to accomplish His work for His kingdom.


Here is an interesting topic that I am currently wrestling with and perhaps the group would enjoy wrestling with as well....

the humanity of Jesus....

Till later,

Mark O.


Dear Brother Jay;

I believe that some Apostles are set in the body strictly for government; These are not necessarily the "Church Planters" though. I believe (this is my opinion) that there are different orders of Apostles and Prophets; Not all are called in exactly the same manner, to do the exact same things. For example; We see in the book of Isaiah; "Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly (Isa 6:2) ." This, I believe, is a picture of the Ministry of Apostles and Prophets in the body of Christ.. The "Two wings" that cover the face represent the governmental Apostles and Prophets, the two that cover the feet are the "Foot Soldiers" or, "Foot washing" Apostles and Prophets, the two that produce the elements of "Flight (Lift, and Thrust)" are, firstly, the Prophets who have the ability to "Lift" the Church (Woman) into heavenly places, and the Apostles who have the ability to move (or, Thrust) her forward quickly into the things of God. The Apostles and Prophets who cover the Face are administrative type of Ministries, while they may not have the ability to do the kind of "Foot work" that the Church planters do, they are necessary to provide the kind of academic, scholarly, and authoritative type of leadership that the church needs to pull herself together in these last days. The "Foot soldiers" are a more common and everyday type of Apostles and Prophets; They are so common in fact, that they may even look (on the outward) like the very people they are attempting to Minister to. Those among us who are gifted toward "Lift and Thrust" are those who are probably the most popular and well known, but they are not the Church Planters or the Governors, they are the "Prophesiers and the Revealers" of the Divine Word of God, without which the Church will never get off the ground. I wrote an article touching on this subject back in November of '99 entitled "Two Wings;" It can be viewed at: http://members.tripod.com/~great1eagle/id2.htm Like I said, this is only my opinion :-)

Very sincerely, Your Brother in Christ;

Robert Burgess

Dear Jay,
the last time i wrote you was some time ago and i have watched your discussions about Babylon and such without any thought of "jumping" in. but as i read the original post that began this discussion i was "disturbed" in my spirit. not sure why exactly, but the response so far to your question makes me wonder what degree of variance is out there. frankly i am tired of people delineating "church authority" and "being in authority". what it basically boils down to who makes the rules. if apostles "rule" they make the rules. same goes for pastors...prophets...bishops...elders...deacons....etc. the only problem with this is the fact it is the source for "doctrines of men". where almost all ''religion" is birthed. personally i have to stick with the Centurion....a pagan with "faith". he spoke of being ''under authority", not creating authority. what is interesting is JESUS understood and related because HE too was under authority. HE did nothing...said nothing...that HE HAD NOT SEEN THE FATHER DO. can we state that we are living and acting as JESUS, only desiring to please THE FATHER.

in THE DIDACHE there is a strange warning....

11:3 But concerning the apostles and prophets, thus do ye according to the doctrine of the Gospel. 11:4 Let every apostle who cometh unto you be received as the Lord. 11:5 He will remain one day, and if it be necessary, a second; but if he remain three days, he is a false prophet. 11:6 And let the apostle when departing take nothing but bread until he arrive at his resting-place; but if he ask for money, he is a false prophet.

in other words an "apostle" comes in because there is a "job" to be done. Paul wrote much of the New Testament correcting and instructing what had been taught earlier. could the ''apostle'' be nothing more than a servant sent to fix something ''broken''. or a workman sent to ''clean'' up a mess? the greek term itself implies "a sent one" similar to the OT PROPHETS sent as messengers that ran between GOD and a stiff-necked people. so some wrote books as directed by GOD and we have the OT.

man says ''apostles'' were church planters. man says ''apostles'' rule churches. the first century writings do not actually support these ideas. Paul was an evangelist when he traveled from city to city. he ''taught'' and he ''pastored'' then handed it to ''local'' rule. John ''oversaw'' the churches in Asia Minor. does that mean he ruled, or that he was available for damage control?

actually part of the problem is accepting the idea of a five fold ministry. why? it is just one verse in the entire body of the WORD. but so is 1 Corinthians 12:28.....
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
in this verse are eight demarcations. some might say 3 offices and five gifts but that is a lame argument. the way the language looks, gifts refer solely to ''healings''. how do you distinguish "governments'' as a gift. or "miracles'' as an ''office''? it refers to "elders" as "helps'' refers to "deacons". these are not gifts, they are offices of responsibility and accountability.

i will not even open the can of worms that miracles opens up. likewise healings.......

i know i am going contrary to most, but why stop now. when JESUS taught about those servants that will be judged as good and faithful only on HIS RETURN does it speak of "rule". in Matthew 24 there is an interesting delineation of what makes a "wise and faithful servant''. i leave you with it to ponder. lay some meat before you and all involved with this discussion.
Matthew 24:44-51 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed [is] that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite [his] fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint [him] his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (KJV) selah old dog

Hi Jay and group,

Concerning Ruling and Governing

I guess you could call us rulers if you define it in the Biblical sense (not as a title but in defining our Kingdom responsibility). Hebrews 13: 7, 17 states, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." (v. 17) "Obey [yield to, comply with, trust] them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

It is obvious that there is a divine order of authority and submission in the Church. It has nothing to do with a hierarchy/laity order or Nicolaitan (defined as conquering the laity) doctrine. Neither is it a "lording over" as Jesus said and you pointed out. These are aberrational forms of the real thing. The authority we are commanded to comply with and submit to in the body of Christ is an authority that undergirds, edifies, and helps bring us to perfection - unto the image of Christ (Ephesians 4: 11-13). By submitting to God-ordained authority, we are not lorded over but under girded! Standing on the outside and looking in at this order, one may only see the aspect of this authority as being over us. But when we submit to it, it comes under us as a servant and helps uphold us through our pilgrimage in this life. The word "rule" in our passage is correctly translated according to my findings. According to Strong's it is translated governor twice in the Authorized Version.

Revelation 2: 27 reveals Jesus as the one who will rule all nations with a rod of iron. This is a different Greek word than the former. Its primary meaning is to feed, to tend a flock, and keep sheep. To govern or rule is the secondary meaning. Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone by which everything else is measured. His rulership or government is the precedent. All other Church rule or government must align itself with Christ's Shepherd rule and government.

As far as apostles governing, consider this question. Can apostles heal, cast out devils, and manifest signs and wonders? The answer is obviously yes. However, one must qualify that answer with this understanding: Jesus is the healer, the deliverer, and the one who does signs and wonders through us. He is also the governor, nevertheless, that does not mean that apostles do not govern. He uses apostles to govern! Psalm 110: 2 proclaims, "The LORD shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion [the Church]. Rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies!"

God used Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. God was the leader, but would it be wrong to call Moses a leader? Jesus is the Great Shepherd, yet, 1 Peter 5: 2 states, "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind." It is interesting to note that the word "feed" here is the same Greek word for "rule" as used in reference to Jesus (Rev. 2: 27). Some translations have it: "Shepherd the flock".

Paul used the "rule" he had over the Church to instruct and to bring correction and order. This was not lording over anyone because he had proved his apostleship and they accepted it. His ministry is a good example of one who has a governing position in the Church, yet, was able, at the same time, to cause the people to follow Christ and not him. All true spiritual authority administers life and glorifies Jesus. In addition, it was obvious the Jerusalem council (made up of apostles) oversaw the early Church as it began to grow and spread to other cities and eventually to the gentiles. They made governing decisions that are still affecting us today!

As I said before, we have no authority if it is not embraced by those who would benefit from it. You cannot make anyone submit to you, but you can win them by laying down your life for them. God-ordained authority will be recognized as such by those who truly know the Lord. Such authority will manifest Christ in His death and life, and His meekness and lowliness. Finally, greater responsibility involves greater authority. God uses people as extensions of His authority and rule in the earth.

More thoughts later.

Gary P.

My own heart rejoices to read the comments by those who have contributed to your latest posting. No excessive legalism, no divisiveness...and the role of the apostle within the church is very important...and therefore an excellent understanding of this role is valuable to the church.

I see something missing, however, in the comments made so far. Perhaps the discussion simply has not covered this ground, yet. Let me break the ice here.

Government always carries with it an element that can only be properly described as punishment. The humble, spiritual leadership and administration that are also essential components to good government within the church have already been mentioned. Mr. Patterson's comments establish the groundwork (very well) for a discussion of such a concept as punishment within the church.

I recognize that, although punishment is not fun to me (either to receive or to deliver), it is a service - when exercised in humility.

The necessity of punishment I will not argue. I believe the apostle Paul does so well enough himself, in his comments to the church of Corinth (regarding the man who was intimate with a woman that could be described as "his father's wife"), and in his comments about governors in his epistle to the Romans.

The character and the nature of punishment within the church I am willing to argue (i.e., discuss).

One particular question that I have yet to find an answer for is this: is the degree of punishment within the church limited to excommunication (after the fashion of Paul's directive re. the man at Corinth, not the Catholic version). Or,...is the leadership of the church within Christ's authority to exercise punishments for moral sins after the fashion described within The Torah?

I am impressed by this one observation. Although the Hebrews were directed, were ORDERED by the Lord to obey his word, they also ACCEPTED the directive (see the last chapters in Deuteronomy). This matches well with the statements made by the others that pastors (and apostles, etc.) rule over those who willing accept their leadership.

Well,...is the degree of punishment that is permitted within a group of people what makes one group a cult and another a church? I don't think so. In fact, I have to consider that the church leadership does not service God's people when the church leadership refuses to apply punishment for sin in the fashion that God ordered. To excommunicate a person from the church, when God's word directs that that person is to be physically punished, is to presume to take God's place in the government of the church.

I hope that the example I provide is not too extreme; in fact, I hope that you and the others who read this may see how love may be demonstrated in the example. The example: a drunkard within the church. Ummmm,...I do not mean a man or woman who is drunk AT church, but rather the common average alcoholic - who ALSO professes Christ as Lord, as Savior. What is to be preferred here? Drunkeness is an obvious sin, I would say, and the PRACTICE of such merits punishment within the church, when that person is within the church - because the practice of it tarinishs Christ's name, and ruins the life of the person who practices it.

What punishment? How is it to be delivered? I would say that excommunication is very much the wrong choice. The person certainly needs loving support and dedicated, earnest care. I say also that the person needs reason to be afraid. "Tough love" is a phrase I have heard of before, and I believe it applies to this example. The person who practices this particular sin must have both care AND punishment, much as a child does, so that that person's WILL may be strengthened.

In the case of loving government, I recognize that the one to BE punished must be willing to receive the punishment - from the one who is to deliver it. Presuming that the ones to DELIVER punishment are the leaders of the church, an agreement must exist between the leadership and those subject to this government. The nature, character and the roles of the persons must be understood and accepted - and I know that the Scriptures provide answers and examples that ARE agreeable.

But let me not get far away from the concept that the delivery of punishment IS a service, when performed without arrogance or pride. This is communicated very well in the Lord's instruction to the Hebrews that a man is not to be beaten with a stick more than 40 strokes - and why? so that the one receiving punishment is not despised in the eyes of the one delivering punishment. This compassionate statement is SO AWESOME,...and most certainly is not found in Hammurabi's code! (or any other body of law, as far as I know).

The one delivering punishment is not to despise the one receiving it. "Except for the grace of God, there go I" is a phrase that comes to mind,...but at the same time, the sin of the one delivering punishment is not to PREVENT that one from...performing his duty. His service. Completely without regard for him or herself.

In those cases where the one who is practicing a sin refuses to repent and/or receive punishment, I believe excommunication is appropriate. After all, that person's own choice demonstrates the unwillingness to be subject to the authorities in question.

In the case of NON-loving government, like that we observe in civil governments, and like that we observe in God's dealing with unrighteous peoples, kings and nations - a willingness to agree to punishment is not necessary. The punishment has the character of destruction, rather than rehabilitation.

The example I have described is not an extreme one. I assert that for any other example that anyone else might consider extreme, - the Scriptures still provides for an answer. I admit, however, that at least one answer that is provided is one that people will often refuse - i.e., capital punishment.

As for my own self, I have decided, as one who professes Christ, that if I should ever take homosexuality as a practice, I am willing to be killed. Ditto for those few other moral sins that are clearly described as deserving capital punishment. Even if I should prophecy falsely, I will allow myself to be killed.

By whom? By those men to whom I am accountable. They know who they are (although I do have to remind them, sometimes!)

Please, do not consider arguing about my own decision. The nature of the decision is open for discussion, of course, since everyone must decide. I have described my own decision to communicate several things. I will practice what I preach - or I will be punished as I have preached. I must - I KNOW I MUST - be afraid. So I think twice, three times, sometimes for MONTHS before I prophecy. I live in another conflict, a spiritual one, that is shared by many others in the church, too - in that I am first accountable to Christ, and secondly accountable to the church, and then accountable to the civil government. The challenges of this conflict are known to me; I wish to communicate this, too.

The issue of discussion is the governance of apostles. The statements I have read in your posting are excellent, and I do rejoice in the truth I read there. Umm,...I think I should mention that I am not a "Christian Scientist", or a Jehovah's Witness, either. Shoot, I am not even a Mormon. Some groups of people have from time to time pronounced policies are based on the ideas of church government, civil (dis)obedience, and these groups may come to the mind of the reader as he/she considers what I have said here; I would like to assure the reader than I cannot lay claim to the title of any of these religious organizations.

I am pretty sure than I am a man. I do claim Christ, and that is about as far as I'll go in making any claims. I hope what is presented here is of value to the reader. Good fortune to you, Mr. Atkinson.


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