Changes God requires in His church today in order to produce the perfected 'bride of Christ'




Today we look at relationships in the time of Jesus and the early church.







The full background to this teaching is available online at this link
DEFINITIONS (For serious students only)



Online links to scriptures (New International Version [NIV] unless otherwise stated) are shown in blue




The emphasis in the early church was upon 'brotherhood' (including sisters). This often seems quaint to us today, or we associate it with groups such as lodges or the Klu Klux Clan.

But the real concept of 'brotherhood' is that of family. In the natural we are born into a family. Brothers and sisters share the genes of their parents. Some are older. Some are younger. Some are natural leaders, some aren't. But all are family. In a functional family, all are one. All support each other when the 'chips are down'. There is no formal hierarchy for we are all of the same parentage.

With the coming of Jesus this is the same in the spiritual also.

We are spiritual 'sons' of God



Galatians 3:26-8



and 'brothers' of Jesus.



Hebrews 2:10-11



Constantly throughout the New Testament fellow believers, as a group, are referred to as brothers. For example;



1 Thessalonians 4:9-10



When it came to speaking about individuals, it was natural to call them 'brothers'. 


2 Peter 3:15



What is important to note here is that Paul is NOT referred to as 'Brother Paul' but as our brother whose name is Paul. For that is how it is in a family, how it is with our own brothers and sisters. We don't refer to our brothers and sisters as Brother Bill or Sister Sue, but simply as Bill and Sue, our brother and sister.

While this may seem pedantic to some, the reality is that this principle contains a very basic truth which we have lost sight of in the church from very early times, as we will see as we continue our discussion.

We are all one as children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus.




In a sense we have got a little ahead of ourselves, but it was deliberate.

Now, having looked at Paul, whom we often try to use to justify hierarchy, let's go back and look at his inspiration and role model, Jesus.

Remember how we saw that we were spiritual sons of God (Galatians 3:26-8) and brothers and sisters of Jesus. (Hebrews 2:10-11)

Jesus had a natural family, with siblings, at least some of whom didn't believe in His divinity until after His death.

But during the time of His ministry, He developed a spiritual family of people from diverse backgrounds, including the men whom we know as the disciples or apostles, along with women such as Mary and Martha, who were close friends, financial supporters and travelling companions.



Matthew 12:46-50



Religionists throughout history have had great difficulty in accepting that Jesus is our brother as well as our savior, placing Him on a high, unapproachable pedestal, worshipping statues rather than developing a brotherly, family bond with Him.



Hebrews 2:14-18



One of the defining ways that we can see and understand the transition from the Old Covenant to the New is that under the New, titles ceased as the spiritual family of 'Christians' developed.

The hierarchical system ended with the political 'High Priest Caiaphas' who succeeded the 'High Priest Annas'. The most likely, last true spiritual high priest, 'John the Baptist', (the final man with a title) passed the baton of the priesthood from the Old Covenant priesthood of Aaron to the New Covenant priesthood of all believers who accept salvation through Jesus.



Revelation 1:4-6



Jesus gathered a group of 12 men around Him, who were charged with carrying on the work after He departed. One reneged (Judas) and was incorrectly replaced by another (Matthias) using Old Covenant method of casting lots, rather than waiting upon Jesus to do it His way. We saw this in Jesus' miraculous personal appearance to the remaining disciples arch enemy, Paul! As the eleven understood, a qualification to be one of the 12 was to have been chosen by and been with Jesus. They could not, in the natural, see how this could happen again once Jesus had ascended to heaven. But God works in amazing ways!

Jesus treated His close group of followers as spiritual brothers and sisters. He called them by their Christian names and they did the same of Him. No titles were given either way, although Jesus was the recognized leader of the group.

When the disciples tried to reintroduce the concept of hierarchy, which they had been brought up with under the Old Covenant, and of which titles are a natural consequence, Jesus soundly rebuked them.



Matthew 18:1-4



The greatest in Heaven are the truly humble spiritual family of Jesus, not those bearing religious titles. 




As we start our look at the problems that so quickly developed in the 7 churches of Revelation.





Religion is based upon hierarchy, but Jesus upon family.

This remains a major problem besetting the church today. Lord, may we learn from you!

Extra-Biblical Historical Evidence for the LIFE, DEATH, and RESURRECTION of JESUS


Pliny the Younger, Roman governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor around 112 AD:

"[The Christians] were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food--but food of an ordinary and innocent kind." Pliny added that Christianity attracted persons of all societal ranks, all ages, both sexes, and from both the city and the country. Late in his letter to Emperor Trajan, Pliny refers to the teachings of Jesus and his followers as excessive and contagious superstition.

Emperor Trajan, in reply to Pliny:

"The method you have pursued, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those denounced to you as Christians is extremely proper. It is not possible to lay down any general rule which can be applied as the fixed standard in all cases of this nature. No search should be made for these people; when they are denounced and found guilty they must be punished; with the restriction, however, that when the party denies himself to be a Christian, and shall give proof that he is not (that is, by adoring our gods) he shall be pardoned on the ground of repentance, even though he may have formerly incurred suspicion. Informations without the accuser's name subscribed must not be admitted in evidence against anyone, as it is introducing a very dangerous precedent, and by no means agreeable to the spirit of the age."



So until next week.......

His servant and yours

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1127. True godly authority is not based on position in the priesthood but in the submission of ones life to Gods will.

David Tait         




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