Gamma 17 – The Pastoral Epistles (Study 9)

Study 9




Please look at the questions and discuss the answers. The case histories are designed to let you apply what theoretical knowledge you have gleaned from the study. There are intentionally many more questions and case histories than you can manage in one session but this is designed to cover the many and varied needs of the individuals in the church hence please pick and choose which ones to discuss as long as it gets people sharing and applying the Word to real life situations. Never feel obligated to finish all the questions The answers will be posted on the web the next day.

Scolding or rebuking will always provoke a counter productive response thus frustrating the original purpose of the rebuke. One needs to be cognisant of the reason for our rebuke in the first place. The reason for our rebuke is that we are commanded by God to love and care for each other and when one finds that the other person has erred in some way or sinned in such an obvious way then it is the responsibility of the body to intervene in some manner to enable repentance and promote spiritual growth. If one does not accept any rebuke in the body it will mean that one will never learn as one seldom has any insight in ones sin and failures as we are always biased and blind to our own sin. Teachability needs to be the characteristic of each disciple.

In ministering to an older person, a sharp rebuke will impact the persons self esteem and not produce the kind of awareness of sin that will be useful. Approaching him in humility will allow the older person to be aware of the motive of the rebuke that it is out of love and not condescension. Approaching in humility will tell the other person that your rebuke is not from a position of superiority but that of a fellow sinner along the same journey. Done this way the person becomes more open to the truth and allow the Spirit to minister.

The biblical basis upon which we deal with each other is.
1. We are all sinners and the other person’s sin is not a sign of inferiority to you and your rebuke to him or her is not predicated on your own superiority of moral standing. We are not rebuking from the stance of self achieved righteousness. We are sinners and we are helping another sinner walk in holiness.

2. We are to love God and our neighbour and that must be our only motive in rebuke. The aim of rebuke or our interaction with others is not based on what we can get out of them but based on how we can encourage them . If we lash out because he or she has hurt us, that is not love , that is vindictiveness and that assumes we are morally better so we can correct the other person on the basis of our own superior moral standing and that would be a lie. Hence if the rebuke is out of love we speak and treat the person by speaking the truth in love and the way the rebuke is communicated is of utmost importance to convey the motive of love. You can say you love the person and scolding him out of love but our tone speaks louder than our truth or worse still our manner obscures the truth.

3. The way we treat each other is based on the spiritual fact that we are family Mark 3:33-35

Honouring means showing respect and deference as well as financial aid in this context.
1. Vv 4 the widow’s children should “make some return” to their parents.
2. Vv 8 the one who does not “provide for “ his relatives has denied the faith
3. Vv 16b let the church not be “burdened” so that it may care to those who are truly widows
Each of these verses imply financial aid to these widows and not just respect as it cannot mean just respect when Paul says one must “provide for” his relatives.
The issue is no fake widows but “truly widows” are the widow who fit the criteria for being enrolled in a list of candidates that the church will support financially.
The need for this list or criteria was because the resources of the Ephesian church like all churches were limited and hence a prioritization was required to make the endeavour both loving to the giver as well as the recipient.

The widows to be put on the list for financial aid must be

1. Truly without any other source of income vv5
2. Too old to be able to earn an income which in this case is over 60 years of age…retirement age vv9
3. Truly without relatives that are willing to provide for her vv5
4. Godly character who serves in the church or community

The biblical mandate for financial and practical support for the poor comes from the Matt passage.
Matt 25: 40 And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ The term my brothers implies that the love and aid shown to members of Christ’s family. We are adopted in to His family and our first responsibility to love must be to members of our spiritual family and we will be judged on this.

The aid extends beyond finance it is to emotional psychological social support as there are prison visits and help for the sick.
In the Old Testament God always provides for the poor and marginalised which were widows, orphans and strangers

The financial aid and care is not limited to the family of God but extends outwards to our neighbours as Jesus tells us to love God and neighbour. James writes that the authenticity of our faith is demonstrated by our aid to the poor and marginalised

James 1: 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

The extent of our aid will necessarily be dependant on our resources and hence there will be a need for a hierarchy of priority which will cover folk in need inside and outside the church but the latter taking priority over the latter.

Filial piety is based on personal ethics as Confucius believed in a set of behaviour that is ethical because he believed people are innately good and this is part of the natural conscience.

Biblical honour is based on obedience to God as it is enshrined in the 10 commandments (Deut 5: 16) it is not predicated on the goodness of man but on the character of God (Psalm 68:5) He is the protector of the widows but He does it through His people.

Filial piety involves ancestor worship to provide sacrifices to them after death.

Biblical honour focuses on treating the parents with honour during their life but does not continue after death but there is remembrance of their deeds to spur us on to obedience to God.

Biblical honour believes in honouring the parents in the Lord which means honouring them in a godly manner.

The similarities are that both systems involve honour of parents, both involves financial aid. Filial piety and biblical honour prefers to honour and support in life rather than death.

No there is no where in the bible that gives any justification for retaliatory abandonment of parents who have not been responsible or godly or even loving.
Our honouring of them is because of our obedience to God and not because of the merits of our parents.
Some time ago I had a conversation with one of our lawyers in the community who had a difficult time respecting some of the sitting judges of which he knew were either corrupt of inept. He had to bow before them on presenting to court and treat them with respect and he rationalised to say that when he was bowing to the judge he was doing so out of respect for the position of the judge that represented the authority of the government invested by the people of the country. His deference was not based on the merit of the person sitting on the bench.

In the same way our honour to our parents is because we honour God, we obey Him and the institution of the family and parents which is the way God set up human community. Often times the devastation that sin brings is through evil parent which is no different from Paul’s injunction to submit to governmental authorities not because of the intrinsic merit of the despotic Caesar’s of his time but recognising the institutions of government were set up by God and behind their authority was His authority. The same goes for parents and our honouring of them irregardless of their individual merits is out of our deference to God and the preservation of order in our society.

We honour them with
1. Respect
2. Financial contributions, food and shelter if need be
3. Obedience in accordance to the will of God
4. Evangelism

1. Multiple witnesses
2. Not occasional sin but persistent sin-unrepentant
3. Public rebuke preceded by private personal confrontation
4. Public rebuke must be carried out if personal overturtes rebuffed
5. Purpose is to instill healthy fear