Saturday, 7 June 2014
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,… 1 Corinthians 5:4
This verse introduces the sentence which Paul recommends to be executed on the offender he has been speaking about since verse 1. The next verse will be the pronouncement of the sentence. His words give us insights into the apostolic authority and also its limitations. Although there are no true apostles today, we can discern proper church discipline from his words.
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” indicates the ultimate authority of church matters. It is the Lord’s church and He is the head of it. When actions of this nature are taken, they are done so in His name. No other authority would make sense. Stating that a judgment is made in the name of the pope would be to supplant the authority of Christ Himself. That, or any other such title of power, would be less than the ultimate authority and thus no true authority at all.
“When you are gathered together” indicates that the church is to be kept informed of such decisions and actions and, although not necessarily involved directly in the decision, they are to be witnesses of it. Elsewhere, the authority of elders is noted and explained. They have a proper position within the church and they have been selected to make the final judgments.
This goes all the way back to the first such established church recording which is the Council in Jerusalem in Acts 15. There at that meeting, the apostles were gathered and they spoke. However, the final decision was rendered not by them, but by James, the Lord’s brother, who wasn’t even a named apostle. As it’s leader, it was his judgment which was accepted and acted upon.
Paul then notes, “along with my spirit.” This is like saying, “This is my decision on the matter. Act on it as if I were there speaking at this council.” Those in the church had the right to reject his words, but they would be rejecting God’s appointed counselor if they did. Now his words, and those of the other apostles chosen to write portions of the Bible, are recorded for us. We should always go to the Bible for our instruction and then render our decisions based on it.
To reject it would be comparable to those in Corinth rejecting Paul’s words here. It would be a decision not rendered according to the will of Jesus Christ and thus it would be devoid of “the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This final section of the verse shows that this “power” was in fact granted to Paul for such matters. Rejecting his determination (which they could do) would be to reject the determination of Christ Himself. We stand in the same position now because God’s word is complete and ready for our use in such matters.
Today, rather than the apostles, we have the Bible which was given under divine inspiration for our guidance in all matters. From this source, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to allow our elders to render their decisions concerning such related church matters.
Life application: What authority is your church relying upon for their doctrine, practice, and judgments? If it is claimed to be “Holy Ghost power,” then it had better line up with what the Bible states (because the Bible was given under inspiration of the Holy Ghost) or it isn’t “Holy Ghost Power.” If it is claimed to be formal Council decisions of the past or some type of catechisms, then they need to line up with the Bible as well. If they don’t, then there is no true power from the Lord in them. No matter what authority is claimed, it must be in accord with the words of Scripture or it is false authority for such matters.
Thank You Lord for the words of Scripture. They have been given under divine inspiration and so I know that I can go to them for all matters of life, faith, and practice. You have spoken, and although the Bible is large, I know that it is the best place for me to go to know Your heart, intent, and plan for me. Thank You for the Bible, your superior word. Amen.