The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Questions About "The Church."

There are questions about the Church that really bother me, and I’d appreciate any thoughts.

Questions like whether “born of water” implies that baptism by an ordained clergy is necessary to being saved among those of whom God is “especially” the Savior (i.e. saved now.)

Questions like whether the Lord’s Supper requires an orgained clergy, whether the Apostolic practice of “the laying on of hands” implies some visible line of succession of ordained clergy, whether “The Church” has continued in unbroken existence since the days of the Apostles, in what form it exists today, and the meaning of “wherever two or three of you are gathered in my name, I AM in your midst.”

(“You” who? Two or three ordinary believers, disciples, Apostles, or Bishops? And does this passage authorise congregational ordination and celebration of The Lord’s Supper? )

Also, what did Paul mean when he told Timothy to stir up the gift of The Holy Spirit, that was in him “by the laying on of my hands”?

I’m not looking to debate, argue, or win any arguments, but I would like help in answering these questions (from scripture and history) for myself.

Well, “ordination of clergy” isn’t biblical. It’s tradition.

And as for the necessity of baptism, the thief on the cross didn’t jump off to go get baptized but Jesus told him “today you will be with me in paradise”. Death IS a form of “baptism” IMO.

“Two or three” believers. Period.

But it’s a tradition started by the Apostles (Acts, and the Pastoral Epistles.)

Paul even spoke of Timothy receiving the gift of The Holy Spirit by the laying on of his hands.

If the practice wasn’t meant to signify something, and to continue from generation to generation, why start it in the first place?

That’s what I don’t understand.

But how do we know that he wasn’t baptized by John the baptist?

John came baptizing in the wilderness, and proclaiming a baptism of reformation – to remission of sins, 5 and there were going forth to him all the region of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and they were all baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. (Mark 1:4-5.)

If he was baptized by John, it didn’t take at the time, but how do we know he wasn’t baptized years before?

What is interesting to me is that he wasn’t at the last supper, he never partook of Christian communion, and Jesus said things that could (if taken literally) be taken to mean that you cant’t get to heaven without doing that.

But unless the cause of death is drowning, there’s no water (which brings us back to the question of what John 3:5 means by “born of water”?)

But how do we know that from the context (or from other scriptures)?

In utero, babies live in a sac filled with water.
I think that is what “born of water” means.
When we came out of our mothers’ wombs, a lot of water came too.
Even in early miscarriage, the baby is in a sac of water. (I’ve had 3)

I don’t think “laying on of hands” = “ordination”.
Charismatic Christians lay on hands all the time, for healing, commissioning, etc.
However, I never did a study on the practice. Have you looked at all the occurrences? Also, I often ask God when something confuses me. “What does this mean?” And He teaches me.

That’s interesting.

But what’s the difference between “odination” and “commissioning”?

Aren’t they just different words meaning the same thing?

And unless one was previously “commissioned,” what gives him the authority to commission others by laying his hands on them?

The occurrences are pretty much what you outlined here (healing, commissioning, etc.)

In regards to commissioning, here’s a partial list of occurences:-

Mr 3:14 - And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

Joh 15:16 - Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Ac 1:22 - Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

Acts 13:1-3 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyre’ne, Man’a-en a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Ac 14:23 - And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

1Ti 2:7 - Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity

1Ti 4:14 - Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.

2Ti 1:6 - Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.

I looked briefly at a handful of your references (not all of them) and found that there are at least two Greek words translated “ordained”. I think it would help you to understand the meaning of those words if you look at the lexicon definitions and other places they are used.

John 15:16 and 1 Tim 2:7 for example, use the Greek word tithemi . If you go to the latter link and scroll down, you can see the lexicon definitions and all the occurrences of that word which should give you a deeper understanding of what it means.

Mark 3:14 uses a different Greek word poieo

I leave you to come to your own conclusion, but neither word sounds to me like what modern churches would call “ordination”.

Not in your list, but personally I really like Titus 1:5-16 where “appoint” is translated “ordain” in the KJV and is a compound of thistemi (which I mentioned above). Here’s Titus 1:5 at BLB

] elders in every city as I commanded you— 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop[a] must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth. 15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

Sadly, I think lots of the people “ordained” by the church resemble the latter paragraph more than the former.

At least two English words have been used on this thread, “odain” and “commission” (and if ussage determins meaning, I fail to see the difference.)

I followed your links, and the basic meaning of the Greek words are “to set in place,” and “to make.”

Wouldn’t the making of a minister, and setting one in place mean pretty much the same thing?

So is there no modern Church then?

Is “The Church” just a relic of history?

And where is the disimilarity between what you hear in these words, and what “modern churchs would call ordination”?

Who does the ordaining (a “Bishop” distinct from the Elders, an Elder, or the congregstion) differs from communion to communion, but the basic method is the laying on of hands.

The most interesting N.T. occurences are the following:

Acts 13:1-3 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyre’ne, Man’a-en a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Ac 14:23 - And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

1Ti 4:14 - Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.

2Ti 1:6 - Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.

And (yours):

Titus 1:5 - For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you.

The questions that interest me are:

1.) Why would Paul and the other Apostles be led to visibly set up (or make) elders, by the laying on of their hands, if the Holy Spirit didn’t intend some visible line of succession to continue?

2.) If Paul commissioned Titus to appoint (ordain, make, set up) elders in every city, did this not set a precedent for these elders to follow (in appointing their own replacements–as Paul had appointed Titus, and Titus had appointed them)?

3.) If this practice was intended to continue, and did continue (from generation to generation), what was the mechanism?

Was it a special order of clergy (above ordinary elders of the Church), the elders of the Church, or “The Priesthood of All Believers” (which could perhaps be seen operating in Acts 13:1-3, and 1Ti 4:14)?

Whether you use the words “commission,” “ordain,” “appoint,” “make,” or “set,” it seems to me that these questions need to be answered.

And a bigger question would be whether it’s even possible to believe in the Bible (that Jesus came, set up His Church, and led Paul and the twelve to do the things discussed here) without believing in a Church that continues to exist (in some form) today?

I’d be very interested in any thoughts here.

IMO modern churches “ordain”/“Set apart” people for “ministry” based on having the proper education=seminary; having the proper gender=male; being charismatic in the sense of attracting crowds.

But who is “set in place” by God?

Sorry but BLECH! Spare me!

You may find this very interesting Michael!

Here is a link to ekklesia, the Greek word translated “church”. Look at the root words:

From a compound of ἐκ (G1537) and a derivative of καλέω (G2564)

ekklesia= called out of; called away from

The real “church” is not an institution with a building, a sign, pews, and a pulpit. The real church are those people who are called out and set apart by God. And we are no “relic of history” :sunglasses:

As for the priesthood of believers, the passage which comes to mind is 1 Peter 2:4-12

I’m sure the Church could be found in a cave, underground catacombs (like they had in Rome), in the Russian woods (where I think people were sometimes forced to gather during the Soviet era) or in an individual’s home (like Cloe’s.)

But that’s not really the question.

**Is there no ministry today?

Are there no ministers?**

( Is a valid ministry necessary for the baptism of disciples, and the observance of The Lord’s Supper? )

What did Paul mean when he said Timothy received his anointing by the laying on of his hands?

**Why did the Apostles ordain **(or appoint) elders in every church?

(“Elders in every church” is interesting btw, since the word is “episcopus,” and would mean there was more than one in each Apostolic church–not one diocesan “Bishop” over a number of churchs.)

Why was Titus told to ordain (or appoint) elders in every city?

Why was this apperently done by the laying on of hands?

**Is it your view that this practice is just a relic of history?

Why was it instituted if it wasn’t meant to continue past the first two generations?**

If it was meant to continue to this day, did it continue through Bishops (who were distinct from elders, even though the terms “bishop” and “elder” seem to be used interchangably in the N.T.), through the presbytery (bishop/elders), or through the Church at large (the priesthood of all believers, i.e. the ministry essentially deriving it’s authority through the congregation of “called out” believers, the “ekklesia.”)

Those are the questions here.

Do you have any coherent thoughts to offer?

I thought that was what I was doing,
but if you can’t hear me,
I’m bowing out
to go practice my priesthood and minister to my children who can receive my ministry.

So you’re the Pastor of a small church, and your children are your congregation?


But why did Paul tell us not to forsake the assembiling of ourselves together…so much the more as you see the day aproaching?

Your children are already in your house, so they don’t really have to assemble with you and one another, do you assemble with other believers?

Have you baptized your children yourself (or do you intend to when they get older)?

Do you celebrate The Lord’s Supper there at home?

Do you invite other believers to come and celebrate it with you?

Do you really believe your family unit is a local Church (Ekklesia. Assembly, or Congregation) in the sense the New Testament usses the word (i.e. The Church in Corinth, The Church in Thessalonica, etc.)???

P.S. I don’t mean to be sarcastic, but it seems to me that these questions are of some importance (and I’m interested in some real thoughts here.)


I suggested that you ask God. I ask Him things all the time and He tells me (often it’s a process).
I spent a fair amount of time looking up and linking to greek references in hopes that you will be able to springboard from there and do that kind of research yourself as you are thinking through things.
I suggested and linked a very powerful passage on the priesthood of believers. Did you read it?

And, frankly, no one had responded to your thread and I felt sorry for you because IIRC, I read somewhere that you apparently lost your mother (and a sibling to stillbirth- not sure if those two were concurrent), so I was attempting to MINISTER to you in a motherly kinda way by expending some effort on your inquiry.

And you respond with** “Do you have any coherent thoughts to offer?”**
and “I’m interested in some real thoughts here” as if to say my thoughts are “unreal”.

Clearly, my input is not valued nor appreciated here, and I’m leaving your thread now.

What makes you think I haven’t?

I have.

And unless we’re to rely entirely on feelings, I think using our minds, looking at the written word, and seeking thoughful input from others is a part of the process you spoke of

I looked up those references, and they seem totally irrelevant to me.

To “make” one the minister of a local Ekklessia, to “set” one up as the minister of a local Ekklessai, to “ordain,” “appoint” or “commision” are all synonyms for the same act (particularly when it’s done by the laying on of hands.)

Of course I read it.

That passage was quoted in the article I linked to here.

The question is what it means (and how far the principle can legitimately be taken.)

Where does the power of ordination reside (in the local church as a body, in the elders of The Church, or in an episcopal order above elder)?

**Right or wrong, Luther had a coherent position on that.

He believed that the power of ordination (at least in emergency situations) resided in the local congregation of baptized believers.

You offered no coherent thoughts on the issue.**

I thank you for your pitty, but it would have been more helpful if you had tried to answer (or at least to understand) the questions.

I’m sorry if I offended you, but you haven’t offered any coherent thoughts on any of the questions I asked here.

At the risk of not sounding “nice,” do you consider yourself the Pastor of a local Ekklessia?

Do you and your children actively “assemble yourselves” together (or are you passively present in the same home)?

Do you “show forth the Lord’s death till He comes” by celebrating the Lord’s Supper in your home?

Do you invite other believers to join you in this celebration?

If not, everything you’ve said here (with the one possible exception of a comment you made about charismatics, that you never followed up on) is off topic (and unhelpful.)

P.S. I do apologize if I’ve offended you, and perhaps we could start over if you’d care to follow up on the following comment (and maybe share some thoughts on how it might relate to the questions I’ve asked here?)

If we could forget your issues with the educational standards of certain denominations (and the tendency you believe they have to sellect ministerial candidates on the basis of gender and personal magnetism), may I ask what role you think charisma (in the biblical sense) plays in the ordination (or commissioning) of christian ministers?

Or what role (if any) you think it’s played in perpetuating a valid ministry through the centuries?

Those questions might be relevant here, and I’d be interested in your thoughts (if you have any.)

No offense taken.
I don’t WANT to answer your questions; I don’t have the answers and those are not the questions which burn in my heart.
I do have questions, though. Hard questions.
I tried to share with you how I go about finding answers when I have questions.
Kind of “teach a man to fish” instead of giving him one. . .
There’s nothing quite like wrestling with God and scripture and suddenly having my blind eyes opened to the answer.

Anyway, I gave it my best and you didn’t hear, so I’m not going to spend any more time on it.

I tried to discuss scriptures with you, but you seemed more interested in attacking Pentecostal Teli-Evangelists.

I’m not Pentecostalist, I’m no fan of Benny Hinn, and I don’t even know who the other two guys are–but I was interested in something more substantive than that.

You sound a little bitter here.

I again apologize if I offended you.

(And for your own sake, please try to forgive me.)

Sigh. Michael, you do ever so totally misread me. I’m not bitter. I don’t need to forgive you. I’m busy. And I spent a LOT of time linking Greek for you and stepping you through how I seek answers to my hard questions.

I was soooooooooooooooooo tickled to post for you that ecclesia means just about the same thing as “ordained”.
Stuff like that just blows my socks off, it ministers to me so much!

And tonight I just read for family devotionals:

And I thought of you and how you and your questions and came back to look one last time. . .

But, I don’t think you and me are getting anywhere, and I really do have a LOT on my plate. Last week I was on Spring Break but now I have a 12 hour clinical tomorrow and another Thurs and I have to keep up with my 16 credits (much as I would sincerely LOVE to meditate upon the Lord and His Word and enjoy the experience of Him speaking to me and answering my questions all day long- I don’t have the luxury).