Lecture 18: Live for the Glory of God
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Paul's letters describe how God desires people in the Church to function in unity and diversity and how the Holy Spirit gives them the power to do it. Paul exhorts people to live their lives in a way that glorifies God.
Course: Biblical Theology
Lecture: Live for the Glory of God
When we consider the Christian life, we need to think about the commands (the exhortations) given in the Pauline letters. There is a danger there of a Mishnah. A Mishnah would be, as the Jews compiled in 200AD, where every conceivable situation is given a command. Of course, we do not find that in the New Testament. The New Testament does emphasize the Holy Spirit and wisdom. But what we need to do here is look at what Paul himself does.
I. Exhortations to Godly Living
He does not think that, just because people have the Holy Spirit, that they do not need any exhortations. Indeed, we see in Galatians 6:1 that those who are spiritual need exhortations. And he says: "You are who spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, looking to yourself lest you also be tempted." So it is clear that spiritual people need exhortations. It is not merely people who are in sin who need it, but it is those who are spiritual who are to restore. So we need to keep the balance there and see that we do not have a Mishnah for every situation. We do have spiritual people being exhorted regarding how to live a life that is pleasing to God.
We see that in 1 Corinthians 6:12 as well. Paul gives some exhortations regarding sexual purity. He gives these exhortations to those who have the Holy Spirit. Their body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and yet they still need exhortations. 1 Thessalonians 4: Paul speaks there of those who are doing very well spiritually. He compliments them and yet he still gives them exhortations. He tells them to do what is pleasing to God. A threat to sin remains so that Christians need to be exhorted. In Romans 6: "Do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies." Do not let it rule. Or in 1 Corinthians 10, we are exhorted as Christians to beware lest we fall. And in Philippians 3:12-16 we are told that we are not perfect yet. So specific commands are needed.
In 1 Corinthians 7, a specific command is given against divorce. In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, there is a command against sexual sin. Paul can speak of the importance of fulfilling the law. So, of course, we need knowledge to know what is right. There are many situations that are not specified. We pray for love and knowledge, because we need to know what is right. In Romans 12:2, we need a renewed mind. We need to discern what is pleasing to the Lord (Eph.5:10). So we see vice and virtue lists in Paul, such as Romans 1:29-31; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:10-11; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:19-23; Ephesians 4:31-32; and so forth and so on.
There are lots of commands that show what life in the Spirit is like. And such commands and exhortations do not rule out life in the Spirit, do they? The central command for Paul is to love one another, as we see in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is the bond of unity (Col.3:14). But we need to balance love with commands. Love without commands is a plastic thing and could be explained in such as a way as to defend sin. I have even heard people say that adultery is OK because they are in love. But the Scripture is clear. The Scripture specifically forbids such an understanding. Love cannot be exhausted by commands. But neither does love transgress commands. Commands help us to see what love is, although there are so many situations that are not specified in terms of what is loving and that is why we need wisdom and discernment. Paul definitely says some things are wrong, such as homosexuality. Homosexuality is clearly ruled out in Romans 1:26-27. So there can be specific commands that fit with the Christian life.
When we think of the Old Testament law, of course, the New Testament clearly teaches that we are no longer under the law. We are free, in Christ, from the Mosaic law. We see that in Galatians 3 and 2 Corinthians 3. Christians are no longer obligated to keep the Sabbath (Col.2:16). It is a shadow of the things to come. Paul says that every day is alike (Rom.14:5-6). If you want to observe the Sabbath, fine. But you are not required to. Christians are no longer required to observe food laws (Rom.14:14, 20; Col.2:16). All foods are created by God and are open to eat (1 Tim.4). Christians are not required to circumcise for salvation. If they want to do it they can, but it is not required for justification. The laws that separated Jews from Gentiles (the Mosaic Law) have been torn down (Eph.2:11-22). The law has now been fulfilled in Christ. Circumcision points to circumcision in Christ (Rom.2:28-29; Phil.3: 3). The purity laws point to our purity in Christ (2 Cor.6:17; 7:1; 1 Cor.5:6-8) . The physical temple no longer matters. What matters is that Christ is the new temple and the Spirit dwelling in us is the temple.
That does not mean, though, that the moral norms of the law are not fulfilled in the law of Christ. The moral norms are still part of the law for Christians. They are part of the ethic that is still required for Christians. We are to honor our parents and not commit adultery and not murder. That is part of what love is. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commands of God is everything (1 Cor.7:19). Those who live a new life in the Spirit live in a way that is pleasing to God. We fulfill the ordinance of the law by the Spirit (Rom.8:4). So the Mosaic Law as a covenant has passed away and the provisions of that covenant. But we see from the New Testament what part of the law is still part of the law of Christ. And we see that we are still, as Christians, under that law which is the law of love. In that law we do what is pleasing to God by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom.13 and Gal.5).
II. The Church
We also ought to consider in Paul's theology (going quickly here) of the church. In the Old Testament, Israel was the assembly of Yahweh (the assembly of Israel). And now, God's new assembly is the church of Jesus Christ. Paul usually uses the word church of local assemblies: like the church in Cenchrea; the church in the house of Prisca and Aquila (Rom.16:5); Gaius is the host of the whole church (Rom.16:23); the church of God in Corinth (1 Cor.1); the church in Nympha's house (Col.4:15); the church in Laodicea (Col.4:16); the church of the Thessalonians (1 Thess.1); the church in Philemon's house. These are house churches. The New Testament can also speak of churches in the plural: like the churches of Galatia; or the churches of Asia (1 Cor.16:19); the churches of Macedonia (2 Cor.8:1); the churches of Judea (Gal.1:22). All those churches are still local churches, that is the plural.
But it is still emphasizing the local church and yet there is a sense also of some community and commonality among the churches. Paul can speak of churches following the customs (1 Cor.11:16); the women keep silent in all the churches, as he says. In 1 Corinthians 7:17, he emphasizes what he teaches in all the churches.
The ekklesia (the word, church) emphasizes the gathering of God's people, the new people of God. And the church gathers for the Lord's Supper and for the exercise of spiritual gifts and to edify and strengthen one another.
Of course, the New Testament is very clear that Christ is the head of the church (Col.1:18; Eph.1:22; 5:23-24). He is the ruler of the church. He is the head. Glory redounds to God in the church. The church is the body of Christ. That emphasizes the unity of the church: that it is one body and Christ is its head. The one body has many different members with a lot of diversity in the church. The church is one loaf of bread, so to speak (1 Cor.10). So the church is comprised of unity in diversity. There is unity because we are one people of God. There is diversity because we have different gifts and different strengths and God uses that to strengthen His people. There are many members but one body (Rom.12:4). The unity and diversity of the church is a major theme for Paul.
There is a profound togetherness in the church. We see this unity in Colossians 3:15 and Ephesians 2:11-3:13. The barriers have been broken down between Jews and Gentiles and so we are a united people of God. God has given the gifts of the church for the unity of the church (Eph.4:7ff). We are to maintain that unity in the church of Jesus Christ(Eph.4:1ff). In 1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1, there is a lot of dispute over foot offered to idols. And we see another dispute regarding foods in Romans 14:1. And one of Paul's main concerns there is the unity of the church: that the church would not be fractured by division. So that is a very practical word for Paul and should be for us as well. We are to live out our lives together as Christians in a unified way, so that we do not split off from one another.
The divisions in the church at Corinth (1 Cor.1:10-4:21) where a matter of great concern to Paul. He exhorts them not to be divided, but to unite together as the people of God and to pay heed to the word of the cross, instead of splitting off one from another. We also see that even very fine Christians, like Euodia and Syntyche (Phil.4:2-3), were divided from one another. And Paul exhorts them to be united and says that others are to help them be united in Christ. We see there that we are to have a ministry to help others to be reconciled and united in Christ. We also see that even very fine Christians can have divisions between them. We need to work at maintaining unity as Christians.
One of the main themes of the book of Philippians is unity. Paul exhorts the church often to be united. Unity comes by being devoted to the gospel, so that the gospel becomes central in our lives instead of other matters. We are not to lose sight of the gospel of Christ. And Christ becomes our great example here who gave His life for the sake of the gospel. And others are mentioned in the letter in chapter 2, like Timothy and Epaphroditus and, of course, Paul himself.
Of course, when we speak of unity, unity must always be grounded on the truth of the gospel (Gal.2:3-5). Those who are false brothers must be rebuked (Gal.2:3-5). It is not a unity that compromises truth. If the truth of the gospel is compromised, then unity takes second place, because it always must be a unity in the truth of the gospel. It is not unity at any cost. It is unity for the sake of the gospel and in the word of the gospel.
The church of Jesus Christ is also portrayed as God's temple (1 Cor.3:16-17; 2 Cor.6:16; Eph.2:21). Jesus is the foundation of that temple. It is the new people of God; the new dwelling place of God; the dwelling place of God's Spirit. The unity we have is not a unity we have created. It is a unity that comes from the Holy Spirit Himself.
III. Spiritual Gifts
Paul also emphasizes in the church that we have been given spiritual gifts. We see it listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8 -10, 28-30; Romans 12:6-8 and Ephesians 4:11. He uses the words spiritual gifts, the pneumatika (1 Cor.12:1; 14:1) or they are pneumata, spirits, in terms of gifts from the Holy Spirit. That is what he is emphasizing there. The gifts are called the manifestation of the Spirit (1 Cor.12:7). Spiritual gifts are not our own work, but are the work of the Holy Spirit. They are also called gifts: charismata is the Greek word there. They are from the Holy Spirit and they are gifts from God's grace, not our own abilities. They are ministries (1 Cor.12:5). They serve others. Spiritual gifts are not given to serve ourselves or to show how great or gifted we are, but to serve and help others. In 1 Corinthians 12:6, Paul speaks of the results or effects of these gifts. But these results or effects are not our work, but they are are the work of God's grace. That is why they are called spiritual gifts, because they are from the Spirit and not from ourselves. They are the Spirit's work and they are gracious and they are service to others. Ad too often spiritual gifts today are understood as a means of someone advancing their own agenda or their own glory or their own greatness. But they are truly spiritual gifts for the sake of others.
The gifts are given for the unity of the body (1 Co.r12). And, of course, there is the diversity of the gifts as well. Not everyone has the same gift or the same result of their gift or the same manifestation. That is intended by God so that the body would be built up. But Paul emphasizes again and again that God sovereignly gives gifts to people as He wills. He has appointed the members of the body as He wills and He wishes (1 Cor.12:8, 11, 18). So, gifts are a sovereign work of the Spirit and not an indication of our own ability, our own strength or our own wisdom.
The gifts are given under the Lordship of Christ (1 Cor.12:3). No one speaking by the Spirit of God says "Jesus is accursed", but the one speaking by God's Spirit says "Jesus is Lord". So we recognize God's rule and sovereignty in the exercise of our gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:27-30 makes it clear that we do not all have the same gift and that we will not possess every gift. It is not the case that every Christian should speak in tongues or prophesy. No one is inferior if they do not have the gift that someone else has (1 Cor.12:14-18). Nor is anyone superior if they have a gift that they consider better than others. Paul utterly rejects that kind of thinking as secular. We praise God for the gift He has given us in His sovereignty and we recognize that we do not all have the same gift and the same ability and the same manifestation. So if we are focusing on our gift, we are not focusing on God.
Gifts are given for the common good, to strengthen others (1 Cor.12:27). They are given to avoid divisions (1 Cor.12:25-26). They are given to edify others (1 Cor.14:1-19). They are given to equip the saints and bring unity (Eph.4:12). 1 Corinthians 13 is a chapter that is right in the middle of Paul's discussion on spiritual gifts. So Paul is clearly thinking here of gifts. He emphasizes the centrality of love. The most important thing in terms of the exercise of gifts is love for others.
Are gifts supernatural or natural? Are they natural tones or are they supernatural? I would argue that such a question is really not helpful, because everything we have is from God. Some gifts we have we have from birth. That is clear. We can see it in our personalities. But every gift we have is from God. So whether our gift is teaching or counseling or helps, all those gifts are a supernatural work of God's grace.
Let's talk about now defining some of the gifts. What is the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge (1 Cor.12:8)? That is very hard to be sure, because we are not given much information there. I suspect, though, because Paul's uses the word "word" (word of wisdom and word of knowledge), that he is probably talking there about a gift of teaching. The gift of teaching is mentioned in all the other lists of spiritual gifts and it is not found here. And we think of the wisdom of God in Paul as the cross of Christ (1 Cor.1:18). The word of God in Paul (Rom.9:6; 1 Cor.14:36; and many other verses) is where we have word of faith or word of truth or word of life. And knowledge is linked with the truth of the gospel in many verses. So it seems most likely that this gift is probably the gift of teaching.
The gift of faith is not the ordinary gift of faith that we receive at salvation. That gift all believers have. But this is a special and unique gift of faith. This is a faith that Paul says can move mountains (1 Cor.13:2). It seems to be a special gift that is given to some.
The gift of miracles and healings: this is the ability, by God's grace, to do miracles and to heal. It is totally the sovereignty of God whether someone has that gift. It cannot be summoned up by human works or wisdom, but it is the ability to heal those who are blind and so forth and so on. It seems that God still heals today, although such healings are more rare. God is not pleased to give that gift as often to people.
The gift of helps: the ability to serve others and to help them.
The gift of leadership: that word for leadership is used of a pilot of boat (Acts 27:11; Rev.18:17). Romans 12:8 speaks of those who lead, that they are to do so diligently.
Those who have a gift of giving and mercy, especially to help others financially.
Evangelists who have the gift of proclaiming the gospel.
The gift of teaching is the gift of being able to explain what we find in the Scriptures and to set it out clearly so others can understand what is being taught.
We see the gift of exhortation. Exhortation is a gift of encouragement, where others are strengthened and exhorted to do the will of God.
The gift of prophecy is more debated. I do not think the gift of prophecy is quite the same thing as preaching. We see, from 1 Corinthians 14:29, that the gift of prophecy is communicating revelations from God in a spontaneous utterance, instead of in prepared messages. We know that it is a spontaneous utterance because Paul speaks of a prophecy being given to a person who is seated and suddenly they receive a prophecy. A prophecy is the reception of mysteries that are revealed. The Holy Spirit gives such prophecies. Agabus was given the prophecy of a famine that would occur on the whole earth. So God has given him a specific word.
Some people are arguing today that prophecy can be mixed with error: that Old Testament prophecies must be perfect, but that New Testament prophecies can have mistakes in them since prophecies are to be judged. I think this is quite unlikely. I think prophecy in the New Testament and the Old Testament is of the same nature and that prophecy represents the word of God; that is, the perfect word of God. I think the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and I think it is unlikely there is any suggestion here that prophets have errors in their messages. The reason that the prophecies of prophets are to be judged is to discern whether they are false prophets. So I do not think that we should accept the view that prophets may have some mistakes in their words from the Lord, but instead these prophecies are perfect since God is perfect. But we must distinguish whether these prophecies are from God or not.
The gift of tongues was what impressed the Corinthians the most. They thought it was the greatest gift. Paul very much emphasizes that it is not intended for all, and only some receive the gift. It is not the most important. There is no sign that you are not part of the heavenly existence without tongues. Tongues, without an interpretation in the church, are not edifying and strengthening to others. Tongue speaking is to be orderly. It is to be one at a time (1 Cor.14), and to be given with an interpretation. Otherwise, one is not to speak in tongues in church. Tongue speaking is not the sign that one has been baptized in the Spirit.
It seems in Acts, that the nature of the gift of tongues is speaking in other languages. In Acts 2:6, they are speaking in their own language. Each of us in our own language in which we are born (Acts 2:8), in our own tongues. Many people argue that the gift of tongues includes ecstatic utterances, a different gift. But I think this is unlikely. The evidence that speaking in tongues referred to ecstatic babbling is nonexistent in the Hellenistic world. So says Christopher Forbes in his book on inspired speech. When 1 Corinthians 14 says those who speak in tongues do not speak to people but to God, for no one understands, but he speaks mysteries by the Spirit – I simply think that means that, if there is no interpretation; the tongue speaker is not speaking a word that can be interpreted by anyone, because no one present there knows the language. So, I do not think that there is clear evidence there, or in the rest of 1 Corinthians 14. Since tongues are in a code that can be interpreted, I do not think there is clear evidence there that the gift of tongues is some kind of ecstatic babbling. But it is in known languages that can be interpreted. And they are for the edification of the hearers. In any case it is not to be practiced in the church unless there is an interpreter. And it is to be orderly and limited in the church.
It seems, when we read the New Testament, that the gift of apostles and prophets have passed away. The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and I do not think there is any evidence that we still have apostles today. James was not replaced an apostle when he died in Acts 12. I do not think we have people speaking authoritative, perfect words of God today. I think such teachings can be dangerous. People can claim to be apostles and prophets and exercise a kind of authority over the church that is not helpful or edifying.
Whether gifts like tongues and healings and miracles exist today, we do not want to limit God. Of course, God can do miracles, wonders and signs. I think the evidence that these gifts exist is not strong. Obviously, we all believe God can do miracles and wonders and signs. And He may be pleased to do so in cutting-edge missionary situations. I think the danger is people take these gifts and exaggerate what is happening. And so, then, we get rather inadequate definitions of what tongues are or miracles and healings. Then really rather minor psychological physical conditions are called healings. So, remember in the New Testament that healings are very clear with blindness and lameness and so forth and so on. But God still heals today. And He may be pleased to pour out His Spirit and to have a great number of miracles, signs and wonders, especially in cutting-edge missionary situations.
But we must beware of not inventing something here that has not happened. We must not threaten the touchstone of God's perfect revelation in Scripture, so that so-called prophecies or apostles do not come on the scene and contradict what is found in the Bible. This has often happened in church history. These people get this view of their authority which I do not think is Biblically grounded. And they do great damage to the church of Jesus Christ.
Now let us say something about baptism. Baptism is tied up with conversion in the New Testament. It means to plunge or to immerse in water. There is one baptism (Eph.4:5). We are baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor.12:13). Baptism is a washing, where our sins are washed away (Tit.3:5).
Paul combined together in his own mind the baptism in the water and the baptism of the Spirit. It is not that they cannot be distinguished. They can be. But they took place at the same time, so Paul does not emphasize how different they are. So oftentimes, he can just combine together baptism in water and the baptism in the Spirit, even though they can be conceptually distinguished. Jesus in the One who baptizes us in the Spirit and with the Spirit.
Baptism is an initiation right (Eph.5:26). It is the washing of the water with the word. Paul says, speaking of baptism: "but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified" (1 Cor.6:11). These all refer to our conversion. Baptism is the sign that we have been cleansed and that there is a new life. In baptism we are plunged into Christ (Gal.3:27). We are baptized into Christ. Baptism symbolizes our death with Christ as we go underneath the water, and then our new life with Christ as we emerge from the water. It symbolizes what God has done for us in Christ.
We ought not make anything of the baptism of the dead (1 Cor.15:29). Paul does not really commend the practice there, nor does he explain it. We should not base a doctrine on a verse that is hard to understand. Paul's discussion there is not on baptism, but on the resurrection anyway. So we ought not to make much of it.
Baptism ought not to be understood magically (1 Cor.10). There is no magical efficacy in the right. Baptism must be understood in light of the gospel (1 Cor.1:14-17). Baptism does not in and of itself save. It is not some magical right that changes us. It is the gospel that saves us and transforms us, not baptism ultimately.
V. The Lord's Supper
Let us say something about the Lord's Supper. The tradition of the Lord's Supper, of course, comes from Jesus' Last Supper with His disciples (Matt.26; Mark 14; Luke 22). Paul only discusses it in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11. He tells us that the Lord's Supper symbolizes the one loaf in the Lord's Supper (1 Cor.10). The bread they share together symbolizes that the church lives from that one loaf and that the body is united. We derive benefits from Christ's death and resurrection, especially here His death. We can see this in 1 Corinthians 10, where Paul says: "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" So we benefit from Christ's death on our behalf. He gives us new life.
In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, we see social divisions between the rich and poor. The rich are taking larger meals and the poor are not getting enough to eat, because in those days they celebrated a meal and then the Lord's Supper. Paul is very concerned about that. The poor are being ignored in this regard and he exhorts believers to care for one another and to make sure that the poor are being cared for in the Lord's Supper. We read, in verses 23 and 24, that the Lord's Supper it symbolizes His body and His blood being shed for us. So the Lord's Supper is a vivid reminder to us of the significance of what Jesus has accomplished for us in His death: that He has given His body and blood for us. We are to do this in remembrance of Me. If the poor are not being cared for in the church, then we are not doing it in remembrance of Him. We are focusing on ourselves rather than God. So it is important to celebrate the Lord's Supper in the honor of the Lord's name.
VI. Church Leadership
We also see church leaders in the church of Jesus Christ. Paul speaks of those who labor among you; those who lead; those who admonish (1 Thess.5:12). The Corinthians are to submit to the household of Stephanas and every co-worker and laborer (1 Cor.16). Those who are instructed in the word are to provide financial support for those who do the teaching (Gal.6:6). So we have teachers.
Of course, the most common term used for leaders in the New Testament is elders. That term is very common. We find it in Acts 11:30 and Acts 15 many times about the leaders in Jerusalem. James 5:14 speaks of elders in the churches, probably in Palestine. 1 Peter 5:1 speaks of the churches in Asia Minor. Acts 20:17 tells us there are elders in Ephesus that Paul speaks to. They are also called overseers in verse 28. In Titus 1:5 Paul speaks of elders; in Titus 1:7 of overseers; in 1 Timothy 3 of overseers; in 1 Timothy 5:17 and 19 of elders. And Philippians 1 speaks of overseers and deacons.
We should see that elders and overseers and pastor, actually, are just three different names for the same office. We saw that in Acts 20. There the leaders are called elders in verse 27 and then called overseers in verse 28. Elders does not necessarily mean an older person, by the way. A younger person can be an elder. It just signifies the stature of the office, the significance of the office. An overseer signifies the function of the office: of overseeing and caring for the church. Now we see the same thing in Titus, they are called elders in 1:5 and then an overseer in 1:7. Again, that is clearly the same office.
In appointing an elder, one must focus on character (1 Tim.3; Tit.1). Is this person a godly person who has a good reputation in the community? That is Paul's greatest concern in the appointment of elders. The elders have two distinct roles from deacons. Deacons are the other office – we saw that in Philippians. The elders are to be apt to teach. That is never said about the deacons, that they are to be apt to teach. And they are to manage their household well. So, elders are to lead and teach in contrast to deacons who are to serve.
We also notice that, in every case, we have a plurality of elders in the congregation. The Biblical pattern is not one elder, but a number of elders together guiding and leading in the church so that false teaching can be resisted. That is why elders are to be apt to teach. They are to make sure that the doctrine of the church is pleasing to God. And they are to be financially supported, at least one elder to be financially supported. If the church has the wherewithal to do it, that is pleasing to God.
Deacons is a more general term for ministry. They are to have the same high character qualities. But remember, deacons are not to teach or exercise authority. So the elders are over the deacons. And the deacons help with the service of the church and finances, distributing food to the poor and in any other practical way that the church thinks is helpful.
VII. Church Discipline
One of the jobs of the church, of course, is to disciple those who are recalcitrant; those who are unrepentant. We see in 1 Corinthians 5 a man committing incest, who was not repentant. In 1 Timothy 1 the issue is false teaching. Such people are to be removed from the church. The goal, of course, is so that they would come to salvation themselves. We discipline out of love. But if we do not discipline, a little leaven can leaven the whole lump (1 Cor.5:6). So if we do not discipline, it could spread to others. We are to discipline with a spirit gentleness, lest you also be tempted (Gal.6:1). So we discipline out of love, not out of harshness or meanness in any way. We see this is 2 Thessalonians 3 and Titus 3:7-9. We warn those who are to be disciplined and follow the rules Jesus gave us in Matthew 18 before discipline is practiced.
We see in 1 Corinthians 5 some of the sins for which we discipline. Of course it is not an exhaustive list: unrepented sexual sin, coveting, stealing, idolatry, slander, drunkenness, so forth and so on – if people do not repent. If they repent and turn from their sin, of course, we do not exclude them from the church. In this way we preserve the unity and purity and beauty of the church.
VIII. The Role of Women
At least in the Western world, there is a lot of discussion as to whether women can be pastors. Of course, women can be involved in ministry and there are a number of passages that tell us that. We see the laboring role of women in Romans 16: of Mary (verse 6), of Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis (verse 12). We see that Prisca and Euodia and Syntyche were Paul's co-workers. We see that Junia was an outstanding missionary. I do not think he is saying, though, that she is an apostle in the full sense of the word.
Men and women are one in Christ (Gal.3:28). Yet we see from a passage like 1 Corinthians 11 that the distinctions between men and women are still to be preserved. Men are the head, and I think that means the leader. Male headship must be preserved. If women pray and prophesy in church, they are to do so with an adornment in a manner that indicates they are submissive to male leadership. They are not to speak in church in a way that disrupts male headship and leadership (1 Cor.14). They are to be submissive. A woman is not to teach or exercise authority over a man, because Adam was created first and not Eve (1 Tim.2). So that is not a cultural word. Paul does not argue that the women are not to teach because of lack of education or because of the false teaching. But such teaching falls prey of the different roles between men and women. The women are not to teach or exercise authority over a man. So, that is not just a cultural word. It goes back to the differences between men and women.
Of course, that is true in marriage as well. The wife is to submit to the husband. That is her role, as the church submits to Christ. Again, that is not just a cultural word is it? Men have a responsibility, though, as the head to love and to care for their wives. And their leadership over their wives is to be loving and caring and not harsh. Male headship in the church or in the home is never an excuse for abuse: physical abuse or verbal abuse or mistreatment of women. And, of course, that is a temptation. We must guard what the Scriptures say in not allowing women to be heads. And yet men must not lead in a way that is harsh and unloving.
IX. Christian Hope
Finally, the last thing we talk about is the hope of the new community: the promise of the resurrection. The age to come has arrived in the resurrection of Christ. Christ has been raised from the dead. He has triumphed over death. We see that in 1 Corinthians 15. His resurrection is verified by His appearance to many people. His resurrection is the firstfruits (1 Cor.15). It is the promise that our resurrection is coming. Paul makes it very clear that if we deny the future resurrection of believers, then we deny the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor.15:20). It is a heresy to deny the future, bodily, physical resurrection of believers. If we deny that, we deny Christ's physical resurrection as well. So the resurrection is fundamental and crucial to our faith.
Christ's resurrection is the firstfruits. In other words we are not resurrected right away. Our resurrection is coming. It is not yet ours. It will be ours, but it is not yet ours. We await that final day when we will be raised from the dead. Those who claim the resurrection as already taken place, are heretics and unbelievers, because they deny the future resurrection of the body (2 Tim.2:18). It is very important to Paul that our resurrection is not just spiritual but bodily (1 Cor.15:35ff). When Paul speaks of a spiritual body in 1 Corinthians 15:44, he does not mean an immaterial body. He means a body that is animated by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit. He means a body that is transformed. Our corruptible bodies (the bodies we have now) cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven because they are corrupted by sin. So we will get new bodies that are powerful in the new creation that is coming.
When Christ comes, those who are still alive will be snatched up to Him and immediately transformed. And the rest who have died in the Lord will be raised from the dead on that day. Paul emphasizes that those who are to be raised are at no disadvantage (1 Thess.4:13ff). Of course, before that day comes there must be a falling away (2 Thess.2). There must be a rebellion. The antichrist is coming. There will be a great conflict, but the victory is sure. Jesus will destroy this person and He will come again.
He will judge unbelievers on that day (2 Thess.1). He will destroy those who have not trusted in Jesus: those who have not obeyed the gospel; those who have not done what is right. He will judge people by their works. Those who have done evil will be punished forever. Those who have trusted in Christ and done good will receive the final reward and will experience eternal life forevermore.
I think the Scripture also promises in Romans 11 a future salvation for ethnic Israel. When Jesus comes again, the end-time generation of Jews will trust in Him, at least the majority of them. And they will experience the joy of the resurrection.
Of course, none of these rewards come about on the basis of works, but only by trusting in Jesus Christ and believing in Him and giving our lives to Him. That is the great hope of believers. There is a curse on those who do not trust in Jesus. And there is a final reward given to those who give their lives to Jesus Christ.
Well, there is so much more that could be said about Pauline theology. I hope you see the emphasis on God's glory in Christ. The whole plan of redemptive history is such that God is praised and honored and magnified in all that He does. And He is honored through Jesus Christ and in his saving us and redeeming us and in completing all that He has promised for us. That is out great hope and expectation that Christ would be magnified in our salvation and in the new creation that is coming. I pray that will be your hope, that you will labor for the gospel and that you will live for the glory of God. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.