Pastors weren't ever in charge of a church
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The early church was scattered by persecution into small groups. Each local assembly was run by their local elders.
I TIMOTHY 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith:
This does not make Paul the spiritual father of Timothy. This just means that Paul led Timothy to the Lord and Timothy was a young man.
But it is a tricky concept. We are not allowed to call anyone our spiritual father.
MATTHEW 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
You have a physical father, but no spiritual father.
That means that no-one is above you spiritually.
The elevation of a holy man above the laity or congregation was the major sin of the first church. These elevated church leaders are called nicolaitans (nico means conquer. Conquer the laity)
REVELATION 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
In the first church the leaders began pushing down the people. Church leaders loved being important.
REVELATION 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
This is the third church age between 312 AD and 606 AD. Deeds had developed into a doctrine. Now an elevated priest or pastor was officially in charge of each church. A bishop was then elevated to be in charge of a number of priests or pastors.
By the fourth church age there were cardinals in charge of the bishops and archbishops.
But God hates elevated human leadership in the church.
We must never forget that basic principle.
REVELATION 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests:
“us” means “all of us”. Every saved Christian is a king and a priest. A priest stood between the Jews and God. Every saved Christian is a priest towards the unsaved because they can lead a sinner to Christ. But once that sinner accepts Christ, then he also becomes a priest.
The only one above a priest was the high priest. That is Jesus.
All saved Christians are priests with no other human above them. Only Jesus is above the priests. All priests are equal to each other. Priests are only above sinners in terms of the kingdom of God.
HEBREWS 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
All kings are equal. The only one higher than a king is the King of kings, which is also Jesus.
REVELATION 19: 16 And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS
So no Christian is above another Christian. That is nicolaitanism.
To be a Christian you must be saved. All saved believers are brethren and thus equal.
No brothers in a family are above the other brothers. They are all equal.
EPHESIANS 3: 14-15
Our Lord Jesus Christ. Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
The entire church is one big family. We are all equal as sons of God.
MATTHEW 12:48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
:49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
:50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Brotherhood depends on one thing only. Being part of the family of God and doing the will of God. Your position in the Body of Christ depends on doing His will. No part of the body is inferior or below another part. The only top position in the body is the head because the body is controlled by the head.
Only the head is above the body parts and controls them. This position of Head belongs only to Jesus.
EPHESIANS 5: 23 Christ is the Head of the church
There is no Scripture that says the pastor is the head of the church.
Any pastor, claiming to be head of the church, has usurped an unscriptural authority.
MATTHEW 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren
Rabbi was a man-made leader of the synagogue. Jesus said we must not take that position.
In many churches the Pastor has become the man-made head of the church. We must never take such a position.
No person (say James) was ever called “Pastor James” in the Bible.
The office of pastor was so unimportant in the Bible that the word “pastor” is only mentioned once in the New Testament. They have a role which involves pastoral care. Helping to counsel people through their problems and with their relationships. Building up the faith of beginner Christians by teaching them Bible basics and encouraging them to trust God.
But pastors were never declared to be the head of the church. They were never intended to lead people away from Scripture by getting obsessed with the interpretation of quotes.
So pastors, a future ministry in the church, were already prophetically condemned six times by Jeremiah back in the Old Testament for all the wrong things that they would do to the church.
JEREMIAH 2:8 : the pastors also transgressed against me,
Pastors cannot stay with Scripture.
JEREMIAH 10: 21 For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD.
They have an unscriptural position as boss of the church, so obviously they cannot seek God for that. The first brute was the serpent who led Eve away from Scripture.
JEREMIAH 12:10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
The revelation of the mysteries of Scripture by linking Bible verses together is God’s pleasant portion. Chasing after quotes and splicing them together in some speculative manner that contradicts Scripture is just a scene of desolation. Jesus warned us of the abomination that makes desolation. This is dangerous territory.
JEREMIAH 22:22 The wind shall eat up all thy pastors,
Wind represents war and strife. Each pastor zealously preaches his interpretation and attacks anyone who disagrees.
JEREMIAH 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.
Splicing quotes together have produced so many variations of doctrine that the people who stay in the church cannot prove their beliefs from the Bible and those who oppose the pastor are driven out. Bible-illiteracy is destroying message believers.
Message believers once criticized the denominations for knowing so little about the Bible. Now they are in the same boat.
JEREMIAH 23:2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
Pastors do all the teaching. They cannot prove their beliefs by putting Bible verses together. Now they emphasize selected quotes, ignoring the quotes that contradict them. Confused by this conflicting swamp of different opinions, people stop thinking for themselves and just parrot quotes without proving their ideas from the Bible. Those who object are driven away and made to feel very unwelcome.
This frightening condemnation of pastors means that Christians are neither Scriptural nor wise to exalt a pastor as the so-called head of their church with the unchallenged power to tell them what to do or believe.
But that is the denominational tradition inherited from the Roman Catholic church.
We prefer the denominational traditions of men to Scripture.
MARK 7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Jesus did not want one disciple above another. Brotherhood was the key to success. Not elevated ego.
There is no holy priesthood between a Christian and God. The Aaronic priesthood was abolished when God tore up the Temple veil when Jesus died. Equality is the key to the Gospel, not human supremacy.
Men have different talents and abilities but are all equal.
Do not attach a title like Rabbi or Pastor to the name of a person when you speak to him. It was not done in Bible days.
MATTHEW 25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
The least Christian is called a brother by Jesus. All brothers are equal in a family.
The prophets who wrote the Old Testament had a special position as they were writing Scripture.
No-one ever spoke to Daniel and called him “prophet Daniel”. But when one person spoke to another person about Daniel then it was fine to call him the prophet Daniel.
Paul refers to himself not as “apostle Paul” but as “Paul, an apostle”.
Paul had no desire to attach a title to his name.
II CORINTHIANS 1:1 Paul, an apostle.
No one addressed him as, “Apostle Paul”. But he was addressed as, “Brother Saul”.
The only title you can attach to a name when speaking to a person is “brother”.
ACTS 22:13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
Respecting a pastor as more important than some other Christian is just plain wrong.
JAMES 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
Respect of persons is wrong when you rate one person above another. Christians are a brotherhood, not a hierarchy of self-important leaders. Do not attach titles to their names when you speak to them as this only inflates their ego.
The apostles who wrote the New Testament had a special position as they had to write the Scripture and get the early church started. This group of men were special. Five of them were chosen to write the New Testament.
But everyone else was either an elder or a brother.
Elders were simply brothers who were grown up and thus established in the faith. Every brother becomes an elder by virtue of his maturity and knowledge of the Scripture.
ACTS 15:23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
The original apostles were all dead by about 100 AD.
There were only 12 of them. They moved around to establish churches. There was so much territory to cover that they could not stay too long in one place. So they established local elders to run the local churches.
ACTS 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Paul spent three years in Ephesus. This seems to be the longest time that he spent in one place.
Initially, Jerusalem had an elevated prestige amongst the churches.
ACTS 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
These decrees were only four in number. Abstain from idol worship, pagan sacrifice(blood and things strangled), and immoral living.
ACTS 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Jerusalem, the original mother church from the Day of Pentecost, made very few rules.
Then Jerusalem was wiped out in 70 AD and again in 135 AD by the Romans. So then there was no church that could claim authority over other churches.
God does not want people in one place to rule people in another place.
The local elders in each place are the men who run that local church. No outsider has any say over them.
In terms of effectiveness Paul only mentions three ministries in the church.
I CORINTHIANS 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Apostles came first because they wrote the New Testament which is the absolute truth. To be effective the church must believe in the New Testament. The written Word is God speaking to us through an apostle.
Then come prophets who are able to foretell future events which guide the church in their decisions. A local prophecy is God speaking to us through a prophet. A man who claims to be a prophet but who cannot predict future events is not an effective or useful prophet.
But, in addition, there is one very important prophetic ministry which will reveal the mysteries of the Bible that were lost in the Dark Ages, and restore us back to the original teachings of the apostles in the New Testament.
This ministry comes second as it is subject to what the apostles wrote. This Elijah alone will receive a revelation of the truths that were lost in the Dark Ages. He has no new doctrines to add to the Bible. He can only restore us back to what the first church had.
REVELATION 10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
But the end time Elijah has to be subject to the original apostles who wrote the New Testament, because apostles come first. Elijah can only tell us what Paul preached. Restore means to go back to the original.
MATTHEW 17:11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
The third ministry is teaching.
A teacher takes the revelations as revealed by the end-time prophet and then establishes those revelations so that they can be proven by Scripture. By taking the prophet’s quotes back to Scripture and proving that what brother Branham taught was Scriptural, the teacher prepares the ground for the evangelist and the pastor (both of whom were not worth mentioning when Paul established the order of operation of the ministries).
The evangelists and pastors have to learn Bible doctrine from the teachers. If they ignore the Bible teachers who stay with Scripture then they will focus on quotes and splice and interpret quotes into fanciful speculations that are outside of Scripture. This is what all denominations do.
Message pastors who interpreted quotes to claim that Hillary would win the American presidential election in 2016 are typical of this modern day Bible-illiteracy. And they are in charge! Quite frightening to think how far things have gone wrong. All they gave their gullible followers was a dose of fake news. Talk about Tribulation fodder.
II CORINTHIANS 11:5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
Although Peter, James, and John were regarded by people as the chiefest apostles with excellent reputations, they could not outperform Paul who came in later from a terrible background of being a persecutor of the church.
Peter, James, and John were the main apostles at one stage. They had been trained by Jesus. Then Paul came from outside and was not taught by the apostles. Yet he basically eclipsed them. James was killed early by Herod. Peter faded out after Acts Chapter 12. The late-comer Paul had to correct Peter, the main apostle of the Day of Pentecost, when Peter was at Antioch.
Cephas is another name for Peter.
GALATIANS 2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
GALATIANS 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
GALATIANS 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
When Paul started, Peter had a reputation and was a pillar in the church. Yet, being human, he was still in need of correction.
John, as an apostle, was mainly involved with writing five Books and had to spend years on the prison island of Patmos to receive his great Book of Revelation.
Paul was executed by Nero before Nero died in the year 68 AD.
By then the apostles had started the first churches which had to run themselves and spread the Gospel.
In the Book of Acts there is no mention of a pastor.
Issues were discussed by the elders who got advice from the apostles.
ACTS 15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
Today, when local elders discuss the New Testament they are actually consulting the apostles, just like the early church did.
ACTS 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
ACTS 15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
:13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
The apostle James then gave a summary of what had been discussed. The Gentiles must just stay away from heathen worship and immoral living.
ACTS 15:19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
ACTS 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
Certain men stood out as they were more knowledgeable and talented. By they remained men as they were amongst the brothers. They took no special title.
:23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
The first church was based on the doctrine of the apostles, as written in the New Testament. Then each local church was run by elders and brothers.
ACTS 15:32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
A prophet could foretell the future. This is an important ministry where such a gift was to be found. But no-one ever called them “prophet Judas” or “prophet Silas” when talking to them. The important people were the twelve apostles. They were a select group. They were important because they had to write the Scripture. When they died, that task was complete.
The only other important ministry was brother Branham who had to reveal the mysteries of Scripture that had been lost in the Dark Ages. He could not invent any new doctrines. He could only restore us back to what the first church age believed. The early church of the New Testament was the true church. We must follow them as closely as we can.
Only the original apostles had a privileged position because they were the writers of Scripture.
Brother Branham came to reveal what they wrote. He could not add to the Bible nor remove anything from what they wrote.
The rest of us are all equal in our unimportance.
We are of value because Christ paid a price for us. But we are not important as our opinions mean nothing and will die with us.
Please note how the Bible condemns our last church age of Laodicea. The angel or messenger has to tell us that we are blind and lukewarm vomit. No exceptions are mentioned. So you think pastors are important?
The only true ministry is to prove a doctrine by joining Scriptures together. We can only teach each other from the Bible verses that the apostles wrote. Brother Branham’s quotes, if properly understood, will reveal the Bible to us.
Brother Branham must take us back to Scripture. He cannot introduce his own opinions. He must make sure that the last church believes exactly the same as the first church.
MATTHEW 23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
Jesus never wanted the twelve apostles to be masters. The modern term for “master” is “boss”. Once the New Testament was written by the apostles, God wanted no boss in the church. The apostles’ job was to tell us God’s Word. When we obey the Bible, we are obeying God, not the apostles who wrote the Bible.
MATTHEW 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
Pastors exalt themselves above the congregation and other ministries. This is wrong. A minister is a servant. No servant is important. Self-importance is a curse.
MATTHEW 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Preachers exalt themselves in order to be noticed and to collect in as much money as they can.
You may think that they are important but God does not think so.
MATTHEW 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
The apostles, few in number, were already obsessed with being more important than each other, right from the beginning. Jesus was not impressed. But this reveals a basic flaw in human nature. A self-centred love of our own importance. That is why people take “selfies” or photographs of themselves on their cell phones. Look at me! How pathetic is their attempt to draw attention to themselves.
The ultimate irony is an ape who took a selfie of itself. This photo of a monkey face was voted in as the "person of the year". A smug looking monkey put all the self-centred selfies in the shade. God is trying to tell us something.
Jesus had to knock this self-importance out of these disciples as He knew that at the end they would flee from Pilate’s judgement seat when the hatred of the Jews was poured out against Jesus. That knocked them down a few pegs and deflated their self-importance. When real trouble hit, they deserted fast. Meanwhile, they thought they were great in their self-importance.
One day, travelling north up to the city of Capernaum, while they were walking, all they could do was argue amongst themselves as to who was top dog. This was rather a dismal performance. When Jesus questioned them about this, then they were shamed into silence. Put a pastor into the presence of Jesus and then see how unimportant the pastor is in comparison to Jesus.
We humans are of value because Christ paid the highest price for us. But we are not important because our own opinions are worthless.
MARK 9:33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
:34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
But they were slow learners.
This obsession with importance is a basic and severe flaw in our human characters.
The mother of James and John asked for her two sons to be exalted above everyone else.
MATTHEW 20:21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
She never realized it but her son James would be the first apostle to be killed. Thus his ministry would be eclipsed by the phenomenal zeal of Paul. When the Book of Acts was over it was obvious that Paul was the outstanding apostle, not James. So much for a self-centred mother and her obsession with her family fame.
Notice how importance depends on family bonds. I want my family to be important. My family is more important than your family. This is called nepotism. It is a sad stain and blot on human history. Nepotism lies at the heart of corruption. Father and son are both pastors, big shots. Nice. Keeps the money in the family. How far has the church fallen away?
Jesus was not impressed with the mother or her sons.
Later on in the Book of Acts:
ACTS 15:36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.
They had left no pastors in charge. All their converts were simply brethren.
ACTS 17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea:
There was no pastor who was in charge and giving orders.
The brethren acted as a team when they decided what to do.
ACTS 17:14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.
Discussion took place amongst the brothers to decide what to do. The local church made its own decisions. No dominating pastor was giving orders. No big shot from some other city was telling them what to do.
Silas and Timothy were also free to follow their own leading.
God was guiding the church, not some man.
ACTS 18: 27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
Notice the freedom of the brothers to act and make decisions. No single man was boss.
Note the absence of any reference to a pastor as a one-man decision maker. No wonder the early church was such a success.
ACTS 21:17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
:18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
James was an apostle. The rest were elders and brothers. They were not divided up like today into a pastor who is in charge of some ministries that can only operate if they agree with the pastor and are subject to him.
Today the churches exalt an Aaronic priesthood of the five-fold ministry above the congregation, with the pastor exalted above the five fold ministry.
We have obviously got the church structure very wrong.
Today’s churches, with a pastor as head of the church, follow the Roman Catholic denominational example. The mother whore has taught her Protestant daughter harlots how to follow human traditions and systems.
REVELATION 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
The Bible says that because we are born again we can be called sons of God and are thus brothers. Brotherhood speaks of equality.
ROMANS 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Predestination means Jesus is the only important One, the firstborn, amongst all the brothers. No mention of a hierarchy of elevated five-fold ministries with the pastor sitting on the top of the heap.
The early church also met as small groups in houses.
I CORINTHIANS 16:19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
The Romans persecuted the Christians until the year 312 AD. So it was pointless to gather in a big building as they would all be arrested very easily. By meeting in houses they could stay under the radar and escape detection.
Then competitive Christianity began. This is called churchianity. My church is better than your church. My pastor is better than your pastor. The church (or group of believers) that met in the house of Chloe noticed how other groups thought they were the best as they claimed importance from some human name.
I CORINTHIANS 1:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Paul was very unimpressed with this idea of one church being more important than another. The idea of one leader being more important than another.
I CORINTHIANS 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
No Christian, no pastor should be puffed up in importance. Pastor is only mentioned once in the New Testament and condemned six times in the Old Testament in the Book of Jeremiah. This does not sound like the right ministry to dominate the church.
I CORINTHIANS 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
Paul wants all the brothers to take part in the service. He does not say that the pastor must dominate and do all the preaching while the people turn into sponges trying to absorb it all.
GALATIANS 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
All Christians are equal as we are all children who receive what God promised for each age.
No child in a family is more important than the other children in the family.
COLOSSIANS 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse:
Paul calls himself an apostle. He was an apostle. Timothy, great man that he was is called a brother. All the Christians in the city of Colosse are called saints and brothers.
No exalted pastor is mentioned. Not even a humble pastor is mentioned.
COLOSSIANS 4:15 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
In the city of Laodicea, no mention is made of a pastor. This is a timely warning for our last Laodicean church age. Christians were simply called brothers. Nymphas has a group of believers that met as a church in his house.
This is a great role model for the Laodicean age church. Small groups meeting in houses. No dominating pastors. No important person over here can claim to be in charge of a group of less important people over there. Each local church was run by their own local elders.
I TIMOTHY 5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
The elders are the older brothers. They have maturity and experience.
I THESSALONIANS 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
There are people, plural, who were over the church in the city of Thessalonica.
“in the Lord”. They can only rule by quoting what the Bible says.
Who were they?
I TIMOTHY 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
It was the elders who ruled the church.
Some of these elders were the preachers and teachers. But not all. All the elders were worthy of respect, but especially the elders who handled the Word of God.
The non-preaching elders also played their part in ruling the church.
Many elders ruled the church, but there is no mention here of control by a pastor.
JAMES 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
Schoolmasters teach. Teachers teach the truth from Scripture. But be careful and do not rush into a teaching ministry. Those who get doctrine wrong and end up being unscriptural will be severely punished.
Bible teaching means linking Bible verses together, not splicing interpretations of quotes together.
ACTS 16:5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
What was the method used by Paul to establish the church at Ephesus?
This church would be a benchmark for the Ephesian church age and all the church ages that followed on.
ACTS 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
ACTS 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Feeding the flock, the church of God in Ephesus, is the job of a shepherd but it is not handed over to any one man. It is the responsibility of the group of local elders from Ephesus. The elders are the overseers or bishops.
ACTS 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
But a flock of Christians is an open target to a wolf. A wolf pack is dominated by the strongest leader, the alpha male. So a wolf pastor destroys any opposition in the flock and establishes himself as the unscriptural head of the church. We live in dangerous times.
This is what Paul taught near the beginning of the New Testament.
Let us see what Peter said near the end of the New Testament.
I PETER 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
:3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Peter addresses the elders as a fellow elder. He pulls no rank. He did not elevate himself as an apostle.
“Feed the flock of God which is among you”. This is the job of the shepherd. It is not a one-man job. It is a team effort allocated to the elders. There is no mention here of a pastor. Peter insists that no one must lord it over the people. No church needs a one-man boss.
There are no ranks in the church. Various elders perform the different ministries. Other elders have no specific preaching ministry. There are different ministries and different functions, but they all have the same rank : elder.
But all elders are subject to anyone in the assembly who can correct them with the Word of God.
Everyone is subject to anyone else who can refer to a Scripture. There is no boss. No bigshot. No dictator.
The collapse of the dictator Mugabe in Africa is a sign of the times for the churches. No dictators wanted.
Then Peter mentions the real Shepherd, Jesus. “The Lord is my Shepherd”.
A bishop is just an elder because he has the same qualifications as a deacon.
I TIMOTHY 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
I TIMOTHY 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
1957-0908M HEBREWS CHAPTER FIVE AND SIX.1
But I believe in the supreme authority of the local assembly. Yes. Let each church be its own, choose its pastors, its deacons, its, whatever it is. And then, that way, the man in there has no bishop over him. The Holy Spirit wants to speak something to that church, they don't have to ask anybody about whether they could do this or do that. It's the individual in contact with the Holy Spirit. Show me by the Bible what's greater, in the Bible, than a local elder to a local church? That's right, yes, sir, the sovereignty of the local church, each church in itself. Now, brotherhood, that's wonderful. All churches ought to be in a brotherhood like that, together. But the sovereignty of local church!
The Nicolaitan doctrine elevated a man up to being in charge of the church.
1965 CHURCH AGE BOOK CHAPTER 5
Now this doctrine actually started as a deed in the first age. It appears that the problem lay in two words: 'elders' (presbyters) and 'overseers' (bishops). Though Scripture shows that there are several elders in each church, some began (Ignatius among them) to teach that the idea of a bishop was one of preeminence or authority and control over the elders.
Now the truth of the matter is the word 'elder' signifies who the person is, while the word 'bishop' signifies the office of the same man. The elder is the man. Bishop is the office of the man. 'Elder' always has and always will refer simply to a man's chronological age in the Lord. He is an elder, not because he is elected or ordained, etc., but because he IS OLDER. He is more seasoned, trained, not a novice, reliable because of experience and long standing proof of his Christian experience.
But no, the bishops did not stick to the epistles of Paul, but rather they went to Paul's account of the time he called the elders from Ephesus to Miletus in Acts 20. In verse 17 the record states, "elders" were called and then in verse 28 they are called overseers (bishops). And these bishops, (no doubt political minded and anxious for power) insisted that Paul had given the meaning that 'overseers' were more than the local elder with official capacity only in his own church. To them a bishop was now one with extended authority over many local leaders. Such a concept was neither Scriptural nor historical, yet even a man of the stature of Polycarp leaned toward such organization.
There were many elders that Paul called from the city of Ephesus. It was not a one-man show.
Thus was born the man-made system of subjecting the church to a single leader, called a priest or a pastor. Then a bishop arose in charge of a group of priests or pastors. (Sometimes this man was called an apostle instead of a bishop). Then an archbishop arose in charge of a group of bishops. Then, around 700 AD, a cardinal was placed in charge of a group of archbishops. Then the pope in charge of the cardinals.
There was not one bishop in a city who was in charge of the churches in that city.
PHILIPPIANS 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
This verse shows that there were many bishops in Philippi. They were simply the elders.
So who were the deacons?
Deacons were elders who were elected so that they could specifically attend to the material and financial needs in each church. They were responsible for the distribution of things like food.
ACTS 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
Notice, as the small groups started getting bigger then the problems arose.
:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
As long as the churches had small congregations, there was no need for deacons to be appointed.
Then the church in Jerusalem grew big and it could claim to be the mother church, giving it importance. So God destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70 and the Christians had to scatter fast, ending up all over the place.
1962 06 01 TAKING SIDES WITH JESUS
Now, do you know, when those early men went out, sometimes there were only about six or eight of them, together? And they shook the country. Well, you know, when Aquila and Priscilla, that great revival that Apollos was having over there, there was only about six or eight men and women in that bunch. That whole church, meant six or eight. You got five or six, seven times as many here tonight as they had then.
You know, Jesus only had twelve apostles. We always thinking for something big. But God don't deal in them big numbers. It's in these little groups is where He gets it. See? Look all down through the age, at any time He ever met with men. It was in small groups, see, and spoke with them, and ordained them. It's God's good pleasure to do that. That's the way He likes to do it. And now we just want to keep God in our midst, and go, doing these things.
God works effectively in a small group. Big churches have a spirit that enforces conformity.
LUKE 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
ZECHARIAH 4:10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
ISAIAH 1:9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
So small churches can be effective for God.
MATTHEW 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
A seat represents authority.
The Pharisees placed themselves as one-man leaders of the Jewish synagogues. They got their authority by quoting the prophet Moses. “The prophet said……”. “The prophet said….”. In the process they rejected Jesus Who was the Word of God.
So today, pastors sit in brother Branham’s seat of authority.
They get their authority by quoting the prophet William Branham. “The prophet said……”. , “The prophet said….”.
In the process they reject the written Word of God.
MATTHEW 23:6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
MATTHEW 23:7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
Church leaders love importance. Seats on the stage. Seats in front, facing the audience. Elevated or separated from the congregation. You cannot mention their names or speak to them without attaching the title “pastor”. The title Pastor is so often repeated. Pastor this, Pastor that.
No other ministry does this.
MATTHEW 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
For the Jews, the Rabbis would lead them to deny Jesus. So stay away from the title Rabbi.
For the Gentiles, the Pastors will lead you away from the written Word and replace it with quotes. So Pastor is just as misleading as Rabbi.
ACTS 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
There was no permission needed to spread the Gospel.
They just went out and preached.
Then God persecuted them until they scattered and ran for their lives. Wherever they ended up, they began preaching. They were a movement. No man controlled where they scattered to.
Three million Christians were killed by the Roman emperors, starting with Nero in 64 AD. This mad slaughter was finally stopped by the emperor Constantine in 312 AD. So in those days it was simply hazardous to be a Christian. Persecution could break out at any time. Big groups meeting in a “church” building would have been an obvious target for the Romans to arrest and imprison. Christians would have to flee at a moment’s notice if persecution broke out in their areas. Turbulence and unrest kept the groups small and scattered. Thus leaders could not rise up and dominate the churches very easily.
The persecuted second church age of Smyrna (which means bitterness and death) that ended in 312 AD is the only church age that God does not criticize. Running for their lives gave them little chance to build up artificial church structures, that glorify the human leader.
EPHESIANS 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
How does this five-fold ministry work?
Apostles, after the first twelve apostles died, are now called missionaries. Men who go to some country and live there for a while as they spread the Gospel.
Prophets. This is a supernatural ministry to predict future events so that the church can prepare to cope when these events occur. This can also refer to personal messages that God sends to people through his prophets.
Evangelists pull in the sinners by pointing them to Christ and getting them saved.
Pastoral care is counselling to cope with personal problems and relationships. Learning to focus on Christ and the Bible so that they can build up their faith.
Faith only comes by hearing Scripture, not human opinion or tradition.
There are certain foundation doctrines that are basic. Repentance. Faith. Baptisms. Laying on of hands. Resurrection. Judgement.
A pastor who involves himself in pastoral care will get the believers established in these basics so that they have the right relationship with God and with other people.
First the pastor must give them milk to build them up. Training up the new converts.
Then after that comes meat. As they learn deeper doctrines from the Bible teachers.
Slowly they can move on to perfection as they are taught the deeper truths.
Bible teachers can link up the various Scriptures far better than any pastor or evangelist. So teaching is essential to place the believers in their position in the Body of Christ, after the evangelist and pastor have taught them the basics.
HEBREWS 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
HEBREWS 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
After the basic foundation doctrines are understood, then it is time for deeper doctrines to be taught. A greater insight must be achieved as Bible teachers unfold the mysteries of the Bible by linking the relevant Scriptures together.
:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
For unity of faith, we have to believe what the early church believed.
:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Different doctrines are built on various quotes that are spliced together in different cunning ways.
Message believers thought Hillary would win the 2016 American presidential election because of the way quotes were interpreted. This huge mistake was a warning against following interpretations of quotes that end up believing something that is not in the Bible.
The early church was ripped up by divisions as they decided to follow different leaders. Thus they were at a baby stage.
I CORINTHIANS 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
Milk represents the basic doctrines that require pastoral care and encouragement. Meat represents the deeper issues that only a Bible teacher can properly analyze and prove from Scripture. Pastors, trying to teach deeper mysteries, get lost in the Bible and thus leave the Bible alone as they focus on splicing quotes together. These interpretations of quotes differ from pastor to pastor so that the people are pulled in different directions.
These different Message doctrines, based on quotes and speculations, effectively split up the believers into different camps.
Each camp then seeks to elevate their specific leader as if he is the best.
I CORINTHIANS 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
Each church brags about its pastor as if he alone has the truth. Meanwhile, there are numerous Message churches that all disagree with each other. Just as there are 45 000 different denominations that all disagree with each other.
Allowing pastors to be the head of the churches guarantees that the believers will split into camps as they follow their different leaders, who disagree much with each other.
JEREMIAH 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.
Pastors should be showing the people how to establish their basic beliefs in Scripture. But they prefer to focus on certain quotes which they mutate into a “deep” revelation that cannot be proven from Scripture.
JEREMIAH 23:2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
Pastors are specialists at driving away or excommunicating anyone who disagrees with them, especially if that person refers to Bible verses that contradict the pastor.
These divisions are fuelled by deep-seated dislikes that easily boil over into hatred.
The last letter that the apostle John wrote just before the Bible ends in the Book of Revelation is a shocking exposure of dictator-type abuse of power.
A man Diotrephes took control of a church, rejected the apostle John and kicked people out of the church who disagreed with him.
This is precisely how pastors behave in our age.
If you agree with the pastor you are a pillar of faith. If you disagree with the pastor you are kicked out. And do not dare to mention Bible verses written by an apostle that contradict the belief of the pastor. The pastor rules with his set of quotes. You disagree at your peril.
III JOHN 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
Does this type of behaviour sound familiar?
This is an accurate analysis of pastor behaviour when someone contradicts him.
They love their pre-eminence. Pastors are against what the apostles wrote in the Bible. Pastors owe their position of supremacy and their income to quotes, not to Scripture.
III JOHN 1:11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
What Diotrophes did was evil because he did not know God. Modern-day pastors, please take note.
ACTS 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
:29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:
:30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
The early church had an innovative way of conducting their affairs. A preacher did not call himself a prophet by claiming some technical definition of the word “prophet”. A prophet predicted the future and it happened just that way. This prophetic ministry unfolded the future and was essentially protective as it thus helped the believers to prepare and survive.
The emphasis on money was not a prescribed tithe or one-tenth. People gave according to their ability to give. David bought the threshing floor for the Temple when it was offered to him free. He did not want to serve God unless it cost him. So the early church gave where needs arose.
The money was sent to the elders of the churches in the drought-stricken areas.
There is no mention in the Bible of having to pay tithes to your pastor. That is very unscriptural.
There is no mention in the Bible that a shepherd is another word for pastor.
There is no mention in the Bible that a pastor is the head of the church.
Our modern church structure is a denominational idea, it is not from the Bible.
The early church had a communal way of life. They worked to support themselves and shared freely with each other.
ACTS 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need
II CORINTHIANS 12:11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
Paul, the greatest of the apostles regarded himself as nothing.
The self-importance and dictatorial behaviour of pastors can be quite nauseating. No wonder that our last church age makes God want to vomit.
REVELATION 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.