Dear Brother G.
In the interest of sound exegesis I must express disagreement with Brother McC. (in the latest Forum) that the “House of God” is of necessity the Church Universal. The texts of four editors omit the definite article in 1 Tim. 3:15, hence the sense would be a house of God, a Church of God, a pillar and ground.
Considering the prominence of the “doctrine” (9 times) in the epistle, and Paul’s charge to Timothy to combat all forms of false doctrine, the apostle appears to be solemnizing the charge by a statement of the local church’s high position, not as an attention drawer to the truth, but as an upholder of the same. (cf. James, Cephas, John, as pillars. Gal. 2:9).
However, I concur with our brother regarding the great house in 2 Tim. 2:20. Many have perverted this scripture to justify schism. The reading, dishonour, appears to be too strong. It is the negative of honour, “Some to honour and some not to honour.”
Am enjoying the magazine, and am sure it will grow in popularity with the saints as it becomes better known, and the quality of its matter is kept on a high plane.
Greetings and best wishes in our Saviour’s Name,
Dear Brother in Christ,
I am writing you a few lines in regard to your notes in the Forum of Food for The Flock, April issue. I trust you will bear with me as this is not written in any manner of criticism, but for my own benefit. What has caused me much exercise is your statement that the “House of God” and “The Household of God” are synonymous terms, and are always used in reference to the Church Universal. You compare Gen. 2:8, with 1 Tim. 3, with regard to the House of God, and the Household of God being one. I can understand that, but 1 Tim. 3, always appears to me to speak of the local assembly. Jacob’s pillar was set up as a witness and a testimony that God’s presence was there. In 1 Tim. 3, we have the House of God which is the assembly of God, the pillar and ground of the truth. If this Church speaks of the Church Universal in what way does the Church which is invisible show the Mystery of Godliness? Is it not rather the local assembly as a pillar that shews forth the truth that God’s presence is there. Then again the word in vv. 14, “These things write I unto you,” brings before us the order in the local assembly of elders and deacons and their work. Is there any Scripture that links elders and deacons with the Church Universal ?
Your brother by grace,
Dear Brother C,
Your letter of kindly criticism of our views on the House of God as expressed in Food for The Flock has been received. We most heartily appreciate the spirit in which it was written. We believe in kindly yet candid open discussion. We may all learn from one another.
I think that you have partly misunderstood what I wanted to convey. I did not say that the local church was not in 1 Tim. 3. It definitely is, for we view the function of bishops and deacons in their local capacity. What I did say and mean, was that no local assembly is the House of God exclusively. Each is looked upon as part of one great whole. In this respect I would draw your attention to a principle of interpretation in the New Testament, that is, when the local church is viewed as part of the whole, the definite article is omitted. It is not the House of God, the Church of the Living God, or the pillar and ground of the truth. It is the same principle in 1 Cor. 12:27. No one would ever suggest that the local church at Corinth was the Body of Christ. They were body of Christ in the sense that the local was composed of members of the One Body. In the same way, the local church, Where Timothy was, was House of God in the sense that it was composed of those who formed part of the Household of God.
The House of God is never once found in the plural, although we read of churches of God, hence the impossibility of placing either the definite or the indefinite article before this designation of the people of God with a view to localizing it.
In the March number of Food for The Flock our Brother G. took up the seven places in the New Testament where the House of God is found. The overwhelming evidence from these leaves no doubt that the term, the House of God, could not be localized, but must embrace all of God’s beloved people.
Let us think briefly of the confusion that would exist if the term, House of God, was to be exclusively localized: We would have to believe that the chastisement of God fell only on believers in the local assembly, (1 Pet. 4:17-18). We would deny relationship to all saints outside the local church, (Eph. 2:19). The high priestly ministry of Christ would have to be localized, (Heb. 10:21-24). Our goodness would be limited to only those in the local assembly, (Gal. 6:9-10). The authority of Christ over all His people would have to be limited, (Heb. 3:5-6); and our behaviour would have to be limited to when we meet in local capacity, (1 Tim. 3:15).
We believe firmly in the local assembly of God’s people and value Divine principles of gathering, but we must not and cannot disassociate ourselves from all saints. It is the Church Universal, the pillar and monument of the truth that alone gives a complete witness for God in the world. The Church is not in ruins, “It looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” (S. of S. 6:10).
With warm greetings in Christ,
Dear Brother in Christ,
I received your letter today and was glad to hear from you. I feel your letter has confirmed my views on I Tim. 3, as the local assembly. Only I did not understand the House of God part. When you explain that the definite article “The” is not there, that makes the difference, I understand that in 1 Cor. 12, Body of Christ, but I did not know that applied to House of God in I Tim. 3. So I am thankful to you for your explanation. I am glad that I wrote to you, as it is only by asking that we learn these things.
I enjoy Food for The Flock especially articles relating to the Church as I feel we need to be grounded well these days if we are to keep the assembly going on in way pleasing to the Lord.
Thanking you again for your helpful information.
Your brother by grace,