Thread: Eldership
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Old 10-06-2008, 06:29 AM   #92
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Natal Transvaal
Posts: 5,169
Default Re: Eldership

Originally Posted by Peter Debelak View Post

Frankly, I'm not even sure yet what to do about your analysis of John! I don't think I've ever contemplated his approach (i.e. politician of sorts, by your description). ... I don't think I'm inclined to conclude his position on "eldership" based upon a conception of his "political" approach to ministry at the time, but it is a backdrop worth giving contemplation to.

in Revelation ... John's word was not to the church, as a group. His word - actually, the Spirit's word - was (in paraphrase): I don't care your situation, whatever it is - you, the individual must overcome. Yes, the Spirit is speaking to the churches. But John seems to think the only response contemplated is by individuals, not by groups.
Part of my analysis of John was to give a backdrop, yes. This backdrop was meant to show that: a) John's absence from the record of the nascent divisions evident in First Corinthians chapter one is perhaps noteworthy; b) that he presents another, complementary "model" in a low-profile, even hidden way, making individual disciples (Ignatius, Polycarp, Papias) without "raising up churches" as others were doing(appointing elders and so forth); and c) that his word in First John chapter 2, verses 12 - 14, on "little children...young men...fathers..." may be in this line of 'keeping good order within the assembly' versus the more explicit line of 'order' suggested by Paul's appointments of elders and writings on this matter.

I did not use the word of a "political" approach as an interpretation of John, but it works for me. Religion and politics were tightly interwoven. For a time, after Jesus, they got freed from one another, but eventually they became interwoven again. So yes, John was a budding politician, before the death of Jesus and then the death of his brother.

In addition to John's ambitions and aspirations, mouthed by his mother in the famous lines to Jesus ("Make my sons sit at your right hand and left"), we have the concepts of John the Baptist, who was languishing in prison ("Tell us, are you the Christ, or should we expect another?"), and the words of Cleopas in Luke 24 ("We thought He would redeem Israel") to show that the "Sons of thunder" were not absolute anomalies in this regard. Several times the gospels say "For as yet his disciples did not understand what was to take place...", etc. People were looking for an outward, Solomonic-type kingdom to be established. The Romans would be banished and the throne of David would be set up for a thousand years. John was not an anomaly, he just wanted to be at the head of the line. But by the first few chapters of Acts, all that was gone.

So my question is, not how much did Paul set up the decline of the churches by appointing elders, but how much did his model serve in the decline when "the office" was adopted in the letter? Paul was free in the Spirit to appoint elders as he was led, but if later assemblies of believers chose to become slaves to the letter of Paul, was this not a decline? John's approach is helpful because his "little children, young men, and fathers" shows lives, not offices.

Lastly, your point on individual versus institutional response is certainly well taken.

Thanks, aron
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