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Can only the ELDERS in the church heal the sick? – Jas. 5:14

händerThe gift of healing, available only for some?

Some Christians do not believe that the spiritual gifts (such as healing, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, etc) are meant for today, and others believe that IF they are still around today they are not to be actively sought but can still be received and accepted if God would one day choose to give a certain believer one or more gifts. The Bible however is clear on that we should be eager to seek the spiritual gifts, and particularly the most important ones. Even if we can be saved without these great tools that God has provided us, they are still important for our Christian life and they provide an extra dimension to our communication with God and each other.

1 Cor. 12:31 But COVET EARNESTLY the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

1 Cor. 14:1 Follow after charity, and DESIRE spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 

Not only the first apostles had the ability to transfer the Holy Spirit and/or the spiritual gifts to believers by laying on of hands, and neither is it exclusive to only priests/pastors and elders. All Christians can make use of the spiritual gifts and teach or encourage others to do the same!

But what about Jas. 5:14? Does it not say there that only the elders can heal the sick?

Jas. 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

Based on Bible Hub, the word ”elders” above is a translation from the Greek adjective πρεσβύτερος (presbýteros Strong’s 4245), and when used as a noun it can be applied to an elder of a Christian assembly. It holds the meaning of a mature man (which is usually an old man) having seasoned judgment (experience) and/or a senior in a group. There is also a feminine counterpart which is presbyteras, as in 1 Tim. 5:2 and there is refers to mature/old women. Aged individuals are usually more experienced and wiser than younger ones. Note that the description does not mean that the individual must have a church position or a title, but neither is it an oxymoron that a pastor is also an elder/presbyteros. A church leader should definitely be a wise and mature person, and Paul lists many other qualifications for a church leader/presbyteros in his letters to the Corinthians and in his letter to Titus.

1 Tim. 5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

If we go back to Jas. 5, it makes sense for the author James to advise believers to go to the elders in the church to get help since they are (supposed to be) wise and mature. During this time they were experienced when it comes to the gift of the Holy Spirit, such as healing. James also says that the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and ”the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availaeth much”. In order to be a righteous man, he must confess his sins and repent, which is also confirmed in many other verses in the Bible. James clearly says that ”pray one for another that you may be healed”, which shows that not only the elders have this ability – but they could certainly lead the way.

We should not erroneously believe that a certain case of healing must be ”fake” because we know that the healer (the person with the gift of healing) has not always been theologically correct or perhaps even acted in the wrong way on occasions. Healing is a gift of God but a person’s faith has lots to do with it – both when it comes to the person who heals as well as the person who gets healed. Jesus said on a few occasions ”Your faith has healed you”. 

Jas. 5:15 And the prayer of FAITH shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

All pastors/church leaders are (supposed to be) presbyteros, but not all presbyteros are pastors/church leaders

Other interesting verses where the word is used, and which prove that the description is not exclusive to church employees:

Mat. 21:23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?

Mark 7:3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?

Luke 7:3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.

The prodigal son Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.

The woman about to be stoned John 8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

Acts 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams

Acts 11:29 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.

Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

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: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.

Acts 24:15 About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.

1 Tim. 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.18 For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.

Hebr. 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

1 Pet. 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:— 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.

Rev. 4:4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

It makes sense that the word presbyteros ended up being gradually used interchangeably with a pastor/church leader, because the wisest and more experienced Christian men were often also appointed church leaders.

Here is Torben speaking about the gift of healing and he is also touching on the subject of presbyteros. 

Jesus was not against organized religion according to the Bible

church 4”Organized religion” could be a church gathering with certain basic rules

Sometimes believers try to justify their separation from other Christians, as well as church meetings, with the idea that Jesus was against organized religion. The Bible says no such thing.

During the time of the apostles Christians often met in their homes, which makes sense since they could not always take over Jewish synagogues and start having assemblies there (but sometimes they did). The climate is usually very warm in the Middle East and this means that people often could gather outside, like on top of their buildings to make room for more people. Where I live (Sweden) it is a totally different matter, and it is a huge advantage if Christians have access to a large building in order to assemble several families who can worship together in a practical way. Hence, the idea of a large building with the very suitable name ”church” – since the building is supposed to be a place where Christian believers assemble. ἐκκλησία (ekklesia, Strong’s 1577) is often translated church and could mean an ”assembly of believers”. (An assembly of Christian believers or a church building are not necessarily Babylon ….)

Naturally a certain amount of rules must be implemented in order for everyone to have a pleasant time together in their worship. The Bible (particularly the book of Acts), gives us some details how such meetings could work out and why they are even needed. A church meeting (an assembly with Christians) provides a chance for everyone to hear sermons (from a pastor), to sing worship songs together, to hear prophesies, to get healed, to edify each other, etc. These things must logically be made in a certain order to avoid total chaos.

It is true that Christ is in our midst if 2-3 persons gather in his name, but 1) let us at least do that, and 2) this does not diminish the importance of having Christian assemblies with even more believers.

Matt. 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them

1 Cor. 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

Some Bible verses about gathering with Christians under structured conditions

It may not be a salvational matter to assemble with other Christians (and sometimes it is not even possible or preferable for various reasons), but it can be very edifying both for you and others. Maybe you believe that you know best anyway so why let some pastors speak and hold sermons you might disagree with? In that case, maybe you can enlighten fellow lost believers (like after the sermon in order to not disturb the peace). Or perhaps you are the one who needs to be enlightened after all. If you are only willing to attend a church meeting where you agree with the pastor about everything, then you will have to continue spending your Sundays alone. A church meeting is not solely there due to the sermons, but in order to have fellowship with other Christians, to sing worship songs together, etc.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching  

Below we get advice for church meetings:

Ja. 2:2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool

Ja. 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

The ”laying on of hands” means to officially confirm a qualified person as an elder, which is an important task done by another elder. This is indeed ”organized religion”, and if everyone had obeyed Paul’s advice in selecting elders all would be well. Unfortunately Paul himself knew that there would be believers who would deviate from his teaching rather soon.

Titus 1:4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:—7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;—9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 

1 Tim. 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

Below we can read about ”organized religion” in the book of Acts. 

Acts 2:41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls42And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and FELLOWSHIP, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles44And all that believed WERE TOGETHER, and had all things COMMON; 45And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the TEMPLE, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

We can see above that Christians had fellowship with each other in the same place. Notice that 3000 people were saved and added to them the day in question. Baptism and breaking bread with others could not be possible unless Christians assembled together. Neither would signs and wonders have a large impact on people unless they were seen by others. Christians did not abandon the temple, even though they could of course assemble also in their homes.

When Paul was out travelling, he knew there were Christian assemblies that he could meet up with. We can see below that believers met together during a certain day and time, were taught in the temple and in homes, we can read about structured purifications and offerings,

Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the TEMPLE at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Acts 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the TEMPLE, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Acts 4:19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20Go, stand and speak in the TEMPLE to the people all the words of this life.

Acts 4:42 And daily in the TEMPLE, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

Acts 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20And straightway he preached Christ in the SYNAGOGES, that he is the Son of God.— 26And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 

Acts 13:4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. 5And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the SYNAGOGES of the Jews: and they had also JOHN TO THEIR MINISTER.-–14But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the SYNAGOGUE on the sabbath day, and sat down. 15And after the reading of the law and the prophets the RULERS of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and BRETHREN, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.–

Acts 13:42 And when the Jews were gone out of the SYNAGOGUE, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. 43Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

Acts 14:1 And it came to pass in Iconium that together they both went into the SYNAGOGUE of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude of both the Jews and also of the GREEKS believed.

Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the SYNAGOGUE every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the GREEKS.— 7And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God,whose house joined hard to the synagogue.8And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Acts 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a SYNAGOGUE of the Jews:2And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,—10And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.—-17Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

Acts 18:19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the SYNAGOGUE, and reasoned with the Jews. —22And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.— 26And he began to speak boldly in the SYNAGOGUE: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.27And 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: 28For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,—8And he went into the SYNAGOGUE, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.— 

Acts 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the TEMPLE, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them. 27And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the TEMPLE, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

Acts 22:17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the TEMPLE, I was in a trance;18And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. 19And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every SYNAGOGUE them that believed on thee:

Acts 24:11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. 12And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:—18Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the TEMPLE, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.

church9Church (ekklesia) is sometimes used in CONTRAST to a group of individual believers!

1 Tim. 5:3 Honour widows that are widows indeed. 4But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. — 9Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man. 10Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. 11But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;—16If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church (ekklesia) be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. 17Let the ELDERS (presbyteroi) that rule well be counted worthy of DOUBLE HONOUR, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.—19Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses20Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Above, Paul gives instructions to the assembly of christians (the church) concerning the treatment of widows, and he advised them to preferably take care of their own family members (like widows) rather than having the church providing for them. In that way the church could focus on those with the most urgent needs. Apparently taking care of widows was one of many functions that the church had during this time. Paul also provided regulations concerning treatments of church elders, again indicating that christian meetings were ”organized”.

3 John 1:6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: — 9I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10Wherefore, 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.

The man Diotrephes refused to receive the brethren and he even cast them out of the CHURCH. So the true brethren are mentioned in contrast with the Church. The wicked person (in the church) cast them out of the church.

Acts 15:4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church (ekklesian), and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.—

If we can never say ”I’m going to church” because we as christians are always the church wherever we go, then neither does the above verse make any sense. Here we can read that Paul, Barnabas etc were ”received” by the church. It is better to receive godly men into church, instead of casting them out as Diotrephes did.

1 Cor. 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.2Now I praise you, brethren,that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. —4Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.—16But if any man seem to be contentious, WE have no such custom, NEITHER the churches of God. 17Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18For first of all, when ye come together in the churchI hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifestamong you20When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 21For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.—30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.—33Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34And if any man hunger, let him eat at homethat ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

Above Paul contrasts (differentiates) ”we” with ”the church”. He is also talking about ”when ye come together in the Church”, which sounds like a physical place. Paul takes for granted that we are going away when we ”come together in the church” because he complains about people who take the chance to eat a lot of food while being in the church. Paul asks ”have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” and ”if any man hunger, let him eat AT HOME”.

1 Cor. 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 34Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands AT HOME: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Paul says above women should be silent in a teaching situation in church (not when it comes to singing, making prophesies, translating tongues, etc) and in this instance he is speaking of a certain place (away from home) and not a metaphor for believing people because he then gives permission for them to speak at home.

1 Cor.16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.— 15I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) 16That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth. 17I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. 18For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.19The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 

2 Cor 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.—  19And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:— 

We are supposed to be the body of Christ, which means many members with many gifts and talents. God has set some in the church (the body of Christian members) to be apostles, prophets, teachers, etc. Paul speaks about the importance to use the spiritual gifts in a certain order – in an organized way.

1 Cor. 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.— 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.29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

1 Cor. 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.5 I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.— So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.— 11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. —16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.—  23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.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.27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 

Here is a similar article about the same topic.

The Bible about SHUNNING sinners / heretics who cause division in church – excommunication

2 cor 2But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called A BROTHER be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (1 Cor. 5:11)

There are sadly pastors and entire congregations who have completely misunderstood what the Bible says about brothers and sisters who have wandered off from the truth, resulting in a treatment which will not aid the lost persons at all.

There is one Biblical case which stands out in the Bible when it comes to ”shunning” someone, and that is when Paul criticizes the Corinthian church for not reacting despite one of their members living in a deep sin.

One sin makes you a sinner, but all sins are not of the same degree. Some sins are for example an ”abomination” before God, and we can also read about a sin ”not unto death”. Surely there is a difference between murdering an innocent person in cold blood vs being in an unexpected situation where a white lie is used in order to not reveal a nice birthday surprise? In the case of the Corinthian church, the sin in question concerned a man engaged in sexual immorality together with his father’s wife, which Paul considered was so detestable that it was ”not even named among the gentiles”. 

1 Cor. 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person. (NKJV)

Paul refers to a previous letter, and he clarifies that he did not advise the Corinthians to not keep company with all sinners in the whole world because then they could no longer live in the world. What he meant was that they should not keep company with anyone called a brother (which means a Christian brother or sister) who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Those listed sins are rather serious, and Paul tells the Corinthians to not even eat with such a person (other people might get the idea that we are supporting them in their sins or that we are just the same). Jesus of course ate with sinners, but not all his company would be regarded as his ”brothers”.

We should not try to add to Paul’s words – or withdraw. For instance, he does not say we must not talk to such people or not even say hello. Surely it would be awesome if such sinners returned to the Lord, and what better means do we have to our disposal than talking to them and try to persuade them to repent?:

Ja 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

It is hard to convert someone from his sins if we are not even allowed to have a dialogue with him. The man in 1 Cor. 5 was engaged in a serious sin (an ongoing sin not repented of), so clearly he should not have been allowed to stay in that church gathering considering that a little leaven leavens the whole lump.  It is quite possible that the man in 1 Cor. 5 is again mentioned in Paul’s subsequent letter. In this letter Paul says that the punishment was sufficient for the man, and: you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.” (NASB). 

2 Cor. 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. 6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. (NKJV)

So on the one hand Paul makes no room for a person engaged in sexual immorality (or other severe sins which he gives examples of), but on the other hand he provides a way back also for an ardent sinner provided that the person repents and leaves all sins behind. One can easily imagine that a man might be totally swallowed up with sorrow, if friends and family suddenly cease talking to him and pretend that he is nothing more than air. After a period with such a treatment, maybe the person claims to be sorry and openly repents, but can the church really trust that he has truly repented and that it is not rather a case of someone feeling lonely and wanting to return to his family and friends? God cannot be fooled.

Paul never tells us to cease having conversations with Christians even if they live in sin (it is possible to have conversations outside of a church gathering) and particularly not if they are family members. We are also told to not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father. So we should react when people sin, but think about how we phrase ourselves and how we treat them. The goal is to see them return to the truth, so a condescending and patronizing attitude might not work.

1 Tim. 5:1 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers,—8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

More verses about shunning and influencing a person to repent (KJV)2 Pet

Matt. 18:12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

If a man goes astray God would certainly like to see him back on track, so we too should seek out the lost person and try to influence him to repent for his sins and return to the fold. The prodigal son did just that – he confessed his sins, repented and returned to his Father. If a brother sins against us (or perhaps sins against a whole church gathering), then Jesus tells us to first speak to him alone. It is of course essential that the person understands in what way he has sinned so that he also understands the point we are trying to make. Just saying ”I hereby rebuke you, you evil heretic!” is not enough if the person does not understand exactly what he did wrong, plus it is questionable if it is the smartest way to express oneself.

It is of course a possibility that a church leader reacts to something that is no sin at all (but rather a case of misunderstanding or twisting someone’s speech), and then it is hard to repent for something that the accused person does not see as a sin. If the case is that it was truly a sin and if the accused person refuses to listen or repent, then two or three witnesses are needed to establish the case. If the accused person is still unwilling to listen or repent, then the whole church should be told. If the accused person is still unwilling to turn around, then he must be regarded as a heathen – but note that it is still possible to have friendly and polite conversations with heathens! We are not told to ignore heathens and treat them as they do not exist, and note that it does not say that we should treat them WORSE than heathens. Surely it is possible to treat also heathens with kindness and love?

Where in the Bible can we read that also all the children (small children and teenagers) of an excommunicated person must be excommunicated as well, and no longer have any contact with the church members? (Nowhere.) The children might have been really good friends with other youngsters in a church for many years, and does God really suggest that they are no longer allowed to play or socialize with each other any more?

We should also add the risk for that the witnesses blindly obey the church leader (especially in a cult environment) who in his turn might not be entirely obedient to the Scriptures. The opposite is also true, that the church leader might blindly believe the witnesses’ description of a case. The instructions from Paul of course only work if the whole chain is unbroken – and not if the church leader is in error and makes unfair judgments. That is also why Paul told both Timothy and Titus to not be too quick with the ”laying on of hands” (selecting a person to become a church leader), because then the whole church gathering will risk to be off course.

A charged person certainly has the right to defend himself (this is true even in a secular court room), particularly in a church gathering that is not in all circumstances based on the word of God (like in a cult). If the pastor requests that a person must repent, and does not even give him a chance to defend himself or correct misunderstandings, then something is utterly wrong.

Rom. 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE which ye have learned; and avoid them.18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.

Above we can read Paul saying that the brethren should ”mark them… and avoid them” if it concerns people who cause divisions contrary to God’s words. He does not clarify to what extent they should be avoided (avoiding does not necessarily mean that we cannot even walk on the same street as the person in question), but it evidently concerns people who continuously cause division in church contrary to God’s words. If such a person repents and ceases to cause division there is always a way back, but if he refuses to cease sinning Paul’s advice should be followed.

To ”mark” them does not mean that this marking must be repeated, and that the person can be verbally attacked as soon as you meet him. It is enough to do the marking once. However, if we continue to spend time with a trouble maker, eat with him and socialize with him (as in not avoiding him), then there is a risk that other people will interpret our undisturbed friendship as though we condone his actions. That is why Paul requests to see a change in our attitude towards a clear trouble maker. Paul does not necessarily tell us to stir up a huge drama scene as soon as there are minor differences of opinions about insignificant matters. I believe Paul is talking about clear cases of sin where a person is a trouble maker and/or causes a division in church over rather essential matters while refusing to back off.

Rom. 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.—8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;—16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Above we can see how important it is to be of one body, but also how important it is to show love and respect.

Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

Paul gives instructions for a church leader, and if the church leader is subject to the word of God then it is a lot easier for the members to be subject to the church leader. However, we must always do as the Bereans (Acts 17:11) – to compare what we hear with Scriptures in order to know if what we hear is true. A church leader should speak evil of no man, be gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men, etc.  Since we too have been guilty of many sins, we could choose a wise way to influence people to repent. God has shown kindness and love to us, so we too should show the same to others. Not as in accepting their sin, but by consider the way we treat them and try to make them turn around.

Paul goes on to say a man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject. This advice must also be understood correctly and with caution. It takes some serious sins in order to qualify as an heretic (someone who clearly rejects the word of God and refuses to repent), so we should not cause an inflation of the word by spreading out admonitions left and right as soon as someone has some minor disagreements and asks valid questions. Neither should we fall into the other ditch and be so ”generous” that we choose not to react even if people in our congregation are proud of their sins.

2 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

Someone who refuses to accept the deity of Jesus, that he has come in the flesh, is labelled as a deceiver and even an antichrist. To accept Jesus as God is very central for the Christian faith. It is not certain that we should not allow anyone into our homes unless he/she shares our precise faith (particularly not if they are family members or relatives), but if someone wants to ”bring” an ”antichrist message” into our homes – like a former brother who would like to convert you and your family – then we should not accept him. I believe it is another matter if we invite lost people with the aim to convert them. Remember again that Jesus ate with sinners who did not view him as the Messiah.

Gal. 1:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

Paul tells us to ”restore” a person who is overtaken in a fault ”in the spirit of meekness” . Once again love and respect are taught here.

2 Thess. 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;8 Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

We are told to ”withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us”, and the context here is about working and to not be a burden to others. ”For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies”. In such cases we are told ”them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread”. We are also told if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” but also Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother”. If we are to admonish him as a brother, we think about how we phrase ourselves and we do not ridicule him, repeatedly call him an heretic (once is often enough) etc.

There are certain rules about elders:

1 Tim. 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Christianity in Sweden and the fear of Christian Sweden Democrats (SD)

nazi-2Naive Swedes who live in a pretend world

Criminals are dangerous, but so are people who are way too naive for their own good and live in a pretend world. The small Christian community in secular Sweden needs a lot of prayers these days. Churches in Sweden are more or less victims of political correctness and you will even see ”the Swedish state church” making a 2016 Christmas call for us all to get back to the generous immigration laws which applied 2015 and earlier (when Sweden was overwhelmed by about 165,000 asylum seekers – even more than the record numbers previous years). Never mind if we have the means to accommodate that large amount of people or not. When it comes to the serious reality it is not ”the heart that counts”, because God never told us to jump off a cliff and count on him to save us from the problems that we ourselves have caused. The Bible even advises us to not place ourselves in debt if we can avoid it because then we are not really free. A good advice for a household as well as for a whole country, is to not live beyond our means. If we have to borrow money in order to afford our new inhabitants, and raise the world’s highest taxes to an even higher level, then something is wrong. This has nothing to do with skin color.

We will not be able to help anyone if the whole country go bankrupt, and of course it does not make sense to decrease our financial aid to the third world (where people are in desperate need of help and have no chance to collect enough money to pay smugglers who can assist them in getting to Sweden) in order to spend the money mostly on young men who seek asylum in Sweden for economical reasons. We must face the fact that we cannot be a welfare contributor to the entire world and its needs. So far we have pretended as though we can, but what we get in return is a country collapsing under its own burden – and the deterioration is getting increasingly worse. It is truly dangerous to go out at nights in many areas in Sweden, and Malmö might already be a lost city due to the crime statistics and the large amount of people living on welfare (the most common name for newly born boys in Malmö is Mohammed, and Arabic is now the second most common language in Sweden before Finnish.)

We should not blame immigrants for wanting to come to Sweden since we promise milk and honey for them and their families for as long as they live (particularly if they are minors which they are therefore encouraged to be). It is our politicians we should blame – those who have decided to ruin our country by promising more stuff than we can deliver.

We hardly have any national defense left (hence the interest to join NATO and promote globalism), people are fleeing from service jobs in hospitals, schools, the police force, etc due to the heavy work loads and in some cases also a hostile environment. More and more public areas must be protected by guards, like shopping malls, libraries and indoor swimming pools. Every single week you will read about cars set on fire, thefts, shootings, rape/gang rapes and murder. Statistics (and court accounts) show that people from the middle east and northern Africa are over-represented in the crime statistics, and particularly when it comes to the more serious types of crimes. Sweden has about 55 no-go zones (some feel that we should not use these terms because they might be offending to those who live there), and about half of them are too dangerous for the Police and emergency vehicles to enter due to the risk of being stoned or attacked in other ways. Lawlessness has taken over. Policemen are also frustrated to see criminals getting away with crimes in court (if they even get to court), and if they do get a sentence they are soon out on the streets again in a few weeks/months to continue with their crimes. Immigrants are rarely expelled to their home countries. There are examples where immigrants have gang raped a minor and still not been expelled, due to the ”poor treatment” they might expect to get in their home countries.

If you dare questioning multiculturalism and mass immigration, you will most likely be labelled a racist which means that there are people who must keep their deep concern for our country to themselves.

The famous article which caused a lot of division among Christians

There is a certain famous article published in the Christian newspaper DAGEN (and also elsewhere) December 2014, and has been shared and talked about in the Christian community ever since (together with articles and even a book from the same author in the same subject). It’s authored by Stefan Swärd and Sven-Gunnar Hultman, and signed by a large number of pastors and church employees (exactly who can be seen here). What is it about? It is about a warning concerning the political party ”Swedish Democrats” (SD) and consequently also the views by those who vote for this party. The authors point out that it is not possible to be a Sweden Democrat and a Christian at the same time (albeit not in those exact words). They claim SD is all about racism and that the view of man that SD holds is far from Christian as well as extremely distant from the word of Jesus.

I vote for this party together with about 25% (probably more) of the Swedish voters according to polls. Have 1/4th of the Swedish voters suddenly turned racist? Anyone can read what SD stands for on their website and you will not find anything remotely tied to racism, unless you purposely misrepresent the text. SD rightly points out that we are all different depending on our genes, culture, traditions, environment, upbringing, social level, etc, and yet people go ballistic when they read this, being totally convinced that SD promotes racism simply by stating the obvious.

It is quite noteworthy that Stefan Swärd and Micael Grenholm (the authors of a book published 2016 where they lash out against SD and frequently use SD:s opponents as a source) do not write books and articles warning about the Swedish communist party but focus on SD alone. (They must accept that Sweden Democrats might want to defend themselves against their attacks.) They might tell you about scandals made by SD politicians (some are misrepresentations but some scandals are sadly valid) but I could tell them about scandals from politicians from every single Swedish political party. Some of those who hate SD might claim that politicians from SD win the race when it comes to scandals, but when I ask for the statistics they can provide nothing more than examples. Are Norwegians dumber than Swedes if I provide one example of a dumb Norwegian? How about 10 examples, or 20, 40? Come on! Let us not make generalizations if we cannot prove they are actually accurate. What does the Bible say about spreading rumors and falsehood? And about judging others with different weights?

Prov. 6:16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Prov. 3:30 Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.

Prov. 11:9 An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.

Prov. 20:10 Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the Lord.

Prov. 20:23 Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not good.

Lev. 19:35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.

Ex. 23:1 Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:

Nowhere in the Bible will you read that Israel (or whoever) are obligated to support strangers (and their families and relatives) for the rest of their lives if strangers cross the border and would like to live with you. From the parable of the the good Samaritan we can extract that he helped one person who was almost dying, who he happened to find on his way. The good Samaritan financed this help with his own money which he probably did not have to borrow. He did not promise to finance the other person’s and his family’s living conditions for the rest of their lives – and particularly not with other people’s money.

As a Christian I believe we all derive from the same couple: Adam and Eve, and later on Noah and his wife. I believe this to be the literal truth. We all have the same blood and God doesn’t want anyone to perish. Hence, there is no skin color which is superior than the other.

The article has caused much division in the Swedish Christian communitydivision-2

My point is that this article which spread throughout the Swedish Christian community has done a lot of harm, and it has caused a great division among Christians in Sweden. Christians are separated into the 1) the good Christians who are FOR mass immigration and 2) the bad heartless ”Christians” (the racists) who are against it. So which side are you on?

I have become church less due to this split, and I know of other Christian Sweden Democrats who feel there is a great division in Church. Only one view is allowed, or else you are among ”them” and not ”us”. Three of the pastors in my church signed this document, and it is also quite possible that the Head Pastor might be of the same view (he feels that he should not take side due to his position). Why would I like to continue being a member of a church where so many pastors feel the need to warn other members for people like me? Maybe people will take large circles around me, when they realize that I am a person who vote for the ”prohibited” party which their pastors have officially red flagged. Why would I attend a Church when there is a risk that members and pastors might feel uncomfortable around me, thinking that I am perhaps just as awful as the picture painted in the article? If they have placed me among ”them”, I of course feel I am not included.

If the pastors would like to be consistent, they should not allow SD-voters to be members in their congregations considering that SD-voters are not saved in their view. If they protest and say that they have said no such thing, I must ask them if they truly believe a person is saved if he/she is a racist, has a world view (a view about fellow-man) which is far from Christian and very distant from the word of God (statements from the article which they have signed)? If they suggest that I have misunderstood them, then I can only say that a) why did they sign the document with those clear statements, and b) is it not rather ironic that also SD suffers from being misunderstood – possibly because those who interpret them prefer to go to their enemies to check their views rather than SD themselves. Why going to the source?

In Sweden it seems like only one opinion is allowed at a time, so it is a totally different story compared to our neighboring countries where various views are allowed concerning immigration volumes and consequences. The truth is that SD has similar political views as in all of our Nordic neighbors, so if SD must be labelled a racist party why not the parties that rule in our neighboring countries? Why do not Swärd and Grenholm write books where they warn about Christians in Denmark because of their support for their political systems?

Why the urgent need to judge SD based on the actions of a few members in the beginning of SD existence during a time when most of today’s SD politicians were still teenagers or even children? Who would like to be judged based on predecessors from a long time ago? What if there was a new pastor employed in a church who managed to improve the church greatly by getting it on the right track? What if outsiders still preferred to judge the pastor and the congregation based on previous pastors? Year after year? How much time must elapse before the pastor can be judged based on his own merits and actions? There are still some mishaps in the new church? OK, but what if there are mishaps in ALL churches? It still boils down to the same faulty argument:

”There are scandals made by SD politicians so you can’t vote for SD, because then you’re a racist! OK, there are scandals made also by politicians from all other parties but you’re still fine if you vote for them.”

This is double standard.

It was a HUGE mistake to sign that document, but I pray ”Father, please forgive them, they do not know what they are doing”. This does not change the fact that many christian Sweden Democrats do not feel welcome in Church.

sweden-3Why it makes perfect sense to vote for SD for a Christian

SD critics might believe that voting for SD or not is about helping or not helping people in despair. However, it is rather about different ways of helping. SD prefers to help more people (who need it the most) for less money, but the politics from the other parties are based on helping fewer people in a more expensive way (even if they are not aware of it). No one likes to be ascribed views to him/her that might not be true, and I know better than anyone else why I vote for SD. I vote for SD for a number of reasons, and not one of them is ”because a few of the pioneers in the late 1980’s and beginning of 1990’s were racists”. No, I vote for SD based on what they stand for today. Here are some of my reasons:

  • I prefer to help as many people in need as possible – and particularly those with the most urgent needs with no chance at all to pay smugglers who can bring them to Sweden. By helping people in their own countries more people can be helped for less money. Resulting in that Sweden will not deteriorate as a country and can continue to help people year after year.
  • SD often promotes Christian values in all areas, but particularly in schools where they feel it is beneficial for children to be affected by Biblical values from an early age.
  • SD considers children raised in a traditional nuclear family (one father and one mother) as the most ideal option. SD opposes sanctioned adoption and insemination to single people, same-sex couples and polyamorous relationships unless the adopting party are close relatives or already have a close relationship with the child. 
  • It is the only party that would like to see the right for abortion heavily reduced (as a start until pregnancy week 11 instead of current week 18).
  • It is the only party that criticizes the ”homosex lobby”, and SD is the only party that has no representation in any ”Pride parades”. SD feels that Pride parades promote promiscuity. Pride parades are particularly not safe or beneficial for children.
  • It is a nationalistic and social conservative political party and against globalist movement (not ”far right” as their opponents claim), and I feel it is good to be proud of our own country and to maintain our culture and traditions. Instead we are tiptoeing around new citizens due to the fear that we might offend them with our culture and traditions.
  • It is one of only two parties against a membership of EU (and a world government).
  • It is against a Swedish membership of NATO.
  • It seems to be the only party (except for maybe one more) FOR Israel and for the Jews which can be testified in their governmental legislation work on the behalf of Israel and Israel’s right to protect itself. When Sweden officially declared ”Palestine” as a state, only SD protested heavily and gave the idea absolutely no support.
  • SD is also vocal about the danger of some Islamic traditions, halal food in schools, child weddings, etc.
  • It is the only party that has rightly understood the danger of mass immigration, and Sweden does not have 55 no go zones and a ruined welfare state for no reason at all.
  • They have adopted a policy where they have zero acceptance for racism, and has clearly shown in practice that they do not hesitate to disfellowship members who do not live up to this rule.
  • It is the only political party in the true opposition. Sweden presently has a government to the left and so far it seems like every single decision they have made has been the contrary to what should be done. The other ”opposing” political parties (apart from SD) have united and they enable the left to be in power even though they could arrange a government to the right with the support from SD. It is unfortunate that they prefer to neglect their own voters and see the whole country going down in flames, rather than having something to do with SD which they stigmatize.
  • etc, etc

A christian person outside of Sweden might agree with all of the above and be heartily welcomed into a Church as a brother/sister – because he is not a Swedish Democrat and does not vote for them. So two people might share the very same views, and yet one is called a racist and one is a brother/sister. Again, double standard.

Swedish mainstream media (famous for being so critical against Israel) has decided to treat SD as a party tied to racism/nazism/fascism, and they are constantly on the hunt to find some dirt they can throw on SD. I know numerous people who have lost their jobs, positions in for instance a union or other group associations due to their SD commitments. Those who are responsible for this rejection often justify their actions by claiming that SD does not share the same humanistic view of man as other people. With other words they ascribe views to SD and people who they might not have and use it against them (i.e. a straw man). If the individual explains what his real views are he/she is not believed because of the SD commitment. Sadly many Christians have joined the bullies, and as a Sweden Democrats you must expect to be unfriended both on social media and in real life.

The same value for all! If you’re against it, you’re a racist!

There is a mantra that has been in rule in Sweden for quite some time now which goes   ”Allas lika värde” (the same value for all). Many have already decided that SD opposes this and therefore use it against them (whether it is true or not). It is of course questionable if all people truly have the same value. Does Stalin have the same value as Mother Teresa? If my children had the same value as other children, would I not save money in order to provide more children with a driver’s education and not just my own? And give food, birthday gifts, etc to other children rather than year after year always focusing on my own? No, I have a responsibility to feed my own children and to help them out as much as I can because I set them into this world. I am never exempted from this responsibility as long as they are underage and in my care. I simply cannot help all who are in financial need, so in this aspect my children have a greater value to me than others. This of course does not stop me from also giving aid to others, but it cannot compare to the time and the sums of money that I have spent on my own children over the years.

It is rather ironic that those who shout the most for ”the same value for all” place such a low value on Sweden Democrats who are often treated as third class citizens. Did you know that all political parties are given an invitation to the Nobel prize ceremony every year, apart from SD? It is again due to ”the view of man” that SD supposedly holds, but how come dictators from all over the world are invited? Did you know that owners of hotels, restaurants, etc, either often decline to take any bookings from SD representatives, or cancel the bookings later on when pressured by journalists?

One would think that a pastor would like to see people repenting from their sins and getting saved? So if they declare in a document that Sweden Democrats are distant from the word of God, why do they not take the chance and explain in which way? Please? What is the sin that I should repent from? Due to siding with the views in our neighboring countries and my stance against a harmful mass immigration?

Naturally all human beings are valuable, and naturally God does not want anyone to perish but to come to the knowledge of the truth. There is much joy in heaven for each person who repents.

Bible verses about church leaders – pastors, elders, bishops, ministers, evangelists, deacons, etc

Pastor/elder/presbyter/bishop/overseer/shepherd and minister/evangelist/preacher/teacher andshepherd 4 deacon

We can see that sometimes the New Testament uses many of the above terms interchangeably and it is possible to hold multiple titles at the same time in one and the same office due to the various descriptions tied to each Greek word. Some titles are very broad and some are only connected to a church environment. Titles which are often used interchangeably and which Paul connects to a church office are Pastor, Elder, Presbyter, Overseer, Bishop and Shepherd. Such a person only has authority over the members of the local church, and that will only work out well as long as he is obedient to Paul’s instructions and to the word of God in general.

In order to ascertain that the pastor is fit for the office, it is important to make sure he is qualified. It is also clear from history that Paul’s instructions and requirements have not always been obeyed (1 Timothy 3, and Titus 1). For verses about the office of an apostle, check here.)

Terms often connected to a church environment

Poimēn (Strong’s 4166) masculine noun

The KJV translates the word into: shepherd (15x), Shepherd (2x), pastor (1x).

Mat. 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

Jhn 10:12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

Eph. 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

1 Pet. 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Presbyterion (Strong’s 4244) neuter noun.

It could mean a christian body of elders. KJV translates the word into: elders (1x), estate of elders (1x), presbytery (1x).

Luk. 22:66 And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,

Act. 22:5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.

1 Tim. 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

Presbyteros (Strong’s 4245) adjective

Could be a description of a person of age, a forefather, a term of rank/office, member of the Sanhedrin or a leader of an assembly of christians. KJV translates the word into: elder (64x), old man (1x), eldest (1x), elder woman (1x).

Examples:

Mat. 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

1 Ti. 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.18 For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Tit. 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

Heb. 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Jas. 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Rev. 4:4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.—10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

1 Pe. 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 examples 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. 

Rev. 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. 

Rev. 7:11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

Rev. 11:16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God (+ Rev. 19:4)

Sympresbyteros (Strong’s 4850) masculine noun. See also above.

1 Pe. 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:

church 4Episkopos (Strong’s 1985) masculine noun

KJV translates the word into bishop (6x), overseer (1x):

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.

Phil 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:

1 Tim. 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

Tit. 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

1 Pet. 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 

Another function: evangelists/preachers/ministers/teachers +deacons

Euaggelistēs (Strong’s 2099) masculine noun

Occurs 3 times in the KJV Bible. An evangelist. Could be a bringer of the gospel, and/or the name given to fishers of men who are not apostles.

Act. 21:8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

Eph. 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

2 Ti. 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (To Timothy)

Kēryssō (Strong’s 2784) verb

KJV translates the word into: preach (51x), publish (5x), proclaim (2x), preached (with G2258) (2x), preacher (1x).

Mat. 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

Mat. 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

Mat. 11:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.

Mat. 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Rom. 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Didaskalos (Strong’s 1320) masculine noun

It could mean preach, proclaim or publish. KJV translates the word into: Master (Jesus) (40x), teacher (10x), master (7x), doctor (1x).

Examples:

Luk. 6:40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

Act. 31:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

1 Co. 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.29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

Eph. 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 

2 Ti. 1:11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

Heb. 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

Jas. 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

Diakonos (Strong’s 1249) masculine/female noundiakonos

KJV has translated the word into: minister (20x), servant (8x), deacon (3x). This could be a person assigned by the church to care for the poor and who is in charge of distribution of money or clothing collected for this purpose. (It could apply to to a servant of a king or a waiter.)

Some individuals who were called deacons in relation to church and the body of Christ: Paul, Timothy, Phebe, Apollos, Tychicus, Epaphras and Jesus himself.

Examples :

Matt. 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister

Mar. 9:35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

John 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

Rom. 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Rom. 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

Rom. 16:1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant f the church which is at Cenchrea:

1 Cor. 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

2 Cor. 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

2 Cor. 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

2 Cor. 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

Eph. 6:21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: (+ Col. 4:7)

Phil. 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

Col. 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

1 Th. 3:2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:

1 Ti. 3:1 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.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;7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.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.13 For they that have used the office of a deacon (1247) well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Diakoneō (Strong’s 1247) verbdeacon

KJV translates the word into: minister unto (15x), serve (10x), minister (7x), misc (5x).

Mat. 4:11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Mat. 8:15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.

Mat. 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Mat. 25:44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Mat. 27:55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:

Mar. 1:13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

Luk. 8:3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

Luk. 12:37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

Jhn. 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

Act. 6:2 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.

Act. 19:22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.Rom. 15:25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

2 Cor. 8:19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:

1 Ti. 3:10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.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 well13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Heb. 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister

1 Pet. 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

There are apostles in the church today, and we are warned about false apostles

 

apostle 3”Apostle” comes from the greek word ”apostolos” (Strong’s 652) and means one that is sent forth (with orders or a mission), like a messenger.

The very first apostles were the same as Jesus first disciples.

Matt. 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Luke 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;

When Judas Iscariot fell away, Matthias was appointed in his stead.

Acts 2:23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Also Paul was called by God to be an apostle.

Corinthians 1:1 Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother (Rom. 1:1, 11:13, 1 Cor. 1:1, 9:1-2, 1 Cor. 15:9, 2 Cor. 1:1, Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:1, Col. 1:1, 1 Tim. 1:1, 1 Tim. 2:7, 2 Tim. 1:1, 1:11, Titus 1:1)

Barnabas was called an apostle according to Luke, and it’s possible that also Timothy, Judas Barsabas and Silvanus (probably the same as Silas) were considered apostles as well. They were certainly called, and sent forth by Paul to spread the gospel and to perform miracles.

Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me BARNBABAS and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Acts 14:13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.14 Which when the apostles, BARNABAS and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out

Act 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

70 other individuals sent out to spread the gospel and to heal the sick

Apart from the first 12, and apart from Paul and Barnabas, we can read from Luke that 70 other individuals were sent forth to spread the gospel and to perform miracles.

Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.—9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.—13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.—16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

In the above verses it’s clear that these 70 individuals were given much divine power. Not only does Jesus separate people between those who listen to these 70 and those who despite them, but the 70 are also given power to do mighty work like healing the sick. They were more powerful than the enemy – including the spirits from the enemy. With other words, there were no one else who had greater power apart from God and the other 12 apostles, and Jesus told these 70 individuals to pray that the Lord would send forth laborers into his harvest. This seems to be exactly what Jesus had done to these 70 at one point, because he had sent them forth to do mighty work.

The commands for the initial 12 apostles were similar as for the 70:

Matt. 28:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.—7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

In order to not confuse the first 12 apostles with the above 70 individuals (all of them called to spread the gospel by Jesus Christ), it makes sense that ”the apostles” refers only to the original apostles, including either Judas Iscariot or later on Matthias. Also Jesus Christ could actually be called an apostle, because he was also sent forth by his Father to share the gospel with the people on earth. Neither Jesus would be included whenever the Bible uses the term ”the apostles”.

Hebr. 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

John 13:16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

Even if the 70 individuals mentioned in Luke 10 had similar tasks as the 12 apostles, it’s only the 12 apostles that will be given one foundation each in the new Jerusalem. The 12 are likely viewed in highest regard because they were the first disciples who remained with him (unlike other disciples as those mentioned in John 6:66), who were taught by him, dined with him, were his close friends, etc. It’s difficult to have 12 + 70 very close and intimate friends, but it’s possible to select 12 individuals and be both a close friend as well as being their master. They in turn could do the same – gather a few people and making them into disciples.

Rev. 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Eph. 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

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.

2 Peter 3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.—17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Luke 11:47 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.48 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation

Jesus is naturally the one with all the wisdom in the world, but since the first apostles were sent out from him they are also very trustworthy. Jude is therefore in Jude 1:3 exhorting christians ”to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. The saints were the first christians, and the very first christians were the apostles. If the apostles make sure to adhere to Jesus teaching, and if these apostles make sure to only appoint qualified men to be apostles and pastors, then all would be well in church. Unfortunately Paul (and Peter, John, Jude, etc) also knew that wolves in sheep’s clothing would be entering the church soon after their own departure. In 1 Tim. 5:22 we can read Paul’s warning to Timothy Do not lay hands on anyone hastily” (which is the way one officially appoints a presbytery/pastor), because he knew the order of events. 

Junia is a female name, but rather than being named an apostle it’s more likely that the below verse should be read as though the apostles viewed both Andronicus and Junia as godly individuals of highest regard.

Rom. 16:7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

Apostles are supposed to be in the church, along with prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachersapostle 2

If teachers, evangelists and pastors are still active in church today, then so are apostles and prophets since they are all listed together in the below verses. Paul is explaining the church order for the Corinthians and the Ephesians (and for all of us), and it would be strange if he asked ”are all apostles, are all teachers, are all workers of miracles?”, if these functions would soon cease and lose their significance. If apostles would soon be irrelevant in church within one generation, it would be better for Paul to end all confusion by explaining that only the twelve could be considered apostles and that therefore false apostles could easily be detected.

1 Cor. 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.29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

Eph. 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;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:

Based on the above, the order of authority seems to be: God almighty, Jesus Christ his son (Jesus is of course also God, but he is also the son who is sent out), the 12 apostles, other apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helps, governments and diversities of tongues.

We are warned about false apostles

If the case would be that only the initial 12 disciples could ever be considered true apostles, it would be a breeze to figure out which ones the false apostles are. Anyone claiming to be an apostle and not being among the first dozen or more, would by definition be a false prophet. Yet, the Bible doesn’t make this particular distinction between true apostles and false apostles, but it’s rather about being qualified and showing good fruit. We are warned about both false apostles and false prophets – and supposed to look out.

2 Cor. 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Rev. 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

2 Cor. 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

A true Biblical apostle would also be able to show signs, perform wonders and mighty deeds. Both Philip and Stephen did great miracles (Acts 8:6 and 6:8).

The holy Spirit and the ability to speak in tongues can be received by laying on of hands

Some christians suggest that the holy Spirit and miracles can only come from the hands of the apostles, but the Bible doesn’t narrow it down in that way. The first christians (normally the apostles) had this power, but the amount of christians increased and the holy Spirit could also be received in other ways (by listening to the gospel and having a repentant heart).

Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money

Acts. 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

Coming out of Babylon – which is always a spiritually lost state of mind

Coming out of Babylon

Make no mistake;  if someone tells you that you are in Babylon and this would happen to be the truth, then the Bible makes it painfully clear that you’re spiritually lost and on the way to HELL. You are not supposed to call a person who you believe is in Babylon for ”sister” or ”brother” because they are nothing but your enemy.

Babylon is of course a city which we can read about in the Bible, and was placed somewhere in the area which we today call Iraq. In Revelation however it’s more than just a city but a spiritually lost state of mind. The comparison with the wicked city of Babylon is not a coincidence. Revelation tells us her rule is worldwide and contrasted with the New Jerusalem (compare Rev 17:1 -Rev 21:9-10). The first is called the great prostitute and the other is called the bride the wife of the Lamb. She is covered in precious jewels, pearls and gold as is also the new Jerusalem. As the great prostitute, Babylon seduces and tempts men away from God.

Rev. 1:1And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. 2And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 3For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. 4And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, COME OUT OF HER, my people, that ye be not partakers of her SINS, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5For her SINS have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. 7How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 8Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. 9And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, 

It’s possible that some of what we can read here will take place literally to modern-day Iraq, but we are mostly reading about a lost state of mind:

17For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, 18And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! 19And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. 20Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. 21And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. 22And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; 23And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. 24And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

Clearly the above is not a pretty picture, and Babylon seems to be a worse place to be in than a combination of a brothel and a nightclub for gangsters. The idea of coming out of Babylon is similar to Paul’s comment in 2 Cor 6:16-18, which refer to separation and purity:

2 Cor. 6:14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

Paul is quoting from Isaiah:

Isaiah 5211Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD. 

Babylon – the harlot

The problem with Babylon was her excessive luxuries, her pride, giving herself glory, etc. She seduced the kings and the merchants to follow her ways — to seek wealth and riches (rather than God).  God’s people are told to come out of her ”so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues” 18:4.  And her sins are piled up to heaven (Rev 18:5). Read about the abominable sins Babylon is guilty of:

Jeremiah 51:7 Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.

Rev 17:12With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH6And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

In our past the Catholic church has been claimed to be Babylon, but there have been other theories as well. Today there is a theory that ALL THE TRADITIONAL CHURCHES (which they call the Institutional Church) ARE IN BABYLON. This means that ALL assemblies in church buildings are evil (churches in homes are not included in the ”traditional church” so these people indirectly say that you only have a chance to be saved if you are OUTSIDE of the traditional modern church). As long as you’re in the church system you’re doomed and on the way to hell. They might be reluctant to admit that this is the only outcome of their theology views, but this IS their message which you have left after having removed all the ”fluff” and the excessive words.

Think about that for a moment. Church buildings have been a factor ever since the first synagogues started to be worn out and as soon as christians felt it was safe to start meeting in larger buildings instead of in their small homes, so from 150-200 AD until today ALL christians under the sun who have remained in a traditional church have been in Babylon and therefore lost. I can’t even count how many billions of christians we’re talking about here, but it’s for certain the vast majority of christians. This means that the Gate to God’s kingdom is only opened for a tiny little remnant (are we counting in thousands?) who have regretted any involvement they might have had with the Church. And out of those christians of course only those who have lived righteously will be saved. If you have your faith in Jesus and live righteously, it wouldn’t save you anyway if you’re in the traditional church – according to some of the anti-church-movement’s websites.

Let’s not complicate matters but admit that it’s not possible to be in Babylon and still be saved (as in ”spiritually alive”) and this applies regardless if you have heard the call to come out or not. We can never excuse any kind of sin with that we didn’t hear or understand the call to come out. You can’t be conformed to Babylon, drunken by her wine, be partakers of her sin, deserving her judgment, etc and still be spiritually alive and on the way to heaven. HOWEVER, these anti-church people are of course not correct in their assessment that the traditional churches are in Babylon. Examples of erroneous teachings:

 ”We must remember that God said to come out of Babylon not change it. It is impossible for us to change the Institutional Church. It is what it is. We can’t revive it because it was never alive to begin with. We can’t restore it because it is not what God is building. We can’t dress it up and make it acceptable because it is a product of judgment—the divinely divided false thing. We can only come out of it.” 

(Comment:  there is no support for the idea that we are unable to improve a church whether it’s in a church building or in a home. The wolves are supposed to come out of the church and not the sheep. If the sheep were supposed to leave, why didn’t Jesus and Paul leave the synagogues? Why is there NOT A WORD with a warning to us that the entire church system would be in Babylon? Had we been able to read one sentence about this from Jesus, then this could have saved billions of innocent souls of people who have had no other desire but to obey the Lord’s instructions whatever they are.)

”Members of the Institutionalized Church ARE in a Babylonian frame of mind (drunk with her wine, i.e., her teachings and doctrines, her hieratical structures, her programs, her system, etc…) and they are unaware of it. They cannot see or think outside of their own religious system or traditions.—We can either stay in it and conform to it’s traditions, it’s rigid structure and it’s man-made influences, or we can break free.”

(Comment: Yes, here again there are only two options. Stay and be doomed, or leave and get a chance to be saved.)

The  Bible of course doesn’t teach us to leave all church buildings as soon as we hear something that is incorrect. If that would have been what we are told to do, then we can’t have an assembly anywhere since the risk for false doctrines will follow us wherever we go. We have not escaped the peril and the judgment just because we hide in a home. Jesus, Paul, Apollo, etc always went into the synagogues to teach and speak to people, regardless of if the synagogue was ok or not. Sometimes they were thrown out and other times they were accepted.

How to cause a division in the Body of Christ 

Causing a division is sometimes inevitable (and even necessary), but causing a division in the body of Christ for no good reason at all is just not right. Wolves would like to scatter the body of Christ. We are repeatedly told wolves in sheep’s clothing will enter among us and teach us false doctrines, and there are also wolves who simply would like to scatter us, and of course they have no concern WHERE TO as long as we just leave the Church system. If people can just make us leave church and stay home alone, then they have achieved MUCH. Unfortunately people among us are helping the atheists out to warn us against 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.29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in AMONG YOU, not sparing the FLOCK.

What advice would the devil give us to bring in heresies and cause division in the body of Christ? And how will the devil make the FLOCK – the body of Christ – dissolve and be scattered? Here are some suggestions what he might do. He might:

1) Try to make people believe that Paul didn’t really mean what he said with that all are not apostles, teachers, prophets, etc, but that just about anyone can do the teaching in a christian assembly.

2) Try to make people believe that it’s not that important to have qualified elders and that it’s a lot more important to have MULTIPLE elders. By allowing loads of people to do the teaching, false teachings will eventually slip in among us.

3) Try to make people believe that as soon as we are not allowed to be teachers and elders, and able to do what others can do, then it’s a ”hierarchy” and something bad.

4) Warn against church buildings and denominations and make sure to paint with a broad brush and use generalizations. Provide your own personal experiences when it comes to your own bitter experiences in church. Remember to make it sound as though you are describing the average church. Use video clips and articles where other people’s bad experiences are showing, and avoid material with people’s positive experiences.

5) Remind people of the verse ”For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”, and hopefully they will ignore other verses which show that the body of Christ stayed together (physically) if they only could.

6) When church-goers won’t let you spread your material in peace but start to defend themselves, then turn it on them and make it sound like they are doing the attacks so it makes you the victim.

7) Stick to your agenda and look only for anti-church material to post and avoid all pro-Church stuff. Do not search for video clips which reveal abuse, false teachings and horrible treatments within home churches.

8) When Church-goers point out your errors, inconsistencies, lack of logic, hypocrisy and twisting of Bible verses, then try to keep it short, delete posts which are way too troublesome or end the discussion.

If we truly would like to warn people about dangerous doctrines, we could warn them about this instead of  church buildings.
There is no dispute that loads of churches are bad, but not all. My main blog article about Church can be read here