the weblog of Alan Knox

Slaves with private offices?

Posted by on Apr 5, 2007 in blog links, books, elders, office | 20 comments

I want to point you to the blog of another friend of mine. Isabel, who blogs at “amateur“, has posted two blogs concerning the book The Jesus Style by Gayle D. Erwin. Her two posts are called “Recommended…no, almost required” and “Slave of All“.

Consider these quotations from The Jesus Style:

I have had the chance to see a good measure of church unity. It is always present when people are living the servant-style of Jesus. I have had a chance to see a good many church splits and it has become obvious that no church has ever split because two factions were arguing over who would get to be slave, or who would get to be least, or who would get to be last, or who would get to be of no reputation, or who would be the last use force.

Perhaps a good way to handle the trappings of leadership would be to put Slave over the door of our plush offices and take away everything from the surrounding that is incompatible with that.

A slave should have no title that raises him above that lowly level and definitely no title that raises him above others. A slave should have no status symbols except the scars that come from hard work. You would not expect a slave to have a special parking space more accessible than his master’s.

This last quote reminds me of this passage of Scripture:

Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ (Luke 17:7-10 ESV)

I’m looking forward to Isabel’s continued posting on this book.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 4-6-2007


    What an appropriate post for this season! Unbelieving society cannot comprehend our Master becoming our servant and dying for us. Surely leaders should be asking themselves, “How can the world, and the people I teach, know what lowly servant-hood is if my walk doesn’t match my talk?”

    Yours because His,
    Aussie John

  2. 4-6-2007

    Aussie John,

    Are you suggesting that the unbelieving world recognizes when we call ourselves servants but live as masters?


    Ah… but I’m sure he meant “servant leadership”… certainly that’s different than “servant”. As Aussie John said above, the world can certainly tell the difference. I wonder why the church can’t…


  3. 4-7-2007


    I hope that was a touch of irony I sense in your question.

    You’re right Brandon, but now I ask myself, “Why does the word leader have to come into the equation?” Jesus saw Himself as a servant, not a leader!

    Just wondering,
    Aussie John

  4. 4-7-2007

    Aussie John,

    Yes, I apologize, that was irony or sarcasm.


  5. 4-7-2007

    So let me be the devil’s advocate … Paul does call himself an apostle … isn’t that a title?

    Just figured I’d spice up this post … hee hee

  6. 4-7-2007


    The short answer to your question IMHO is: No. But let me try to explain how I arrive at that conclusion.

    The Lord Jesus gave gifts to the Church (Eph 4:11); ‘to equip the saints for the work of the ministry,’ namely: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. And along with local Elders these are to provide leadership to the Church.

    Although much has been written in recent times, concerning these ‘ascension gifts’; much of what has been portrayed, has often revealed a strong ecclesiastical or personal bias on the part of the author rather than a correct interpretation of scripture.

    For example, it is misleading, to apply the term ‘Office’ to these gifts; particularly if such a rendering implies a title and serves to strengthen the case for a ‘hierarchy of church leadership’; this is not merited by scripture. It would be more correct to see these gifts expressed as a ‘function’; a service if you like, rather than a claim to titular authority.

    In fact, the ascension gifts are not formal positions as the term ‘office’ might imply. The Greek text has no definite article connected with any of the gifts in the Ephesians 4 passage or elsewhere in the New Testament. And they are never used as titles. In his Epistles, Paul often introduces himself as ‘I Paul an apostle…’ i.e. ‘I Paul … [whose function to the body of Christ is to serve as] … Apostle [i.e. sent one].

    Today we often wrongly read into this: ‘I … [the Apostle] Paul inferring title…’ Such a rendering of scripture is misleading and has more to do with our particular ecclesiastical paradigm and desire to perpetuate it.

    When the ascension gifts emerge in an authentic expression of church life, their primary function is to nurture and equip the believing community towards spiritual maturity, unity, and service.

    The word ‘office’ in Acts 1:20; Romans 11:13; 12:4 and 1Timothy 3:1, 10, 13 is a wrongly applied. In Acts and 1Timothy, the word has no equivalent in the Greek text; it was simply ‘added’ by some translators [rendering the passage as a transliteration rather than a translation].

    In the Romans passages, the Greek words should be rendered ‘service’ and/or ‘function’. To suggest a meaning that indicates a position that one fills is therefore quite wrong. And perhaps has more to do with trying to defend the (unbiblical) hierarchical style of Church leadership.


  7. 4-7-2007


    See what you started…

    John Purcell,

    Thank you for that explanation. It was very detailed and very clear. You would probably not know this, but I think Maël would agree with you.


  8. 4-8-2007

    Thanks. As Alan said, I do agree with you. Just look at two of my posts here and here. As I said, I was trying to be the devil’s advocate and really was hoping someone with a different perspective would actually take the bate and explain why it should be considered a title.

    In Christ,


  9. 4-8-2007

    Maël, I think your two little dots are getting tired. They seem to have fallen down… ;)

    Maybe they need to be raised from the dead…

  10. 4-8-2007


    By way of an apology, please accept the following (TIC) as an ‘authoritive’ explanation regarding the office and title of Apostle.

    The title “Apostle”: There continues to be discussion as to the necessity of actually applying the title “apostle” to individuals in the church today. Some argue that functioning as an apostle is enough without needing to use the title. My conclusion is the contrary. While I concede that the function is the most essential consideration, I also believe that there is increased power in the use of the title “apostle.” The function, in my opinion, will be more anointed and more of a service to the church if the title is used.

    Jesus Himself was the one who coined the new term “apostle,” (Luke 6:13) (It does not appear in the Old Testament.), and I suspect that He had a distinct purpose for doing it. Later on, both Paul and Peter introduced themselves in their epistles with the title “apostle.” Today we freely use the titles “pastor” or “reverend” or “bishop” or “evangelist” or “doctor” (i.e., teacher), and there seems to be little reason, other than a possible fear of change, to exclude the title “apostle” as a designation for contemporary church leaders.

    It is also important to recognize that “apostle” occurs in one of the lists of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 (see 1 Cor. 12:28). The gift and its accompanying office are significant enough to be declared, along with prophets, as the foundation of the church (see Eph. 2:20).

    For more from this well known ‘teacher of the word’ see:


  11. 4-8-2007

    John Purcell,

    You quoted: “The function, in my opinion, will be more anointed and more of a service to the church if the title is used.”

    That is an interesting opinion. At least he did admit that it was his opinion.


  12. 4-8-2007


    Agreed, but what are we to make of this: “… I also believe that there is increased power in the use of the title “apostle.””

    Scary … when you think of the authors ‘status’ in Christian circles!


  13. 4-8-2007

    I can’t imagine what benefit would be derived from a title vs. function. At least not any God-honoring benefit. I think there’s a big difference between saying “Paul an apostle” and “the Apostle Paul”.

    It would be like me insisting on being called “Pianist Steve” vs. “Steve, a pianist”.

    Or, to keep it in the realm of the body of Christ, if we call people “Apostle Jim” or “Pastor Joe”, why not call others by their gifting, too: e.g. “Mercy Rob” or “Healings Suzy”

  14. 4-8-2007

    John and Steve,

    Good questions! I think your questions point to the answer. There is no power in titles in God’s perspective, but there may be in human perspective.

    How about “Servant Joe”… oh, wait, we’ve already hijacked that term: “Minister Joe”.


  15. 4-8-2007

    Hmmm … or the APOSTLE Judas!!!


  16. 4-8-2007


    Oh, yeah. He did hold that office and position, didn’t he?


  17. 4-21-2007

    Interesting that the 2nd post (Brandon) was deleted. Knowing him IRL – I think I know which Pastor he was talking about, and the comments could not have been further from a real picture of that Pastor. That particular church and the “perks” that came with the title were set in place by the previous person that held that office – and a good description of what you posted about. With regard to the Pastor referenced by Brandon – as anyone who knows him in real life would testify – he is the epitome of a servant leader, who could care less what title, if any, he would have. Glad he deleted it. A great reminder to the blogosphere that much of what happens here is slanted to one side, and there are always two versions of every “story”. A friendly reminder from your neighborhood anonymous. :-)

  18. 4-21-2007


    I have interacted with Brandon on many occasions. I have never heard him speak in a derogatory manner of another person. I do not know if that was his comment or not. I do know that he deleted some comments, and he told me why. His reasons and your assumed reasons do not match.

    While I do know Brandon, I do not know you. And, since you have chosen to hide behind an “anonymous” title, I cannot vouch for your character at all. I also notice that you did not say that you have spoken to Brandon yourself about why he deleted his comment.

    So, who should I believe?


  19. 4-21-2007

    First of all I appreciate your response to Anonymous. As the one who wrote that post I feel the need to clarify a few things about that post, even though it has been deleted from your blog.

    In response to your original post and topic, I shared a portion of a conversation I had with a pastor. As we sat in one of his two offices with a huge private bath, secretary suite etc, he was sharing with me that the call to ministry was one of sacrifice. As an illustration, He was talking about not having a designated parking spot but being willing to park in the back of the church so that others could have the “closer spots”. I shared in my response that my first thought was of his designated parking spot right by the door…I looked around the offices and it was all rather impressive to me…I recalled the home he was living in, the car he drove at the time and the salaries and benefits that came with the position and I said to myself, “If this is the sacrifice that’s required then I’m all for it!”… I did understand what he meant, but it was a rather hard “pill” for me to swallow considering the “perks”. It never caused me to question him as a leader. It did cause me to question the meaning of sacrifice.

    Although I never said that this man had implemented these policies, salary structures or benefits, I can certainly see where Anonymous might draw that conclusion. For this and several other reasons I elected to delete that post. My original post was intended to be used as an illustration that would enhance and add to the topic, it was not an indictment on the character of any particular person.

    Be blessed…

  20. 4-21-2007


    Exactly. And you reasons for deleting the post originally – which you told me at the time – shows your concern for other brothers and sisters in Christ. Although I don’t think you owed anyone an explanation, you once again showed your willingness to go above and beyond what was required of you to maintain unity in the body of Christ. My hope is that “anonymous” will do the same.