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Ephesians 4:7-10 and Psalm 68:18

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in scripture | 39 comments

Ephesians 4:7-10 and Psalm 68:18

As I’ve mentioned several times over the last couple of months, we are studying Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus together when we gather on Sunday morning. So far, we’ve made it half way through chapter 4.

Last Sunday, we looked at one of my favorite passages in the book: Ephesians 4:1-16. And, guess what? I did not lead the discussion on that passage. Nope. One of my friends wanted to facilitate our study together of that passage, and he did an awesome job!

To be honest, we had such encouraging and challenging comments about Ephesians 4:1 that I almost wish we had just remained on that verse for our entire study time. But, my brother did a great job of moving us through the whole passage so that we could consider how it all connects together and how we can respond to the passage.

Right in the middle of this great passage there is a quote from Psalm 68 that has often caused me to scratch me head. First, here’s the passage in Ephesians:

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:7-10 ESV)

I separated Ephesians 4:8 above so you can see the quotation. It comes from Psalm 68:18, and this is the way the passage reads there:

You ascended on high,
leading a host of captives in your train
and receiving gifts among men,
even among the rebellious, that the Lord God may dwell there. (Psalm 68:18 ESV)

Do you see the difference? The Psalm passage says that God – as the victorious king – receives gifts from people, while Paul said that Jesus – as the victorious king – gave gifts to people. (By the way, I checked the LXX – the Greek translation of the Old Testament – and it is very similar to the ESV above.)

So, it looks like Paul changed the passage from Psalm 68:18 when he quoted it. Did he make a mistake? Did he change Scripture? (Well, obviously, he changed it…)

So, what’s going on? Why did Paul find it necessary to change Psalm 68:18 when he quoted it? Is his hermeneutic simply to change the Old Testament to match his theology? (Some people have suggested that.) Or, is something else going on?

Well, I do think that something else is going on, and I’m going to explain what I think Paul is doing in two more posts over the next two days. But, for now, I thought I would ask what you think.

Why do you think Paul changed Psalm 68:18 when he quoted it in Ephesians 4:8?


39 Comments

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  1. 11-7-2012

    I’ve noticed this variation before but haven’t dug into it yet. Two ideas on first blush might be considered and tested by further analysis:

    (1) Perhaps this is akin to Isaiah 53:12 where the ‘booty’ or ‘reward’ Christ receives includes saved people. “Gifts among men” might convey an idea close to this. Christ receives men (as “gifts among men”) and He gives men back to the church, with spiritual gifts via God’s Spirit, to build up His people.

    (2) Maybe Paul’s quote includes only the first half — not as a direct quote but a paraphrase or summary of the idea contained in Psalm 68:18a: “Therefore it says when he ascended on high he led a host of captives.” A turn of words or ideas might follow related to the second half of this verse: whereas Psalm 68:18b speaks of HIM receiving gifts among men, Christ, instead, gives gifts to men (including men themselves as gifts to the church!).

  2. 11-7-2012

    Very intriguing. I’ve not noticed this before, and I’m not sure what to think offhand, but I’ll certainly be following along. :)

  3. 11-7-2012

    You know, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve never noticed that before. You’ve given me something to think about. Can’t wait to read your next posts. A hypothesis is formulating in my brain, but I’m not ready to share it until I’ve mediated on it and prayed about it. Thanks for this interesting post.

  4. 11-7-2012

    Rick,

    Those are great suggestions. I think my opinion is very similar to one of yours. :)

    Chuck,

    Good! I look forward to your input.

    tcavey,

    I’d love to hear what you think when you read my posts.

    -Alan

  5. 11-7-2012

    Alan

    Interesting topic. The KJV says it a little different then the ESV.

    Ps 68:18
    Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive:
    *thou hast received gifts “”for”“ men;*
    yea, “”for”“ the rebellious also,
    that the LORD God might dwell among them.

    Eph 4:8
    Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high,
    he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

    I saw in Ps 68:18 KJV, Jesus, *Receiving Gifts “For” men* – Gifts to be given to men.
    And, Eph 4:8 KJV, Jesus, NOW giving those Gifts to men.

    NOT saying that is the only way to see it. That’s just my previous understanding.

    I always loved the idea that these “Gifts” were *For* the rebellious also. ;-)
    Contrary to what many Authoritarian Leaders hinted at when they call
    those who disagreed with and questioned their theology – Rebellious. ;-)

    Now when someone calls me – Rebellious – I point them to – Ps 68:18 KJV. ;-)
    And that God Gives the same Gifts to me. – God really loves me…

    So – Maybe Paul never changed anything.
    He just saw the fullfilment of Ps 68:18 KJV, when he wrote Eph 4:8 KJV.

  6. 11-7-2012

    Alan

    And – The ESV says “receiving gifts *among* men,” even *among* the rebellious,
    “Among Men” “Among the rebellious” – What does that mean? Among???

    “receiving gifts *among* men,” – Is diificult for me to understand or picture.

    And you might NOT realize it but – you changed – “Among Men” to “From Men.”

    Why – “receives gifts *from* people?” When ESV says “Among?”

    You write…
    “The Psalm passage says that God – as the victorious king – receives gifts *from* people, while Paul said that Jesus – as the victorious king – gave gifts to people.”

  7. 11-7-2012

    Rick – Anyone

    You write…
    “Christ, instead, gives gifts to men
    (including men themselves as gifts to the church!).”

    I have a little different take on Eph 4:1-11, Five Fold Ministry, APEST, as Gifts.
    And “Mere Fallible Humans” being “Gifts” to the ekklesia – the Body of Christ
    since escaping the bondage of “the Abusive Religious System.”

    Many seem to skip right over Eph 4:7, (I did, when I thought I was special, a gift.)
    which seems to say – This gift is grace, this gift is Christ.

    Eph 4:7
    But unto every one of us is given grace
    according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

    And we taught Eph 4:8, is speaking about Eph 4:11, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers. We called them “Ascension Gifts.” Yes us Five Fold guys were special. First among equals. And we separated ourselves from our brethren. We were Five Fold, and they were NOT. But, we told them we were all equal. And they believed us. Oy Vey!!! :-(

    Eph 4:8
    Wherefore he saith, When he “ascended up on high”, he led captivity captive,
    “and gave gifts unto men.”

    BUT – There are other possibilities to “and gave gifts unto men” from Eph 4:8.

    How about – “gifts unto men” refering to…
    1 – Jesus. 2 – the Holy Spirit. 3 – Eternal Life. 4 – Spiritual Gifts. 5 – Saved by Grace.

    1 – John 4:10 – Jesus is the Gift of God.

    2 – Acts 2:38 – You can receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

    3 – Rom 6:3 – the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    4 – 1 Cor 12:1-9 – Talks about “spiritual gifts,” – word of wisdom – word of knowledge – faith – healing – working of miracles – prophecy – discerning of spirits – divers kinds of tongues – interpretation of tongues.

    5 – Eph 2:8 – Our being saved by grace through faith – is “the gift of God.”

    So, What do you think? Is it possible “and gave gifts unto men”
    does NOT refer to APEST? Does NOT refer to “Mere Fallible Humans?”

    Jer 17:5
    Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm…

    Ps 118:8-9
    It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
    It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

    NOPE – Tried that trusting in “Mere fallible Human” stuff.

    But – NOT any more – Thank You Jesus…
    I found it better to “Trust in the Lord with ALL my heart.”

  8. 11-7-2012

    A. Amos,

    Thanks for the feedback. The big difference, for me, is between the verb “receive” (Psalm 68:18) and “give” (Ephesians 4:8) As you point out, the KJV maintains that distinction.

    -Alan

  9. 11-7-2012

    Hi A. Amos,

    I am sympathetic to your concerns about placing inordinate trust in people and elevating church leaders as a priestly caste. We should be careful to avoid these errors. But just as a family can have healthy, wholesome leadership provided by loving, tender parents, so can a church via its Christ-like leaders (1 Thess. 2:7, 11; 2 Tim. 2:24).

    I do not view Eph. 4 as an either/or situation. I would say ‘all the above’ are true:

    (1) Christ gives spiritual gifts to all believers (Eph. 4:7; 1 Pet. 4:10), including gifts given to church leaders who serve as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors-teachers (Eph. 4:8-11).

    Focusing on one set of gifts or group of people (church leaders), as I believe the cohesive context of Eph. 4:8-11 underscores (as a subset of verse 7: “to each one of us grace was given”) does not negate or minimize the reality of other gifts. Likewise, passages which speak of gifts given to every member of the body do not trump or reduce the legitimacy of gifted church leaders and their distinctive responsibilities. These are complementary rather than competing realities in the body of Christ.

    (2) The leaders, themselves, having received spiritual gifts, are also gifts to the church.

    The nouns used by Paul in Eph. 4:11 (e.g., apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors-teachers) appear to refer to real people in the church, given by Christ to equip the saints for service. (See, for example, Jesus’ appointment of Peter, Matt. 16:18 and John 21:15-17, as well as others, John 15:16; Gal. 1:1.) Paul did not write, “and He gave apostleship, prophecy, evangelism, and shepherding-teaching,” as he might if he were referring merely to ‘offices’ or gifts without reference to specific individuals.

    Elders as church leaders are also viewed as personally appointed by the Holy Spirit to serve the church in their leadership role of caring for God’s flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2).

  10. 11-8-2012

    Rick

    Thanks for the response. And, as I kinda said in the first comment…
    I have a different take on things. On ALL things “Church” that I once believed and taught. Especially “Church Leaders,” and “Elders,” since leaving “The Corrupt Religious System” of Today.

    Jesus warned us about our traditions making void the Word of God…
    KJV – Making the word of God of “none effect” through your tradition…
    ASV – Making “void” the word of God by your tradition…
    NIV – Thus you “nullify” the word of God by your tradition…

    Found out, most of what I believed and taught was “Tradition” NOT in the Bible.

    Haven’t you ever wondered? Why?
    Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called “Leaders?”
    For you have “ONE” leader – the Christ. Mat 23:10 NASB.
    And NOT one of His Disciples called them self – Leader? – Or – “Church Leader?”
    NOT one Disciple called another Disciple – Leader? – Or – “Church Leader?”

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible.
    Do not be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    The Message – Mat 23:10-12.
    And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    **Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.**
    If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    Jesus instructed **His disciples** NOT to be called **leaders** and NONE did.
    They ALL called themselves “Servant” – Like the scriptures you recommended.
    1 Thess.11:2, Tim. 2:24, 1 Pet. 4:10.
    NOT one verse in your comment mentioned “Leaders” or “Church Leaders.”

    If Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to call themselves “leaders?”
    And someone calls them self a “leader?” or thinks they are a “leader?”
    And teaches others they are “Church Leaders?”

    Are they a “Disciple of Christ?”

    Why isn’t what Jesus said important? ;-)

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – One Leader

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  11. 11-8-2012

    ooops

    They ALL called themselves “Servant” – Like the scriptures you recommended.
    2 Tim. 2:24, 1 Pet. 4:10.
    NOT one verse in your comment mentioned “Leaders” or “Church Leaders.”

  12. 11-8-2012

    A. Amos,

    Although you replied to Rick, I’d like to respond to something you said. You said, “Haven’t you ever wondered? Why? Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called ‘Leaders?’” I haven’t seen this teaching from Jesus in Scripture. In fact, I find that Jesus told his disciples what it means to be a leader (see Luke 22:26 for example). Jesus did not tell them, “Don’t be leaders.” He said, “Leaders are ones who serve.”

    -Alan

  13. 11-8-2012

    Hi A. Amos,

    Again, I appreciate your desire to avoid anything false or divisive in the church. And I agree. I believe Alan’s question gets to this point and underscores its importance.

    I’ve always understood Jesus’ words in Matt. 23 to relate to avoiding honorific titles or seeking positions of ‘power and authority’ related to self-gratification and self-esteem (cf. Matt. 6; Luke 16:15). His followers did not take for themselves positions of ‘pomp and circumstance’ or titles — such as “Reverend” . . . “Apostle” . . . “Bishop” . . . “Pastor” . . . or “Elder” — like many have done over time in the church.

    At the same time, there are words given by God in His word which describe distinctive roles within the church, just as there are in a family. Fathers and mothers in a family do not use honorific ‘titles’ — at least not any I can remember — but they are still designated as the ‘father’ or ‘mother’ and should be respected as such. Likewise, in the NT, church leaders do not use honorific titles or “lord it over the flock.” But words are used by Jesus’ apostles, related to themselves and others, which describe those who teach, lead and serve in various roles of honor and respect within the church.

    The passage we talked about in Ephesians 4 is one clear example of this. It mentions apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors-and-teachers. There are many other examples. Here is just a handful.

    – In Acts 20:17, Paul calls for “the elders of the church” to come to him.
    – In Acts 11:30, a gift is sent “to the elders” by Barnabas and Saul.
    – Acts 15:22 recognizes “the apostles and the elders.”
    – 1 Cor. 14:29 says, “let two or three prophets speak.”
    – Philippians 1:1 is addressed also to “the elders and deacons.”
    – 1 Tim. 3:1ff lays out the qualifications for bishops (overseers), as well as deacons.
    – Paul tells Timothy, “do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:5).
    – Paul refers to himself as both a servant and an apostle in Romans 1:1, 2 Cor. 1:1 and Titus 1:1, and goes on to discuss the appointment and qualifications of elders (also called bishops) beginning with verse 5 of Titus 1.
    – James 3:1 says, “let not many of you become teachers.”
    – In 1 Peter 5:1, Peter writes, “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder.”
    – 2 John and 3 John are written by “the elder.”

    Perhaps you intended to make another point that I am not grasping, but I do believe the NT does recognize those who serve in leadership roles within the church.

    As believers in the Lord, we want to regard ourselves as brothers and sisters in Christ — “you are all brethren” (Matt. 23:8). But we also want to respect, appreciate, honor and imitate those whom God has given to the church as servant-leaders (1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:7, 17). We are commanded to do so. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.”

    I agree with you that the NT does not teach a false clergy-laity division in the church. At the same time, neither does it teach a false egalitarian homogeneity. Quite the contrary. Diversity of gifts and distinguishing roles of service is a mark of Christ’s design and the Holy Spirit’s work in the church (1 Cor. 12:4ff).

  14. 11-8-2012

    Alan

    You write…
    “You said, “Haven’t you ever wondered? Why? Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called ‘Leaders?’” I haven’t seen this teaching from Jesus in Scripture.”

    I realize you do NOT see Jesus teaching this. We have discussed this a lot. :-(

    IMO – Many today can NOT see this because of the “Traditions” they have been taught that make “Void” the word of God. And there are people who want “a King,” (“Leader” of the people.) And there are people who want to be “The King” (the “Leader of the people.) Gods kids want to “be like all the nations.”

    And in that process they reject God. 1 Sam 7-20 KJV

    That’s why I write out the verses where Jesus teaches His Disciples
    NOT to be called Leader; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible.
    Do not be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    The Message – Mat 23:10-12.
    And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    **Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.**
    If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    Now, in the verse you gave, Luke 22:26, it also talks about “The Greatest.” ;-)
    And, in Luke 22:26, “The Greatest” – Becomes – like the youngest.
    In Mat 23:10-12 NASB, “The Greatest” shall be your servant.

    When you say…
    “Jesus did not tell them, “Don’t be leaders.” He said, “Leaders are ones who serve”

    Is that also true for “The Greatest” who serve and become like the youngest?

    Can you now address me or refer to me as – Amos “The Greatest.” Because…
    Jesus didn’t say – Don’t be – “The Greatest.”
    “He said, “The Greatest” are ones who serve and become like the youngest.”

    Hmmm? Amos “The Greatest.” (I shouldn’t get to proud hearing folks call me that.)

    So, are you saying you want to be “The Greatest?” And known as “The Greatest?”

    Who is “The Greatest” where you fellowship?
    Are you, Alan, known as “The Greatest?
    Shall I now address you, and think of you, as – Alan “The Greatest?”

    If it’s okay to be known as a “Church Leader?” – (That term is NOT in the Bible.)
    Then is it okay to be known as a “Church Greatest?” ;-)

  15. 11-8-2012

    Alan

    And – No fair answering questions – with a question. :-)

    I asked – and mentioned – many times…
    NOT one of His Disciples called them self – Leader? – Or – “Church Leader?”
    NOT one Disciple called another Disciple – Leader? – Or – “Church Leader?”

    If Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to call themselves “leaders?”

    And someone calls them self a “leader?” or thinks they are a “leader?”
    And teaches others they are “Church Leaders?”
    Are they a “Disciple of Christ?”

    Why isn’t what Jesus said important? ;-)

  16. 11-8-2012

    A. Amos,

    Unfortunately, I think you missed it on two counts: 1) My current beliefs about leaders among the church are not what I was taught growing up so I am not relying on traditions. In fact, most of the believers who I know do not hold to the same beliefs about leaders as me. 2) No one in this thread or others is talking about asking people to call them leaders nor are they talking about calling themselves leaders. In fact, this thread was not about “leaders” at all until you brought it up. The authors of Scripture do not call themselves leaders (and no one here is), but the authors of Scripture DO call other people leaders (in positive terms) in several passages.

    Was Paul wrong to refer to some of the people in Thessaloniki as “leaders”? Was the author of Hebrews wrong to refer to some of his readers as “leaders”? Was Paul wrong to say that was a “father” to several of the people and groups that he wrote to?

    Again, no one here has brought up asking, suggesting, or requiring that people call them leader, teacher, father, or any other title or function. However, based on Jesus’ instructions in several passages, those who serve others are leaders because they are both following Jesus and providing living examples for others to learn from and emulate.

    -Alan

  17. 11-8-2012

    Alan

    You write…
    “In fact, this thread was not about “leaders” at all until you brought it up.”

    NOPE – NOT me. I’m innocent. Honest. You can look it up. ;-)

    Rick said, to end his first comment…
    “(including men themselves as gifts to the church!).

    I first addressed Rick on why I NO longer believe “Mere Fallible Humans”
    are Gifts from God to the Ekklesia, the called out ones, the church.

    Rick’s return comment is where he mentioned “Leaders or leadership” 9 times.
    “church leaders” 5 times, “wholesome leadership,” “Christ-like leaders,” etc.

    I was just revealing my feelings about “Church Leaders” to Rick.

    You write…
    “The authors of Scripture do not call themselves leaders (and no one here is),”

    If that’s correct – NO one here is calling them self “Leaders” or “Church Leaders.”

    Then I’m in agreement. And I’ve must have mis-understood Rick. ;-)

    Rick – Do you call yourself, or teach others, you are a “Church Leader.?”

  18. 11-8-2012

    A. Amos,

    I took Rick’s comment into consideration. The problem is that the “leaders” that he describes in his comment are not what you write against in your comments. I think it would be helpful if you would discuss what is actually said instead of the way that other people you know use terms.

    You ask Rick a question at the end of your last comment… but you’ve already responded to him as if you know the answer to that question.

    I believe that Jesus does give people as gifts (Ephesians 4:11 specifically says, “He himself [referring to Jesus] gave…” ), I believe that those people are fallible (since all people are fallible), and I believe that those who are actually serving others are leaders (since Jesus says that leaders are those who serve). So, I guess we continue to disagree on those points.

    -Alan

  19. 11-8-2012

    Alan

    Why not just call those who “Serve” – “Servants?” ;-)

    That would make it a little easier for us un-ejumacated sheepies to keep straight. ;-)

    Jesus, as man, humbled Himself, made Himself of NO reputation,
    Took on the form of a “Servant.” Phil 2:7-8.

  20. 11-8-2012

    OH… That ##@@**!!**## ESV…

    Phil 2:7-8 KJV

  21. 11-8-2012

    Rick

    Short answer here – more coming – need to read over your comment a few times.

    But for now – I have a hard time with the ESV. Like in this post by Alan.

    ESV says – “Received gifts among men” – what does “Among” mean?
    KJV says, “Received gifts “for” men” – That “for” makes at least a little sense.

    Here is another reason I have NOT much faith in the ESV. You mention…

    1 Thess. 5:12 ESV
    We ask you, brothers, “to respect those” who labor among you
    and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,

    1Thes 5:12 KJV, ASV, Dby, etc…
    And we beseech you, brethren, “to know them” which labour among you,
    and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

    BIg difference – “to respect those” – VS – “to know them”

    Strongs – Know – in the KJV is Strongs # 1492 eido –
    to see (literally or figuratively), be aware, percieve, consider.

    Thayers – know – 1) to see. 1a) to perceive with the eyes.
    1b) to perceive by any of the senses. 1c) to perceive, notice, discern, discover.

    I “see” Paul here, giving believers the right to check out anyone, everyone,
    especially those who say they are “Church Leaders” who say they “are over you.”

    And “Over” here is Strongs # 4291 – proistemi
    It does mean – to be over, to superintend, preside over – BUT – it also means…
    to be a protector or guardian – to give aid- to care for, give attention to.

    And in my experience those who say, or think they are “Church Leaders” and…
    Say they are “Over You” really like – to be over, to superintend, preside over…
    BUT – seem to “Ignore” – to be a protector or guardian – to give aid- to care for…

    NO I’m NOT to happy with the ESV. But I’ve been wrong before. ;-)

  22. 11-8-2012

    A. Amos,

    I do call them servants. And, since Jesus, Paul, and others called them leaders, I also call them leaders.

    -Alan

  23. 11-8-2012

    Hi A. Amos,

    I do not call myself a church leader. I have served people in the church, off and on, for forty years in a variety of ways (yardman, janitor, maintenance man, cook, babysitter, administrator, facilitator, financial supporter, librarian, teacher, counselor, writer, musician, etc.). But I have avoided seeking or accepting positions of formal leadership for different reasons.

    One of the reasons I have avoided formal leadership in the church probably comes close to one of your concerns. People often misunderstand leadership in the church. They conceive of it as following worldly patterns versus Jesus’ example of sacrificial, self-denying service. I do not want to do anything in a way that smacks of worldly leadership. I want the gospel to shine unimpeded in my life and the lives of others. I want the attention to be given to God in Christ and to encourage others to exercise their spiritual gifts. I am content with being a helper, assistant, aid and encourager to others.

    By volunteering to help others any way I can, I suppose you could say I have shown initiative (or ‘taken the lead’) as a leader in an informal sense. I’ve always taught my five children to “be a leader, not a follower.” By this, I mean accept responsibility for doing the right thing regardless of what others do and find ways to make significant contributions that will honor God and help others. “Find a need and fill it,” as they say.

    Beyond this, however, I do believe the NT clearly recognizes people in the church as leaders. Among the various passages I cited and quoted for you, this one seems to be a clear reminder:

    “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Heb. 13:7, ESV). The NASB is perhaps a more literal rendering of the Greek original: “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” (There is not a noun, “leader,” but a verb, “leading,” in this verse.)

    In either case (whether the subject of this verse is translated into English as a noun or verb), this command clearly refers to leaders. And it also includes those who are led. Those who are led are exhorted or commanded to regard, respect, appreciate and follow their leaders.

    I don’t have any qualms about following anyone or any group who is sincerely trying to follow Jesus. Do you? That is what discipleship is all about, isn’t it? There are two sides involved: (1) teaching others to obey all that Jesus commanded, as well as (2) learning from others how to know and serve the Lord and His people more faithfully. If someone is living like Jesus, I want to follow, imitate, learn from and submit to their wisdom, counsel and example. Don’t you?

    A disciple is a student, learner, follower and worshiper of Jesus. Our Lord works through people passing on to others what they have learned: “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

    This give-and-take process necessarily involves leaders/teachers/mentors/facilitators — whatever you want to call them — and those who listen, learn and imitate their example in word and deed. Seems pretty basic and biblical to me.

  24. 11-8-2012

    Rick

    Thanks for the explanation and our story.
    (Meant to write “your story” but in a second reading we sound similar.)
    (I’ve mopped up a lot of overflowing toilets and the other stuff you said.)

    I believe I would enjoy having a cup of coffee with you – And Alan also.

    I think the Jesus in me – Would recognize the Jesus in you – And like the Jesus in you.

    Gotta run for now – Maybe more tomorrow.

    Mal 3:16
    Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another:
    and the LORD hearkened, and heard it,
    and a book of remembrance was written before him
    for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.

    Be blessed

  25. 11-8-2012

    Alan

    If your correct and Jesus called them servants…

    Then Jesus also called them – “The Greatest.”

  26. 11-8-2012

    Rick,

    I appreciate you sharing part of your story also, and I appreciate your concern about how many among the church view leaders. I definitely share that concern.

    A Amos,

    Those who humble themselves as the least, of course. So, apparently, Jesus desires humility and service, and wants us to follow the leading of those who live a life of humility and service. It seems straightforward to me.

    -Alan

  27. 11-9-2012

    Good morning Rick

    Don’t know if you’re still interested in this conversation. If NOT it’s okay.

    I do appreciate many of your thoughts and how you say them. I wasn’t quite as smart as you, as you “avoided formal leadership.” I longed for it. (I didn’t see it that way then. Then, I was doing it All for the glory of Jesus of course. “He that desires the office of Overseer,” etc.. It ALL sounded so “biblical” then.)

    I believed the “Church Leaders,” the flattery, the LIE. After all, they taught “remember your leaders,” “obey your leaders and submit to them” – a lot. Who was I to argue when they said; “Amos is special,” “Amos has a calling on his life.” “Amos is important to building “the Kingdom of God.” I fell into the trap. Oy Vey!!!

    Pro 29:5
    A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.

    I was ordained, I was in leadership, I was considered by others to be a part of this Five fold Ministry, APEST, this Gift from God to the Ekklesia. And God needed me to build His kingdom.

    When you believe the lie you start to die…

    It’s a much longer story but – I left ”The System” in the early 90’s – thru much pain, tears, and “Spiritual Abuse.” And you guessed it. Most of the damage was done by – Yup – So called “Church Leaders.” Who I wanted to follow, and I wanted to be like. And they told me, if I would follow them and obey them now, ONE DAY God would reward me and believers would follow and obey me.

    But, I NO longer desire folks to follow and obey me. Thank you Jesus…
    Like the old bumper sticker – Don’t “Follow” me – I’m “Lost” too.
    Made more then my share of mistakes when I was a “Church Leader.” Ouch!!!
    Found out – I’m the Lost – Led astray by my “Mere Falible Human” shephereds.
    And Isaiah prophesied about my leadership skills. ;-)

    Isa 3:12
    …O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err,
    and destroy the way of thy paths.

    Isa 9:16
    For the leaders of this people cause them to err;
    and they that are led of them are destroyed.

    Like you, “I want the attention to be given to God in Christ”
    Any “leading” to be done is only – “leading folks to Jesus.” the “ONE” Leader.
    Those who are “Led” by the Spirit are the sons of God. Rom 8:14
    My Sheep – Hear My Voice… – And they follow me. John 10:27

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    *their shepherds* have caused them *to go astray,*

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

    I’m Blest – I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  28. 11-9-2012

    Hi A. Amos,

    Thanks for your testimony. Your is an all-too-common experience among churches.

    People can be problematic not only within leadership, but anywhere in the congregation. Human nature knows how to mess things up quite naturally and easily. One example of this, which I have seen in more than one church, is a church member who tries to strong-arm the pastor to do something a certain way or ‘fix’ someone with whom they are having a disagreement, ‘or else’ (“I’ll quit donating large sums of money to the church”; “I’ll enlist others to take my side and oppose you”; or “I’ll leave the church”).

    We need to be careful to interpret Scripture within its context and time, and not our own. It’s easy to become skeptical or cynical about a certain facet of church life. Some people have been in churches where there has been little to no leadership, and things have run amuck from competing factions or personalities vying for influence or control. People who have experienced the opposite of what you described might be more prone to believe in heavy-handed leadership which keeps the sheep in tow and limits their participation when the church gathers. In any case, we need to take God’s approach based upon His word, not our experiences (good or bad).

    Like you, I want Jesus to be pre-eminent in my life and the church. Our fellowship’s website and ministry underscores this: http://lambblood.com/main.html.

    Biblical leadership means biblical servanthood — like Paul, who worked hard to support himself and others, teach the whole counsel of God, and become all things to all people (practicing self-denial and Christian deference) so that by any means (motivated by and rooted in love) he might save some (Rom. 11:4; 1 Cor. 9:20-22).

    Each of us needs to review and recommit ourselves to the attitude of Christ expressed in Phil. 2:5ff. — the Lord of Glory made Himself nothing for our sakes; He became poor so that we might become rich in Him (2 Cor. 8:9). Following Him in this way is what the Christian life — including every facet of biblical leadership, stewardship and discipleship — is all about.

  29. 11-10-2012

    Hi Rick

    In one of your previous comments you write…
    “But words are used by Jesus’ apostles, related to themselves and others, which describe those who teach, lead and serve in various *roles of honor and respect* within the church.”

    And then you give a list of – and I’m guessing here – Of “roles of honor.” Then you mention “Elder” 8 times. And as I’ve said a few times in different ways…

    Since leaving “The Corrupt Religious System” in the early 90’s. “I have a different take on things. On ALL things “Elder” that I once believed and taught.” I NO longer see “Todays” “Elder/Overseer” as a “*roles of honor and respect.*”

    You write in your list about “Qualifications” for “Elder/Overseers.”

    “1 Tim. 3:1ff lays out the qualifications for bishops (overseers), as well as deacons.”
    “Titus 1:1, and goes on to discuss the appointment and qualifications of elders
    (Also called bishops) beginning with verse 5 of Titus 1.”

    And that’s two tuff lists of “Qualifications.” Haven’t you ever wondered? Why? Paul gives such a long, tuff, list of “Qualifications” for “Mere Fallible Humans?” When God gives only ten that the Isrealites could NOT live up to?

    Could that list of “Qualifications” be a “Test” of someone’s “Integrity?”

    Would you consider an “Elder/Overseer” in a *roles of honor and respect?* If that “Elder/Overseer” does NOT meet ALL the “Qualifications?”

    In my experience, MOST today will “Ignore” or “Twist” these “Qualifications” in order to obtain this position of Power, Profit, Prestige, Honor, Glory, Reputation, Recognition…

    And – What would you call that “Elder/Overseer” who takes that “Position” and allows others to recognize them as “Elder/Overseer” knowing they do NOT meet ALL the “Qualifications?”

    And – If they do NOT meet ALL the “Qualifications?”
    Should they remove themselves and be a good example to the flock?

  30. 11-10-2012

    Rick

    Why would someone become an “Elder/Overseer?” Assume a “role of honor and respect?” If they do NOT qualify? If they are NOT Blameless?

    1 – A bishop (overseer) then *must be* **blameless**… 1 Tim 3:2 KJV
    1 – For a bishop (overseer) *must be* **blameless**… Titus 1:7 KJV

    *Must Be* is Strongs #1163, die. – It is necessary (as binding).
    Thayer’s – necessity established by the counsel and decree of God.
    That *must be* is the same Greek word as: …You *must be* born again. John 3:7.
    Seems to be a small word – but very important. Yes?

    1 – **Blameless**… How important is this word?
    Strongs #423 – anepileptos – inculpable, blameless, unrebukeable.
    Thayer’s – that cannot be reprehended, (cannot be, rebukable, reprovable, cannot find fault)
    not open to censure, irreproachable.

    Dictionary – Without fault; innocent; guiltless; not meriting censure.
    Synonyms – faultless, guiltless, innocent, irreproachable, spotless, unblemished.

    1 Tim 3:2 ASV – The bishop therefore must be without reproach…
    1 Tim 3:2 NIV – Now the overseer must be above reproach…
    1 Tim 3:2 NLT – For an elder must be a man whose life cannot be spoken against.

    How many “Elder/Overseers,” who honestly examine themselves,
    seriously considering this one **Qualification,** (*Must Be* **Blameless,**)
    can see themselves as **Blameless,** without fault, above reproach,
    and thus qualify to be an “Elder/Overseer?”

    And if you can see yourself as **blameless:** Is that pride?
    And no longer without fault? Oy Vey! ;-)

    Aren’t ALL the requirements important? Which ones can we ignore?

    Could this list of “Qualifications” be a “Test” of someone’s “Integrity?”

  31. 11-10-2012

    Hi A. Amos,

    Blamelessness in Scripture, related to any human activity or character, is not perfection. Men who qualify as elders (overseers, pastors) should be men who command our respect — men whom we can sincerely honor and imitate — as the most mature, godly, faithful, experienced, wise and capable disciples in every aspect of their individual lives, the home, the church and the workaday world.

    Again, this is not a matter of perfection — which cannot and will not be attained by anyone this side of glory — but of similitude and degree of sanctification (or holiness in Christlikeness).

    As you continue to ask questions and evaluate this teaching, I would recommend the following resource we offer on our fellowship’s website: http://biblicaleldership.com/

    I don’t have time to interact with you on every nuance related to this, but this resource covers all the angles pretty thoroughly. Alan’s blog has a number of good posts and related resources which I believe you will also find helpful.

    I hope you will continue to study and reflect on this important topic. I pray the Lord will help each of us embrace and follow His will as we continue to grow in it.

  32. 11-10-2012

    Rick

    I hope I’m misreading you here. You seem to want to “Ignore” this first “Qualification” “Must be Blameless. And give me a lot of nice things about “Elder/Pastors” that are NOT found in the Bible as “Qualifications.”

    Here’s two more “Qualifications” from Titus for “Elder/Overseer” that most who want to be an “Elder/Overseer” today *Ignore* ot “Twist” in order to obtain – for them – a “position” of importance.

    A “position” with…
    Power – Profit – Prestige – Honor – Glory – Recognition – Reputation.

    ALL those things Jesus spoke against.
    ALL those things that become “Idols of the Heart.” Ezek 14:1-11.
    ALL those things highly esteemed among men – BUT…
    Is an abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15

    Titus 1:6-8 KJV
    6 If any be *blameless,* the husband of one wife,
    having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
    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;
    8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, *just,* *holy,* temperate;

    2 – Just
    Strongs #1342 – dikaios {dik’-ah-yos} from 1349;
    Thayers – 1) righteous, observing divine laws
    1a) in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God
    1a1) of those who seem to themselves to be righteous,
    who pride themselves to be righteous, whether real or imagined
    1a2) innocent, faultless, guiltless
    1a3) used of him whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting
    is wholly conformed to the will of God,

    3 – Holy
    Strongs #3741 – hosios {hos’-ee-os}
    Thayers – 1) undefiled by sin, free from wickedness,
    religiously observing every moral obligation, pure holy, pious.

    Now that’s three tough qualifications for “Elder/Overseers.”
    1 – Must Be Blameless. 2 – Just. 3 – Holy. — Yes?

    Makes an interesting study – checking out ALL these tough qualifications for “Elder/Overseers” – Then checking out those who say they are “Elder/Overseers” compared to the qualifications. :-)

    And if the “Elder/Overseers” do NOT meet the qualifications…
    Will they remove themselves? Give up their “Titles” and “Power?”
    And be a good example to the flock?

  33. 11-10-2012

    Rick

    Thanks for the link to “Biblical Eldership.”
    I’m a little familir with Alexander Strauch. Some writings I like.

    This one for sure.

    It’s about calling someone pastor – I mean – NOT to be called pastor. ;-)

    “So in the first century, no Christian would dare take the position *or title* of sole ruler, overseer, **or pastor** of the church.

    We Christians today, however, are so accustomed to speaking of “the pastor” that we do not stop to realize that *the New Testament does not.*

    This fact is profoundly significant, and we must not permit our customary practice to shield our minds from this important truth.

    There is only one flock and *one Pastor* (John 10:16), one body and one Head (Col. 1:18), one holy priesthood and one great High Priest (Heb. 4:14ff.), one brotherhood and one Elder Brother (Rom. 8:29), one building and one Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:5ff.), one Mediator, one Lord.”

    Jesus Christ is “Senior Pastor,” and *all others* (The Body of Christ – Added by Amos) are His undershepherds (1 Peter 5:4).”

    - Alexander Strauch, Biblical Eldership:
    An Urgent Call To Restore Biblical Church Leadership, (pp. 114-115).

    Now – Under-shephered is NOT in the Bible. It’s a man made “Tradition.”

    Hmmm? “We Christians today, however, are so accustomed to speaking of “the pastor” that we do not stop to realize that *the New Testament does not.*

    Yes – I like some of what Alexander Strauch writes.

    Haven’t you ever wondered? Why? In the Bible?
    NOT one of His Disciples – was called – shephered or pastor?
    NOT one of His Disciples – called themself – shephered or pastor?
    NOT one of His Disciples – called another disciple – shephered or pastor?
    NOT one of His Disciples – were Hired, or Fired as a – shephered or pastor?

    Seems the only one with the “Title” shepherd – is {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Here’s one of my favorite verses that Alexander Strauch mentions. John 10:16 KJV

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16 KJV

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – One Leader

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  34. 11-10-2012

    And Rick

    I was wondering…
    Should you be promoting a website “Biblical Eldership?”
    That is NOT “Biblical?”

    Seems Alexander Strauch uses, in one sentance, Two Terms NOT in the Bible.
    Seems Alexander Strauch added – Senior Pastor and Under-shepherd.

    And – My understanding of the word “Biblical” is – It’s in the Bible.

    Maybe “Senior Pastor and Under-shepherd” should be called…

    Non-biblical – or – Extra-Biblical – or – Anti-Bibical – terms?”

    I say, “Anti-Biblical” because Jesus warns us in Mark 7:13…
    KJV – Making the word of God of “none effect” through your tradition…
    ASV – Making “void” the word of God by your tradition…
    NIV – Thus you “nullify” the word of God by your tradition…

    If “Senior Pastor and Under-shepherd” is “Doctrines of men”
    a “Tradition of men”that makes “Void” the Word of God…

    That would be “Anti-Biblical – Yes?

  35. 11-10-2012

    Guys,

    I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to take part in this discussion, but I’m glad that the two of you continued it.

    But, I think it’s time to wrap it up, since this is way off topic for this post.

    However, if you want to return to the topic of the post, then please feel free to continue commenting.

    Thanks,

    -Alan

  36. 11-11-2012

    Alan

    Re – My second comment about Psalm 68:18.
    I asked some questions but never got an answer…

    ———–

    Alan

    And – The ESV says “receiving gifts *among* men,” even *among* the rebellious,
    “Among Men” “Among the rebellious” – What does that mean? Among???

    “receiving gifts *among* men,” – Is diificult for me to understand or picture.

    And you might NOT realize it but – you changed – “Among Men” to “From Men.”

    Why – “receives gifts *from* people?” When ESV says “Among?”

    You write…
    “The Psalm passage says that God – as the victorious king – receives gifts *from* people, while Paul said that Jesus – as the victorious king – gave gifts to people.”

    ——-

    Thanks

  37. 11-11-2012

    Alan

    So, the questions are…

    “Among Men” “Among the rebellious” – What does that mean? Among???

    Why did you change the language?
    ESV – “receiving gifts *among* men,”
    Alan – “receiving gifts *From” people”

    Why – “receives gifts *from* people?” When ESV says “Among?”

    Thanks

  38. 11-11-2012

    A Amos,

    The Hebrew language uses prefixes (letters added to the beginning of words) to specify a preposition. In Psalm 68:18, the preposition used with “men” is “B”, which typically means something like “in, on, with, or by.” There are different prepositional prefixes for “to, for” and “from.” But, there are also overlaps in meaning of the prepositions. In some cases, they are synonymous.

    The main differences in Psalm 68:18 and Ephesians 4:8 is in the verb: “receiving” (Psalm 68:18) and “giving” (Ephesians 4:8). In Psalm 68:18, the gifts are received, while in Ephesians 4:8, Paul writes that the gifts are given.

    -Alan

  39. 11-11-2012

    Alan

    Thanks “For” the preposition explanation.

    That makes it real clear now… Oy Vey!!!