2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
'...consider the type of man he was when we first meet him: consider his ambitions, his education, his preeminent position in his own nation, and his dazzling prospects of ever-increasing power and prestige.
He had every possible advantage that a proud and ambitious Jew could desire (and freeborn Roman citizenship on top of all that).
How the Pharisees to whom he belonged loved the preeminence, and the fawning of the awed and worshipful multitude of the common people, and to be called, "Rabbi, Rabbi!"
15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
Nothing is plainer in the whole course of the apostolic testimony than that Paul is a Christ-appointed model for us to copy.
...A man chosen by Christ must needs be a safe example for all the servants of Christ to follow. Paul commands - and what he wrote were the commandments of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37).
"Be ye followers of ME, as I also am of Christ"(1 Cor. 11:1).
The sense in which he means this is made abundantly evident in many places. He tells us expressly, for instance, that he, though a persecutor, received mercy that
"in him first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, FOR A PATTERN to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting" (1 Tim. 1:16).
Accordingly, to the Philippians, he says (4:9):
"Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, DO."
And, again (3:17):
"Mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example."
To the Corinthians he speaks thus plainly:
"Though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers . . . wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every ecclesia"(1 Cor. 4:15).
To Timothy he commends his own example in saying:
"Thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience"(2 Tim. 3:10);
And to the Thessalonians he says:
"Yourselves know how ye ought to follow us . . . We made ourselves an example unto you to follow us"(1 Thess. 3:7, 9).
"Stand fast," he tells them,
"and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle."
"Ye are witnesses," he also said,
"and God also, how holily and justly and unblamably we behaved ourselves among you that believe."
It is customary in polite society to consider those sayings egotistical. The polite, however, judge by a false standard in the matter. It is not egotistical, according to the scriptural standard, for a man devoid of self-love to declare the truth concerning himself when that declaration is necessary.
Paul was no self -lover; but if he was the appointed example from Christ of the sort of man Christ would choose from mankind for association with himself in glory, it was kind and necessary that Paul should testify this and hold the fact well in the front. The fact stands so, and Paul has acted in accordance with the fact; and our wisdom is to study the pattern, that we may copy it, and stand with Paul in the day of resurrection, which is at the door.
31 Then had the ecclesias rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the holy spirit, were multiplied.
A Royal Association of Believers
No organization, not even an apostolic one, can work well, that is, scripturally, which is not composed of elements more zealous for the advancement of the truth, and the promotion of the glory of its divine Author, than of their own notions and exaltation.
The first necessary thing is, that the members shall have become as little children, having their old Adam subdued by faith, and Christ substituted in his place by the same principle. Without this disposition, which is "peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy," no organization could work harmoniously and efficaciously, though framed and administered by the apostles themselves.
Even a bad organization with good materials would work better than a good one with a self-willed, heady, factious, and self-glorifying people. The members must all respect the apostolic teaching if they would have an organization that would be scriptural and satisfactory to all good men.
This teaching says, "By love serve one another." "Be not desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another." "Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God." "Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel." "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." "Let your moderation be known unto all men."
"Put on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which (peace) also ye are called in one body; and be thankful." "Be at peace among yourselves." "Be all of one mind, having compassion one of another: love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous." "Let love be without dissimulation. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another."
And the great teacher, even Christ, who, though the Lord of all, humbled himself, and became the servant of the least, enstamps this doctrine with the seal of his authority, saying, "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
A people imbued with such doctrine as this would make almost any organization work well; and indeed would get along peaceably together without any written constitution at all; because peace, and righteousness, and the law of the spirit of life, would be written in their hearts and minds. A people so disposed is the great want of our age-a people who not only believe the gospel of the kingdom, but manifest the fruit of it in their walk and conversation, to wit, "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."
It is the extreme scarcity of such that makes it almost impossible to plant heritages in the land with administrations even remotely approximating to the apostolic. An association of believers is better without an eldership, than to have one made up of persons destitute of the qualifications indicated in Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus. All who have obeyed the gospel are not "blameless," "watchful," "decorous," "given to hospitality," "apt to teach," "of a well regulated mind"-δωφζονα-"judicious rulers of their own house," and of good external report.
These qualifications are as necessary as faith and obedience to the gospel; and in order that their aptness to teach may be beneficially exercised, it is necessary that "the word of Christ dwell in them richly in all wisdom." Persons thus qualified would preside over an association of believers with great advantage for all to concerned. These were the sort of persons the apostles exhort us to obey; but before we can do what they require in the premises, the right persons must be manifested.
They do not exhort us to obey the incarnations of accident, or of majorities, or of party feeling; but only such as the Holy Spirit makes overseers-"able men, such as fear God; men of truth, hating covetousness." They should be wise, not in their own conceits; this the apostle forbids: but wise in the estimation of those that be wise, and disposed to avail themselves of their services. The greatest amount of the knowledge of divine things possessed in these days is but little at best.
How very minute, then, that which is little compared with this! and how little ability is there to use this small amount aright! A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. It puffs up, and "lifts up with pride," or inordinate self-esteem. It is expedient, therefore, that a newly-formed ecclesiastical association should enter upon such an arrangement as would give expression probationally to the principles set forth; that being taught by experience they may be the better able to judge of measures and of the fitness of individuals to carry them into effect with permanence.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1854