THE CHURCH AND THE MINISTER By BRO ABIODUN AKINWALE

Bro Abiodun Akinwale

THE CHURCH AND THE MINISTER

BRO ABIODUN AKINWALE

Text: 2 Tim 4:2

Introduction and Background: Paul a devout Jew loved his religion so ardently that he could not tolerate the emergence of a new religion challenging his own. Hence, he became a religious fanatic to the extent of assuming the role of a persecutor (Acts 8:3). He staunchly backed up the persecution and murder of Deacon Stephen (Acts 7:57-60). Alas, Paul had an encounter with the Risen Lord on his way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9) and underwent a total change, becoming an ardent lover of Jesus whom he accepted as his Lord and Saviour (Acts 9:10-20). Thus, Paul, the persecutor of the Christians became their defender, and one of the most passionate ministers of Christ and His message. His three letters known as ‘Pastoral Letters’1 addressed to both Timothy and Titus provided us with valuable information about the Christian communities especially of the structures of the churches and the qualities expected of Christian ministers.

The Birth and Concept of the Church: Even though it had been in the mind and purpose of God before the creation of the world to build a Church, “the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God” (Eph 3:9), and “kept secret since the world began…,” (Rom. 16:25, 26). Nevertheless, there had been gatherings and meetings in temples and synagogues, but not the sort that Jesus had in mind when He spoke about building His church. There were types and shadows of the Church in the Old Testament e.g. the tabernacle in which the Ark dwelt, but the real church was birthed on the day of Pentecost. In fact, Jesus told his disciples to tarry in Jerusalem to wait for the supernatural (Acts 1:8; 2: 1-13).  The word Church or ekklesia first appeared in Matthew 16:18 where the Lord Jesus Christ Himself declared His future intention saying, “I will build my Church…”

The word-translated church comes from the Greek word ekklesia. This word is formed from two Greek words: ek (meaning “from” or “out of”) and a derivative of ka-leo (which means, “to call, invite or name”). Thus the basic meaning of ekklesia is to “call out of” or, with relation to a group of people, the “called out ones.” The Greek word “ekklesia”   translated church also has many more translations, which include an “assembly”, a “gathering”, “congregation,” “company” or even a “mob”. Even though ekklesia has these various meanings, the core meaning is that ekklesia has a greater emphasis on people being “called out” by God instead of their meeting together2.  A New Testament church is a divinely birthed organism (emphasising life, growth, love and relationships) that is fundamentally different from a humanly formed organisation (emphasising structure, authority, accomplishments, and goals). This critical distinction is often blurred in today’s “church world”3.

The bible is full of numerous appellations for the church with each of them describing or indicating what the church is to Christ such as (i) The Body of Christ (Eph.1:23; 4:12; 5:30, Col.1:18; 1:24) (ii) The House of God (1 Tim.3:15; Eph. 2:22; 1 Peter 2:5) (iii) The Bride of Christ (John 3:29; Eph. 5:25). The church is God’s heritage bought with His own blood (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; Acts 20:28) and this shows how precious the church is to him. The cost of redemption of the church is the blood of the Redeemer Himself!

Paul, a minister of the Gospel

A study of Paul’s letter to Timothy reveals a true minister of the gospel in that he cares for the posterity of the church. He gives holistic education to his mentee so that the church could wax strong. The admonition of Paul to the elders of the church at Ephesus as penned down by Luke clarifies any doubt regarding this (Acts 20:28). The implication of this is that whoever is charged with the responsibility of looking after the affairs of the church should see himself as a steward who is accountable to God and thereby handle the church affairs with care and fear of God. The Bible says ‘Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful’ (1 Cor 4:2). Unfortunately, many ministers place themselves over and above the church of God. They make themselves the owners and lord over God’s heritage. The church does not belong to a man but to Christ who died for her, in order to redeem her, and prepare her as a spotless bride for his second coming. May God find in us good stewards in Jesus name.

References (1) Akinwale, N.O. 2019, (6); (2) http://www.wordtruth.net; (3) Ibid, 2

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