Acts The Church and Ministerial Training

Kaitiaki's picture

Basically this is just a "what do we learn about the Church from Acts?" thread. As we watch Paul and Barnabas and then Paul and Silas building the Church in Acts, what can we learn about their concept of the Church as a whole? Robert suggested my original plan was too cumbersome so asked me to create new threads.

Thread Moderator: Kaitiaki

There are two aspects to this thread: the training of the local congregation (for the work of ministry - as in Ephesians) and the theological training of ministers (or pastors).

Acts shows us local congregations that trained young men (and women) for every appropriate aspect of Church work. That included the work of ministry and missions. Discuss this statement. Do you think it is valid? What implications (if any) are there for the present system in almost every denomination of sending young men to a seminary to be trained? How does your Church seek to apply those implications in the way they train ministers and missionaries?

CLARK E. WADE's picture

A deeper look at Acts 20:7

Hi'ya brother Dan,

That is the passage (Acts 20:7) that is so often used to justify our current practice of assembling together to listen to sermons, rather than, as Hebrews says, to assemble together in order to "encourage one another" (Hebrews 3:12-13, 10:24-25).

I do believe there were different kinds of meetings in the New Testament. One was an apostolic meeting, in which an apostle would gather the saints together in order to “equip” the saints to build up the body of Christ, to function in the meetings. As Paul writes in Ephesians, this building up of the body of Christ takes place “when EACH PART IS WORKING PROPERLY in all its functions, growing to full maturity, building itself up in love” (Eph. 4:16).

The passage which you raised says this:

"And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to leave the next morning; and he kept on with his message until midnight."

I wish we had the nature of his discourse, but I’m convinced Paul was equipping the saints to build up the body of Christ in his absence.

If, as you say, the purpose of assembling together is to listen to one person do the speaking, and usually the same person week after week, would this not present us with a clear command of scripture, as we see in Hebrews, coming in conflict with itself, let alone all of the other passages in the New Testament which emphasize on so many occasions the necessity of mutual ministry one to another such as Romans 15:14:

“Personally, I am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with all knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also.”

But the passage you brought up wasn’t a monologue, as you suggest, but a dialogue. Paul “discoursed with them until midnight.”

Even this was still a participatory gathering where people were free to ask Paul questions, to add to the conversation in contributing insights, etc. While some translations do say that Paul “preached” to midnight, the amplified says “discoursed with them.” This carries the suggestion that he wasn’t talking “to” them but “with” them. Notice, in contrast with the word “preach” some other translations:

• New Revised Standard: 'Paul was holding a discussion with them'
• The RV (and Darby): 'Paul discoursed with them',
• The ESV reads, 'Paul talked with them'.

In Greek, the verb being used here is dialegomai. This word carries quite a wide range of meaning. At one end of the spectrum there are verses like Acts 17:4 where we read that Paul in Athens reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews ...
and in the marketplace daily with those who he met there.

Now, it might possibly be argued that Paul was preaching sermons in the synagogue, but he could hardly have been doing the same thing in the marketplace, yet the same word covers both situations. It is more reasonable to think that both in the synagogue and in the marketplace, it was more of a debate that Paul was engaged in.

And notice brother the very word dialegomai is the same word from which we get “dialogue.” Here’s the dictionary definition of dialogue:

1: a written composition in which two or more characters are represented as conversing.
2: a conversation between two or more persons; also
a similar exchange between a person and something else.
3: an exchange of ideas and opinions
4: a discussion between representatives of parties to a conflict that is aimed at resolution.
5: a musical composition for two or more parts suggestive of a conversation

“Monologue”, as you are suggesting was really taking place, would be the word that should be used instead of “dialogue.” A “monologue” of course is “a long speech made by one person, often monopolizing a conversation.” I just don’t see that as the case in Troas.

Jesus' way of speaking to the saints was usually "family style." This often taking place around a dinner as among family members. Imagine having your family over for dinner and standing up on a box and delivering a lecture to them and how they would take it. This is not the pattern I see in scripture. Jesus would often invite himself over for dinner, to be among family members as a family member. This is the style of ministry that I see in the New Testament in the gatherings.

Thanks brother,

Yours in Christ,