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The Epistles

 

The Epistles were written by the apostles Paul, Peter, James the half-brother of Christ, and the apostle John and Jude the other half-brother of Christ, and they were written to the early Christian churches, the apostolic churches of God from Rome, throughout Asia Minor, parts of Greece, Judea and Jerusalem itself.  They were written to help edify and encourage the members of those congregations to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and they expounded on all aspects of Christian living.  They spelled out various doctrinal understandings, giving instructions to specific congregations.  They are the Bible’s guide for all congregations, as the lessons are directly applicable.  One thing I noticed is that all these congregations were what you would call either semi-autonomous or autonomous.  Jerusalem was not the Headquarters Church or congregation, as some would like to assume.  For the most part, except for special offerings to relieve famine in Jerusalem or elsewhere, tithes apparently stayed within each congregation for it’s own ministry and evangelism, as nothing in the Epistles mentions where the tithes went.  These congregations, all under the gentle guidance of the apostles, were very strictly non-hierarchal in government structure.  As Paul stated in 2nd Corinthians 1:24, “not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy:  for by faith ye stand.”  For example, the church of God at Corinth had many problems of all sorts.  Paul instructed them on what to do, and for the most part, stepped back and let them straighten things out on their own.  And then he came to visit them.  Self-government in a semi-autonomous structure appeared to be the apostolic pattern for the early apostolic churches of God throughout the Roman Empire.  On the other hand, hierarchal forms of church government have come to be, patterned after the Roman Catholic model.  From an evil tree comes evil fruit, and from a good tree comes good fruit.  

Content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
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