Thursday, April 28, 2011

Laodicea - Canon 3

Ruins of the amphitheater at Laodicea (Courtesy of Stephen Pohl)
He who has been recently baptized ought not to be promoted to the sacerdotal order.

This restated what was written in Canon 2 of Nicaea thus adding credence to what had been recognized as normative in all the churches from the time of Paul's epistle to Timothy.

Laodicea - Canon 2

They who have sinned in divers particulars, if they have persevered in the prayer of confession and penance, and are wholly converted from their faults, shall be received again to communion, through the mercy and goodness of God, after a time of penance appointed to them, in proportion to the nature of their offense.

People sin because they are sinners.  In whatever sin a person fell, if that same one had afterward become diligent in prayer and good works by virtue of confession brought about as the fruit of repentance, he or she were to be brought back into full fellowship after a period which seemed appropriate for the sin committed.  They shall neither be completely cut off nor swiftly accepted.  Wisdom dictates that the under-shepherds who know their sheep will be able to ascertain what is proper.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Laodicea - Canon 1

Main Street (Courtesy of Stephen Pohl)

Canons of the Synod of Laodicea

It is right, according to the ecclesiastical Canon, that the Communion should by indulgence be given to those who have freely and lawfully joined in second marriages, not having previously made a secret marriage; after a short space, which is to be spent by them in prayer and fasting.

While penance (here by prayer and fasting) was mentioned at Nicaea and Neocaesarea for a second marriage after losing a spouse, never did the councils expressly forbid such marriages.  If a couple entered into such a marriage, they were to be accepted to full fellowship at some point.

Convened at Laodiea in Phrygia Pacatiana (ca. 365).  See NPNF2 14:124.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Antioch - Canon 25

Let the bishop have power over the funds of the Church, so as to dispense them with all piety and in the fear of God to all who need.  And if there be occasion, let him take what he requires for his own necessary uses and those of his brethren sojourning with him, so that they may in no way lack, according to the divine Apostle, who says, “Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content.”  And if he shall not be content with these, but shall apply the funds to his own private uses, and not manage the revenues of the Church, or the rent of the farms, with the consent of the presbyters and deacons, but shall give the authority to his own domestics and kinsmen, or brothers, or sons, so that the accounts of the Church are secretly injured, he himself shall submit to an investigation by the synod of the province.  But if, on the other hand, the bishop or his presbyters shall be defamed as appropriating to themselves what belongs to the Church, (whether from lands or any other ecclesiastical resources), so that the poor are oppressed, and accusation and infamy are brought upon the account and on those who so administer it, let them also be subject to correction, the holy synod determining what is right.

The overseer had final authority over church funds but not without the elders auditing how the funds were used.  When appropriate, the overseer could take funds for personal necessities.  The synod determined corrective discipline in any case of impropriety.

This concludes the Canons of Antioch

Antioch - Canon 24

It is right that what belongs to the Church be preserved with all care to the Church, with a good conscience and faith in God, the inspector and judge of all.  And these things ought to be administered under the judgment and authority of the bishop, who is entrusted with the whole people and with the souls of the congregation.  But it should be manifest what is church property, with the knowledge of the presbyters and deacons about him; so that these may know assuredly what things belong to the Church, and that nothing be concealed from them, in order that, when the bishop may happen to depart this life, the property belonging to the Church being well known, may not be embezzled nor lost, and in order that the private property of the bishop may not be disturbed on a pretense that it is part of the ecclesiastical goods.  For it is just and well-pleasing to God and man that the private property of the bishop be bequeathed to whomsoever he will, but that for the Church be kept whatever belongs to the Church; so that neither the Church may suffer loss, nor the bishop be injured under pretext of the Church’s interest, nor those who belong to him fall into lawsuits, and himself, after his death, be brought under reproach. 

There was to be a clear accounting of what belonged to the overseer and what to the church body.  When the overseer went to meet his savior, the elders and deacons were charged to maintain the property until such time as a new overseer was recognized.  Since the overseer had ultimate responsibility, it behooved him to ensure these things were in order so no reproach should come upon his or the church's name because of mishandling on either side.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Antioch - Canon 23

It shall not be lawful for a bishop, even at the close of life, to appoint another as successor to himself; and if any such thing should be done, the appointment shall be void.  But the ecclesiastical law must be observed, that a bishop must not be appointed otherwise than by a synod and with the judgment of the bishops, who have the authority to promote the man who is worthy, after the falling asleep of him who has ceased from his labors.

The early church sought to avoid nepotism of any kind.  Only by a synod could an overseer's successor be named and recognized: the idea being wisdom in a multitude of spiritual counselors.  There had been occasions where this was circumvented—Augustine being one of the most notable—where the synod accepted the agency of the preceding overseer by ratifying the appointment rather than void it as required.  Such was the application of both expediency and politics within the church.

One aspect of this canon which may be easily overlooked is that the office was lifetime.  A man placed in such a position of a particular church did not retire unless unable to fulfill his duties.  This would be a safeguard for the overseer since the congregation could not have him removed without scriptural reason.  This also allowed both short- and long-range planning for catechizing and ministry.  The lifetime appointment also gave the church some security as they knew someone would be available to meet their spiritual needs.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Antioch - Canon 22

Let not a bishop go to a strange city, which is not subject to himself, nor into a district which does not belong to him, either to ordain any one, or to appoint presbyters or deacons to places within the jurisdiction of another bishop, unless with the consent of the proper bishop of the place.  And if any one shall presume to do any such thing, the ordination shall be void, and he himself shall be punished by the synod.

This canon was quite similar to Canon 13.  The difference put forth by Van Espen is that:
Canon XIII requires letters both from the Metropolitan and from the other bishops of the province, while this Canon XXII requires only the consent of the diocesan. He concludes that Canon XIII refers to a diocese sede vacante, when the Metropolitan with the other bishops took care of the widowed church, but that Canon XXII refers to a diocese with its own bishop, whose will is all that is needed for the performance of episcopal acts by another bishop.1
The fine distinction helps to realize the interesting levels of allowable duties and authorities derived and set for each ecclesiastical office. Again, the intent was to stop the flow of movement from one church to another, whether prompted by personal desire or peer prodding.

1 Quoted in NPNF2, Vol 14, 119.

Antioch - Canon 21

A bishop may not be translated from one parish to another, either intruding himself of his own suggestion, or under compulsion by the people, or by constraint of the bishops; but he shall remain in the Church to which he was allotted by God from the beginning, and shall not be translated from it, according to the decree formerly passed on the subject.

This canon appears to be an attempt to practically apply Paul's instruction to remain in what the Lord had assigned (1 Cor 7:17-24).  Neither the will of the overseer, the people, nor the other overseers allowed for the transfer to another region.  As in Canon 15 of Nicaea, the idea was to inhibit the movement of overseers from one church to another.  Many of these were for personal gain or recognition and showed contempt for the ministry rather than a love for the flock.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Antioch - Canon 20

With a view to the good of the Church and the settlement of disputes, it is decreed to be well that synods of the bishops, (of which the metropolitan shall give notice to the provincials), should be held in every province twice a year, one after the third week of the feast of Easter, so that the synod may be ended in the fourth week of the Pentecost; and the second on the ides of October which is the tenth [or fifteenth] day of the month Hyperberetæus; so that presbyters and deacons, and all who think themselves unjustly dealt with, may resort to these synods and obtain the judgment of the synod.  But it shall be unlawful for any to hold synods by themselves without those who are entrusted with the Metropolitan Sees.

So that there were appropriately placed synods through the year, two per year were established—six months apart—guaranteeing that matters requiring a synod would be judged and not allowed to languish.  In many ways this provided a spiritual "city of refuge" system to ensure all matters were addressed.

Titus - Part 6 (Final)

Evidenced in behavior.1 God has called every believer to diligence in the daily walk.  The second letter of Peter lays out the need to be ever-increasing in godly qualities with a view to usefulness and fruitfulness (2 Pet. 1:5-8).  As growth occurs, changes become evident so that others begin to recognize us as “having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).  Spiritual growth manifests Christ in whatever sphere of life.

1. Leadership (Titus 1) – The qualifications given for elders would not come as a surprise to a Jewish community.  From the time of Egyptian slavery, men would be recognized as leaders with inherent civic and spiritual responsibilities “because they possess qualities deemed necessary for the effective fulfillment of those responsibilities…The men become elders simply because it is natural for them to do so.”2  These men would oversee transactions, judge cases, and exact penalties for offenses.  An excellent example is Job, not because he is formally recognized but demonstrated through his righteous lifestyle (Job 29:12-17; 31:1ff) and the respect given him (Job 29:7-11).3  In the same way, local assemblies are to have older men, firmly established in the Lord, who know the Bible, judge rightly, and lead by example.  Accepting less leads to error akin to Israel during the time of the judges in failing to do according to God’s standard (Judg. 17:6).  This places the onus on men to be desirous of being built up “on your most holy faith” (Jude 20) and on the assembly “to recognize those who labor among you” (1 Thess. 5:12, NKJV) as an encouragement of the work being done.

2. Assemblies (Titus 2) – From creation the Lord designed men and women for different roles with varying levels of maturity with associated decorum within those roles.  Men are seen to have leadership and overseership roles in Scripture.  Younger men have vigor that must be checked as in taming a wild horse.  Strength and passion are channeled in a proper and thereby useful direction.  Older men are characterized by wisdom—sure judgment based on length of years and knowledge of Scripture (Job 12:12).  A good example of this difference is Elihu whose anger burned within but who understood his place with older men and waited before those who were supposed to be wiser and more learned had finished (Job 32:2-7).  Women, conversely, are seen in supportive roles passing to the next generation the skills needful to maintain a home and family.

3. Personal lives (Titus 3) – As stated previously in this chapter, God has stated those things that are necessary for proper living.  Micah 6:8 gives a good summation of three primary areas of concern for relations with all people which God requires of every individual.
  a.  “Do justice” – This is the minimum due to all.  No cause (save for penal action) allows a person to withhold the most basic of rights from another.  God gave clear warning to Judah of their need to turn from the sin of neglect and to act justly toward the people lest they be destroyed (Isa. 1:16-20).  No individual or group can ignore this, as demonstrated by the Corinthian assembly (1 Cor. 11:20-21, 30).
  b.  “Love kindness” (“mercy”, NKJV) – Benevolence goes beyond justice and promotes the peace God’s people are called to pursue (Psa. 34:14; Rom. 12:18).  Each of us will be wronged in some fashion.  By leaving revenge for a wrong suffered in the Lord’s hands, we promote good and leave the vengeance with God (Rom. 12:17-21).
  c.  “Walk humbly with your God” – The requirements placed on the child of God in relationships with others are exacting, yet the most difficult and demanding is a daily walk in humility before the Master.  Pride comes forth easily, for we are prone to err as result of the conflict between the law of God and the law in our members (Rom. 7:22-23).  A constant sacrifice of self is needful for God to have His perfect way (Rom. 12:1-2).

1 Continuing and completing the series from Part 5.
2 Timothy Mark Willis.  “Elders in Pre-Exilic Israelite Society” [Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1990], p. 162.
3 For further analysis of Old Testament elders, see David A Mappes. “The ‘Elder’ in the Old and New Testaments,” Bibliotheca Sacra Vol. 154, No. 613 (January–March 1997): pp. 81-93.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Titus - Part 5

Enabled by the Savior.1 Jesus likened His relationship to the disciples as a vine with branches (John 15:1-8).  The branch draws its fruit-producing ability from the vine.  If there is no connection, there can be no fruit.  Likewise, Paul explained the beauty of recognizing this powerlessness and of allowing God to work His power in and through us (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

1. Proclaim the word (1:3) – God gives believers a treasure of incomparable worth meant to be shared.  Multiple times, instruction is given to bring the Scriptures to others (Mark 16:15; Acts 10:42; Col. 1:28; 2 Tim. 4:2).  Questions and protests arise within from inadequacy: What do I do?  What do I say?  Do I know enough?  Suppose I make a mistake.  Paul, considered the greatest apostle and Christian example par excellence, humbly and truthfully stated that he also was inadequate for so great a stewardship (2 Cor. 3:5a).  We must depend on the adequacy (2 Cor. 3:5-6) and strength (2 Cor. 4:7) the Lord supplies for there to be proper tribute and effectual work by means of words and wisdom which cannot be resisted or refuted (Luke 21:15).

2. Grace and peace (1:4) – The high priest’s benediction (Num. 6:24-26) stated the desire God had to bless His people (Psa. 29:11).  The God-directed instruction for the priest was acknowledging the truth that grace and peace was His to give.  He was the source. Gideon understood this aspect of His character by naming an altar “The Lord is peace” (Jehovah-shalom).  It, too, required obedience to effect peace.  Yet, peace is conditioned on satisfaction of God’s righteousness.  To the Israelite the peace offering (Lev. 3:1-17) demonstrated that God was “a benefactor to his creatures, and the giver of all good things to us.”  God, priest, and offerer joined together sharing the sacrifice and symbolizing communion through reconciliation of atonement.  God’s grace is not so conditioned.  This He freely lavishes on His people and has done so throughout history from the garments of skin given Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21) to the call “let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Rev. 21:17) doing so after the counsels of His own will and in accordance with His divine nature.

3. Future hope (2:13) – From the time of the Patriarchs (Job 19:25-26), there has been an understanding and anticipation of a resurrection.  This was especially true during the final stages of Christ’s earthly ministry, as He told the twelve disciples how He would suffer, die, and be resurrected (Matt. 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19), preparing them for the culmination of His mission.  On the final evening He told them plainly “Where I am going, you cannot come” (John 13:33) but in going promised to “prepare a place for you…that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).  This has been the enduring expectation of every believer and a driving force for conduct in this world (2 Pet. 3:11, 14).  As certainly as the Lord left, He will return, and those who believe will be gathered into His presence to be with the Lord always (1 Thess. 4:13-18).  Without this certainty we are “of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19) for trusting folly of the greatest magnitude.

4. Abundance (3:6) – Zophar the Naamathite queries Job, “Can you discover the limits of the Almighty?” (Job 11:7).  This rhetorical question teaches the nature of God and the limitlessness of His being (Exod. 34:6-7; Rom. 11:33) saving to the utmost those who love Him (Heb. 7:25), as well as pouring out the full fury of His wrath on those condemned (1 Thess. 2:16).  According to this nature, the Father gives from His bounteous supply. Given that there is no gift higher or greater, God promised Himself to His people:
“I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” (Gen. 15:1, NKJV)
“I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel.” (Num. 18:20)
This is most exemplified in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the great object of faith “[i]n his abounding love and grace in his humiliation, and the greatness of his personal sacrifice for us.”2  No greater gift could be given, yet even more God bestows freely (Rom. 8:32) and richly (Eph. 2:7; 3:8) “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).

1 Continuing the series from Part 4.
2 James Petigru Boyce. Abstract of Systematic Theology. 1887., Chapter 34 (Electronic format as add-on module to Online Bible Millennium Edition, 1987-2001).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Titus - Part 4

Exercised in faith.1  The life of godliness has at its foundation a belief that “God is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6b).  A believer’s desire in his walk is to honor and please God (2 Cor. 5:9) knowing that Christ Himself will be judge (2 Cor. 5:10).  Our lives, therefore, are to be a testimony of God’s grace and how it works in men.  Paul provides elements of that faith to Titus.

1. Uniqueness (1:1) – In Romans 4 Paul sets forth the proposition that Abraham, before circumcision, was credited righteousness from God on the basis of faith, thereby becoming the father of those who would do likewise (verses 10-11).  One could say that any who had faith could be saved.  However, faith is not of ourselves but is given freely along with grace so that one might be saved (Eph. 2:8), and it so enables us to do those things which God desires (Eph. 2:10).  Only the believer is equipped to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7) and to be assured of things hoped for and convinced of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).

2. Commonality (1:4; 3:15) – There is one faith (Eph. 4:5).  This simple statement has far-reaching implications especially in view of the American mindset that seeks to be inclusive in a pluralistic society.  For years those in this country have spoken of different faiths as equal in status and application.  This concept is faulty. If one faith is true, the others are false.  Some attempt to legitimize the equality by demonstrating all are false in some way.  Paul clearly speaks out against this concerning Christ by pointing to His physical resurrection and explaining how, if this did not happen, we have no true faith and should be greatly pitied (1 Cor. 15:12-19).  And this faith is the same for all who believe.  Paul writes that through Abraham as spiritual father the promise is guaranteed to those of the Law and of faith (Rom. 4:16).  Abraham’s spiritual offspring would be required to have the same faith to be legitimately called such, just as natural offspring must have that which demonstrates the relationship.  The family trait is “like precious faith” (2 Pet. 1:1, NKJV) evidenced by sharing in various ways: love (John 13:34-35); beliefs (Acts 2:44; 1 Tim. 3:16); goods and property (Acts 4:32); and spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:7) to name a few.

3. Proper footing (1:13; 2:2) – For His conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus presented two inevitable scenarios which require decisive action by the listeners.  Either they would obey as demonstration of their faith or disobey and suffer loss (Luke 6:47-49; Matt. 7:24-27).  The key to the outcome is not the land upon which the houses were built but the foundation laid. The wise builder dug deep in order to fix on bedrock.  This principle of construction is well known, and rare is a project that has survived an improper foundation.2  By an everlasting foundation (Prov. 10:25) the believer stands firm rather than “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14).

1 Continuing the series from Part 3.
2 There are numerous examples through history of enduring buildings erected on soft ground.  Gothic architecture (12th through 16th century A.D.) reflects one solution with the combined use of flying buttresses and arches.  As a modern example, the city of Chicago is built on mud, and techniques were developed to compensate.  This does not remove from the necessity of a firm foundation, as alternate methods were required to attain a like result.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Titus - Part 3

Established in sound doctrine.1  The basis for godliness can be found in only one place—God’s word.  The prophet says, “He has told you, O man, what is good” (Mic. 6:8a).  The proper understanding of Scripture is necessary to live the godly life.  Paul gives Titus seven areas where proper doctrine establishes our walk.

1. Acknowledgment of truth (1:1) – “Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way” (Psa. 119:128).  What was it the psalmist understood that caused such trust in the Scriptures that all other ways would be considered false?  There was a recognition that what had been given as holy writ was true, sure, and faithful.  God had given His word in various ways and portions through His chosen vessels (Heb. 1:1).  That word had been found true according to all the blessings and cursings given.  A proper discernment would establish that it was trustworthy.  The word in written form came in human form (John 1:1, 14), and in His high priestly prayer stated, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17b).  Thus, the Word made flesh agrees that the written word is true.  Moreover, it is only God’s word that is considered true.  We do not follow elaborate tales (2 Pet. 1:16) or the wrangling of men (1 Tim. 6:5).

2. Ability from adherence (1:9) – Scripture works powerfully in the life of the person who lives by it.  Before the conquest of Canaan God gave Joshua a command concerning the law that Moses had entrusted to the people (Josh. 1:8-9).  With the command came a promise of God’s enabling presence and success.  By continual study and meditation on the laws of God, we understand the mind of God.  Each believer may know His character and desires toward, and expectations of, His children.  We grow in wisdom and knowledge, and therewith comes an accompanying responsibility to correct and challenge when necessary being enabled by both Son (Luke 21:15) and Spirit (Matt. 10:19-20).  This responsibility requires diligence in study and careful consideration of Scripture.

3. Proper use in teaching (2:1) – Incumbent with ability is accuracy.  The word of God is called “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17) and is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12).  Carelessness in word or mind-set makes us to be no more than noisome troublers (1 Cor. 13:1).  The Corinthian believers en masse were having difficulty as Paul warns the assembly that “knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies” (1 Cor. 8:1b).  Their difficulty was understanding the freedom that is in Christ (chapters 8-11) without thoughtfulness to the need of controlling love.  The body of Christ has continual troubles with those misusing Scripture-believing Pharisees (Acts 15:5), selfish preachers (Phil. 1:17), Diotrephes (3 John 9-10).  Proper handling of “the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) is not just a recommendation but a goal of highest calling and comes from the word living richly in us (Col. 3:16).

4. Governs thoughts, words, deeds (2:7-8a) – In Proverbs 2 Solomon records the results of diligently pursuing the Scriptures.  What develops in the chapter is our four-fold part stated in the opening verses: (verse 1) receive and treasure; (verse 2) listen and absorb; (verse 3) ask; and (verse 4) seek—followed by a repeating pattern (outcome – reason) each building on the previous.
  a.  (Verses 5-8) The first outcome mentioned concerns a proper relationship to the Lord. We come to recognize what comprises fear of the Eternal One and caused Isaiah to declare his uncleanness before Him (Isa. 6:5).  It is knowledge of who God is, and what He has declared Himself to be.  This proclamation demonstrates the Lord’s desire to show Himself to His people.  He has all wisdom and knowledge and delights to give it for our protection.
  b.  (Verses 9-19) When we have an understanding of who God is and our relationship to Him, we develop the capacity for knowing what is proper and using it correctly.  God’s abiding word works in our whole person to guard and protect from the evildoer and the one who would bring us down to destruction.
  c.  (Verses 20-22) Resulting from the abiding word is the upright walk.  The good man, who fixes himself on the Lord and His precepts, will dwell securely in the company of the Lord’s people.  He will be steadfast and blameless in all his ways, knowing that the Lord will deal with those who despise His ways.

5. Adornment (2:10) – From the fall of Adam humankind has attempted to clothe themselves to hide their shame.  Physically, this was first accomplished with fig leaves (Gen. 3:7).  Spiritually, righteous acts were attempted which “are like a filthy garment” (Isa. 64:6) for “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9).  Neither proved to be adequate.  In both arenas, God needed to make a suitable change of clothing.  To cover their bodies He made Adam and Eve garments of skins.  For the spirit a change is also required—garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10).   We can understand the need for garb that covers the seen, but what about the unseen?  Why should it be necessary?  There are three reasons:
  a.  God sees the inner man and demands purity (Lev. 11:44-45; Psa. 51:6).
  b.  The change made to the heart will manifest itself to others in a visible way (Psa. 102).
  c.  Looking to a future day, we see those who rely on the Lord Jesus will be clothed in spotless white as He confesses them before the Father (Rev. 3:5).

6. Authority (2:15) – With the phrase “Thus says the Lord” occurring over 400 times in the Old Testament, there is no question God has the first and final answer in all matters.  Paul’s second letter to Timothy attests to this by stating that all Scripture is inspired or God-breathed (3:16) which points to Him as the originator and author.  This being the case, we can agree with Grudem that “The authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.”2  As we have opportunity to share the Scriptures, we must speak “as one who is speaking the utterances of God…so that in all things God may be glorified” (1 Pet. 4:11).  It is His authority we rely upon “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (1 Tim. 3:16b).  “Man, creed, and church are all subject to the authority of Scripture. God has spoken; we must submit.”3  Nothing about ourselves can claim this authority, nor can we hope to take it for ourselves by force.  It is the authority of the word of God working through us.

1 Continuing the series from Part 2.
2 Wayne Grudem.  Systematic Theology.  Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press and Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994., p. 73
3 Henry C. Thiessen.  Lectures in Systematic Theology.  Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1949, 1977, 1979., p. 63

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Antioch - Canon 19

A bishop shall not be ordained without a synod and the presence of the metropolitan of the province.  And when he is present, it is by all means better that all his brethren in the ministry of the Province should assemble together with him; and these the metropolitan ought to invite by letter.  And it were better that all should meet; but if this be difficult, it is indispensable that a majority should either be present or take part by letter in the election, and that thus the appointment should be made in the presence, or with the consent, of the majority; but if it should be done contrary to these decrees, the ordination shall be of no force.  And if the appointment shall be made according to the prescribed canon, and any should object through natural love of contradiction, the decision of the majority shall prevail.

An overseer could not be ordained except by the assembly of a synod and the presence of the metropolitan.  This prevented the possibility of a man ingratiating himself on a church so that they might choose him to be their leader through a congregational election or other consensus-making measure.  A wolf might be prevented from ravaging the flock.  With other godly men gathered, the council could question and discern the acceptability of the potential overseer and with the metropolitan give their recognition and blessing.  The suggestion for written invitations helps to ensure the assembly was done in good order.  All members of the synod would receive the invitation, and no interloper would have access without the it.  There was always a possibility that the metropolitan might "stack the deck" for or against the one being examined, but the hope was that the group might forestall any wrongdoing.

The canon attempted to ensure a quorum be present in one locale.  If this is not possible, letters from the synod invitees were delivered instead with their decisions.  If the synod could not be convened as laid down in the canon, the whole affair was null and void.  No ordination and placement could be recognized and enforced.

Titus - Part 2

Main Emphasis1
The life of godliness is practical in nature and is demonstrated in several ways with various motives.  Paul in the first epistle to Timothy noted some who sought gain through maintaining godliness or its perception (1 Tim. 6:5).  While this has certainly been accomplished throughout Christian history, it is invalid before Christ.  Rather should there be Paul’s attitude who “suffered the loss of all things” in order to gain Christ (Phil. 3:8) coupled with contentment in every circumstance (Phil. 4:11) which is the true path of gain (1 Tim. 6:6).  The remainder of this chapter looks at how the life of godliness is developed by Paul and communicated to Titus.

Exhibited by good works.  As mentioned at the outset, the idea of good works is expected of the believer.  Indeed, it is his very purpose as the Scripture states, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).  Paul indicates to Titus attitudes proper for accomplishing this.

1. Thoroughness (2:7) – In all things be an example of good works.  There are no shortcuts in the Christian life. Every action, every word is a lesson to others of what God desires in His children.  Moses was not allowed to cross into the land of promise because he acted rashly one time and in so doing defamed the name of the Lord (Num. 20:12).  What lessons are we teaching?  Do we know the proper example to emulate it?  Are we ever on our guard to teach the examples appropriately?

2. Zealousness (2:14) – Believers are not to be lackluster disciples.  The desire for the things of God should be as Phinehas who willingly thrust a spear through his fellow Israelite to stop sin in the camp (Num. 25:6-8).  Affection for the Lord Jesus and his purposes must transcend those of family and friend (Luke 14:26).  Not that we despise another, for we are clearly taught to love one another (1 John 4:7-12).  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught clearly that we are to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44).  However, what is the greatest commandment but to love God with all the heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37)?  In addition, what is the second but to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39)?  The sequence of these defines our priority.

3. Readiness (3:1) – Preparedness is a requirement in the military.  All things must be in order so that the call to arms may be answered with a minimum of preparation.  Gideon was instructed by God to cull his army by observing how the men drank water (Judg. 7:4-5).  Those who dropped their weapons and put their heads down to drink were dismissed.  Those that brought the water to their mouths were kept.  What was the difference?  The latter were ready for action.  Likewise, Nehemiah instructed those building the wall to work with a weapon in their hands for fear of imminent attack (Neh. 4:13-18).  Disciples, as good soldiers of Christ (2 Tim. 2:3), should likewise be prepared for whatever good deed is needed, for preaching the word (2 Tim. 4:2), for defending the hope within us (1 Pet. 3:15), for Christ’s soon return (Matt. 24:44).

4. Steadfastness (3:8) – Care for good works is a constant affair.  No other person can successfully monitor them.  The responsibility is engaging in those things that the Lord has given us to do.  The race of life is long and takes much endurance (Heb. 12:1). Two of David’s mighty men can serve as illustrations—Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite (1 Sam. 23:9-10) who “struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword” and Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite (1 Sam. 23:11-12) who “stationed himself in the middle of the field [of lentils], defended it, and killed the Philistines.”  When the battle is long and weariness besets us, do we cling to the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17)?  Do we set ourselves in the midst and say to the enemy, “This far and no further?”   These are what the Lord uses to gain a mighty victory.  Our aim is on Christ (Heb. 12:2) and our prize is the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).

5. Fruitfulness (3:14) – A tree is known by its fruit (Matt. 7:20).  Paul would have plainly understood these words of Jesus for he bore the bad fruit in his agreement of stoning Stephen and imprisoning of believers (Acts 8:1, 3).  As a Pharisee, he understood the hypocrisy that was rampant among them.  James points out the error of attempting to claim life when there is no fruit of faith (James 2:14-26).  Rather that one is dead.  The believer’s life is to bear the fruit of life given by Christ Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit living in and through him.

1 Continuing the series from Part 1.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Titus - Part 1

Two years ago I posted a summary of Paul's epistle to Titus from an approximate two-month study.  I have decided to give the details of that study in the form of a paper I had written as a result.  This is the first of what will be a multi-part offering.

Godliness.  The mention of the word acknowledges a standard—one established by God and according to His word.  In Christendom, when the common person thinks of godliness, a familiar mental picture is a member of the clergy who has chosen religion as a profession or to be cloistered and unsullied by the world.  They are seen set apart from the rest of mankind to be examples of what is proper, yet unattainable, for the general public.  The book of Titus gives a different picture.  In three chapters, the Holy Spirit through Paul teaches the essence of godliness for various roles and responsibilities in life—life in obedience to the gospel.  Rather than being characteristic of the lofty few, each person is accountable for exercising and promoting godliness during day-to-day involvement regardless of office or gift in Christ’s church.  As Mounce states:
There are two underlying premises to [Paul’s] approach: (1) [T]heology should affect behavior.  Christ came to “redeem us from all lawlessness and cleanse for himself a special people, a zealot for good works” (Titus 2:14).  The call to godly behavior is not works righteousness; neither is it a call to good citizenship without theological underpinning.  (2) A person’s belief and behavior are so closely related that behavior reflects belief; the fruit of the tree is a true representation of the roots of the tree; it is out of one’s heart that one speaks (Luke 6:43-45)…Therefore, there is a significant emphasis on good works as the necessary outgrowth of salvation.1
Titus would now have Paul’s instruction and authority to inspire and establish godliness in the Cretan believers against two forces working against the gospel.

Obstacles to Success
Cretan Character (1:12-13a) Crete was the center of the Minoan maritime empire named after King Minos. The empire flourished from 2000 to 1500 BC and suddenly collapsed around 1400 BC.   The Minoans were known to the Egyptians as “Keftiu” and is similar to the Jewish “Caphtor” which Scripture indicates to be the origin of the Philistines who came to Palestine (Jer. 47:4; Amos 9:7).  The Caphtorim were originally the descendants of Ham (Gen. 10:14) who later invaded the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea and established five city-states—Gaza (Deut. 2:23), Gath, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron.2  Also, the Cherethites of David’s bodyguard (2 Sam. 15:18) appear to have been native-born Cretan mercenaries, later coming under judgment (Ezek. 25:16; Zeph. 2:5) with the rest of the Philistine nation.

Before the second century B.C., Cretans had gained notoriety for being adept and profuse liars such that the Greeks coined a verb κρετιζω meaning to lie and cheat.  In addition, the English word “syncretism” derives from Cretan alliances formed by the different warring tribes against a common foe (from the Greek συνκρητισμος - union of two parties against a third3).  Polybius (c.200 - after 118 B.C.) reflected the Greek view of these people when he wrote:
Cretans on account of their innate avarice live in a perpetual state of private quarrel and public feud and civil strife—you will hardly find anywhere characters more tricky and deceitful than those of Crete—money is so highly valued among them, that its possession is not only thought to be necessary, but highly creditable; and in fact greed and avarice are so native to the soil in Crete that they are the only people in the world among whom no stigma attaches to any sort of gain whatever (Polybius, 6.46, Loeb edition).4
He also related negotiations between a traitor and a leader that looked out only for their own interests over those of the person in danger.  No honor or obligation was assumed.

Those outside Crete were not the only detractors, however.  Near 600 BC Epimenedes of Knossos, a Cretan philosopher and later a noted wise man of Greece, gave the truth of the matter in Paul’s quotation that Cretans were “always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12b).  One needs turn no further than to Hollywood to see how this lifestyle is depicted today.  In the formerly popular television series “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” an alien race (Ferengi) was written into the show which embodied this very lifestyle.  The race had a written code of acquisition that placed profit and personal safety above all else.  Not surprisingly, this character was head of the ship’s area which operated all that is desired to please the flesh, whether easy women, intoxicating drink, or gambling.  However a person would spend money for pleasure became a vehicle to bring in a profit.  Whether ancient Crete or a fantasy television series, the testimony given is not unlike that mentioned by the apostle in his epistles to Philippi (Phil. 3:18-19) and Rome (Rom. 1:28-32).  Notice must be given that though the Cretan culture was wicked, it was not uncommon for the Roman world in Paul’s day, nor is it uncommon in this day.

False Teachers (1:10-11, 13b-16) The other major influence working against the gospel was false teaching predominantly by Jews.  Paul’s countrymen were noted for constancy in two areas of his life—conflicts and burdens.  The former were enemies of Paul seeking to destroy the work that was being established through the preaching of the gospel.  Throughout Paul’s missionary efforts Jews (especially leaders) would oppose Paul, upset the crowds, and cause rioting to halt the message.  Yet, these same people are the ones Paul had in his heart when he would ask that he might be accursed in place of his countrymen (Rom. 9:3).  The latter were those Jews who had received the Lord Jesus Christ as savior and were now thinking that continued adherence to the law was required for salvation.  Paul had to deal with these issues in both Antioch (Acts 15) and Galatia (epistle to the same).

Reason to Rejoice
Lest there be discouragement caused by the obstacles above, one need only remember there were believers on Crete when this letter was written.5  The gospel had gone forth and not returned void.  Where did these believers come from?  When would there have been opportunity to evangelize?  There are three possibilities.

1. On the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended there were Cretans in the crowd that heard the commotion (Acts 2:11) and later heard Peter’s message.  It is possible some were numbered among the 3,000 saved that day or having heard believed at a later date.

2. As Paul was being taken under guard to Rome the ship put into port at Fair Havens on the southern edge of Crete where they stayed for an unknown length of time (Acts 27:7-9a).  We have no record of Paul’s actions while in harbor, but there remains a possibility he interacted with Cretans while awaiting continued travel to Rome.

3. From the text Paul had undertaken a missionary effort on Crete taking Titus with him (Titus 1:5).  This was no small work on the island as signified by their co-workers Zenas the lawyer and Apollos who were evidently still on Crete at the time of Paul’s letter (Titus 3:13).  Zenas is not mentioned elsewhere, so his ministry is unknown, but his occupation suggests he was able to handle the Scriptures wisely and convincingly.  Apollos, on the other hand, was a Jew born in Alexandria, eloquent, mighty in the Scriptures, fervent in spirit, accurate in teaching, bold, and powerfully refuting Jews needing only some additional teaching from Aquila and Priscilla to round out his ministry (Acts 18:24-28).

1 William D. Mounce.  Pastoral Epistles, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 46.  Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker., eds.  Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000., p. lxxviii.
2 Michael Griffiths.  Timothy and Titus.  Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996., p. 126.
3 Webster’s New World Dictionary, College Edition.  Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Co., 1953-60, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968., p. 1479.
4 Quoted in Griffiths, p. 139
5 This is inferred from the command to appoint elders (Titus 1:5) and the request to “greet those who love us in the faith” (Titus 3:15)—neither having meaning if there were none who would properly benefit from these directives.

Antioch - Canon 18

If any bishop ordained to a parish shall not proceed to the parish to which he has been ordained, not through any fault of his own, but either because of the rejection of the people, or for any other reason not arising from himself, let him enjoy his rank and ministry; only he shall not disturb the affairs of the Church which he joins; and he shall abide by whatever the full synod of the province shall determine, after judging the case.

If the ordained overseer is unable to accept appointment for reasons outside of his control, he may join in fellowship at a church wherever suited until a full synod might be convened to determine his situation and future.  Until then, he may maintain the privileges of his office but not interfere with the affairs of this temporary church home.

Today, there are a times when a church leader may not be in a position of authority in a local group for a variety of reasons.  A furlough will likely find him visiting and sitting under the teaching of another leader.  There may be a tendency in those cases for the furloughed leader to become enmeshed in affairs because of a desire to be productive again or because of the prodding from those established in the new church to get him involved.  In both cases the proper course of action is to stop and back away, recognizing that premature involvement is reckless and potentially damaging to both him and those he hopes to assist.  The leader is on furlough for a reason.  If the Lord so indicates through patient waiting and wise council that he should be fully involved with the new group, the first church should review what has happened and send him on with their blessing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Antioch - Canon 17

If any one having received the ordination of a bishop, and having been appointed to preside over a people, shall not accept his ministry, and will not be persuaded to proceed to the Church entrusted to him, he shall be excommunicated until he, being constrained, accept it, or until a full synod of the bishops of the province shall have determined concerning him.

At first read someone might wonder why someone would show the desire and perform the necessary prerequisites in order to be an overseer, then turn away from his assignment.  Some possibilities come to mind:

   1.  The assignment is in an unacceptable region, away from familiar surroundings. This seems to be the least likely reason since the overseer would have made a firm commitment to the Lord's leading early in the process.
   2.  The overseer has sought the position from pride and is now exhibiting that trait.  Perhaps the assignment is beneath his perceived ability or aspirations.  This possible scenario can be questioned on the basis of demonstrated humility over an extended period of time.  How could someone working toward the position of overseer mask the pride, unless it might have entered later on.
   3.  There is undiscovered or unrepentant sin which may, if brought to light, disqualify the newly ordained overseer. If this was the case, the penalty for evasive tactics would disqualify, making silence trivial except for conscience sake.
   4.  Lastly, there is the possibility of a developed health concern making the assignment difficult or impossible to fulfill.

Whatever the reason, the overseer was to be cast out until such time as he should accept or a synod be convened to review and rule on the matter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Antioch - Canon 16

If any bishop without a see shall throw himself upon a vacant church and seize its throne, without a full synod, he shall be cast out, even if all the people over whom he has usurped jurisdiction should choose him.  And that shall be a full synod, in which the metropolitan is present.

Right off I want to state that the word "throne" is disconcerting, but in relation to the early church, it was a literal seat reserved for the spiritual authority.  Should an overseer attempt to move into a vacant church, even for altruistic reasons, and begin exercise authority without a proper synod (at which a metropolitan was present) for installation, that overseer was deposed.  This canon prevented an opportunistic overseer from attempting to gain greater influence by moving into a vacant spot.  It also gave proper protocol for moving someone into that position in an orderly manner.

Antioch - Canon 15

If any bishop, lying under any accusation, shall be judged by all the bishops in the province, and all shall unanimously deliver the same verdict concerning him, he shall not be again judged by others, but the unanimous sentence of the bishops of the province shall stand firm.

Associated with the previous canon, this addressed the case where a unanimous verdict delivered by the local body of authority was binding with no appeal.  Noteworthy in both canons was the insistence of unanimity.  The practice of majority rule is relatively new in the church and most likely an outgrowth of the democratic process found in Western culture.  Most, if not all, church groups have a voting process with its ugly offspring politicking.  The majority rules rather than seeking a consensus.  Certainly, the latter can be more difficult, even strenuous, but the decisions are more binding and results more long-lasting.  Numerical advantage may change between divergent groups in a simple election, and political alliances are both tenuous and fleeting.  Better to work beyond a super-majority to the place where all in leadership can operate under the established decisions and guidelines.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Antioch - Canon 14

If a bishop shall be tried on any accusations, and it should then happen that the bishops of the province disagree concerning him, some pronouncing the accused innocent, and others guilty; for the settlement of all disputes, the holy Synod decrees that the metropolitan call on some others belonging to the neighboring province, who shall add their judgment and resolve the dispute, and thus, with those of the province, confirm what is determined.

This canon recognized that the local church should be administering its own affairs, but there may be times when the council of others is needed in order to proceed on an issue.  This is not a sign of failure but recognizing a shortcoming in experience.  Wisdom recognizes when help is needed and sought.  This in no way removes the place or responsibility of the local church leaders for they will be held responsible in the final decision.

Spiritual Warfare - Spiritual Disciplines

How do we build up one another in Christ?  What steps can we take in response to the manifold grace of God poured out on us and in the continual struggle with spiritual wickedness in high places?  This lesson was an attempt to show believers how they could order their lives.

I was unable to get through all the material of this final session in my series.  The Kleinig MP3 intended for the end of part five of the series was used at the beginning of this part instead.  Here are my notes for this lesson.  There were no handouts or PowerPoint.

Some books were mentioned as resources:
Carson, D. A.  A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul And His Prayers.  Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.
Vos, Howard F.  Effective Bible Study: A Guide to Sixteen Methods.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1956.
Arthur, Kay.  How to Study Your Bible.  Eugene: Harvest House, 1994.

Books I did not get to but are worthy of investigation:
Law, William.  A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.  n.d., 1729.
Hughes, R. Kent.  Disciplines of a Godly Man.  Wheaton: Crossway, 1991.
Kleinig, John W.  Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today.  St. Louis: Concordia, 2008.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Antioch - Canon 13

No bishop shall presume to pass from one province to another, and ordain persons to the dignity of the ministry in the Church, not even should he have others with him, unless he should go at the written invitation of the metropolitan and bishops into whose country he goes.  But if he should, without invitation, proceed irregularly to the ordination of any, or to the regulation of ecclesiastical affairs which do not concern him, the things done by him are null, and he himself shall suffer the due punishment of his irregularity and his unreasonable undertaking, by being forthwith deposed by the holy Synod.

This canon prevented one overseer to visit the area served by another overseer with the intent of ordaining someone to a position.  An entourage would have the semblance of authority, but the practice was still condemned.  Only with the express written invitation of the overseer or metropolitan could such an ordination be practiced.  Any outside attempts was considered seditious and carried whatever punishment was considered apropos.  The force of the canon allowed the spiritual authority in a region to conduct affairs without interference from wolves rising up to devour the flock.  The unhindered work allowed long-range planning and removed fear of an ecclesiastical interloper.

Because of fragmentation within the local (i.e., city) church today with varied denominations vying for the attention of the local church, sheep-stealing has become the norm.  A church perceives an unmet need or service area and exploits it so that those around are attentive to the "up and coming" work.  The notoriety draws unsatisfied believers into their midst where they are summarily fed the latest staple that neither fills nor satisfies the soul, and the cycle begins once again with a new ministry start-up.  Shame on us for not respecting the work of the local church already established in a city.  Lack of attention by the believers in a locale to a particular ministry area does not automatically give another group the right to move in and begin operations as the next big thing.  As per the canon, do not go to establish something new unless the local church gives its blessing.

Of course, what happens if the local church is not doing the work that Christ intended?  Or what if they have abandoned the cause of Christ (as is too often the case).  Here there is clear testimony of scripture that we are to obey God rather than men.  Do the work the Lord Jesus gave you to do.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Who Is Our God? John of Damascus Answers

We believe, then, in One God, one beginning having no beginning, uncreated, unbegotten, imperishable and immortal, everlasting, infinite, uncircumscribed, boundless, of infinite power, simple, uncompound, incorporeal, without flux, passionless, unchangeable, unalterable, unseen, the fountain of goodness and justice, the light of the mind, inaccessible; a power known by no measure, measurable only by His own will alone, creator of all created things, seen or unseen, of all the maintainer and preserver, for all the provider, master and lord and king over all, with an endless and immortal kingdom: having no contrary, filling all, by nothing encompassed, but rather Himself the encompasser and maintainer and original possessor of the universe, occupying all essences intact and extending beyond all things, and being separate from all essence as being essential beyond and above all things and absolute God, absolute goodness, and absolute fulness: determining all sovereignties and ranks, being placed above all sovereignty and rank, above essence and life and word and thought: being Himself very light and goodness and life and essence, inasmuch as He does not derive His being from another, that is to say, of those things that exist: but being Himself the fountain of being to all that is, of life to the living, of reason to those that have reason; to all the cause of all good: perceiving all things even before they have become: one essence, one divinity, one power, one will, one energy, one beginning, one authority, one dominion, one sovereignty, made known in three perfect subsistences and adored with one adoration, believed in and ministered to by all rational creation, united without confusion and divided without separation.

John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book I, Cap. 8

Spiritual Warfare - Armor of God

God has equipped each child of his with the protection necessary to do spiritual battle.  These can be found in Ephesians 6:10-20.  What I found remarkable is that the first three mentioned (belt, breastplate, shod feet) are presented as things already placed on us, we having been placed upon us when believing on the redemptive work of Christ.  Those that follow are implements we consciously employ in the battle.



Audio – Bryan Wolfmueller, "Stand"; Dr John Kleinig, "Sentry Duty and Prayer"

No PowerPoint for this lesson.

During my research I stumbled on several good materials dealing with this passage from the church fathers (John Chrysostom has three homilies beginning here) to D. A. Carson and John MacArthur, Jr.  There is much good, sound, free teaching on the subject.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Increased Blog Traffic

Usually, traffic to my blog comprises my mother, sister, and a couple of friends who are as Bible-geeky as I am.  Not so this weekend and following.  Suddenly, traffic jumped ten-fold specifically for the John Chrysostom post on husbands treating their wives well.  I did a bit more nosing around and discovered that my post had been selected for Issues, Etc. Blog of the Week (as in the widget you see in the sidebar).  I was surprised and have already thanked the host.

Traffic will certainly die down again to family and friends, but I can rest assured that all the men who read the post are already making plans as to how best they can implement the sage advice from centuries past.  Right, guys? Right?!

Antioch - Canon 12

If any presbyter or deacon deposed by his own bishop, or any bishop deposed by a synod, shall dare to trouble the ears of the Emperor, when it is his duty to submit his case to a greater synod of bishops, and to refer to more bishops the things which he thinks right, and to abide by the examination and decision made by them; if, despising these, he shall trouble the Emperor, he shall be entitled to no pardon, neither shall he have an opportunity of defense, nor any hope of future restoration.

Whereas the previous canon was directed to the overseers, this addressed the elders and deacons who were considering or actively engaged in seeking the help of civil authority for church matters.  These together were intended to prevent any ordained person from operating independently, not recognizing the unity and cohesion of the church as it was intended to be—an organic, living thing whereby each part works in harmony with the whole.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Antioch - Canon 11

If any bishop, or presbyter, or any one whatever of the canon shall presume to betake himself to the Emperor without the consent and letters of the bishop of the province, and particularly of the bishop of the metropolis, such a one shall be publicly deposed and cast out, not only from communion, but also from the rank which he happens to have; inasmuch as he dares to trouble the ears of our Emperor beloved of God, contrary to the law of the Church.  But, if necessary business shall require any one to go to the Emperor, let him do it with the advice and consent of the metropolitan and other bishops in the province, and let him undertake his journey with letters from them.

This somewhat restrictive canon attempted to thwart church officers from appealing to civil authorities even as rulers were attempting to hold sway over the church.  The rightful role of church discipline and authority as established by the apostle Paul (1 Cor 5:3-5; 6:1-11) was being circumvented.  The modern church would do well to understand that civil authority has no jurisdiction in church matters.  To go before the legal system of the land is tantamount to saying that Christ is insufficient for all things concerning his very body on earth of which he is head.  How short we fall when the elect cannot, will not, or is not allowed to adjudicate a just, loving, and binding verdict.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Antioch - Canon 10

The Holy Synod decrees that persons in villages and districts, or those who are called chorepiscopi, even though they may have received ordination to the Episcopate, shall regard their own limits and manage the churches subject to them, and be content with the care and administration of these; but they may ordain readers, sub-deacons and exorcists, and shall be content with promoting these, but shall not presume to ordain either a presbyter or a deacon, without the consent of bishop of the city to which he and his district are subject. And if he shall dare to transgress [these] decrees, he shall be deposed from the rank which he enjoys. And a chorepiscopus is to be appointed by the bishop of the city to which he is subject.

This extended some clarification to the previous canon by stating which offices can be appointed by the country overseer without the metropolitan.  Low-level assistants did not require a higher level approval while elders and deacons needed input presumably so that all things were done in good order.