Summary: Part 7D is a continuation of the functions we observe in the church in its infancy, and corresponding gifts that enable and empower the functionaries to perform in their various roles.
This 13-part series of classes has been many years in the making. About 25 years ago I began in earnest to examine the features, character and characteristics of the church as it existed in its earliest years. As I sometimes do, I kept my notes all along the way, and this series of classes is to a large extent the product of those years of on-and-off studying the subject. Several things in my experience contributed to my interest in making this 25-year study which I will mention along the way, and those go much further back.
There may be some difficulty in using the individual parts of this series separately, although viewer are free to do so if it serves their purposes. But to those whose interest is in knowing what the church was like in its earliest years, I recommend starting with Part 1 - Introduction to the Church of the New Testament and proceeding through the parts consecutively.
I have prepared some slides that I used in presenting the series in a classroom setting before adapting it to use as sermons. I have left my cues to advance slides or activate animations in the notes as posted on Sermon Central. If anyone is interested in having the PowerPoint files with the slides, I will be happy to send them. Send me an Email at email@example.com and specify what part(s) you are requesting. Be sure that the word “slide” appears in the subject line. It may take me several days to respond, but I will respond to all requests.
THE CHURCH OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
OUTLINE OF THE STUDY
II. The Origin of the Church
III. What is the church?
IV. The First Christians
V. Authority in the First Century Church
VI. Problems in the New Testament Church
VII. How the Church Functioned
A. Introduction to Functions
B. Apostles, Prophets, and Teachers
C. False Apostles, Prophets, and Teachers & Various Gifts and Functions
D. More Gifts and Functions
E. Evangelists, Preachers, and Ministers, Servants and Deacons
F. Pastors, Elders, Bishops, etc.
VIII. How the Church Worshiped
The preceding part of this series (D. False Apostles, Prophets, and Teachers and Various Gifts and Functions) concluded with an examination of the function of “giving” as identified in Romans 12:8, where Paul says (in the KJV): “he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity.” The NASB says “he who gives, with liberality.”
A question arises, which we did not address earlier:
WIDOWS INDEED--A CHARITY CASE OR A FUNCTION?
Read 1 Tim 5:3-16 – read in KJV
*Advance to Widows indeed slide
“Widows” is from the Greek word chera (kay'-rah), which is defined simply as a widow, a woman deprived of her husband.
Indeed is from the Greek word ontoce (on’ tos), which means truly, or in reality.
What was going on with these aging widows? Was this simply charity for a narrowly defined group of women in a specified condition of life, or were the women supported to perform a function? Is it significant that younger widows were explicitly not to be on the list? If it was charity only, why were they not as needful and deserving of it as those over 60?
In the 21st century do we practice this in a formal way with a “list” as Paul’s detailed instructions specify, or as churches today do we merely practice it on an ad hoc, “as needed” basis?
To me, this appears to be an identified, compensated function; not a mere assortment of charity cases. The services performed by widows indeed are not distinctly stated, any more than those of deacons. Drawing that parallel, it seems reasonable to me to conclude that their tasks were determined according to their capabilities, which they demonstrated by possessing the qualifications for widows indeed. The qualifications were given to Timothy by Paul in 1 Tim 5:9-10; i.e,
*Advance to next Widows Indeed slide
• she has been left alone,
• has fixed her hope on God,
• continues in entreaties and prayers night and day,
• avoids wanton pleasure,
• is at least sixty years old,
• the wife of one man,
• has a reputation for good works,
• has brought up children,
• has shown hospitality to strangers,
• has washed the saints' feet,
• has assisted those in distress,
• has devoted herself to every good work.
What an impressive set of qualifications! They send a signal that there is a work to which these qualifications are very important.
• That doesn’t sound to me like a charity case.
• What, if anything, were these widows on “the list” doing?
• Are they simply “servants” under the wider definition we discussed for diakonos?
If this is not something we do, the question emerges:
• Should we be doing it (if not literally and precisely, then in principle)?