February 08, 2017

Strengthening the Church

As I transcribed my notes from a recent church visit I was taken aback to realize that I had no quotes from the pastor because there was no sermon per se. The basic elements of worship were in place — hymns, short scripture readings, communion, the Lord’s Prayer and taking up the offering. However, the remainder of the service was taken up with a video from the denomination’s hierarchy, an awards ceremony and announcements. On a certain level I regret not hearing the Word preached that day. However, Paul reminded me, “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church” (1Cor 14:26 NIV).

1 comment:

Steve Corey said...


-----The key words of I Cor 14:26, the words which wrap around the most of this passage’s concept and context are, “All of these things must be done for the strengthening of the church.” The NIV actually weakens the strength of Paul’s point by treating the Greek word “pantas” reflexively, as if it were a pronoun, and then directing the commanded action, “strengthening“ towards the church.
-----“Pantas” is very much the same in meaning and usage as the English “all”. By a little study we can notice that reflexiveness has been supplied by “of these” in the NIV, a pronoun type prepositional phrase. Most often adjectives and pronouns modify meaning by making their targeted concept more specific. To make something more specific is to limit it. In this case “of these” limits “all” to the short list of activities by which Paul merely represented the broad activity of believers when gathered. Regarding that sense of limitation, we can ask what about an encouragement, a prayer, or a praise? Are these not also to be done for edification of the church? For neither “pantas” nor “oikodoman” (edify) does Paul write any limitation at all. What Paul wrote in Greek without the modifiers which the NIV by itself supplies reads like, “All for edification do.” By a short list of specific examples, He is drawing the readers’ attention to the particulars of activity when believers come together, and then he says about all the particulars, do everything for edification.
-----Doing everything for edification is a powerful statement about how what happens in church should happen. To sequester edification to the short list weakens its impact. Moreover, the singular form of “do” is a personal statement to each reader. It is not like the church service choreographers do it. Nor is it like the preacher does it, or the choir, or the worship team, or even just guitar man. It is like everyone does it from the depth of their hearts in everything they do, because God’s Word spoke it to each reader individually by stating the imperative in the singular.
-----And finally, one last NIV limiter needs removal. Paul is saying everyone in the church should do everything he does in the church for edification. Left without limitation, that doing is directed towards each and every person, as well as to the church collectively. The power of this statement is that the deliberate purpose of the hymn, the instruction, the revelation, tongue, interpretation, or of anything else anyone does is to edify. To edify one and or all depending on whether the action is directed towards one or the entire church. For in a world of decay and degradation, copious edification is imperative.

Love you all,
Steve Corey