Does Galatians 6:10 Authorize The Church to Give to Non-Saints? Part 2

February 26th, 2003

Based upon the definitions upon which we agree about general and specific authority, I argue that the church has general authority to give to non-saints from Galatians 6:10. The reasoning that I would offer on this behalf is that Paul is writing to the churches of Galatia (1:2) and so the epistle is addressed to these churches. The instruction he is giving within the epistle is addressed to these churches in order for them to deal with the problem of Judaizing teachers. Paul expected each and every church in the region of Galatia to deal with these problems as the church. While chapters 1-4 of this book contains theological argumentation regarding the problem of being justified by the old law and how that idea is incompatible with the faith that is in Christ, chapters 5 and 6:1-10 deal with practical instruction to the churches regarding how to deal with the problem within their own communities. So in chapter five Paul’s discussion centers around remaining in the freedom of Christ and yet, not using that freedom as an excuse to engage in fleshly desires. Chapter six discusses the methods that the churches were to use to engage and correct the problem of the Judaizing teachers. They were to take five steps to do this. 1) by restoring the one who is overtaken in the trespass (vs.1) (the Judaizing teacher presumably in this context [I am not limiting the passage to only that one problem, because I think the principles apply to other problems as well, but in this context no doubt that is the problem with which these churches would soon be engaged if they properly followed Paul’s instruction]) 2) By bearing others burdens (vs. 2, 3) which shows the dependence one person has upon the church. For when we bear one another’s burdens, individuals are less likely to think of themselves as “something.” This does not discount the individual responsibility that all Christians have, however, to work (vs. 4, 5). 3) By “supporting the local leadership” (vs.6); this builds unity among the saints and dissuades false teachers from sowing discord. 4) By not being deceived about the implications of false doctrine (vs.7, 8, sowing to the flesh in this context probably refers primarily to the Judaizing teaching of circumcision. I am not limiting it to that because the principle is true regarding a whole host of things, but likely it is referring to circumcision and thereby, doctrine, as opposed to lifestyle, in this context). 5) By continuing to do that which is good (vs.9, 10). It would have been easy for them to be discouraged by these false teachers (as often occurs even today when false teachers cause discord in churches) so Paul urges them not to give up doing good–not to be weary in well doing and doing good unto all men especially toward the household of the saints. Verses 11-18 is Paul’s closing to the epistle and exhortation with his own hand and as such is more loosely related to the whole epistle in general and is not specifically associated with verses 1-10 as continued practices the church needs to observe to deal with the problem of the Judaizing teachers.

So what we have in Galatians 6:10 is instruction to the church to do good to all men. This is general authority for the church to give money to all men including non-saints with the purpose of benevolence in mind. That the phrase “do good” includes the idea of giving monetarily is supported by 1 Timothy 6:18 and Luke 6:35. (I am merely suggesting from these other passages that the phrase “do good” means to give money; I am not suggesting that 1 Tim.6:8 and Luke 6:35 teach that the church can give money. I am suggesting that Galatians 6:10 authorizes the church to give money.) I am also arguing that the phrase “unto all men” includes non-saints. I suggest this from the use of the word “especially” or “specially” in this context. We see from other contexts that this word is used to narrow the focus from the general to the more specific where the specific is emphasized, but the general is not excluded. For example, in 1 Timothy 5:17 Paul tells Timothy to give double-honor to elders that rule well, but especially to those who labor in the word and doctrine. The idea is that ALL elders who rule well are to be double-honored, but those who labor in word and doctrine are particularly emphasized for consideration. No elder who “rules well” is excluded, but the focus should be upon those who labor in word and doctrine. Notice also in Titus 1:10 Paul writes about vain talkers and deceivers but especially they of the circumcision. Titus was to be warned regarding ALL vain talkers and deceivers, but the emphasis was upon they of the circumcision. Notice also 1 Timothy 5:8 where Paul talks about taking care of one’s own and especially towards those in his own house. Christians are to take care of all of their own family whether they are in the same location or not, but especially if they are in the same location. Notice that this is not exclusive of the family that may live in a different place. Additional arguments regarding the word “especially” could be made from 2 Timothy 4:13, Acts 25:26; 1 Timothy 4:10; and Philemon 1:16. In each case, the word “especially” is used to narrow in on a category similar, but different from the broader subject and in each case, both categories are included in the force of the main thought under discussion. So in Galatians 6:10 the main thought is “to do good.” The object of that thought is “all men.” The second and more emphasized object of that thought is “the household of faith” but this does not exclude the first and less emphasized object. The church is authorized to do good to all men.

I would further argue that the specific authority we find of the church giving to saints does not limit the general authority in this passage. Using the example of the great commission, we see that the apostles were generally authorized to “Go.” We see specific examples of them “going” by walking and boating, but this does not exclude going by automobile, airplane, or train. So also with Galatians 6:10, we have general authority to “do good” to all men. We see specific examples of the early church “doing good” to saints, but this does not exclude doing good to non-saints. For one to argue that the specific authority of the examples of the church doing good to saints limits the church to saints only would be to argue similarly that since we only see the apostles going by walking and boating that we could not use a car or train or airplane to go. When we are authorized to do something generally, examples of doing that thing do not militate against other things of the same class (in the great commission the class is “modes of transportation”; in Galatians 6:10 the class is “men”).

Now, I could be wrong in anticipating what you are going to say about Galatians 6:10, but I am going to go ahead and say that I think that you are going to say that Galatians 6:10 is only addressed to individuals, and not the church. IF this is what you are going to say (and I have heard others say this and that is why I am assuming that. If you are not going to say this, then I apologize in advance), I don’t believe the context of Galatians 6:10 supports this conclusion. The epistle as a whole is addressed not to just one church, but to multiple churches and thus I don’t believe that you could argue that it is merely talking about individual behavior–corporate behavior must be involved in the epistle somewhere. So, you have to suggest in some way that Galatians 6:10 within the context of being addressed to the church corporately is referring to individual behavior. This would certainly be true regarding Galatians 5, but starting in chapter six a contrast is drawn between individual behavioral instruction and corporate behavioral instruction with the opening of 6:1. Paul clearly addresses the brethren (plural) in verse 1. Again in verse 2 the instruction is to the church corporate and the plural indicates this. In verse 3-5, Paul is discussing particular individual responses to the corporate action of verse 2. This is indicated by the connecting words of “For” in verse 3, “but” in verse 4, and “For” in verse 5. This is all one thought explaining and answering the attitudes of individuals regarding the corporate action in verse 2. Verse 6 begins a new thought and that is corporate in application as well, but in the universal particular, i.e., Paul expects every member of the church to do these things and in so doing they will be acting corporately. This is also true regarding verses 7 and 8; these are universal particulars; they apply to individuals as well as to churches. Both individuals have the responsibility not to be deceived and the church (as a collection of individuals) has the responsibility not to be deceived. Both individuals and churches (as collections of individuals) who sow to the flesh will reap the flesh. And while I could understand the possibility that verses 7 and 8 are referring to individual behavior, verse 9, in clear contrast, brings the discussion back to corporate action with the inclusion of the first person plural, “us” and verse 10 also uses the first person plural in the word “we” and “us.” The action in verses 9 and 10 is corporate in nature. Verse 9 emphasizes the need for the church not to get discouraged and verse 10 gives the method of preventing the church from getting discouraged–do good works! The context is also corporate in its scope; Paul is giving instruction to the church on how to handle the problem of Judaizing teachers. I think I explained this clearly in the discussion above. I believe that the burden of proof in this context is upon someone who would affirm otherwise to show that Paul was NOT giving corporate instruction but instruction regarding individual behavior given both the context of the book of Galatians and the immediate context where the plurality of the personal pronouns is clearly used by Paul. I just don’t believe that a clear and convincing case can be made in this context to show that and without a case against, one is left with a clear counter example of a command for the church to “do good” to non-saints.

In short, my basic argument is this:

(1) The action of “doing good” is an action that is authorized for the church to practice toward non-saints (per Galatians 6:10).

(2) The action of giving money is an action that is “doing good.”

(3) Therefore, the action of giving money is an action that is authorized for the church to practice toward non-saints (per Galatians 6:10).

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Does Galatians 6:10 Authorize The Church to Give to Non-Saints? Part 1 (Introduction)

(Author’s note: This is my part of an e-mail discussion with a non-institutional brother on the subject of whether the church has Bible authority to give to non-saints. The discussion occurred by e-mail in February and March of 2003. It was an informal discussion in that there were no stated propositions upon which we were going to debate. There was also no time limit or word limit placed on the discussion. Prior to this point the person with whom I was discussing this information and I had agreed that there was such a thing as specific authority and general authority. I did not think that it was necessary to include this material because it was not specifically regarding Galatians 6:10 and it was mainly short personal statements of belief. It was based upon this agreement [that the Bible does authorize in a general way] that I began the discussion of Galatians 6:10. The e-mails and the name of the person with whom I was having the discussion are not included based upon an agreement not to publish his material without his consent. I have tried to eliminate any personal remarks within the material so as to focus solely on the topic at hand [such as, “How are you today, etc.”]. The premise which I was affirming was that Galatians 6:10 gives general authority to the church to give to non-saints.)

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God’s Worship

We read within the Bible that Christians assembled together upon the first day of the week to worship God through His Son, Jesus (Acts 20:7). When they met together, they studied God’s word, prayed, sang hymns of praise, gave of their income, and partook of the Lord’s supper. We have examples for each of these practices within the New Testament (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 14:15; 16:1-2). We see in these simple, yet powerful, actions of worship, how God desires to be worshipped in the name of His Son, Jesus.

The worship observed within the churches of Christ is one of the biggest differences that are noted by those who are not members of the church of Christ. Many want to know where the “music” is. Many want to know why the Lord’s supper is observed every Sunday. Many want to know why such emphasis is placed upon Bible study. Many want to know why we do not “tithe.” The answer is really quite simple, though many do not accept it. We seek to worship God upon the terms and conditions that God has set for worship within the New Testament.

One will not find the word “tithe” in the New Testament. One will not find the use of mechanical instruments of music in the worship of the church in the New Testament. One will not find the Lord’s supper being observed once a quarter, or month in the New Testament, but every Sunday. One will not find within the New Testament “self-help” motivational speaking, but rather the preaching and teaching of the word of God. It is our desire to worship God in the way that God would have us worship Him, not in the way that makes man feel good. We seek to serve God in our worship, not to serve self.

We worship God not to gain an emotional experience, but because God is worthy of our worship. Revelation 4:11 states, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” The reason for our very existence is to give pleasure to God; it makes no sense for God’s creation to fashion worship practices which give pleasure to the creature rather than the creator.

Indeed, who ought to determine how we are to worship? The one who worships? Or the one who deserves to be worshipped? Certainly, the creature has no right to tell the creator how he/she is going to worship Him. God Himself must tell us what we may do to worship; we dare not approach God with our own righteousness (Romans 10:1-3).

Jesus said that God desires to be worshipped in spirit and in truth. Spiritual worship is worshipping God out of a humble, respectful, and subservient attitude. Truthful worship means to worship God according to His word, for God’s word is truth (John 17:17).

So as we worship together this day, let us focus upon God as the one toward whom we are worshipping; let us acknowledge His wishes in the way in which He would have us to worship Him; and let us be content to satisfy God in our worship as opposed to satisfying ourselves.

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