March 16th, 2003
In reply to your comments below, even in 1 Corinthians 11 the use of the word “church” and “together” does not preclude individual action because Paul states in verse 28, “but let a man examine himself.” My position is clear. The use of the singular in 1 Corinthians11:28 is within a plural context. That is each man must examine himself and therefore all men must examine themselves and therefore the church must examine herself. This is also what I hold regarding Galatians 6:1-10. The position I hold is consistent in that regard. Your position states that the word “church” or “together” must be immediately present for us to conclude that the author is speaking about corporate action. But even if I were to accept this premise, it would still be the case that Galatians is addressed to the churches and that when Paul uses the plural in that context he expects the churches to understand that he is speaking to them as the church. I do not merely say that the fact of the epistle’s address indicates this, but the combination of the epistle’s address and the plural number used to address the brethren as found in Galatians 6:1-10–these two things together (address and plural number) indicate undoubtedly that the church is being addressed in Galatians 6:1-10.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye (plural) which are spiritual, restore (plural) such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
“Brethren” is plural. “Ye” is plural. The verb “Restore” is plural. The church has the obligation to restore the lost to its fellowship.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
The verb “bear” is plural. The phrase “one another” is plural. The verb “fulfill” is plural. The church has the obligation to bear one another’s burdens. The church has the obligation to fulfill the law of Christ. According to the saints-only position, the church cannot fulfill the law of Christ only individuals can do this.
“But let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.”
While this is speaking to individuals, it generally takes more than one individual to support a preacher full time. Paul expected all of them together to work to accomplish this and that is a work of the church.
“And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
“Us” is plural. “Be weary” is a plural verb. “We” is plural. “Reap” is a plural verb. “We” is plural. “Faint” is a plural verb. The church must not be weary. The church will reap if the church does not faint. If any individual is saved it will be because he is a member of the church of Christ. The church are the only saved and will be the only saved. God will save the church and only the church on the day of judgment. This is not to imply that some individuals who are apostate members of the church will not be lost; but to say that only those who are members of the church will be saved and in that sense, God will save only the church. So the church will reap salvation if it does not faint. Compare Ephesians 5:23-25.
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.”
“We” is plural. The verb “have” is plural. “Us” is plural. The verb “work” is plural. As the church has opportunity, the church must do that which is good toward all men.
I just don’t understand what would make it more clear that Paul expects the churches to deal with these problems. Are you saying that every time an inspired writer addresses church action that he must use the word “together” in order for it to be church action? Must he use the word “church?” What are the standards that you use to determine when a context is speaking regarding church action and when it is speaking regarding individual action?
When you add on top of these things the fact that the epistle is specifically addressed not to the church, but to the churches (plural) of Galatia, what should the conclusion be? That Paul did not expect the churches to do anything about these problems? “I know that you wrote to the churches, Paul, but it just is not clear that you expected us to take any action, so the church decided that as a church we cannot do anything about these Judaizing teachers!” Such a suggestion is preposterous. I am not trying to ridicule you personally, but the position of saints-only reduces to this absurd conclusion. What action (if any) did Paul expect the church to take in regard to these Judaizing teachers? The bottom line is that the position of saints-only reduces the book of Galatians to the absurdity that Paul wrote the book to the churches, but did not expect the churches to do anything about the problems of which he wrote. And that is a conclusion which I simply cannot accept because it reduces the Holy Spirit to an author of confusion.