Does Galatians 6:10 Authorize The Church to Give to Non-Saints? Part 7

March 18th, 2003

I think I understand what your point is, but we simply disagree. The premise that you are setting forth is that in ALL cases when the scriptures address individuals, that means individuals ONLY and in ALL cases when the scriptures address the church, that means the church ONLY. For you (in your mind) to accept that Galatians 6:1-10 is speaking to churches would mean that you (in your mind) would have to prevent individuals from doing benevolence. (If that is not correct, let me know). However, the hermeneutic here is flawed. The assumption from which you begin is incorrect. You fail to realize that the church is made up of individual members and as such individuals must always be involved when the church acts corporately whether that is through worship, evangelism, or benevolence and that sometimes individuals can act on the behalf of the church outside the context of the assembly (such as an eldership making a decision for the church or the preacher writing an article for the newspaper on behalf of the church).

To say that Galatians 6:1-10 applies to individuals ONLY is simply not warranted from the text (that was why I went through the text again and emphasized the plural number in my last e-mail). There is absolutely no way to prove that Paul was only addressing Christians on an individual level ONLY. The “proof” that you set forth is really a by-product of the doctrine of saints-only. It goes something like this: “The Bible teaches that the church may give money from the treasury to saints only. Therefore, Galatians 6:10 MUST be talking about individuals and not the church. This must be true or else my doctrine is wrong. It is impossible for my doctrine to be wrong, therefore it must be true that Paul is ONLY addressing individuals.” You assume this to be true because your doctrine demands it, not because the text warrants it. This assumes the very thing that you must prove. And that kind of reasoning is not sufficient to establish truth.

Additionally, to say that the actions in Galatians 6:1-10 were “individual, not corporate” implies that Paul wrote the letter to the churches but did not give the churches any corporate action which they needed to take to correct the problems they faced from the Judaizing teachers. It puts one in the position of affirming that Paul wrote to the churches to correct a problem that was in the church, but that Paul had no expectation of the church to take any corrective action in that regard. Such a position contradicts the purpose for which Paul wrote the letter to the “churches” of Galatia. I would really like to hear your answer to this particular item.

You have got to at least acknowledge that the general thrust of the letter was written to the CHURCHES, not to individuals. As such, when Paul uses the plural number the FIRST thing that we must expect is that he is addressing the church. Addressing individuals would, therefore, be an exception to the general thrust of the epistle and must be PROVEN to be addressed to individuals ONLY. So for your case to stand, you must prove that Galatians 6:1-10 can ONLY be addressed to individuals. It just is not sufficient to say, “I think,” or “It seems to me” or “It appears to be this way;” it must be PROVEN that individuals ONLY were being addressed in Galatians 6:1-10. This is impossible to do given the plural nature of the verbs in that chapter.

My argument from 1 Corinthians 11 is that just as the plurality of the verbs in 1 Corinthians 11 make that corporate action so also the plurality of the verb in Galatians 6:1-10 makes that corporate action. An inspired writer does NOT have to use the word “together” every single time he wants to indicate corporate action. The same elements in 1 Corinthians 11 that make the action there corporate are found in Galatians as well.

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

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.

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Does Galatians 6:10 Authorize The Church to Give to Non-Saints? Part 5

March 13th, 2003

Well, I think what I am saying is that I agree with you that the Lord’s Supper is a corporate action–that it is corporate worship. Would you agree that when the church partakes of the Lord’s supper the church, as a body, is worshipping and as such is engaging in a corporate action? I think you would. Correct me if I am wrong about that. However, within that command to worship corporately, there is also the command for each individual to examine himself and I believe we agree here as well. We both agree that the commands to the individuals in 1 Corinthians11 do not militate against the commands to the church in 1 Corinthians11. There is individual action in the context of corporate action. Now, where we disagree is that I believe the same thing about Galatians 6:1-10. YES, there are commands to individuals in Galatians 6:1-10, but it is within the context of the corporate action of the church bringing the wayward back to their fellowship and these individual actions of Galatians 6:1-10 do not militate against the expected corporate action of the church.

Looking at it from a slightly different perspective, your point regarding the context of Galatians 6:1 where you emphasize “looking to yourselves lest YOU also be tempted” is exactly the same kind of thing that a hypothetical someone could say in regard to 1 Corinthians 11:28, “But let A MAN examine himself and so let HIM eat of that bread. . . .” In other words, hypothetically, someone could use the same hermeneutic that you use when interpreting Galatians 6:1-10–someone could use that same hermeneutic on 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 and come to the conclusion that you come to in Galatians 6:1-10–that the context merely talking about INDIVIDUAL action. MY contention regarding both Gal.6:1-10 and 1 Corinthians11:23-34 is that just because there is language addressed to individuals in those particular contexts does not necessarily imply that in those contexts there is no corporate instruction as well. In other words, you have to make the case that Galatians 6:1-10 CANNOT be speaking about any corporate activity whatsoever. What is it that forces me to the conclusion regarding Galatians 6:1-10 that absolutely positively no corporate action is being addressed in this passage? It just isn’t enough to say, as you say, (and I am paraphrasing) “there is some language addressed to individuals in that context, so therefore, the whole context must be talking to individuals.” I am saying that the same type of reasoning could be applied to 1 Corinthians 11 and one come to the same conclusions, using your hermeneutic.

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