The Ubiquity of New Testament Teaching

Recently someone asked, more or less, the following question: “How do we know that the things that were done in one church in the first century were done in the other churches as well?” That’s a good question because if we can’t know that the things practiced, say, in Corinth, were also practiced in Rome, then we can’t really know that we ought to practice the same things that they practiced in religion today. Ultimately, this would mean that we could do whatever we wanted to do in “worship” to God, which many people in the denominational world are doing in our day and age. And that there basically would be no identifying marks of the New Testament church, since the instruction from one congregation wouldn’t necessarily apply to another.

The word “ubiquitous” isn’t a common word, but it is a current word. It is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as meaning, “Being or seeming to be everywhere at the same time.” The idea of the word is that if something is ubiquitous, then it is common to all places. That’s the idea that we are examining in relationship to New Testament teaching. Was it common in all churches? Was it something that was taught not merely to one congregation, but to all of them? Let’s see if we can find a scriptural answer.

First, we must understand that Jesus intended the message of the gospel to be ubiquitous. In Matthew 28:19, Luke 24:47, and Mark 16:15, Jesus made it clear that he wanted the message of the gospel preached to all nations. This included the message related to the kingdom of God (the church, Matthew 16:18,19) because the teaching and preaching regarding the kingdom was part of the gospel message (see Matthew 4:23, 9:35). In fact, Jesus expected this teaching to go to all nations prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. He said in Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations�.” Jesus certainly expected the teaching and preaching of the gospel to be ubiquitous.

Secondly, we must note that Paul said that his message was ubiquitous. In 1 Corinthians 4:17, Paul wrote, “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” Paul told the church at Corinth that he was sending Timothy to them so that Timothy could teach them the same things that Paul had taught in every other church in which he had preached. It should be clear from this that the message that Paul took to each congregation was the same message. That means that when he instructed the church at Corinth to take up a collection upon the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1,2) he also instructed all of the other congregations to do the same. This means that Paul’s observance of the Lord’s Supper at Troas upon the first day of the week (Acts 20:7) was also observed by every other congregation at which he had preached upon the first day of the week as well. Paul certainly believed that his preaching and teaching was ubiquitous.

Finally, we must apply this same message ubiquitously today. Paul told the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20:27, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Paul didn’t refuse to preach the entire message of the gospel and neither should we. We cannot afford to hold back part of the gospel message. We must be willing to teach all of it. That means we learn lessons from all of the churches in the New Testament and we can apply those lessons to our congregations today just as they were originally applied to the churches in the first century. Paul told Timothy, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The scriptures certainly present the message within them as being ubiquitous.

Because the message of the gospel is ubiquitous, we have everything today that we need to be the kind of person that God wants us to be. We have all of the information we need to be the kind of church that God wants us to be. Let’s apply all of it appropriately (2 Timothy 2:15) and remember the counsel of the Psalmist in Psalm 119:160 “The sum of thy word is truth�” and the counsel of Jesus in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” The teaching of the New Testament is ubiquitous in its application!

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