A Handbook of Bible Law - Churches & ministers

Copyright 1991 by Charles A. Weisman. 2nd Edition: Aug., 1992; 3rd Edition: Dec., 1994

Churches & ministers

Comments: The original Greek word for church in the N.T.--ekklesia---denotes a number of persons called together for any purpose, or an assembly of any kind, civil or religious. This word most frequently occurs in the sense of an assembly of -Christians for some Godly purpose (1 Cor. 11:18), which has certain duties and responsibilities. The general meaning and function of the church in the O.T. is conveyed in the terms 'congregation' and 'assembly.'

A church may refer to an assembly of persons at a particular place, e.g.,-"The church that was at Antioch" (Acts 13:1), or a group which meets anywhere, as in someone's house (Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19). It is often regarded in a universal sense as Christ's church (Matt. 16:18) or church of God (Gal. 1:13), in which every Christian is a member of and has a function in that Body or Church (1 Cor. 12:28). That function is the service or ministry which it can render to the whole. It thus has characteristics and responsibilities.

The term 'priest' (used synonymously here with 'minister' or ‘pastor') in the O.T.-kohen -in essence means “one officiating," such as to officiate at the alter in service to God. Likewise the office priest in the N.T. was "ordained for men in things pertaining to God" (Heb. 5: 1).

The meaning of 'tithe' from the Hebrew maasarah literally means "a tenth." In paying a tithe we are in effect returning to God a tenth of our increase, and thus acknowledge that what we have received came from God.

20A - Office and Duty of Ministers

  1. To possess the written law of God. Deut. 31:9.
  2. Priests are to keep God's law and statutes in all of his assemblies. Ezek. 44:24.
  3. To perform service at the alter in the sanctuary. Num. 18:7.
  4. Priests are to hallow God's Sabbaths. Ezek. 44:24.
  5. The proper vestures to be worn by a priest. Exod. 28:39-43; Lev. 6:10-11; Lev. 16:4, 23-24; Ezek. 44:17-19.
  6. Priests are not to drink wine or intoxicating drink before entering into the tabernacle or inner court of the sanctuary to minister. Lev. 10:9; Ezek. 44:21.
  7. A priest is to teach the people the difference between holy and profane and to discern between unclean and clean. Lev. 10: 10; Ezek. 44:23; 1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 1 : 11.
  8. New priests are to be anointed, consecrated and sanctified. Exod. 29:33, 35, 37, 44; Lev. 8:12, 33; Lev. 21:8.
  9. Ministers are to teach the people all the laws and statutes of God. Lev. 10: 11; 2 Chron. 17:8-9; Neh. 8:1-2; Matt. 28:20.
  10. Priests are to bless the people. Num. 6:22-27.
  11. In a controversy between those of the church the priests shall stand in judgment, and shall judge it according to God's judgment. Ezek. 44:24.
  12. Priests are not to teach or instruct for hire or for a price. Mic. 3:10-11.
  13. Pastors, as messengers of God, are to feed the people with knowledge and understanding. Jer. 3:15; Mal. 2:7.
  14. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies. 1 Pet 4:10-11.
  15. Priests are to keep the charge of the sanctuary and tabernacle of the congregation and keep it supplied and in proper order. Exod. 27:21; Lev. 24:3-8; Num. 3:38; Num. 18:5.
  16. Priests are to wash themselves with water before they go into the tabernacle of the congregation or come to the alter to minister. Exod. 30:18-21; Lev. 16:4, 24.
  17. Ministers should be preachers of righteousness. 2 Pet. 2:5.
  18. Ministers should give thanks to God for their appointment to the ministry. 1 Tim. 1:12.
  19. A priest shall not go near the holy things which have been sanctified or dedicated to the LORD while he has uncleanness upon him. Lev. 22:3-8.

    20B - Qualifications and Attributes of Priests

    1. The office of priesthood is not to be filled by one who has recently become a Christian. 1 Tim. 3:6.
    2. Ministers are not to profane the name of their God. Lev. 21:6.
    3. Priests are not to defile or profane themselves. Lev. 21:1-4, 15.
    4. Priests are to be males of at least thirty years of age. 2 Chron. 31:16.
    5. Priests are not to marry a whore, widow, divorced woman or profane woman, but shall marry a virgin of his own people. Lev, 21:7,13-14; Ezek. 44:22.
    6. A minister must be blameless, vigilant, sober, just, holy, self-control led, of good behavior, given to hospitality, and able to teach and exhort. 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:7-9.
    7. A minister must not be addicted to alcohol, violent or quick-tempered, greedy for money, quarrelsome, or covetous. 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7-8.
    8. Must be of a good reputation outside the church. 1 Tim. 3:7.
    9. Priests are not to make themselves bald, shave off the corner of their beard or make any cuttings in their flesh. Lev. 21:5.
    10. Priests are not to let their hair grow long. Ezek. 44:20.
    11. A priest shall not profane his posterity among his people. Lev. 21:15.
    12. A priest shall not eat anything that died of itself or has been torn in pieces. Ezek. 44:31.
    13. Disabilities and deformities not allowed for the priesthood: No blemish, blind man, lame, disfigured face, deformed limb, having a broken foot or hand, a hunchback or dwarf, a blemish in his eye, having eczema, or scabs, or crushed testicles. Lev. 21:16-23.
    14. Priests to be of an unpolluted genealogy. Ezra 2:61-62.
    15. A stranger (alien) who comes near the priest's office or the tabernacle shall be put to death. Num. 3:10, 38.
    16. Ministers should not use flattery. 1 Thes. 2:5.
    17. A minister must be one who rules well his own house. 1 Tim. 3:4-5.
    18. A priest's daughter that plays the whore is to be burnt with fire. Lev. 21:9.
    19. Pastors should hold fast to sound words. 2 Tim. 1: 13; Titus 1:9.
    20. Ministers should mourn for the release of heathen control and rule over the nation. Joel 2:17.

      20C - Duty and Purpose of the Church

      1. The members of the church are to be as one body with one and the same Spirit as Christ's body. Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 10: 17; 1 Cor. 12:11-31; Eph. 4:4.
      2. A church body should labor with perseverance for the sake of Christ's name. Rev. 2:3.
      3. The church is to assist only those widows that are not in the care of anyone. 1 Tim. 5:16.
      4. A church body is not to be lukewarm in its beliefs, but be either hot or cold regarding them. Rev. 3:15-16.
      5. The church is to make known the wisdom of God to civil leaders. Eph. 3:10.
      6. The house of God is to be a house of prayer. Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46.
      7. Christ is the head of the church. Eph. 5:23, 29-30.
      8. It is an abomination to do evil practices in God's house. 2 Chron. 36:14; Jer. 7:30.
      9. The church is to be the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Tim. 3:15.
      10. A church is to be for the purpose of teaching. Mark 12:35; Acts 5:21; Acts 11:26; 1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Cor. 14:19; 1 Cor. 12:28.

      20D - Guidelines for Church Assembly

      1. No one who is in any way unclean should enter the house of the LORD. 2 Chron. 23:19.
      2. No one who is emasculated, or has his male organ cut off , shall enter the assembly of the LORD. Deut. 23:1.
      3. A bastard (mongrel) shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation. Deut. 23:2.
      4. No Ammonite or Moabite (those of another race). shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD. Deut. 23:3; Neh. 13:1.
      5. Women are to keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted for them to speak, but they may speak through their husbands. 1 Cor. 14:34-35.
      6. Women are not to teach in the church. 1 Tim. 2:11-12.
      7. You shall not plant a grove of any trees near the alter of the LORD your God. Deut. 16:21.
      8. Each member of the church or assembly of God is to use their gifts for the edification of the church. 1 Cor. 14:5, 12.
      9. Give no offense to the church of God. 1 Cor. 10:32.
      10. A church is not to have those within it who hold to the doctrine of Balaam. Rev. 2:14.

      20E - Tithes and Offerings

      1. A tenth part of all increase (not all wealth owned) is to be given as a tithe. Gen. 14:20; Gen. 28:22; Num. 18:21; Heb. 7:2, 4.
      2. All offerings and things devoted to God as tithes are given to the priests and their aides. Gen. 14:18-20; Num. 18:8-19, 21, 24; 2 Chron. 31:4-6, 12-19; Neh. 10:37; Heb. 7:5.
      3. We are to honor God by bringing the choice first fruits of our land into the house of God, so He may bring prosperity to us. Exod. 23:19; Mal. 3:10-12; Prov. 3:9-10.
      4. Withholding tithes and offerings to God is considered as robbing God. Mal. 3:8.
      5. Do not try to purchase gifts of God with money and offerings. Acts 8:18-21.
      6. A tenth of all the produce of the land is to be tithed to God. Lev. 27:30; Deut. 14:22; 2 Chron. 31:5.
      7. A tenth of all cattle and farm animals are to be tithed to God. Lev. 27:32; 2 Chron. 31:6.
      8. If a man wishes to redeem part of his tithe, he shall add to it one-fifth of it. Lev. 27:31.
      9. You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog (male prostitute) into the house of the LORD your God for any pledge, vow or tithe. Deut. 23:18.
      10. Tithes of food and first fruits of the land are to be eaten by all the people, the foreigners, and the poor as a feast to God. Deut 12:6-7, 11-12; Deut 14:23, 28-29; Deut 26:10-11.
      11. Those that labor in preaching and teaching the word of God, or in doing his work, are entitled to a good wage for their work. 2 Chron. 34:9-12, 17; 1 Tim. 5:17-18.
      12. Priests and ministerial aides are to give a tenth of the tithes they receive. Num. 18:25-30.
      13. Tithes are to be given to the priests and ministerial aides so that they may devote themselves to the law of God. Num. 18:21-24; 2 Chron. 31:4; Neh. 10:37-39; Heb. 7:5.
      14. At the end of three years, you shall give the tithe of your increase to the ministerial aides, the sojourners, the orphans and widows in the land that they may eat. Deut. 26:12.

      20F - Warnings Regarding Priests and Prophets

      1. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Matt. 7:15; Matt. 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22.
      2. Beware of those that honor Christ with words but teach as their doctrines the precepts and traditions of men. Matt. 15:8-9.
      3. Bad pastors can cause the people to go astray and become devoured by their adversaries. Jer. 23:1-2; Jer. 50:6-7.
      4. Lying pastors and those that withhold the truth of God's word are cursed for causing national apostasy. Jer. 23:1-2.
      5. Those that boast are false apostles of Christ. 2 Cor. 11:12-13.
      6. Preachers who preach to please men are not a servant of Christ. Gal. 1: 10.
      7. Beware lest any deceive you through philosophy, according to the traditions of men, and not according to Christ. Col. 2:8.
      8. Take heed that no preacher, theologian, or teacher deceive you; for many shall come in Christ's name and shall deceive many. Jer. 29:8-9 Matt. 24:4-5; Mark 13:5-6.
      9. Beware of pastors that feed themselves and become fat (wealthy), but do not feed (instruct) the people and will neglect their needs. Ezek. 34:2-4, 10.
      10. Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; for there are many false prophets. 1 John 4:1.

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