Category Archives: Ekklēsia or Assembly (“Church”)

Are there accountability partners in the Bible? Do pastors rule?–Authority and Accountability in the Bible

by Peter Ditzel

I used to do some freelance editing for a man who ran a Christian publishing, Internet, and speaking ministry. A few years before his death, he found that he was unable to, in good conscience, continue his membership in the church of which he had been a member and elder. Soon afterward, “Christian” forums had threads about him that went something like this: “Did you hear that so-and-so is no longer under the accountability of a church?” “What? Do you mean that he’s not under a church covering?” “This is outrageous! How can he continue his ministry while being unfaithful?” “Well, all I know is that as long as he’s not under the authority of a church, I’m not listening to him any more.”

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Q. Why did Pilate find nothing with which to charge Jesus?

A. The answer to this question is more important than we might at first think. Since at least the time of the Edict of Thessalonica in AD 380, Christendom has ignored with grave consequences Pilate’s inability to charge Jesus with a crime. Today, millions of American Christians also ignore this matter. So, what is the answer to the question, and why is it so vital?

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Q. What is the relationship between the Old Covenant assembly of Israel and the New Covenant assembly of believers?

A. To the uninitiated, this might seem like an obscure, academic question. It is, in fact, a highly contentious issue, with each system of theology answering it differently. And the answer one settles on will shape one’s theology.

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Twin Dangers—Seeker Sensitivity and Legalism

If you and I were hiking along a mountain trail and you were in front of me, and I suddenly yelled out, “Look out!” what would you do? I think you would likely stop dead in your tracks and look around. Then you might see that you were on the edge of a precipice, and that with one more step in the direction you were going, you would have fallen over the cliff to your destruction. So you would probably back away, look around, study the terrain, maybe look at a topographical map, and find a safe path and take that.

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Q. Why is the church fragmented into so many denominations?

A. It is estimated that there are over 43,000 Christian denominations worldwide and that by 2025 that will be 55,000. In other words, Christianity is fragmenting more all of the time. Yet Jesus prayed for the unity of His people. Has Jesus failed? Did the Father not grant His prayer? Or are we misunderstanding something about the denominations?

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Q. When are women supposed to be silent in church? Does the command for a woman to be silent in church apply from the moment she walks into the building or only during meetings, prayer times, and classes?

A. Thank you for your question concerning when women are to be silent. This question was written in response to the article, “The Role of Women in the Church.”

A literal translation of the first part of 1 Corinthians 14:34 is, “Let your women be silent in the assemblies.” “Assemblies” is a plural noun translated from ekklēsiais. In the singular, ekklēsia often refers to the saints who are called out of the world and gathered to a spiritual assembly before God. In that sense, the ekklēsia refers to God’s people, not to a building or even to an assembly in that building, but to the people. However, in the plural, as it is in 1 Corinthians 14:34, ekklēsiais is referring to the local assemblies. Never does ekklēsia refer to a building.

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Q. What does Paul mean when he says that he does not permit a woman to usurp authority over a man?

A. The question comes from 1 Timothy 2:12: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” I have already touched upon this verse in “The Role of Women in the Church.” Nevertheless, this verse merits further discussion, especially because of the controversy surrounding the word that is translated “usurp authority.”

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Q. Should we stress unity over doctrine? The reason I ask is because my pastor wants to grow our church, so he is stressing what he calls “kingdom unity” rather than “doctrinal division.” Is this what Jesus did?

A. Think about this. Multitudes of thousands of people followed Jesus. They listened to His sermons, heard His parables, were miraculously fed by Him, and saw Him heal people and even raise them from the dead. Yet, at the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus had only about 120 loyal followers (Acts 1:15). How did this happen? Jesus never stressed unity over doctrine.

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