14I hope to visit you soon. But I am writing these instructions, 15so if I am delayed, you will know how everyone who belongs to God's family ought to behave. After all, the church of the living God is the strong foundation of truth.
16Here is the great mystery of our religion:
Christ came as a human.
The Spirit proved
that he pleased God,
and he was seen by angels.
Christ was preached
to the nations.
People in this world
put their faith in him,
and he was taken up to glory.
People Will Turn from
1God's Spirit clearly says that in the last days many people will turn from their faith. They will be fooled by evil spirits and by teachings that come from demons. 2They will also be fooled by the false claims of liars whose consciences have lost all feeling. These liars 3will forbid people to marry or to eat certain foods. But God created these foods to be eaten with thankful hearts by his followers who know the truth. 4Everything God created is good. And if you give thanks, you may eat anything. 5What God has said and your prayer will make it fit to eat.
Every church should clearly and compellingly proclaim God’s message (2:4), with members who know and support the work of the church to teach and tell “all” (2:4) people that “there is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God” (2:5a). Every church should also have a church official and officers to manage the church (3:1-13), and a minister who will “work and struggle … hard” (4:10) to tell everyone (4:11) that the living God “is the Saviour of everyone” (4:10).
Here are Paul’s instructions for the ministers of the church: Ministers must coach the members of the church on how they “ought to behave” (3:14-15), guard the church against false teachers (4:1-3), train themselves to be godly (4:7-8, 16), be an example for the members (4:11, 15), and be devoted to preaching, teaching and the public reading of Scripture (4:13-14).
Of note, there’s an ancient hymn that’s interjected into the directives for ministers (3:16). The hymn predates the epistle and is a reminder that the birth, life death and resurrection of Christ Jesus (the Gospel) is the basis for the minister’s preaching, teaching and modelling.
With the Gospel in mind, Paul reverts back to his concern in chapter 1 about false teachers. The minister of the church must not be hoodwinked by the enemies (unseen or seen) of Christ (4:1-2) or sidetracked by matters that get the members of the church off track (4:3). Deliberately and particularly, the minister must have nothing to do with myths or ridiculous stories (4:7), or be deluded by liars who “have lied so well and for so long that they’ve lost their capacity for truth” (4:2 MSG).
Simply stated, guarding and guiding the members of the church is the primary work of the minister.
Lord, thank you for the ministers of the church. Help them to point out the things that are wrong and to teach the things that are right. In the name of Jesus. Amen.