by Mike Ratliff
14 Ταῦτά σοι γράφω ἐλπίζων ἐλθεῖν πρὸς σὲ ἐν τάχει· 15 ἐὰν δὲ βραδύνω, ἵνα εἰδῇς πῶς δεῖ ἐν οἴκῳ θεοῦ ἀναστρέφεσθαι, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐκκλησία θεοῦ ζῶντος, στῦλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας. 1 Timothy 3:14-15 (NA28)
14 These I write to you hoping to come to you quickly; 15 but if I delay, that you may know how one ought to conduct oneself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
When Paul wrote his first epistle to Timothy which we call “1 Timothy,” Timothy was the pastor of the Ephesian church. Ephesus was home to the pagan temple to the goddess Diana or Artemis, which is considered on of the seven wonders of the ancient world. One of its features was it pillars. It contained 127 pillars, every one of them the gift of a king. All were made of marble and some were studded with jewels and overlaid with gold. Not only did each pillar (στῦλος) act as a tribute to the king who donated it, all of them together, obviously, had the function of holding up the immense structure of the roof. Therefore, Timothy and his flock at Ephesus would have certainly grasped Paul’s analogy. What exactly was he telling the church about its true mission?
If you have been reading my last several posts then you know that God has me focused on that corruption or downgrade going on in evangelical Christianity in our time which some refer to as “Social Justice” or Critical Race Theory along with Intersectionality all of which focuses on identity within ones world view rather than the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many who are deluded by these corruptions refer to themselves and those like them as becoming “woke.” I prefer to refer to them as being deceived.
Why would I say that? Some of those people are highly respected Christian leaders and if you listen to them present theological arguments you would not have a clue that they are “woke.” However, when you bring the role of Christians and the Church (one and the same) in the world then suddenly the focus suddenly gets very convoluted. They change the subject, they deflect, they refer to the intense need to God’s people to see the dire need for Justice in every part of the world and to also see the lace of diversity in our churches as a deliberate act of sin for which our Lord will judge us. That is, of course, where I it the stop button and ask those hard questions. Where is that in the Word? As Christians we are to be guardians of God’s truth, not those who try to divide that truth up to make new ones, which is what these people are doing.
These “woke” people are very confused about two things. The first is that, to them, the truth is fluid, not set. That means truth is relative, therefore, doctrine becomes something like modeling clay or Silly Putty that can be applied as one sees fit to not be offensive to anyone. Read, Political Correctness. The second thing they are confused about is the Church’s role as the στῦλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας, the pillar and support of the truth. Let’s look at these words.
The first word, στῦλος (stylos) is a pillar. That is very straightforward. It serves one basic purpose even though it may be decorated and looked upon as something else. It exists to hold up a structure. Paul links it with “καὶ” (and) ἑδραίωμα (hedraiōma), which is a buttress or support. It is not the foundation and Paul is not saying the Church is the foundation of the truth because the Church did not invent the truth. Instead, the Church is the mainstay, the prop, the support, the buttress, the propagator of the truth. While the pillars in the temple of Diana were a testimony to the error of pagan false religion, the church is to be testimony to God’s truth.
Therefore, when error is being propagated and called truth in Christ’s name, we MUST NOT remain silent, but make sure that the truth be made known to the Body of Christ instead. I posted a video in yesterday’s post and many of the people featured in the video are very upset that their very words are being used in the video to show everyone what they really believe and what they are really doing compared to what they really should be doing as Christian leaders. However, we are the upholders of the truth. To stay quiet in the face of what if false to maintain a modicum of peace is hypocritical and the opposite of what we are called to do. Yes, this may make us unpopular with a lot of people, but it is what our Lord has called all us to do.
The truth as we see in the imagery Paul gives us here shows us that our mission is the exact opposite of what is loudly proclaimed in a growing number of today’s churches to be diverse, progressive, seeker-friendly or “woke”. We are to obey God and just preach the truth.
Soli Deo Gloria!