Greetings in our Lord’s name. The question captioned came to mind as I thought yesterday about Paul’s role as Chief Bishop. As I thought about the people that he shepherded, I remembered that the church at Corinth was plagued with many problems. Paul was left with the mammoth task of reproving, correcting and instructing in righteousness. Given the fact that Paul would ordain elders in the churches, I wondered about the roles that the elders played in the scenarios mentioned in his first letter to the Corinthians. I could not find any direct reference to the role of the elders in dealing with the situations in 1 Corinthians, except for one snippet. Paul’s thoughts about their duties in correcting and guarding the believers were not revealed as he wrote.

The situation in the church caused me to wonder whether or not the elders of that church had the fortitude and strength needed to carry out the mammoth task that they faced, or whether they, like the rest of the believers, needed further instruction. This is not at all a slight on Paul, but the issues that he had to deal with seemed to have escalated because of the apparent inability of the church leaders to deal with them internally.

Here are some of the issues that Paul wrote about in his letters to the Corinthians:

* the presence of divisions and factions in the church – 1 Cor 1, 3, 4

* lack of spiritual revelation – 1 Cor 2

* spiritual immaturity of the believers (causing divisions) – 1 Cor 3

* Incest – 1 Cor 5

* law suits among the brethren – 1 Cor 6

* Fornication – 1 Cor 6: 15 – 20

* Stinginess – 1 Cor 9

* Participating in idol worship – 1 Cor 10

* Disorderly conduct during the Lord’s supper – 1 Cor 11

* Ignorance about the doctrine of the resurrection – 1 Cor 15: 12

Relevance to today:

1. The burden of correction was left to Paul. It appears that the elders of the church had either overlooked the issues, were participants in the problems or were weak. The elders of any church need the backbone to deal with problems. They need to be strong in the Lord and in the word and cannot just be satisfied to function as the head of a department.

2. God gives more honor to elders who labor in the doctrine and in the word. This is where the crunch is

3. In addressing the issue of the believers going to court against each other, Paul chastised them when he said, “I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Cor 6: 5)

The question remains today. Is there no wise man/woman among the brethren who could deal with issues among the brethren so that the chief bishop does not need to be harassed?

Let’s pray that the church would grow up in maturity. Blessings.

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