Generational Order, Part 1

14 I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children

14 I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. (1 Co 4:14-16)

As important as it is, I find it difficult to write or speak about “generational order” to people I don’t know well.  Certainly, part of the problem is the weight of the material, itself.  It’s absolutely critical!  I believe scripture demonstrates that this teaching is part of the core of what is required to understand God’s order, His plan for our progressing Christian maturity and His method for us to experience triumph in battle with satan and self while on this planet.  The bigger part of the problem—and it’s my problem, not yours—is that so many people misunderstand the whole idea.  When they hear that an understanding of Generational Order has, at it’s core, teaching that not only acknowledges, but embraces God-given Spiritual Fathers, many passionate, well meaning Christians stop listening and start arguing.  Generally, they tell me something along the lines of, “I don’t need anyone else but God.”  They’ll point to what the Apostle Paul said in scripture.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. (1 Ti 2:5-6)

And then, what Jesus himself, said.

9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. (Mt 23:9)

Wow!  That last one is in red, too! So… what are we to do, in light of what Paul said in scripture, elsewhere?

15 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Co 4:15-17)

It’s really not that complicated.  Lets begin by agreeing that the only “correct” interpretation of scripture is the one that God intended.  Let’s throw out what you “think” and throw out what I “think” and trust the Holy Spirit of the Living God to keep Christ’s promise regarding God’s plan for us to understand the things of Christ.

24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (Jn 14:24-26)

Of course, this begins with proper “investigation”—stewardship—of the Word of God.

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilleda among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
(Lk 1:1-4)

I favor a time-tested and true model of Bible study suggested by John MacArthur, Jr.  It suggests that such study should consist of

·      Observation

·      Interpretation, and

·      Application.

For More information on MacAuthur’s principles of Bible study, be sure and read the blog entry entitled, “How To Study The Bible.” 

 

MacArthur’s teaching includes the idea that we must we have to practice sound exegesis of the Word of God as part of “interpretation”.  No, I didn’t say, “extra Jesus”, I said exegesis!  Here’s the definition of the word, “exegesis”.

ex•e•ge•sis \ˌek-sə-ˈjē-səs, ˈek-sə-ˌ\ n

pl -ge•ses  \-ˈjē-(ˌ)sēz\ [NL, fr. Gk exēgēsis, fr. exēgeisthai to explain, interpret, fr. ex- + hēgeisthai to lead — more at seek] 1619 exposition, explanation esp an explanation or critical interpretation of a text[1]

Focus on the construction of the word… “to explain, interpret + to lead.”  A small part of solid interpretation is a good, Hebrew and Greek dictionary.  Through this device, we can look back at the actual words used in the original language of the texts translated into the language that we are reading.  By doing so, we avoid “Americanizing”, or “culturalizing” words that we read in a way that obfuscates, rather than enlightens.  Hmmm… I guess using the word, “obfuscates” is obfuscating J.

Beginning with 1 Timothy 2:5-6, the key word is “mediator.”  If we employ our own understanding of the word as used today, we probably get a different meaning than the one intended.  Here’s how Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word, “μεσίτης [mesites /mes·ee·tace/], translated in English as, “mediator.”

μεσίτης [mesites /mes·ee·tace/] n m. From 3319; TDNT 4:598; TDNTA 585; GK 3542; Six occurrences; AV translates as “mediator” six times.  1 one who intervenes between two, either in order to make or restore peace and friendship, or form a compact, or for ratifying a covenant. 2 a medium of communication, arbitrator.[2]

See what I mean?  Some might be concerned that a spiritual “mentor” might be a mediator, as defined in modern English.  Few would say that means the same thing as “one who intervenes between two…” as in intervening between God and His relationship to another individual.  That job belongs to Christ, alone!

So, what was Jesus talking about when He said that we shouldn’t call anyone, “father” or “teacher”, in Matthew 23:9-10?

The key to understanding this scripture correctly is to read it in context!  This admonition against men who call themselves “fathers” and “teachers” is spoken against wicked men of great power and prominence, the Pharisees.

A.            Jesus publicly condemns the Pharisees (23:1–12).

1.      The wickedness of these men (23:1–7)

a.            They do not practice what they preach (23:1–3).

b.            They place heavy burdens upon the people (23:4) .

c.            They do everything for show (23:5, 7).

d.            They demand to occupy the place of prominence (23:6) .

2.            The warning against these men (23:8–12): Jesus warns that whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted![3]

Folks, these men were not “fathers” in the context of the sacrifice and commitment a real biological or adoptive father makes for his kids here on earth.  These men were not “fathers” as your heavenly Father is a real father to you; giving up His only son so that you can be with Him for ever, “tarrying” as the scripture says, in bringing forth judgment day so that more of you will be saved, or continually pursing a relationship of love with you.  And, these men were not “fathers” in the way a spiritual father commits to, acknowledges the divine integration of, and places his own interests beneath those of his spiritual son in real Holy Spirit orchestrated relationship. 

God, the Father’s, name is, “love”, according to scripture.  A spiritual father’s highest calling is to emulate the love and character of God to the sons that he serves.

to be continued…



[1]Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

[2]Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible  : Showing every word of the text of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G3316). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

[3]Willmington, H. L. (1999). The Outline Bible (Mt 23:8-12). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.

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