How were problems dealt with in the first century church?

The Godhead directly handled special problems and sinful conditions within an individual congregation in at least two ways. First, the Godhead dealt directly concerning such matters. Recorded in the fifth chapter of Acts, a man and his wife lied about their contribution brought before the apostles. They conspired together to claim that they were giving the entire amount of the money received from a plot of land that they had sold when in reality they were keeping back a portion of it. Their sin was not that they did not give all of the money received from the sell, but rather their deceptiveness. Because of their lying about what they gave, their lives were taken instantaneously by the Holy Spirit. Great fear came upon the church and those outside the church who heard about this phenomenon. The result, multitudes obeyed the gospel of Christ.

Not only did the Godhead deal directly in the manner mentioned above, but also by inspired epistles. The second and third chapters of Revelation consist of the letters from Jesus Christ to the seven churches of Asia. These individual epistles pertained to specific needs in each congregation, and were addressed accordingly.

The apostles handled problems directly in congregations and also by inspired epistles. In the sixth chapter of Acts a problem came up in the church at Jerusalem because some of the widows among the Jews who were not born of the native land of the Jewish nation were not receiving the food that was distributed daily. The apostles took care of this matter by instructing the church to select seven men who met specific stated qualifications to be in charge of the benevolence. Also, the First Corinthian letter is a good example of how an apostle dealt with multi-problems in one congregation, including withdrawing fellowship from a brother living in immorality. At Romans 16:17 the church at Rome was to brand (mark) false teachers as such and to have nothing to do with them. When false teachers from one congregation (the church at Jerusalem) attempted to bind their false doctrine on another congregation (the church at Antioch), representatives (Paul and Barnabas) of the church being affected went to the congregation from which the false teachers came (which was the church at Jerusalem). Study the 15th chapter of Acts for more detail.

We should make a diligent study of the New Testament for the purpose of finding how to deal with problems in individual congregations and within the brotherhood of the church of our Lord.

--Dub Mowery

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