Speaking in Church—Part 1

The following passages emphasize that what is done in the church should edify the church. We read "Let all things be done unto edifying" (1Co 14:26) and "seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church" (1Co 14:12). " ... we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying" (2Co 12:19). "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers" (Eph 4:29). "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" (Ro 14:19). "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ" (Eph 4:11-12)ESV. From Christ "the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Eph 4:16).

(Heb 10:23) Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
(Heb 10:24) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
(Heb 10:25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

As we read in Eph 4:16, everyone who is a part of the body of Christ contributes to the work of edification. It would follow then that any member of the body could speak to the church, provided that what he says edifies the body (1Co 14:26). The following passage restricts speech not only within the church but also outside of the church.

(1Pt 4:10) As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
(1Pt 4:11) If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

In 1Pt 4:11 "the oracles of God" refer to the Bible. Indeed, in the New Testament, all other occurrences of the Greek word for "oracle" refer to the Word of God. The Bible clearly indicates that the Word must be preached (2Ti 4:2). Now, 1Pt 4:11 addresses speech in general, not just speech dealing with the Word of God. This verse urges believers to speak in a manner consistent with the Word. Indeed, note the word "as" in "as the oracles of God". We do not read that one should speak only the oracles of God but that he should speak as the oracles of God, that is, in conformity to the oracles of God. Speech that is not in opposition to the Bible in any way (in content, manner, context, ... ) would be in conformity with the oracles of God. The Greek word translated "as" in 1Pt 4:11 is ως. This word is understood here with the meaning described by phrases such as "in conformity to", "consistent with", and "according to". Two examples illustrating this meaning of the word ως are as follows. "But to you I say, the rest who are in Thyatira, ... who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say ... " (Rev 2:24)Darby. Here, the word ως is translated "as" in "as they say". The meaning of "as they say" is "according to what they say" or "from their viewpoint". The things called "depths" were depths from the viewpoint of the heretics, not from the viewpoint of God. Another example can be found in the following verse: "And Jesus himself ... being as was supposed son of Joseph ... " (Lk 3:23)Darby. The word ως is translated "as" in "as was supposed". The Gospel of Luke speaks in detail about the virgin birth of Christ, so it cannot be that it states here that Jesus was the son of Joseph. Rather, "as was supposed" has the meaning of "according to what was supposed" or "from the viewpoint of what people thought". Thus, the verse states that according to what people supposed, Jesus was a son of Joseph. Interpreting the same way the word ως in 1Pt 4:11, the verse asks believers to speak from the viewpoint of the Scripture.

The passage above indicates how a person should speak. Everything that a believer does, in the church or outside of the church, should be done as unto the Lord (Col 3:23), and as such, as a work of ministry. We could conclude then that 1Pt 4:11 restricts speech in general, not just in the church.

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