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Theology

The Priority Of Spirit-Gifting For Church Ministry (Gordon Fee)

Does God ever put gender as a prior requirement for gifting? What does it mean to look to biblical revelation for authority when the texts do not specifically speak in advocacy of a specific issue? We must learn to differentiate between prescriptive and descriptive texts.

The NT is ambiguous in many areas of church structure. Fee states that Spirit-gifting precedes all issues of structure and gender.

Ambiguity of the NT on Structure and Ministry

It is apparent from the NT record that the church did not place the same emphasis on organisational flow charts that modern day church movements do! All the way from strong evident hierarchical RC to the more subtle hierarchy of the Brethren, and those in between – they all claim NT authority. But the NT documents simply show little interest in defining these matters. They are in the how and who, not the what, of ministry.

This is the opposite of the former covenant at Sinai where specific instructions were given for all aspects.

Under the Old Covenant there was no place for women in the priesthood, but in the NT we see no reference to such matters (Joel 2:28-29 stresses this and Peter picked up on it immediately at Pentecost). The closest things to intentional instruction appear in 1 Tim and Titus, but only then it’s to do with the development of a function of leadership (BR note: Fee has pointed out elsewhere that Timothy is to do with appointment of replacement elders (hence the stress on character), while Titus has to do with the establishing of new churches and new, relatively untried leaders).

The concept of an “office” (a church order and positions that need to be filled) is barely admissible in 1 Tim 3, and certainly nowhere else in the entire NT. People prophesied then were later recognised as functioning prophets; similarly, some looked after people and came to be recognised as elders because they were already doing the work. Elder (presbyter) is the broad term that includes overseers (episkope) and deacons (diakonos BR note – on re-reading this, I am not sure I wrote his comments down correctly; I will have to listen to the tape and possibly edit this). But this is not clear intentional revelation from the Holy Spirit. Intentional instruction is distinctly absent from the NT.

Even the r

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