Speaking Sound Doctrine

The Work Of The Church

IX.    Things That Are Not The Work Of The Church

Not every activity with a religious or moral implication is necessarily a work of the church.  For example, we are religiously and morally obligated to bridle our tongues and "visit orphans and widows in their trouble" (James 1:26, 27), but these are not acts ordained for the church as a body.  This principle will relate to several activities that will be examined in this section.

We will be challenging the authority of several common practices in churches today.  However, as noted earlier, the obligation to provide proof of authority for a certain action in the church rests upon those who would choose to perform it.  It is not the duty of others to prove that the action is unauthorized.  Nevertheless, the arguments presented by those who attempt to defend these practices will likewise be challenged.

1 Peter 3:15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

1 Thessalonians 5:21  Test all things; hold fast what is good.

The word "test" in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 is from DOKIMAZO {dok-im-ad'-zo} meaning, "1) to test, examine, prove, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals 2) to recognise as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy" (JHT).  We will now put these practices to the test.

A.      Fund-raising Activities

Intuitively, if a church has more financial resources, it can do more evangelism.  Thinking the ends justifies the means, human reasoning takes for granted that any endeavor of the church that will generate revenue should be authorized as an expediency for evangelism, if the money is used for a greater teaching work.  The result is church-sponsored bake sales, car washes, and other such activities.  These things are not expediencies for teaching.  Baking a cake has absolutely nothing to do with teaching the gospel.

Fundamentally, making money is not an expediency for teaching the gospel, because something more is added: commerce.  Similarly, remember that missionary societies are not teaching expediencies, because something more is added: an organization.  Where God has specified the organization, we have no right to establish a substitute for it.  Likewise, where God has specified the method of raising revenue in the church, we have no right to devise a substitute for it.  To do so would be to act outside the bounds of scripture (2 John 9). 

The reason for our first-day-of-the-week, free-will collection is because that is what God has specified (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2).  It is not to fulfill a generic command to raise money.  Such a command has not yet been found in scripture, but if it were, we then could expedite the raising of money with church bake sales, rummage sales, printing services, parking services, or any other means or methods of generating income.  Until such a scripture is found, we dare not consider such carnal activities to be the work of the church.

B.       General Deeds Of Kindness

Earlier in our study, we noted that edification, in its generic sense, is nowhere actually identified in scripture as a work of the church as a collective body.  The work of the church is to teach the gospel, specifically; edification is a natural result of this.  Edification is the end, not the means.

Since edification can generally include every kind of good deed we might do for others, the consequence of considering edification to be a categorical work of the church is that all kinds of carnal, secular, and social programs are creeping into the church.  Examples of good works include visiting the sick and elderly and sending thank-you, birthday, and get-well cards, flowers, and fruit baskets.  It is also good to help the elderly with household chores: cutting grass, trimming bushes, raking leaves, shoveling snow, and every other such thing.

Some gospel preachers think that part of the work God has ordained for evangelists is to visit the sick and shut-ins.  This writer knows some preachers who dedicate a certain weekday exclusively to these tasks.  Though preachers may have more convenient opportunities for such work because of freedom to schedule their work week, they ought not think that such activity is a purpose for which the church provides their wages.  Evangelists are good news tellers.  Visitation is not any more the work of a church-supported evangelist than it is any other individual Christian.

It perhaps seems strange to consider that the work of the church as a body is not the general doing of good for brethren, but God has clearly laid this duty squarely upon individuals.  Our careful examination of scripture indicates that the benevolent work of the church as a body is toward brethren with real needs.  Shoveling snow is a nice gesture, but when elderly folks can pay for these services, it is clearly not a true need and hence not a work of the church.  Even if they cannot pay, scripture indicates that the duty to assist falls first to family, not the church.  Moreover, if people are living above their means, it ought not be the church's responsibility to pick up their slack.  It is reasonable for people to change their lifestyle instead of expecting the church to arrange for or pay for services they can't otherwise afford.

However, because individuals sometimes do not rise to the task God has appointed them, the eldership often then assumes that in order to get individuals to do this work, they must expend their efforts planning how they can organize it, and they delegate leadership tasks to the deacons who distribute social visitation assignments to church-group members.  It is then no longer individual action but action of the corporate church under the management of the church leadership.  This is not the work of elders and deacons.

To the contrary, the work of the church is to teach individuals that they ought to be busy doing these kindly deeds; it is part of the gospel message.  If brethren then do not step up to their responsibility, the church needs to recognize this as outright ungodliness.  Paul calls such people worse than infidels who neglect their families.  If the instruction fails to motivate brethren to their individual duty, then marking them and withdrawing with further admonishing is what the Holy Spirit reveals the church should do, not organizing social work groups.  Too many churches today have too many work groups active in all kinds of carnal and social busy-work that God has not authorized for the church.

1 Timothy 5:8-16  But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever…. 16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-15  But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us….  14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed…

1 John 3:17-19  But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth….

Bear in mind that there is nothing inherently wrong with forming work groups for general edification, just not by the church.  Individuals can work collectively and institute any organization or association they wish to manage visitation and edification efforts and to raise funds for flowers, gifts, or any other carnal or social thing.  Please review the principles previously established concerning lawful man-made general benevolent societies.  Note that likewise forming such an edifying organization does not supplant the church, because God has not ordained it or any other divine organization for this purpose.  We are therefore free to form such a corporation, but we ought not call it a "church group."  Moreover, elders and deacons have no business directing these efforts as part of their service to the church as a body nor using the church treasury to support these efforts.  These things are not ordained works of the church.

C.       Healthcare And Secular Education

Mainstream denominationalism has perhaps made no greater impression upon twenty-first century North American culture than in the financial support of hospitals, health clinics, and colleges.  For example, nearly every hospital bears the name of the religious denomination who is its primary sponsor.  Hospitals are truly wonderful institutions doing a tremendous service.  However, no amount of good that a hospital might do can justify a church supporting it.  Authority for such must be derived from a direct command, approved example, or necessary inference in scripture.  An attempt to validate such action might come from reasoning that James 5:14 presents the authority for it:

James 5:14  Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

James 5:14 describes the action of individuals, not a collective body.  The elders are not the corporate church nor do they represent the church.  James explains in the next verse that the prayer, not of a corporate body, but of a righteous man (an elder, for instance) can accomplish much.  The instruction for individual elders to offer prayer and apply therapeutic ointment does not logically infer authority for the church as a corporate body to establish or financially support a healthcare organization.

Some churches provide primary and secondary secular education.  Complete programs are arranged with staffing and facilities for instruction in mathematics, science, and social studies.  To the contrary, founding or financially supporting schools is work that falls upon individuals or human organizations.  The church has no authority for such involvement in carnal matters but in spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).

Some churches today are developing dieting and physical exercise programs in the church based upon the diet of Daniel and his friends as they prepare for work in the Babylonian king's service (Daniel 1:12-16).  Good nutrition and weight management are certainly worthy pursuits, as our bodies are temples of the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:19), but scripture nowhere indicates that the work of the church in these matters should include anything other than teaching individuals to honor God in their bodies.  Exercise equipment, weight scales, and whole grain muffin recipes are not expediencies to this end.  Paul acknowledges that bodily exercise does have some benefit, but godliness is more important.

1 Timothy 4:6-8  If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 7 But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

We must not assume that what God prescribes to us as individuals He also ordains as functions in the church as a corporate body.  God's word certainly gives us what we need for fulfillment in every aspect of life, in both carnal and spiritual matters, but God has not ordained the church to function in all these areas.  The work of the church is fundamentally spiritual, not carnal (John 8:36).

D.      Social And Political Activism

God has ordained the church to teach the gospel.  Part of the gospel message is morality.  The church is commissioned to teach individuals that their bodies and minds are to be instruments of the Lord; we are not to be engaged in abortion, pornography, homosexuality, or bigotry.  However, anything beyond teaching against these practices is not the work of the church.  The church as a corporate body has no business organizing or in any way participating in anti-abortion demonstrations, lobbying with the government against pornography, or fighting for civil rights.  As worthy as these causes are, they are political and social issues.  Even though there are religious implications, God has not appointed His church as a body to be involved in these things.  If God had intended that it should, we would see in scripture a command, example, or necessary inference to authorize it.

It may seem strange that the church be not involved in social and civic reform, but it is God’s intention that people voluntarily do the right thing for the love of the truth when they hear the gospel rather than do it because of a government mandate.  God has ordained that the church teach the gospel and let people decide on their own to accept or reject it.

1 Corinthians 14:37, 38  If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.

Romans 6:17  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12  And with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Revelation 22:11  He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.

This is not to say that it is wrong for individuals to work for legal reform and civil justice or to establish human institutions to those ends; it is just not a work God has ordained for the corporate church.

E.       Weddings

One of the most prevalent manifestations of carnal influence in the church today is the abuse of church property for wedding ceremonies, even among churches otherwise renouncing institutionalism and the social gospel doctrine.  Let's investigate from scripture whether church weddings are indeed aligned with the ordained work of the church.  If a church wedding is authorized, we should be able to produce from scripture a command, an approved example, or a necessary inference for it.  To begin, let's study weddings and marriage as revealed in scripture.

1.          Difference between weddings and marriages

It is essential that we note the practical difference between a marriage and a wedding; they are not the same thing.  Marriage is the institutional relationship; a wedding is the ceremony by which a couple enters that relationship.  In other words, marriage is the covenant (Malachi 2:14); a wedding is the ratification of the covenant.  The wedding endures but for a short time and is concluded (John 2:1, 2), but the marriage endures for the life of the couple (Romans 7:2).

The New Testament Greek language does not utilize different words to make such a distinction.  The verb GAMEO {gam-eh'-o} and the noun GAMOS {gam'-os} both have dual meanings: the continued action and state of being married (1 Corinthians 7:10) and the ceremonial actions and festivities of getting married (Matthew 22:1-12).  Friberg indicates the word is also used by metonymy to indicate a wedding hall (Matthew 10:22, NAU).  The context, noun case, or verb tense will indicate the difference.  Modern English translators reflect the distinction for us.  Compare John 2:2 and Hebrews 13:4 in either the NAU or NKJ.  Both use the word GAMOS, but in a different sense.

Consider that Adam and Eve were married, but they had no wedding.  Their union was appointed by God; they were created that way.  However, all couples after them enter into marriage by somehow ratifying their covenant by a public demonstration of their intent. 

The very first case in scripture is of Cain.  The record simply states that "Cain knew his wife," which is understood to mean sexual intimacy, as she thereby conceived (Genesis 4:17).  Nothing is specifically revealed about Cain's wedding, but wives do not automatically happen.  By necessity, if he had a wife, he must have somehow ratified that covenant as God had ordained (Genesis 2:24).  The most effective way to ratify a marriage covenant is with an exchange of vows before witnesses, which removes all doubt concerning the couple's intentions (Numbers 30:6).  Of Lamech, the record states that he "took for himself two wives."  The word "took" is from LAQACH {law-kakh'}; the Hebrew verb stem is Qal, which expresses action in the active voice.  Whatever action whereby he made the public aware that these women became bound to him in marriage was, by definition, a wedding, crude as it may have been.  Such basic, civil confirmation is all that is actually required to ratify a marriage.

The Law of Moses contains many regulations concerning the treatment of wives and the responsibilities of husbands, but nothing is specified concerning the procedures of wedding celebrations or festivals.  Regarding the taking and being given in marriage, neither Moses' law nor the law of Christ supersedes nor augments the ordinance of Genesis 2:24, to which Jesus makes reference in Matthew 19:4, 5.

Conclusively, the marriage covenant originates from God and so its ratification.  However the ceremonial trappings, festivities, and celebrations of weddings originate from human customs and traditions, not from God.  Such festivities and celebrations are not necessary, and they are not actually part of the covenant ratification but an accompaniment to it.

2.          A search for authority from command or example

Now let's begin our search in scripture for a church wedding.  A command for it is fairly easy to rule out.  Nowhere in scripture is the church as a body instructed to conduct a wedding the way we are instructed to relieve needy saints, teach the gospel, take the Lord's Supper, pray, lay by in store, or sing spiritual songs.

Examples of weddings in scripture vary greatly from simple statements of intent to elaborate festivals.  Over the years and relative to culture, examples in scripture become more extravagant.  One of Solomon's weddings is characterized by a parade of his entourage as he is carried upon a highly ornate cedar couch infused with fragrances, wearing a crown (Song 3:6-11).  In the New Testament, wedding customs include wedding parties (Matthew 9:15), private invitations (Matthew 22:3), feasts (22:4), special attire (22:11), oil lamps (25:1), guests of honor (Luke 14:8), and banqueting (John 2:2, 3).  In the church era, the church is not mentioned once in scripture as being involved in weddings.

By customs of today, wedding celebrations have become even more elaborate.  Typical ceremonies include floral arrangements, candlelight, pageantry, dancing, orchestra music, and limousine service.  However, some couples today also utilize costumes and role playing, or they include their hobbies in their weddings, such as scuba diving, sky diving, or bungee jumping.  As long as these activities are not inherently sinful, all such things have a legitimate place in a wedding, if the involved parties are so inclined.  However, if any one of these, such as pageantry, is accepted in a church wedding, by the same logic, all must be.  Notwithstanding, these things have nothing to do with the church nor even with ratifying the marriage covenant; they are festival trappings.

3.          Arguments from expediency and inference

Without a command or example of a church wedding recorded in scripture, proponents claim that church weddings are authorized based on the following reasons:

         It is an expediency for teaching the gospel.

         It is necessarily inferred by that fact that marriage is ordained by God.

         There is nothing holy about a church building, so it is okay to use it for weddings.

         Jesus went to weddings.

         Churches have hosted weddings for years.

         It is only a matter of opinion.

Let's examine these claims.

a.      Argument of expediency

We submit again that an expediency is only a convenient aid, tool, or method for executing a particular action.  An expediency does not add to, subtract from, or in any way change the action.  For example, if we sing hymns using a song book, we are still doing nothing more and nothing less than singing hymns.  A songbook is only an aid.  However, if we add instrumental music accompaniment, we are now doing more: singing and playing an instrument.  The instrument is not an aid; it is the introduction of some additional action.  We could site several other examples, but similarly, a wedding ceremony is not an expediency for teaching, because something more is added (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6).

Proponents will argue that if Bible teaching is part of a wedding ceremony, the wedding ceremony is also an authorized work of the church.  The apparent argument is that if any act of worship is added to any other activity, that other activity itself becomes an authorized work of the church.  This completely defies sound reasoning.  Consider that prayer is offered at stock car races.  Someone following this reasoning would have to accept that if prayer, an act of worship, is accomplished at a stock car race, the stock car race is also authorized as a work of the church.  If simply adding gospel teaching to a wedding causes it to become a work of the church, it should do the same for graduation ceremonies, baby showers, anniversary celebrations, birthday parties, and so on without limit.  If anyone accepts church weddings on this basis, he must also accept everything else that would be likewise derived.  He cannot arbitrarily pick where it does or does not apply on personal judgment.

b.      Argument of things ordained by God

This argument is based on the assumption that anything ordained by God has a place in the church.  Clearly, if the marriage covenant is ordained by God, then so is its ratification: the wedding.  However, the sound Bible student recognizes that God ordains certain things for certain individuals and certain other things for the church as a body.  The distinction between the individual and the corporate church applies again.  Simply because God ordains a thing does not necessarily infer that He ordains it for the church.  For example, God ordains capital punishment (Romans 13:2-5), but there is no indication that He ordains this as a work of the church.  The church has no authority to build a gallows for the execution of criminals.  God also ordains that a man is to perform honest work for a living (Genesis 3:19; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:11), but this does not authorize retirement parties as a work of the church.  One who holds to this reasoning for a church wedding must also accept that the church can sponsor any political convention and rally, provide the service of income tax return preparation, or provide a venue for polling, since civil government is ordained by God (Romans 13:1, 6, 7).  This reasoning is absurd.  Besides, please remember that there is a difference between marriages and wedding festivals.  God has indeed ordained marriage and its ratification, but wedding celebrations and festivals are the invention of man, not God.

c.       Argument of the non-holy church building

Regarding the significance of sacred things, please review our earlier conclusions on this when we examined the abuse of church funds.  The fact of the matter is that the church building is indeed holy, not in the sense of worship-worthiness but of belonging to the Lord and being set apart for His exclusive purposes (Ezra 8:28).

Incidentally, remember also that the entire church collectively participates in the sin when the Lord's property is abused.  Therefore, those among them with the conviction that church weddings are unauthorized ought not deceive themselves into thinking they can simply choose to not attend and thereby not partake in the lawlessness.

d.      Argument of Jesus going to weddings

The distinction between individual action and corporate action of the church as a body needs to be considered here again.  The simple fact that Jesus went to a wedding (John 2:1-3) and did many other things does not mean He has ordained them for His church.  For example, He apparently worked for decades as a carpenter (Mark 6:3), but this does not authorize carpentry as a work of the church.

e.      Argument of traditions and opinions

The most fundamental investigation of authority in religion will establish that the traditions and judgments of men are not our standard of authority.  Moreover, when a false teacher is debating an issue for which he cannot produce scriptural authority, a common tactic often used is for him to declare that it is too complicated to fully understand and is therefore a matter of opinions (1 Timothy 6:3, 4; 2 Timothy 4:2-4; 2 Peter 3:16).  However, this examination has been clear, logical, and decisive.  Furthermore, it is not left to a man to arbitrarily dictate to others what is and is not an issue of opinions.

f.        The logical conclusion

Consider that a church can regularly meet for worship in a facility either rented or owned by the church.  Therefore, if church weddings are authorized, the church ought to have the authority not only to offer its church-owned facility for the event but also offer to pay for any other rented facility.  Remember: church property and church treasury are equivalent.  Furthermore, if a church has the authority to provide the venue for a wedding, it should also have the authority to provide the flowers, the music, the photographer, and everything else.  The logic of this argumentation ends in absurdity; it reduces the glorious church to little more than a social services provider.

4.          The origin of church weddings

Church weddings did not originate in the mind of God but in the mind of men.  Had it been from God, we would see it revealed in scripture.  Everything we know of the mind of God we receive through scripture (1 Corinthians 2; Romans 16:25, 26).  Let's examine some other sources.

According to the Roman Catholic Church Catechism (1113) marriage is declared to be a "sacrament," of which, the Catechism further states, "the sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us…" (1131).  There is no scripture validating this.  Marriage is sacred for certain, but the idea that it is entrusted to the church is the product of human creeds, not of divine revelation in scripture.  Marriages and weddings have been going on since the dawn of creation.  From the time of Adam until the days of the apostles, marriages and weddings have had no need of the church in order to be performed or in any other way managed or monitored.  God Himself rules over marriages by His divine law independent of any function of the church.

In addition, the Episcopalian Book Of Common Prayer prescribes in detail the things that are to be said and done at a church wedding.  Those who are authorized to officiate and the exact order of events in the service are listed therein (p. 422 - p. 438), but nothing concerning these regulations are validated with scripture.  These are the ordinances of men, not of God.  Churches that are involved in wedding ceremonies derive their authority solely from the traditions of denominationalism, because they cannot derive it from scripture.

5.          A social event

All marriages have religious and moral significance.  Even if the couple are atheists, they are still bound by divine law, whether or not they choose to recognize it.  God does not have separate laws for the marriages of believers and for those of non-believers; all mankind is amenable to the same law of God (John 12:48; Acts 17:31; Romans 2:16). 

Notwithstanding, it is completely possible to have a wedding ceremony where not the first mention of God, his law, or religion is heard.  God has ordained no stipulations or regulations in the matter, but the couple are married just the same whether or not there are any religious references in the ceremony.  Therefore, a wedding ceremony is not necessarily an inherently religious event.

Simply because a wedding ceremony might be void of religious references, the marriage is not thereby without moral implications.  On the other hand, just because a wedding ceremony is filled with religious references, it does not thereby become a church service.  Remember, not everything with a religious or moral implication is necessarily connected to a church function.

Fundamentally, a wedding is a social affair.  Just because religion might be mentioned in the ceremony, that does not make it a church function.  If religion is likewise mentioned when a government official is sworn to office, that also does not make it a church function.

There are notable differences between a wedding ceremony and that which would be the work of the church: a worship service.  Let's list a few.

         Weddings are attended by private invitation; worship services are open to the public (1 Corinthians 14:22-25);

         Weddings have guests of honor; in worship services, all are equal without partiality (James 2:1-9);

         Weddings are centered on the bride and groom; worship services are centered on Christ (1 Corinthians 2:2);

         Weddings may have secular and instrumental music; worship services have singing of hymns (Ephesians 5:19);

         Weddings may have women speakers; worship services have men in leading public speaking roles (1 Corinthians 14:34);

         Wedding guests are invited to greet the newlywed couple; worship attendees are invited to obey the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14);

         Weddings have food and entertainment; worship services have a reverent, spiritual objective (1 Peter 2:5).

We can stop there.  This is enough to demonstrate that weddings and church services are distinct.  One has no connection to the other.

All of this is not to say that wedding celebrations with all their pageantry and festivities are sinful; they simply have no more place in the church than do organized recreation and entertainment activities.  God has not specified the proceedings of wedding festivals, so we can arrange these as we wish, outside the church.  Had God specified wedding festivities, then we could not substitute for them.  (This follows the same principles established earlier.)

F.       Funerals

Another common abuse of church property today is for funeral services.  Let's likewise investigate from scripture whether church funeral and visitation services are indeed aligned with the ordained work of the church.  If a church funeral is authorized, we should be able to produce from scripture a command, an approved example, or a necessary inference for it.

1.          History of funerals

The first recorded human death is of Abel, murdered by his brother.  Nothing is revealed in scripture regarding any kind of memorial service for him.  The sacred record for over the next several centuries simply states that individuals lived and died.  It appears not to be until the death of Sarah that anything is mentioned about one mourning over another's passing.  It states, "and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her" (Genesis 23:2).  All verbs here are expressing the active voice.  Moreover, the definition of the word for "came" includes a coming in or entering, which suggests that Abraham went to or into a certain place for the very purpose of grieving for his wife.

Concerning deceased bodies, Numbers 19 describes how those who handle a corpse become unclean and what must be done for them to become clean again.  However, the Law of Moses specifies no proceedings for funerals, memorial services, or prescribed mourning periods.  The law furthermore specifies nothing concerning the disposal of dead bodies.  The inspired record indicates that the bodies of those who die are buried (Genesis 23:19; Numbers 1:20; Deuteronomy 10:6; 34:6) or burned, if enemies or criminals (Joshua 7:25; 2 Kings 23:20), but this is apparently by human tradition and judgment, not by divine law.

In New Testament times, the deceased was traditionally laid out in a home for a time for visitation prior to burial.  Mementos of their life might be on display (Acts 9:37-39).  Women hired as professional mourners would come to the place and make loud wailings (Mark 5:35-40).  The deceased was eventually placed in a coffin and carried out for burial (Luke 7:12-14).

Funeral activities have always varied greatly from culture to culture.  In twenty-first century North America, there is typically a wake or visitation where folks come together, usually with the body present, to console, reminisce, and reconnect with old friends and distant family members.  A funeral service follows where the life and accomplishments of the deceased are recounted and celebrated, the details of which vary greatly with particular religious beliefs.  A grave-site service with concluding remarks and usually prayer often finalizes the activities.  Other cultures can be quite different.  Sometimes the wake is more of a festival with music and banqueting that can last for days.  In some cases, a musical parade is conducted in a procession through city streets.

None of these activities come from an ordinance of God in scripture; they all apparently originate from human tradition alone. 

2.          Attempts to authorize a church funeral

a.      Argument from example

An attempt to validate a church funeral might come from reasoning that Acts 8:2 presents an approved example for it:

Acts 8:2  And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

Remember that authority derived from inferences must be necessarily forced conclusions, not just possible or probable conclusions.  Moreover, we must again distinguish between individual and collective action.  Earlier in this study, we also noted the distinction between the coincidental cooperation of Christians and that of the church as a corporate body.  Simply because some Christians are acting collectively does not necessarily mean it is a church function.  Our task is to determine in Acts 8:2 whether the collective action of the devout men is action of the church as a body.  As we cannot tell for certain, the inference is only possible or plausible, not necessary, and hence not authoritative.  The church as a body is never seen in scripture as being unequivocally involved in any funeral.

b.      Argument from expediency

Those attempting to validate a church funeral will claim that it is an expedient means of gospel teaching.  On the basis of what we have previously discussed about weddings and missionary societies, the reader should be already prepared to defeat this argument.  Even though gospel preaching often accompanies a funeral service, that is not all that is being conducted; a eulogy and commemoration, not of Christ, but of a man is added.  However, that which is merely expedient should add nothing to what is actually being accomplished (Revelation 22:18).  It is foolishness to think that a certain amount of preaching, singing, and praying added to a funeral validates it as a work of the church.  If so, we should be able to also conduct a church assembly in honor of a person yet living – celebrating an anniversary, birthday, retirement, any other reason – as long as we add a little preaching, singing, or praying.

Another argument offered is that some who need to hear the gospel might not otherwise hear it unless the funeral services are conducted in a church function.  This is pure nonsense.  Bible teaching can just as well be presented in a funeral home or any other venue or occasion outside the function of the corporate church.  Similarly, though we can all agree that the church has every right to come together any time or place for gospel teaching, spiritual singing, and prayer, some will suggest that, since non-Christians might not be as likely to come to a church assembly for those reasons alone, a church funeral and memorial service is an expedient way of bringing the lost in to hear the gospel.  However, the very same reasoning is rejected when our erring brethren use it to defend their social gospel practices.  Besides, the gospel message should be all that is needed to draw men unto Christ (John 6:26; 12:32; Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5).  Those who come to Christ from carnal motives cannot please Him (Romans 8:5-8, 1 Thessalonians 2:3, 4).  If we are truly interested in teaching the truth at a funeral, it is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that the Lord's church is not like the denominations, who engage in all kinds of unauthorized secular practices of human origin.

We should consider also the purpose for the gathering.  Remember that if the calling out, the EKKLESIA, is not for the purposes of the Lord, then it is not the Lord’s calling.  When people go to a funeral, they go for the express purpose of honoring a departed soul and generally edifying their survivors.  Our study has demonstrated that these things are not the work God has appointed for His church as a body.  The event commonly connected with a funeral within our culture called the "viewing" is often called "visitation," and this is precisely the kind of thing the Lord has appointed for individuals (James 1:26, 27), not for His church as a corporate body.

In further attempts to justify a church funeral, the claim is sometimes made that the laid-out body of the deceased in the assembly is only a teaching expediency to demonstrate the fragility of life – a mere visual aid, so to speak, such as a whiteboard, workbook, presentation program, or a glass of water that a preacher might somehow use to illustrate a point (Acts 21:11).  An honest heart will recognize that the deceased body of a loved one will be viewed by attendees altogether differently than such impersonal teaching tools.  This is much more than a prop; the body is honored and is presented as a memorial.  Consider that in the assembly called a "viewing," the body is not the means to an end but the end in itself.  Expediencies are optional and non-essential.  For example, we can sing with or without songbooks, but we cannot have a "viewing" without a body.  The body is therefore not an expediency.

c.       Argument from priorities

Some teachers proclaim that church funerals are authorized as long as gospel teaching, prayer, and spiritual singing are at the center.  This is equivalent to saying that any unauthorized practice is acceptable as long as other accompanying authorized practices predominate the occasion.  These same teachers who would reject this reasoning when applied in defense of church-supported human institutions and the social gospel doctrine will adopt it to defend their church funerals and weddings.  Our Lord likens such admixture to leaven and identifies the duplicity as hypocrisy.

Luke 12:1  He began to say to His disciples first of all, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

1 Corinthians 5:6-7  Your glorying is not good.  Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened….

In reality, any attempt to execute a traditional funeral yet keep gospel teaching as the priority will inevitably fail.  It is self-deception to think the deceased body in the assembly will not actually be the focal-point of the event.  Once the body of the deceased is introduced, the leaven typically spreads to other carnal things, such as using the Lord's visual aid projector, not for gospel teaching, but for a photo collage as a tribute to the life, family, and accomplishments of the deceased.

A study of hermeneutics will show that we need to have divine authority for all that we do in our assemblies, not just the predominate things (Colossians 3:17).  Correspondingly, we should remember that the church at Thyatira was faithful in most every good work, but this did not excuse them for their one shortcoming (Revelation 2:18-29).

d.      Argument from misunderstanding incidentals

Some brethren, even those who renounce the social gospel doctrine, will attempt to validate a church funeral by the argument that we often do many things in a church-owned meeting house that are not works of the church.  For example, we might talk about football in the building after services are dismissed.  This is exactly the same reasoning presented by our erring brethren who attempt to validate church-sponsored ball teams and dinner socials.  The fact that we might discuss secular things after dismissal is coincidental – it is not the reason we have gathered together.  A fair comparison to a funeral would be if the elders announced that we are having a special assembly to discuss football for 45 minutes and then have 15 minutes of teaching, singing, and prayer.  Such church activity would be unauthorized.  We will discuss incidental matters further in a later section of this study.

e.      Argument from ambiguity and opinions

Another argument offered in an attempt to defend church funerals is to suggest that each situation has its own characteristics and conditions and must be considered on a case-by-case basis.  The heart of this argument is the presumption that the possible combinations of circumstances are so complicated that an immutable set of rules applicable to all funerals in all instances does not exist.  Therefore, strict adherence to rules is not practical, and we have no basis to definitively declare that any given church funeral is forbidden.  According to this reasoning, authority for church funerals is left entirely to personal discretion and judgment.  This aligns with the heresy of situational ethics.  The fundamental flaw with this argument is that it has no scriptural basis but is founded on human opinions alone.

The implication is that God's word does not give us a clear answer about this.  This is a serious charge against God's word.  In its own defense, we should consider what the Bible says regarding true knowledge and understanding in the word (Psalm 119; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 10:3-7; Ephesians 1:17, 18; 5:17; Colossians 1:9).

Ephesians 3:3, 4   …He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).

Colossians 2:2-4  …That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.

1 Timothy 6:20, 21  O Timothy!  Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith….

This is perhaps the most treacherous of all arguments proposed in defense of church funerals because of its logical end.  Once we accept the hypothesis that church funeral services are too complex for us to declare they are unauthorized with certainty, then eventually God's laws on divorce, elder qualifications, women's roles, church-supported human institutions, instrumental worship music, and every other doctrinal matter will fall to the same reasoning, and we will not be able to hold anything as actual truth or actual error.

In reality, this is not so complicated.  God's word is not that ambiguous; we know what it means to teach, sing, and pray.  Besides, just because some things in scripture are hard to understand does not mean all things are, nor does it mean they cannot be understood with deeper study (2 Peter 3:16).  False teachers often use the argument of case-by-case evaluation as an easy answer in matters where they are unable to defend their position with sound reasoning.  Ignorance and deception are sustained by ambiguity (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

f.        Argument of the non-holy church building and traditions

Regarding sacred things, please review our earlier conclusions on this when we examined the abuse of church funds and church weddings.  The same reasoning applies precisely as before.  This is also the point where many will say, "I don't see anything wrong with it" in a futile attempt to defend a church funeral.  Furthermore, it does not matter whether church funerals have been conducted in various places for many years.  If scriptural authority cannot be produced, we need to stop doing it.

3.          A social affair

Even though Bible preaching might be part of a funeral service, it does not have to be; God has delivered no ordinance for this.  Atheists and those having no belief in life hereafter have legitimate funerals, also.  Therefore, a funeral is a decidedly social event.  Just because preaching might be added to a funeral does not make it any less a social event or any more a church function.

a.      Comparison of funerals to worship services

We can make a list of the various ways a funeral is different from the work of the church, such as a worship service.

         Funeral attendants come to pay respect for the deceased; worship attendants come to glorify God (Revelation 14:7).

         Funeral attendants come to visit distant family and old friends; worship attendants come to draw near to God (Hebrews 10:22).

         Funerals have a eulogy where the life of a deceased man is remembered; worship has a remembrance of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25).

         Funerals often have the body of the deceased on display in memoriam; worship has the body of the Lord presented in the communion bread and fruit of the vine (1 Corinthians 10:16).

         Funeral attendants are frequently invited to meet at the gravesite; worship attendants are invited to obey the gospel (1 Corinthians 14:23-25).

Funerals may very well have gospel preaching, the singing of hymns, and prayers: all attributes of worship that certainly have a place in the work of the church.  However, the activities listed above are not the work of the church, and when they are added, they pollute and profane the work of the church.  Remove from a funeral or visitation everything that pertains to socializing and a tribute to a deceased man, and you have nothing more than a worship service: saints coming together to find comfort in the word of God (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Hebrews 10:25).  Such an assembly has a rightful place in the church.

b.      Church funding

Remember that church funds and church property are essentially the same thing.  Therefore, if a church uses the church-owned meeting house for a funeral, then a church that rents its meeting place for worship ought to likewise have the authority to use the church-owned treasury to pay the fee for a funeral home or any other venue for the same event.  If a renting church can do this, then a church that owns its meeting place can do this, too.  If a church can lawfully provide the venue for a funeral, then by the same rights, it should be able also to provide embalming services, limousine services, caskets, tombstones, burial plots, and floral arrangements.  These are all features of a funeral.  Denominational churches are often characterized by cemeteries on the grounds of the church property.  If church funerals are accepted as authorized, then it must also be lawful for the church to finance all these other things without exception.  However, these things have nothing to do with the work of the church.

4.          The origin of church funerals

Canon law of the Roman Catholic Church and its Catechism (section 1680) prescribes the activities of funerals in detail.  However, the scriptures are completely void of any such instructions.  The Book Of Common Prayer of The Episcopal Church, paragraph 468, states, "The death of a member of the Church should be reported as soon as possible to, and arrangements for the funeral should be made in consultation with, the Minister of the Congregation.  Baptized Christians are properly buried from the church."

No scripture is offered to validate any of these statements.  The scripture has not yet been presented that indicates church involvement in any funeral.  The idea of church responsibility in funerals for "baptized Christians" in particular is equally a fabrication of human conjecture.  If a church can host funerals for their members, they ought to also be able to do so for any non-member.  However, if a church of Christ is today involved in funeral services but only for Christians, it is all the more evidence of its man-made origin in denominationalism.

Conclusively, funeral proceedings are wholly the product of human customs, not divine appointments.  This is not to say funerals are sinful; they simply have no place in the church.  The idea that a funeral is a work of the church is completely founded in denominational traditions and the ordinances of human creeds.  If we are truly people of the book, we need to divest ourselves from all denominational traditionalism not validated in scripture.

G.      Incidental Matters

Those who defend the social gospel doctrine will claim that we do many things when we meet together for worship for which we have no scriptural basis.  For example, they will argue that if we have authority to change a baby’s diaper in the building, we have authority for a church wedding or dinner social.  However, changing a diaper in the building is only a matter of coincidence; it is not our express purpose for gathering.  When the elders invite everyone to bring their babies to the building at a designated time for a diaper changing service, then these social gospel defenders will have a parallel comparison, but they will still not have a legitimate argument.  There is no authority for a diaper changing service, and one unauthorized practice offers no authority for another.

The social gospel defenders will similarly claim that if the church allows neighborhood children to sometimes ride their skateboards in the church's vacant parking lot during non-assembly hours, then the church can also provide some skateboard ramps or swing sets.  However, the fact that the elders might not come and chase the children away or call the police does not mean that they condone or encourage this activity.  This is a matter of coincidence.  The elders have no control against all such abuses, but if there are doubts about their responsibility, they can always post a sign stating, "church parking only."  Consider the purpose of the parking lot in the first place.  It is an expediency for assembling.  A study of authority in religion will establish that the use justifies the tool; the tool does not justify the use.  For example, the need to copy teaching materials authorizes a copy machine.  The copy machine does not authorize printing cupcake recipes.  The same is true in similitude for the parking lot.

Our purpose for assembling together as a church is to do the Lord's work and to worship.  We should not make it our definitive purpose as a church to come together to do anything other than what God has ordained the church to do.  Other activities arise as an incidental result of people coming together in one place.  However, we cannot necessarily conclude that those incidental functions can become the purpose of coming together as a church or part of the church's mission.  Some additional examples are:

         The water fountain:
We might quench our thirst at worship assemblies; this does not authorize tea parties.

         Emergency shelter:
We might use the building to keep an accident victim warm; this does not authorize a health clinic.

         Weed killer:
We might put herbicide on the church property; this does not authorize hunger drives.

         Bathroom facility:
Our building might have indoor necessary rooms; this does not authorize holding civil ceremonies.

         Fixing a button:
Someone might repair their clothing in the church building; this does not authorize sewing parties.

         Secular discussions:
We might talk about sports after worship services; this does not authorize a church ball team.

We will stop there; anyone should be able to recognize the difference in these matters.  This list of examples could go on, and there is effectively no end to the things one could attempt to find authorized by such inane reasoning.  To endeavor to find scriptural authority from such is to dabble in strife:

Titus 3:9-11  But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

H.      Conclusion

1.          A call for self-surrender

In some congregations, when a member requests the use of church-owned property for a funeral, wedding, or other such function, a problem arises when the elders or men acting as elders consent to its use, though their authority rests on nothing more than the reasoning previously refuted.  The problem becomes full scale when a brother asks them for their scriptural authority.  Now, though unprepared to make a valid defense, they render their judgment to carry on the event anyway, proposing to study the matter more deeply at a later date. 

Their decision to carry on is no doubt influenced by a desire to be true their word.  However, it is far better to demonstrate that we are true, not to our word, but to the word.  The world needs to see that Christians are devoted to following the will of God when the truth is understood, no matter the consequences.  We commend the willingness of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego to face a fiery death for the truth (Daniel 3), but then we compromise the truth ourselves to hold on to our human traditions or merely avoid the awkwardness or embarrassment of changing a decision.  This ought not be so.  If we are crucified with Christ, we sacrifice our own will for the will of God.

Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Romans 12:1, 2  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

2 Timothy 2:15  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

In Romans 12:1 and 2 Timothy 2:15, the word "present" translates PARISTANO {par-is-tan'-o}, which fundamentally indicates a standing beside.  However, Thayer's definition includes, "…1a4) to place a person or thing at one's disposal…," as it is repeatedly used in Romans 6 to describe a slave surrendering his own will to his master's bidding.  Take care, lest we become servants of self (Romans 16:17, 18).

2.          The need for instruction

Remember, it is the duty of those who would perform a thing to show the authority for it; it is not the duty of others to prove there is no authority (1 Peter 3:15).  Notwithstanding, those who defend church dinner socials, weddings, and funerals often first assume they are pre-authorized on the basis of familiar traditions and customs, then later propose to study to see whether it is condemned in scripture.  This is inverted reasoning.  As a rule of hermeneutics, we need to consider a thing not authorized until we can prove that it is, rather than to consider it authorized until we can prove that it is not.

Consequently, authority should be established before we act, not after.  If we don't know for certain, we ought not do it.  Therefore, the actual problem in the afore-mentioned scenario is a lack of study and teaching (Hosea 4:6), which occurs long before the event described.

Hebrews 5:12-6:2  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. 1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

We might think that discussions on authority, institutionalism, and church dinners, weddings, and funerals are meaty doctrinal issues, but they are not.  "Teach" means "teach;" it does not mean to institutionalize, socialize, memorialize, or celebrate.  This is not difficult; this is a basic, elementary principle that distinguishes the one true church from the denominations and man-made religious institutions that surround it.  This only becomes complicated in our minds when we allow our emotions and the teachings of men and human traditions to distract us.

3.          A plea for unity

We can probably all agree that it would be lawful for a church to not do any of the things mentioned in this section.  For example, anyone who claims it is acceptable to have a church wedding will claim it is also acceptable not to have one.  However, no one who affirms that the church should teach the gospel will also affirm it is acceptable not to do so.  There is an obvious difference between the two.

Those who defend these activities claim they are only opinions, and they further claim that those who oppose are causing divisions by their weakness, ignorance, and dogmatism.  However, our common ground is to not do these things.  Therefore, the ones causing the division are the ones forcing what they admittedly proclaim are opinions on others whom they know conscientiously object, expecting them to violate their consciences.  If these matters are truly opinions, those who defend them ought to be willing to concede before seeing a church divide.  To refuse a concession would be dogmatism indeed.  Consider the apostle Paul’s exhortations to forebear with one another and maintain unity.

Ephesians 4:1-3  2 …with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace….

Philippians 2:1-9  3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others….

Colossians 3:12-14  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

1 Corinthians 1:10  Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

1 Corinthians 9:22  To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak.  I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

The true fact of the matter is that these things are not actually matters of opinion.  They are doctrines for which scriptural validation has not been presented by those defending them.  The Lord is pleading with us to put an end to division in His church, but this can only come by standing firm on sound doctrine.

Ephesians 4:13-16  …till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

We need to let benevolent societies be benevolent societies, let social clubs be social clubs, let sporting leagues, fitness centers, rehab centers, funeral homes, wedding chapels, match-making associations, civic organizations, scouting groups, summer camps, community theater, schools, hospitals, and day care facilities be just those things that they are, and let the church be the church and do the glorious work for which God has masterfully designed it.

Questions And Thoughts For Review: Things Not Work Of The Church

1.      Are all activities with a moral or religious implication authorized as works of the church?

2.      Are fund-raising activities expediencies for gospel teaching?  If not, why – what is added, lost, or changed?

3.      Is it the work of elders and deacons in the church to arrange house-cleaning schedules for elderly members who are capable of tending to these matters on their own or by assistance from family?

4.      Is a wedding or a funeral merely an expediency for gospel teaching?  If not, why – what is added, lost, or changed in both events?

5.      Does the fact that God ordains marriage authorize church weddings?  Explain your answer.

6.      List some things that are significantly different between a wedding and a worship assembly.  List some differences likewise regarding a funeral.

7.      Is a funeral fundamentally a social affair or a religious affair?

8.      Is it a work of the church to build or financially support hospitals, health clinics, or colleges?

9.      Is it a work of the church to lobby with civil government or stage protests against bigotry, pornography, legalized abortion, legalized marijuana, or legalized homosexual marriage?  Explain what would be the responsibility of the church as a body regarding these things.  How does this compare to what is lawful for individuals?

10.  Does a church-owned drinking fountain authorize church dinner socials?  Explain your response.

 

Some material in this study is derived or directly quoted from the following texts, which are suggested for further study and additional information:

         (BDB) "Revised Whittaker's Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon," 1906, 1997, Logos Research Systems, Inc.

         (JHT) "A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament," Joseph Henry Thayer, 1979, Zondervan Publishing House

         "Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament: Based On Semantic Domains," Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, 1989, New York: United Bible Societies

         "Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament,", Timothy and Barbara Friberg, 1994

         (WEV) "Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words," W. E. Vine, 1966, Flemming H. Revell Co.

         "A Manual Grammar Of The Greek New Testament," 1927, 1955, Dana and Mantey, Macmillan Co.

         LXX Septuaginta (LXT) (Old Greek Jewish Scriptures) edited by Alfred Rahlfs, 1935, the German Bible Society

         "New Testament Words," William Barclay, SCM Press Ltd., 1964

         (TBA) "The Bible Almanac," Packer, Tenney, White, Jr., 1980, Thomas Nelson Publishers

         (OED) Online Etymology Dictionary, http://www.etymonline.com

         "The Bible in English: Its History and Influence," 2003, David Daniell

         "Walking By Faith," Roy E. Cogdill, 1957, 1967, The Gospel Guardian Company

         "Old Issues Do Not Fade Away – A Study In Centralization Of Churches And Institutionalism," Gene Frost, 1975, 1976, Gospel Anchor

         (M-W) The Merriam-Webster American English Dictionary Online, 2012

         Wikipedia: web-based free-content encyclopedia, 2012

 

Bible translations referenced in this work include:

KJV:      King James Version (1611)

ASV:     American Standard Version (1901)

NKJ:     New King James Version (1982)

NAU:    New American Standard Bible (1995)

YLT:      Young's Literal Translation (1862, 1898)

TNT:     Tyndale New Testament (1534)

Bible quotations in this work are from the NKJ unless otherwise indicated.  Anglicized equivalents of Greek and Hebrew words appear in all upper case characters with the approximate pronunciation following in braces.

 

Copyright 2012, Speaking Sound Doctrine