- Paul’s principles of evangelizing strategically, establishing congregations, and entrusting to appointed elders seems to be the normative process for Christ’s Church for the following reasons:
- His authorization
o Ephesians 3:8-11 explains the unique role among the Apostles that God had given to Paul. Paul is to declare the mystery of the administration of the household plan of God. The order for the oikonomia has been passed by the Spirit to Paul to outline in his instructions for the churches. Jew and Gentile are fellow heirs of the unfathomable riches if Christ and formed into one new man and Paul has been chosen divinely to be the person responsible to make plain the household order, house law, administration, stewardship, plan, or administration of the Household of God. Understanding and abiding by the Household order for the churches is so important that it is the very vehicle the glory of God is put up for and displayed. This household of God and how it is to operate has been God’s eternal plan and purpose since before the creation of the world. Paul’s instructions and principles for the establishment of the churches cannot be underestimated and his principles are to continue in order to reflect the same priority in the proper order of the churches so that God is glorified as His wisdom is put on display. There is strong normative authority therefore that is derived from this text.
- His application
§ In Acts 14, after Paul has evangelized and gathered disciples, he has them instructed in the faith to foster perseverance in their Christian lives, and then prays and fasts to select Elders to shepherd over them.
§ In Acts 20, Paul rehearses his process and then turns it over to the Ephesian elders in the entrustment stage with the understanding that this to be continued in perpetuity—evangelize strategically, establish congregations, entrust to faithful shepherds over the congregation to continue the process. Paul anticipates this is to continue with no end to it (just as Christ did-“until the end of the age.”).
(In his epistles)
§ Titus 1:5 shows us that the work in Crete that remained that Titus was designated to complete fits the stages of the process of Paul’s strategy of evangelizing strategically, establishing congregations, and entrusting to shepherding elders. Evangelization had resulted in congregations that needed more establishing and Paul ask Titus to appoint elders over the congregations to continue the shepherding and establishing process. These elders would d be entrusted to continue the work Paul had begun.
§ Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:14-15 that he is writing so that Timothy will be able to tell the church how to conduct themselves as the household of God. Paul is referring to the local churches. These verses come on the heels of the preceding verses in which Paul has laid out the leadership qualifications for the Household of God who would have the care over the local church/ It is only as the Household of God conducts themselves in the proper conduct of the household order that their testimony of faithfulness will lend to their witness to the truth in the world and the basis of presenting the gospel as evidence of Gospel change from reprobates afar off into redeemed brothers and sisters held together in the Household of God for the display of God’s wisdom to the watching world. Again, evangelism has occurred, congregations are being established as leaders (such as Timothy) are entrusted to continue the process.
§ Even in the last days of Paul’s ministry, Paul is imploring Timothy to continue this normative process in 2 Timothy 2:2 as he asks him to pass the baton through the entrusting of the deposit (1:13-14) to men whose character would be observed within the Household as faithful. Paul describes 4 generations and leaves it open-ended with the assumption of this entrusting to continue until the return of Christ. This puts great thrust into the normative understanding of Paul’s principles of evangelizing, establishing congregations, and entrusting the deposit to faithful shepherds. This entrusting is not just teaching but living the teachings of Christ and His Apostles and, if need be, dying for them.