I think we (myself included) miss it sometimes in thinking that the NT is a series of books that contain Law (Other than what Jesus spoke). I think Jesus made it very simple: Be patient, love one another as Christ loves us, be merciful, be longsuffering, be forgiving, serve others, be baptized, etc. I think the absence of any instruction by Christ to establish a formal church function or congregational order - and that the Apostles didn't either - says volumes. The Lord certainly did so in the Old Law, and Christ had many times available to do so. I don't know much about church history, but I do think that Paul warned various groups to be careful not to go back to something that Christ had freed them from. Paul warned of those who would "pervert" and change and say smooth words that seemed like something, but wasn't. There are volumes to say ... Sorry if I ramble.
Furthermore, why are the qualifications for elders & deacons different in the letters to Timothy & Titus? If the letters are "Law", then there is a contradiction - either there were two sets of rules...for different audiences, or if they were to be combined, then why would it have been delivered in this manner. I point this out as an example of the things that men claim as "law", but there are inconsistencies or variances, and I don't believe God would deliver a set of rules without being "exact", as he was with the Old Law. To say that the New Testament is a set of laws means that, while it wasn't written down in a single writing, believers had to wait several hundred years before a fairly concise group of letters were gathered together, and then, it took a gathering of men to make a decision as to which ones were "law" and which were not "law". Based on history, it took another couple of hundred years before it was widely accepted. It was also presented and accumulated by a church that had fallen into error (Catholic name, priests, indulgences, and many other practices). I continue to hope that my words are taken in the way meant...a point of view and not criticism.
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- The Catholic council of Hippo was local - not "universal", and it only formally recognized what had already been commonly known among the brethren. Several verses (II Peter 3:15, plus Colossians 4:16; I Thessalonians 5:27) point to that suggestion. If a person would like to suggest otherwise, he needs proof, not assertion. Furthermore, the Bible was not universally recognized by the Catholic church until the Council of Trent in AD 1545-1563. Does anyone really think that God abandoned His people to flounder in dark ignorance and uncertainty until 1500 years after Christ? BTW, who wrote Matthew through John, and when were they were formally recognized? Would not the allegations against Acts-Revelation also apply to Matthew-John? "Ahh, consistency thou art a jewel!"
- If there was no "law" of any kind, rather it was just some loose code based on applying love and baptism, then why did Paul command Christians at various places to withdraw from people who were heretics, who taught "contrary to the doctrine you learned" (Romans 16:17)? That seems kind of harsh, if there was no real codified teaching, and it was all just love, and we are not supposed to be condemning anybody. Please recall the numerous passages on withdrawal, contending earnestly for the faith, bewaring false teachers, etc.
- A few more verses that suggest we are under a New Law, even though it is definitely not organized in the same form as the Old Law: I Corinthians 9:21; James 2:12, plus, Romans 3:27; Isaiah 2:3; Romans 8:2. If the New Testament does not contain a New Law, then what are the terms of the agreement? How will anybody be judged? Where is the verse, beyond one's assertion, that looses the revealed words of the apostles and prophets as non-binding (I John 4:6; Matthew 18:18)? I thought only apostles could do that!
- Yes, the New Law is not formally condensed like the Old Law, but if such formality is required, then why did Jesus, His apostles, and His prophets quote from the other books of the Old Testament as authoritative in any form of correction or condemnation? (You can probably think of more examples than me.)
- To the only real question, in which way does I Timothy 3:1-7 contradict Titus 1:5-9? Can they not compliment each other? If they can, why should we assume that Timothy and Titus did not put all the writings of Paul together, like we do, or that they did not put the writings they had with the oral teaching he gave them personally ("as I commanded you", Titus 1:5; I Timothy 1:3-4; II Timothy 2:2; 3:10-11), which we do not have? In other words, it is a straw man to argue that the writings of I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 each individually and separately contain all of the will of God on the qualifications on elders. Nobody is arguing that point! Timothy and Titus had to put it all together, just like we do. So, why try to show inconsistencies in a position that no one is taking?
- Lastly, keep in mind that these 1st century people were not floating around, just waiting for another letter to drop from the pens of Peter and Paul. Almost every church - if not every church - would have had spiritual gifts, which would have provided additional information and confirmation (I John 2:20; Romans 1:11; Acts 8:14-17; 19:1-6). How else were churches established with less than a few weeks of teaching from apostles, and how did such churches go on to be the most mature churches in the kingdom (Philippi, Berea, and Thessalonica - Acts 16-17), if they did not have some miraculous form of revelation to supplement the apostles' absence?
- Just because the way God revealed and organized the NT does not make sense to us, we have no right to balk at it. Often God does things a certain way to accomplish specific things that He wants (Psalm 11:4; II Thessalonians 2:9-12; etc.), and it may never make sense to us on this side of eternity. Hence, this is why it essential to have faith and walk by it - not sight (Hebrews 11:6; II Corinthians 5:7).