h1

Thoughts on Silence

September 13, 2006

1 Cor 4:6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.

Back in January I posted an article about the silence of the scriptures. Today I want to make a few more comments on the topic.

What did Paul mean in 1 Cor 4:6 when he referred to the saying “Do not go beyond what is written?” In isolation, that saying could be taken to support the prohibitive nature of silence. In other words, if something is not written in scripture, don’t do it. But from the context of 1 Cor 4, that is not what Paul was saying.

From the first chapter of the letter, Paul was addressing the divisions over different leaders (Paul, Apollos, Peter). These three men were quite different personalities. Paul was a brilliant and well educated Jew, but apparently not a great speaker, nor did he have an impressive presence. Apollos was apparently a powerful speaker and dynamic leader. Peter was a converted fisherman. There were undoubtedly differences in the style and approach each took to the ministry. As a result, factions were forming around these diffferent leadership styles. In chapter 3, Paul explained that there could be differences in how different builders chose to build, and that it would be God who would test the quality of each man’s work. And he admonished them to recognize that they did not know as much as they thought they did about which way was better (or whether all three were equally acceptable).

Then in chapter 4 he said:

1 Cor 4:4-7 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

The Corinthians had been inappropriately judging Paul, Apollos, Peter, and their followers, and taking pride in one man over against another. They had formed opinions about how things should be, and how they should not be, in areas that were not spelled out by God. And they were forming factions around those opinions. It was in this context that Paul called on them to learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” They needed to stop forming factions over issues that were not written in the scriptures.

Like the Corinthian church, we also need to stop forming factions over subjects on which the scriptures are silent.

1 Cor 3:16-23 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

We need to be foolish enough to admit we don’t know everything. We don’t know what God thinks on a subject unless he has told us. We need to focus our attention on obeying what he has told us.

Deut 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. I guess I’ve seen when the leaders have a problem with which if any style is better. I know a situation with a lead guy that was very much an ‘Apollos’ type. The other minister was more the ‘Peter’ type – not as polished, a little rough around the edges, prone to not always be PC. The ‘Apollos’ type recognizes the ‘Peter’ as needing ‘polishing’ to become more ‘Apollos’ like. Takes him under his wing, tries to work with him, show him how to be an ‘Apollos; but, gosh darn, the guy just keeps coming up a ‘Peter’. So, the ‘Apollos’ guy finds his only option because folks have complained that ‘Peter’ isn’t ‘Apollos’ enough is to get rid of ‘Peter’.


  2. […] have written previously here and here and here about the silence of the scriptures. I will not rehash that ground here. Instead, I want to take a […]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: