Whom should one listen to, in regard to spiritual matters?

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Some have used certain bible-passages for making people think that they should listen to whatever some church or preacher says, and accept and believe it all, without questioning anything.

This article takes a closer look at some of those passages, and that whole matter.

The apostle Paul told the saints that they were not to be as children who believe all they hear.

Before going to the passages in question, let us consider something the apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Ephesus:

Ephesians 4: […] 14 So that we may be no longer children, sent this way and that, turned about by every wind of teaching, by the twisting and tricks of men, by the deceits of error; 15 But saying true words in love, may come to full growth in him, who is the head, even Christ (BBE)

As you can see in the scripture-quote above, the saints were to be on their watch against “twisting and tricks of men, by the deceits of error”. Now, it is true that that was something Paul wrote to those people, in the first century. But certainly, even people of our day should consider those words.

In the first century, Jesus had apostles (messengers, representatives) here on Earth. They did not come with their own teachings. They only echoed what Jesus had taught. Well, sometimes, if the apostles did not have the word of the Lord on some specific matter, they might even express a private opinion, but then, they could make it clear that it was so. An example: “To all others I say (I, not the Lord) […]”, 1 Corinthians 7:12.

Please note that God does not have any apostles or “special representatives” here on Earth, today. The article nsa060.htm contains a study on the matter of “spiritual authority” or “biblical authority” – that is, the question, who can speak for God?

1 Corinthians 1:10 and the translation ‘all speak the same thing’.

Many bible-versions have in 1 Corinthians 1:10 such wordings as “all speak the same thing”. Some have quoted that wording, in an effort to make people believe that some church or preacher is to decide what that “thing” is, and that people then should follow the church or preacher and their teachings.

That is not what the apostle Paul was saying. The wider context shows that he was talking about Jesus (and His testimony and teachings). The context also shows that Paul was warning the saints about the folly of following men. The article naa060.htm takes a closer look at 1 Corinthians 1:10 and its translation, context and meaning.

Believers must live by what Jesus taught, directly or through the apostles, and not by what men (churches and preachers) say or teach. Because of this, believers must personally study the Bible, in depth, so that they will know what it actually says and does not say. This means studying the Bible, and not some “study material” from some church or preacher.

The articles nga020.htm, nsa010.htm and nsa020.htm have some notes on keys, helps and tools for deeper study and understanding of the Scriptures.

2 John 10 and its context.

Apparently, some have quoted even such passages as 2 John 10, in an effort to “prove” that people should listen to some specific church or preacher and follow their teachings. But what was the apostle John actually talking about? Let take a closer look at the passage in question.

2 John 9 Everyone who doesn’t continue to teach what Christ taught doesn’t have God. The person who continues to teach what Christ taught has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and doesn’t bring these teachings, don’t take him into your home or even greet him. 11 Whoever greets him shares the evil things he’s doing. (GWV)

Another translation:

2 John 9 Anyone who does not keep to the Messiah’s teaching, does not have God. Whoever keeps to the Messiah’s teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If someone comes and does not have that teaching [His teaching], do not receive that person into your house or salute him, 11 for he who salutes him, takes part in his evil works. (BPT)

And no, that was not a matter of listening to some “teaching about the Messiah”. It was a matter of holding to what Jesus the Messiah had taught.

Just as several other New Testament passages, even 2 John 9–10 shows that the saints were warned against following men and men’s teachings. They were to keep to Jesus and His teachings.

Some might say, ‘But where and how can one find Jesus’ true teaching?’

A part of Jesus’ teachings have been preserved to our day, in the Bible. It is the Bible that counts, and not what men say. And yes, this means that one must personally study what the Bible says. With proper tools. Only then can one know what Jesus actually taught.

Please note that this means studying what the Bible [a] says. If one uses some dogmatic “study material”, then one will only be reading things into the Bible, instead of finding out what it actually says.

a Here, one must keep in mind that all bible-translations contain bias and error, and all too often even purposely twisted things. The same applies to “biblical” lexicons, dictionaries, commentaries and so.

A note: Many people have been caused to think that biblical things should be left in the hands of “ordained men”. But, the concept “ordination” (“holy orders”) is of Catholic origin, and it does not have any basis or support in the Greek text of the New Testament. The article nea020.htm has more on this.

The matter of ‘doctrines’.

Many translators have put into the earlier quoted 2 John 9–10 the Latin-based word “doctrine”. That is copied from the Catholic Vulgate version which has in those verses the Latin noun doctrina which simply meant “teaching”.

Consider this: In our day, the word and concept “doctrine” refers to teachings produced by men. – The apostle John was talking about Jesus and His teachings.

Here is a passage which shows what Jesus taught his disciples in regard to these things:

Matthew 23:8 “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 “And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 “And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. (NASB77)

It is true that that is something Jesus said to his disciples, people of the first century. But certainly, those words have an application even today.

Again, the Latin text of the Vulgate has doctrina in the earlier quoted 2 John 9 and 10. In old Latin, the word doctor meant “master”, “teacher”; doctrina meant “teaching”. And again, those verses refer to Jesus and His teachings. In contrast to that, the Catholic Church has had its “doctors” who have formed their doctrines (teachings). Many other churches have then copied that Catholic practice, in one way or another. But, the concept of having “doctrines” which are formed by “doctors of theology”, or by preachers or by committees or whatever, is not biblical. The article nsa080.htm has more on that matter.

2 Peter 1:20 and its context.

Apparently, some have quoted 2 Peter 1:20 in translations which have in that verse such wordings as “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation”, and used that for making people think that they should not try to understand the Bible by themselves but instead leave it to “the experts”. But were it so, then there would not be any meaning with studying the Bible at all. Then one could just as well throw away the bibles one happens to own.

So, what was the apostle Peter actually talking about? Well, even he pointed to Jesus and Jesus’ teachings. For, a closer study shows that 2 Peter 1:20 refers to what is recorded in Matthew 17:5, which is about Jesus.

First, let us read some of the context, in Simon Peter’s letter. Note also the translation of verses 20 and 21.

2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And we heard this voice which came from Heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we also have a more sure Word of prophecy, which you do well to heed as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that not any of the prophecies of Scripture came into being from personal exposition, 21 for prophecy was not formerly brought forth by man’s choice, but holy men of God spoke as they were propelled along by the Holy Spirit. (VW06)

Verses 17 and 18: Peter mentioned a voice which he and James and John heard when they were with Jesus on a mountain. That event is recorded in the book of Matthew:

Matthew 17:1 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter, and the brothers James and John, and led them up a high mountain alone. 2 There his appearance was transformed before their eyes; his face shown like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. […] 5 […] a bright cloud enveloped them, and there was a voice from the cloud that said—“This is my Son, the Beloved, in whom I delight; him you must hear.” (20CNT, highlighting added)

“Him you must hear.” The saints were to follow Jesus and Jesus’ teachings, and not men or men’s teachings.

In regard to our day and situation: One must keep in mind that doctrines are produced by men and consist of teachings of men. One must not follow such things. One must personally study the Bible, in order to find out what the Lord’s will really is.

(Again, please keep in mind that all bible-translations, including “interlinears”, and commentaries and “biblical” lexicons of Hebrew and Greek and so on, are produced by dogmatic and biased men and contain error and all too often even purposely twisted things. – Now, most people are not able to read the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts, but many can easily acquire tools which can help one to study the Bible in more depth.)

The matter of ‘binding and loosing’, Matthew 16:19.

Some preachers have claimed or let it be understood that they have a “right to bind and loose”. In other words: They have presented themselves as “God’s representatives here on Earth”. In order to “prove” their lofty claims, they have quoted such passages as this one:

Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (NKJV91)

Please note that that was something Jesus said to and regarding his disciples, and not regarding people of our day. And, even in the case of those disciples, that with “binding and loosing” referred to what they were to be doing when they had become immortals. (The article nba070.htm has more on this.)

The Catholic Church has taken Matthew 16:19 and the preceding one out of their context, and built around them dogmas regarding “primacy” and “the true church”. Many churches and preachers have then copied those Catholic dogmas and modified them, and applied them to themselves. But, those who carefully check the context, will see that the subject was neither a “church” nor the apostle Simon Peter. The subject was Jesus himself. Verse 13: Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”. When the disciples had answered him, he asked them further, verse 15, “But who do you say that I am?” This time it happened to be Simon Peter who answered, and so, Jesus directed his comments at him (verses 18–19). But, that did not mean that Simon was singled out as one with “primacy”, as the Catholic Church claims. Keep in mind the earlier quoted Matthew 23:8–10 which shows that the disciples were all brothers – equal – and that they were to have only Jesus as their Master and Teacher, and that they were to have only God as their spiritual Father. Also:

Those who study related passages in the New Testament, will find that what Jesus promised to Simon, was promised even to the other disciples. In short: Jesus’ mention of “the keys of the Reign of the Heavens” (as the meaning of the Greek text is, Matthew 16:19) meant that those disciples would come to act as judges, assisting Jesus (see even Matthew 19:28). And again, the judging (“binding and loosing”) which those verses refer to, was something that those men were to do after they had become immortals. The article nba070.htm has more on this. The article naa010.htm considers the ekklêsia or assembly which verse 18 mentions – what, when and where it is.

A side-note: There is even another passage which mentions “binding and loosing”, Matthew 18:15–18. That was regarding how the disciples were to settle their internal disputes (verse 15, “if your brother offends you”, and so on).

Again, the always so important basics.

Let us always remember what Jesus said to his disciples, in regard to “religious leaders”. We read:

Matthew 23:8 “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 “And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 “And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. (NASB77)

Jesus was talking to his disciples. He explained how things were to be among them. He told them that they were all brothers – equal. They were to have only one spiritual Master, Teacher and Leader – Jesus. They were to have only one spiritual father – the true God who is in Heaven.

See also the “recommended reading” section, below.

Please send or mention the address to this site to others. You can also link to these pages. The address to the table of contents page is biblepages.net/articles.htm

Recommended reading here at the Bible Pages, on related as well as other matters

An explanation of the short names for the bible-translations that are quoted or mentioned at this site. → nsa090.htm

What does the Bible say about authority? Who has biblical, spiritual or religious authority? Who can speak for God? → nsa060.htm

What does the word “doctrine” really mean? Likewise, what is the meaning of the terms “dogma”, “creed” and “tenet”? → nsa080.htm

1 Corinthians 1:10, the translation “all speak the same thing”. What was the apostle Paul talking about? → naa060.htm

Easy keys to deeper understanding of the Scriptures. → nga020.htm

How to study the Bible in a deeper way. → nsa010.htm

Some notes on computer bibles, bible study software. → nsa020.htm

What does the Bible say about ordaining or ordination? How did the saints choose their elders? Were those elders “ordained”, and did they function as “priests” of some kind? → nea020.htm

Matthew 16:19, the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and “bind” and “loose”. What kind of “keys” and “binding and loosing” was Jesus talking about? → nba070.htm

Matthew 16:18, “I will build my assembly, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it”. What and where was the ekklêsia or assembly which Jesus said he would form? Was it an earthly religious organisation as some claim, or something else? → naa010.htm

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