Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 1, 1961
NUMBER 5, PAGE 8,13b

More On Expediency

C. R. McRay, Decatur, Texas

It was expedient (necessary) for one to die for the people. (John 18:14; 11:50) The reason it was necessary was to save men, be it for the salvation of the Jews physically, or the salvation of spiritual Israel, be it direct statement or the Jews or a prophecy, or both. It was expedient (necessary) for Christ to go away so the Spirit would come. (John 16:7) The reason? So men could BE SAVED. It was expedient (necessary) to perform the giving commanded by Paul in the sixteenth chapter of the First Corinthian letter. (2 Cor. 8:10) The reason again, was so they could be saved. If a man had a choice of having both eyes and go to hell, or the loss of one eye and go to heaven, it would be expedient (necessary) that he lose the eye, if he wanted to be saved. (Mt. 5:29) If a man had a choice of having his life destroyed (drowned by putting a millstone around ones neck and dropped into the sea) or causing a believer to he lost by being offended, it would be expedient (necessary) for him to lay down his physical life, in order that he might be saved. (Mt. 18:6) (I am not making an application of these verses herein.) The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to be expedient (profitable, necessary) to all that all can be saved. (I Cor. 12:7) Evidently, under the circumstances of his day, the apostle Paul says he advises remaining single for the sake of decency and to allow one to work without distraction, and it was for their own expediency (profit, necessity). "He spoke it that they might do that which was for their well-being and what would leave them- time to serve the Lord without the cares and distractions which a family would impose upon them." It was a necessity to remain single to serve the Lord without distraction, on the condition of course, that he did not behave himself uncomely. (1 Cor. 7:35-36) Paul had kept back nothing that was expedient (profitable, necessary) to save men's souls. (Acts 20:20) Fathers in the flesh chasten us after their own pleasure, but God chastens us for our expediency (profit, necessity), "that we might be partakers of his holiness," in being saved eternally. (Heb. 12:10) Paul admonishes us to seek to please men (within that which is lawful, of course) not seeking our own expediency (profit, necessity) but theirs, that they may be saved. (1 Cor. 1; 10:33)

The afore mentioned verses are the ones where the word "sumphero" is used in the New Testament, in the absence of the word "not." This, of course, is a Greek word, and is translated "expediency" in some cases, and "profit" in most of the others (or their derivatives). You may determine how the King James Version translates the word by the word that corresponds to one of the two mentioned here and reading each verse herein mentioned.

All of these verses have one thing in common, and that one thing is their object, or design. That desired result (on the part of God as well as men) is eternal destruction. All the things mentioned in these verses, "under the circumstances," are necessary, there is none optional.

Where this word, is used, there is not a better or worse way, for that which is stated is the only way, and it must be done that way. We have no alternative. Men have come to use the word "expedient" to mean the best of those things which are optional, but the Bible does not so use it. In the commentary on I Corinthians, published by the Gospel Advocate Company, David Lipscomb said:

"The word "expedient" signifies originally the condition of "one who has his feet free; ' and hence that which frees from entanglements, helps on, and expedites. It's opposite, that which entangles, is similarly called an IMPEDIMENT (emp. mine, CRM). The sense, "serving to promote a desired end of interest, for the sake of personal advantage, as opposed to what is based on principle," in the modern sense of the word. Hence the meaning here is profitable for others as well as for ourselves."

The other four times it is used in this sense, it has the word "NOT" before it. Within the bounds which the Lord has set, all things are lawful, but all things are not ex-pediment (not profitable). Brother Lipscomb says the reason is, that some things are not done for the profit of others. (I Cor. 6:12) These things that cause offense and do not profit are an impediment, and are sinful. "All things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." (1 Cor. 10:23) Yes, within the realm of that which is right, all things are lawful, but all of them are not expedient (not "profitable for others as well as for ourselves"). This is explained by Paul in the next verse. "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth." The word expedient then, means that which is not only good for ourselves, but for others as well. This is what the apostle had in mind when he said this, for he was speaking of not eating meats when some were offended. Things become inexpedient when they cause offense. Hence, in this sense, that which is not expedient is an impediment, and therefore wrong. "Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." (1 Cor. 10:32-33) When the profit to others ceased, those things became an inexpediency to Paul, and he did not do them. Eating of meats sacrificed to idols was one, and needless glory was another, therefore inexpedient. (2 Cor. 12:1) The apostles reasoned that there were conditions when it was not expedient, not profitable, or good for a man to marry. They probably reasoned that if they could not put away a wife when they desired, and marry others, it would be an impediment (inexpediency) to marry. (Mt. 19:10) They would be better off if they remained unmarried than tied down with only one woman through marriage. (On this verse no two scholars agree.) Incidentally, the other time this word is used, it has a different meaning, "to bring." (Acts 19:19)

A reissue of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles called The Oxford English Dictionary, may probably be found in your nearest library. "The aim of this dictionary is to present....the words that have formed the English vocabulary from the time of the earliest records down to the present day. It embraces not only the standard language of literature and conversation, whether current at the moment, or obsolete, or archaic, but also the main technical vocabulary, and a large measure of dialectal usage and slang." On the meaning of the word "expedite" this dictionary agrees with brother Lipscomb. Using it as an adjective, "as a predicate or compliment, often with subject it, and followed by infinitive phrases or noun sentences," it uses such sentences as, "1548-9 (Mar.) bk. Corn. Prayer, Offices I. It is expedient that Baptism be ministered in the English tongue." Can this mean that it is optional if baptism is to be preached and practiced? "1659 B. Harris Parival's Iron Age 217. That nothing could be more expedient to the safety of the common-wealth, than to bring him to the Bar of Justice." Could this mean that it was optional to the safety of the people to have trials? "1799 Beddoes Contrib. Phys, and Med. Knowledge 227. These, if not necessary to the existence of vegetables, may be expedient to their flourishing state."

It also adds that the meaning of the word is, "Conductive to advantage in general, or to a definite purpose, fit, proper or suitable to the circumstances of the case." When the Bible talks of a thing 'being expedient, that thing is fit, proper or suitable to bring advantage or that definite purpose of being saved. When a thing is an impediment (not expedient) with reference to the salvation of our souls, it is wrong and sinful. Can one say that when all the circumstances are considered that they are optional and not necessary? Yes, it can be said, but where is the proof? (I Thess. 5:21)

Let us conclude by saying that we, by no means, have exhausted this study. Many of you when reading this will probably disagree. Let me urge you to study this and meditate upon it, and then if you feel I am wong, let me hear from you. For lack of space, we could not explain in detail any of the verses, nor answer any objections in advance that we feel will be forthcoming from those who do not study it.