Vol.XX No.IX Pg.7
November 1983

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Is the church the "mother of truth" who alone has the right to set forth truth? Catholicism uses 1 Tim. 3:15 in drawing such a conclusion. This, in turn, leads to their claim of infallibility. We should give greater attention to this important scripture.

"These things write I..." tie but do not limit following statements to instructions re. bishops, etc. "How...to behave" elsewhere translated "conversation'' or "live" (Eph. 2:3, 2 Cor. 1:12, Heb. 13:18), refers here to the manner of life prescribed by truth. "In the house of God" is not telling us how to act in the church building, nor in assembly only, but how to live at all times as God's people. "Church" is not here limited to local organization, nor does this refer to a universal "body politic." We will best grasp the overall significance of the instructions by considering "church" as the called-out people of God.

People of God are (stulos kai hedraioma) pillar and ground (stay) of the truth. "Pillar" (Rev. 10:1; 3:12, Gal. 2:9) is used of prominent, obvious support of a temple. Some think Paul had in mind the magnificent pillars of the temple of Diana (at Ephesus, where Timothy was at this time); but pillared temples were common in those days, and the metaphor would be understood. "Ground" is related to a word translated "steadfast, settled" (1 Cor. 7:37; 15:58, Col. 1:23). The church (collective term for saints in all aspects) is said to be "pillar and ground" of truth in some way, and we must determine that way consistent with all of revealed truth. Far more is at stake than some may realize. John says "truth" came by Jesus Christ (1:17). Christ said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (14: 6). He also prayed, "Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth" (17:17). And Christ called the Holy Spirit who would deliver truth, the "Spirit of Truth" (16:13). The authority of divine truth is derived from Christ, not from His followers. Christ is the foundation of the church (1 Cor. 3:11), which is the product of truth (Acts 2:41, 47); hence the church cannot be the foundation of truth. The seed of the kingdom is the word of God (Lu. 8:11), and God has not abdicated His law making to His citizens (Jas. 4:12).

But God's people are those who have gladly received and understood the truth. These have acknowledged the truth, "confessing Him before men" and by their life bearing witness to the power of truth. Jesus prayed for unity among these people "that the world may believe that thou didst send me" (Jn. 17:21). In the midst of a crooked and perverse generation the saints are seen "as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:15-16) "holding forth the word of life." Someone has said, "the church gives truth an objective existence." Truth exists, whether accepted or rejected, but its power and effectiveness is demonstrated in its product, the church. The very existence of Jews and Gentiles united in Christ makes known "the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10). And "from you sounded forth the word of the Lord" (1 Thes. 1:8) as "the Spirit and the bride say 'Come!'" (Rev. 22:17).

This is how the church of God is "the pillar and ground of the truth."