06 December 2012

Reflections on the Word in Paul's writings

by Dan Phillips

As I preach through Titus, I've taken occasion now and again to share insights gained after the event ("the event" being the sermon). Today, we'll get ahead on the curve.

I'm about to preach on Titus 1:9, Lord willing, which goes something like this: "holding fast to the faithful word according to the teaching, in order that he might be able both to urge to action by healthy instruction, and to reprove those who contradict it." It's the last in the catalog of requirements for an elder/overseer/steward. Some list it as the seventh positive requirement, but I pare it off from the focus on the leader's family-life (v. 6) and his character (vv. 7-8).

At any rate, the particular focus from v. 9 for this post is the expression "the faithful word according to the teaching." I was using BibleWorks 9 (duh!) to search for occurrences of logos ("word"). I singled out a rafter of instances. This is just one of those cases where I won't be able to preach but a fragment of what I'm seeing, unless I take fifteen sermons on that one verse — which, God love 'em, my dear folks would support, but just because I can doesn't mean I should!

So I'll take this opportunity to share a data-dump with you in fairly raw form. You fellow hardcore GreekGeeks will love it just fine as-is; everyone else can mouse-over the references. So, without further eloquence:

The term logos occurs 1569 times in Gk. Bible, 330x in NT, 84x in Paul generally, 20x in Pastoral Epistles specifically. Here are some notable (in this connection) uses in Paul:

It's half the twofold division Paul makes of his ministry:
Romans 15:18  οὐ γὰρ τολμήσω τι λαλεῖν ὧν οὐ κατειργάσατο Χριστὸς δι᾽ ἐμοῦ εἰς ὑπακοὴν ἐθνῶν, λόγῳ καὶ ἔργῳ,
Paul's preaching is summarized as Ὁ λόγος ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ ("the word of the cross"):
1 Corinthians 1:18  Ὁ λόγος γὰρ ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῖς μὲν ἀπολλυμένοις μωρία ἐστίν, τοῖς δὲ σῳζομένοις ἡμῖν δύναμις θεοῦ ἐστιν.
The λόγος is powerful:
1 Corinthians 2:4  καὶ ὁ λόγος μου καὶ τὸ κήρυγμά μου οὐκ ἐν πειθοῖ[ς] σοφίας [λόγοις] ἀλλ᾽ ἐν ἀποδείξει πνεύματος καὶ δυνάμεως,
The Gospel is summarized as a λόγος :
1 Corinthians 15:2  δι᾽ οὗ καὶ σῴζεσθε, τίνι λόγῳ εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν εἰ κατέχετε, ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ εἰκῇ ἐπιστεύσατε.
Paul didn't adulterate or hucksterize the word:
2 Corinthians 2:17  οὐ γάρ ἐσμεν ὡς οἱ πολλοὶ καπηλεύοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, ἀλλ᾽ ὡς ἐξ εἰλικρινείας, ἀλλ᾽ ὡς ἐκ θεοῦ κατέναντι θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ λαλοῦμεν.
2 Corinthians 4:2  ἀλλὰ ἀπειπάμεθα τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς αἰσχύνης, μὴ περιπατοῦντες ἐν πανουργίᾳ μηδὲ δολοῦντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ ἀλλὰ τῇ φανερώσει τῆς ἀληθείας συνιστάνοντες ἑαυτοὺς πρὸς πᾶσαν συνείδησιν ἀνθρώπων ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ.
Paul's preaching was a word of reconciliation to God:
2 Corinthians 5:19  ὡς ὅτι θεὸς ἦν ἐν Χριστῷ κόσμον καταλλάσσων ἑαυτῷ, μὴ λογιζόμενος αὐτοῖς τὰ παραπτώματα αὐτῶν καὶ θέμενος ἐν ἡμῖν τὸν λόγον τῆς καταλλαγῆς.
...and of truth:
2 Corinthians 6:7  ἐν λόγῳ ἀληθείας, ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ· διὰ τῶν ὅπλων τῆς δικαιοσύνης τῶν δεξιῶν καὶ ἀριστερῶν, 
Ephesians 1:13  Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ,
...and of life:
Philippians 2:16  λόγον ζωῆς ἐπέχοντες, εἰς καύχημα ἐμοὶ εἰς ἡμέραν Χριστοῦ, ὅτι οὐκ εἰς κενὸν ἔδραμον οὐδὲ εἰς κενὸν ἐκοπίασα.
...and of the truth of the Gospel (or this could be epexegetical, "the word of truth, the Gospel"):
Colossians 1:5  διὰ τὴν ἐλπίδα τὴν ἀποκειμένην ὑμῖν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ἣν προηκούσατε ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῆς ἀληθείας τοῦ εὐαγγελίου
...and of Christ:
Colossians 3:16  Ὁ λόγος τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐνοικείτω ἐν ὑμῖν πλουσίως, ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ διδάσκοντες καὶ νουθετοῦντες ἑαυτούς, ψαλμοῖς ὕμνοις ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς ἐν [τῇ] χάριτι ᾄδοντες ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν τῷ θεῷ·
...and of the Lord:
1 Thessalonians 1:8  ἀφ᾽ ὑμῶν γὰρ ἐξήχηται ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου οὐ μόνον ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ [ἐν τῇ] Ἀχαΐᾳ, ἀλλ᾽ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἡ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἐξελήλυθεν, ὥστε μὴ χρείαν ἔχειν ἡμᾶς λαλεῖν τι. 
2 Thessalonians 3:1  Τὸ λοιπὸν προσεύχεσθε, ἀδελφοί, περὶ ἡμῶν, ἵνα ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου τρέχῃ καὶ δοξάζηται καθὼς καὶ πρὸς ὑμᾶς,
...and of God:
2 Timothy 2:9  ἐν ᾧ κακοπαθῶ μέχρι δεσμῶν ὡς κακοῦργος, ἀλλὰ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ οὐ δέδεται·
It is welcomed by the elect as a powerful word:
1 Thessalonians 1:5-6  ὅτι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐγενήθη εἰς ὑμᾶς ἐν λόγῳ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν δυνάμει καὶ ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ [ἐν] πληροφορίᾳ πολλῇ, καθὼς οἴδατε οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν [ἐν] ὑμῖν δι᾽ ὑμᾶς. 6 Καὶ ὑμεῖς μιμηταὶ ἡμῶν ἐγενήθητε καὶ τοῦ κυρίου, δεξάμενοι τὸν λόγον ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ μετὰ χαρᾶς πνεύματος ἁγίου,
...indeed, as the Word of God:
1 Thessalonians 2:13  Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως, ὅτι παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρ᾽ ἡμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐδέξασθε οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων ἀλλὰ καθώς ἐστιν ἀληθῶς λόγον θεοῦ, ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν.
Submission to the apostolic word is a test for fellowship:
2 Thessalonians 3:14  Εἰ δέ τις οὐχ ὑπακούει τῷ λόγῳ ἡμῶν διὰ τῆς ἐπιστολῆς, τοῦτον σημειοῦσθε μὴ συναναμίγνυσθαι αὐτῷ, ἵνα ἐντραπῇ·
The apostolic word should be welcomed and embraced without reservation or qualification:
1 Timothy 1:15  πιστὸς ὁ λόγος καὶ πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος, ὅτι Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς ἦλθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἁμαρτωλοὺς σῶσαι, ὧν πρῶτός εἰμι ἐγώ. 
1 Timothy 4:9  πιστὸς ὁ λόγος καὶ πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος·
To be good servants, pastors must themselves be nourished in the words of faith and of good apostolic doctrine:
1 Timothy 4:6  Ταῦτα ὑποτιθέμενος τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς καλὸς ἔσῃ διάκονος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, ἐντρεφόμενος τοῖς λόγοις τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς καλῆς διδασκαλίας ᾗ παρηκολούθηκας·
The activity God most values in an elder is hard work in the word and teaching:
1 Timothy 5:17  Οἱ καλῶς προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι διπλῆς τιμῆς ἀξιούσθωσαν, μάλιστα οἱ κοπιῶντες ἐν λόγῳ καὶ διδασκαλίᾳ.
The elder is to herald that word above all, insistently and persistently, no matter what the societal prevailing winds or climate or pressures:
2 Timothy 4:2  κήρυξον τὸν λόγον, ἐπίστηθι εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως, ἔλεγξον, ἐπιτίμησον, παρακάλεσον, ἐν πάσῃ μακροθυμίᾳ καὶ διδαχῇ.
Anyone who teaches other than the apostolic word is an inflated, deluded, obsessive ignoramus:
1 Timothy 6:3-5  εἴ τις ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ καὶ μὴ προσέρχεται ὑγιαίνουσιν λόγοις τοῖς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ τῇ κατ᾽ εὐσέβειαν διδασκαλίᾳ, 4  τετύφωται, μηδὲν ἐπιστάμενος, ἀλλὰ νοσῶν περὶ ζητήσεις καὶ λογομαχίας, ἐξ ὧν γίνεται φθόνος ἔρις βλασφημίαι, ὑπόνοιαι πονηραί, 5  διαπαρατριβαὶ διεφθαρμένων ἀνθρώπων τὸν νοῦν καὶ ἀπεστερημένων τῆς ἀληθείας, νομιζόντων πορισμὸν εἶναι τὴν εὐσέβειαν.
There is a template for reliable apostolic words:
2 Timothy 1:13  Ὑποτύπωσιν ἔχε ὑγιαινόντων λόγων ὧν παρ᾽ ἐμοῦ ἤκουσας ἐν πίστει καὶ ἀγάπῃ τῇ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ·
All effort must be expended to handle it correctly, which means laziness results in handling it crookedly:
2 Timothy 2:15  σπούδασον σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ, ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον, ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας.
The apostolic word reveals the eternal counsels of the unlying God:
Titus 1:3  ἐφανέρωσεν δὲ καιροῖς ἰδίοις τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ ἐν κηρύγματι, ὃ ἐπιστεύθην ἐγὼ κατ᾽ ἐπιταγὴν τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ,
The elder must hold it fast, regardless the pressures to the contrary:
Titus 1:9  ἀντεχόμενον τοῦ κατὰ τὴν διδαχὴν πιστοῦ λόγου, ἵνα δυνατὸς ᾖ καὶ παρακαλεῖν ἐν τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ τῇ ὑγιαινούσῃ καὶ τοὺς ἀντιλέγοντας ἐλέγχειν.
Unholy living brings slander to the word:
Titus 2:5  σώφρονας ἁγνὰς οἰκουργοὺς ἀγαθάς, ὑποτασσομένας τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν, ἵνα μὴ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ βλασφημῆται.
The man who possesses that word must insist on the word being respected by believers:
Titus 3:8  Πιστὸς ὁ λόγος· καὶ περὶ τούτων βούλομαί σε διαβεβαιοῦσθαι, ἵνα φροντίζωσιν καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι οἱ πεπιστευκότες θεῷ· ταῦτά ἐστιν καλὰ καὶ ὠφέλιμα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις.

Do you see the cumulative impact of this, and how counter-cultural — indeed, how counter-evangelical cultural — it is? Does it leave you (as it does me) all the more impressed with what a catastrophe it is to dash off in pursuit of the approval of the age, what a betrayal it is, what rank unbelief it is, not only to think we have something other than the Word of God to hold forth, but (God grant us repentance!) something better?

Pastor-bros, preach the word. Sheep-bros, support churches that preach the word, and individuals who proclaim it in any venue. They're rowing against the tide. They need all the support they can get, and it's worth it.

I think doing that would revolutionize Christians globally, the church scene, the publishing and music business... and, for that matter, the blogosphere.

Dan Phillips's signature


DJP said...

Hm; one-star hater must be sleeping in.

Scot said...

Maybe he can't read Greek.

Which would make the strangest reason possible to not do a 1-star rating.

DJP said...

No, he hasn't shown up yet. Gotta still be in bed, or reading TGC blogs or something.

FX Turk said...

It's almost all Greek to me ...

DJP said...

Which parts?

All reads just like Dick and Jane to me.


Scot said...

I really wish I had something substantial to add, but honestly each of these little nuggets (minus the Greek) is worth serious reflection. Thanks for this.

Kerry James Allen said...

"I would rather speak five words out of this book than fifty thousand words of the philosophers." CHS

Aaron Snell said...

I preached out of 2 Corinthians a couple Sundays ago at my church, and in prep I worked through the whole book - what a largely unmined treasure of preachable texts!

In particular, I noted one of the ones you highlighted here - 2 Corinthians 4:2 "But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God."

Maybe 1Cor4:2 should be a permanent tag here for posts on the shenanigans of prominent "evangelicals."

And thanks for the Greek practice!

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

wow. a post without one-star hater. I personally kinof missed him/her...

Carl C. said...

λόγος indeed. I barely know the Greek alphabet, and I'm doing some study of λόγος as John introduces it in Jn 1, as the person of Christ. In over my head but loving every minute of it: Creator of all things, eternally existent face-to-face with God, fully God, the one who exegeted the Father (Jn 1:18), and on and on. I'll look forward to delving into Paul's use of λόγος somewhere down the road. Bookmarking this post for when that happens (and when I've absorbed Greek by osmosis)! Thank you Dan for doing the hard work of rightly dividing the Word of truth.

Randy Talley said...

Reminds me of a joke I saw years ago:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Heironymus Bush.
Heironymus Bush who?
You're not supposed to do that without an interpreter.

Robert said...

As I reaqd through "Pillars of Grace", by Steve Lawson, I clearly see a pattern of God using Scripture to move men to define and defend the truth of Scripture against the heresies that popped up throughout early church history. Your post just re-emphasizes the need for more godly men to take up the charge of standing firm on the Word and defending its truth against any and all false teaching...and also to support those who are working in such efforts.

Thanks for the reminder. I'd say that you are taking up the charge that Peter set forth in saying he didn't mind reminding Christians of what they had been taught.

trogdor said...

The Word of God is powerful enough to create and sustain the entire universe. But obviously it can't compete with the life-changing power of jokes, puppet shows, fog machines, Highway to Hell, beds on the roof, and select clips from Dumb and Dumber.

Morris Brooks said...

Oops, don't forget the clips from Braveheart.

A. Amos Love said...


It was after I left “Leadership,” realizing I did NOT meet the “Qualifications” for elder/overseer in Titus; 1 - Must be Blameless. 2 - Holy. 3 - Just. 4 - Rule well their own house. Wow - Paul does give some tuff “Qualifications.” Can’t have elder/overseers without the “Qualifications.” Can we?

Anyway, it was after I left “Todays Religious System” and so-called “Leadership” that I realized Isaiah had prophesied about my “leadership skills.” And the “Leadership” skills of most of todays wanna-be “Leaders.” No really... ;-)

Isa 3:12 KJV
...O my people, *they which lead thee* cause thee to err,
and destroy the way of thy paths.

Isa 9:16 KJV
For *the leaders* of this people cause them to err;
and they that are led of them are destroyed.

Some legacy todays wanna-be leaders are creating for themselves...

DJP said...

Glad to hear you repented of being an unfit leader, and have put yourself under the leadership of qualified leaders/pastors/overseers in the local church.

A. Amos Love said...


Thanks for the encouragement. Much appreciated.

As I searched for - “qualified leaders/pastors/overseers” as you suggest, I hate to admit it but, I became quite discouraged.

You see, I noticed, most elder/overseers today would “Ignore” or “Twist” or “Re-define” the “Qualifications” in 1 Tim 3:1-6, and Titus 1:5-9, so they could obtain for themselves this “Title/Postion” that comes with - Power - Profit - and - Prestige.

I mean, just look at 1 Tim 3:4-5, where this “Elder/Overseer” is
4 - “One that “ruleth well” his own house,
having his children in subjection with all gravity;
(For if a man know NOT how “to rule” his own house,
how shall he take care of the church of God?)”

Then take a look at the statistics for pastor/elders/leader.

80% of spouses wish they would choose a different profession.
80% say pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.

77% say they do “not” have a good marriage.

With 80% of pastor spouses NOT happy with this profession? And 80% of pastors saying pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families? And 77% saying they do NOT have a good marriage?

That shows me, as I search for - “qualified leaders/pastors/overseers” - I already know that 70% - 80% of folks who are in that position - Do NOT Qualify. - Because - They do NOT “Rule Well” their own house. The ESV has “He must manage his own household well” - And - Well - They are NOT.

Then look at - To “rule” well his own house. This “Rule” is
Strongs #4291 proistemi pro-is'-tay-mee from 4253 and 2476
KJV - rule 5, maintain 2, be over 1; 8
Thayers - to set or place before - to set over - to be over
to be a protector or guardian - to give aid - to care for,

Nope - 70 - 80% are NOT protecting, guarding, the family.
And they do NOT qualify.

But - will they remove themselve?
And be a good example to the flock?

DJP said...

Regardless, they're all over, as a rule not all that hard to find, and you are morally obligated to do so right away, if you haven't already (Heb. 13:17).

But we're off-topic and not going to head off towards debates over whether round wheels are really best for cars, as if broaching a new subject.

A. Amos Love said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

As I feared, you continued the trajectory and shot well wide of the topic of the post and the purpose of this blog. If you're not in a church under the oversight of elders, you need to repent and put yourself there right away. You don't have a note from God excusing you from what He's called His children to (and what they've managed to do) for two thousand years.

Enjoy the Titus series; you'd have the opportunity to learn a lot using the "local church" and "pastoral ministry" tags in the sidebar.

Unable to babysit this meta further. Elder-things, you know.