Every believer participating and functioning was the original biblical way of meeting as the Church. This is very different from today's traditional institutional business model of 'doing church'. In this overview of the book of 1 Corinthians concerning the function of the New Testament Church we will look at how the Church or the body of Christ participated and functioned together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We will examine what the apostle Paul taught everywhere he went and in every church he ministered (1 Cor. 4:17; 12:1-27; 14:23-33). The participation and function of the believers is often referred to as the "Priesthood of All Believers" having been made a kingdom of priests and a royal priesthood unto God (1 Pet.2:5, 9; Rev.1:6). We will look at the priesthood of all believers participating and functioning in the body of Christ according to the Word of God. We will attempt to gain much needed insight and a much better understanding of how the New Testament Church functioned and participated together as the priesthood according to the Word of God.
We will give attention to and focus our attention on what the apostle Paul wrote regarding meeting as the church in the book of 1 Corinthians. During our study we will also look at his other epistles and the rest of the New Testament authors and see that they agree and support one another in context. What the apostle Paul taught the believers in Corinth he taught everywhere and in every church where he ministered (1 Cor.4:17), not just in Corinth. The apostles were Spirit-filled believers who wrote to Spirit-filled believers which is the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints that we as believers are to contend for (Jude 1:3). The Greek word "epagonizomai" signifies being in a combat situation having to earnestly contend for or struggle over something using intensive force as you would in a wrestling match. We must wrestle, struggle, and fight with intense force to hold on to the faith that was once and for all delivered to believers. We are not to preach or teach any other gospel than what the apostles believed and taught believers (Gal.1:8-10).
We must know and understand what the apostles taught in order to contend for the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints and preach and teach the same message. We must consider the fact that we have not been doing church the way the apostles called believers to do church. We must consider returning in obedience what the apostles taught believers concerning how to meet as the church with every believer participating and functioning. As authentic disciples we must take responsibility for our personal walk with the Lord and to study out the Word of God in search of truth for ourselves. We must learn to seek and to search for truth as for hidden treasure, until the Lord gives us the understanding and wisdom we need to live it out in our daily lives (Prov.2:1-8). As true disciples of Jesus Christ we need to be diligent and study in order to present ourselves approved to God rightly discerning the word of truth, so that we have no reason to be ashamed before Him at His coming (2 Tim. 2:15). Jesus said in the book of John 16:13, that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth. The apostle John declared in 1 John 2:27, that we have the anointing or the Holy Spirit abiding in us that He would teach us concerning all things and that we did not need for anyone to teach us.
Meeting in houses with every believer participating and functioning was the apostles’ original way of meeting as the Church. The Church, or the body of Christ continued to meet in houses for about the first 300 years until the time of Constantine (Acts 5:42; Rom.16:5; 1 Cor.16:19; Col.4:15; Phm.1:2). As authentic disciples we need to study and understand the apostles’ beliefs, doctrine, and their practices in early church. We need to study to see how they put the Word of God into practice in their lives and do the same in our own lives. We need to study early church history through the Reformation to see the departures from the apostles’ doctrine. If we study diligently we should be able to see the original teachings of the apostles found in the Word of God and see the departures from the apostles’ faith, teachings, and practices found in the Word of God. Our study of the original apostolic faith, doctrine, and practices should enable us to return to their original intention in practice according to the Word of God. As we study the Word of God from the apostles view point throughout history we will see how things began to shift, change, and depart from the original apostolic faith, teachings, and practices. We must learn from our past, or we may be doomed to repeat it.
This is a call for you as an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ to study out early Church history since most believers do not know about early Church history. The majority of Christians have never studied early Church history to know what the apostles actually believed, taught, and practiced concerning the Christian faith. They have never really studied the history of the Church to find out about departures from the apostles' faith and doctrine that have taken place over the centuries. The apostle Paul spoke to the elders in Ephesus in Acts 20: 29-31 "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” The Apostle Paul’s words came to pass and there were departures from the original apostolic doctrines and practices they handed down to believers. We need to return to the doctrines and practices the apostles taught that were not recovered during the Reformation by the reformers.
Now let's begin our study by examining the book of 1 Corinthians to see what the apostle Paul taught in everywhere and in every church (1 Cor.4:17): Every Believer Participating and Functioning as the Church.