As authentic disciples we must understand that the apostle Paul taught the same teachings everywhere he went and in every church he ministered (1 Cor. 4:17). Our traditional modern business model of doing church is not the same as the way the early Church participated and functioned as the church. We will see how the apostle Paul taught the body of Christ or the Church to participate and function together as the church under the headship and Lordship of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 12: 1-27; 14: 23-33). The participation and function of the believers is referred to as the “Priesthood of All Believers” having been made a kingdom of priests and a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). We will see how the early Church or the New Testament Church met in houses or the homes of believers for about the first three hundred years of the Church’s existence (Acts 16:15, 40; 28: 30-31; Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Phm. 1:2). Meeting in the homes of believers allowed for the priesthood to function with every believer participating and functioning together by ministering to one another. Yes, all believers were allowed to participate and function by ministering to one another (Rom. 15:14; 1 Cor.15:58; Eph. 5:19-21; Col. 3:16-17; 1 Thess. 5:11, 15; Heb. 3:12-13; 6:10-12; 10:19-25; James 5:16, 19-20; 1 Peter 4:7-11).
Now let’s look at the book of 1 Corinthians, we find that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2). Paul wrote to the ekklesia, the Greek word for the church, the called out ones, or the assembly of believers. Paul was writing to the church or the ‘called out ones’ which was at Corinth and refers to God’s church in a certain city or locality. Paul was writing to the church of God which was made up of all believers both brothers and sisters in Christ also referred to as the brethren (Gal. 3:26-28). Paul was not writing to a building, overseers, bishops, elders, or pastors, he was writing to the church which met in houses and included all believers both men and women also known as the brethren (Acts 16:15, 40).
Paul makes it clear that he was writing to all the believers or the brethren in 1 Cor. 1:10, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” We find here that all the believers were to come into agreement together having the same mind, judgment, and were to speak the same things, there was to be no divisions among them at all. In 1 Cor. 1:13 the apostle Paul asks the brethren in Corinth the question, saying, “Is Christ divided?” The obvious answer is absolutely not, therefore there was to be no division among them since Christ was not divided. Again, Paul wanted all the brethren both men and women believers to be in complete agreement and absolute unity by speaking the same things.
In 1 Cor. 3:1, Paul says, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people, but as to carnal as to babes in Christ.” Paul says in verse 3-4, “for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?” The believers were not to be divided, split over, or preferring one minister over another minister. The apostle Paul pleaded with the brethren in Corinth not to allow divisions to come in among them just as the Lord pleads with us today. The Word of God calls us as believers today to all speak the same things being perfectly joined together and having the same judgment (1 Cor.1:10). As believers we are all to speak the same things Paul taught concerning the gospel of Christ. We are all to come into a total agreement and be in complete unity regarding the faith. As believers we too are to be without any kind of divisions among themselves by being in absolute agreement and unity of the faith Paul taught and preached (1 Cor.4:17; Gal. 1:8-10). The gospel of Christ that the apostle Paul taught to believers remains the same today as it was then, just as Jesus Christ remains the same and there should be no divisions among us today. (Heb. 13:8).
The reason Paul could call the believers in Corinth to all speak the same things by being perfectly joined together having the same judgment is because they were in Christ and there is no division in Him. The second reason is because all the believers everywhere were in Christ and the apostle Paul taught the same things everywhere in every church (1 Cor. 4:17). All believers everywhere received the same teachings from Paul, the other apostles, and from one another. We can also see this in the book of Philippians were the apostle Paul called the believers in Philippi to stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel (Phil. 1:27). Paul goes on to tell them that the things they has learned from him, received, heard, and saw in him, these do, and the God of peace shall be with you (Phil. 4:9). They reason the apostle could tell the believers to do this is because he had taught them the same things everywhere and in every church (1 Cor. 4:9). The believers were to take what they had learned from the apostle Paul, the other apostles, and one another and take it with them where ever they went (Acts 8:3-4; James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1).
Today, there are over 133,000 different denominations with different beliefs, not including independent churches. All having different beliefs, and the majority of them are not preaching the same gospel that the apostle Paul preached (Gal. 1:8-10). There is a lot of division in the church, the body of Christ today without true unity in the faith of the gospel. We have splintered off into so many different denominations with different beliefs without examining our faith to see whether our faith is the same as what the apostle Paul believed and taught everywhere in every church (1 Cor. 4:17). We must examine ourselves to see whether or not we are in the faith believing and preaching the same exact gospel as the apostle Paul and the other apostles taught everywhere and in every church (1 Cor. 4:17; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 1:8-10; Jude 1:3).
The gospel that Paul preached everywhere in every church is the same gospel that he told the churches in Galatia that if anyone preached any other gospel than what they have received to let them be accursed (Gal. 1:8-9). Jude also wrote to believers exhorting them to contend for the faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). This is the same gospel that was to be passed on to every believer and that they were to minister, preach, and share with others (Acts 8:3-4). The believers who were scattered in Acts 8:4, we learn that one of the believers was Philip who went to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them (Acts 8:5). Philip was filled with the Holy Spirit in the Pentecostal since of the word and cast out demons, heal those who were lame and paralyzed (Acts 8:6-8).
Some examples of the use of women in ministry are Paul commending of Phoebe referring to her as our sister and a servant of the church in Cenchrea (Rom.16:1-2). Paul follows by referring to both Priscilla and Aquila as my fellow workers in Christ Jesus and to not only greet them, but also to greet the church that is in their house (Rom. 16:3-5). In the book of Acts we find both Aquila and Priscilla were able to take Apollos aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-26). Philip also had four daughters who prophesied and ministered to the believers with the gift of prophesy given by the Holy Spirit (Acts 21:9). In the book of Acts we also find that Lydia had a church in her house (Acts 16:15, 40).
In the book of Colossians 4:15, “Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.” One should note that Nymphas is translated Nympha and his is translated her in the most well-known modern Critical Text of the Greek New Testament in the twenty-sixth edition of the nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. It is also translated her in the third edition of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament. Both men and women were able to minister to one another by instructing one another in the ways of the Lord and in the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is the way the Amplified Bible also translates Colossians 4:16, “And when this epistle has been read before you, [see] that it is read also in the assembly (the church) of the Laodiceans, and also [see] that you yourselves in turn read the [letter that comes to you] from Laodicea.”
It is clear that the church was made up of both men and women called the brethren. As the Church or the body of Christ they were to be in absolute unity speaking the same things ministering to the world and to one another.