One day I found the following words quoted in a Facebook post:
I dont believe a fellowship can be healthy without headship. An animal with two or more heads will soon or later create a ‘beast’ of confusion. A church ought to have one person who can lead, teach, or guide, either as a pastor or an elder. When the pulpit is left open to different ministers, be assured that the flock won’t be grounded on the rock. That will also open room for ambitious people who will bring up all sorts of ideas…
It was a quote of my words. As always happens on Social Media, different people began to express their views over the statement. One comment caught my attention:
No one should lead the Church except the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). That definition above is only fitting for [an] organisation and denomination. Believers who wanted to be led by people instead of the Lord have a spirit of denominationalism. The reason why Nicolaitism exists today is because of this thinking that a pastor should be the leader…you cannot find that in the word of God.
It is strange how simple things can easily be misunderstood and blown out of context. I had to give a little more explanation to show how scriptures can easily be misapplied. The following was my response:
With all due respect to everyone on this thread, kindly allow me to submit this (especially that this is about words quoted from me). Its a lengthy text, but kindly take time to read.
Whenever a discussion or question veers from context and winds up into a play on semantics, confusion begins where there should be none. And whenever a response to a question is out of context, it may present something TRUE but yet not the TRUTH!
Consider the matter at hand here, that to say “ a church ought to have one person who can lead, teach or guide, either as a pastor or an elder” is an error, and that “no one should lead the church except the Holy Spirit (Joh.16:13).” Really? What is to lead? When a church has a leader is that really Nicolaitanism? That is not only blowing things out of context but out of proportion.
To “lead” is to guide, rule, or to be followed by people. Another term often used in place of “lead” in the English language is “head.” Now, much as we live in a time of carnal men leading churches through pride or selfish reasons, we must not lose sight of the fact that leadership is rooted in the Scripture. I know of a church in my country which has no pastor; they don’t have one person to guide the assembly on doctrine or conduct. Everyone is free to minister. As expected, the church always suffers from breakaways and strange doctrines.
Consider what Hebrews 13:7 says: “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” Another translation puts it this way: “Remember your leaders who have spoken to you the word of God; and considering the issue of their conversation, imitate their faith” (DBV). Compare this verse with 1 Timothy 3:4-5.
Firstly, was the writer of Hebrews encouraging Nicolaitanism by stating that preachers were rulers in the house of God? Ofcourse a carnal person can blow the verse out of proportion and make himself a pope in a congregation. Well, “spiritual things are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor.2:14) and I want to believe I am speaking to spiritual people who will understand my words in their context. Note that the Greek term for the phrase “rule over you” in Hebrews 13:7 is “hegeomai” and it means to “lead” or “command with authority.” If one has ever experienced sitting under a true anointed ministry – I have – they will know that truly God-called men rule the house of God with the authority of God’s Word! (1 Tim.4:11-16). And ofcourse spiritual people are able to discern when such a man veers off into pride and ceases to rule by God’s authority.
Secondly, what does the writer of Hebrews mean when he says “whose faith follow”? What is the term used to describe a person followed by other people? Leader, right? Did not Paul say “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor.11:1). So, will a carnal mind be in order to say, “Paul was wrong, we need to follow Christ, not him!” Such is always the result of failing to grasp words within their context.
Consider this: the Lord Jesus taught that we should call no man on earth “father” (Mat.23:9). Was Paul in error to write believers at Corinth, saying: “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor.4:14-15)? Here Paul was admonishing a church that although there were many preachers who may have visited the assembly to exhort or instruct in faith, it was him specifically who begat them in the gospel! A person who would only dwell on semantics and miss the context of words can accuse Paul of error – “We are sons of God, not your sons!” or “We get born again by the Holy Spirit; its not you who begat us!” On the other extreme end again, a proud person can misapply this scripture to justify their egoistic ambitions. But to those with ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, they have the discernment to know when a man’s rulership in the house of God has ceased to be one of the Word, but of his carnal ambitions. Shalom.