The Whole Counsel of God

Neil Girrard

Paul said to the Ephesian episkopas and presbuteros (overseers and elders – same group of men who were called both names), “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”

His giving to the Ephesians “the whole counsel of God” included “holding back nothing that was helpful,” teaching and preaching the kingdom of God “publicly and from house to house,” “testifying of repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ,” and “warning everyone night and day with tears” of the savage wolves who would rise up from among the elders and overseers who would not spare the flock but would speak perverse things to draw away followers after themselves. This was Paul’s summary of “the whole counsel of God” for the Ephesians of his day.

Paul’s giving the Ephesians “the whole counsel of God” has so many implications that this is more like a shotgun blast than it is one penetrating missile at one specific target. But let us consider this verse first in this light: If you were sick and dying, what would be your assessment of your doctor if, instead of giving you the full-strength medicines that would cure you, he gave you only a partial dosage in the hopes that you would make more office visits and thereby pay him more money? Once the truth was exposed, you would denounce the man as a quack and a fraud, probably sue him for malpractice and quickly find another doctor who would give you the right medicine so that you might get well soon. Remaining under the deceptive “care” of the first doctor would be extreme foolishness indeed.

Yet this is precisely the sick, symbiotic relationship that exists at “church.” The “pastor” (a corrupted title if ever there was one!) must water down the “truth” that he preaches (usually by first compromising his own understandings and “theological” positions by attaining them without the help of the Holy Spirit) or else he risks driving away his best-paying customers who like his smooth eloquence but most of all want a feel-good religious experience that helps them believe they are better people than those “heathen out there” who don’t go to “church.” This is mere Pharisitical hypocrisy in “Christian” garb.

But every “pastor” must do this because it is part and parcel of the position he has acquired. Interestingly enough, the context of Paul’s statement about the whole counsel of God tells us exactly why. The “pastor” position devolves from the exaltation of the episkopas over the other presbuteros (an unScriptural separation and exaltation, to say the least) and is nothing other than drawing followers after himself and away from the true flock.

Further, every denomination (Greek dichostasia, dissension, division) is based in varying degrees on the differing understandings and renderings of various historical teachers. Some denominations openly flaunt this (Calvinists, Lutherans, Mennonites, etc.) whereas others hide the man’s name behind his teaching(s) that makes them something different, separate and “unique” (Methodists, Church of God, etc.) or else the sect takes unto itself some catchy, quirky name to make it distinctive from all other sects (Church of Christ, Calvary Chapel, Assembly of God, etc.). The Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical sects are all products of differing beliefs about some “theological” issue or another. The Episcopalians and the Presbyterians, as another example, are offshoots based on opposing reactions to the “pastor” heresy and it is impossible to say that either offshoot walked away with the whole counsel of God precisely because they seem to have missed the concept of the unity of the one body of Christ!

Whatever other applications may be made from this passage, know this: You will never hear this portion of the whole counsel of God taught at “church” any more than you will learn about your inadequate medication at your first doctor’s office.

Let he who has ears hear.

Acts 20:27
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