The Regulative Principle: The Acts 20:7 Argument

freedom_authority.jpgI just have to jump in here and make a serious argument — although some will take it as a bit snarky. Nonetheless, I think it’s serious.

(Acts 20:7-12)  On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.

9 Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

As noted by Joe in a comment, Paul “broke bread” after midnight, which by the Roman calendar, would be on Monday. Monday! Now, this creates serious problems for the Regulative Principle argument. The argument runs like this —

* We have no command as to the day to gather. However, we have an example that the church in Troas gathered on the first day of the week to break bread.

* “Break bread” means to take communion.

* As we have authority — in the form of an example — to take communion on Sunday, but no authority to take communion any other day, the Regulative Principle dictates that we only take communion on Sunday.

Well, under the Roman calendar, Paul took communion on Monday. And he obviously could have paused his several hours of teaching long enough to get communion in on the Lord’s Day. Therefore, if we’re under the Roman calendar, Paul took communion on Monday. And that means taking communion on Monday is not a sin. And Jesus instituted communion on a Thursday evening. If that’s an approved example, then we are good with Sunday, Monday, and Thursday. Suddenly, Acts 2:46, which says the disciples broke bread in homes daily, sounds like an authoritative example, too.

But, it’s objected, Paul certainly was operating under the Jewish calendar, which has the days of the week begin each sunset. Hence, they were really meeting on our (the Roman) Saturday night, and Paul preached on into Sunday morning, which is when he took communion. Problem solved!

Okay. That’s quite possible. We reach the conclusion by assuming that communion can only be taken on a Sunday, which “proves” that Paul took communion under the Jewish calendar. It’s hardly a proof, but the theory is internally consistent. It could very well be true.

Now, Troas was a Grecian port city in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), built shortly after Alexander. The local calendar was unquestionably Roman. The man Paul resurrected, Eutychus, had a Greek name. Therefore, as Troas was not a Jewish city and the church was clearly not exclusively Jewish, why was the Jewish calendar used? Why determine the correct day of the week for communion by Jewish standards?

Plainly, that was Paul’s instruction. Paul was there. He preached past midnight. He wanted the church to use the Jewish calendar. The logic is plain. Hence, we can with great confidence refine our earlier argument —

* We have no command as to the day to gather. However, we have an example that the church in Troas gathered on the first day of the week to break bread — with first day being determined by Jewish practice, being the same practice surely used by Jesus and the apostles.

* “Break bread” means to take communion.

* As we have authority — in the form of an example — to take communion on Sunday – with first day being determined by Jewish practice — but no authority to take communion any other day, the Regulative Principle dictates that we only take communion on Sunday – with first day being determined by Jewish practice.

Some will argue that the choice of Roman or Jewish calendar is a mere incidental. But we plainly see that it was no incidental to Paul. But for his use of Jesus’ calendar, he’d have sinned by taking communion on a Monday. Surely no one thinks Paul is a sinner! If the choice of the day is a salvation issue, surely knowing when the day begins and ends is far more than a mere incidental!

Some will argue that the choice of calendar depends on where we are. When in Rome … When in Jerusalem … But they weren’t in Jerusalem. They weren’t in Palestine. They were land that had been Grecian for centuries.

Some will argue that the choice is to be made by the local congregation. We have no evidence of this. We have no evidence that any New Testament church used any system other the Jewish system. And the Jewish system goes all the way back to Genesis 1 — “the evening and morning was the first day” is considered by most commentators to be based on the Jewish calendar.

Many among us consider Sunday the Christian Sabbath — and the Sabbath is always from sunset to sunset. There’s considerable Patristic evidence for considering the Lord’s Day the Christian Sabbath. See Barnabas 15:8. Some Patristics speak of the “eighth day” in obvious parallel with the Jewish seventh day, surely reckoning the day by the same parallel. Epistle of the Apostles 18. Tertullian, An Answer to the Jews 4:1.

Now that the case has been demonstrated, we can safely draw some conclusions.

* Sunday begins at sunset on the American Saturday. It ends sunset on the American Sunday. “Sunset” is based on actual sunset, not the clock.

* Therefore, it is sin to take communion after sunset on Sunday — regardless of how early the sun sets in your part of the world. (Sorry, Vicki.)

* However, it perfectly okay to take communion after sunset on Saturday.

* Richland Hills is therefore not taking communion on the wrong day of week when they have a Saturday night service. However, countless Churches of Christ are in sin when their Providentially hindered members take communion after sunset on Sunday.

Right?

And if we’re not so confident in the obvious, plain logic laid out above, we can surely at least agree that the safe course — the only course that will surely keep us from damnation — is to take communion between midnight Saturday and sunset Sunday. This way, if we discern God’s intent incorrectly, we’re still safe. The safe course — and what eldership would risk souls just to be like the denominations and meet Sunday night at 6:00 regardless of the sunset? — the safe course is to take Sunday night communion before sunset. We must obey God and not men.

A church that fails to do this has completely abandoned the Bible. For such a church, the flesh overwhelms the Spirit. Such a church is guilty of will-worship, of binding the commandments of man as the commandments of God. Such a church has eaten of the fruit of liberalism, not respecting the inspiration of God’s holy word. We should not speak at lectureships that allow the preachers of such churches to speak. We should not sit on editorial boards with such men. We cannot condone error. Nor should we associate with those who do.

No! That’s wrong. Wrong for lots of reasons — but right if you buy into the Regulative Principle.

It’s wrong, wrong, wrong because —

* The Regulative Principle is not scriptural.

* If “break bread” means to take communion, then the Jerusalem church took communion daily. If it doesn’t, then the scriptures are silent on the day we must take communion.

* Cinching an argument from the Patristics violates sola scriptura and “silent where the Bible is silent.” It binds mortal authority as though coming from God.

* God doesn’t work like this. The whole hermeneutic on which the foregoing argument is based is just as wrong as can be. It ignores the character and purposes of God. It ignores God’s repeated statements about what’s important to him. It is foreign to the gospel.

* It starts with the assumption — a false assumption — that God has a rule for such things. It’s really quite a circular argument, as once you assume there’s has to be rule, you’ll sure-enough find one.

* And it imposes a standard of doctrinal perfection on ourselves and each other that’s Gnostic. You see, although we’d never admit it, the truth is that we grant grace for moral sins and don’t grant grace for doctrinal sins. We tacitly assume that we are capable of doctrinal perfection but not moral perfection. And that’s Gnosticism. Which is wrong.

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61 Responses

  1. Highly amusing and absolutely true!

    You’re using CoC hermeneutics and arguments to trip them up – they don’t like this. It’s more “proof” that their interpretation of Scripture is based on CENI, but only if it jives with early 20th century hermeneutic (as you explained in the your CENI Wizard of Oz article)..

    And…I don’t think that it can be argued that the Jewish definition of the day (from sunset to sunset) can be substituted for the modern definition (sunrise to sunset). Because if so, then, it would surely be okay to substitute unleavened, un-kosher bread with leavened bread.

    Vicki

  2. Then, there is the logic of the next step down, which the minister at my church defends: That Sunday is the only day on which the Lord’s Supper has significance.

    Which pretty much flies in the face of Acts 2:42-47, where every day seemed to be filled with the significance of sharing possessions and hospitality and joy and food and the Lord’s Supper.

  3. Acts 2:42-47 – says they sold their possessions and gave to everyone who had need (suggesting communal living) and they broke bread in their homes AND ate together. Using the regulative principle and CENI hermenutics (necessary inference), shouldn’t we be living communallly , selling our bounty of possessions and sharing to meet any need, and taking the Lord’s supper only in our home churches? The legalisits sees with primarily his head, desperately seeking the appropriate “Christian” rules to live by. The Christian who seeks God from a heart of gratitude for His abundat mercy and grace seeks to love, forgive and practice charity to all.

  4. how sick am I, that I was thinking about the Regulative Principle when I woke up this morning?

    In the Hebrew Scriptures, where we go so often to prove that God always enforces the Regulative Principle, we can learn that Passover was strictly scheduled. Passover began on 10 Nisan (I think it was Nisan, wasn’t it? Anyway…), the feast was held on 14 Nisan, and the Days of Unleavened Bread continued to 21 Nisan.

    So when we look at celebration of this festival, we should find it always celebrated this way, right?

    Except that Hezekiah’s bunch couldn’t start celebrating it until the second month (Iyar), most of them ate it illegally by not purifying themselves according to what was written, and they enjoyed it so much, they decided to keep celebrating it until 28 Iyar!

    Now, the preachers I’ve heard teach the Regulative Principle point to a one-strike-and-you’re-out God. Hezekiah’s people had THREE strikes! They’re so doomed it isn’t even funny, right?

    I mean, it is like they skipped church on Sunday, got together on Monday, invited a bunch of unbaptized friends, and loved God’s company so much that they kept eating crackers and grape juice until Wednesday or Thursday!

  5. Round and round we go,
    and where we stop nobody knows.

    Isn’t this all so silly, but yet we have wound ourselves around these things for a hundred years.

    I love my Christian brothers and sisters, and I cannot find the energy to engage in such discussions.

  6. I share your frustration, Dwayne.

  7. For years, I made a clear distinction between which passages of “breaking bread” meant the Lord’s Supper and which meant a common meal. Until one day I realized that I made my choices based on prior beliefs, not on Scripture.

  8. I think it is very sad that so many “Christians” have decided to spend so much time and effort trying to prove they are more correct in their understanding by disputing over words and causing dissention in the body instead of choosing to follow Christ and love each other while showing Him to the world. It was the same in Jesus’ day and He made it very clear what He thought of it. It is time for all of us to focus on the mission Christ has given us and stop following the distractions Satan has put in our path.

  9. I see good reason to commune each Sunday, but not so sure I consider it a “binding example” as many brethren teach and believe.

  10. This is scary !!! In the past two days I’ve discovered someone who agrees with me. Jay, I’ve been teaching that “break bread” is ALWAYS a reference to a common, for sustenance meal (fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, banana pudding).

    Brother, you need to repent lest you be shunned — for agreeing with that old heretic in Reno.

  11. Would someone be willing to define regulative principle as it is being used here?

    I have found over the years that the first step to coming to an understanding is to be sure and establish a common vocabulary. Different people often associate different connotations, and thus meaning, to the same word.

    For example, if in England and you accept an offer for a biscuit, you might be quite surprised what you are served.

  12. Long ago I decided that I would just follow the words of Jesus on this one – he says “As Oft” as you do this, do it in remembrance of me. Good enough for me – I no longer have a heart attack if I miss a Sunday, nor will I condemn one for engaging any day of the week!

  13. Once upon a time there was a philosophy called ‘Logical Positivism’. It sought to make sense of the world by eliminating all the myths and chimera of discourse by employing the ‘verification principle’. The ‘verification principle’ stated that only that which was verifiable by scientific means was considered meaningful and true. This worked well, of course, until someone pointed out the inconvenient truth that the ‘verification principle’ itself was non-verifiable. And so *poof*, no more Logical Positivism. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?

  14. It’s hardly a proof, but the theory is internally consistent. It could very well be true.

    “It could very well be true” is a pretty weak basis for establishing church doctrine. After all, if that’s the strongest statement we can make, then it also could very well be false.

    The Mythbusters wouldn’t call this one confirmed. At best, they’d call it plausible. Although, I suspect the fans at their web site would be howling that it should be declared busted, especially if they saw the rest of this post.

    There just aren’t that many examples in scripture that can be shown from the text to be binding today. Generally the approved examples convey nothing more than permission to us today. And there are not nearly as many necessary inferences as some people seem to think. In many, many cases they are no better than reasonable inferences. Nobody should be drawing lines of fellowship over their less-than-necessary inferences.

  15. Rich, check out the link to Jay’s posts on The Regulative Principle for more clarity – at least, in how he consistently defines and uses it. In his first post, he links to the Wikipedia definition, just so we’re all on the same (Web) page.

  16. Keith Brenton,

    Thanks for the links to the regulative principle. I understood it as the wikipedia but wanted to be sure.

    For those new to this site. I now know there is a small ‘next page’ button at the bottom of search results pages to find older posts.

    Rich.

  17. Jay,
    Good article. Challenging to say the least. I think this helps us to be able to discuss openly, questions of this nature. Because at least I am discovering that some of the proof texts I have been using are just that. All I had to do is read on and find out more. Does it shake us up? Well, possibly, but I have always been taught and believe that truth has nothing to fear. What we should fear is not being able to question and search the scriptures like the Bereans, to find out if things that are being taught as commands are commands at all. Does that mean trashing everything? No. Because the New Testament church is the church of Jesus. The body of the saved. But the attractiveness of being able to openly and without fear, study the word of God, is unbeatable. Trying to proove we are the true church by using proof texts that with little ease can be shot down is leaving us in a vulnerable position when sitting with others to teach them.
    We need to study more, rightly diving the word of truth, in my opinion.
    Anyway,
    Thanks again for the article. It expanded on the little discussion Joe and I were having.
    All the best,
    Jack Exum Jr.

  18. Would the regulative principle, consistently followed, also require that a) the Lord’s Supper be observed at night and b) that it be observed in an upstairs room?

    If not, why not?

  19. J.T.,

    A couple of quick answers as I understand them:

    a. No. we follow commands and examples only to the detail given. Acts 20:7 says the plan was to meet on the first day of the week. That limits to the first day but gives the freedom to pick any time during that day that suits us. The spiritual significance (purpose) is the same day of the week that Christ arose.

    b. No. There must be a spiritual significance to a given example. There is no such significance to an upper room.

    Rich.

  20. Isn’t the Lord’s Supper emblematic of our Lord’s death on the cross? If the spiritual significance must correlate to the day of the week, then that means Friday. We even have some detail about the time of death.

    This is a wrinkle that I haven’t considered.

  21. Nancy,

    To me, the most edifying part of taking communion on the first day is that we remember the death and the resurrection which Paul tells us in 1. Cor 15 is most critical. It is also very edifying knowing that Christians all over the world are taking communion together on the same day. Very powerful.

    Rich.

  22. The case for restricting communion to Sundays is very weak. At best it is a reasonable inference… but I’m not sure I would go that far. If we didn’t have Justin Martyr’s account I doubt we would ever have come to the conclusion that it was weekly. We don’t have a shred of biblical evidence that they took communion the week before Acts 20, nor the week after… nor that all the congregations took communion on that particular Sunday… not to mention the difficulties of defining what constitutes Sunday.

    Acts 2:42 and 46 teach that breaking of bread occurred in their homes, and that it may even have occurred daily. We’ve tried to avoid that by distinguishing the meaning of the phrase in Acts 20 from the meaning in Acts 2, despite having absolutely no evidence in the text to justify the redefinition. If we were really deriving our doctrine from the examples in the text, weekly Sunday communion wouldn’t be the issue. Instead, we would be holding daily assemblies, because that is what the first church did. What is the hermeneutic that leads us to weekly communion and not daily assemblies?

  23. Luke 22:7-13 “Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?” And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?” Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.” So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.”

    Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper in an upper room. I would say an upper room does have spiritual significance.

    Jesus also instituted the Lord’s Supper and had the Lord’s Supper on a day other than Sunday.

  24. Alan,

    We might not want to imply too much precision to the summary wording in Acts 2:46. Punctuation (which we don’t have from most Greek manuscripts) can make a big difference. For example, both the NIV and NLT versions associate the daily activity of worship in the temple in a separate sentence/phrase. The breaking of bread in the homes is in a different phrase and thus not associated with the daily activity in the temple. The contraction ‘and’ (used in some translations) that seems to connect the daily meeting in the temple with breaking bread is not in the original Greek.

    Rich.

  25. Rich,
    How does Acts 20:7 say that “the plan was to meet on the first day of the week”? Acts 2:46 says they broke bread daily. If you try to say that this was just a common meal, you will need to explain on what objctive basis you can say that wih authority.

  26. Rich,

    Where is the BCV that says the first day of the week was chosen because Jesus was raised on that day? It is true that He was, but where in the New Testament does it connect the day of the resurrection with the Lord’s Supper? Your statement is an inference, pure and simple. Perhaps it is reasonable – but I can think of other potential reasons for having the Lord’s Supper on other days.

  27. J.T.,

    If we had an example in the bible where the communion was taken on another day or no example I would agree with you. However, we don’t. There is a spiritual connection with the first day. It matches the same day that we have a direct command to give (at least for special collections, right?). All the external evidence points to this was the way the inspired apostles worshiped.

    We know God was pleased with this worship. Why would we want to do it any other way?

  28. Please give me chapter and verse with the term “regulative principle in it”. Thank you.
    Gary

  29. Gary,
    Where do we have a direct command to give? Are you saying we should collect money to give to Paul when he arrives, to take to the saints in Jerusalem?

    If so, why might you see this as a command, and not see Acts 20 (to sell possessions to give to the poor, to have everything in common) as a command too?

    Again – as Jay has explained here or elsewhere…folks have gone to Scripture with a precept of “we must give on the first day of the week” and use Scripture to find a (alleged) command to support their precept.

    Shockingly bad exegesis, IMO.

    Vicki

  30. Vicki,
    My point is that we do NOT have a direct command for the use of the so-called “Regulative Principle”. I agree with you about bad exegesis, it is really eisegesis or reading into the text. I totally agree with Jay on this one and much of what he says.
    I was saying that “show me a Scripture which requires us to use the regulative principle”. There is none.

  31. We might not want to imply too much precision to the summary wording in Acts 2:46.

    It’s quite clear from Acts 2:46 that they assembled daily. Why don’t we? In another comment you said

    We know God was pleased with this worship. Why would we want to do it any other way?

    Why do you apply that in Acts 20 but not in Acts 2?

  32. Rich,

    But we do have the example of the Jerusalem church “breaking bread” daily. (Acts 2:46)

    Was this the only way the church broke break? I doubt it. But the real question is: Does the New Testament give us a regulation for when and how to partake of the Lord’s Supper, other than “As oft as you do this, do it in memory of me”?

    In the absence of specific instruction, why do we have to somehow find such instruction to limit the people of God who have been set free from law?

  33. Ah okay, sorry – I misread you sir.

    Obviously my interpretation of Scripture is far superior to my ability to read posts on the internet (tongue very much in cheek here…..).

    Shalom,
    Vicki

  34. Gary and Alan,

    The term ‘regulative principle’ is new to me. I know the official definition but I’m not sure of the connotations and example of applications that are implied when the term is used here.

    The concept that when God says it one way, other ways are not correct is demonstrated in Galatians 3:16. Paul here says that the word seed (offspring) was singular. This means that plural (without a thou shalt not) was not correct.

    This is also consistent with Jay’s example concerning Nadab and Abihu. They were told one way of worship. The way they chose was wrong even though there wasn’t an explicit statement condemning their way.

    This isn’t about finding rules. This is about opening our hearts to the entirety of God’s word and seeking His will.

  35. J.T.,

    As I stated in another post. The contraction ‘and’ that ties the breaking bread with the daily worship in the temple (Acts 2:46) is not in the original Greek and also missing in some English translations. To assume the breaking of bread was a daily occurrence is placing too much precision in the summarizing verbiage of this passage.

  36. Alan,

    Great question. We probably should meet together more often. I cringe whenever someone suggests we reduce the times we do meet because of our busy 21st century schedules.

    I’m not sure that Acts 2 implies that every congregational member tried to meet each day. The concept that small groups within the congregation met each day also fits the summarizing wording.

    At the congregation I attend, one will find small group gatherings in homes or the church building somewhere nearly everyday. Perhaps that does reflect the same attitude toward worship as in Acts 2.

  37. Rich,

    Your arguments are falling on deaf ears. I learned this a while back on these type of progressive blogs. No authority. No blnding examples. No inferences. No regulative principle. No rules. No law. Bapism isn’t part of the gospel. Instrumenal music. Women preachers. Lord’s Supper can be taken anytime and anywhere we want to. Denial of verbal inerrancy of scripture. the Lord’s church is a denomination, Basic, remodeled “once saved always saved doctrine,” etc., etc.

    It is truly scary and deeply sad how far many have gone in the body of Christ. Unity will not be able to reached with such a new generation in the church. Our only hope is that many will honestly and sincerely leave only and stop trying to make the Lord’s church inot another community type denomination, and just go out and “church plant” as they like to call it (what kind of church?? Only they know!) For instance, Wade Hodges, who has left the Garnett Church of Christ in Tulsa, is going to Austin to “Plant” some kind of a church, it will of course, have instrumental music and who knows what else. Hopefully they will not identify themselves as a “Church of Christ” (I don’t think they are going to). My point is that, Wade, whom I’ve met several times and visited with, is passionae about what he believes, seems to be very sincere, good heart, etc. but is I believe doing what needs to be done, “leave” the mainstream Churches of Christ (he wouldn’t quite see it thi way), and establish their view of what “church” should be. But, by going instrumental, going by a different name, etc. they are separating themselves and making a distinction between them and us.

    It just seems wih the kind of liberal, quie frankly “crazy” (to use Jay’s term) views and beliefs being openly advocaed and advanced (Saturday night communion services, i.e., Richland Hills/Thursday night/daily commuion, once a month, yearly Lord’s Supper observance, ec.) unity will be impossible.

    In reality, many like myself, Phil Sanders, probably Mac Deaver, and many other more moderate conservatives in the Lord’s church have already come to the realization and conclusion these extreme progressives are no longer “one of us” and for the mos part will not be reached. Repentance will be exremely rare for progressive folks. Yes, they (and I) a times will “stay in their”, keep some “dialogue” going, defend, debate the truth with them in the hope that God’s word and quite frankly, common sense will prevail among some of them, but little hope remains.

    Always remember that before the 1906 census that offically separated the Church of Christ from the Christian Church as being two separate religious bodies, long before that, the division, separation had been established. Unity and fellowship in many ways was severed.

    I believe it won’t be as clear, obvious and as easily marked as it was in 1906, but I do and many others think this time will come for us in the future. Maybe, we’ll look back on Richland Hills decision to publically go instrumental as being the offical moment, it seems to have emboldend our progressive brethren, and not only as IM, but take the Lord’s Suppper now, such as being written about by Jay and commented by others here. Look at the far liberal direction this is going.

    We just can’t embrace and fellowshp such open error and apostasy.

    So just be careful in here Rich, there are “Sharks” all around (change agents), and they are “hungry for blood” (figuratively speaking:)

    God bless you for trying. I will try to “jump” in from time to time if I think I can help out. But time is precious and I’ve seen where most of it has gotten me!

    God bless,

    Robert Prater

  38. I have been going to a Church of Christ (Conservative) with my husband for several years. Because I love God. But I am so tired of the strict rules and seemingly lack of joy in the worship. The same songs, the same dour attitute. No one says anything at all in disagreement. The women never speak. The preacher every Sunday criticizing some other church/religion. I am ready to give up… apparently if you don’t go there you will go to hell. That’s what they preach. Doesn’t it make all you that preach similarly asshamed? Is that what you intend to do?

  39. Rich and Robert, So no one is allowed to take the Lord’s Supper any day other than Sunday (when there is no such rule) or else be damned. Even a person who is dying on their death bed only having a couple of days left.

  40. I’m not sure that Acts 2 implies that every congregational member tried to meet each day.

    And I’m not sure that Acts 20 implies that every congregation took communion every Sunday. We should be as lenient (or, as strict) in Acts 2 as we are in Acts 20, and vice-versa. But we are not. Conservative coC’s would generally consider monthly (or quarterly) communion as apostasy — but they don’t consider two or three assemblies a week as apostasy. That is pretty strong evidence that there is another principle that governs our interpretations. But nobody seems to know what that principle is.

    I’m not arguing for less frequency of communion. I’m pleading for us to accept one another despite such disagreements.

  41. Alan,

    We need to be precise where the Bible is precise and imprecise where it is imprecise. Acts 20 is clear they met on the first day. Acts 2 is a generalization.

  42. Rich, which is worse: to insert the word “and” into Acts 2:46 where there is at least some continuity of thought … or to insert the words “every and only” before “the first day of the week” where there is no reasonable implication of either? and then to make it law when there is no context of it, except their intent at the time?

  43. Robert Prater wrote:

    Rich,

    Your arguments are falling on deaf ears. I learned this a while back on these type of progressive blogs.

    Robert, your exasperation comes through loud and clear. But it is not persuasive. It would be more constructive to engage in the conversation on a particular topic. It’s not constructive to talk about “these type of progressive blogs.” That’s an ad hominum argument — as though it’s all about “those progressives” and not about the topics we’re discussing.

    If Acts 20 makes weekly communion mandatory, why doesn’t Acts 2 make daily assembly mandatory? If you can answer that question, you would have made a constructive contribution to the conversation.

  44. Dear Anonymous,

    I’m talking about what’s the right way and wrong way. Like Apollos needed to be corrected concerning the doctrine of baptism and Peter needed to be corrected when he showed favortism toward his hometown brothers over a doctrinal issue.

    It’s God’s job to do the damning and saving.

  45. Rich wrote:

    Alan,

    We need to be precise where the Bible is precise and imprecise where it is imprecise. Acts 20 is clear they met on the first day. Acts 2 is a generalization.

    I agree 100% with the first sentence.

    Acts 20 tells us only about a single occurrence of breaking bread. On that particular Sunday they broke bread. Acts 2 tells us their general practice. They met together every day in the temple courts. That’s not just once, but day after day — it was their pattern. The argument for making Acts 2 mandatory is much stronger than the one for making Acts 20 mandatory.

  46. Rich, you overlooked Keith’s question.

    Rich, which is worse: to insert the word “and” into Acts 2:46 where there is at least some continuity of thought … or to insert the words “every and only” before “the first day of the week” where there is no reasonable implication of either?

  47. Rich,

    The point some of us are trying to make is that we are not logically allowed to take the scant evidence provided in Acts 20:7 and “understand” a regular pattern of “first day of the week” observance where we “break bread” meaning to take the Lord’s supper while explaining away the practices set out in Acts 2:42ff where daily “breaking of bread” is a common meal. Such a conclusion is based on our own preconceptions, not based upon the textual evidence. There is no inspired footnote below Acts 2 making it clear that “breaking bread” means a simple meal and no inspired footnote at Acts 20 informing us that that instance means “Lord’s supper.”

    The arguments being advanced by the majority on this string are that:
    a. God left many questions as to practice unanswered. The NT does not contain a Torah.
    b. We must reason out how to get certain things done while being as faithful to what we know about the text and the first century practice as possible.
    c. My reason is no less nor more adequate to the task than yours.
    d. Our reason may produce a good, better best, answer, but it will never produce the “only right and true” answer.
    e. As we each use our own reason we will disagree and that will be and must be OK.

    I have stated before I strictly construe the passages in question. Since we have no direct command as to place, time or frequency as to when we partake of the Lord’s supper there is no “scripturally authorized” place, time or frequency and we are left to reason it out. Ditto with numerous things such as meeting frequency, names, clapping, IM, et al.

    Oh and leave Nadab abd Abihu alone. Their story is not a warning about the failure to observe CENI. Read a bit further on and see that Eleazar and Ithmar also worship erroneously and not only are not blotted out in a fireball but are seen as righteous. The difference between the two sets of brothers is not their actions, but their hearts. Nadab and Abihu did not respect God’s holiness and did the wrong thing. Eleazar and Ithmar so honored God’s holiness that they felt doing the right thing would be wrong in their circumstances.

    Even in the old law God extended grace. How much more will He do so by the blood of Christ?

  48. Alan,

    Paul was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost. If Troas had non-routine communion services then they probably would have met sooner so Paul didn’t have to wait nearly a week. I’m sure, based on Paul’s nature, they met and worshiped daily while he was waiting until the first day to have communion with them.

    Also, although I haven’t looked it up lately, my understanding is the Greek tense is continuous suggesting the first day assembly was their routine.

  49. I love how Torah bans a man from marrying a woman, divorcing her, and then marrying her again, while God commands Hosea to do that very thing.

    As long as we read Scripture as Law Code, without understanding that grace has always been at the heart of God’s self-revelation, we will never understand how God could do such a thing.

    When you understand that mercy triumphs over sacrifice, it becomes very easy to see that the Deuteronomic Code on divorce is to protect women from exploitation. When Gomer needs rescuing in Hosea, God doesn’t just allow Hosea (Salvation of God) to do it — he commands it.

  50. Rich wrote:

    I’m sure, based on Paul’s nature, they met and worshiped daily while he was waiting until the first day to have communion with them.

    How are you so sure that Paul was waiting because he wanted to take communion with them? I’ve heard a lot of preachers take that leap, but the text doesn’t say that was the reason. (It doesn’t even say he was “waiting” regardless of the reason. It just says he was there seven days) Even if he was waiting to take communion with them, it doesn’t say that they had communion the previous Sunday, nor the next Sunday.

    If we limit ourselves to what the text says, all we know is that Paul was there for seven days, and on one particular Sunday they broke bread, and Paul preached. Extrapolating that into a mandate for weekly communion, on Sundays only, is going beyond what the scriptures say. It is teaching the opinions of men as though they are the Word of God.

    OTOH in Acts 2, there is no room for dispute. Their pattern of practice was to meet daily in the temple courts. If approved examples are binding, then we are obligated to do as they did in Acts 2.

  51. Paul was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost.

    Rich Acts 20 is merely telling about the last day Paul was there. Just because it doesn’t tell about every day they were there doesn’t mean they didn’t meet together daily breaking bread. This was Paul’s last day there and I see them having a final meal together before he departed.

  52. Considering how short Paul’s previous stays in Troas were, I think it quite likely that he stayed a week in order to strengthen them as much as possible.

    If his hurry to get to Jerusalem was so extreme, I don’t believe he takes a stroll down to Assos.

  53. Maybe some should heed these words Jesus said to His disciples.

    Luke 9:51-56 “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem,and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.”

  54. Rich,

    No one is arguing that when God commands X that we can violate X. Noah really did have to use gopher wood. However, it’s a huge stretch to go from “we should obey God’s commands” to “we can’t do that which hasn’t been authorized.”

    There is no command to take communion weekly on Sunday and only on Sunday. It’s just not there. And there’s no command to sing a cappella. Again, just not there.

    If the Regulative Principle had never appeared in history, everyone would understand the necessity of obeying commands. The RP is not needed to reach that conclusion.

    Rather, the RP only kicks in when we told that X is sin because X is without without authority and X does not violate a command.

    Sadly, many among us have argued that RP is true because we must obey commands — which is a frivolous argument. Arguing against instrumental music on the theory that Noah had to use gopher wood is a total non sequitur. They are two entirely different things. You cannot prove “must have authority from CENI” from “must obey a command.” That just gets you the C part.

  55. Vikki,

    I am sincerely sorry about your situation. Unfortunately, that type of thinking permeates through all brands of churches including those using a similar hermeneutic as proposed on this site. Hermeneutic isn’t the problem. Our human nature to enjoy the dramatic and bad news and find enemies to fight is the root cause of the issue.

    I have been blessed to find positive thinking (yet conservative) churches. Where I currently attend 9 out of 10 sermons are encouraging positive service to God, others, our families, etc.

    Please hang in there. I hope the best for you.

  56. Robert, Wow…I prayed for you.

  57. Todd,
    I’d missed that (in)significance of Nadab & Abihu – thanks for pointing it out.
    Appreciated.
    Vicki

  58. Let’s chuck the whole thing: mandatory acapella music, five fingered exercise of salvation, 5 acts of worship, non-participatory worship, and all the rest of the Somerite COC sect traditions.
    The progressive Churches of Christ have a chance to become a decent denomination and embrace the rest of the Body of Christ extant in all churches: Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, and radical reformation.
    Leave the sect and go for the Kingdom of Jesus, which is love, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

  59. Go Gary!

  60. Here is a link to a website the conversations going on show the lengths of cruelty this cofC goes to. It is clear to see the damage they are trying to do to churches in the area and how they harass and try to damage people and family’s lives. They harass people at church when they assemble together to worship and they go to preacher’s home where there families are and harass them they also go to other peoples homes acting as if they are just inviting them to church and then make fun of these people on TV. This is reality of what is happening to real people in this area by this group of men. This is the example in this area being shown to other Christians and non-believers of the cofC.

    Here is the link:

    http://answeringchurchofchrist.wordpress.com/

  61. To see the conversations going on just click on the side where it says “Recent Comments.”

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