2nd Timothy 2:15
Because God’s Word can be sinfully manipulated (2nd Peter 3:16), it is insufficient to merely claim it as our guide. What matters is that we make proper application of it. One of the ways in which the “word of truth” may be “rightly divid[ed]” is to recognize that certain words and phrases are employed in both a specific and a generic sense.

A. Specific
1. 1st Corinthians 10:16-17
Bread breaking is “communion”, which is to say fellowship or participation, with Christ’s body.
2. 1st Corinthians 11:23-26
This is called “the Lord’s Supper”(20), in which Christ’s death is proclaimed.
3. Acts 2:42
It is an activity to “continue steadfastly in”, along with teaching, fellowship, and prayer.
4. Acts 20:7
It is a first-day-of-the-week occasion for which disciples come together.
B. Generic
1. Acts 27:33-35
Totally independent of any memorial for the death of Jesus, the phrase may rightly be applied to taking on “nourishment” for “food”.
2. Acts 2:46
Even in a context in which the Lord’s Supper has been mentioned (42), another meaning may apply to the same turn of phrase. This reference, too, is to “food”, and was enjoyed in a setting separate from what was, evidently, worship.
3. Acts 20:11
Again, we observe an occasion in which the phrase in its generic sense applies shortly following the same wording in a specific application (7). After the church met to eat the Lord’s Supper, during which meeting the apostle spoke a long while, the assembly was subsequently dismissed when one member fell to his death. After Eutychus was revived, Paul shared a meal and conversation with the members until his departure.

A. Specific
1. Acts 8:14-19
Philip the evangelist used miracles to persuade the people of Samaria, even including a magician whose sorcery had deceived the people a long time (1-13). Despite Philip’s ability to employ spiritual gifts, the new converts did not receive the ability to do likewise from him. That required a visit from Jerusalem by certain apostles. Only when John and Peter laid hands on them did the Samaritans gain miraculous abilities.
2. Acts 19:5-6
After baptizing them into Christ, Paul laid hands on twelve Ephesian men to impart to them the ability to speak in tongues and prophesy.
3. 2nd Timothy 1:6
The young evangelist Timothy gained his spiritual gift when Paul laid hands on him.
B. Generic
1. 1st Timothy 4:14; Matthew 19:13-15; Acts 13:1-3; 1st Timothy 5:22
Sometimes laying on f hands simply refers to approval or blessing. Although Timothy received his gift through Paul’s hands, it was accompanied by the elders laying their hands on him, too; don’t be confused by that. When Jesus laid hands on children it was certainly not impart any spiritual gift – just to bless them. Prophets didn’t need to impart gifts to prophets; they were simply blessing them as they departed. Paul told Timothy to be careful about hastily giving approval to others by laying hands on them.
2. Luke 21:12; Acts 4:1-3; 5:17-18
In other places, laying hands on certain persons meant apprehending them to persecute and imprison them.
3. Luke 4:40; Mark 16:18; Acts 28:8
Another sense of the phrase references employing spiritual gifts, specifically laying on hands to heal, not imparting that gift to others.
4. Hebrews 6:1-2
Understanding the “laying on of hands” is an “elementary principle” that mature Christians should grow past.

A. Specific
1. Luke 6:12-16
Of all His disciples, that is followers, Jesus selected twelve men in particular whom he named apostles, meaning “sent ones”.
2. Acts 1:15-26
Later, when it was time to replace the traitor Judas, it was the Lord who made the selection again. On this occasion the qualification of being a witness of the resurrection was spelled out. Matthias was chosen.
3. 1st Corinthians 15:8-10; Acts 26:9-18; 2nd Corinthians 11:5
As the last witness of Jesus’ resurrection, Paul qualified to be the apostle “born out of due time”. He was called by Jesus to be a “witness” and was “sent” by Him. Despite being the last one, he didn’t lag behind any of the other apostles.
4. Ephesians 2:20
The role of the apostles was foundational in the church.
5. 1st Corinthians 12:29
Not everyone can be one of these.
B. Generic
1. Hebrews 3:1
Jesus is “the Apostle” of our confession in that He was sent by God. Clearly, he’s not like Paul or the twelve because He wasn’t chosen to be a witness of His own resurrection.
2. Philippians 2:25
Epaphroditus is called a “messenger”, but the word is translated from the same Greek as apostle, meaning “one sent forth”. He wasn’t a chosen witness of the resurrection, just a brother sent by the church of Philippi.
3. Galatians 1:19
Jesus’ brother James was an apostle in a sense. Don’t confuse him for the son of Zebedee or the son of Alphaeus, the two men named James among the twelve. He wasn’t one of the twelve or born out of due time. It’s just that he was sent in some capacity.

A. Specific
1. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-10
Elders are appointed to specific office in the church, having first met certain qualifications of character, experience, and circumstance.
2. 1st Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:17, 28
Also called overseers (bishops) or shepherds (pastors), these are the ones who lead the church.
3. 1st Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:7, 17
They have the “rule” in the church and are to be obeyed.
B. Generic
1. 1st Peter 5:5; 1st Timothy 5:1-2; 2nd John 1; 3rd John 1
Sometimes, though, elders are just the aged members of the church, who also deserve respect.
2. Luke 9:22; 22:66
Completely outside the church, there were elders in Israel, who led the people along with the chief priests.
3. Hebrews 11:2
In a chapter about ancient heroes of faith, elders simply reference godly men of antiquity.

A. Specific
1. Philippians 1:1
Specifically mentioned among the saints in Philippi were the overseers and deacons. Being coupled with the bishops, deacons should immediately be recognized as office holders.
2. 1st Timothy 3:8-13
Again referenced in the context of bishops (1-7), deacons must meet certain qualifications of character, experience, and circumstance.
B. Generic
1. Matthew 20:25-28
The Greek word for deacon simply means “servant” and is rendered accordingly in many passages. The humility of servitude should characterize every Christian.
2. Romans 13:1-4
Governing authorities are “ministers” of God for the sake of justice, meaning servants, that is deacons, for that purpose.
3. 1st Timothy 4:6
A preacher is a “minister of Jesus Christ”, a servant of the Lord.
4. Romans 16:1; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 1:7; 4:7
Many members of churches, including women, serve in some capacity or other without being specific office holders.

A. Specific
1. Luke 22:43; Matthew 28:1-7; 2nd Thessalonians 1:7
Angels, as we commonly perceive them, are “from heaven”, and sometimes manifest with a glowing visage that intimidates men.
2. 1st Corinthians 4:9; Hebrews 2:6-7; 2nd Peter 2:11
They are certainly distinct from men and above them, but the Greek word just means “messenger”.
B. Generic
1. Mark 1:1-4
John the Baptist was a “messenger” and the word is translated from the same as “angel”.
2. Luke 7:24; 9:52
Both John and Jesus sent “messengers”, and the word is the same as angel.
3. James 2:25
The spies abetted by Rahab the harlot are identified, too, as “messengers”, and the Greek from which the word is translated is the same as “angels”.
4. Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14
The Revelation was made known to John by Christ through an angel (1:1), but Jesus kept telling John to wrote letters “To the angel of the church of…” Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Why would an angel have a man write to angels? Because these were designated messengers of the various congregations.

By Bryan Matthew Dockens

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