Question & Answer Forum

Do we have examples in scripture of virtuous women (Proverbs 31:10-31)?

Perhaps this question implies that the “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 31 is an impossible dream, but the question is thought-provoking.

Ruth had a reputation as a “virtuous woman” (Ruth 3:11), the only woman so designated. The word means strength, efficiency, and, in this case, moral wealth primarily. Proverbs 31 is King Lemuel’s mother’s teaching (verse 1). Some suggest Lemuel, meaning “for God,” is another name for Solomon. Did she use this name to impress on Solomon that her highest ambition was that he would be “for God”? How instructive for mothers today! Could it be then that his mother told him to find a wife like his great-great-grandmother, Ruth? How sad he didn’t take his mother’s advice!

We may not have enough information to induct some Bible women into this “Hall of Virtue,” but some of the many worthy candidates are Mary (the Lord’s mother), both Mary and Martha of Bethany, Hannah, Abigail, Jehoshabeath, Puah and Shiphrah, and Lydia. Two additional candidates both failed in some features in this description, but recovered and are worthy candidates: Sarah and Bathsheba. This is of particular interest if Bathsheba is the source of these words. God is a God of recovery.

D. Oliver

What is the proper use of assembly funds?

1 Corinthians 16:1-4, linked with 2 Corinthians 8, 9, guides us. These funds were a special offering for fellow-believers suffering from natural disaster (see also Acts 11:28-30).

1 Timothy 5:3-16 teaches and qualifies the assembly’s responsibility to meet the needs of the indigent among its number.

Although not supported in Corinth by the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:12; 2 Corinthians 11:7, 9), Paul received support from the Philippians (Philippians1:5; 2:30; 4:10-19). He intimates that churches support the gospel financially (4:15) and states (1 Corinthians 9:14) that “they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” Assemblies or individual believers who benefit from ministry should “communicate” with those who minister (Galatians 6:6). This material communication (fellowship) expresses their share in this work of God.

Therefore, the Lord intends the use of assembly funds to express both Christian kindness and also the assembly’s partnership in the work of God locally (Galatians 6:6) and further afield (2 Corinthians 11:8, 9).

Overseers guide the assembly (Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24, mg.) in its distribution of funds. They are accountable to the Lord, the assembly, and the government (in that order) for this distribution.

D. Oliver

What did the disciples understand by the word “church” (Matthew18:17)?

What the disciples understood from the Lord teaching wasn’t always what they could and should have understood. This changed when the Comforter came (John 14:26).

The Lord taught (Matthew 16:13-19) that their future identity was not Jewish. Their understanding of a church apparently developed from what they knew of synagogue life (see James 2:2, “assembly” is “synagogue”). They therefore understood an assembly to be a place of prayer and scriptural instruction. Judaism’s total rejection of Christ marked His followers as Christians (Acts 11:26) and meant the church of God was distinct from both Jew and Gentile testimonies (1 Corinthians 10:32; Hebrews 13:13).

In Matthew 18, the Lord invests a church with distinct authority. God’s purpose of a universal and eternal reign to be effected through His redemption of Israel (Exodus 15:18) awaits fulfillment. Rejecting the Son brought the destruction of “The City of the Great King” (Matthew 5:32; 22:2-7). Until God moves to fulfill His purpose for Israel and the world, each church in the locality where it exists has authority to administer for God among His people, carrying out God’s will on earth through His Word (18:15-20).

After the Passover supper (John 13:2) and after Judas left the room (1 Corinthians 11:24), the Lord instituted a new activity for a church. Distinct from the Passover, this supper would perpetuate the memory of the Lord and of His death. Later Paul taught that this necessitated mutual care (1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:25).

At a minimum, the disciples understood the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 18 to mean that a church is a place for prayer, proclaiming the truth of God, and carrying out God’s Word. Through the Spirit’s further enlightenment, they understood its fuller uniqueness, significance, and preciousness.

D. Oliver

What did the disciples understand by the phrase “gathered together unto My Name” (Matthew 18:20)?

The disciples did not lack acquaintance with the Old Testament. Their minds may have gone to the promise regarding Israel’s future kingdom in Jeremiah 3:17, “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem.” This is reminiscent of the Lord’s words to Israel when they came to the promised land, “Unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose . . . to put His name there, even unto His habitation . . . thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings” (Deuteronomy 12:5, 6). The Lord’s name testifies to who He is.

It’s reasonable to assume that the disciples understood that the place of public worship and of God’s dwelling was now to be place of public testimony of which the Lord Jesus was the subject.

D. Oliver