articles of this series, we talked about commands
and expediencies. Now, in this article, we continue
with apostolic examples.
Standard: Pattern, Form
God's word establishes a standard (pattern, form) we
are commanded to follow.
- "Retain the standard of sound words which
you have heard from me, in the faith and love which
are in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 1:13).
Hupotuposis, the Greek word translated "standard"
in the New American Standard Bible is translated "pattern"
and "form" in other translations. It denotes the example
and pattern by which we live, to faithfully serve God.
Apostolic Examples, Traditions
We are commanded to follow the apostles' examples.
- "Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me"
(1 Cor. 4:16).
- "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of
Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1).
We are commanded to practice the things learned, received,
and heard from the apostles.
- "The things you have learned and received and
heard and seen in me, practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you" (Phil. 4:19).
We are commanded to stand fast and hold apostolic
traditions, and withdraw from brethren who do not hold
to the traditions.
- "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the
traditions which you were taught, whether by word
of mouth or by letter from us" (2 Th. 2:15).
- "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every
brother who leads an unruly life and not according
to the tradition which you received from us. For
you yourselves know how you ought to follow our
example, because we did not act in an undisciplined
manner among you" (2 Th. 3:6-7).
- "If anyone does not obey our instruction in
this letter, take special note of that person and
do not associate with him, so that he will be
put to shame" (2 Th. 3:14).
When we hold to apostolic traditions, we imitate Christ.
- "Be imitators of me, just as I also am
of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1).
- "What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you
also, so that you too may have fellowship with
us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father,
and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 1:3).
Since we are commanded to imitate the apostles, holding
to the traditions they've delivered in the word of God,
we must follow every example unless it's excluded in
Apostolic Examples Not Binding Today
In the limited space remaining, we'll briefly review
each type of apostolic example not binding today.
Apostolic examples that were sinful are not
- We are not to sin; therefore, we are not to imitate
the apostles in their sin (Acts 17:30; 1 Jn. 1:8-2:2;
- We do not imitate Peter when he committed the sin
of hypocrisy (Gal. 2:11-14).
Apostolic examples in keeping the Mosaic Law
are not binding.
- God changed the law under which man lives (Heb.
7:12; Col. 2:13-14). We live under the law of Christ,
not the Mosaic Law (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2; 2 Cor.
3:1-18; 2 Jn. 1:9).
Apostolic examples of performing miracles are
- Today, people cannot perform miracles; therefore,
we are not to imitate the apostles regarding miracles.
- Miracles were temporary, and have been replaced
with that which is perfect. Today we live by the better
way, faith, hope, and love (1 Cor. 12:31-13:13; Jas.
- Miraculous power can only be passed to a person
by the laying on of an apostle's hands. Since all
the apostles are dead, the power to perform miracles
cannot be passed to anyone today (Acts 8:14-19; 19:5-6).
Apostolic examples that were cultural are not
- Jewish cultural traditions were often connected
to the Mosaic Law. Some Jewish cultural traditions
were erroneously bound as if they were commands from
God (Matt. 15:8-9; Mk. 7:6-9).
- Christians should not judge others in respect to
cultural traditions, and should not allow others to
judge them in respect to cultural traditions (Rom.
14:1-15:6; 1 Cor. 8:1-13; 10:23-11:1; Col. 2:16-23).
- Paul observed whichever cultural traditions were
expedient (1 Cor. 9:19-23).
- Any lawful cultural tradition may be observed by
Christians (Col. 3:17; cf. 1 Cor. 6:12; 9:21; 10:23-24).
Apostolic examples of applying expedients are
- Anything meeting the Scriptural criteria of an
expedient (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23-24) may be employed
as an expedient by Christians. By nature, expedients
today will differ from expedients employed during
the first century.
The Bible sets forth a standard (pattern, form, example)
which we must follow.
As part of the pattern set forth in God's word, we
imitate the apostles, unless the example is excluded
in God's word.