The Scriptural Imperative For Mutual Edification

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Statements in Acts that relate to mutual edification:


  • 2:41-47, from the earliest days of the church when the power and authority and knowledge rested peculiarly upon the apostles the church was a one another organism.
  • 4:32-37, while the apostles continued to exercise their special gifts and fulfill their unique responsibilities as witnesses of Christ, others made their own kind of contributions to the encouragement of the body of believers.
  • 9:36-43, acts of kindness and charity are an important part of mutual edification.
  • 15:30-35, prophets, apostles, commissioned preachers, and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.

Statements in the epistles that relate to mutual edification:


  • 1:11-12, strengthening/establishing and encouraging are a two way street with both give and take, based on faith, even when an apostle was directly involved.
  • 10:14-15, a preacher’s role, sent by the church, not hired into it.
  • 12:1-8, every member has a responsibility for testing and approving God’s will. Every member has a responsibility for using their “gifts” for the good of the body. Those gifts vary, and are not necessarily miraculous at all. Probably none of these gifts need be thought of as miraculous or “spiritual gifts”. Consider for example Paul’s reference to a Cretin “prophet” who was a philosopher poet and had some accurate insights (Titus 1:12). People should use their gifts or abilities for the good of the church, the body. No one is especially singled out for a specific unique role (the preacher, for instance). Each church may have various people with various capabilities to make use of, some of which will overlap. Neither the Roman church nor any other was encouraged to hire someone from elsewhere to come and do any of these things for them or fill some role being left vacant by a lack of appropriate talent. The Roman church, like others in the New Testament, was expected to be a body, complete in itself in its relationship to the head, meeting its own normal spiritual needs in Christ by mutual edification.
  • 14:19, mutual edification is to be an underlying goal of Christian choices, along with peace. Christians are to work and sacrifice for the sake of building each other up in peace.
  • 15:1-6, each Christian should have the welfare of other Christians at heart, endeavoring to build up (edify) our neighbor. Each Christian has a responsibility (or privilege) of knowing the scriptures so as to find encouragement in them-which can in turn be shared with other believers. This encouragement and endurance given by God (v.5) through the scriptures (v.4) to each of us (v.2 & 4) produces a spirit of unity among Christians (v.5) so that each and all can verbally and heartfully glorify God (v.6). No one is singled out for particular leadership in achieving these things, nor is anyone uniquely qualified to do them in behalf of others.
  • 15:14, Paul’s expectation was that the Roman church was adequate or complete in terms of being able to provide instruction for members, by members. As with the other epistles in general, there is no suggestion that there was a specialist in the employ of the church who was competent to teach them or teach for them, but rather that they ordinarily met this need among themselves. Who was “the preacher” of the Roman church? Had there been such a person, is it reasonable to suppose Paul would speak this way or to suppose that he would not specifically address himself to the man who had this particular responsibility? The lack of reference in Romans and the other epistles to any presence of located/hired “preachers” is strong evidence that such a system did not exist in the New Testament church, but rather that the system in use was as described in this verse, “instruct one another”.
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