Paul stated that he had given us an example of what to do, and we should be imitators of him (c. Phil. 4:9; 1 Cor.11:1). That is a bit difficult in regard to some things Paul wrote. For example, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:15, “I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also.” To sing with “the spirit” (Gk. Pneumati of pneuma) is a special Greek term with extensive meaning, including “the power of perceiving and grasping divine and eternal things…possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting...univ. The disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of anyone; the efficient source of any power, affection, emotion, desire, etc.” (J.H. Thayer, Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament, pp.520-23). Add to that to sing with the “understanding,” (Gk. Noie of nues), which means “the faculties of perceiving and understanding...of feelings, judging, determining in the spirit intensely roused and completely absorbed in divine things...1Cor. 14 sq.19...the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially” (J.H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon, p.429).
To sing as Paul did is a real challenge, especially when related to a new song! Several factors relate to that challenge: 1. Limited instruction is given before we start the new song. 2. What brief instruction is given seems to relate to mechanics of music rather than the message of the song. 3. Results? Too often I am busy trying to follow the melody, and I am not in touch with the message of the song. I am only “mouthing the words” too much, and certainly not singing with “the spirit” or “understanding.” Paul surely would not give me any commendation for following his example in such singing!!
Secondly, Paul was quite blunt when writing certain brethren at Corinth, affirming that the way they responded, it was not possible for them to partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:20). He even added that many of them were weak, sickly, and not a few sleep (1 Cor. 11:30). One basic fault mentioned was their sporadic, scattered out pattern of assembling together. Now make an application of that problem: Consider our Bible classes. They are scheduled to begin at a certain time, clearly stated and repeatedly advertised. Yet, the facts are some brethren consistently drift into class some 5 to 15 minutes late, resulting in many 45 minute Bible classes starting 5 to 10 minutes late. Understand that this doesn’t relate to “the car wouldn’t start,” or the picking up of someone injured by the roadside (cf. Lk. 10:30-37); nor a “late telephone call that came their way.” These words relate to some members, who in some cases should already be teachers, but whose sloven, lackadaisical, indifferent study patterns (related to God’s Word), has left them in “need again that someone would teach you the rudiments of the first principals of the oracles of God (Heb. 5:11-14). Are such member listening to Paul, when he stated, “Study” (KJV); “Be diligent” (AS); “Do your best” (NIV) to present yourselves approved unto God as workmen who need not be ashamed, handling accurately the word of Truth” (2 Tim. 2:15)? Sorry, Paul such members at the _________congregation are not following very well your example of Bible study!
Have you in anyway found yourself in the foregoing survey? Could you fill in the blank the name of the congregation where you attend? While Paul’s example is a challenge, it is a good challenge!