THE REMAINING THREE AREAS OF INFLUENCE
As seen already, besides counselling the king, elders have three other areas of influence which correspond to ancient Israel’s examples of every assembly of dwellings (whether villages, towns or cities), every tribe and region, and thirdly, the whole nation. The direct New Testament parallels for all three are found in the use of the word ‘church’, which was used as the collective term for governing assemblies of the saints (as is well known, the Greek êkklesia is literally ‘the called out ones’, hence the assembly, congregation or gathering of the saints). ‘Church’ referred to:
(i) all the saints in a particular location, whether in a village or town (or in the small gatherings in the cities when they met ‘house to house’ which would correspond numerically to villages), or in the entire city, hence ‘the church in Jerusalem’, Antioch, Rome, etc.
(ii) all the saints in a particular region such as Judea and Galilee and Samaria1 or ‘among the Gentiles’ (Rom 16:4)
Interestingly, and in contrast to today, there are no New Testament references to a national church such as ‘the church of Israel, Greece, or Italy’. Instead, when referring even to large provinces, church is used in the plural as in ‘the churches of Galatia’,4 ‘Asia’,5 or Macedonia’.6
THE CHURCH IN THE HOUSE AND THE CITY
Looking firstly then at the saints in a particular location such as a city, we find ‘church’ refers to both the smaller meetings in the city and to the overall Christian population of the city. From the beginning of ‘the church in Jerusalem’, this is apparent. In the upper room just prior to the Day of Pentecost there was ‘a gathering of about 120 people’7 but within a few days there were thousands8 ‘and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem’.9 This large number met in many small gatherings ‘from house to house’,10 which kind of gatherings were later referred to as ‘the church in the house of… (Philemon, or Priscilla and Aquila etc)’,11 and yet the whole group were referred to not as ‘the churches in Jerusalem’ but as ‘the church in Jerusalem’ (Acts 8:1). Even when, years later, they had within the city two major groupings about differing doctrinal views (Gal 2:12), they were still considered to be the church singular.12 So the term ‘church’ was used to describe all the saints in a particular location but in two distinct ways, to describe the small meetings and as the name for all of the believers in the city.
This of course is consistent with Paul’s letters being addressed to all the believers meeting in a particular house 13 or in a particular city, such as Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi etc, and he expected the believers to pass them on to the nearby cities. He wrote to the saints in Colossae:
When this letter is read among you, have it read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea.14
John similarly wrote to ‘the seven churches’ in the seven cities of Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Philadelphia etc.15
What does this all mean for us today? That all small gatherings that meet consistently and for some time can legitimately and Biblically be called a church, even if they have no building which we today have misnamed ‘a church’. If the intention is to have a long-term gathering rather than just for a season, there will arise two particular needs: firstly to recognise and appoint some elders and secondly to recognise, and form good working relationships with, the other smaller groups in that city. This latter need is often quite naturally resolved as the saints live out their daily lives, but they should be encouraged in this by the teaching in the small groups and by the elders taking the particular responsibility to relate well to other elders in a locality.
We then find four very clear principles:
(i) Having elders makes each church autonomous.
We can see this from two already established points: firstly, each church needed elders. In the same way that Paul and Barnabas in travelling through the cities of Lystra, Iconium and Pisidian Antioch ‘appointed elders for them in every church’, Paul directed Titus to ‘appoint elders in every city’ before leaving those new groups now ‘set in order’.16 Secondly, those elders accepted the responsibility for that church. In warning the church at Ephesus of the dangers that they would face after his departure, Paul told ‘the elders of the church’17 to watch for the effects of outside ministries coming in amongst them and that the responsibility for the flock of God in Ephesus was now theirs, not his.18 It follows then that each church is to be fully autonomous but always open to receive from outside ministries.
(ii) The elders must be readily available and public in their deliberations.
We saw in the Old Testament that the elders sat in the gates, which made them readily available to all, and ensured that their discussions and judgments were public. Their wisdom was not just stated but argued for until debate ceased.19 This openness and ability to defend their view established their credibility and made it harder for the elders, as an eldership, to have secrets. Hidden agenda are always unpopular and actively cause distrust in the leadership. As Jesus said: “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God… I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret”.20
(iii) The elders must always remain open to correction from one another and from their own people.
Paul, knowing the inevitability of some elders going astray, accordingly warned those at Ephesus to be on guard for each other as well as for the people.21 In my five decades of ministry, I have seen Paul’s words to be absolutely inspired – there are always some elders/pastors/ministers/bishops going astray and we all need to be corrected some time. The wisdom of an elder is demonstrated by his willingness to listen for wisdom, even from a child sent by the Lord, 22 and this willingness actively equips him to keep functioning as an elder.23
(iv) The elders in one place actively worked with the elders in other places for the sake of the one church of God.
This is plainly seen in two examples. Firstly, in the way the church in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas and a group of others to Jerusalem to talk about circumcision and thereby stop that church sending out James’ incorrect teaching.24 Secondly, in the way the church in Jerusalem responded after receiving the correction, in that they sent out a letter to ‘the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia’, to those who had been disturbed and unsettled by the wrong teaching.25 So each church is to be mutually supportive and corrective to all the others around about, which leads us on to the regional considerations.
THE CHURCH IN THE REGION
In Acts 9:31, we are told that ‘the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up’ because persecution in that whole area ceased for a while after Paul had been converted. In the Revelation given to John, he not only wrote particular messages to each of the churches in seven cities in what was then called Asia and part of what is now called Asia Minor, but he also commanded each of them to ‘hear what the Spirit says to the churches’.26 In other words the believers in each locality were to be aware of what God was saying to them and what He was saying to the others in the region. The churches in the region or province of Galatia were being affected by some men teaching legalism,27 so Paul wrote as a teacher with widely-recognised revelation and ministry to the whole region to correct the errors.
For us today I believe we need to maintain good and close relationships between different cities in a region or province for the same reasons, so that we all receive the benefit of travelling ministries, we all get some knowledge of what God is saying to others around us, and we all have the opportunity of dealing with any bad teachings and/or prophecies or bad ministries that get in amongst us. Although a network of good relationships has often formed quite naturally among the saints on an individual basis, because of the mobility of our time and because of interdenominational, intercity and international mission groups and training centres, the primary responsibility still rests with the elders to see and outwork the church in the region.
THE CHURCH IN TOTAL
The church in total, “the general assembly and church of the first-born” which church covers all geographical area as well as all time, has the twenty four elders as already mentioned seated around the throne of God.28 In my understanding, these elders will have their particular ministry through all eternity both with God Himself and with all the saints. This ministry is necessarily only in the future for those of us still alive on the earth at the moment since there is only one mediator between Heaven and earth and that’s ‘the man, Christ Jesus’.29
By His Spirit, God can give ‘words of wisdom’ to the saints either directly30 or by ‘one (to whom) is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit… for the common good’,31 which is the ministry of the elder. Either way, Jesus is fulfilling His role as ‘the Wonderful Counsellor’ or ‘the One who is in Himself wonderful and who can counsel us regarding wonders, or mysteries i.e. the things that are far beyond our normal understanding’.32
ELDERS IN THE NATION
As already noted, the New Testament makes no mention of a national church as such, hence there is no need for a national eldership as such. However, that does not remove the need for Christian elders to be advising the secular leaders of our nation in every area of their particular expertise, whether in the political life, writing legislation, education, health, social welfare, foreign affairs, law enforcement, the media, science etc. The obvious Old Testament examples are Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah who entered the king’s personal service’ in Babylon and were found to be ‘ten times better’ than all his wise men in ‘every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them’.33
The New Testament doesn’t give any examples in that time except the promise of Jesus that His disciples will be brought ‘before kings and governors for My name’s sake… (and) I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute’.34 Unfortunately, this promise speaks of persecution being the motivating factor! In Paul’s case, he was sent for ‘quite often’ over two years by the governor Felix, while he was being kept in jail.35
In more recent times when Christians have been elected or appointed in recognition of their worth to national prominence, we have the wonderful examples in the 18th century of William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury. They changed the very nature of the British Empire through their wise use of Parliamentary democracy to abolish slavery and the use of children in industry; Wilberforce also co-founded the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).36
We have seen that New Testament elders were appointed in every church, where they are to accept the responsibility of overseeing and shepherding the flock of God. Let’s conclude this study by looking at overseeing and shepherding.
Just as we found in ‘Pastors’ that Jesus is THE shepherd who augments His personal shepherding of each individual believer through lesser shepherds, so too He as ‘the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls’ (1 Peter 2:25), augments His ministry as THE overseer with lesser overseers. We also saw there the men to be called overseers are carefully described in the New Testament.37 1 Timothy says they are to ‘take care of the church of God’ much as a man is to ‘manage his own household well’ and Titus 1 adds that they must ‘be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict, for there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain’.
The point was made in ‘Pastors’ that the way a man well manages his household is by ensuring that all its members are well provided for, in food, clothing, health, housing, education in their daily living and protection from various dangers, and the parallels are obvious for the household of God, in the natural as well as in the spiritual realm. It is clearly no accident that in our Western culture so many welfare institutions which we today take for granted were often pioneered by Christians, institutions such as hospitals, hospices, schools, universities, even the original trade unions. The co-operatives and trade-unions of the early Methodists which so helped the poor of their time in turn gave Karl Marx many of his ideals which, not recognising the motivating love and spirituality of these people, he tried and failed to out-work within an atheistic and materialistic philosophy.
In the church, overseers are clearly to take a large measure of responsibility for not only the natural well-being of the people but also for:
(i) spiritual food i.e. teaching in the ways of God38
(ii) spiritual clothing i.e. garments of praise, righteousness and salvation39
(iii) spiritual health (‘sound’ as in ‘sound doctrine’ and ‘sound in the faith’40 means literally ‘healthy’
(iv) spiritual housing (i.e. getting established into committed loving relationships41
(v) education in daily spiritual living (i.e. disciplines such as prayer, Bible study and meditation, fasting and giving)
(vi) protection from the inevitable spiritual dangers that come through person or doctrine.
As we just saw from Titus 1, men will come ‘teaching what they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain’, that is, to steal from the saints as surely as ordinary thieves breaking into houses and maybe even killing them in the process. All of these things are to be the concern of the overseers and have exact parallels in the work of the shepherds, which thereby illustrate the same work from another vantage point.
SHEPHERDS IN THE OLD COVENANT
Looking first to the Old Testament, there is the well-known rebuke of the failures of the leaders of Israel in Ezekiel 34:2-16. This clearly spells out God’s expectations of His shepherds:
“Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?
You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without pasturing the flock.
Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.
And they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered.
God’s response to Israel’s leaders was to take over the shepherding Himself:
“I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest… I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick… Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd”42
David as a shepherd boy had known God as his Shepherd who provided all his needs, made him rest in green pastures and beside quiet waters, and guided him in the best paths43 but when Ezekiel wrote, David was long dead. This of course foretells of “great David’s greater Son”, Jesus of Nazareth.
We see from this that elders are to:
(i) Ensure the flock are led to food, water, and rest. In the church, ‘food’ means the teaching and explaining of the Scriptures, either by the elders themselves or by bringing in teachers and teaching materials from outside the local assembly;44 ‘water’ refers to every believer personally experiencing the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39); ‘rest’ is being assured and often reminded of the finished work of Christ.45
(ii) Care for the weak, the vulnerable, and the young, just as a shepherd ‘will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom; he will gently lead the nursing ewes’. 46 At times this includes calling on other gifted leaders to help.47
(iii) Pray for the sick. ‘Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord’48
(iv) Bind up the broken-hearted and damaged like God does: ‘He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds’ 49. In the church, this includes those who fall – ‘if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness’.50
(v) Go after the ones that are scattering. “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it”51. Shepherds are not to worry about those happily and safely feeding as much as those that are wandering off.
(vi) Watch for dangers from within, including shepherds who go astray and ‘introduce destructive teachings’ (2 Peter 2:1), and from without, from ‘savage wolves’, i.e. false prophets, who can ravage ‘the flock’.52
THE HIGH COST TO SHEPHERDS IN THE NEW COVENANT
In John Chapter 10, Jesus in identifying Himself as Ezekiel’s ‘good shepherd’, developed the concept of the shepherd much further. He not only seeks out those who are lost and scattering, heals the sick and broken-hearted, and leads us to the peace of God, but He also pays a higher cost. The Old Covenant shepherds were to care for the flock as well as for themselves; the New Covenant Shepherd cares for us much more than for Himself. He is ‘the good shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep’. His later command to “love one another, just as I have loved you” is followed by His assurance that “greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends”.53 Elders in their shepherding therefore are to follow His lead and set that example to their people.
As I see it, this does not mean that elders are to sacrifice their families for the sake of their people, since after God Himself our families are to be our highest priority,54 nor does it mean that elders are to drive themselves to death. Rather, it means that just as every disciple is called to take their cross in order to follow Jesus, elders are called to lead the way.
In the main area of an elder’s work where he is looked to for wisdom, and thereby tempted to display his great insight, he is to die to himself, since ‘a fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind’.55 Revealing our own minds rather than His mind is not laying down our lives, and it may be that we have to lay down more of our time in order to pray, study and meditate on the Scriptures to find His wisdom. In the second area of an elder’s work, where he is called to represent his people, he will be faced with a similar temptation – to speak his own mind rather than to be the voice of his people, to make all decisions on their behalf and then inform them. Where the elder is not in agreement with his people or aware of their decisions, to lay down his life here is take the time needed to persuade or listen.
We have already seen how much debate there was in the Early Church with regard to circumcision, but we need to remember that they individually took the time to seek God in order to form their own convictions before they came together,56 as well as the time for debating until the issues became clear and their understanding eventually unanimous yet without compromise.
In this regard, Nehemiah’s words are particularly relevant, when he spoke to encourage ‘the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people’ regarding their being attacked while rebuilding Jerusalem:
“The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall far from one another.
At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us”57
Our God will fight for us too. The work of rebuilding the ancient ruins of the early church is just as great and extensive and we are under constant spiritual attack. We too need to rally together when we hear the sound of the trumpet and not let up until we have resolved the contentions “for there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you”.58 ‘Approved’ here has the implicit meaning in the Greek of tested or tried as metal’ and the approval is only given after distinguishing and discerning.59
We who are elders must be willing to lay down our lives for our words and beliefs to be judged in this way, and this can tell us of our real motivation and calling. Jesus said the difference between a shepherd and a hireling is that the hireling is there for the wages and so will flee when he and the sheep are attacked, whereas a shepherd is there for the sheep and will lay down his life to defend them. Are we shepherds or hirelings?
Then lastly, there’s the difference Jesus carefully defined between a shepherd and a thief.
SHEPHERD OR THIEF
It is my belief that besides thieves being inevitable, on occasion genuine shepherds can end up stealing. Consider these well-known but not always understood words of Jesus:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the door-keeper opens… “60
While Jesus later explains that He is the shepherd and Satan is the thief, as we see from verse 10, He also explains that He is the door (and I assume the door-keeper) by which a shepherd is to approach the sheep. Anyone climbing up some other way is revealed by their stealth and unwillingness to enter by the door, and face the door-keeper, to be a thief and a robber. This of course refers to any would-be spiritual leader who doesn’t love and acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ, but what of those of us who do and are genuinely trying to shepherd the flock of God? Can we too avoid the door? I believe so and with similar results.
If Jesus is the door, and we can approach the sheep not in His Spirit but in our fleshly motivations and desires, then we are climbing over the wall. These motivations are obviously various but the most common weakness amongst Christian leaders is insecurity. Instead of resting in God who is the Rock and His calling which is irrevocable,61 we can easily look instead for affirmation from all the trappings of leadership: the status, the titles, the privileges. Like the leaders of Israel of old, we can become those who “do all their deeds to be noticed by men… and they love the place of honour at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, Rabbi”.62
The most damaging out-working of this insecurity however is seen in the desire to be in control, to dominate. Insecure leaders always try to seize and maintain control and thereby assure their position, and it is this which causes most leadership in-fighting and most church splits (James 3:16, 4:1), which in turn causes the people to be scattered and thereafter to avoid churches. Without the benefit of healthy fellowship, any saint can be more easily overcome63 and when the shepherds are so concerned for their own welfare, they are the chief cause. This was God’s complaint against the shepherds in Ezekiel’s time 64 and we are foolish to think that we will not be troubled by the same temptations.
The desire to avoid being accountable, to avoid having our leadership openly examined to see if it is ‘in the Lord’, is a sure sign that we are changing from shepherding to stealing. If we approach the sheep without allowing or welcoming challenge and examination in this way, we are not ‘entering by the door’; we are climbing up ‘some other way’ In what way then do we become thieves and robbers?
Two ways readily spring to mind. Firstly, if our insecurity is because we are out of our calling, if for example we are trying to be ‘pastors’ when in fact we are called to be evangelists, we will usually lack the necessary gifts of God. This means the people will go without or are actually damaged. In Matthew 10:41 Jesus said: “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward”, and I believe this can be applied to any ministry, meaning that the real benefits of a ministry are only properly available when recognised for what they are. In this case, it is us who have robbed them of the rewards of being tended by a true shepherd.
Secondly, if we are in our calling but not functioning properly, if for example we are dominating rather than serving the people, we are robbing them of their name and position before God. As discussed earlier, we are robbing them of their kingship as well as of their needed counsellors. If we are wrongly initiating church programs which require large funding, we may be actually robbing our people of their financial resources and thereby their opportunities of stewardship.
What then? Is it worth all the care needed to get it right, the worry, the often thankless task of shepherding? Jesus had to say to Peter three times “Do you love Me? Then tend/feed My lambs and sheep”65. It is this love of Jesus and His call that must be our primary motivation; the secondary motivation must be love for the people. And for what reward? Peter learned it well:
Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lords over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory66
We have seen from the first study on ‘deacons’ that the Biblical name for those in full-time ministry is ‘diakonos’, which is best translated as ‘minister’ or ‘Christian worker’ If we really care what the Bible teaches, this means that those we at present call ‘pastor’, ‘vicar’, ‘clergyman’ or “priest” should be renamed in this way and re-examined in this light. We haven’t actually looked at the term “vicar” since it doesn’t occur anywhere in the Scriptures, but it is used by the Church of England to describe those whom others would call “pastor” i.e. the minister in charge of a church or congregation. “Clergyman” similarly is not found in the Scriptures, but is used today to describe “a minister ordained for religious duties, especially within the Established Church”. Since it is only another word for “minister” but with the added disadvantage of being confined to only a part of the church of God, it is to my mind unuseful for our purpose. “Priest” we have ignored too, since the Bible uses the word to describe every believer,67 and at this stage we are only concerned to examine leadership structures.
The second study on ‘pastors’ established that there is no such position as ‘the one person in charge of the church’ whether they are in ‘full-time ministry’ or not. Rather, that the elders are to be the overseers and are to shepherd the flock of God, always in conjunction with others.
This third study has searched out what “elders” were in Biblical days (which incidentally was a period exceeding some two thousand years) and urges a return to that standard in the churches of today. It is clear that:
(i) In using the term ‘elder’ the Early Church used an already well defined and well established term. This was because of their proximity in both geography and time to the example of God’s dealings with the nation of Israel. These ways of God are still to be learned by us today
(ii) The elders were only one of eight types of leadership in Israel but they had a unique role and they alone of the eight were always amongst the people and always functioning. They were chosen by the people for their ‘wisdom and discernment and experience”.
(iii) They were the leaders at all levels of community, whether village, region or the nation and also when the king existed, they advised him. The New Testament church adopted the same structure except that they moved it into the spiritual realm.
(iv) Elders had two distinct roles: they were representative leaders because of their proximity to and knowledge of the people in all matters, local, regional and national; they also were sources of wisdom and discernment to the people and to the king. They were readily available and accountable since they sat “in the gates”.
(v) New Testament elders were appointed in every church and in every place to be the main though not exclusive leaders of those churches. The recognition of elders was part of “setting in order what remains” (NASB), “to straighten out what was lacking” (NIV) in the new churches and thereby made each church autonomous.
(vi) New Testament elders were the overseers, that is they were to ensure the people were properly led and provided for as the household of God. They also were to shepherd them, in sense of tending, feeding, resting, healing, regathering and watching for dangers to the flock.
(vii) As part of this, they needed to keep aware of the other churches of God and cooperate with them in order both to deal with strange ministries and doctrines and to be open to correction themselves.
(viii) The willingness to be examined and thereby to be accountable as they approached the sheep was an evidence of being a shepherd rather than a thief. Good shepherds are willing to lay down their lives for the sheep and in being so are examples for them to follow.
- Acts 9:31
- 1 Pet 2:9
- Heb 12:23
- 1 Cor 16:1, Gal 1:2
- 1 Cor 16:19, Rev 1:4
- 2 Cor 8:1
- Acts 1:15
- Acts 4:4
- Acts 6:7
- Acts 2:46, 5:42
- Rom 16:5, 1 Cor 16:19, Col 4:15, Philem 2
- Acts 15:4
- Philem 2
- Col 4:16
- Rev 1-3
- Titus 1:5
- Acts 20:17
- Acts 20:26-32
- Job 29:7-22
- John 3:20-21, 18:20 NIV
- Acts 20:28
- Luke 9:48
- Prov 15:31, Jas 3:13-18
- Acts 15:1–2
- Acts 15:23
- Rev 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13, 3:22
- Gal 1:7
- Rev 4:4
- 1 Tim 2:5
- Luke 21:15, Jas 1:5
- 1 Cor 12:7-8
- Isa 9:6
- Dan 1:20
- Luke 21:12–15
- Acts 24:26-27, 26:28
- Other world-changing Christians at that time include John Wesley (who is not only famous for his evangelising of Great Britain but also for his work in reforming the inhumane prison conditions throughout the land and promoting education of children) and the truly remarkable Elizabeth Fry and Florence Nightingale (Elizabeth for her work in reforming Britain’s inhumane prison conditions, advocating for the homeless , and training nurses who were then taken by Florence to the Crimean War).
- 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9
- John 4:32-34, 6:27
- Isa 61:3-10, Psa 132:9-16, Rev 19:8
- Titus 1:9-13
- 1 Pet 2:5, 4:9
- Ezek 34:15, 16-23
- Psalm 23:1-3
- John 4:34, Heb 5:12-14
- Heb 4:9-11
- Isa 40:11
- Acts 6:1-6
- Jas 5:14
- Psalm 147:3
- Gal 6:1, Heb 12:13
- Luke 15:4
- Acts 20:28-31, Matt 7:15
- John 13:12-13
- 1 Tim 5:8
- Prov 18:2
- Gal 1:16-17
- Nehemiah 4:19-20
- 1 Cor 11:19
- e.g. Philippians 1:10
- John 10:1-3
- Romans 11:29
- Matthew 23:5-7
- Heb 10:25, Prov 18:1
- Ezek 34:4
- John 21:15-17
- 1 Peter 5:2-4
- 1 Peter 2:9, Rev 1:6