- First, we should establish why we are specifying New Testament examples in this lesson. We cannot discount the value of Old Testament examples in our learning process (Romans 15:4, I Corinthians 10:1-13, II Timothy 3:14-17, James 5:10, II Peter 2:6, and Jude 1:7). That being said, the Law, Psalms, and the prophets of old are not our standards of authority today (John 12:48, Acts 2:42, Romans 7:1-6, Ephesians 2:1-17, and Colossians 2:4-17).
- We are studying examples for a reason. Examples are necessary in learning how to apply instructions. Consider how that we have instructions concerning the Lord’s Supper that are given because there was an abuse (I Corinthians 11:18-34). However, we have to carefully look to examples for how to carry out those instructions (Matthew 26:17-30 and Acts 20:1-11). Yet, within those examples there are things that we have to handle aright. Why not the night in which He was betrayed which was not the first day of the week as Jesus was risen on the first day of the week (Luke 24:1-12)? Why not during a “passover meal” as we read about the night in which Jesus was betrayed (I Corinthians 5:7)? *More on this subject coming in this study.
- As with all things, it is necessary for us to carefully consider the subject matter of examples to handle them aright (II Timothy 2:14-18).
Consider the following:
- Is Jesus our example? The simple answer is, yes (I Peter 2:21-25 and I John 2:3-6). Why don’t we keep the Passover like He did (Luke 22:7-13)? We know Jesus began changing the Law of Moses before He died (Matthew 5:17-48). In fact, John the baptizer did that first (Luke 16:16). However, Jesus still lived under that law (Hebrews 9:15-10:22). Jews, under the Law, were to keep the Passover (Exodus 12:1-48). In addition, as the next example has some of the same point to it as well, Jesus could have kept the Passover as a customary tradition even under His law (Romans 14:5-8).
- Is Paul our example? The simple answer is, yes (I Corinthians 11:1 and Philippians 3:17). Why don’t we travel to Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost (Acts 20:16)? How does I Corinthians 9:16-27 play into that? Is what an Apostle did an example for every Christian [male or not] to follow? No way (ex. Acts 8:18; Acts 19:1-7). There were/are different offices for a reason (I Corinthians 12:28-30). What does that do to the idea of “Apostolic Examples” being binding?
- Do we take all instructions we read, the have examples, and do them? What about the kissing one another (Acts 20:37)? Aren’t there instructions to perform a holy kiss (Romans 16:16, I Corinthians 16:20, II Corinthians 13:12, and I Thessalonians 5:26) or “kiss of charity” (I Peter 5:14)? Do we know how to do such? Is there any clear instruction that applies today? I have never found an instruction on how, when, where, etc. Therefore, I cannot do what I do not know how to do. In this case, it would not be “of faith” and would therefore be sinful (Romans 14:23). The same thing applies to the example of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17).
- What about Mark 16:15-20? Can we, today, lay hands on the sick and they shall recover? No! How about the “who” of the instruction (Mark 16:14)? What about asking if that instruction was fulfilled or if it is up to us to fulfill (Romans 16:25-27, Colossians 1:5-6, Colossians 1:23, and Hebrews 8:6-13 [cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34])?
- As we consider examples to follow, we need to also consider that good examples are just found in the Scriptures. The faithful should live in such as manner as approved examples for others to follow (I Timothy 4:12, Titus 2:1-8, and I Peter 5:1-4) with the same cautions we have studied above and in our previous studies.