The Language of the Early Church

Brothers, sisters, and saints. Strikingly, the early Christians referred to one another as “brother” and “sister.” This is because they authentically saw themselves as part of a new family. Unfortunately, we live in a day when such language is foreign to many Christians. But it’s been part of my spiritual vocabulary for the last two decades.

      Throughout this book, therefore, I will be referring to Christians by the following names: “Brothers,” “sisters,” “brethren,” “believers,” and even “saints.” The word “saints” is an English translation of a Greek word which means “holy ones.” En The Greek word is hagios. It was a favorite term of Paul of Tarsus. He used it to refer to every Christian. (Just look at the opening lines of most of his letters.)

      As time went on, the word devolved into referring to a select portion of the Body of Christ. The first-century Christians, however, had no such concept. Every believer was a saint . . . a holy one, in God’s eyes. Regrettably, this understanding along with the vocabulary that goes with it has been overwhelmingly lost to the Christian faith.

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Don’t Believe Everything You Hear or Read

Note: Author Frank Viola doesn’t run this blog. You can contact Frank directly at TheDeeperJourney @

Frank Viola Author

Several years ago, Michael Hyatt (former CEO of Thomas Nelson) responded to a rumor on his blog. In the post, Michael wrote,

“According to the most recent rumor—which I’ve now heard twice—we [Thomas Nelson] are planning a layoff for June 19th … We are scheduled to close the transaction on June 12th, so, supposedly, this will happen the week following. I want to assure you that this is indeed a baseless rumor. There is absolutely no truth to it … If you hear this rumor, I would be grateful if you would help me short-circuit it. You can tell ’em it’s not true, and you heard it directly from me.”

I recall when this rumor was circulating and was saddened (and surprised) at how many Christians believed it without going straight to Michael to see if it was true or false.

Another example that’s much more national.

Late last year, I came across a website alleging a sex scandal involving President Obama. The “story” first came out in 2008 just before the primary. It was shown to be baseless and quickly faded away. Then it resurfaced again in 2010. (The original story was removed by the source after staying online for 4 years.)

Another site purports alleged “proof” that Obama is a Muslim terrorist in disguise. Again, a baseless rumor.

And another alleges that Obama is gay, has sexually harassed males, and abuses drugs. Again, baseless.

Note: I don’t agree with many of Obama’s policies. But these accusations are scurrilous, vicious, outrageous, and just plain slimy. There’s no good evidence to support any of them. That’s why they’ve never gained traction. However, because they are written intelligently, they persuade the uniformed (a characteristic of effective libel).

Earlier this year, Rick Warren was personally attacked, judged, and lied about by professing Christians.

Click here to read the rest of the article on Viola’s official blog —

The Manifestation of the Spirit by D.M. Lloyd-Jones

“To Each One Is Given The Manifestation Of The Spirit For The Common Good” (1 Cor.12:7)

Food For Thought from D. M. Lloyd-Jones

There is also this whole question of the exercise of gifts in the church. I mentioned our ex-Exclusive Brethren this morning and I did so deliberately in order that it might focus our attention on this particular point. Here are men who have come out of their bondage but are bewildered and confused; they do not know what to do. They have certain major difficulties, one of which is the so-called “one-man ministry.” We have our views about that, but I feel the time has come for us to examine even questions such as these. It does not mean that you necessarily abandon that ministry, but it does focus attention on this: are we giving members of the church an adequate opportunity to exercise their gifts? Are our churches corresponding to the life of the New Testament church? Or is there too much concentration in the hands of ministers and clergy?

You say, “We provide opportunity for the gifts of others in week-night activities.” But I still ask, “Do we manifest the freedom of the New Testament church?”

In other words, this is another reason why we must come back and consider the whole doctrine of the nature of the church, and the marks of the church. By doing so we shall be solving, in detail, many of these particular points and problems which need to be reconsidered among us.

When one looks at the New Testament church and contrasts the church today, even our churches, with that church, one is appalled at the difference. In the New Testament one sees life and vigor and activity; one sees a living community, conscious of its glory and of its responsibility, with the whole church, as it were, an evangelistic force. The notion of people belonging to the church in order to come to sit down and fold their arms and listen, with just two or three doing everything, is quite foreign to the New Testament, and it seems to me it is foreign to what has always been the characteristic of the church in times of revival and reawakening….

We cannot just go on in the position we have inherited, which we inherited from mid- and post-Victorianism and Edwardianism. The machine is still running so many of these things, but is it running to any good purpose? It is for us to call a halt and to stop.

From Knowing the Times: Addresses Delivered on Various Occasions, 1942-1977,Banner of Truth Trust, 1989, pp. 195-196. Published in Searching Together by Jon Zens.