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1 Peter 4: 14 - 15

This is the second in a series of these compact Bible Studies. This particular one is a little technical. I don't enjoy being technical but sometimes I have to do so in order to dig out and uncover the truth of the Scriptures.

One of our obstacles, as you probably know, is that the Bible was not originally written in English. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic and the New Testament was written in Greek. We have a task of uncovering not only what the Greek words meant, but also what were the customs and understandings of that time and in that culture. In addition, we must consider the context of the passage of the Scripture.

I hope it excites you to understand the Scriptures. It does me. What a wonderful treasure we have preserved for us and translated by able scholars using the latest discoveries about these Biblical languages!

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1 Peter 4: 14 - 15

Verse 14 tells us that if we are denounced because of the name of Christ, we are blessed because the Spirit of God and glory will rest upon us. Then in verse 15 Peter wrote that we are not to suffer as a murderer, thief, criminal (wrong doer) or “a troublesome meddler” (NAS) or a “busybody” (KJV).

When I first looked at this verse, it seemed that there had to be more to it than was evident from the English translations. To place “meddler” or “busybody” in the same sentence with major criminal offences like murder and thievery seemed out of place.

By checking the Greek word translated "busybody" or "troublesome meddler," I found that it was the Greek word “allotriepiscopos.” This word is only used in this verse and no other place in the New Testament. It is a combination of two Greek words: allotrios” – a word that means “someone else’s” or “another’s” and the Greek word, "episkopos” – a word that is translated “bishop” and means a supervisor over a church or organization. "Allotriepiskopos" could also mean a controller or supervisor over what is another’s.

The Greek lexicon gives these meanings for the word "allotriepiskopos": 1) "an infringer on the rights of others"; and 2) "one who meddles in things alien to his calling."

If we check in the context of chapter 5 just a few verses ahead, we read that Peter is exhorting the elders not to lord it over the flock but to be examples (v. 3). However, he does say to “take the oversight” and here he uses the Greek word, “episkopeo,’ which is the work of the “episkopos” or supervisor.

So what we can glean from the use of these words is this: While the church supervisor may function over the affairs of the church, he may not control what belongs to others or meddle in things alien to his calling.

In the Old Testament prophets and “shepherds” are sternly warned and condemned for abusing their authority over God’s people. There are phrases like; “with force and cruelty” you have ruled them: (Ezek. 34:1-4). The prophets and shepherds are condemned for not tending to the flock of God but rather devouring them and scattering them – the very opposite of a shepherd’s job. Ezekiel condemns the prophets saying they have devoured lives and taken the precious things (chap. 22:25). They also did "violence" to God's law (22:27).

Over the years I have witnessed a number of examples of some ministers overreaching their authority. Some have gone so far as to have rebuked a member for buying a car without asking for advice first or getting the minister's permission. Others have told members to marry or not to marry a certain person. Some ministers have made their own rules for members such as don't wear high heels or don't drink coffee. And some have invaded members’ private lives.

A minister's (overseer=episkopos) authority is limited to making decisions for the benefit of the church group or organization. That authority does not extend into the personal or private lives of the Brethren unless a member's actions or teachings are hurting the church.

I don’t believe it is proper for a minister to ask, “How much time do you spend on your knees?” Or, “Have you looked at pornography?” Or, “Have you and your wife conformed to the church’s (minister’s) approved sexual conduct in your bedroom?”

There have been instances where the supervising ministers has made rules for members based of their own ideas and values and not on Biblical truth. Some have forbidden women to wear make-up or forbidden couples to adopt a child or said it a sin to go to a physician when sick.

In some cults the head ministers had members physically punished for disobedience, not to God but to them! Jim Jones and David Koresh subjected their members to much abuse even going so far as taking other men's wives for their themselves. Then they led the people to destruction! Such things are an abomination to God.

In the end they themselves suffered but not as a Christian but as an “allotriepiskopos” because they took unlawful control over members’ lives. They made a mockery of Christianity!

Members have the right to be properly assertive and insist on their God-given rights. I hope you will listen to the audio sermons or read the summary article entitled., "Should God's People Be Assertive." In this series I go deeply into this very important subject. There are 6 audio sermons in the series. The article on the website is a summary of the series. This is a major study. If you have not heard it, I hope you will soon. Go to our website: