The Church Ethic
Examining Church Gatherings in the
& 3 Models of Church Gatherings and Leadership
Examining the Models
Examining the Models
Conclusions and Study Expectations
Examining Church Gatherings
in the Gospels
The First Supper, Jesus'
Specific Instructions, Conclusions
Survey of Post-Ascension
Apostolic and Eldership
Functions in Acts and the Epistles
1 Corinthians 1-10 &
Introduction to 1 Corinthians 11-14
1 Corinthians 11-13
1 Corinthians 14
1 Timothy 2:12, Conclusions
on Women in Church Gatherings
Conclusions: 1 Corinthians
14, Church Gatherings & Leadership
Church Gatherings in the Gospels: The Gospel of Matthew
summaries that follow were compiled by reading through the
entire New Testament verse by verse. For the reader it may
be helpful to have their New Testament open and follow along.
It should also be noted that although this segment concentrates
on the Gospel of Matthew, for convenience comparisons to Mark
and Luke will also be included where appropriate. Later segments
will concentrate individually on Mark and Luke, as well as
1 and 2 of Matthew cover Jesus’ birth and early life. But
the record of Jesus public ministry is introduced in Matthew
3 through the ministry of John the Baptist. Here in Matthew
3:1-12, we see John’s work portrayed as a preacher making
proclamations to his disciples, the crowds, and the religious
leaders who came to see him. From this passage we see John’s
use of a monologue-like format as he addresses his hearers.
It is clear that John is the speaker and that those around
him are the audience. There is an imbalance in terms of the
participation made by all present, in which John’s contributions
are clearly dominant.
account of John is similar, but more concise. In Mark 1, John
is shown as proclaiming repentance to the crowds and directing
them to anticipate the coming of Christ. Again, John is depicted
as dominating while interaction from the crowds is portrayed
3 provides a more detailed description of John’s ministry.
In it we find a similar portrayal. Verses 2 and 6 introduce
John’s work as a fulfillment of prophecy. Then Luke presents
John in a similar way to Matthew and Mark. Again John is leading
the interaction with those who had come to see him. More interaction
is shown here between the parties, but John remains dominant
as various parties come to him seeking answers to their questions.
It is apparent that John is the central figure of these interactions.
He is not the one with questions needing answers. He is the
one with the answers. John is not one receiving mutual ministry
from others. He is the one ministering to those who came to
here we arrive in Matthew 3 with Jesus’ baptism by John. Matthew
4:1-12 records Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. (Mark
1:1-13 covers the same events.) And in Matthew 3:12, Mark
1:14, we learn that John’s ministry is near its conclusion
with his imprisonment by Herod. (Luke 3 covers the same events.)
It is at this point that Jesus’ begins His public ministry
as Matthew 4:17 and Mark 1:14 describe.
Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom
of heaven is at hand.
Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put
in prison, Jesus came
into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom
of God, 15 And
saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God
is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Matthew and Mark’s description of Jesus beginning his public
work is decisively similar to Matthew’s introduction to John’s
Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of
Judaea, 2 And
saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
this similarity we may anticipate that Jesus’ work will parallel
John’s manner of ministry, which was portrayed as “speaker-driven”
or “speaker-dominant.” Participation by other persons did
occur, but was minimal in comparison. Ministry was not mutual.
Instead, it was directional and the direction was specifically
from John to those who came to hear him and be baptized
4:14-16 likewise covers the early beginnings of Jesus’ public
ministry after his baptism and temptation. Here we see that
it was Jesus’ custom to teach in the synagogues.
Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power
of the Spirit into Galilee:
and there went out a fame of him through all the region round
about. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being
glorified of all. 16 And he came to Nazareth,
where he had been brought up: and, as
his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath
day, and stood up for to read…. 31 And came down to Capernaum,
a city of Galilee,
and taught them on
the sabbath days. 32 And
they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was
with power. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean
devil, and cried out with a loud voice,…38 And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house.
And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and
they besought him for her….42 And when it was day, he departed
and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and
came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from
them. 43 And he said
unto them, I must preach the kingdom
of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
44 And he preached
in the synagogues of Galilee.
this section of Luke 4, which continues through verse 44,
we see that Jesus is portrayed as dominating the crowds’ attention
through his words and sayings. In fact, the whole point of
this passage seems to be to convey the impact Jesus had upon
the people as they gathered to hear what He said. Even though
at times various persons from the crowd do speak, it would
be difficult to come away with the impression that Jesus is
interacting on a level of shared participation with those
gathered around him.
pattern with Jesus is what we anticipated from our look at
John the Baptist’s ministry. It is one with a single person
dominating the interaction with lesser participation by others
interrupting the discourse with questions.
Matthew 5 (actually starting in chapter 4, verse 25), we see
this pattern continue. Jesus is followed by the crowds to
the hillside where He delivers His famed “Sermon on the Mount.”
Here then, early in Matthew, early in the ministry of Christ,
we have this portrayal of Jesus’ interaction with those around
him. Beginning in verse 3 of chapter 5 of Matthew, Jesus gives
a long discourse in which he teaches those who had gathered
there on the hillside. Jesus’ teaching proceeds uninterrupted
for 106 verses into chapter 7, verse 27 where His instruction
concludes. It cannot be overstated that the clear nature of
this gathering is one in which a single speaker, in this case
Jesus, dominates the assembly and delivers to them God’s teaching.
At this point, it is clear that, for Jesus, preaching and
teaching the assembly was not an occasion where every person
participates equally or ministers mutually.
at this point our examination is not addressing or establishing
whether the format demonstrated here in Matthew 5-7 is prescriptive
for future church gatherings after Christ’s ascension. We
are only seeking to familiarize ourselves with the early experience
of Jesus’ disciples, their “on-the-job” training as Viola
called it. In this way, we will be adequately equipped and
able to ascertain the nature of later New Testament church
assemblies without being in the irresponsible position of
ignorance with regard to the greater historical context.)
the sake of simplicity we will continue our survey of Matthew
and then proceed to considering the descriptions provided
in Mark, Luke, and John in order to gather a complete representation
of the disciples’ early experience with Jesus regarding the
nature and interaction of church assemblies.
the Sermon on the Mount, we continue into Matthew 8. In this
chapter, as well as chapter 9, we have some shorter, intermittent
exchanges between Jesus and a centurion, between Jesus and
Peter’s mother, between Jesus and some scribes, with some
disciples of John the Baptist, and with various other persons,
including a few who were in need of healing. But none of these
situations can really be described as conforming to the characteristics
of later church gatherings. They are intermittent, and at
times, spontaneous interactions recording exchanges between
Jesus and particular persons, often in an “on-the-street”
setting as Jesus traveled from one place to another. They
are not intentional, corporate settings. As such, these accounts
are less relevant to our investigation of the nature of the
early assembly experiences of the disciples during their “on-the-job”
in chapter 10 of Matthew, we do have a very relevant account.
In this chapter, Jesus gathers together the twelve to send
them forth to preach the kingdom
of God. After gathering them together, Jesus spends 37
verses instructing them on what they are to say and do as
they go forth. So, here we have Jesus’ disciples gathered
together and Jesus teaching and instructing them without interruption
for 37 verses. This is clear speaker-dominant style of interaction.
There is not equal participation by all parties present. Once
again, this is the “on-the-job” training that Jesus’ disciples
received from Jesus.
chapter 11, after some brief interaction with more disciples
of John the Baptist, Jesus speaks to the crowds and teaches
them uninterrupted for 23 verses through the end of the chapter.
In chapter 12, Jesus interacts briefly with the Pharisees
over the issue of disciples picking heads of grain on the
Sabbath. This is followed by a second interaction with the
Pharisees later over the issue of Jesus healing. The result
is a longer dialogue in which Jesus speaks for 20 verses and
is only briefly interrupted for a single verse.
13 is another long discourse from Jesus containing the parable
of the sower and the seed. First, Jesus speaks to the crowds
and the disciples. Then the disciples ask Jesus about the
parable and He explains it to them. This repeats again in
the second part of the chapter where Jesus speaks first to
the crowds and then instructs the disciples about the parable
He had just given. In both cases, it is clear that the disciples
are experiencing a pattern of Jesus acting as the dominant
speaker in his interactions with the crowds and with them.
In the first 53 verses of this chapter, Jesus speaks for all
but 7 verses. We should also note that some interactive participation
does occur as the disciples twice ask Jesus questions about
the teaching he had just given.
14 of Matthew is largely a narrative of John the Baptist being
put to death by Herod followed by Jesus’ travels. Chapter
15 contains intermittent accounts of Jesus interacting with
the Pharisees briefly over the issue of their traditions and
then a narrative of Jesus’ travels along with his healing
and feeding of the crowds.
16 begins with another short instance where the Pharisees
ask for a sign. This is followed by Jesus’ speaking in a more
interactive format with His disciples where He instructs them
and asks them questions. This would be the first and only
example that we have seen so far which would constitute a
gathering of Jesus and the disciples in which Jesus is not
merely one-sidedly dominating the dialogue. However, even
in this instance, which is more interactive to be sure, Jesus
is still directing the conversation.
17 and 18 follow the pattern of chapter 16. In them we see
Jesus talking with the disciples in a more interactive manner.
Chapter 17 contains shorter accounts of interactions between
Jesus and the disciples wherein the disciples ask Him a question
and He answers. There is also some transitional narration
and some interaction with the crowds as Jesus heals. In chapter
18, again we have Jesus’ disciples posing a question followed
by Jesus instructing them for 17 and then 13 verses respectively.
18 does contain a potentially relevant account regarding the
process of excommunication. As Jesus outlines it, if taken
to completion this process would conclude with formal expulsion
to be carried out at a gathering of the church.
Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother
shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between
thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained
thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then
take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or
three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church:
but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee
as an heathen man and a publican. 18 Verily I say unto
you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven:
and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in
heaven. 19 Again I
say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching
any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of
my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together
in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
much information is conveyed in this passage to paint a clear
picture of the format of New Testament church meetings. Instead,
the relevance of this passage pertains to a certain aspect
of church leadership. In verses 19-20, Jesus places the authority
for decision making in the consensus or agreement of his apostles.
In establishing this model of decision making, Jesus is contradicting
the concept of a single-headed leadership for the church and
placing church leadership under shared authority. Determining
who that authority is extended to requires further analysis,
particularly of later New Testament passages, which apply
Jesus’ instructions here. Did it extend to all members of
the church? Is it restricted to the apostles whom Jesus specifically
is addressing here? If it was restricted to the apostles,
was this restriction passed on by the apostles to include
elders? At this point, what we can be sure about is that Jesus
has ruled out single-headed leadership over church communities
and instead distributed that leadership to a group of leaders,
namely his apostles in this case.
19 has the Pharisees testing Jesus concerning the issue of
divorce and remarriage and then Jesus disciples asking Him
about His response to the Pharisees. The remainder of the
chapter has some narration and interaction with the disciples.
Verse 28 of chapter 19 begins 19 verses of uninterrupted discourse
by Jesus to the disciples, which concludes in verse 16 of
chapter 20. The rest of chapter 20 includes brief interactions
between Jesus and the disciples and with a few others. Although
the interactions are short, Jesus is still featured as dominant
and instructive in response to questions posited by others.
21 begins with Jesus’ instruction concerning his approaching
triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, Jesus’ turning over the tables
of the money changers, and the withering of the fig tree.
Verse 23 through the end of the chapter recounts Jewish leaders
asking Jesus about His authority. In this passages Jesus answers
their question and then gives the parable of the vineyard.
His response totals 16 verses followed by some brief narration
and then another 12 verses recording a parable concluding
in verse 14 of chapter 22. The rest of chapter 22 recounts
several questions asked of Jesus by different religious leaders.
26 of Matthew begins the account of Jesus’ trial, death, and
resurrection. Thus with chapter 23, 24, and 25 we have the
last informative segment of Matthew’s record of Jesus’ interaction
with his disciples in a gathering type of setting. Chapter
23 recounts Jesus instructing the crowds uninterrupted for
38 verses. Chapter 24 begins with the disciples asking Jesus
about His return and then Jesus’ response, which continues
uninterrupted for 93 verses through the end of chapter 25.
In these final 3 chapters, we are again shown Jesus dominating
interaction with both the crowds and the disciples. There
isn’t the slightest indication of equal participation or mutual
ministry from all present.
Book of Matthew concludes with a very short summary of Jesus
interactions with the disciples before His ascension. The
final verses will be informative as we continue through our
survey of the other three gospels.
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake
unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and
in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching
them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of
the world. Amen.
reason Jesus’ parting words to His disciples are relevant
is that they provide some indication that the disciples’ experience
with Jesus is prescriptive for future church practice. They
had indeed received “on-the-job” training. By instructing
His disciples to go and teach just as He taught them, it may
reasonably be concluded that Jesus intended and indeed commanded
them to continue their interactions with others after the
same pattern they had witnessed and experienced from Him over
the course of His three-year ministry.
this is the case, then we would expect to see post-ascension
church meetings typified by the same speaker-dominant instruction
that was characteristic of Jesus’ own interactions with the
crowds and when meeting with His own followers. And we would
expect, based on Jesus’ precedent, that future church meetings
would not be characterized by equal participation or mutual
ministry from all who attended. Similarly, since we have seen
repeated occasions where Jesus’ disciples ask questions during
Jesus’ teaching, we might expect that later church gatherings
would continue to permit this kind of interaction, rather
than uninterruptible monologues.
we continue to the Gospel of Mark, let’s take a brief moment
to use what we’ve found in Matthew’s Gospel as a test case
for applying our Church
Gathering and Leadership Models and New Testament Expectations
Chart. As we do, keep in mind that this is merely an exercise
to demonstrate how that chart works when examining New Testament
information on church meetings. The models themselves do not
necessarily make claims about gatherings lead by Jesus. Their
concern is with church meetings where Jesus and the apostles
for a moment, let us proceed as if we had three models that
each claimed to describe the nature of meetings between Jesus
and his disciples. Let us operate as if the Pseudo-traditional,
Viola, and Elder-Leadership models each claimed to describe
gathering between Jesus and his disciples in the gospels.
If that were the case, using only Category C from our Expectations
Chart, what conclusions should we reach about how the
models relate to the information on the formats of the gatherings
presented in Matthew’s Gospel? For reference, below is Category
C from the Expectations
C: Format and Common Features of the Meeting (not including
Model – New Testament church gatherings will consist of
a large segment of musical worship and a large segment devoted
to an absolutely uninterruptable teaching from the head pastor.
New Testament church gatherings will not involve any participation from
anyone besides the main speaker.
The Viola Model
– New Testament church gatherings will consist of every person
participating, functioning, and contributing equally. New
Testament meetings will involve various types of activities
including: singing a song, reading a poem, performing a skit,
giving a short teaching, giving a word of encouragement, providing
a testimony, or offering a prayer. New Testament church gatherings will not contain special roles or tasks
reserved for certain, distinct individuals including pastors
or elders/overseers. New
Testament church gatherings will not involve one, two, or
three individuals dominating the time and contributions of
the meeting while all other attendees contribute and participate
to a much lesser extent (primarily in the role of an audience).
New Testament meetings
will not contain long sections of musical worship or teaching.
Model – New Testament church gatherings will consist of
a large teaching component lead by one to three male leader(s)
called elders and may be interrupted by other men with questions
or comments. New Testament church gatherings will also include
prayer (and possibly some singing). New Testament church gatherings will not consist
of a large segment of musical worship or an absolutely uninterruptable
teaching from a head pastor. New Testament church gatherings
will not consist of every person participating, functioning,
and contributing equally.
model’s expectations fit the information we are provided by
Matthew? Which model’s expectations do not fit what we find
Pseudo-traditional model predicts a large segment of musical
worship and a large segment devoted to an absolutely uninterruptable
teaching. Leaving aside the issue of worship, are the gatherings
recorded in Matthew’s Gospel comprised of large, uninterruptable
teachings? We would have to answer yes to this question. Certainly,
Matthew presents a number of discourses by Jesus, such as
the Sermon on the Mount and the Olivet Discourse, which are
at least uninterrupted teaching sessions. (Whether they were
uninterruptible rather than just uninterrupted would have to be further
investigated if this were more than just a practice assessment.)
Our conclusion, using our Expectation
Chart would have to be that the Pseudo-traditional model
for church gatherings may very possibly be an accurate description
of Jesus’ gatherings with his disciples. But what about the
other two models?
Viola model predicts that every person present at a church
meeting will participate, function, and contribute equally
and that meetings will not be comprised of large teaching
sessions dominated by one person. Do these predictions fit
what we have seen recorded in Matthew? Absolutely not. As
we have said, Matthew’s record is filled with gatherings where
one person dominates by presenting a long teaching. Conversely,
did we see any instances of gatherings in Matthew in which
everyone present participated, functioned, and contributed
equally and in which other types of activities besides teaching
occurred, such as reading poems or performing skits? No, Matthew
does not record the occurrence of any gathering of this type.
If the Viola model is correct, this is horrible on-the-job
by comparing the information provided by Matthew with our
could we say that the Viola model presents an accurate understanding
of gatherings in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry? No,
we could not. In fact, the Viola model doesn’t simply lack
supportive information from Matthew’s Gospel, the Viola model
is actually contradicted by the information that Matthew presents.
If this were an actual assessment based on the events recorded
in Matthew’s Gospel, we would have to reject the Viola model
as not being a viable or sound model for church gatherings.
how about our final model, the Elder-Leadership model? How
does it fair with the accounts of gatherings in the Gospel
of Matthew? The Elder-Leadership model predicts that gatherings
will be lead by one to three men teaching the assembly who
may be interrupted by other men with questions or comments.
Does Matthew describe gatherings consisting of one to three
men leading teaching sessions who are at times interrupted
by others with questions or comments? We would have to acknowledge
that at least some of the gatherings that Matthew presents
do fit this description. In several chapters we read of gatherings
where Jesus presented a longer teaching, but was interrupted
in the middle of that teaching by a question from his disciples
(Matthew 13 and perhaps Matthew 24). In other cases, we saw
Jesus instructing his disciples in shorter segments where
the disciples interacted by asking a larger number of questions
(Matthew 17 and Matthew 18 for example). Based on the appearance
of these types of meetings we would have to consider the Elder-Leadership
model as being a potentially accurate understanding of gatherings
during Jesus’ ministry.
more focused investigation would need to be performed to decide
whether the Pseudo-traditional model or Elder-Leadership model
was the model that most adequately fits the nature and format
of the gatherings in the Gospel of Matthew. Since we are simply
engaging in a practice assessment for the purposes of displaying
how our Expectations
Chart works based on the three models that are under consideration,
we do not need to persist in this investigation. What we have
learned is that the expectations that are formed from each
model’s own key characteristics have direct implications for
the kind of evidence we will encounter from the New Testament
record. Those expectations will either be met or contradicted.
Models whose expectations fit the record will be considered
for acceptance. Models whose expectations are not supported
by the record or whose expectations are contradicted by the
record will have to be discarded as erroneous.
to be clear, our examination of Matthew’s Gospel bears no
real or conclusive proof for or against any of our three models.
Those models purport to describe the nature of post-ascension
meetings of the church and do not necessarily intend to make
claims about the nature of gatherings during Jesus’ ministry.
we are also building our understanding of a historical narrative
underlying the New Testament. Matthew has been informative
about the nature of pre-ascension gatherings and we will need
to incorporate into our understanding of the larger New Testament
historical narrative as we move forward to the other Gospels.
The awareness we have gained will serve as a suitable context
for examining the Book of Acts and the epistles for information
concerning the nature and format of post-ascension and post-Pentecost
church gatherings. What we have seen so far has pointed us
in the direction of some sort of single speaker/teacher dominant
meetings and away from the idea of equal participation by
all. In fact, we have seen at least seven instances of Jesus
leading in a teacher-dominant format with little or no participation
from those present. And we already have some indication (from
Matthew 28:18-20) that this single speaker/teacher dominant
model was not restricted to Jesus alone, but was intended
to be prescriptive for the church to continue after Christ’s
ascension. Whether alteration or replacement of this model
occurs or is allowable after Jesus’ ascension and the day
of Pentecost remains to be determined as we continue our progress
forward. At this point no model has been ruled out. But, if
the disciples’ “on-the-job” training with Jesus really is
an important factor for determining what model of church gatherings
the apostles passed on to the church, as Viola has suggested,
it is hard to imagine how the “on-the-job” training recorded
in Matthew does anything but contradict Viola’s model.
Church Gatherings in the Gospels: The Gospel of Mark
we had left off in Mark 1:14 with the beginning of Jesus’
ministry. We will now trace through the Book of Mark as we
did with the Book of Matthew. And we will see if the information
recorded in Mark either changes or conforms to what we have
seen already on the topic of gatherings during Jesus’ ministry.
Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put
in prison, Jesus came
into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom
of God, 15 And
saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God
is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
1:15 continues with Jesus’ calling of Peter and Andrew and
James and John. In verse 21 of Mark 1 we see that Jesus goes
into the synagogue to teach. The text notes in verse 22 that
Jesus taught as one that had authority. After this there is
a narrative account of Jesus exercising some demons followed
by Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law and also many other
sick and demon possessed persons. Apart from these accounts
of healing we can already see that Jesus’ interaction with
the assembly at the synagogue follows the usual format we
saw portrayed in Matthew. In short, Jesus is depicted as singularly
dominating the crowds’ attention as he teaches.
1 concludes by noting that Jesus continued to go about preaching
in the synagogues throughout Galilee
and ends with the account of Jesus healing a leper. The result
of this healing was that Jesus had become so famous that he
could not enter into a town because so many people would gather
to see and hear him. Instead, Jesus would remain outside the
city and the crowds would gather there to hear him speak.
Throughout this first chapter there isn’t anything that would
indicate that the assemblies were typified by equal-member
participation. Instead, as in Matthew, it seems to be the
case that Jesus is the focal point, the teacher and preacher
with the crowds listening to him.
2 continues with this trend. In Capernaum, Jesus goes to a house, but soon so
many people gather that no one else can enter. There at the
house Jesus interacts with the scribes a bit while healing
those brought to him. In verse 13, Jesus teaches the multitudes
by the seaside. In verse 14, we have the calling of Levi,
the tax collector followed by Jesus and his followers going
to Levi’s home for a meal. There is then a brief account of
Jesus interacting with some of John the Baptist’s disciples
over fasting and some interaction with the Pharisees over
Jesus’ disciples picking grain on the Sabbath day.
chapter 3, Jesus heals a man in the synagogue. But, in verse
7 we again see Jesus withdrawing to the seaside where a great
crowd follows him and he heals many and exercises demons.
We must ask, in these seaside and wilderness assemblies, did
each member of the gathered crowd participate in an equal
capacity? Perhaps this question is over-reaching. Maybe we
would not expect such a gathering to have equal participation
by all. But what is worth noting is that the portrayal in
these passages is again one with Jesus teaching and little
if any interaction by others present.
emerging trend is informative concerning what kind of “on-the-job”
training the apostles received from Jesus. In verse 13 of
Mark 3, Jesus gathers together the twelve and then sends them
forth to preach and heal. Now we must also wonder whether
Jesus’ disciples went forth conducting equal-participatory
meetings or whether they followed after the preaching model
they had seen conducted by Jesus and John the Baptist. While
some may consider it a little speculative to deduce that the
disciples necessarily went out and preached to the crowds
in a speaker-dominant fashion, it is most certainly the case
that we have absolutely no indication that they were holding
meetings in which all participated equally. The bulk of the
information we’ve seen so far from Mark and the parallel account
of Matthew weighs in favor of speaker-dominant interaction
with the crowds, who may have participated on a lesser level,
but certainly not with equal contributions by all.
Mark 3:20, we have the account of another large crowd of people
assembled with Jesus. In this instance the text notes that
the scribes accuse Jesus of being possessed by Beelzebub.
Jesus replies to their one-verse-long challenge with a seven-verse-long
response. After a brief exchange in which his mother and brothers
come looking for him, Mark 4 informs us that Jesus again taught
those who had assembled with him there at the seaside. Verse
2 of chapter 4 tells us that Jesus taught them many things
by parables. Then the parable of the sower is recorded through
this, verse 10 informs us that when he was alone with only
his disciples gathered, Jesus was asked about the parable
he had told the crowds. And from verse 11 through verse 33,
Jesus explains the parable and continues to teach the disciples
with more parables. During the discourse, no interruption
is recorded. Verse 34 informs us that this was Jesus’ custom,
to teach the crowds using parables and then when the disciples
alone were gathered with him, to expound upon the parables
to them. We have seen that these second gatherings included
Jesus answering questions from his disciples about his teaching.
Here again we can see a pattern of Jesus teaching the crowds
in a dominant manner with little or no interaction and then
Jesus teaching his disciples in a speaker-dominant manner
with some limited interaction as they ask him questions about
his teaching and parables.
4:35 begins the account of Jesus calming the storm as the
disciples cross the sea. Mark 5:1-20 is the account of Jesus
healing the man who was possessed of a legion of demons in
the region of the Gadarenes. In verse 21, we have a large
crowd gathered together to see Jesus after he crosses the
sea again. And there, a synagogue ruler asks Jesus to heal
his daughter. On the way to the man’s house, a woman is healed
of bleeding. The chapter ends with the healing of the man’s
daughter and with little additional information being added
to our ongoing survey.
6 opens with Jesus teaching in the synagogue as before. In
verse 7 of chapter 6, Jesus gathers the twelve to him again
and sends them forth two by two with the power to cast out
unclean spirits. In verse 8-12, he gives them instructions
for their travels and they go out and preach repentance (presumably
following the speaker-dominant model of John the Baptist and
Jesus). In verses 14-29, the story of John the Baptist’s death
at the hands of Herod is recounted followed by the return
of Jesus’ disciples from their journeys in verse 30.
Mark 6:33, a large crowd again follows Jesus and his disciples
out to the wilderness and Jesus teaches them many things.
This is followed by the record of Jesus miraculously feeding
the five thousand. This concludes in verse 44-45 with verse
46 beginning the account of Jesus walking on water, which
ends in verse 52. In verse 53 crowds again gather to Jesus
from the whole region for Jesus to heal their sick.
this, chapter 7 opens with the Pharisees objecting to Jesus’
disciples not following their traditions. Jesus’ response
begins in verse 6 and continues uninterrupted through verse
16. In verse 17 the disciples ask him about his comments to
the Pharisees and Jesus explains to them his remarks through
verse 23. Thus, the pattern continues in which Jesus is the
main speaker and in which questions about his teachings come
occasionally from the religious leaders or his disciples.
In Mark 7:24-37, we have the accounts of Jesus healing the
daughter of a Syrophenician woman and a person who was deaf
8 begins with Jesus feeding of a crowd of four thousand who
had gathered to him. Verse 11-29 of chapter 8 include a brief
encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees who asked him for
a sign of his authority as well as some interaction between
Jesus and the disciples about the yeast of the Pharisees.
Included here also is Jesus’ healing of a blind man, Jesus’
asking his disciples who people said he was, and Jesus teaching
the disciples about his coming death and resurrection. Each
of these interactions is very brief entailing only a few short
verses. The final five verses of Mark 8 conclude with a short
account of Jesus gathering the people and his disciples to
him and teaching them.
9:2 provides for us Mark’s account of the transfiguration.
In verse 10, as they descend the mount after Jesus’ transfiguration,
the disciples ask each other about the resurrection and then
ask Jesus about the prophecy that Elijah would come before
the Messiah. In response, Jesus informs them that Elijah had
come first in the person of John the Baptist. At the bottom
of the hill, Jesus encounters a child that the disciples could
not heal and Jesus himself heals the child of demonic possession.
Chapter 9 continues with brief descriptions of Jesus interacting
with his disciples over the issues of his death and resurrection
and who would be the greatest in the kingdom. Verse 38 records
John asking Jesus about some men who were not of their group
but were casting out demons in Jesus’ name. In verses 39-50
Jesus responds to John and teaches the disciples about hell.
This is another instance in which Jesus is presented as the
dominant speaker with some interactive dialogue from the audience,
this time in the person of John.
10:2-12, recounts Jesus interaction with the Pharisees over
the issue of divorce, remarriage, and adultery. This is followed
by the brief account of Jesus bringing a little child before
the disciples. In verses 17-31, after he is asked what is
necessary to inherit eternal life by the rich young man, Jesus
teaches on giving up things in this life for the sake of the
kingdom. After this there are brief descriptions of Jesus
telling his disciples about his coming death and resurrection,
of James and John asking to sit at Jesus’ right and left hands
in the kingdom, of Jesus teaching on leadership and service,
and of Jesus healing of a blind man. In these brief accounts
we see that Jesus’ comments are shorter, that the groups seem
to be smaller, and that there is more interaction between
Jesus and others such as the disciples, the Pharisees, and
the rich young man. None of these shorter accounts seems to
fit the idea of an intentional assembly of gathered followers.
Still, in each case Jesus still seems to be the predominant
leader to whom questions are addressed and who directs the
course of the interaction.
11 starts with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the back of
a donkey’s colt on Palm Sunday. This is followed by the cursing
of the fig tree and Jesus casting the money changers out the
Temple. In verse 23, Jesus teaches briefly on
faith, prayer, and forgiveness. In verse 28, Jesus is again
asked by the Pharisees about his authority.
Mark 12:1-11, Jesus gives the parable of the vineyard. It
is followed by a few more attempts by some of the religious
leaders to trap Jesus with questions about taxes and resurrection.
Then another scribe asks Jesus which of the commandments is
the greatest. The chapter concludes with short accounts which
include Jesus asking the crowds about how David’s son could
also being David’s Lord, Jesus condemning some practices of
the Pharisees, and Jesus noting the poor widow who gave all
she had into the treasury.
13 is Mark’s account of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, which we
encountered in Matthew 24-25. Mark’s account is similar to
Matthew’s with Jesus being asked some questions by the disciples
about his return and then Jesus responding uninterrupted for
32 verses (v.5-37).
14:43 records Jesus arrest in the Garden followed by his trial,
death, and resurrection in chapters 15 and 16. In the first
portion of Mark 14, we have Mark’s account of the night of
the last supper. It includes the woman pouring perfume on
Jesus’ head, Judas’ preparation to betray Jesus, preparations
for the Passover meal, Jesus indicating to the disciples that
one of them would betray him, Jesus instructions during the
Passover meal for the ongoing celebration of the communal
meal in remembrance of him, Jesus reminding his disciples
of his coming death and resurrection, the prophecy of Peter’s
betrayal, and Jesus praying in the garden.
this we conclude our survey of the Book of Mark. Since Mark’s
gospel is the shortest of the four gospel accounts, its descriptions
are often more brief than those we saw presented in Matthew.
Due to the succinct nature of Mark’s accounts, we find little
in Mark that alters the descriptions we found in Matthew.
Instead, though Mark’s book is smaller, the two gospels fit
very well together. Taken together with Matthew’s gospel,
and having seen little in Mark that would construe otherwise,
we would have to retain the conclusion that the disciple’s
“on-the-job” training and early experience of gatherings was
one in which some interaction occurred, but in which one person
(in these cases Jesus) dominated and directed the discussion.
We have seen little or no instances whatsoever of assemblies
in which all persons contributed and participated equally.
Having summed up our assessment so far we can now proceed
into Luke’s gospel to see if the descriptions Luke provides
coincide with the model we have observed in Matthew and Mark.
And we will have to see if Luke provides any indication of
gatherings characterized by equal participation from all present
without a dominant leader.
Church Gatherings in the Gospels: The Gospel of Luke
left off our survey of Luke in the concluding verses of chapter
4, where we noted that “Jesus is portrayed as dominating the
crowds’ attention through his words and sayings” and that
“the whole point of this passage seems to be to convey the
impact Jesus had upon the people as they gathered to hear
what He said.” We will now pick up our survey of Luke in chapter
Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power
of the Spirit into Galilee:
and there went out a fame of him through all the region round
about. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16 And he came
to Nazareth, where he had been
brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue
on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read…. 31 And
came down to Capernaum, a city
of Galilee, and
taught them on the sabbath days. 32 And
they were astonished at his doctrine: for
his word was with power. 33 And
in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of
an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,…38 And
he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s
house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever;
and they besought him for her….42 And when it was day, he
departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought
him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not
depart from them. 43 And
he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom
of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
44 And he preached
in the synagogues of Galilee.
we continue into Luke 5, we find a parallel to accounts from
Matthew and Mark. Here in chapter 5 of Luke, we find the account
of Jesus by the seaside in Gennesaret with the people coming
to him to hear the word of God. Then we have several brief
accounts. First is Jesus calling Peter, James, and John. This
is followed by Jesus healing a leper and healing the lame
man in front of the Pharisees. Then we have the calling of
Levi in verse 27 and some interaction between Jesus and the
scribes and Pharisees. They dialogue over the issue of Jesus
calling sinners to repent and the issue of why Jesus’ disciples
didn’t fast. This is followed in chapter 6 in which the Pharisees
question the lawfulness of Jesus’ disciples breaking grain
on the Sabbath and Jesus’ healing in the synagogue on the
Sabbath. The chapter also includes the calling together of
Luke 6:17-49, we have Jesus giving the famous Sermon on the
Mount. In this passage, Jesus begins teaching those gathered
there in verse 20 and continues uninterrupted for 30 verses.
This follows the accounts and pattern we have seen established
earlier from Matthew and Mark.
7 of Luke begins with the account of Jesus’ healing of the
centurion’s servant. This is followed by Jesus raising a woman’s
son from the dead. There is then some interaction with John
the Baptist’s disciples, who ask Jesus if he was the Messiah
along with Jesus speaking to the crowds about John. Jesus
then begins to criticize the leaders of his generation. After
this, a woman washes Jesus’ feet with her tears at the home
of a Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner. This concludes
8 begins with the statement that Jesus went throughout all
the cities and villages preaching the kingdom
of God and healing
and that the twelve were with him. Verse 4 informs us that
when many were gathered together Jesus taught them the parable
of the sower and the seed. (This is similar to Matthew’s account.)
This teaching continues for 14 verses through verse 18 and
is only interrupted when the disciples ask him the meaning
of the parable in verse 9.
there, Luke recounts Jesus’ mother and brothers coming to
see him, Jesus’ calming of the storm, the long narration of
Jesus casting out a legion of demons from the man in the region
of the Gadarenes, the healing of the woman who bled, and the
raising of the synagogue ruler’s daughter.
chapter 9, Luke records Jesus calling together the twelve
disciples and giving them power to heal and cast out demons
as he sent them forth to preach the kingdom
of God. We then have the accounts of Herod’s reaction to
Jesus in which Herod thought Jesus was John the Baptist risen
from the dead, the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus’ discussion
with the disciples about who people said he was, and Jesus
telling his disciples about his coming death and resurrection.
Next we have Luke’s account of the transfiguration and the
healing of the demon possessed child. Chapter 9 concludes
with some brief interaction between Jesus and James and John
who wanted to call down fire. This is followed by a few statements
from Jesus on giving up the things of this life for the sake
of the kingdom of
each of these preceding chapters we do not gain any additional,
significant, or new information that would be particularly
telling for our investigation of the disciples’ experience
of gatherings during Jesus’ ministry. But, as we continue
forward, Jesus’ central dominance in his interaction with
audiences, which we have seen so prominently already, can
be readily seen in Luke chapters 10 through chapter 22:38,
which concludes with Jesus praying and being arrested in the
garden. Throughout almost the entirety of these chapters Jesus
is featured speaking with either an assembly of the crowds
or a gathering of just his disciples. Because this is the
case, the details of these chapters do add to our ongoing
understanding of the nature of the disciples’ experience of
gatherings during Jesus’ ministry.
who has a red-letter bible can quickly notice how much of
these chapters are comprised of Jesus’ speaking. The total
number of verses spanning these chapters is 538. Of that number,
Jesus is speaking for 419 verses. Jesus’ words are only briefly
interrupted by a short statement or question or by narration.
In fact, of the remaining 119 verses of these chapters only
42 contain statements from other persons. The rest are narration.
That’s only 42 verses of dialogue by other persons compared
to 419 verses of dialogue from Christ. That is a ratio of
ten to one, in which Jesus dominates the interaction. The
result of this analysis is a picture from Luke, which both
confirms as well as adds to the weight of the model we’ve
built from our survey of Matthew and Mark. Luke’s portrayal
of people gathered together is decisively speaker-lead or
teacher-dominant. Though some interaction does occur, wherein
questions or statements are added by others, there is not
a hint of equal participation by all present either in the
gathering of the crowds or in the gathering of the disciples
with Jesus privately.
perhaps some may suggest that the gospel accounts of Matthew,
Mark, and Luke do not necessarily provide conclusive evidence
that the disciples’ early experience with Christ followed
a speaker-dominant model largely comprised of teaching. But
if what we have seen does not constitute evidence of a speaker-dominant
experience, it must all the more be admitted that we have
absolutely no evidence suggesting that the disciples experienced
or were trained under an equal-contribution, equal-participation,
and equal-function type of gathering. Indeed, if our goal
is to determine what manner of meeting the disciples experienced
during their time with Christ and if we are to go by the material
provided in scripture, based on what we’ve seen so far we
must conclude that their experience was one in which the meetings
were lead through one person teaching, while allowing for
others to comment and question during the teaching. Their
“on-the-job training” was not one of equal participation and
function by all.
Church Gatherings in the Gospels: The Gospel of John
this point we will move forward into John’s gospel to complete
our survey of the pre-ascension gatherings experienced by
Jesus’ followers through which Jesus trained the apostles
how to lead the church. John chapter 1:1-14 is John’s prologue.
With verse 15 the prologue begins to transition to the ministry
of John the Baptist, which in turn introduces Jesus’ ministry
and tells us how the disciples came to follow Christ.
in these verses we are shown some interaction between John
and certain religious leaders who came to him with questions
about who he was and what he was doing. The initial exchange
of the dialogue is pretty evenly divided between all parties.
However, if we simply add these descriptions of John the Baptist
to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which depict him utilizing a speaker-dominant
preaching style, the picture once again emerges of a speaker
dominating interaction with his audience while the audience
is free to interrupt with questions, as the religious leaders
do here. As the chapter continues, next we have John the Baptist’
identification of Jesus as the Lamb of God and a description
of Jesus’ baptism. This leads to two of John’s disciples following
after Jesus. What follows is a narrative account of how several
of the disciples first came to know Jesus. As Jesus meets
each of them, a brief exchange is described. John chapter
1 concludes in a manner that is consistent with the more interactive
type of dialogues and brief exchanges that are described in
the intermittent narrations of the three preceding gospels.
However, John 1 does not clearly portray the type of intentional
assembly or gathering of people that is our chief interest
in this study. Rather we seem to have a concise summary of
introductions and interactions between John, the religious
leaders, Jesus, and the disciples.
first 12 verses of John 2 recount the events of the wedding
in Cana and Jesus turning
water into wine. The remaining 13 verses recount Jesus’ throwing
the moneychangers out of the temple. In both cases there is
only intermittent, short dialogue between the persons present.
Neither account contributes much light on the central questions
of our investigation.
John 3, we have the account of Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus.
This passage contains 21 verses in which Nicodemus makes a
few statements, asks a few questions and then Jesus responds
with instruction about the kingdom
of God. Jesus’ responses
encompass 17 of the 21 verses. Though we certainly can see
Jesus here playing out the familiar role of the dominant instructor
as described in the other gospels, this account is a private
discourse between two persons. And so it does not easily fit
into the category of a meeting or gathering of Jesus’ followers.
rest of John 3 is comprised of 13-14 verses which describe
John the Baptist explaining to his disciples that Jesus was
greater than himself. Here, too, just as we have come to expect,
John is seen as the dominant instructor. His response to a
brief one-verse inquiry spans the final 10 verses of the chapter.
4:1-42 is the long story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan
woman at the well. Though the account is lengthy, most of
it is restricted to a fairly balanced exchange between just
two persons, Jesus and the Samaritan woman. As the events
unfold, further interaction occurs between Jesus and his disciples.
Again, the nature of the account is such that it does not
fit into the category of investigation, the type of gatherings
that the disciples experienced during the ministry of Christ.
It is instead, another example of a person-to-person encounter.
The only possible exception occurs in verses 39- 42 when many
of the Samaritans come out to hear Jesus’ preach. He stays
with them for two days and they conclude, “Now we believe…for
we have heard him
ourselves.” Although this is merely a brief summary and does
not contain many details about the nature of the interaction,
such comments from the Samaritans certainly portray Jesus
as the dominant-speaker for those two days, rather than a
time of mutually ministry with equal participation by all.
The last verses of John 4 tell the account of Jesus healing
the servant of a nobleman while traveling through Cana.
5 provides the account of Jesus healing of a lame man at the
pool of Bethesda
on the Sabbath. The passage includes Jesus exchange with the
lame man and then leads to his confrontation with the religious
leaders over the matter. The objection of the religious leadership
prompts a response from Jesus. The response is recorded for
us in verses 19-47 where the chapter ends. Again, Jesus is
seen as the dominant speaker and teacher, but the particular
instance does not involve what might be qualified as an early
church gathering. Though the crowds were present in the background
the scene can perhaps be more aptly described as several short
dialogues with limited number of parties including: Jesus,
the lame man, and the religious leaders.
6 recounts Jesus’ feeding of the multitude that had followed
him and gathered at the mountain. The account is mostly narrative
with a few short exchanges between Jesus and his disciples.
After the miraculous provision, the crowd seeks Jesus on the
other side of the sea. Their doing so results in Jesus chastising
them for following him for the wrong reasons. Over the course
of the next 38 verses, Jesus teaches the crowd that had gathered
using particularly difficult and even somewhat provocative
language. In the exchange, Jesus’ statements comprise all
but 7 sentences spoken from those in the crowd. Here Jesus
is again the dominant instructor of those gathered with him.
Intermittent interruptions and questions do occur from the
crowds, but again there is nothing even close to what we might
call equal-participation from all present.
6 concludes with 13 verses recounting Jesus’ interaction with
his disciples over the difficulty of the instruction that
he had just shared with the crowds. The account is brief.
It begins with a verse of narration followed by a verse indicating
the disciples were having difficulty with the teaching. The
rest of the passage has Jesus speaking, with only two statements
from Peter in response to an inquiry from Jesus asking if
they’d all leave him because of what he had taught the crowds.
So here we have Jesus gathered with his disciples after the
crowds departed. Some limited interaction occurs from the
disciples, but largely we see Jesus leading the exchange and
also providing some instruction.
chapter 7 narrates Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles. It
begins with a brief exchange between Jesus and his brothers
followed by a longer exchange between Jesus and the religious
leaders as opinions about him are circulated and discussed.
The dialogues in this chapter are fairly interactive. The
passage ends with further mention of the crowd’s discussion
of Jesus and an exchange within the religious leadership on
the same matter. Because of the nature of this account it
is difficult to determine whether these exchanges occurred
in the context of Jesus’ followers. That said, we will refrain
from drawing conclusions based upon these events because they
do not necessarily seem to fit our category of interest. However,
it should be noted that while the events of these chapter
are fairly interactive, that interaction is decisively not
mutual ministry or edification. Instead, it is merely a record
of Jesus’ statements and the crowds’ or religious leaders’
discussion about him among themselves.
8 continues the ongoing account of Jesus interaction with
the religious leaders in Jerusalem
during the Feast of Tabernacles beginning with their bringing
a woman caught in the act of adultery before him. In this
passage the people are gathered around Jesus and Jesus responds
as the religious leaders try to trap him. The passage continues
into chapter 9 along the same lines with Jesus having only
a slightly larger portion of the dialogue than his opponents.
Chapter 9 opens with Jesus healing a blind man. Most of the
passage that follows is a narrative that includes a record
of the discussion between the healed man, his parents, and
the religious leaders. However, the chapter ends with a short
description of the exchange between Jesus and the healed man.
we seem to have in these chapters is a description of Jesus’
manner of discourse with his opposition. Though the crowds
are gathered there as well, the main characterization of the
events is one dominated by confrontation with outsiders. As
such these events cannot be easily placed within the area
of our investigation, the early gatherings of the followers
although it occurs in the middle of this same series of events
and is, in fact, a continuation of them, John 10 has a strikingly
different character. Here we have Jesus teaching his disciples
and the crowds. There is an initial silence from the religious
leadership. Jesus’ instruction continues uninterrupted for
18 verses followed by a brief account of the response of the
10 concludes with the account of Jesus in the area of the
temple known as Solomon’s porch during the Feast of Dedication
in winter. The religious leaders come to him asking him to
tell them plainly if he is the Christ. In the exchange that
follows their question in verse 24, Jesus speaks for 11 verses.
He is interrupted in the middle by the assertion of the elders
that he had blasphemed. The chapter concludes with 3 verses
of narration. As such, chapter 10 features Jesus in much the
same way we have seen him in the previous three gospels. He
is shown dominating the crowds with teaching.
in this portion of his book, John has provided us with instances
where Jesus’ teaching was interrupted by the religious leadership
as they opposed his preaching to the crowds that had gathered.
Though the interaction from the opposition is more prominent
than we have seen previously, we do not see an increase in
participation from Jesus’ own followers or those people who
had gathered to hear from him. In effect, although this portion
of John has little that adds to the leader-dominant teaching-style
gatherings experienced by disciples during Jesus’ ministry.
But we have even less, and in fact, we still no indications
that the early experience of the disciples with Jesus was
one where every member participated equally. Perhaps it may
accurately be said that more than one person was permitted
to interject, to ask a question, or to comment (even if that
person was an opponent), but it has not been seen in any case
that all persons present functioned or contributed equally.
being said, we proceed to John 11. John 11 is the account
of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The chapter is 57
verses long. There is some dialogue between Jesus and Lazarus’
sisters as well as with the disciples. Most of the verses
contain narration of this unique event, which though amazing,
doesn’t describe an early gathering experience of the disciples.
12 opens with Lazarus’ sister Mary anointing Jesus’ feet and
then transitions to Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Some Greeks who had
come for the Feast of Passover approach the disciples about
seeing Jesus. After this, verse 23 picks up with Jesus speaking
and teaching. He is interrupted in verse 28 by a voice from
heaven and then continues to speak through verse 32 indicating
that he would be put to death. Some in the crowd respond to
this with incredulity. Jesus then comments further followed
by several verses of narration about how the people would
not believe in him. Verse 44 resumes Jesus’ remarks to the
crowds and then the chapter concludes.
a moment we will skip past the next few chapters of John which
record the Last Supper and we will proceed to John’s concluding
18 of John’s Gospel begins with Jesus’ arrest in the Garden
of Gethsemane. From there chapters 18 and
19 cover Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and death. Chapter 20
opens with the discovery of the empty tomb and then proceeds
to a few brief descriptions of Jesus’ encounters with Mary
first and then with all the apostles. It concludes with the
account of Jesus coming again to the disciples and Thomas
seeing for himself the risen Christ. Though there are two
instances of Christ’s followers gathering together at the
end of this chapter, little information is provided regarding
the content or format of those meetings. This being the case,
if we stick merely to the content provided by John without
adding information provided by the other gospels, there is
little we can add to our survey from these short accounts.
chapter 21 is the final chapter of John’s Gospel. In it we
have John describing a post-resurrection encounter between
Jesus and his disciples. We might note the recurrence of a
shared meal. There is some interaction between Jesus and the
disciples. It is only brief and doesn’t contain a great deal
of instruction. Peter has the bulk of the interaction as Jesus
seeks to reaffirm and restore him after his denial. Again
we see Jesus directing and leading the group, with limited
participation (though not equal participation) from the rest
of those present. The book and the chapter then conclude with
John attesting to the things he has recorded in the book.
To summarize what we’ve found so far from John’s Gospel, we
have found no gatherings that might be described as mutual-ministering
or equal participation by all those present. Instead, the
information we have found in John on this topic portrays Jesus
operating in a speaker-dominant format during his interaction
with the crowds and even his opposition, with others at times
interjecting with challenges or questions. Additional information
from John’s Gospel, particularly chapters 13-18 will be covered
in our next segment. These chapters contain information that
is particularly relevant to our investigation.