Are You a Pillar?

From the Differentiator magazine:
Vol. 14 New Series December, 1952 No. 6

A STUDY OF 1 TIMOTHY 3:15"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground (margin: stay) of the truth."

The above rendering of the British Authorized Version has been followed generally by English versions, causing the true sense to be totally obscured. That State or established Churches should adhere to such a rendering is only natural. We must, however, be guided solely by our one authority—the divine Greek text.

Here is a very literal rendering: Yet if ever I may be tardy, that thou mayest perceive how, in God's household, (which indeed an ecclesia of God Living is) must be conducting himself a pillar and base of the truth.

Firstly, let us observe that Greek oikos means household or home, not the building or house, which is invariably oikia. (Any seeming exceptions are beautifully explained by other passages).
God is at home in every ecclesia, but certainly not in every church building.

Besides, Paul does not mention THE church or ecclesia, any more than THE pillar. No one has the right to play fast and loose with the Greek Definite Article, or the absence thereof.
Further, as Dean Farrar pointed out in "Texts Explained" (1899), only by great confusion of thought can the Church be called both the house of God and a pillar. He also pointed out what history has often shewn, that the word pillar is usually in the New Testament applied to persons (Rev. 3:12; Gal. 2:9; cf. Eph. 2:20).

Rev. 3:12: "He who is conquering shall I make a pillar in the temple of My God." Gal. 2:9: "James and Kephas and John, who are reputed to be pillars. . . ."

In Rev. 10:1 the word stulos is used in its physical sense of a pillar of fire. In Modern Greek both senses are used. The support of his family is called a stulos. In English we speak of a person being a pillar of strength.

Farrar says the Greek word was applied to the martyr Attalus in the Epistle from the Church of Lyons. Eusebius wrote that Attalus had always been, in Pergamos, a "pillar and base."
Any stout and sturdy saint can be a pillar, like Timothy.

Gilbert Wakefield (1795) translated as follows:—"that thou mayest know how a pillar of a living God and a support of the truth, ought to behave himself in God's house. . . ." Dewes reads, "that thou mayest know, as a pillar and mainstay of the truth. . .." Conybeare and Way also state the truth, and Alford agrees with our view.

The error in translation becomes mischievous when it is. claimed that when 1. Timothy was written the Ecclesia was the public exponent of the truth, whereas when 2. Timothy was written, only a very brief time later, the church was no longer the pillar and base of the truth, but merely a "great house," containing utensils honourable and not honourable. Paul, however, does not refer to THE Church, and never stated that it was the pillar and base of the truth. To aver that the pillar of the truth had fallen within these few years, because the apostasy had set in during the interval, would be to make the former Epistle seem very short-sighted. We cannot believe that Scripture needs to correct Scripture, especially within such a brief lapse of time. Besides, even to-day "THE Apostasy" (2. Thess. 2:3) has assuredly not arrived yet. When it does come, it will be unmistakeable and an event beyond description. It appears to usher in the revelation of the Man of the (great or universal) Lawlessness.

It must also be noted that in 2. Tim. 2:20 the "great house" is a house (oikia), not a household. Paul had in mind a large residence, using this as a picture. He does not say the Ecclesia is this great house.

In 1. Tim. 3 Paul tells Timothy about the qualifications of overseers and helpers in ecclesias and assemblies. No gathering of any size can flourish and carry on without these. But just as necessary is a good "pillar." Timothy was both an evangelist and a pillar.

Alexander Thomson

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Listing of Articles

Who is our God? Chapter 1
Who is our God? Chapter 2
Who is our God? Chapter 3
Who is our God? Chapter 4
Who is our God? Chapter 5
Who is our God? Chapter 6
Who is our God? Chapter 7
Who is our God? Chapter 8
Who is our God? Chapter 9
Who is our God? Chapter 10
Who is our God? Chapter 11
Who is our God? Chapter 12
Who is our God? Chapter 13
Who is our God? Chapter 14
Who is our God? Chapter 15
Who is our God? Chapter 16
Who is our God? Chapter 17
A Female Deity?
Acts 7:15 & 16
All Things
Amos 3:6
An Answer to the Challenge of Hell
Angels & Men One Species?
An Interesting New Version
Are You an Ambassador?
Are You a Pillar?
Are You a Witness for Jehovah?
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 1
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 2
Are You an Israelite? Chapters 3 & 4
A Special Resurrection?
Baptized for the Dead?
"Beloved" or "Loveable"?
Brotherly Love
Book Review
Colossians 1:23
Common or Unclean?
Common Sense
Did Paul Visit Spain?
Did the Lord give up His Flesh?
"Divine" Fire?
Doctoring the Holy Scriptures
Does God know Everything?
Does God will Everything?
Does your Spiritual Life seem Unreal?
Did God hate Esau?
Earth our Future Home?
Emphasis in the Scriptures
English more Archaic than Ancient Hebrew?
Ephesians 1:23
Erroneous Translations
Gleanings from A.T.
Heaven our Homeland
How is Christ God's "Word"?
How many were Crucified?
In the Christ All Shall Be Made Alive
Is Dust the Serpent's Food?
Is the Devil Impersonal?
Isaiah 26:14,19
James 4:5
Jehovah's Theocratic Organization
Jesus the Saviour
John 19:29
The Kingdom of the Hebrews
Leave it with God
Men or Mortals?
Misplaced Ingenuity
New Light on the Second Death
None Other Things
Objective Value of Prayer
Other or Different
Our Advocate
Paul's Chain
Paul the Sensitive
Paul versus James
Prevailing Prayer
Problems of Translation: I Cor. 7:21
Problems of Translation: II Cor. 3:18
Psalm 66:18
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Rogues and Rascals
Rom 9 & 10: Human Freedom & Human Choice
Romans 9:14-24
Romans 9:30 to 10:21
II Corinthians 5:16
II Peter 3:10
Seven Wicked Spirits
Shall We See God?
Sir, We would see Jesus
Should we fear God?
The Bloody Husband
The Cherubim of Glory
The Corinthian Error
The Cunning Manager
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah
The Designation of Jesus as "God"
The Disruption Fallacy
The Disruption Fallacy #2
The Eighth of Proverbs
The Eleven "Generations" of Genesis
The Elohim
The Ends of the Eons
The Eternal Saviour-Judge
The Eternity of Hell Torments
The First Christian Convention
The Four Gospels
The Gentiles in Ephesians
The Greek Definite Article
The Hardening of Pharoah's Heart
The Hebrew Conception of Time
The Hebrews Epistle
The Hebrew Terms Rendered 'For Ever'
The Hope of Israel
The Life of Prayer
The Lord Jesus Revealing the Heart of God
The Lord's Relatives
The Lordly Supper
The Meaning of Ta Panta
The Ministry of Women Parts 1 & 2
The Ministry of Women Parts 3 & 4
The "Penalty of Sin"
The Poor in Spirit
The Primeval Laws
The Primeval Laws #2
The Problem of Evil
The Quality of Divine Love
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Serpent of Genesis 3
The Soul and the Spirit
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 1 & 2
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 3 & 4
The Translation of Acts 28:25
The Trial of the Lord
The Truth of the Bible
The Two Seeds
The Works of Henry Clay Mabie, D.D.
"Three Days and Three Nights"
Translator's Incentive
Truthfulness and Mercy
Try the Spirits
Unto Eternity and Further
We have all been Wrong
What did Peter do?
What does Olethros mean?
What Happened to Jephthah's Daughter?
What is Destruction?
What is the Flesh?
What is the Sin unto Death?
Whence "Eternity"?
Who are the Saints?
Who is Jehovah?
Who Shall Deliver Me?
Why Pray?
Why the "Lake" of Fire?
Will God Punish?
Will the Lord Come for Us?
Will the Man of Lawlessness be Killed?


The Differentiator Revisited 2009