Question 59. In our congregation, there is a couple who lives together outside of marriage. The man and the woman are not members of the congregation. Does the Bible say that believers must become members of a church?

The issue of church membership is not dealt with in the Scriptures for one simple reason: In the days when the Scriptures were written, there were not multiple churches in one city. There was just one local church per city, and any believer living in that city was automatically a member of that local church under the authority of the elders of that city. Hence, there was no need for church membership.

In light of what has happened since then, church membership has become an important issue. The believer is committed to a specific local body if he is willing to be supportive of the body both financially and in the use of his spiritual gifts, but also be in subjection to the leadership of that local body.

Obviously church discipline cannot be imposed upon nonmembers, which is why church membership is vital. Anytime there is a moral issue that would bring disrepute upon the local church, church discipline needs to be imposed. Those who are members are held to a higher standard. If a member goes into sin, church discipline should be imposed, especially if it is a moral issue.

The couple you mentioned who are living together outside of marriage but are not members of the congregation, cannot be disciplined by your church at this point. But their immoral lifestyle should definitely be dealt with.


Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a part of this ministry through a financial gift, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

 

Question 58. Don’t rabbis cover their heads when they pray, yet Paul says men should not cover their heads when praying?

Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered, dishonors his head. (I Cor. 11:4)

Your observation is correct that Jewish people do cover their heads not just when they pray, but during the whole synagogue service. Orthodox Jews even cover their heads throughout the day. This shows that Paul’s instructions in I Corinthians 11:2-16 are not coming from his Jewish/rabbinic background, but that he is laying down other rules and regulations for believers of the body of the Messiah. So, if you take the passage literally (as I do), the men should have their heads uncovered, whereas the women should have their heads covered. When I speak in my own Messianic congregation where I am a member, I do not cover my head. My wife, on the other hand, does cover her head when she attends any church meeting, since we both take the text very literally.


Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a part of this ministry through a financial gift, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.