- Parent Category: FAQs
- Category: Bible Questions and answers about the Church
- Published on Saturday, 12 February 2011 12:09
Is it right for an assembly to receive to its fellowship one coming from a distance, without a letter of commendation, and Should such one be allowed to partake of the supper?
The use of letters of commendation is a most scriptural one. Paul recognises this in 2 Corinthians 3: , by the fact of protesting against being required to bring such a letter when visiting Corinth, where he had “laid the foundation.” “Need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or from you?” They were his letter, written on the heart, when he came to them; when he left them, they were his letter too, known and read of all men. We have the cases of Apollos in Acts 18 27, and of Phoebe in Romans 16:1-2, which will occur to all. This last case is helpful to our consideration, because the apostle’s was no mere formal commendation, but he adds her titles to special care from the saints—”Which is a servant (diakonos) of the church, which is at Cenchrea.” Letters then were not the stereotyped things they usually are to-day, mere forms filled up. Not that these are not better than nothing, nay often sufficient; but sometimes more would be better. Here Paul adds to “receive her as becometh saints,” “assist her, etc., for she hath been a succourer (prostatis) of many and of me also.” Ought not one, who has been regular at the meetings, diligent in service and helpful to the saints, get a better commendation than one who has been irregular in attendance, no special help, and even perhaps a trouble, on occasion?
If “fellowship” means sharing others’ privileges and responsibilities, how far can one who is hardly ever seen at the Gospel, Prayer, or Teaching Meetings consider oneself in full fellowship? As for the question whether no one can be received without a letter of commendation, as no rule is laid down, it is not for us to make one. It is rather strange that Paul, though he took letters from the high-priest to Damascus, did not think of getting one from thence to Jerusalem. It would have been easier for him had he done so, but Barnabas knew him and could answer for him, which did instead. But there can be no doubt as to the advisability of always carrying a letter when going to a strange place. Otherwise you can only be received on a principle which Scripture does not recognise—self-commendation. Really I should judge, no truly humble, godly person would wish to impose himself or herself on the saints and force fellowship, unless there were full confidence. A good letter imparts this. Where there is a godly walk, there will be godly consideration for fellow saints, and the more they are in touch with the Lord, the more they will share His mind in receiving those whom they believe to be His own and right with Him. “Receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” No one was ever so glad as He to receive, nor so careful as to whom and on what
conditions he did receive.