While the early church had its faults it did bring the gospel forward through history. The great commission advanced. It would require a future, technologically advanced time for millions of souls to gather into a priesthood of believers paradigm with simple beginner, intermediate and elder ranks in one networked church. The church would share membership, attendance, participation, sharing and welfare networks, share traveler’s lodging and even monastic retreats and continuing adult instruction in the word of God.
Franchise church outlets with a commercial priest sustaining himself and family cannot serve as many as a priesthood of believers Christian meeting on Saturday or Sunday with a catechism and worship training all Christians for the priesthood. Standardizing catechism and worship forms with some element of elective liturgical modules recognizing select preferences for eschatological beliefs (i.e. pre-tribulation, amillenial and post-tribulation) supported with social support networking nationally would engender better professing, believing Christian church members than the present bench-sitter with an upper class Christian supervisor.
Timothy as Paul’s ‘spiritual son’ and leader of the church at Ephesus would have been reassured by what is in effect Paul’s living will with instruction on how to proceed without the presence of the Apostle. It is not certain that the immediate development of particular forms of the church were to be taken as immutable for all time. Like Paul’s criticisms of particular errorists the most suitable structure for providing the gospel and practical Christian organization for the time and foreseeable future would have been the intention. Church organization probably should adapt to vast changes in methods of social organization and innovate better priesthood of believers’ structure.
Berkhof writes that Paul wasn’t sure that Timothy would reach Rome before he was executed and so made the letter such that it would comprise adequate final words in leu.
In theory, church offices that were exclusive and limited during the early church before common literacy and when books were rare and communication difficult, can be greatly increased in the contemporary world. If in the first century one learned elder was needed, if there are 100 learned elders in a church there isn’t a reason they should be excluded from holding the office of elder. It is as if an army battalion could have just one corporal, one sergeant and perhaps two officers and everyone else were privates. It is far better if all are trained as active spiritual warriors and share church offices of beginner, intermediate and elder with helpful standardized theology formats. If all know the words to the gospel song then all should sing; instead of just a soloist performing for an audience.
It may be that John Bunyan’s book provides a kind of systems analysis perspective upon the methods of operation that Satan employs to corrupt the human soul. There is a sort of synoptic view of God’s relationship to mankind provided in the ‘Holy War’ in allegorical form. I think it quite useful to have a synoptic view on God’s relationship to mankind especially concerning the assaults and methods of operation used by the exteriority of evil implicit in the works of the devil. Forewarned is forearmed. Defense is simpler when one understands the reasons why the conflict is happening especially as direct attack is made upon oneself and even one’s own thought. As Bunyan wrote; the gunpowder of pride is an effective tool among Satan’s repertoire of dirty tricks for subverting the human soul to his advantage. I suppose the Evil one would line his pit with trophies of souls in jars packed in and sealed with eternal doom.
God alone can save mankind.