Aug 22

Print this Post


The words “silence” and “biblical authority” have been much debated as early as the second century. Tertullian (150-222) wrote of those who claimed that “the thing which is not forbidden is freely permitted.” Tertullian responded with, “I should rather say that what has not been freely allowed is forbidden.” (Tertullian. 1995. Ante-Nicene Fathers. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.) Martin Luther (1483-1546) the great reformer taught that “whatever is without the word of God is, by that very fact, against God.” But Luther, like so many, would see his view change; later he wrote: “Nothing ought to be set up without scriptural authority, or if it is set up, it ought to be esteemed free and not necessary.” (bold added). Still later in life, he became known for, these words: “What is not against Scripture is for Scripture, and Scripture for it” (Newman, A. H. 1902. A Manual of Church History. Vol. 2. Chciago, IL: The American Baptist Publication Society.) Sadly, Luther’s view of “silence” authorizing has been the majority thinking through the years and continues today!
A very clear case of silence forbidding is seen in Jesus being the high priest! In order for Jesus to be anointed high priest, the Law of Moses had to be removed. The text reads: “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. (13) For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. (14) For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. (15) And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest” (Heb. 7:12-15). The Law of Moses “spake nothing” about one becoming priest “out of Juda;” therefore, no one could serve as priest who was of the tribe of Juda, so long as the Law of Moses stood. In order for Jesus to be high priest, “there is made a necessity a change also of the law;” for “it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda!” The law of Moses was silent about all tribes, other than Levi, being priests. Therefore, the silence of the scripture forbids anyone from being a priest who was not of the tribe of Levi and for anyone becoming a high priest who was not of Aaron. The silence is seen in the words, “of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.”
In the Old Testament a riveting case is seen when Nadab and Abihu “offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not” (Lev. 10). The “strange fire” is fire which the LORD was silent about. Here is the story: “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not” (Lev. 10:1-2). Nadab and Abihu were operating in the area of silence, which God had “commanded them not!” The word “strange” implies unauthorized and in this case, it was unauthorized fire. One might reason, isn’t fire, fire; isn’t one fire just as good as another? In our minds, yes; but God is to be obeyed! When the LORD said use a certain fire, it was the only fire authorized! The LORD did not have to say, Nadab and Abihu, there are ten fires over there, you may not use fire number one, two, three, etc.. You see, the LORD did say that all other fires were forbidden to be use, when he said a certain fire is to be used.
So, when one of the “ambassadors” of Christ wrote: “singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19), his silence about all other kinds of music forbids them! It is totally unnecessary to name every forbidden thing, when the named authorized thing will take care of it. The same thing is true of baptism. When the inspired writers used the Greek word “baptizo,” which means “to immerse,” they forbid sprinkling and pouring; as these words are not in the word “baptize;” therefore, they fall in the area of silence and are forbidden!
Let us be like the noble folks of Berea who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). You see, living in the area of silence is to live in the area of the forbidden!

— Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/silence-as-it-relates-to-authority/