The Household of God
By Gary Henry
“. . . the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).
This meaningful passage points to the identity of those who are Christians. Let’s look at it phrase by phrase:
Household of God. It is not the church building but the members of the family who make up God’s “house,” as made clear by the translation “household” in the ESV. This marvelous household is referred to elsewhere as “the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
Church of the living God. The church is God’s. It belongs to Him and can rightly be called “the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). The “church of God” is not a denominational name; it is simply a description of ownership.
Pillar and buttress of the truth. In a building, both a pillar and a buttress (“ground” in the KJV, or “support” in the NASB) serve a foundational purpose. But how does this relate to the church? It does not mean that the church is the source of the truth, for the authority of God’s truth is derived not from God’s people but from God Himself (John 17:17; James 4:12). The idea in 1 Timothy 3:15 is that the people of God exhibit the truth in a tangible way, demonstrating its power observably. The truth is not produced by the church, but the church is produced by the truth, in order “that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known” (Ephesians 3:10). As the product of God’s truth, the church shows just how true — and powerful — God’s wisdom is.
Doing this is the privilege of the church, the people who, like Israel, have been redeemed from slavery (not to Pharaoh but to sin). Paul urged his brethren to live consistently with the gospel in the midst of those who are still rejecting God, “among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). And not just by their example, it is by their words that members of the “household of God” are to be “a pillar and buttress of the truth.” Paul said to the Thessalonians that “the word of the Lord sounded forth from you” (1 Thessalonians 1:8). This, then, is how God’s family “supports” the truth — by living it truly and speaking it clearly.
“No other organization on the face of the earth is charged with the high calling to which the church is summoned: to confront men with Jesus Christ” (J. W. Hyde).