Is Feet washing an ordainance that Jesus put in the Church.

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Brother Bob, Aug 10, 2006.

  1. Brother Bob

    Brother Bob
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    Is it necessary to keep up the feet washing in the Church or was it just Jesus washing the Apostles feet?

    John, chapter 13
    "4": He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

    "5": After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

    "6": Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?

    "7": Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

    "8": Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

    "9": Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

    "10": Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

    "11": For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

    "12": So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?

    "13": Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

    "14": If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.

    "15": For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

    "16": Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. (This to me this is a very instructive verse in this feet washing, and think Jesus is saying If I did it, then so should you.)

    "17": If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

    Your thoughts? :wavey:
     
  2. canadyjd

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    Personally, I don't think that was Jesus' point, so I don't see it as an ordinance. Washing the feet of travelers was the duty of the lowest slave in the household. You can only imagine how dirty the feet would get in the first century.

    Jesus is telling his disciples and us to be servants of one another. Put aside your own wants, and serve others, especially those in the church. That was the example He gave to the disciples and us.

    I see it as a command to have an humble attitude of selfless service; not as an ordinance.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  3. Brother Bob

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    Is that a yes or what. You call it a command then should the church practice feet washing?

    What about Abraham's wife and what about the widows that are widows indeed having washed the saints feet?
     
    #3 Brother Bob, Aug 10, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2006
  4. canadyjd

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    No, I do not believe Jesus was establishing an ordinance for foot washing. He was commanding us to have an attitude of service toward one another.

    I explained to you the 1st century background for footwashing. Widows that washed the saints feet are those who served those traveling Christians by providing for them on the journey. This would have included foot washing in the 1st century. Today, it might be providing a place for a shower, or a love offering from the church.

    The command is to serve one another. To "Wash someone's feet" in the church, as an ordinance, creates an artificial environment of "service". Most church members (in the U.S. anyway) don't need a bath. We have shoes, so our feet don't get as dirty as they would for a traveler in the first century.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  5. Brother Bob

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    Thank you for your answer.
     
  6. canadyjd

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    You are welcome.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  7. Dr. Bob

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    No. It was an example but not in the same category as an "ordinance" (law).

    The epistles that "fleshed-out" activities for the church never equate it with baptism or the Lord's supper. In I Cor 11 Paul rejoices that they kept the ordinances - he dealt with baptism earlier and now the Lord's supper, but nothing about footwashing.

    No command to the church to "do" it.

    It was a short-lived phenomenon totally unrelated to life in the world, as a gesture of humility and hospitality, kindness and brotherhood.

    Out here in the mountains? I'll take off my mukluk's and wash 'em once a week whether they need it or not.
     
  8. Brother Bob

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    We still practice the feetwashing once a year just after the communion. We take the words of Jesus who said "if I your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one anothers".
    I wondered how many still practiced this in their churches.

    Thank you,
     
  9. canadyjd

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    I don't know how many still practice it. I do know it is practiced in some churches.

    I once went to a homeless shelter and washed the feet of the men there (that would let me). While I washed their feet, I shared the gospel. I didn't consider it an "ordinance", but I did want to show those men I didn't consider myself any better than they were. We were separated only by God's Grace.

    I had a young man break down as I washed his feet. He told me how his life had been ruined by drugs. He had been a high school football star, but had dropped out his senior year. I gave him the gospel, and encouraged him to come to Jesus, and live his life for the cause of Christ.

    He seemed so happy afterward, and promised he was going back home and make a new start. I occasionally think of him, and pray things are well with his soul.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  10. Brother Bob

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    I received a call tonight to baptize one on Sunday which makes me very happy. He has just lost his wife and they were coming to my church and I took care of her funeral so his son called tonight and said he had given his hand to him (ordained minister) to be baptized.
     
  11. AresMan

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    I think the foot washing was an example act that Jesus was doing to teach His disciples servitude. Because people wore sandals at that time and walked, it was a custom that when a guest entered a house, a servant in that house would wash the guest's feet to keep the floor from getting dirty. Jesus was showing that as He was their Lord and Master acting as a servant would, believers should be servants to each other.

    In our day of wearing socks and shoes, we don't much have to worry about treading dirt on people's carpets; therefore, the actual act of washing feet doesn't make as much sense today. It was not the actual act that Jesus was teaching, it was what it implied that Jesus was teaching.

    Just my $0.019999999999
     
  12. AresMan

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    Amen! Great news! :)
     
  13. LeBuick

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    This is one wonderful testimony and I'm sure you greatly impacted this young man's life. God bless you is my prayer... :praying:

    That is great news Bro Bob, I can hear the rejoicing from heaven... :thumbs:
     
  14. rsr

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    I have no problem with churches that consider foot washing an ordinance. I don't necessarily believe it rises to that level, but I think a good case can be made.

    John Christopher Thomas, " Footwashing in John and the Johannine Community," JSOT Press, Sheffield 1991, pp. 127-128.

    It is interesting that John dispenses with the institution of the Lord's Supper entirely, but he does write about footwashing at length.

    I would also submit that footwashing would meet the criteria for an ordinance in that ritual — in addition to demonstrating humility and servanthood — also demonstrates the continuing power of the sacrifice of Christ. Baptism represents the death, burial and resurrection that cleanses us of sin; footwashing is a reminder of the need for daily cleansing needed to maintain fellowship with God.


    I don't think this analogy holds up. Almost all of us have showers or bath tubs; that does not obviate the need for baptism. Baptismal rites existed in Jewish culture (and other societies) long before John the Baptist appeared. That existing rite, however, was appropriated as a sign of the new covenant; the same could have been done for foot washing.

    Finally, I would add that any symbolic act that is repeated without a sense of the spiritual significance of the ritual — Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (I Corinthians 11:27-29, ESV) — can fall into rote ceremony.

    Or, as John Christopher Thomas told The Washington Post in commenting on its use by politicians: "It's kind of a double-edged sword because, when you demonstrate your humility, you've probably lost it. I don't doubt it could be a powerful sign, but it shouldn't be reduced to a photo-op."

    BTW: One of our members, R.L. Vaughn, has written an article for Wikipedia on the topic:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feet_washing
     
  15. Tom Butler

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    The distinctive feature of baptism and the Lord's Supper is that they both picture the gospel. Foot-washing doesn't, so in my view does not qualify as an ordinance.

    However, the foot-washing episode in the NT does illustrate an important lesson for us, and we would do well to demonstrate humility and servanthood in our lives and in our relationships.
     
  16. rsr

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    First, you are assuming that picturing the gospel is the definitive attribute of an ordinance. While this may be true, from where does the definition arise? Most arguments I have seen are drawn from an analysis of baptism and the Lord's Supper and then, in circular fashion, deciding that their common elements define what an ordinance is.

    Second, I would quibble with an assertion that footwashing does not picture the gospel. I think you can make a case that it does: Not only does it represent the Incarnation — the Word become flesh, demonstrating God's love toward us by becoming a servant — it also is a reminder of the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and a reminder that our sins still must be dealt with on a daily basis.
     
  17. SBCPreacher

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    Tom,
    Thanks for putting it this way. We have many Free Will Baptists in our area, and some coming to our church. They believe that footwashing is an ordinance. But picturing ordinances in the light of the Gospel presentation, this just makes sense to me.

    Thanks again!
     
  18. LeBuick

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    I forgot to put my view on here...

    Most Churches in these parts wash feet as part of the ordination of preachers/deacons. I believe we do it backwards because only the candidates wash any feet. I suggested a few years back that we wash their feet like Jesus did but received a stern, "shut up boy" from one of the older preachers.
     
  19. Brother Jeremy Slone

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    I explained to you the 1st century background for footwashing. Widows that washed the saints feet are those who served those traveling Christians by providing for them on the journey. This would have included foot washing in the 1st century. Today, it might be providing a place for a shower, or a love offering from the church. as quoted above

    In the old testament it was a custom to give water for travelers to wash their feet. even way before the 1st century. Jesus did not do that He washed them. I believe this teaches humility and servicetude. Just like baptism teaches resurrection and communion teaches His sinless body and His blood atonement. Like a womans hair in 1 Corinth ch. 11 teaches the covering of the church and mans short hair teaches Christ's righteousness and that he needed not a covering. I believe all these things teach something and I believe we are to do them.

    As far as the widows in I Tim. 5:10 it didn't say if she have gave them water so they could wash their feet but it said if she have washed the saints feet it was not like the old custom where you gave a traveler water to wash his feet but it was washing the saints feet which would be like what Christ taught after supper ended, because it didn't say anybody but the Saints Also in this passage it rules out some understanding for feet washing as just being servicetude (as in not to be taken literal aswell) because it also metions relieved the afflicted, and if she have lodged strangers. Service that is listed right along with washing the saints feet.

    Also Mary washed Christs feet with the tears of her eyes and dried them with the hairs of her head.

    At one time I didn't like the thought of getting down to wash someone's feet but since then the Lord has got ahold of me and now I get down to do it and I feel happy for it. Feetwashing time is part of some of our best meeting with tears of joy and shouts of praise. I believe its his teachings for his people and we ought to do these things. I think washing feet makes it easier to also want to serve your brethern. This is where I stand firm in my conviction. and I believe all of this is of the gospel.....in love brother jeremy.
     
  20. rlvaughn

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    Brother Bob, I believe that washing of the saints' feet should be practiced in church capacity. But over the years I've come to believe that arguing over the number of ordinances is a certain amount of arguing over man's contrivance. I believe baptism is an initiatory symbolic practice, that the Lord's supper, feet washing, right hand of fellowship, anointing with oil, laying-on-of-hands and a few others are on-going symbols to be used in and by the church. I have no problem with those who see baptism and the Lord's supper as "stronger" rites. I have no inclination to dispense with the other practices just because they don't rise to someone else's definition of an ordinance.
     

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