Understanding What Is Expedient?(1)

Jim Miller

Gray, Maine


συμφ?ρω; 1 aorist participle συνεν?γκαντες (Acts 19:19); from (Homer (in middle)), Aeschylus, Herodotus down; to bear or bring together (Latinconfero), i. e.

1. with a reference to the object, to bring together: τ?, Acts 19:19.

  1. with a reference to the subject, "to bear together or at the same time; to carry with others; to collect or contribute in order to help, hence, to help, be profitable, be expedient"

Now for those of you like me a simpler definition to clear things up….. An expediency, within the framework of Scripture, is the way, means or method of doing that required by law and within the law. It is styled an expediency because it facilitates or expedites the accomplishment of a given task or the performance of a divine commandment.

An example of this would be: Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. We are told to “GO” but not how to “GO”. So and expedient of this command would be walking, riding a horse, a bicycle, a car etc. These things expedite going and preaching.

For something to be expedient however it must be Lawful. If a thing does not fall within the bounds of what God has authorized, then we have no right to practice it. If there is no inference, command or example, found in the Bible to justify a practice, it can not be done. Paul explains it this way 1Co 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.


There are two categories for Biblical authority:

One is general and the other is specific. We should be familiar with both. They are easily distinguished from one another. As an example, Lets say you a Dad/Father tells his son to pick up a few groceries on his way home from school. This would be a general command. The son stops at the store and buys ice cream, candy, cookies, steak and potato's. He has then obeyed the command because all these things fall under the scope of groceries.

Now lets say the son was told to buy bread, milk, steak, beans and potato's, this would be a specific command. So the son comes home with bread, milk, steak, beans and potato's, and also cookies, chips and soda, the son has not faithfully obeyed because he has gone beyond what was commanded. So we can see that general authority includes all that is necessary to the carrying out of a command. Specific authority excludes everything except that which is precisely stated. We can also say that the car, bus, bicycle etc. used to go to the store was an expedient (the means by which to get there. As long as no Law was broken such as the son driving the car and being under age.)

So understanding the two types of authority we can now get to the heart of this article. These rules must be applied to determine Scriptural Authority, without authority from scripture an expedient is unauthorized also. An expedient does not violate any scriptural principle.

To show that an expediency can not be used with out authority let us look at some examples. Let us take the Lords Super for instance, there might be some who would say it is more expedient for them to partake of it on Wednesday instead of Sunday. However, the command is to partake of it on Sunday the first day of the week. Therefore having it on Wednesday is unauthorized and the expedient is void. We must remember true expedients are always within the purview of example, statement, command.


We all know the story of Uzzah in (2 Sam. 6:6). And what happened when the oxen shook the cart upon which the ark was placed. Though it might have been expedient Uzzah discovered his act was not lawful because God had prohibited anyone from touching the ark of the covenant. The real blame belongs to David though because he did not follow Gods instructions as to how the ark was to be moved. Though the cart pulled by oxen may have been an expedient it was not lawful. The law specified that it was to be carried by the Levites.

Expedients never cause others to sin. Sometimes a practice might be lawful, and still not be expedient (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23). The eating of meats sacrificed to idols was lawful. However, it was a stumbling block to weaker brethren as it led them to violate their conscience.

This is a good place to leave off till next month when we will look closer at this subject. Till then I would urge you to go back over this to be sure you are getting a clear understanding of expedients. Look for part 2 in May.


End Notes: All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

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Author: jfm

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