“Anti” is a very common term in the vocabulary of brethren who resent having any of their practices called in question. They attach the term “anti” to those who oppose such promotions as the sponsoring church type of cooperation, the church support of human institutions, and the “social” gospel. Brethren who oppose these things are branded as “antis” and any church that does not go along with them is tagged as an “anti” church.
The apostle Paul was opposed to unsound preaching (2 Tim. 4:3,4 ff; Tit. 1:10,11; 2:1). He was in favor of sound preaching and it was that kind that he did (1 Cor. 2:2 f; 2 Tim. 4:2). Paul was not anti-preaching, but he was anti-unsound preaching, the kind that would tickle the ears of the hearers and lead people from the truth. In this sense, Paul was an “anti.”
Paul was in favor of cooperation. He believed in working with God (2 Cor. 6:1), he received money directly from churches for his support in preaching the gospel (2 Cor. 11:8), he had received help from Philippi (Phil. 4:15), and he believed that churches could send funds to churches whose members were in physical distress (Acts 11:27-30 f; 1 Cor. 16:1-4). However, Paul was opposed to a sponsoring church, the elders of one church overseeing the work of another church or churches. He admonished the elders at Ephesus to mind their own affairs when he told them in Acts 20:28, “Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops. ” Paul was not anti-cooperation, but he was anti-sponsoring church. In opposing this, he was “anti.”
Paul was in favor of Christians helping all men (especially fellow Christians) and he urged them to do so (Gal. 6:10). He was aware of each individual’s responsibility. He was opposed to the church’s assuming the obligation of unlimited benevolence because he taught that the church was to help needy saints (Acts 11:27-30 f; 1 Cor. 16:1-4), Not even all needy saints were to be wards of the church. He limited the church support of widows to those of certain qualifications (1 Tim. 5:3-16). Paul was for benevolence but he was opposed to the church engaging in unlimited benevolence. In this, he was an “anti.”
Paul was not opposed to eating, but he was opposed to such as promoted by the church for entertainment (Rom. 14:17). There is no indication that Paul was averse to wholesome recreation, but he did not promote it as a work of the church. He understood what the work of the church is and his preaching was characterized by Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). Paul was not opposed to recreation, entertainment, and eating in their proper places, but he was opposed to them as the work of the church. He did not regard them as “fellowship” to be found in Christ. He was for the work of the church but he was an “anti” in regard to church sponsored entertainment and recreation.
No doubt if many brethren today had been living during Paul’s time, they would have called him “anti.” But if opposing the things that Paul opposed makes me an “anti” then I gladly and proudly stand with Paul who was one of the greatest “antis” who ever lived!