Questions & Answers

Harold S. Paisley

Question: How are we to understand "novice" in a spiritual sense and as given in relationship to those features which must mark an overseer in an assembly of God as given in 1 Tim. 3:1-6? In verse 7 is the subject matter a resumption of qualifications necessary in an overseer or is the novice still in view?

Answer: The word translated novice (neophutos) denotes a new convert, one who by inexperience is unfitted to act as an overseer in a church of God (WE. Vine). The age of the brother is not so much in view but the stage of spiritual development. Such an one is forbidden to assume the function of an overseer which pertains to brethren of spiritual experience and godly knowledge essential in the shepherding and government of God’s assembly. The condemnation of the Devil was the result of Satan’s assumption to a higher place than his appointment by God. Any novice aspiring to oversight is in grave danger of incurring the same condemnation and downfall.

Regarding the second part of the section concerning the words of verse 7, "moreover he must have a good report of them which are without lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the Devil."

It is our understanding that this verse does not refer to "novices" but takes again the enumeration of qualifications necessary in an overseer as presented in verses 1-5. The one who is in position as an overseer, but has not a good reputation among non-christians is open to justifiable reproach by them and gives the Devil an advantage he will be quick to take. Thus we observe the enmity of Satan to a New Testament assembly and to all companies where pattern principles of gathering unto the Lord and alone in His Name is enjoyed. The enemies attack on leadership by pushing untrained novices and tripping up faithful guides is all too evident in these "last days."


Question: A number of young believers desire that the meaning of letters and numbers that appear above hymns, particularly in the Believer’s Hymn Book be explained.

Answer: The subject is of interest although seldom mentioned. A better understanding could lead to a greater variety of suitable tunes for certain hymns. The use of letters and numbers indicate the meter of a hymn. By this is given the number of lines in each verse and the number of syllables in the words composing each line.

The most frequently seen is "CM.," an abbreviation for "common meter" or "" This means that each verse has four lines. The first and third have eight syllables and the second and fourth have six syllables. Thus all common meter hymns can be sung to the same tune. This of course would be unacceptable. There are many common meter tunes so there is no need for monotony in using the same tune repeatedly. Long meter is indicated by "L.M." and is shown as "" Thus each of the four lines have eight syllables.

Short meter has the sign "S.M." and is numbered "" showing that line one, two and four have six syllables while the third has eight. Over some hymns maybe seen "C.M.D.," "L.M.D." or "S.M.D." The added "D" simply means "double." Thus, instead of a four line verse there are eight lines still retaining the same sequence of syllables or meter.

For example, "C.M.D." would be "" Some other meters are not indicated by letters at all, but by numbers and syllables to each line as "" or "" or "" where "D" is seen as "" It simply means it is doubled having eight lines instead of four and would read in the same sequence of syllables, ""

Once these letters and numbers are understood, it is not difficult to select a suitable tune in keeping with the meter of the hymn. The metrical index will give further indication. Those raising hymns and leading should also with meter knowledge have spiritual ability to select suitable tunes for particular songs. May we sing with the understanding also.