Comprehending laws and contracts is impossible, unless we first learn the meaning of the words and phrases they contain.

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Post by notmartha » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:57 pm

I started this word study out of curiosity about an Alabama marriage contract bill that included this change to the statute:
"Any judge, minister of the gospel, or other person uniting persons in matrimony or any clerk or keeper of the minutes of a religious society celebrating marriage by the consent of the parties before the congregation, who fails to file the contract of marriage with the judge of probate, as required by law, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
I’ve only included the use of the noun “minister.”


“Minister” in NT of KJV
Minister in NT of KJV.pdf
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“Minister” in OT of KJV
Minister in OT.pdf
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Smith’s Bible Dictionary, William Smith, 1884
This term is used in the Authorized Version to describe various officials of a religious and civil character. Its meaning, as distinguished from servant, is a voluntary attendant on another. In the Old Testament it is applied
(1) to an attendance upon a person of high rank, Exod 24:13; Josh 1:1; 2 Kin 4:43
(2) to the attachés of a royal court, 1 Kin 10:5; 2 Chr 22:8 comp. Psal 104:4
(3) to the priests and Levites. Ezra 8:17; Nehe 10:36; Isai 61:6; Ezek 44:11; Joel 1:9, 13
One term in the New Testament betokens a subordinate public administrator, Roma 13:6; 15:16; Hebr 8:2 one who performs certain gratuitous public services. A second term contains the idea of actual and personal attendance upon a superior, as in Luke 4:20 The minister's duty was to open and close the building, to produce and replace the books employed in the service, and generally to wait on the officiating priest or teacher. A third term, diakonos (from which comes our word deacon), is the one usually employed in relation to the ministry of the gospel: its application is twofold,—in a general sense to indicate ministers of any order, whether superior or inferior, and in a special sense to indicate an order of inferiors ministers.
Easton's Bible Dictionary, Matthew George Easton, 1897
One who serves, as distinguished from the master.
(1.) Heb. meshereth, applied to an attendant on one of superior rank, as to Joshua, the servant of Moses (Ex 33:11), and to the servant of Elisha (2Ki 4:43). This name is also given to attendants at court (2Ch 22:8), and to the priests and Levites (Jer 33:21; Ezek 44:11).
(2.) Heb. pelah (Ezra 7:24), a "minister" of religion. Here used of that class of sanctuary servants called "Solomon's servants" in Ezra 2:55-58 and Neh 7:57-60.
(3.) Greek leitourgos, a subordinate public administrator, and in this sense applied to magistrates (Rom 13:6). It is applied also to our Lord (Heb 8:2), and to Paul in relation to Christ (Rom 15:16).
(4.) Greek hyperetes (literally, "under-rower"), a personal attendant on a superior, thus of the person who waited on the officiating priest in the synagogue (Luke 4:20). It is applied also to John Mark, the attendant on Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:5).
(5.) Greek diaconos, usually a subordinate officer or assistant employed in relation to the ministry of the gospel, as to Paul and Apollos (1Co 3:5), Tychicus (Eph 6:21), Epaphras (Col 1:7), Timothy (1Th 3:2), and also to Christ (Rom 15:8).
Anti-Thought-Control Dictionary created by American Christian Ministries

CONTROLLED MEANING: A religious man (usually a preacher) who teaches religion to people in order to lead them to salvation.

CORRECT MEANING: This non-religious term is from the Saxon word steore, meaning HELM, DIRECTION, STEER. One to whom a King entrusts the direction of affairs of state; as "minister of state"; "the prime minister." A magistrate or executive officer.

"Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua." Exodus 24:13

"Neither give heed to fables (myths) and endless genealogies (favor by race), which minister questions rather than godly stewardship (Kingdom Administration) which is in faith. From which some having swerved have turned aside to vain jangling (politics & religion); desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm (ignorant preachers and politicians spreading myths)." I. Timothy 1:4,6,7.

[The three non-religious terms defined above have been re-defined and misapplied by religious writers, schools, government and churches, attempting to turn the Bible into a book of religion instead of a Book of Law and Government as it was intended originally. By usurping Jesus' government, man-made Central Government tries to supplant the Reign of Christ.]


Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language, 1828
MIN'ISTER, noun [Latin]
1. Properly, a chief servant; hence, an agent appointed to transact or manage business under the authority of another; in which sense, it is a word of very extensive application.
Moses rose up and his minister Joshua. Exodus 24:13.
2. One to whom a king or prince entrusts the direction of affairs of state; as minister of state; the prime minister In modern governments, the secretaries or heads of the several departments or branches of government are the ministers of the chief magistrate.
3. A magistrate; an executive officer.
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. Romans 13:4.
4. A delegate; an embassador; the representative of a sovereign at a foreign court; usually such as is resident at a foreign court, but not restricted to such.
5. One who serves at the altar; one who performs sacerdotal duties; the pastor of a church, duly authorized or licensed to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments. Ephesians 3:7.
6. Christ is called a minister of the sanctuary. Hebrews 8:2.
7. An angel; a messenger of God.
Who maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flaming fire. Psalms 104:4.
Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 1856
MINISTER, government.

1. An officer who is placed near the sovereign, and is invested with the administration of some one of the principal branches of the government.

2. Ministers are responsible to the king or other supreme magistrate who has appointed them. 4 Conn. 134.

MINISTER, international law.

1. This is the general name given to public functionaries who represent their country abroad, such as ambassadors, (q.v.) envoys, (q.v.) and residents. (q.v.) A custom of recent origin has introduced a new kind of ministers, without any particular determination of character; these are simply called ministers, to indicate that they are invested with the general character of a sovereign's mandatories, without any particular assignment of rank or character.

2. The minister represents his government in a vague and indeterminate manner, which cannot be equal to the first degree; and he possesses all the rights essential to a public minister.

3. There are also ministers plenipotentiary, who, as they possess full powers, are of much greater distinction than simple ministers. These also, are without any particular attribution of rank and character, but by custom are now placed immediately below the ambassador, or on a level with the envoy extraordinary. Vattel, liv. 4, c. 6, §74; Kent, Com. 38; Merl. Répert. h. t. sect. 1, n. 4.

4. Formerly no distinction was made in the different classes of public ministers, but the modern usage of Europe introduced some distinctions in this respect, which, on account of a want of precision, became the source of controversy. To obviate these, the congress of Vienna, and that of Aix la Chapelle, put an end to these disputes by classing ministers as follows: 1. Ambassadors, and papal legates or nuncios. 2. Envoys, ministers, or others accredited to sovereigns, (aupres des souverains). 3. Ministers resident, accredited to sovereigns. 4. Chargés d'Affaires, accredited to the minister of foreign affairs. Récez du Congrès de Vienne, du 19 Mars, 1815; Protocol du Congrès d' Aix la Chapelle, du 21 Novembre, 1818; Wheat, Intern. Law, pt. 3, c. §6.

MINISTER, eccles. law.

1. One ordained by some church to preach the gospel.

2. Ministers are authorized in the United States, generally, to marry, and are liable to fines and penalties for marrying minors contrary to the local regulations. As to the right of ministers or parsons, see Am. Jur. No. 30, p. 268; Anth. Shep. Touch. 564; 2 Mass. R. 500; 10 Mass. R. 97; 14 Mass. R. 333; 3 Fairf. R. 487.

MINISTER, mediator.

An officer appointed by the government of one nation, with the consent of two other nations, who have a matter in dispute, with a view by his interference and good office to have such matter settled.,
Black’s Law Dictionary, 1st Edition, 1891

In public law, one of the highest functionaries in the organization of civil government, standing next to the sovereign or executive head, acting as his immediate auxiliary, and being generally charged with the administration of one of the great bureaus or departments of the executive branch of government. Otherwise called “cabinet minister,” “secretary of state,” or “secretary of a department.”

In international law. An officer appointed by the government of one nation as a mediator or arbitrator between two other nations who are engaged in a controversy, with their consent, with a view to effecting an amicable adjustment of the dispute.

A general name given to the diplomatic representatives sent by one state to another, including ambassadors, envoys, and residents.

In ecclesiastical law. A person ordained according to the usages of some church or associated body of Christians for the preaching of the gospel and filling the pastoral office.

In practice. An officer of justice, charged with the execution of the law, and hence termed a “ministerial officer:” such as a sheriff, bailiff, coroner, sheriff's officer. Britt. c. 21.

An agent: one who acts not by any inherent authority, but under another.
The Century Dictionary, an Encyclopedic Lexicon of the English Language, 1895

Judicial and Statutory Definitions of Words And Phrases, Collected, Edited, and Compiled by Members of the Editorial Staff of the National Reporter System, Volume 5, 1904

“Minister," as used in the ninety-first of the Canons of 1603, providing that the parish clerk was to be appointed “by the parson or vicar, or, where there Is no parson or vicar, by the minister of that place for the time being,” describes the functionary, whatever title he may bear, who, for the time being, has the cure of the parish as principal Pinder v. Barr, 4 El. & BI. 105, 115, 28 Eng. Law & Eq. 235, 239.

“Minister of the gospel,” as used Consolidated St. § 1407, providing that no marriage solemnized before any person professing to be a “minister of the gospel” shall be void on account of any authority of such minister if the marriage be consummated with a belief on the part of the persons, or either of them, that they have been lawfully married, means all clergymen of every denomination and faith. Haggin v. Haggin. 53 N. W. 206, 211, 35 Neb. 375.

“Minister” or “minister of the gospel” is a comprehensive term, and of uncertain significance. In Const. art 6, ministers are spoken of as public teachers of piety, religion, and morality. In the statute they are sometimes called “ministers of the gospel” and sometimes “ordained ministers of the gospel,” a term less comprehensive in its significance. Kidder v. French (N. H.) Smith, 155, 156.

A person who is ordained in conformity to the customs of any organized Christian denomination is a duly ordained “minister.” Town of Londonderry v. Town of Chester, 2 N. II. 268, 270, 9 Am. Dec. 61.

The term “minister of the gospel” in Rev. St. 6386 authorizing the issue of a license to any minister of the gospel, authorizing him to solemnize marriage, cannot be construed to be limited to Christian ministers. Such an interpretation would deny the license to the learned and reverent Jewish rabbi and many other ministers of religion who, while not Christian In name, look upon marriage as a sacred and religious institution. The law here means to use the word “gospel” in its broad general sense, and, keeping in view the entire act and its manifest purpose, should be made to mean any minister of religion. In re Reinhart, 9 Ohio Dec. 441, 444.

A minister of a congregation is not merely a person employed by it. He and his family are members of it, and where it is Incorporated, he Is usually a corporate officer by virtue of the charter: yet his service as a corporator are not those which are compensated by his salary as a divine, and the maintenance be receives for his ministry is consequently no part of the salary or emolument of a corporate office, and is not subject to taxation under a statute authorizing the taxation of any one holding an office under a corporation. Commonwealth v. Cuyler (Pa.) 5 Watts & S.275, 276.

The word “minister," when used in the title on foreign relations, shall be understood to mean the person invested with and exercising the principal diplomatic functions. U. S. Comp. St.1901, p. 2783.
Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th Edition, 1979

Person acting as agent for another in performance of specified duties or orders. A person ordained according to the usages of some church or associated body of Christians for the preaching of the gospel and filling the pastoral office. In England, holder of government office; e.g. Prime Minister.

[defines foreign minister, public minister]

International Law. An officer appointed by the government of one nation as a mediator or arbitrator between two other nations who are engaged in a controversy, with their consent, with a view to effecting an amicable adjustment of the dispute.

Public Law. One of the highest functionaries in the organization of civil government, standing next to the sovereign or executive head, acting as his immediate auxiliary, and being generally charged with the administration of one of the great bureaus or departments of the executive branch of government.
Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Edition, 1999
1. A person acting under another’s authority; an agent
2. A prominent government officer appointed to manage an executive or administrative department.
3. A diplomatic representative, esp. one ranking below an ambassador
4. A person authorized by a Christian church to perform religious functions.

"Tax Guide for Churches and Other Religious Organizations," IRS Publication 1828
Certain characteristics are generally attributed to churches. These attributes have been developed by the IRS and by court decisions. They include:
g) An organization of ordained ministers
h) Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study
Notes regarding the above from “Christ's Ekklesia and The Church Compared” by Randy Lee and Nicklas Arthur
“Notice the word "organization," and who are the ministers ordained by? Are they ordained by God or by man? And when you see a pastor with several letters after his name, he is a minister ordained by man. Now, he may be ordained by God also, but if you look to the ordination of men and put that after your name, you're a man of letters, and Christ was not a man of letters (John 7:15). So, Christ was not formally educated, he was "unlearned," which means he didn't go to the schools of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9), or the seminary.

Ministers are run through the seminaries and their consciences are seared according to seminary doctrine (1 Timothy 4:2). This does not mean there can be no repentance, or that the Spirit of God can't move them. Some pastors say, "Well, that isn't what I was taught in seminary, so I can't hear that, I can't listen to you." They look to the seminary for truth.

Then there's the other pastors who admit that their mind was polluted, but they try to keep it clean by washing it with the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26). We all get polluted in the world. We have to hold up His truth as our standard to weigh everything and judge everything. If you don't, you fall into error.”
20 CFR § 404.1023 Ministers of churches and members of religious orders.

(more can be read about “ministers” relationship to the Social Security Administration here: ... /subpart-K)
(a)General. If you are a duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church, the work you do in the exercise of your ministry is excluded from employment. However, it is treated as self-employment for social security purposes. If you are a member of a religious order who has not taken a vow of poverty, the same rule applies to the work you do in the exercise of your duties required by that order. If you are a member of a religious order who has taken a vow of poverty, the work you do in the exercise of duties required by the order (the work may be done for the order or for another employer) is covered as employment only if the order or autonomous subdivision of the order to which you belong has filed an effective election of coverage. The election is made under section 3121(r) of the Code. For the rules on self-employment coverage of ministers and members of religious orders who have not taken vows of poverty, see § 404.1071.

(b)What is an ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister. The terms ordained, commissioned, or licensed describe the procedures followed by recognized churches or church denominations to vest ministerial status upon qualified individuals. If a church or church denomination has an ordination procedure, the commissioning or licensing of a person as a minister may not make him or her a commissioned or licensed minister for purposes of this subpart. Where there is an ordination procedure, the commissioning or licensing must be recognized as having the same effect as ordination and the person must be fully qualified to exercise all of the ecclesiastical duties of the church or church denomination.

MEISTER v. MOORE, 96 U.S. 76 (, 24 L.Ed. 826)

(In this case, the validity of a deed was in question because the marriage of a Pennsylvanian to an Indian girl in Michigan without a minister or justice was in question. Story opined that the statutes applied to the ministers and justices, and the marriage was to be held valid.)
The Revised Statutes of Michigan upon the subject of the solemnization of marriages, adopted in the year 1838, and in force at the time of the alleged marriage, enact as follows:——
'SECT. 6. Marriages may be solemnized by any justice of the peace in the county in which he is chosen; and they may be solemnized throughout the State by any minister of the gospel who has been ordained according to the usages of his denomination, and who resides within this State, and continues to preach the gospel.'
'SECT. 8. In the solemnization of marriage no particular form shall be required, except that the parties shall solemnly declare, in the presence of the magistrate or minister and the attending witnesses, that they take each other as husband and wife. In every case there shall be at least two witnesses, besides the minister or magistrate, present at the ceremony.'
'SECT. 14. No marriage solemnized before any person professing to be a justice of the peace or a minister of the gospel shall be deemed or adjudged to be void, nor shall the validity thereof be in any way affected on account of any want of jurisdiction or authority in such supposed justice or minister: Provided, that the marriage be consummated with a full belief on the part of the persons so married, or either of them, that they have been lawfully joined in marriage.
The court below charged the jury that the validity of the alleged marriage must be determined by the laws of Michigan; and that, if they found that neither a minister nor a magistrate was present thereat,—and such was the plaintiff's proof,—it was invalid under the statute of that State, and their verdict should be for the defendants.

The Michigan statute differs in no essential particular from those of other States which have generally been so construed. It does not declare marriages void which have not been entered into in the presence of a minister or a magistrate. It does not deny validity to marriages which are good at common law. The most that can be said of it is, that it contains implications of an intention that all marriages, except some particularly mentioned, should be celebrated in the manner prescribed. The sixth section declares how they may be solemnized. The seventh describes what shall be required of justices of the peace and ministers of the gospel before they solemnize any marriage. The eighth declares that in every case, that is, whenever any marriage shall be solemnized in the manner described in the act, there shall be at least two witnesses present beside the minister or magistrate. The ninth, tenth, eleventh, sixteenth, and seventeenth sections provide for certificates, registers, and exemplifications of records of marriages solemnized by magistrates and ministers. The twelfth and thirteenth impose penalties upon justices and ministers joining persons in marriage contrary to the provisions of the act, and upon persons joining others in marriage, knowing that they are not lawfully authorized so to do. The fourteenth and fifteenth sections are those upon which most reliance is placed in support of the charge of the Circuit Court. The former declares that no marriage solemnized before any person professing to be a justice of the peace or minister of the gospel shall be deemed or adjudged to be void on account of any want of jurisdiction or authority in such supposed minister or justice, provided the marriage be consummated with a full belief on the part of the persons so married, or either of them, that they have been lawfully joined in marriage. This, it is argued, raises an implication that marriages not in the presence of a minister or justice, or one professing to be such, were intended to be declared void. But the implication is not necessarily so broad. It is satisfied if it reach not beyond marriages in the mode allowed by the act of the legislature.
Philip Andrew WITMER, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES of America, 348 U.S. 375
Argued: Feb. 1, 1955; Decided: March 14, 1955.
On February 21, 1951, the local Board classified Witmer I—A, denying his claims for classification as a farmer and a conscientious objector. Eight days later, he wrote the Board advising them that he intended to appeal from their action and requesting classification as 'a minister of the gospel.' Less than a week after posting this claim, he left his job in the hat factory, and shortly thereafter, at his appearance before the local Board, Witmer presented an affidavit from a local officer of the Jehovah's Witnesses that he had 'on many occasions' engaged in the 'preaching of the good news or gospel to others.' At the same time, he submitted a written statement that he carried Bibles and study aids from door to door, and, further, that one could be ordained as a minister of the Jehovah's Witnesses without attending a seminary or performing funeral or marriage ceremonies. In this statement Witmer wrote, 'The work that I now do is of greatest universal importance therefore I could not take part in a conflict of national or even international importance.' At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board felt the evidence did not warrant classification as a minister and 'informed the registrant his case would be sent up to the Appeal Board following his physical examination.' 3
McDaniel v. Paty (No. 76-1427) 435 U.S. 618

Argued: December 5, 1977; Decided: April 19, 1978
Appellee Paty, a candidate for delegate to a Tennessee constitutional convention, sued in the State Chancery Court for a declaratory judgment that appellant, an opponent who was a Baptist minister, was disqualified from serving as delegate by a Tennessee statutory provision establishing the qualifications of constitutional convention delegates to be the same as those for membership in the State House of Representatives, thus invoking a Tennessee constitutional provision barring "[m]inister[s] of the Gospel, or priest[s] of any denomination whatever." That court held that the statutory provision violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed, holding that the clergy disqualification imposed no burden on "religious belief," and restricted religious action . . . [only] in the law making process of government -- where religious action is absolutely prohibited by the establishment clause. . . .
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