Biblically, what is a bishop, and why dont we have them?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Emily25069, May 11, 2008.

  1. Emily25069

    Emily25069
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    I guess my entire question is in the title really.

    Is a Bishop the same thing as a Pastor?
     
  2. Psalm 95

    Psalm 95
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    I think an Bishop is an overseer, and is the same as an Elder. A Pastor is an Elder (the Elder or one of the Elders).

    Best Regards

    Psalm 95
     
  3. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    Psalm 95 is correct. Bishop (Overseer), Pastor and Elder refer to the same person. You could very easily call your pastor Bishop So-and-so, or Elder So-and-so.

    One hundred years ago calling Baptist pastors Elder Jones was common.
     
  4. EdSutton

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    Bishop or overseer (episkopos) is the same thing as elder (presbuteros). (Ac. 20:17, 28; Tit. 1:5-7) The Biblical idea is that they are plural in number, in the local church, I believe, and as such, they have the collective responsibility of 'ruling' and 'shepherding' the flock. (Ac. 11:30; 14:23; 15:2, 4, 6, 22; 20:17, 28; 21:8; Phl'p. 1:1; I Tim. 5:17; Tit. 1:5; Heb. 13:7, 17; Jas. 5:14; I Pet. 5:1-2) There are a number of specific qualifications involved for this 'position' or office of bishop/elder. (I Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1: 5-9) It is one of two definite offices set up in Scripture for the church, along with deacon. Bishop/elder is limited to married men, as I read Scripture.

    Pastor and teacher (poimen kai didaskolos - Eph. 4:11, the only occurrence of poimen in the Bible) is one of the spiritual gifts (Biblically, there is no such thing as a pastor who is not also a teacher, although one can be a teacher without being a pastor - Ro. 12:7; I Cor. 12:28,29), and is not to be confuted or confused with the office of bishop. The gifts are irrevocably given (at least one spiritual gift to every believer) at the point of salvation, by the Holy Spirit, and at His sole discretion. (Rom. 11:29; I Cor. 12:7, 11)

    More on this can be found in my posts, here, to show three -

    http://www.baptistboard.com/showpost.php?p=305692&postcount=5

    http://www.baptistboard.com/showpost.php?p=849406&postcount=41

    http://www.baptistboard.com/showpost.php?p=1118554&postcount=10

    Hope that helps.

    You might "Google" this on the BB where I have posted, to find several posts where I touch on "elder" and/or "bishop".

    I do note that two others already do not agree with me.

    Surprise! I thought it would take a little longer, before that happened. :rolleyes:

    Consider this. If the two are identical, how can a person receive this gift of pastor/teacher at the point of salvation, and at the same time fit the requirement where a bishop "must be ... not a novice"?

    Ed
     
    #4 EdSutton, May 12, 2008
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  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Ed, overall yours was an excellent post. But I'll have to disagree with you here. The idea that Eph. 4:11 speaks of a pastor/teacher rather than pastors and teachers (separate offices) comes from a misinterpretation of the Granville Sharpe rule, in which two nouns of the same case are connected by kai ("and") and have the article only before the first, they refer to the same thing. The mistake is to apply the Granville Sharpe rule to this plural construction, when it only can be applied to singular nouns. But you then redeem yourself with your other references showing that one can be a teacher with out being a pastor. :thumbs::type:
     
  6. Joseph M. Smith

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    These posts do well with the Biblical material, but do not answer the OP's additional question, "Why don't we have bishops?". There are some historical items to look at.

    Early on, because the earliest churches planted daughter churches in the regions around them, the episkopos/overseer naturally brought leadership to those newer churches. Gradually that became the monarchical episcopate, a territorial rule over a number of churches, the kind of bishopric we still see today in Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, and other churches. And the rule of the bishop came to be seen as normative and definitive.

    Baptists are among those who, following the more radical Puritans, wanted to divest themselves of everything that looked Catholic, and the episcopate was and still is a favorite target. It goes against the individualism that is so deep in the free church experience. Our theology posits the idea that each congregation contains all that it needs to be a valid church, and so no oversight is needed.

    What interests me, though, is that in recent years there has been a move toward episcopacy among some Baptists. Those affiliated with the Full Gospel movement have created an episcopal hierarchy, complete with the wearing of the purple! Very odd for Baptists!
     
  7. Bro. James

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    I would disagree with the premise that the present practices of so-called church government have somehow evolved into modern New Testament Churches. I would contend that what we see today is filthy lucre and respect of persons having made nearly a full circle in that which is known as Christendom--a masterpiece of deception.

    The Lord's Churches have not changed. They have no authority to change anything. There are no class distinctions greater than undershepherd--a far cry from the pontifex maximus and other trappings which have evolved from the Roman legalistic system since the 4th century and reformed in the 16th century. The Lord's churches were never part of these things. They were persecuted for not bowing to the usurped authority of Rome--also Wittenburg and Geneva, etal.

    How does one reform usurped authority?

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
    #7 Bro. James, May 12, 2008
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  8. Tom Butler

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    Although there was obviously a plurality of elders in the Jerusalem church, we should be careful about adopting this as a permanent governing mechanism for all.

    There was a need for them in Jerusalem. Since getting all 5,000 members together in one place was a problem, the meeting "from house to house" was a practical solution. Multiple meeting places and preaching station required leaders at each place.

    Today, in my small church, a plurality of elders is not needed. We have all we need. One, our pastor. Larger churches may need more than one, or ten. In most Baptist churches they're called Associate Pastors, or some variation.
     
  9. David Lamb

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    We do have them - we just don't call them "bishops". As others have said, the word translated "bishop" in English bibles refers to the same men as the word translated "elder". Paul wrote in Titus 1.5-7:

    5 ¶ For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you–– 6 ¶ if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self–willed, not quick–tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money.

    He has not suddenly changed gear between verse 5's "elders" and verse 7's "bishop" - he is writing about the same man/men. I imagine the reason we don't tend to use the word "bishop" is that most people think a bishop is some kind of "church top brass." My secular dictionary gives this definition: a senior Christian cleric, especially in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox churches, who is in charge of the spiritual life and administration of a particular region or diocese.

     
  10. John of Japan

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    Well said, Tom. :thumbs: I pastor a small church too. I'd be happy if we just had a deacon, never mind another elder/pastor/bishop!

    Lately I've been reading the biography of J. O. Fraser, the missionary to the Lisu in eastern China in the first part of the 20th century. In describing the people movement that developed there, it is plain that in the early stages the churches were not even mature enough for one ordained pastor, much less a plurality.

    One is reminded of the churches Paul planted in Asia Minor in a people movement. It was evidently not possible at first for the churches there to have mature, ordained pastors, since Paul had to tell Titus to ordain elders in every city. Yet they were real churches of real believers, not some kind of second class church.

    If a pattern for the church is to be genuinely Biblical, I believe it must be applicable to all cultures in all ages. That's one reason I am a Baptist of course. And one reason I do not agree with some varieties of "elder rule" church government.
     
  11. David Lamb

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    Not just the Jerusalem church, surely? Acts 14.23 says, "they had appointed elders in every church." Acts 20.17 talks of Paul sending for the elders of the church at Ephesus. Titus 1.5 mentions "the elders in every city" (and in those days, it seems unlikely that a single city would have more than one local church). And James 5.14 talks of calling for the elders of the church, not "the elders of the churches".
     
  12. Jerome

    Jerome
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    Early Baptists rejected the Presbyterian "mandatory plurality of elders" recently being pushed by the new "Reformed" Baptist movement.

    Andrew Fuller, Works Vol. III, 1824, p. 474
    "but for a small church to have more pastors than one is as unnecessary as to have seven deacons. Such a rule must favor idleness, and confine useful ministers from extending their labours. To place two or three in a post which may be filled by one, must leave many other places unoccupied. Such a system is more adapted for show than for promoting the kingdom of Christ. . . . If the term elder must be understood to be not only a term of office, but of the pastoral office exclusively, and a plurality of them be required, why is not a plurality of them supported? The office of elder in those churches which are partial to the system is little more than nominal : for while an elder is employed like other men in the necessary cares of life, he cannot ordinarily fulfil the duties of his office."

    John Gill, Body of Practical Divinity Vol. III, 1770, p. 252
    "we never read of more churches under one bishop or pastor, though there may have been, where churches were large, more bishops or pastors in one church, Phil. i.1"

    William Rider, Laying on of Hands Asserted, 1656, pp. 15-17
    I have read of Bishops and Deacons, and of Apostles and Elders, who were Deacons; but never of Elders and Deacons: My reason is, because a Deacon is an Elder in the Church. . . . how confused have they appeared in their setting persons apart for Elders? not knowing, or at least not minding, that in the word Elders is comprehended all officers in the Church, with the Ministerial work also, . . . and so Elders is distinguished into several offices in the Church, as Bishops and Deacons : the Deacons were to be men full of the Holy Spirit and faith;& so indeed fit for the work of the Lord among his people, as well as Bishops, and so were Elders in the Church, see Acts 6.6, vers. and Acts 15.22 vers. where the Deacons spoken of in the 6 Chapter, are called Elders in the 15 Chapter; again, Philip. 1.1 vers. where the Apostle writeth to the Saints, with the Bishops and Deacons: so Paul to Timothy writes of the qualifications of the Bishops and Deacons ; not Elders and Deacons ; you shall never in all the Scripture find Elders and Deacons expressed."

    Benjamin Keach, Gospel Mysteries Unveil'd, 1701, p. 217
    "Moreover, the Deacons are to be helps in Government. Some think Paul calls the Deacons Elders, when he speaks of Elders that rule well [I Tim. 5:17] (as our Annotators observe)..."

    History of the Shaftsbury Baptist Association, 1853, pp. 97-98
    [1804] It appears to us that Bishops, or teaching Elders and Deacons, are the only standing officers to be ordained in the Church. These are both called Elders, I Tim. v.17. Let the Elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour ; especially they who labor in word and doctrine. By this we learn, that there were some Elders whose special office-work was not to labor in word and doctrine. Paul directed titus to ordain elders in every city ; and it is said of Paul and Barnabas, Acts xiv.23, that they ordained them Elders in every church : and when they had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. By these Elders, we understand Bishops and Deacons ; and we have not learned from the scriptures, but that these two are the only officers to be ordained in the Christian Church. One principal reason why we thus think, is, the the apostle, I Tim. iii. hath particularly delineated the characters suitable both for Bishops and Deacons; but we cannot find either the character of work of any other officers described in the New Testament."

    American Baptist Magazine, 1829, p. 237
    "The term elder was, probably, a general term equivalent to our word officer; and thus it could be applied to a pastor, or to a deacon ; and the elders of a church included the pastor or pastors and the deacons."
     
    #12 Jerome, May 12, 2008
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  13. Revmitchell

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    Seeing that "Every church" is employed here it shows multiple elders among multiple churches. But does not clearly show multiple elders in any one church.

    How many members were there? Did the membership justify multople elders?

    Why? I think to lean either way because of these passages is to fail exegetical methods and go straight to eisegetical.

    Sicne there is no clear command to have multiple elders and in some churches it is quite excessive the case for them is quite weak. Usually this comes ou of fear from one pastor being in charge so to speak. What I think occurs is that we forget who actually is in charge. Truth is congregationalism cannot be supported by scripture either. (But that is another subject)

    Scripture is clear that it is the Holy Ghost who places pastors in the church Acts 20:28. But it is evident that some either do not know this, or they ignore this, or they have no faith that God is at work in this. Other wise the unfounded fear would not exist. Personally I thing this fear of Pastors (which is unbiblical) is a result of congregationalism. Congregations working to keep power rely very little on God to call the pastor and are never really convinced that God called him. Else they would have stringer faith in him. So now what we have is deacons who act much like union representatives to protect the church from the pastor. So when pastors show up immediately there is conflict and hostility between him and the church. Everyone needds to give up their power and rely on God as he leads his people through his chosen man much like he has done without fail since the begining of time.
     
  14. Tom Butler

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    Again, it's a reasonable conclusion that the number of elders (pastors) in a congregation depended on the size and the need. Even though there might be only one church in a city or town, it is highly unlikely that any one place could accommodate them all. Thus, they had meetings in homes. Multiple preaching stations required multiple preachers.

    Most churches which have staff actually have a plurality of elders. They call them Senior pastors, worship pastor, youth pastor, outreach pastor, executive pastor, etc. The main difference is that these are usually paid staff, considered as hirelings by the church. But they are the hands-on people who use their gifts to advance the program of the church.

    Some churches have elderes who are separate from the staff.

    In each case, the number of elders, deacons, etc., is directly related to the size of the church. Or, a new church plant, which might require extra elders or deacons to get it started,
     
  15. donnA

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    At that time they probably did not have a building dedicated for 'church' or one large enough. By necessity they would have been spread out in different homes. Each group would have a 'pastor'.
     
  16. TCGreek

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    In NT, a bishop, which is an old English word, is the same office as a pastor, and an elder.

    Some translations have "bishops" while others have "overseers" for the same Greek term episkopoi.

    In Acts 20:17, 28 all three terms are used: elders, overseers/bishops and pastor, at least in the verb form.

    We find the same thing in 1 Pet 5:1-4: elders, overseers, in the verb form and pastor, in the verb form.

    We just have to let Scripture speak.
     

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