congregational church government and Acts 14:23

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Logos1560, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. Logos1560

    Logos1560
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    Perhaps another place where the Church of England translators reveal their bias for their Episcopal church government is in Acts 14:23 where either the KJV translators, Bancroft, or another prelate omitted the words "by election" found in Tyndale's New Testament, Coverdale's Bible, Matthew's Bible, Great Bible, Taverner's Bible, Geneva Bible, and Bishops' Bible ("ordained them elders by election"). Dexter noted: “So Acts 14:23 retained in the English versions, until the hand of Episcopal authority struck it out, the recognition of the action of the membership of the churches in the choice of their elders” (Hand-Book, p. 15, footnote 1). In his 1648 sermon entitled “Truth and Love,“ Thomas Hill confirmed that Acts 14:23 was actually one of the fourteen places altered “to make them speak the language of the Church of England” (Six Sermons, p. 24). Edward Hiscox quoted Matthew Tindale as follows: "We read only of the Apostles constituting elders by the suffrages of the people, Acts 14:23, which is the genuine signification of the Greek word, cheirotoneesantes, so it is accordingly interpreted by Erasmus, Beza, Diodoti, and those who translated the Swiss, French, Italian, Belgic, and even English Bibles, till the Episcopal correction, which leaves out, the words, 'by election'" (Principles and Practices for Baptist Churches, p. 351).


    In removing the two words “by election,” the 1582 Rheims New Testament could have been followed. The 1582 had an annotation on this verse [numbered verse 22 in Rheims] that complained about the early English Bibles’ rendering. The Rheims’ annotation stated: “The heretics, to make the world believe that all Priests ought to be chosen by the voices of the people, and that they need no other Ordering or Consecration by Bishops, pressing the profane use of the Greek word more than the very natural signification requireth and Ecclesiastical use beareth, translate, Ordained by election. Whereas in deed this word in Scripture signifeth ordering by imposition of hands, as is plain by other words equivalent (Acts 6:13, 1 Tim. 4:5, 2 Tim. 1) where the ordering of deacons, Priests, and others is called Imposition of hands: not of the people, but of the Apostles” (p. 242). William Fulke cited Gregory Martin as writing: “for ‘ordaining elders by election,‘ they should have said, ‘ordaining or making priests by imposition of hands’” (Defence, pp. 247-248). Did the KJV translators or the prelate who omitted “by election” accept the Roman Catholic interpretation that this Greek word referred to “laying on of hands” for consecration to ecclesiastical offices?


    In agreement with the Roman Catholic view, Thomas Bilson, co-editor of the KJV, asserted that the Greek word at Acts 14:23 signifieth “imposition of hands” and “not to ordain by election of the people, as some men of late had new framed the text” (Perpetual Government of Christ‘s Church, p. 13). Bilson maintained that the Greek word “with all Greek councils, fathers, and stories, is ’to ordain by laying on of hands‘” (p. 120). Bilson claimed that Acts 14:23 “is the only place of the New Testament that can be brought to make any show for the popular elections of elders” (p. 137). KJV translator Lancelot Andrewes also asserted that “the apostles ordained priests by imposition of hands in every church, Acts 14:23” (Pattern, p. 355).
     
  2. Jerome

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    Uh oh, was our own HCSB infiltrated by episcoplotters? It neglects to add "by election" too.
     
  3. Dr. Bob

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    That phrase (in every Greek text I've found) was mysteriously dropped by Jerome in his Latin Vulgate. Remember, the Vulgate had a GREAT influence on the Anglican translators, having been only one generation removed from Roman papcy and having almost all their training, books, etc in Latin.

    So if the Latin omitted it, this would add great weight to the AV "translators" omitting it as well. After all, they were pushign the same hierarchial agenda in word choices.

    God save the King! ;)
     
  4. Logos1560

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    John Owen (1616-1683) noted that Erasmus, Vatablus, Beza, and all of our old English translations indicated that the choice of elders was "by election or the suffrage of the disciples" (Church & the Bible or Works, XVI, p. 60). Theodore Beza (1519-1605) contended that "the Christians of Asia gave their votes by lifting up their hands (Acts 14:23, Cheirotoneo)" (The Christian Faith, p. 104). In the Paraphrase on the Acts of the Apostles by Erasmus as translated by Robert Sider, Erasmus at Acts 14:23 maintained that “presbyters were chosen throughout by popular vote in each city” (p. 93). Sider also referred to “the annotation on 14:23 where Erasmus insists that we are to understand here a choice by vote” (p. 262, note 33). The 1599 edition of the Geneva Bible and 1672 edition of the KJV have a marginal note at Acts 14:23 that observed that the apostles "chose and placed them [pastors] by the voice of the congregation." The Geneva Bible and the 1672 edition of the KJV also have this note at Acts 14:23: “The word in the original is taken from the custom of the Greeks, whose manner was to chose their officers by lifting up of the hands.” The 1557 Whittingham’s New Testament has this note for the word “election” at Acts 14:23: “The word signifieth to elect by putting up the hands, which declareth that ministers were not made without the consent of the people.“ In his commentary on Acts, John Calvin (1509-1564) noted that this Greek word "means to determine something by raising hands, as is usually done in the assemblies of the people" (p. 19). John Cotton also asserted that “the apostles are said to have ordained elders by lifting up of hands (to wit, of the people) as the original word implieth” (Way, p. 42). John Lightfoot reported that Sidrach Simpson (c1600-1655) maintained that this Greek word “is ’to give suffrage’ in all lexicons” (Pitman, Whole Works, XIII, p. 101). Lightfoot also quoted William Bridge (1600-1670) as saying that “the apostles appointed the people to chose; as Acts 6:3, 5, so here [Acts 14:23]“ (p. 102). The Dutch Annotations as translated into English by Theodore Haak in 1657 presented the first part of the text of Acts 14:23 as follows: "And when they in every church with lifting up of hands had chosen them elders." Owen observed that the first constant use of this Greek word "in things political or civil, and so consequently ecclesiastical, is to choose, elect, design, or create any person an officer, magistrate, or ruler, by suffrage or common consent of those concerned. And this was usually done with making bare the hand and arm with lifting up" (Church & the Bible, p. 61).


    In his commentary, Matthew Poole (1624- 1679) wrote that "the word properly signifies a stretching out of the hand, such as was used when they gave their suffrages in the election of their magistrates" (III, p. 432). Smith pointed out that George Gillespie (1613-1648) "opposed the episcopal translation [the KJV], and shewed the [Westminster] assembly, that the Greek word, by them [KJV translators] turned into ordination, was, in reality, choosing, and imported the suffrages of the people in electing their own officebears" (Select Memoirs, p. 631). George Gillespie noted: "Such men only were ordained elders by Paul and Barnabas who were chosen and approved by the whole church, their suffrages being signified by the lifting up of their hands, Acts 14:23" (Dispute, p. 162). Gillespie maintained that elders “were chosen by most voices of the church, the suffrages being signified, per cheirotoneesantes, that is, by lifting up, or stretching out of the hand, Acts 14:23, where the Syriac version doth insinuate, that the [Greek] word is not to be understood of the Apostles’ ordination of elders, but of the Churches‘ election of elders” (Treatise, p. 9).


    In his 1844 book, Baptist Warham Walker noted that the original word implied the election of pastors or elders "by holding up the hand (Acts 14:23)" (Harmony in the Church, p. 19). In his 1846 book, R. B. C. Howell (1801-1868) asserted: “It is plain that the churches elected their own pastors by a full suffrage, expressed by [cheirotoneo] stretching forth the hand” (Deaconship, p. 52). In his 1847 edition of the KJV with commentary, Adam Clarke maintained that this Greek word at Acts 14:23 "signifies the holding up or stretching out the hand, as approving of the choice of any person to a particular work." Albert Barnes observed that this Greek word "properly denotes 'to stretch out the hand;' and as it was customary to elect to office, or to vote, by stretching out or elevating the hand" (Barnes' Notes on N. T. , p. 467). Fundamentalist Richard Clearwaters pointed out: "'ordained' (AV.) is translated from the Greek word which means 'to designate by stretching out' or 'pointing with the hand in voting'" (Local Church of the N.T., p. 27). Pastor Hezediah Harvey (1821-1893) wrote: "Here the word rendered 'ordained' is the same as that rendered 'chosen' [2 Cor. 8:19], denoting primarily to vote with uplifted hands" (The Church, p. 41). Harvey contended that "the Greek participle has here the causative sense: 'Caused them to elect elders in every church'" (Ibid.). Baptist William Crowell maintained that the word properly signifies “to stretch forth the hand for the purpose of voting” (Church Member’s Manual, p. 93).


    In his commentary on Acts, Oliver B. Greene wrote: “The Greek verb means ‘to stretch out the hand.‘ It was customary to cast a vote by raising the hand; so the word ‘ordain’ as used here simply means that the church elected, appointed, or designated those who were to be elders in every church” (II, p. 315). Concerning the first part of Acts 14:23 in the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, David Brown commented: “Literally, ’Having chosen them elders by show of hands’--that is, having superintended such choice on the part of the disciples; and there is the best reason to conclude that this is the sense intended by the historian, and not ’ordained’ (as our version, following in this case the Vulgate and Luther, rather than Beza, have rendered the term” (III, p. 99). Brown added: “The expression used (says Lechler) leads to the idea that the apostles appointed and conducted a congregational election; and to this also points the precedent (in chapter 6) of the election of the seven deacons in Jerusalem, conducted by the apostles” (Ibid.). Concerning this verse in The Complete Biblical Library, Stanley Horton wrote: “The Greek word for ‘ordained’ here is cherantonesantes, where cheir means hand, and the whole word means they conducted an election by show of hands” (p. 351).

     
  5. Logos1560

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    In his 1688 book, Thomas Ward, a Roman Catholic, claimed that “they thought it now convenient to pretend something more than a bare election; to wit, to receive an episcopal and priestly character, by the imposition of hands” (Errata, p. 69). Ward suggested that perhaps one reason the words by election were removed from Acts 14:23 was “that they might more securely fix themselves in their bishoprics and benefices; thinking, perhaps that bishops consecrated, might pretend to that jure divino” (Ibid.). Ward asserted that “they thought good to blot out the words ’by election‘” (p. 26).

    I find it interesting that a writer in the late 1600's connected the removal or blotting out the words "by election" at Acts 14:23 and the new theory of divine origin of bishops and apostolic succession of bishops.
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    Good stuff in this thread. Thanks Logos!
     
  7. Fred Moritz

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    Congregational Government

    For you who are interested, check Lenski's commentary on Acts 14. He is very lucid on the subject.

    A coming issue of Frontline, published by the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, is going to deal with the subject of congregational government. I have written an article for that issue on the indications of congregational government in Acts 13 - 15. I deal with Acts 14:23 in the article.
     
  8. Logos1560

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    I would be interested in reading your article.

    I found another statement from the 1600's today that refers to this verse.

    In his 1612 Christian Dictionary, Thomas Wilson (1563-1622) has this third definition for election: “the choosing or appointing some unto public functions, by voices, or by a common consent (Acts 14:23) ‘when they had ordained elders by election in every church‘” (p. 122).
     
  9. Salamander

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    Funny thing, we only use the KJB in all matters of church and we elect our officers in every situation. So the same ol' demonizing the KJVO sect has been sunk again.
     
  10. Logos1560

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    The fact that your church may use only the KJV and that it still elects its officers does not prove that the KJV does not have any examples of episcopal bias. Perhaps your church reads a different meaning into "ordained" at Acts 14:23 than the meaning that Bishop Thomas Bilson intended.

    Perhaps your church is simply following teachings from the early Baptists about congregational church government that came from the Geneva Bible or one of the other pre-1611 English Bibles.
     
  11. Logos1560

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    At the Look Higher web site mentioned in the thread entitled cool site, the 1851 edition of the KJV's New Testament as edited by Baptists Spencer Cone and William Wyckoff began Acts 14:23 as follows:

    And when they had ordained by election elders for them in each church
     
  12. rsr

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    In a similar vein:

    Moreover, appointing unto them by vote, in each assembly, elders, praying with fastings, they commended them unto the Lord on whom they had believed.
    — The Emphasised Bible (Rotherham)

    And in every Church, after prayer and fasting, they selected Elders by show of hands, and commended them to the Lord on whom their faith rested.
    — New Testament in Modern Speech (Weymouth)
     
  13. Eliyahu

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    This is very much interesting issue, though I discovered it just now.

    I have read your posts very much interestingly because I am a so-called Plymouth Brethren who reject any clergy system or any priesthood.

    Your posts may have been focussed on the method of election, but there may be several more issues to look at.

    Some of the points that I believe are that KJV refelcted some influences or the existing practices by the Clergy system of COE and the Presbyterian theology like Predestination ( such as hardened the heart of Pharoh)

    So, I disagree with the word " Pastors" in Ephesians 4:11 ( Pastors and Teachers). Poimen must be interpretted as Shepherd, but they translated it into Pastors.

    I am so much convinced that there are only 2 offices in the church, Elder and Deacon( Phil 1:1), and the Elders were also called Overseers ( Acts 20:28)
    Even at the time of Paul, he already predicted this kind of clergy system would happen,

    Acts 20: ( Paul called the Elders of Ephesus in verse 17, then speaks this)

    28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

    30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

    Such Clergy system has emphasized the ceremony of Ordain very much and often use Acts 14:23 for their authority.

    However, my emphasis is in 1 Tim 3:1-13 which talks about the qualifications of the Overseers and of the Deacons, and Titus 1:5-10 which confirms the same qualification for the Elders.

    Keirotenasantes ( Ac 14:23) or Epidiomi ( Titus 1:5) or Kathistemi may have to be reviewed closely. But I don't think they support any authoritative Ordainment by the superior church government.

    The candidates must have been proven by their actual lives and they should have met the qualification as explained in 1 Tim 3, and must have been approved by the church members first, then the Elders would have stretched out their hands to the newly elected Elders as a sign of consent and acceptance. The elders who extend their hands must be another elders who develop the churches, in case of newly established churches, and the existing elders in case of the existing churches.

    The election of the elders or deacons should be done after the church members recognize and know the candidates quite well with a view to the qualification stated in 1 Tim 3:1-13. Otherwise the voting would be meaningless.

    Ephesians 4:11 is not talking about the Office ( or Title) but the Gifts given by Christ, and Gifts and Offices must be distinguished, and therefore Shepherd instead of Pastor is correct as Darby translated.

    Now, when I read Acts 14:23 in KJV, I think it just reflects the clergy system which is untrue. I would rather replace Ordain with Stretching out of Hands as I disagre with much authority of the ceremony.
    If any church government can appoint them, it means they can be fired by such government too. But the final authority of the individual church is in the hands of the Holy Spirit as we read Acts 13:1-2.

    Everybody is the priest based on the Blood and Death of Jesus Christ, and the Clergy system denies this fundamental truth.
     
    #13 Eliyahu, Apr 13, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2009
  14. AntennaFarmer

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    It looks to me that pretty much all of the commonly used modern versions fail to add "by election". Could it be that most of the MV's are in error? Naw. Be real. No way!
     
  15. Logos1560

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    There is clear evidence that Acts 14:23 as found in the pre-1611 English Bibles and in the Greek was one of the verses appealed to by believers who advocated congregational church government.

    A Confession of Faith by a group of Separatists in 1596 maintained in Article 23 “that as every Christian congregation hath power and commandment to elect and ordain their own ministry according to the rules prescribed” and the verses cited were Acts 6:3, 5, 6 and Acts 14:23 (Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions, p. 89). In a 1611 Confession of Faith thought to have been written by Thomas Helwys, Article 21 noted “that these Officers are to be chosen when there are persons qualified according to the rules in Christ’s Testament (1 Timothy 3:2-7, Titus 1:6-9, Acts 6:3-4) by election and approbation of that church or congregation whereof they are members (Acts 6:3-4 and 14:23) (Lumpkin,p. 122). The 1677 Second London Confession of Faith by Baptists maintained that a bishop or elder is “to be chosen thereunto by the common suffrage of the Church itself,” and it cited Acts 14:23 in the margin with the comment “See the original” (Lumpkin, p. 287; McGlothin, Baptist Confessions, p. 266). The 1742 Philadelphia Confession of Faith by Baptists retained the same words that had been based on Acts 14:23: “to be chosen thereunto by the common suffrage of the church itself” (Cathcart, Baptist Encyclopaedia, p. 1320).
     
  16. Logos1560

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    On the fourth page of the preface to his 1641 book, Edward Barber referred to “the great wrong done in putting out some Scripture, as in Acts 14:23, where election is left out, by which means people are kept from knowing, much less enjoying their priviledge” (Small Treatise of Baptism or Dipping, p. iv).
     
  17. Logos1560

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    I am commenting on this thread to bring it up for a new poster that asked for more information about this verse to see.
     

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