Elders in the NT Church

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by richard n koustas, Dec 11, 2005.

  1. richard n koustas

    richard n koustas
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2004
    Messages:
    443
    Likes Received:
    0
    In the NT church (or the churches in the NT), was there one elder per church, a plurality of elders in each church (all pretty much equal)? many elders with one in charge?

    feel free to quote scripture in your response...
     
  2. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    The church at Ephesus, etc. had many pastors. But each house church had at least one pastor. Those pastors cooperated together to reach the world for Christ. Read Acts 20.
     
  3. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2001
    Messages:
    5,145
    Likes Received:
    25
    The New Testament practice indicates a plurality of elders in each church. There is a consistent use of the word "elders" (plural) and the word "church" (singular). There were multiple leaders in Jersualem (Acts 15:4), Philippi (Phil. 1:1), Ephesus (Acts 20:17ff.), and the churches to which James was writing (James 5:14). The use of "them" in Hebrews 13:7,17 also seems to be in agreement with the concept of plurality of elders.

    Acts 14:23 - And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

    Acts 15:4 - And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.

    Acts 20:17 - And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

    Phil. 1:1 - Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

    James 5:14 - Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
     
  4. Hope of Glory

    Hope of Glory
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    4,807
    Likes Received:
    0
    Elsewhere on this board, you can find a rather lengthy discussion about this subject. Scriptures talk about multiple elders, singular pastor, and singular overseer. Personally, my conclusion is that many elders are permitted; one is required. Elder, pastor, and overseer are three offices that can be filled by one person or by multiple people. They're all responsible for shepherding, though.
     
  5. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2001
    Messages:
    5,145
    Likes Received:
    25
    richard, as a matter of information, I hold that elder/bishop/pastor is one office/function; so my discussion of it is from that perspective.

    For example:

    Titus 1:5-7 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;...

    Acts 20:28 - Paul tells the elders at Ephesus to pastor the church over which the Holy Ghost has made them overseers.

    I Peter 5:1-4 Peter tells the elders to pastor and be responsible as overseers.
     
  6. richard n koustas

    richard n koustas
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2004
    Messages:
    443
    Likes Received:
    0
    With this i agree...now were they equals? or was one to rule over the others?
     
  7. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    With this i agree...now were they equals? or was one to rule over the others? </font>[/QUOTE]Older pastors lead younger pastors in the case of Paul and the other pastors he trained. Such as in Acts 20.
     
  8. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2001
    Messages:
    5,145
    Likes Received:
    25
    Yes, of equal standing; equal in the sense that there is not one ruling over the others. Jesus indicates the ideal for equal Christian servants in Matt 20, Mark 10, Luke 22. This idea can still recognize that among these equals there are those with differing gifts and even differing amounts of experience.

    Matthew 20:25-27 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant...
     
  9. Artimaeus

    Artimaeus
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2002
    Messages:
    3,133
    Likes Received:
    0
    Multiple elders seems to be the Biblical norm but it does not seems to be the practical norm. Maybe we should adjust our thinking to fit the Biblical norm as we expect others to do.
     
  10. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    29,402
    Likes Received:
    12
    Remember, "elder" is the person and "pastor" (used only once in the NT) is work of shepherding. As in the work of overseer. While WE seem intent on confusing the person with the work, we should remember

    Agree that the elders in the early church were plural and that is a good pattern to follow.
     
  11. dale kesterson

    dale kesterson
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2004
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have learned a lot from the writings of 9 Marks. There is a plethora of reading on the subject and I pray the church will, as Artimaeus mentioned, return to the biblical norm. www.9marks.org
     
  12. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2001
    Messages:
    5,145
    Likes Received:
    25
    dale, thanks for the 9marks link. It appears to have some very useful information. Here is a quote I clipped and am pasting: "...no matter how deplorable the practical leadership of the church becomes in any given age or area, our Christian views on authority and leadership in the church need to be shaped and molded not by our subjective personal experiences, or by the poor execution of biblical principles by our leaders, but rather by the objective standard of the Scriptural text."

    I think that goes along well with Artimaeus' comment that "Maybe we should adjust our thinking to fit the Biblical norm" and Dr. Bob's that "elders in the early church were plural and that is a good pattern to follow". I believe I would go further and say that is the only New Testament pattern we have to follow.
     
  13. MikeinGhana

    MikeinGhana
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    356
    Likes Received:
    0
    The question that seems to be unanswered here is this, "Is there one pastor/elder in charge?"

    As you know when there is more than one head of anything there is trouble. When God wanted to do something he almost always chose a man to lead. That did not make him any better than those he led, just more responsible. It makes sense that even with a plurality of elders/pastors there must be a "senior" man that would lead. God gives a vision for a ministry to a man. The wise leader is a servant leader that takes advice and counsel and uses it in his decision making.
     
  14. Hope of Glory

    Hope of Glory
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    4,807
    Likes Received:
    0
    Absolutely there was one who was in charge, but he's not the "boss" (unless he's the only one).
     
  15. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    29,402
    Likes Received:
    12
    In charge of WHAT??

    Overall ministry, preaching/teaching? Yep. Usually one man that is the "teaching elder" or the "lead elder".

    But there are elders who "rule", leading the congregation in business matters.

    There are elders who "serve" or minister in visitation of widows and needy.

    ALL the elders work together for general oversight of the ministry and the Word. And in our group, we are training two men to be elders that will lead splits off our congregation (in future years) when we get too large.
     
  16. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2001
    Messages:
    5,145
    Likes Received:
    25
    There is one head, that is Jesus Christ.

    Matt. 21:42 - Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

    Eph. 1:22 - And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

    Col. 1:18 - And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

    The concept of someone "in charge" seems to come more from the world than the New Testament. Take the apostles, for example (see Matt. 20:25-27). Which one did Christ put in charge over the others? Were they equal? Does this equality mean there was no leadership? Is there a New Testament example of one elder being in charge of the others?

    Again this does not negate the fact that some elders may be gifted in one area and some in another. The exercise of those gifts provides leadership in various areas.
     
  17. richard n koustas

    richard n koustas
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2004
    Messages:
    443
    Likes Received:
    0
    rlvaughn [​IMG]

    No, the unaswered question is WAS there one in charge...in the NT churches. so far i have not seen any biblical evidence to support that there was. the reference to Acts 20 above does not seem to support it. i think that flvaughn answered correctly...(i didn't see his post when i started this response...)
     
  18. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    Seems pretty clear that Peter, and later James were "in charge" in Jerusalem. The idea that there is no pastor "in charge" in the church is an idea that has no merit in either Scripture or in practice.
     
  19. MikeinGhana

    MikeinGhana
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    356
    Likes Received:
    0
    So with a "plurality of elders" who has a vision from God for a direction in ministry the church should go in? Do you consider the Baptistic structure of a pastor and several assistant pastors, such as a youth pastor, a pastor of education, a visitation pastor, etc., as a plurality of elders?
     
  20. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    Several people can work together if each have a clear role and allowed to lead in that role. The title is not important. The important thing is that the job get done.
     

Share This Page

Loading...