FOUNDATIONS

Lessons designed to promote the integrity of scripture and church!

I Corinthians 3:11“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is    JESUS CHRIST  

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

 

"The New Testament Church"

LESSON SIX.

 

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH.

 

As denominationalism practices a hierarchy of human leadership in the form of councils, boards of directors, presidents, pastors and even popes; we want to take a look at what the New Testament church practiced.

Before we look at the government of the New Testament church, it is important to understand one very important word!

Preeminence!

What is preeminence?

It comes from the Greek word, ‘Protos ', to be first!

Colossians 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 may have the preeminence.”

 

As the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Colossi concerning the preeminence of Christ in the church, he defined that this rule was complete and that it was not going to be shared. So, in “all things” Christ alone is preeminent in matters of the church!

 

During the ministry of Jesus while on earth, His disciples argued concerning who would be greater among them in the kingdom. As the Lord knew their hearts and the argument among them, if He was going to appoint one of His chosen to be the head of the church or to have preeminence, this would have been the time; but instead, He said:

Matthew 18:1-5 “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”

 

Later in the history of the church, we find Diotrephes. This individual sought to have singular preeminence in the church; particularly in who may come in, note:

3 John 9-10 “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.”

 

In this harsh rebuke, John establishes that no man was to have preeminence in the church; this is the sole domain of the Christ of God.

Matthew 28:18 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

 

The authority of Christ over the church was universal!

Executive: Head, King, Ruler, Christ, etc… Acts 2:36.

Legislative: The only Law Giver - 2 John 9.

Judicial: Judging the world in righteousness – Acts 17:31.

 

Since Christ is the only One with preeminence over the church, let us examine what kind of government He established in the church!

 

1. Christ Gave His Church a Congregational Form of Government!

Acts 14:23 “So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

Acts 20:28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

1 Peter 5:1-4 “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”

 

In these passages we see that:

There were to be elders in each church.

These elders are only over their own flocks (“Shepherd the flock of God which is among you).

They were made overseers by the Holy Spirit. This was accomplished by their appointment according to the qualifications given through the scriptures as revealed by the Spirit.

The term elder, is always used in a plural sense when describing the office in effect and denotes that the Lord's government was not to be a single man rule.

QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS

1 Timothy 3:1-7

MUST BE A MAN.

DESIRE THE POSITION.

MUST BE BLAMLESS.

MUST BE THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE.

MUST BE TEMPERATE.

MUST BE SOBER MINDED.

MUST BE OF GOOD BEHAVIOR.

MUST BE HOSPITABLE.

MUST BE ABLE TO TEACH.

MUST NOT BE GIVEN TO WINE.

MUST NOT BE VIOLENT.

MUST NOT BE GREEDY FOR MONEY.

MUST BE GENTLE.

MUST NOT BE QUARRELSOME.

MUST NOT BE COVETOUS.

MUST RULE HIS OWN HOUSE WELL.

HIS CHILDREN MUST BE IN SUBMISSION.

MUST NOT BE A NOVICE.

MUST NOT BE PUFFED UP WITH PRIDE.

MUST HAVE A GOOD TESTIMONY AMONG THOSE OUTSIDE.

 

Titus 1:6-9

MUST BE A MAN.

BLAMELESS.

THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE.

HAVING FAITHFUL CHILDREN.

MUST BE BLAMELESS AS A STEWARD OF GOD.

NOT SELF WILLED.

NOT QUICK TEMPERED.

NOT GIVEN TO WINE.

NOT VIOLENT.

NOT GREEDY FOR MONEY.

HOSPITABLE.

A LOVER OF WHAT IS GOOD.

SOBER MINDED.

JUST.

HOLY.

SELF CONTROLLED.

HOLDING FAST THE WORD.

USING SOUND DOCTRINE TO EXHORT AND CONVICT.

This Divine arrangement, specified by the authority of Christ excludes all other organizations or forms of government.

 

2. Elders Have No Legislative Authority.

First and foremost there is only one with preeminece and there then can only be one Lawgiver.

Ephesians 4:21 “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus”

 

The elders have been charged to hold fast the faithful word!

Titus 1:9 “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”

 

Their oversight is in realms of faith (word guided, established), to enforce and lead by example that which is authorized by the Lord through the word. They are not lords, even in the approved realms of judgment. They are to do the Lord's will and not their own.

1 Peter 5:3 “nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock”

 

3. Elders are to be Obeyed as Overseers.

Any failure to appreciate the wisdom of the Lord in His appointed oversight and failure to submit to a scriptural eldership is to be insubordinate to the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves.”

Hebrews 13:17 “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

 

There is a scriptural process for the establishment of fault with the elders. They are men and capable of error. With this said they are also subject to every opportunity to repent and re-establish themselves in the Lord.

1 Timothy 5:17-19 “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.”

 

The accusations cannot be personal likes and dislikes, but have to be in relation to their labor in the word and doctrine!

Church Government

Ephesians 3:10-11

 

Head

1st Corinthians 11:3

 

God

 

Supreme

1st Corinthians 15:24-27

 

 

 

 

 

Authority-All

Matthew 28:18

1. Legislative

2. Executive

3. Judicial

 

Christ

 

Head, King, lord, Master

 

 

 

 

 

Authority-Delegated

2 Corinthians 5:20; Matthew 16:18 -19; 18:18; 19:28

1. Bind

2. Loose

3. Deliver Holy Spirit Mandates

 

Apostles

 

Ambassadors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Authority-Delegated

Acts 20:17 -32; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Peter 5:1-3; Hebrews 13:17

1. Oversee

2. Rule

3. Superintend

 

Elders

 

Bishops, Pastors, Rulers, Stewards

(Local only)

 

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Evangelist

PREACH THE WORD

1 Timothy 4:1-3

NO AUTORITY

 

Deacon

SPECIAL SERVICE

1 Timothy 3:8-13

NO AUTHORITY

 

Member

FAITHFUL SERVICE

1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 4:11-16

NO AUTHORITY

 

Definition of Terms

1. Elder, Presbyter (‘ Presbuteros ') Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 4:14; 5:17; 1 Peter 5:1

2. Bishop, Overseer, (‘ Episcopo s') Acts 20:28; Titus 1:7; 1 Timothy 3:1, Philippians 1:1

3. Pastor, Shepherds, (‘ Poimeen ') 1 Peter 2:25, 5:2; Ephesians 4:11

4. Ruler (‘ Proistamenos ') Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12

5. Ruler (‘ Hegoumenoi') Hebrews 13:17

6. Ensample (‘ Tupos') 1 Peter 5:3

7. Steward (‘ Oikonomos') Titus 1:7; 1 Corinthians 4:2

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8. Deacon (‘ Diakonos') Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8-13

9. Evangelist (‘ Euaggelestes') Acts 21:8; 2 Timothy 4:5

10. Preacher (‘ Kerux') Romans 10:14-15; 1 Timothy 2:7

 

Much of the confusion and error in church government today comes from the misunderstanding of the terms in scripture defining the office of elder. Elder, presbyter, bishop, overseer, pastor, shepherd, ruler, ensample, and steward used in the above passages are one and the same office of elder.

The modern day pastor rule (single individual, usually the same one who preaches or evangelizes the flock), was not the government the Lord wanted. As we already indicated, everywhere we see this office in effect; we see that the office is a plurality of elders, shepherds, or pastors.

Also, we note that the pastor or elder is an office of oversight, while the evangelist or preacher is a vocation as a steward of the word. The preacher or evangelist is charged with the command to preach the word.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

 

The term deacon (from the Greek, ‘diakonos”), means to serve or to minister toward. Since the elders are the only one in the local church with authority, the deacons are those who serve the elders on behalf of the flock. It is a vocation of preparation for greater service in the future.

1 Timothy 3:13 “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONS

1 Timothy 3:8-13

LIKEWISE = MUST BE A MAN.

MUST BE REVERENT.

MUST NOT BE DOUBLE-TONGUED.

MUST NOT BE GIVEN TO MUCH WINE.

MUST NOT BE GREEDY FOR MONEY.

MUST HOLD THE MYSTERY OF THE FAITH WITH A PURE CONSCIENCE.

MUST FIRST BE PROVED AS BLAMELESS.

THEIR WIVES MUST BE REVERENT, NOT SLANDERERS, TEMPERATE, AND FAITHFUL IN ALL THINGS.

MUST BE THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE.

MUST RULE THEIR CHILDREN AND THEIR HOUSE WELL.

 

Summary:

• Elders are congregational and not universal.

• Elders are to shepherd as the Holy Spirit; through the qualifications has made them overseers. They cannot transfer this authority to others. A preacher or evangelist can be one of the plurality of elders provided he is qualified (Peter was a fellow elder – 1 Peter 5:1; and we know that he traveled with a believing wife as he went about preaching the gospel – 1 Corinthians 9:5). However, only the elders have authority in the local church in governing and leading the flock according to the word. The Lord never intended the flock to be governed by the preacher alone!

• Elders cannot relinquish their authority over the local flock to another congregations elders. Each was to govern the flock among them!

• Our submission to the elders is not to be blind; however, an accusation must be according to scripture and by the method scripture establishes.

• The establishment of this form of government by the Lord excludes every other and must be adhered to in order to glorify the Preeminent One!