Chapter 4: The Officers of the Church
considered that a New Testament church is a sovereign and autonomous institution, that it is an organization as well as an organism, and that this organization proceeds upon a congregational plan, it now becomes our duty to consider the officers which go to make up this organization. In one sense, this should be considered under the head of the Government of the Church, since it relates directly to the polity of the church. However, for the sake of simplicity and brevity of chapter, we will consider it under this separate head.
A three-fold division of the church is given in the New Testament, and all offices and ministries will be found included in at least one of these. These three divisions are found in Paul’s salutation to the church at Philippi: "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons," (Phil. 1:1).
Though not to be excluded from the category of "saints," yet here we find the officers in their official capacity are contrasted with the laity of the church. This is a division which obtains throughout the New Testament, and except for those special, temporary offices which passed off the scene toward the close of the First Century, this constitutes the scriptural organization of the New Testament church.
As we have already stated, it is only by church authority that a man is ordained to an office in the church, and though this function is exercised by a presbytery, it can only be done scripturally on the authority of the church which calls for the ordination. A brief consideration of ordination is in order at this time.
1. Ordination is not the empowering of a man to exercise an office, nor yet is it, within itself, the consecration of a man to such an office. If the Lord has not called a man to such an office, and given him the potential necessary to exercise that office, then no matter if a church does set him aside for the office, and the presbytery does lay its hands upon him, he will not be able to do a just service in that office, but will actually be a hindrance and a usurper. This may be inferred from Hebrews 5:4, which, while primarily applicable to Christ, has this secondary application also. "And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron."
Certainly it may be remembered that Paul wrote to Timothy that "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work," (1 Tim. 3:1). But this moves upon the assumption that he desires it from right motives. That person who might desire such an office out of the desire for personal gain or glory, would, by his own wrong desires, defeat any hope of ever rightly exercising that office. It must be recognized also that if the right desires are entertained in desiring such an office, then it is evident that the Lord has given that desire (Phil. 2:13).
Ordination, therefore, is a safeguard against unqualified men, or men with wrong motives, becoming overseers over the churches. Any one with a likable personality, or with much leadership ability, could gather together a group of people, organize them into a church, and get them to recognize him as pastor no matter how ungodly or heretical he was. But if a church refuses to ordain any person until he has been duly examined as to salvation, sanctification and soundness in the faith by a presbytery of regularly ordained ministers and deacons, and has received their recommendation, then this danger is greatly curtained.
Of course, in spite of this safeguard, there are those who creep into the ministry of the churches who ought not to be there, but this generally comes about because of a superficial understanding of their duty by the members of the presbytery, or because they dislike to hurt the feelings of the candidate or the church, or because the church fails to follow the recommendation of the presbytery. But where such cases arise, the responsibility is upon the guilty parties, who must some day give account for their actions.
For this reason, Timothy was admonished to "Lay hands suddenly [hastily] on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure," (1 Tim. 5:22). Every preacher or deacon who serves on a presbytery has the duty of examination of the candidate before consenting to ordain him, and none are to be ordained which have not met the prescribed conditions.
However, in some cases, a man who was perfectly sound in The Faith, and worthy of approval at the time of his ordination, may later let sin enter into his life, and cause a reproach to fall upon his ministry. In such a case, this man is to be dealt with by the church where his membership is. And if he does not repent and clean up his life, then he is to be disciplined by the church, and his ordination papers are to be withdrawn and he is excluded from the church.
Here a lot of churches are in deep ignorance. Many Christians do not realize that a minister, whether he be over spiritual things (a preacher), or over temporal things (a deacon) can and should be disciplined if ungodly the same as any other church member. Ordination is conditional. It can be revoked by the church of which he is a member any time it is abused or violated. To allow a man to retain his standing as a preacher or a deacon when his life or teaching is in direct violation of Christian principles, is the height of folly. A church has authority over its ministry no less than it has over the rest of its members, and it is just as responsible for its conduct before the world. It matters not that he may quit attending, or has moved away, if he is still on the membership roil, he is still subject to the authority and discipline of that church. Concerning erring deacons R. B. C. Howell says:
If a lay member is delinquent he is subjected to discipline, and either reformed or excluded. A pastor, who is unfaithful is readily removed, and if he is heterodox or disorderly, he is deposed, probably excommunicated. But if a man is a deacon, no matter whether he is faithful or unfaithful, he remains in office during life, unless he please to change his residence, or is expelled from fellowship for immorality. Who ever heard of a deacon’s being deposed, or even impeached, for want of fidelity in his office? I never didt Why is this? Has none of them ever materially erred? This cannot be supposed. Does it not go far to prove that there is something on this point exceedingly wrong, and singularly unguarded? The church, I answer, has the same remedy here that she has in all other cases...Does the unfaithfulness of these officers result from slothful indifference? Then they must be admonished.
If it is voluntary and continued, and neither instruction from the pastor nor admonition from the church can procure reformation, they must be impeached, and, by a regular vote, removed. The same power that makes an officer, is always competent, when he proves himself unworthy or unfaithful, to displace him.—The Deaconship, pp. 139, 140.
2. Ordination is the recognition by a man’s home church of his call to special service, and of his being set apart for that work. John Gill holds that the laying on of hands had nothing to do with ordination, and only upon men who held extra-ordinary offices was this exercised. He says:
No instance can be given of hands being laid on any ordinary minister, pastor or elder, at his ordination; nor, indeed, of hands being laid on any, upon whatsoever account, but by extraordinary persons; nor by them upon any ministers, but extraordinary ones; and even then not at and for the ordination of them.—Body of Divinity, p. 968
This assumes that Timothy was an extraordinary minister, however, which is nowhere even intimated in the Holy Writ. Paul admonished him to "do the work of an evangelist," (2 Tim. 4:5), but this was simply a matter of making "full proof of thy ministry" as a pastor. The word translated "evangelist" means nothing more than being a herald of the Glad Tidings of the Gospel, something that is the duty of every pastor.
Scripture forms are never enjoined, either by precedent or command, without some good and benevolent reason. It is, consequently, always important that they should be strictly observed. If I did not know the design, I would insist, in all cases, upon the form. But is this difficult to ascertain? I presume not. It appears to me to have been nothing more than the solemn benediction, and official recognition of the officers thus formally appointed. Of all this, it cannot be irreverent for us to say, modern ministers are fully as capable as were the apostles themselves. Let us, therefore, brethren, sedulously adhere to those forms, whatsoever they may be, that we find prescribed in the word of God.—A R. B. C. Howell, The Deaconship, p. 59.
That Timothy had hands laid on him by a presbytery is expressly stated in 1 Timothy 4:14, and whether this was done at the beginning of his ministry, or when he entered upon a specific phase of the ministry later, in no way invalidates this. It is more natural to assume that this was done at the beginning of his ministry, although a man might have the laying on of hands more than once. Saul received the laying on of hands immediately after his conversion when Ananias came to him, and this was not in capacity as an apostle, for this was not a requirement for apostleship. That this laying on of hands upon Saul was in his office as a preacher is obvious from several scriptures. (i) The Lord commanded Ananias to do this because "He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles," (Acts 9:15). (ii) The Lord told Saul that He had appeared to him "to make thee a minister and a witness..." (Acts 26:16), but says nothing about apostleship at this time. (iii) Paul emphasized his ordination as a preacher before that as an apostle: "Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle," (1 Tim. 2:7). And "Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles," (2 Tim. 1:11). (iv) Only a few days after his ordination and the laying on of hands by Ananias, Saul "straightway preached Christ in the synagogues," (Acts 9:20). (v) All this concerned him as a preacher, for not until later does Paul ever emphasize his apostleship.
And Paul received the laying on of hands on another occasion, but neither was this in capacity as an apostle. It was ordination to the missionary ministry, though he was already a preacher and an apostle, (Acts 13:1-3). A man may be ordained to the pastoral ministry, the ministry of deaconship, the missionary ministry, and doubtless to other ministries, and it would still be proper to have hands laid upon him in each separate case. A. H. Strong says of ordination:
Ordination is the setting apart of a person divinely called to a work of special ministration in the church. It does not involve the communication of power,—it is simply a recognition of powers previously conferred by God, and a consequent formal authorization, on the part of the church, to exercise the gifts already bestowed. This recognition and authorization should not only be expressed by the vote in which the candidate is approved by the church or the council which represents it, but should also be accompanied by a special service of admonition, prayer, and the laying on of hands (Acts 6:5, 6; 13:2, 3; I Tim. 4:14; 5:22)...Ordination recognizes him as set apart to the work of preaching and administering ordinances, in some particular church or in some designated field of labor, as representative of the church.—Systematic Theology, pp. 918, 919.
Today, in Baptist churches, ordination to the office of bishop or deacon is generally recognized as a once-for-all ordination in that field of labor (unless, of course, a man violates his office, or else is called by the Lord to serve in another capacity). However, it is held by some that in apostolic times, though a man might be recognized as called of God to minister as a pastor, yet he was ordained afresh to this office in each successive church to which he is called. Dr. Gill again affirms:
After sufficient trial and due consideration of his gifts, to satisfaction, and after seeking the Lord by prayer, for everything is sanctified by the word of God and prayer, the church proceeds to the choice and call of him to be their pastor. For every church has the right and power to choose its own officers, pastors and deacons...The election and call of them, with their acceptance, is ordination. The essence of ordination lies in the voluntary choice and call of the people, and in the voluntary acceptance of that call by the person chosen and called; for this affair must be by mutual consent and agreement, which joins them together as pastor and people.—Body of Divinity, pp. 866, 867.
This was the practice of many of the English Baptists during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, but when present day churches call pastors from other churches, they in doing so, render an informal acceptance of the original ordination by another church. A study of the New Testament, however, reveals no reason to believe that there was a fresh ordination each time a man removed from one church to another.
3. Ordination, being as it is, the formal recognition of a man’s call to administer a specific office within a given church, is not binding upon subsequent churches of which the man may be a member. A man may have been ordained a deacon in one church, but if he moves his membership to another church, it is not under obligation to receive him as a deacon in that church. Such in no way reflects upon the individual, nor upon the church which had ordained him. On the other hand, in many cases it would prevent some churches from becoming "overstocked" on deacons. An ordained preacher may move his membership to a church which already has a pastor. He doesn’t thereby become pastor of that church, but is simply received as an ordinary member without any official knowledge being taken of his ministerial status. Why then do most churches feel compelled to receive a deacon in his official status when he becomes a member? There is certainly nothing wrong with receiving him into their diaconate as well as into their membership if they desire to do so, but it should never be done as if it were by necessity.
It shall first be our duty to notice some of the TEMPORARY OFFICES which were found in the early churches, but which have now passed off the scene. James Herron, after quoting the passage from The Didache, which we quoted earlier in Chapter Three (p. 125), has the following to say:
Two different sorts of functionaries are mentioned in the foregoing passage—first, the "teachers," "apostles," and "prophets," who for the most part itinerate from place to place, belong to the whole church (rather, to all the churches—DWH), and are not elected by the people, but received their gifts and appointment directly from the church’s Head. These may be called the extraordinary offices, which soon came to an end. Secondly, there are the "bishops" and "deacons." These are the local office-bearers of the congregation, elected by the congregation, and responsible for conducting the worship and administering the affairs of the congregation, except in so far as these duties are discharged by the itinerant ministry.—The Church of the Sub-Apostolic Age, p. 192.
The first of these special, temporary offices to be considered, is that of Apostle, of which Paul writes to the Corinthians that, "God has set some in the church, first apostles..." (1 Cor. 12:28). This was the first office which was set in the church, as it is written, "And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles," (Luke 6:13).
The word "apostle" (Greek apostolos) means simply "one who is sent out," and as such, it is used in the New Testament in two ways. First, in its more technical sense it is used of the Twelve, of Matthias, who was given the place vacated by Judas Iscariot, of Paul and Barnabas, (Acts 14:14). Of James the half-brother of the Lord, (1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19). Second, in its less technical sense, it is used of the Lord Jesus, (Heb. 3:1), of some of those traveling with Paul, (2 Cor. 8:23) (Greek), and of Epaphroditus, (Phil. 2:25) (Greek).
The office of an apostle, however, was a temporary office given for a limited time only, and intended to be for the edification and teaching of the early churches. The qualification for being an Apostle was that one must have seen Jesus, and have been a witness of the resurrection. Peter declared, "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection, (Acts 1:21-22).
Some have held that the qualification for being an apostle was simply that a man must have been of the company of the disciples from the baptism of John until the end of the Lord’s earthly ministry. But this is not so, else Paul could not have qualified. Those who had companied with the disciples for this period of time qualified for the apostolate, had they been chosen, but the qualifying factor was that they had seen Jesus both before and after His resurrection. But Paul had known Jesus before he was converted, even though he was not one of the disciples, and certainly not one of John’s disciples. He bears this out when he asked: "Am I not an apostle? ...have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" (1 Cor. 9:1). On the basis of 2 Corinthians 5:16, it seems that even while he was a Pharisee he had personally known Jesus. And he met the risen Saviour on the Damascus road, (Acts 26:13-16), so that he was eminently qualified to be a witness of the resurrection of Jesus.
Barnabas, on the other hand, is called an apostle though we read nothing of him in the New Testament before Acts 4:36. However, though he was originally a Cypriot, he had apparently been living in Jerusalem for some time prior to this, for immediately after Pentecost he is recorded as having land which he sold and gave the proceeds to the church. From this we infer: (1) That he was living at Jerusalem during the earthly ministry of Jesus. (2) That he was an early convert to Christianity. And, (3) That he was a dedicated Christian at this time. See his dedication further exemplified in Acts 9:2627 and 11:22-26. It was an early tradition that Barnabas was one of the Seventy missionaries that Jesus sent out (Luke l0:lff), which would explain his right to be called an apostle. Eusebius, the church historian of the Fourth Century, records this tradition, Ecclesiastical History, lib. I, XII.
As to James, the half-brother of Jesus, there is a strange progression in his relationship to the Christ, which may be traced in the occasional references to him. (1) John records in John 7:5: "Neither did his brethren believe in him. (2) The record is silent about James or His brothers ever being with Jesus during His ministry, at the Last Supper, in the Garden, about the Cross, where we would expect to find them of all people. (3) Yet, immediately after the ascension we find them all assembled with the church. "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren," (Acts 1:14). (4) Finally, Paul says, "…he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James..." (1 Cor. 15:5-7). There seems, from these things, but one conclusion to which we can come. The Lord must have made a special appearance to unbelieving James, His half-brother after the flesh, at which time James was converted and called to a special apostolic ministry among the Jerusalem saints, just as Paul was among the Gentiles. This commission James faithfully prosecuted until his martyrdom. James succeeded Peter as the pastor of the church at Jerusalem.
The ministry of the apostles was one which was of especially great importance inasmuch as the church was young, inexperienced, and beset by many and varied problems and enemies. Many were the problems which arose in the early churches with which they would have been unable to cope had it not been for that special band of divinely inspired men whom the Lord had chosen to care for, and to teach the churches.
In the last chapter, we considered the power and authority of the apostles, and found that though they were a select group, set apart by the Lord Himself, and given the ministry of establishment and edification of the churches, yet, they seldom, if ever, actually exercised any authority other than advisory, over the churches. There is little doubt that if many of the present day preachers were compared with the apostles, it would be found that the former would be, in many cases, more dictatorial than the latter. So far have some preachers progressed from the divine pattern. All too many pastors wish to make the church their own private kingdom with themselves the unquestioned monarch. Yet it was not originally so.
The apostles, as a special group of men who exercised a special office in the early churches, soon passed off the scene, and we have no indication of the transmission of their apostolic power or office to any successors. Indeed, there could be no successors of those who had witnessed in a visible way the resurrection of Christ, unless He continued to so manifest Himself, which we know that He did not.
When the Apostles died, their authority died with them and they lived only in their writings. Their office did not allow of perpetuation, for they were the chosen witnesses of Christ’s life and work, and could not bequeath their oral testimony to others. When these orphaned flocks were left alone in all their humanness, their only directory was the Book by which the Apostles had transmitted their witness and revelation, under the infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit. No miraculous agency was needed to supplement their writings, and the Awful Volume finished, their twelve thrones were left vacant. Woe to him who makes the Bible a footstool to climb into their empty seats. For the first time man was left on common ground, with the choice of making the unmixed authority of that Book his guide to Christ, or of committing his soul to the lead of uninspired men.—Thomas Armitage, History of the Baptists, p. 155.
Perhaps no better commentary is to be found on the folly of men declaring themselves to be the successors of the apostles, than that which history has recorded of the first ages after the death of the apostles. It was a critical period of time. The church, no longer under the guidance of the apostles, must needs follow the only sure path as recorded in the apostolic writings, or else they must follow human invention. Alas, all too many chose the latter with the sad result that many churches lost their New Testament character and became nothing more than synagogues of Satan—pagan temples under the name and guise of Christ’s house. Apostles men might claim to be, but apostles they did not prove to be, as subsequent history has abundantly shown.
The second of these temporary offices is that of Prophet, and here, as in the case of the apostles, we have men which were as often as not comprehended as elders as well. Their title was given in respect to the uncommon ability which had been given to them. The word "prophet" (Greek prophetes) has two significations in the New Testament, of which the first is by far the most commonly understood meaning. The first usage has reference to one who is a fore-teller—one who foretells an event before it comes to pass. It is in this sense only that this was a special and temporary office in the early churches. It is this sense which is spoken of in Acts 11:27-28: "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar."
A number of these men are mentioned by name in the book of Acts: Agabus, 11:28; 21:10; Barnabas, Simeon Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, and Saul, 13:1; and Judas and Silas, 15;32. Not only so, but Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28 indicate that the office of prophet was one of the gifts which was common to the early churches, and which was for "the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Just how many of the usages of the term in the New Testament apply to foretelling is uncertain.
The second usage of the term is more general than the first, but may include the first also. The second usage has reference to mere forth-telling, or, in other words, to preaching or teaching. This is the literal meaning of the Greek Word: The proof-text of this usage is 1 Corinthians 14:3: "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, to exhortation, and comfort." Here, a prophet is one who speaks to the up-building of men’s faith, to the exhortation, or to the comfort of one, whether it is by foretelling future events, or by regular teaching or preaching. In this sense, there were doubtless many prophets in New Testament times, just as there are many today. For every preacher, teacher, or other person who speaks unto edification, exhortation, and comfort is a prophet in this less technical sense. This was commonly the meaning of the word as used in the several references in the Old Testament to the "schools of the prophets." Nevertheless, it is with the more technical sense of foretelling that we are here concerned, and this office was of a special and temporary nature, and has now ceased.
We now come to consider the PERPETUAL AND FORMAL OFFICES in the New Testament church. We designate these "formal" as well as "perpetual" because there are numerous informal offices in most churches such as that of clerk, treasurer, secretary, etc. These informal offices would perhaps come under the designation of "helps," as Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 12:28. But the formal offices, or those to which a person is formally ordained, are but two, that of bishop, or minister in spiritual things, and that of deacon, or minister in temporal things.
The first of the formal offices within the church is that of BISHOP or OVERSEER. Many, indeed, most people, shy away from the title "Bishop" because of the abuse to which it has been subjected in so many sects, but it is a good sound scriptural term, abuses notwithstanding. There never has been anything of worth in the Lord’s church that wasn’t counterfeited and cheapened and corrupted by the unspiritual and heretical sects in order to further their own ends.
Our first consideration concerning this office shall be the different names by which it is known in the New Testament, and the significance attached to each. We find the words bishop (Greek episcopos), elder (Greek presbuteros), minister (Greek diaconos), pastor (Greek poimen), preacher (Greek kerux), evangelist (Greek euaggelistes), minister, or under-rower (Greek huperetes) and steward (Greek oikonomos) all used to describe this office. There is little doubt that these all originally were applied to but one office, and were merely explanatory of the various functions of that office. E. T. Hiscox says of this:
The Pastorate and the Ministry are related, but not identical. A pastor is a minister, but a minister is not necessarily a pastor. The minister is the kerux, the herald who preaches the Gospel, who proclaims the glad tidings to men. The pastor is the poimen, who folds and feeds and leads the flock. The pastor has the care of a church; the minister is a preacher, and may or may not have the care of a church. James is understood to have been pastor of the church in Jerusalem; but Paul and Barnabas, Apollos and Cephas preached the Gospel from place to place, as ambassadors of Christ and heralds of the great salvation, planting churches and setting in order affairs, but without a local and permanent cure of souls.—New Directory For Baptist Churches, p. 94.
It was due to the laziness and carnality of the officers of the churches which later came to compose the Roman Catholic hierarchy that the ecclesiastical offices were multiplied and the different degrees came into existence. Of the different designations now before us, the first two have suffered more abuse than an others, inasmuch as they came to be applied to two different offices entirely, whereas the New Testament comprehends them as but different aspects of the same office.
That "bishop" and "elder" are two names for one and the same office is clear from several passages of Scripture, namely, Acts 20:17, 28: "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders (Greek presbuteros) of the church...Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (Greek episcopos—bishops), to feed (Greek poimaino—to be a shepherd, or pastor) the church of God..."
First, how are we to understand this last word (The word episcopos—DWH)? No one, I suppose, doubts now that the persons meant are those first mentioned as "Elders of the Ecclesia"...Secondly, the Elders are said to have been set in the flock of Ephesus to have oversight of it by the Holy Spirit ...Thirdly, the function of the Elders is described in pastoral language ("take heed to...the flock," "tend," "wolves-not sparing the flock").—F. J. A. Hort, The Christian Ecclesia, pp. 98-100.
"And ordain elders (Greek presbuteros) in every city, as I had appointed thee...For a bishop (Greek episcopos) must be...(Tit. 1:5, 7). "The elders (Greek presbuteros) which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder...Feed (Greek poimaino) the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight (Greek episkopeo—to exercise the office of a bishop—verb form of episkopos) thereof" (1 Pet. 5:1, 2).
From these things it should be obvious to any candid observer that the New Testament makes no distinction between the bishop and the elder, but uses the words interchangeably for the same office. The two words simply show that in the one case, the duties, and in other the rank, of the office. Conybeare says:
Of the offices concerned with Church government, the next in rank to that of the Apostles was the office of Overseers or Elders, more usually known (by the Greek designations) as Bishops or Presbyters. These terms are used in the New Testament as equivalent, the former (episkopos) denoting (as the meaning of overseer implies) the duties, the latter (presbuteros) the rank, of the office."—Conybeare and Howson, The Life And Epistles of St. Paul. p. 340.
To this testimony may be added that of Dr. Hort, who also says:
"Elder" is the title, "oversight" is the function to be exercised by the holder of the title within the Ecclesia.—The Christian Ecclesia, p. 191. And again he says (ibid., p. 232): "Of officers higher than Elders we find nothing that points to an institution or system, nothing like the episcopal system of later times. In the New Testament the word episcopos as applied to men, mainly, if not always, is not a title, but a description of the Elder’s function."
J. C. L. Gieseler, the noted Methodist church historian, records this same fact, and testifies that this practice continued to be acknowledged as the scriptural view long after it ceased to be practiced by most of the churches (Compendium of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. I, chap. 2, sect. 30, p. 88, Edition of 1846). J. L. Mosheim also says, "The rulers of the church were called either presbyters, or bishops,—titles which, in the New Testament, are undoubtedly applied to the same order of men."—Ecclesiastical History, Cent. l, Part II, chap. 2, para. VIII.
The distinction between these two was brought in at a later, and less spiritual age, and finds no support in the Scriptures as the preceding verses attest.
The level of ecclesiastical or episcopal dignity gradually broke up; some bishops emerged into a higher rank; the single community over which the bishop originally presided grew into the aggregation of several communities, and formed a diocese; the metropolitan rose above the ordinary bishop, the patriarch assumed a rank above the metropolitan, till at length, in the regularly graduated scale, the primacy of Rome was asserted, and submitted to by the humble and obsequious West.—H. H. Milman, History of Christianity, Vol. III, p. 262.
When men first began to change God’s appointments, they opened the door to every conceivable corruption of church government until present day Romanism resulted. R. B. C. Howell sums up the matter by saying:
What God appoints is always best for His people. To devise a plan of our own, and to substitute it for His, is to commit the folly of assuming to be more wise and to understand better the wants of His church than Christ Himself!—The Deaconship, pp. 24-25.
In Titus 1:5, 7, 1 Peter 5:1-2 and Acts 20:17, 28, which we quoted above, we may notice the following things: (1) These who occupy this office are termed "elders," which refers to their rank. (2) Their work is that of "bishop" or "overseer." (3) Their duty is further qualified by the parallel term "be a shepherd," or "tend the flock." (4) The only conceivable difference in these terms is that which is necessitated by: (a) Addressing the person in the first place. (b) Admonishing as to the work in the second. And, (c) Qualifying the method of fulfilling this ministry. These three things correspond to the three different words used.
J. B. Lightfoot, in his Commentary on Philippians, p. 95, makes the following statement:
It is a fact now generally recognized by theologians of all shades of opinion, that in the language of the New Testament the same officer in the Church is called indifferently "bishop" (episcopos) and "elder" or "presbyter" (presbuteros)."
Such testimonials could be multiplied, since most churches which practice such a graduation of church officers will admit that it was originally but one office, but was changed in later centuries by the "Church Fathers" for expediency’s sake. However, we believe that the wisdom of the Lord was sufficient to foresee any future need, and that the pattern which He gave to the apostles was not meant to be changed at any subsequent time until He comes back.
It is not to be denied that many of the churches of the First Century had a plurality of elders, for this is expressly affirmed in several places. "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church" (Acts 20:17). "To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons" (Phil. 1: 1). "...Ordain elders in every city" (Tit. 1:5). A. H. Strong well says:
In certain of the N. T. churches there appears to have been a plurality of elders ...There is, however, no evidence that the number of elders was uniform, or that the plurality which frequently existed was due to any other cause than the size of the church for which these elders cared. The N.T. example, while it permits the multiplication of assistant pastors according to need, does not require a plural eldership in every case; nor does it render this eldership, where it exists, of coordinate authority with the church. There are indications, moreover, that, at least in certain churches, the pastor was one, while the deacons were more than one, in number.—Systematic Theology, pp. 915, 916.
The Jerusalem church, where we find a plurality of elders mentioned frequently, was a very large church, having attained to the number of probably ten thousand within just a few weeks after Pentecost. Compare Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14: Some estimate that within a year after Pentecost it had attained to the number of fifty thousand members. Even in the lesser case, a plurality of elders would have been of the utmost importance. Yea, the church could not have adequately ministered to its people otherwise. However, it would seem clear from other passages that Peter, and later James, was the pastor of the church, and the others were assistant pastors in the work.
In small churches, it would be foolish to insist on having a plurality of elders inasmuch as one could easily fill the office. As it is, there are not enough pastors for small churches to each have one, much less if it were a practice to insist on each church having a plurality of pastors. It is common for large city churches to have a plurality of elders because they have large memberships, and need several ministers. Such is perfectly in order where there is a need.
The other words descriptive of the office of bishop shall now engage our attention. (1) The word "minister" (Greek diakonos) is often found in reference to the above office, as well as to the office of deacon. "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?" (1 Cor. 3:5). "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament," (2 Cor. 3:6). "Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord," (Eph. 6:21). It is clear from these and other such passages that these men were preachers and not deacons in the generally accepted meaning of the word. Which leads us to draw this distinction: there are those who are diakonoi pneumatikoi (ministers about spiritual things) which are otherwise designated bishops, elders, preachers, etc. And there are those who are diakonoi somatikos (ministers about physical things, or things for the body) otherwise generally called deacons.
The word "minister" (diakonos) means simply "one who serves," and as such, it is applicable to both aspects of service within the church. In most cases in the New Testament, the context clearly differentiates which ministry is intended. There is a clear differentiation in the two forms of this ministry given in the passage relating to the election of the seven to the diaconate in Acts 6:1-4. "And in those days when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration (Greek diakoniai). Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve (Greek diakonein) tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry (Greek diakoniai) of the word." Here, the word "minister’ has two aspects to it: one relating to spiritual things, which is the duty of the preacher, and one relating to physical things, which is the duty of the deacon. The ministry of the church comprehends both aspects of this word.
2. The word "preacher" appears four times in the New Testament and designates the elder. "Whereunto I am ordained a preacher (Greek. kerux), and an apostle..." (1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11). "...but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher (Greek kerux) of righteousness..." (2 Pet. 2:5). "...and how shall they hear without a preacher (Greek kerusso)?" (Rom. 10:14).
The word kerusso means simply to herald or announce publicly, and the word kerux is the noun which is applied to the person doing the heralding or public proclaiming. It seems to be indicative of the preaching of the Word of God without, the overtones of a pastoral ministry.
3. The word "evangelist" (Greek euaggelistes) appears but three times in the New Testament, but by its very usage in those three places, it is manifested to have been a common designation for a preacher whether ordained or lay. It differs from kerux in that it is more specific. It designates one who preaches the "Gospel of peace, and brings glad tidings of good things," (Rom. 10:15). The word itself is derived from euaggelion "the Gospel."
Of the three appearances of this word, two of them are applied to specific individuals. "And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him," (Acts 21:8). "But watch thou in all things, endure affliction, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry," (2 Tim. 4:5). "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers," (Eph. 4:11).
In this last passage, there is somewhat of a contrast between the evangelist and the pastor. Not, however, that the pastor isn’t to be evangelistic, for Timothy, whom Paul exhorted to do the work of an evangelist in 2 Timothy 4:5, was pastor at Ephesus at the time this was written to him. But there are some who are gifted as evangelists while others are more suited for the pastoral ministry.
Today there is great emphasis laid upon evangelism to the often disregard of the pastoral and teaching ministry, and this is no doubt responsible for the present doctrinal laxity which has engulfed so many churches. It is altogether too easy to over-emphasize the one to the exclusion of the other. The flesh can take too much pride even in spiritual things, and the having of numerous "decisions" can become a source of fleshly gratification as well as any thing else. It is also much more encouraging to see additions to the church under one’s preaching, than it is to preach and teach doctrine where one seldom ever sees any sudden and dramatic evidences of growth in grace. Evangelistic messages are also much simpler and easier to prepare than doctrinal messages, and for this reason laziness sometimes gets things out of proportion. Add to this the fact that many ministers have been taught that evangelism is the only thing of importance. And the fact that many church members prefer to hear only evangelistic messages complicates things, for these, being directed to the lost, do not put the back-slidden believer under a sense of duty and conviction like a doctrinal message might do.
Paul did not believe and practice as do many modern preachers. Never do we find him leaving a group of new converts without either having taught them the doctrines of the faith, or else being assured that some one else was prepared to take care of it. He often left members of his missionary party to establish a new church in the faith while he went on to other places.
4. Another word which makes its appearance in the New Testament is the word huperetes which is generally translated "minister" when it is used of Christians. Originally it meant "an under-rower" or subordinate, and it came to be used in the New Testament in the sense of an assistant. We find therefore that Barnabas and Saul "had John (Mark) to their minister (Greek huperetes)," (Acts 13:5). Paul’s own commission included this term, for the Lord said unto him, "But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister (huperetes) and witness..."(Acts 26:16). Again, Paul uses it of himself. "Let a man so account of us as of the ministers (huperetes) of Christ..." (1 Cor. 4:1). He was Christ’s assistant in the ministry.
"The meanings of diakonos and huperetes are much more nearly allied; they do in fact continually run into one another, and there are innumerable occasions on which the words might be indifferently used; the more official character and functions of the huperetes is the point in which the distinction between them resides.—Richard Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, p. 34.
The word diakonos appears to be a more general term for one who serves, while huperetes is more specific and relates to one who serves by assisting another in some official capacity.
5. The next term with which we have to do is the term "steward" (Greek oikonomos), which, of the several appearances in the New Testament, only three are related directly to our present study. These are found in 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 and Titus 1:7. "Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." "For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God."
As may be easily seen from both passages, the term is descriptive of the office of the minister. It expresses the fact of overseership, or the care and management of something. In these cases, over the mysteries of God and over the house of God. The term means, in its literal signification, "the manager of a household or of household affairs; esp. a steward, manager, superintendent..."—Thayers Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament.
6. Another designation of the office of minister over spiritual things is that of pastor (Greek poimen). Only in Ephesians 4:11 do we have the English word "pastor," and only here does it appear in its application to the overseer of the churches, however the word appears several times in the New Testament in reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, "the great shepherd of the sheep," (Heb. 13:20). See also 1 Peter 2:25 and John 10:16. How gracious indeed is the Lord to give the like designation that He bears to the flock, to the ministers whom He places as guides over the flocks. The verb form of this word is used three times in admonishing ministers to do the work of the pastor. To Peter, the Lord said, "Feed (pastor) my sheep," (John 21:16). To the Ephesian elders, Paul said, "Feed (pastor) the church of God," (Acts 20:28). And to the elders of the dispersion, Peter wrote, "Feed (pastor) the flock of God which is among you," (1 Pet. 5:2).
It is especially noteworthy that of all these terms which are used of the minister and overseer of the Christian flock, not one of them implies, either in its intrinsic meaning, or in its usages, that this individual has any authority over the flock other than that which a pious example inspires. They are to oversee and guide the flock; to teach and comfort it; to encourage and exhort it. But the New Testament leaves no room for pulpit dictators, nor for any form of episcopal authority which detracts from the sovereign autonomy of the congregation. This will become even more apparent as we consider the requirements for this office.
We now come to examine the requirements for this office, upon which there can scarcely be too much emphasis put. For as R. B. C. Howell well says: "A false step in the selection of the permanent officers of a church can seldom be retrieved, and must always be productive of the most melancholy consequences."—The Deaconship, p. 54. This is more true of the pastoral office than of the office of deacon.
These requirements, as might be expected, are to be found chiefly in the pastoral epistles. We consider first 1 Timothy 3:1-7. "This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." A grave responsibility then rests upon the man who would oversee the church of the living God. This is a responsibility which no man could measure up to, but for the grace and power of God. In all there are some thirty stated requirements given in the New Testament for the bishops. In this is to be seen the seriousness of the office.
It is not to be expected that of all men the minister alone will be perfect. And yet in no other man is a near approach to perfection so imperative as in him. Of all men, he should prayerfully strive to have as few faults and as many excellencies as possible. For in no other man do they count for so much, either for or against truth and righteousness as in him.—E. T. Hiscox, New Directory For Baptist Churches, p. 296.
1. "If a man desire the office..." There is, therefore, to be a desire to fulfill this office, and while we believe that the Lord chooses and calls men to this post, as Paul testifies, (1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11), we believe also that there is to be the answering desire to serve the Lord when He calls. Perhaps it is because all too many men "fight" the call, that they never experience the "good" of this office. Too often it is a grudging yieldedness that they render, which robs them of the joy of service. Concerning the call to the ministry, Henry G. Weston says:
Hence no man can claim the right to perform ministerial functions simply on the ground of his own convictions. If one is called by the Spirit to assume an office in the body of Christ, the fact will be made evident to others beside the one who supposes that he is so called. No one should undertake the discharge of this function unless there is the concurrent testimony of providence, of the church, and of himself...There is no indication of any one in New Testament times exercising the ministerial office without the consent of the church (Acts 13:2; 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6). In the exercise of spiritual gifts, the prophets must preserve self-control, and must obey the church (1 Cor. 14:17-40).—The Constitution And Polity Of The New Testament Church, p. 64, in E. H. Johnson’s Outline of Systematic Theology.
2. "A bishop then must be blameless," or "unblamable," "irreproachable." His life must be such that there will be nothing upon which the ungodly can seize and find fault. There will be enough false accusations made, without the minister giving any reason for true accusations. If anyone must be above reproach, it must be the minister of the house of God.
3. "...the husband of one wife." The Greek text has a peculiar note to it. The literal rendering is "a one woman man." It certainly means that he is to be the husband of one wife, but it goes beyond this. It demands that the bishop be devoted to his wife above all other women. There has probably been as much reproach fall upon the church because of the attention paid my ministers to women other than their wives, as for any other thing. It matters not how innocent such action may be, if it appears sinful or indecorous in the least degree, it becomes a reproach to the Lord and to His church. And it is the preacher’s wife’s duty to strive to be worthy of, and to inspire, her husband’s devotion.
4. "Vigilant," or sober, temperate, watchful against any form of intemperance. Some who would never think of indulging in strong drink in any form are intemperate when it comes to food, personal pleasure and other things.
5. "Sober"—of a sound mind, soberminded, sane, discreet. Some preachers, by their levity and frivolity, put the ministry in a bad light, and by their own lack of seriousness, turn other people’s minds from the serious message which they bear. However, this in no way means that one must give the appearance that he knows nothing of happiness. Of all people, Christians ought to let their joy and happiness show.
6. "Of good behaviour"—orderly, decorous. Having not only good behaviour, but manifesting an inward decorum by the manner of dress, etc.
7. "Given to hospitality"—"a lover of hospitality," (Tit. 1:8). A hospitable nature is needful for one whose very occupation often involves entertaining brethren from other places, and even local needy people.
8. "Apt to teach"—qualified to teach. "Holding forth the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convince the gainsayers," (Tit. 1:9). This strengthens the fact that in Ephesians 4:11 "pastors and teachers" are so united as to be conceived of as one office. This qualification is again repeated in 2 Timothy 2:24. He who ministers to the Lord’s flock must not only be able to preach the gospel, but he must also be able to "feed" both the "lambs" and the "sheep" and even the "little sheep" (so the Greek reads)—the willing runts of the flock, (John 21:15-17).
9. "Not given to wine" "Not ready to quarrel, and offer wrong, as one in wine" (marginal reading, as the Greek word means). This does not refer to how much wine a bishop can rightly drink, but it is a prohibition of the attitude which is more commonly found in drunks. "The word and its cognates were often used without reference to wine."—Henry Alford, The Greek New Testament, in loco.
10. "No striker"—not a quick-tempered person who lashes out with tongue or fist upon little provocation. The ministerial office is one requiring patience above many other callings, and there is little room for the hothead or the person with a continual chip on his shoulder. The next requirement is a further explanation of the two foregoing.
11. "But patient" or gentle. This should be connected with "no striker" since the phrase "not greedy of filthy lucre" is not in the oldest manuscripts at this place. It appears in Tit. 1 as a qualification for the minister, and will be considered when we come to that place. The parallel requirement to this one of patience is Titus 1:7 is "not soon angry."
12. "Not a brawler"—not contentious. All too many ministers consider themselves contenders for the faith when in actuality, they may simply be contentious. There is a great difference between the two. Titus was exhorted to "avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain," (Tit. 3:9). "Only by pride cometh contention," (Prov. 13:10). Some preachers delight in getting into debates, but this writer was made to have very serious second thoughts about all religious debates when he once ran all the references to the word Greek translated "debate (eris) in the New Testament. It appears nine times, and is always used in a bad sense. To the Corinthians, Paul wrote "For whereas there is among you envying, and strife (Greek eris—debate), and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (1 Cor. 3:3). Debates are usually nothing more than carnal contentions.
13. "Not covetous"—"not a lover of money." This seems almost ironic inasmuch as the Christian ministry on a national average is paid a much lower salary than any other calling, and the Baptist ministry is lower yet in pay. However, seem what it may, it is a legitimate qualification, for there are those who are lovers of money, and who would seek this holy office for the sake of gain, as did Judas Iscariot. "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows," (1 Tim. 6:6-10).
14. "One that ruleth well his own house." Some who cannot take care of, and rightly lead about a wife and one child, aspire to the pastorate of a large church. There is a certain amount of proof of leadership ability required in the candidate for the ministry by this verse and the following. Let a man prove by his own family relationship that he is able to rightly lead his own household before he seeks the office of bishop. "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (v. 5).
15. "Having his children in subjection with all gravity." "Having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly," (Tit. 1:6). These verses demand: (1) That the children be in subjection to the parents. (2) That their subjection be in "all gravity," or dignity. Some forms of subjection would defeat their own purpose by the very way they were accomplished. (3) That they be faithful, or literally "children having faith," as well as being in subjection. (4) Not only are they to be in subjection and faithful, but are also to be above any suspicion of unruliness: "not accused..." A man can beat a child into submission, but this does not make for a dignified subjection, nor is it likely to produce faith in a child. The kind of subjection here demanded is that which only comes about through the faithful teaching and example of godly parents, (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15-17). Dr. Hort says:
Evidently a man whose own family constituted a bad example for the rest of the community was to be held disqualified for either kind of office in the Ecclesia, whatever his personal capacities might be. It is a striking illustration of what is practically taught by many parts of the Apostolic Epistles, that the true Ecclesiastical life and the true Christian life and the true human life are all one and the same.—The Christian Ecclesia, p. 200.
16. "Not a novice"—not a neophyte (Greek neophutos) or a new convert. New converts must needs have a time of growth in the faith before they are entrusted with the care of a New Testament church. "Lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." There is a great danger in putting "sixteen year old wonders" into the office of a bishop, for no person who is young in years, or young in the faith is qualified to make the spiritual decisions that a bishop is required to make. Let the thoughtful reader search the New Testament all he likes, but he will find no indication of any person commencing to serve as a bishop until after a period of instruction. The Twelve were taught for some three years ere they were sent forth as missionaries and missionary pastors. Paul was in the Arabian desert for three years under the direct teachings of the Lord, (Gal. 1:17-18). Timothy, Titus and other young preachers worked with, and were under Paul’s, Barnabas’ and others’ teachings before they were ever put into the pastoral office. The Greek is very pungent in this matter: "lest being demented with conceit he fall...etc.," (Harper’s Analytical Lexicon). It is even easier for a novice to be blinded through pride than for an older and more experienced preacher, who is not a little susceptible himself. An older pastor once remarked about this problem, saying that "Young preachers are like wasps—always biggest when first hatched." On the basis of this translation, the writer would present the following outline for every preacher’s thoughtful meditation. Title: "A Preacher’s Disease." I. The Conditions (Symptoms). a. Blind to one’s own faults. b. Exaggerated self-esteem. II. The Complications. a. The office would naturally give many opportunities for complications of the disease. III. The Cure. a. Humbling of the pride. b. Crucifixion of the flesh. c. More prayer life. d. Attendance to the Word (The Sword become a scalpel).
17. "Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." The idea that "it does not matter what people think of you, so long as you are serving the Lord," is the devil’s own smoke-screen. No man can serve the Lord acceptably if his life is such that it even hints of inconsistency. God’s spokesman must be unblameable and above reproach if his message is to be received. "Those that are without" are obviously the unbelieving, or at least those who are not members of the church. The church, in order to have a fruitful ministry in the community, must be free of reproach in its members, and above all in its pastor.
18. The list is further continued in Titus 1:7, where the requirement is that he must not be "self-willed." The preacher is not infallible, nor is it likely that he is so fully yielded to the leading of the Spirit that he cannot learn something from some godly lay member of the church. A spirit of self-will in the pastor of a church is the first step toward an ecclesiastical hierarchy. All of the present day hierarchies started in just this way.
19. "Not soon angry." This borders upon the idea of patience, and no doubt includes it, but it goes beyond it also. Not-headedness is a contradiction of the one great Christian characteristic as set forth in 1 Corinthians 13:4, 5: "Love suffereth long and is kind...is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil" (literal rendering).
20. "Not given to filthy lucre." Paul warned Titus of those "who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake," (1:11). And Peter also warned against any taking the office of overseer out of a desire for filthy lucre, (1 Pet. 5:2). Sad to say, all too many professed ministers of this day are in the business for no other reason than the pay or the position, and this is obvious in the carelessness with which they discharge their office. This may also have application to those who, though called of God to the ministry, yet ambitiously seek for financial or ecclesiastical betterment through carnal means. So long as there is so often a standing line of applicants to the office of pastor in a large and wealthy church, while a small, poor church has trouble getting a pastor, it is pretty obvious that some are being influenced by filthy lucre.
21. "A lover of good men." A man is known by his associates, and the bishop is judged thereby. Sheep have nothing in common with pigs. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another," (John 13:35).
22. "Just." The bishop must not only be a justified man as this word sometimes means, but his dealing with other men must be just as well, which this word here means. Better that he should suffer himself to be cheated, than that one word should be said against the justice of his dealings with others. "Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" (1 Cor. 6:7). If the average lay member of the church is so admonished, how much more so the leader of the flock?
23. "Holy." This relates to one’s right standing with God, as the foregoing has to do with a right relationship with men. If holiness is to be the mark of every believer, (1 Pet. 1:16), how much more is it the duty of the bishop?
24. "Temperate." Having self-control, restraining one’s passions. "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (literally, disapproved)," (1 Cor. 9:27).
25. "Holding fast the faithful word." The overseer of the flock is to be a stable person, not blown about by every wind of doctrine, (Eph. 4:14), or passion. Not double-minded, (James 1:8), but one who takes God at His word without reservation. "Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine," (1 Tim. 4:13). "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me," (2 Tim. 1:13). Of all the knowledge that the preacher can get, the most important without question is the knowledge of the Bible.
26. "Being ensamples to the flock," (1 Pet. 5:3). The overseer is to lead the flock by his example. Sheep can be led much easier than they can be driven. "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation [behavior], in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity," (1 Tim. 4:12).
27. The bishop is to be a student of the Word always. "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them..." (1 Tim. 4:15-16). "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," (2 Tim. 2:15). It is also worthy of note that even Paul in his last days while he languished in a Roman prison, was still concerned with study: "...when thou comest, bring...the books, but especially the parchments," (2 Tim. 4:13).
28. There is probably no one requirement which is of greater importance than that of self-denial. It is the first thing required of a disciple. How much more of a bishop. "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me," (Matt. 16:24). This virtue is the foundation of all others.
29. "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ," (2 Tim. 2:3). Endurance is another virtue that is of prime importance, for the overseer of the Lord’s flock must of necessity often be spoken against and perhaps even persecuted. He will sometimes find himself almost alone in the Lord’s cause.
30. Meekness is needful in the bishop, for "Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord," (Prov. 16:5). "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth," (2 Tim. 2:25).
There is little doubt that this list of ministerial requirements could be multiplied, since it is a solemn office indeed to which God calls mortal men. Yet, if a man be able honestly to say that he meets each of these foregoing scriptural requirements, he will no doubt be a "good soldier of Jesus Christ," and shall do honor to the high and holy office of bishop. May each of us whom God has called to this office solemnly consider these requirements in the light of our own persons. May we be made to quickly right every thing in our lives which is in disharmony with God’s standard, that we may more abundantly honor the Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep.
A few brief words may be said as to the rewards which are promised to those who faithfully serve as Christ’s "under-shepherds." Paul first declares the great blessings for faithful ministers when he confidently speaks of his own expectations. "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing," (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
Even in this present life, Paul declares that the bishop who rules well is to be counted worthy of double honor, and especially those who labor in doctrine, (1 Tim. 5:17-18). R. B. C. Howell observes:
That this text has reference to pastoral support, is certainly true for three reasons. The first is the title of the person named. He is a presbyter, elder, bishop. Not a man who rules, but does not preach, because such an officer is unknown to the word of God; but a minister who preaches and rules with diligence and fidelity. The second is, the sense of the word times, rendered in our common version honor. That it means that kind of honor which embraces wages or reward, is admitted by all critics of all pretensions. The last reason, is the cause assigned for double wages to the faithful bishop, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn; and the laborer is worthy of his reward." Such an elder—bishop, or pastor—who is faithful and devoted, is entitled to a full support, because he must devote all his time, talents and energy, to the work. But, on the other hand, he who sacrifices and labors less, is entitled to very little reward."—The Deaconship, pp. 91-92
Peter, more specifically in relation to elders, says, "...When the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away," (1 Pet. 5:4). Think of it, a special crown—a crown of glory—for the faithful minister. To no other class of believers is this crown promised.
We now come to the second of the formal and permanent offices in the New Testament church, the office of DEACON. This office is not so prominent as that of the elder, but it is still one which has an important place in each church where it is needed. As to the permanency of this office, we cannot do better than quote from Dr. Howell again.
Was the Deaconship originated to remedy the disorders growing out of the community of goods merely, and to pass away with that condition of things? I cannot see how any one can seriously entertain this opinion, since long after the disciples had ceased to have "all things common," and there were no longer any disorders on this account, the office was still existing in all the churches. In, the epistles it is familiarly spoken of, and especially in the first epistle to Timothy, written at least thirty years after the disciples had exhausted their common property, and the community of goods was no more. To the close of the Apostolic age it was inculcated and required.—The Deaconship, p. 22.
This office has sometimes been misunderstood or misinterpreted and so made to be a group of men who "run the church," but this was never the intended use of the office. Had the Lord wanted a council to conduct the affairs of the church or to make its decisions, He could have made use of the presbytery or council of elders which existed in the church even before the office of deacon was ever instituted. However, He did not, for He intended the church to be a self-ruling body. Not only so, but He instituted the office of deacon to minister in material things, not in spiritual things. Sadly enough, the office of deacon is no more immune to tyrants than is the office of bishop, and occasionally one will creep in who must run the church or he will ruin it. However this does not make it right, and the church which tolerates such presumption violates its own constitutional polity.
There are several stated requirements for the office of deacon as well as for the bishop, and the church which does not fully take these into consideration in choosing its deacons gives opportunity for its own injury.
For all practical ends, we had as well be without deacons as to have those who are ignorant, incompetent, or unfaithful. They are not only useless, but positively hurtful to the churches. They cannot but inflict the most serious injuries.—The Deaconship, p. 61.
This office arose from a need, and in filling the office, this should be considered, and men chosen and appointed to it only if there is a need for it, and men chosen who will be able to fulfill the needs. J. M. Pendleton remarks: "Thus the creation of the office of deacon recognizes the fact that the duties of pastor are pre-eminently spiritual, and that they should not be burdened with the secular interests of the churches."—Christian Doctrines, p. 335.
We now come to consider the qualifications for this office which are set forth in the Scriptures. These are found in Acts 6:1-4 and 1 Timothy 3:8-12. l. The deacon is to be of "honest report," for he will be engaged in the administration of the finances and physical property of the church. Such an office must be filled by men who will not seek to turn it into a personal profit mill. He too must be "not greedy of filthy lucre," (1 Tim. 3:8).
2. "Full of the Holy Ghost." These must be spiritual men no less than the preacher, and their lives are to be conducted under the control of the Spirit. Two of the original deacons, shortly after their election, were led of the Spirit into fields of evangelistic preaching, (Acts 6:9-10; 8:26, 39-40). However, there is nothing to indicate that in so doing, they ceased to be deacons, since several years later we find Philip still designated "one of the seven (original deacons)," (Acts 21:8). Nor does this refer to a past office as "was" in our English version might be thought to mean. In the inspired text the Greek reads "being (present participle) of the seven." He was still a deacon years later.
3. "And wisdom." Those who are appointed to this office are to be men of understanding and prudence; men who manifest the gift of wisdom. The very nature of their office makes it requisite that they have great wisdom in the field of human relations. They also need wisdom to rightly administer the financial affairs of the church, which is their chief duty.
4. In like manner as the bishop, the deacon must be "grave," (1 Tim. 3:8). There is need for gravity and seriousness in the administration of material things no less than in spiritual things. In fact, many people will tolerate levity and carelessness more in spiritual things than they will in matters of the pocketbook.
5. "Not double-tongued," not of double speech, saying one thing to one person, and a different thing to another. Such is inconsistency to say the least, and cannot but bring the church as well as the deacon into reproach. The extensive contact with the different members of the church in the administration of the office might tempt one to so act if he already had a natural propensity to such a fault. Those with such a fault are to be rejected.
6. "Not given to much wine." In the First Century, wine was sometimes used for medicinal purposes, as even Paul recommended that Timothy use a "little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities," (1 Tim. 5:23). Even today, most patent remedies which are common to the average household, have as high as, if not a higher, alcoholic content than the wine of the First Century. The wrong in the use of wine is in its usage merely as a beverage, which soon leads to overindulgence and drunkenness.
7. "Not greedy of filthy lucre." The very nature of the office as concerned with the collection and distribution of the finances of the church would make this a necessary qualification.
8. "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." This is a matter of standing fast in the faith, (1 Cor. 16:13), manifesting the faith by the way of living example; allowing nothing in one’s daily life that would violate a pure conscience.
9. "Let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless." Those only are to be chosen as candidates for the deaconship who have already been proven by their past life to be stable, spiritual, qualified individuals, and even when they have been put into this office, they are only to hold the office so long as they continue to measure up to the qualifications.
When the apostle instructs us that they must "first be proved," he does not intimate that they must, previously to their ordination, have exercised the office, and thus have evinced their qualifications; but simply, that none be elected until, as private members of the church and otherwise, they have given full proof of their character, religion, orthodoxy, wisdom, and ability, as well as their readiness to do the work of the Deaconship.—R. B. C. Howell, The Deaconship, pp. 44-45.
10. "Husband of one wife." Deacons, also should be "one woman men" the same as the bishop. As official representatives of the church in material things, their family relationships must be above reproach.
11. "Ruling their children and their own houses well." How could they rightly minister to others, if their own households bore evidence of carelessness and mismanagement? "If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel," (1 Tim. 5:8).
A. H. Strong sums up the requirements for this office in the following words: "The qualifications for the diaconate mentioned in Acts 6:1-4 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13, are, in substance: wisdom, sympathy, and spirituality."—Systematic Theology, p. 918. R. B. C. Howell gives a more lengthy summary of these duties which are condensed as follows.
Whether the qualifications of a brother render him eligible to the Deaconship, is, in the first place, determined by the character of his conjugal relations...The qualifications of a brother for the Deaconship are, in the second place, to be determined by his general reputation...The third qualification respects the religious character of the candidate for the Deaconship. Men of distinguished piety are demanded...They must, in the fourth place, be men of sound Scriptural principles...The qualifications for the Deaconship consist, in the fifth place, in intellectual capacity. He who is chosen to that office must be "full of wisdom"...No one, in the sixth and last place, should be selected as a deacon, who does not, in the management of his own personal affairs, give promise of efficiency and fidelity in his sacred office.—The Deaconship, pp. 28-44.
The foregoing things are the requirements for this office, but there are other passages which teach that there are other things which, while not being requirements, are yet legitimate forms of service for them. It is recorded of both Stephen and Philip that they preached, the latter acquiring the name of the Evangelist in so doing, (Acts 6:9-10; 8:5; 21:8). These men were not formally ordained ministers of the Gospel, but were simply lay preachers. It is a blessed church indeed which has deacons who can take charge of a preaching service in the absence of the pastor.
The deacons may, and certainly should, teach if God has given them that ability. Teaching is the responsibility of every believer who has an ability to do so, and as opportunity presents itself, whatever office he may hold.
Deacons may administer the ordinances in the absence of a pastor if the church directs them to do so. Philip not only preached, but he also baptized as well, Acts 8:36-39, and this was twenty-five years before he was called the Evangelist. The writer is well aware that some will throw up their hands in horror at this statement. But the writer finds no evidence in Scripture of the ministry being any sort of sacerdotal caste which has the ability to impart some magical quality to baptism or the Lord’s Supper simply because of their ordination to the ministry. The ordinances were committed to the churches, not to the ministry, and so long as any one is administering the ordinances by the authority of the church, it is relatively unimportant who the instrument is. To hold that it is requisite to the scriptural administration of either ordinance that it be administered by an ordained minister, is to put requirements upon the ordinances that the Scriptures do not put there. To illustrate: we may suppose that a man is genuinely born again, and presents himself for baptism and church membership. Both the church and the candidate recognize the scriptural purpose of the ordinance. The man is immersed by the pastor on the authority of the church. We have then the four requisites for Scriptural baptism, viz. (1) A Scriptural candidate. (2) A Scriptural purpose. (3) A Scriptural authority. (4) A Scriptural mode. But, suppose that later it turns out that the man who was then pastor and administered the ordinance for the church was, at that time, himself lost and secretly living in great sin, and so, was not scripturally qualified to be either a church member or minister. What then? Does this invalidate the Scriptural character of every baptism he administered? Is the ordinance made to depend upon the status of the instrument for its scripturality? Certainly not! Only those who believe in a sacerdotal or episcopal authority for the ordinances can consistently hold the above view.
A deacon may do missionary work, as we find Philip doing when he went down toward Gaza and preached the Gospel. Several Greek scholars, such as Henry Alford (Greek Testament on Acts 21:8), A. T. Robertson (Word Pictures in the New Testament, on Acts 21:8), Conybeare and Howson (Life and Epistles of Paul, p. 599), and others, tell us that the term "evangelist" approximates in meaning our word "missionary." It is because of this that we find the term applied in the New Testament to a deacon, a pastor, and mentioned in such a way as to perhaps apply to neither office (Eph. 4:11). It describes a work, rather than an office, and a work such as may be done by a deacon, a pastor, or a lay Christian. It justifies, although it does not obligate, the deacon doing missionary work.
As in the case of bishops, so in the case of deacons. There are special blessing pronounced upon those who rightly exercise the office. "For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus," (1 Tim. 3:13). There will doubtless be many a humble deacon who had never attended college or a university, but who will be found at the day of rewarding to possess two heavenly degrees: the Deaconship Well Administered degree, and the Great Boldness In The Faith degree.
The Lord must have loved preachers, because He ordained the office of deacon to lighten the pastor’s load. God bless every one of our godly deacons. And let all pastors say Amen! The pastoral ministry would be a much harder ministry, and the churches would be definitely handicapped but for the office of deacon. True, there are those who get into both the pastoral office and the diaconate who should not be there, but this only underscores the importance of the churches taking very seriously the choice and ordination of its officers. Caution in this matter would prevent much disorder and error from coming into the churches. Blessed indeed is that church which has a scriptural set of officers, who know their realm of ministry, and who rightly exercise it.
It remains for us yet to speak of deaconess, which is not comprehended as a separate office, but as but another form of the office of deacon. The very mention of this word almost scares some Baptists to death, to judge by their reactions, but it is a good, scriptural term. Paul writes to Rome: "I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant (Greek diakonon—deaconess) of the church which is at Cenchrea," (Rom. 16:1). This is an office that almost every church has, but which many refuse to acknowledge.
That it was part of the diaconate in the apostolic churches is generally agreed. Paul designates Phebe diakonon, a deacon of the church at Cenchrea. This is as definite as it could then be, for at that time the Greek language had no corresponding feminine term. The word for deaconess, diakonissa, was coined some years after the close of the New Testament era. The fact that ecclesiastical Greek contains this word, coined especially to designate the office, is strong presumptive evidence that the office was recognized.—W. H. H. Marsh, The New Testament Church, pp. 511-512.
Phoebe is, therefore, by an apostle, called expressly a Deaconess of the church; and we are assured that she had honorably and effectually exercised that office, in the succors she had extended to many, and, either directly or indirectly, to the apostle himself among the number. Two facts are implied in this passage, both of which are worthy of our attention. The first is, that the apostle speaks of this excellent lady in her official character, in terms of high approbation, and commends her, not only as a sister, but as a Deaconess, to his brethren in Rome. This he never could have done, if he had not regarded the office as legitimate. And the second is, the strong probability, that, as the church at Cenchrea had deaconesses, they were also found in all the other churches. Uniformity, no doubt, prevailed in their organization. This passage, therefore, must be regarded as conclusive of the Scripture warrant for deaconesses.—R. B. C. Howell, The Deaconship, pp. 117-118.
This passage sets before us the fact that at least one New Testament church had deaconesses, and we know from church history that they were common in the first ages after the Apostolic age. As early as A. D. 110, we learn from the letter of Pliny, the Roman governor of Bithynia, which he wrote to Trajan, the Emperor, that the churches had female ministers, or deaconesses, which were appointed to see to the needs of those of their own sex.
The office of deaconess, though somewhat in the background, was to be found in the early churches nonetheless, and though they are seldom formally so called, yet most churches of today have women who exercise the same function as these early day deaconesses did.
When we look around us we see, indeed, in effect, deaconesses in nearly all our well-regulated churches. In most of the other denominations, the office is rendered unnecessary, partly by their having abolished baptism, partly by their aristocratic propensities, on account of which, as we have seen in another place, they themselves confess that they have almost "no poor among them;" and partly by their having instituted, in opposition to the gospel, female orders, as with the Roman Catholics, who have their troops of "Sisters of Charity," and other sisters rather too charitable; but in the true church, in which are maintained primitive principles, all the original institutions of religion are indispensable. There are ladies, self-appointed, I admit, but whose intelligence and piety have led them to see that such offices ought to be performed, and, governed by a just sense of propriety, who voluntarily undertake to discharge them. Thus they become substantially deaconesses, and in some degree make amends for the want of proper ecclesiastical action. Our churches thus far, consequently, have the benefit of the deaconesses.—R. B. C. Howell, The Deaconship, pp. 124-125.
This writer has been in churches where some of the church ladies assisted the female baptismal candidates in preparing for the ordinance just as was done in the First Century. Many churches have ladies who bake the unleavened bread which is used in the Lord’s Supper. Most churches have ladies who serve as clerks, secretaries, or in some other capacity. These are deaconesses just as surely as Phoebe was, and these modern day deaconesses are just as worthy of commendation as she was. On this text in Romans 16:1 A. T. Robertson has the following to say about this matter:
The etymology of diakonon we have had repeatedly. The only question here is whether it is used in a general sense or in a technical sense as in Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13. In favor of the technical sense of "deacon" or "deaconess" is the addition of "tes ekklesias" (of the church). In some sense Phoebe was a servant or minister of the church in Cenchrea. Besides, right in the midst of the discussion in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, Paul has a discussion of gunaikas (verse 11) either as women as deaconesses or as the wives of deacons (less likely though a possibility). The Apostolic Constitutions has numerous allusions to deaconesses. The strict separation of the sexes made something like deaconesses necessary for baptism, visiting the women, etc. Cenchrea, as the eastern port of Corinth, called for much service of this kind. Whether the deaconesses were a separate organization on a par with the deacons we do not know nor whether they were the widows alluded to in 1 Timothy 5:9f.—Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol. IV, p. 425.
The passage alluded to above (1 Tim. 3:8-13) claims our attention at this time. The chapter began with the qualifications for the office of the bishop. With verse 8 the subject changes to the qualifications for the second office in the church, namely that of the deacon: "Likewise (or ‘in like manner’) must the deacons be..." Verse 11 introduces another group in the same way: "Likewise (or ‘in like manner’) must the women be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things." "Their wives" in an interpretation, not a translation, and is misleading. The Greek gune has the primary signification of woman, whether young or old, married or single, and to translate it "wives" must be determined by the context. This Greek word appears 221 times in the New Testament, the majority being translated "woman," and when it is translated "wife" this is generally clearly demanded by the context. Such is not the case here.
Now since the whole of the third chapter of 1 Timothy is given over to the requirements and conduct of the officers of the church, (v. 15), it seems certain that verse 11 refers to women who have a special function within the church, and gives additional prerequisites to those mentioned in verses 8-10 for that office.
"The deacons" wives (gunaikos), mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:11, were probably not the wives of deacons, as has usually been inferred, but deaconesses or female assistants, appointed by the churches to minister to the sick and perform other services to those of their own sex, which could with more propriety be done by them than by the deacons or other male members. A few churches retain the practice; and since female members in all the churches are the more numerous, and as a rule, the more efficient in charitable ministrations, it is difficult to see why such a class of helpers, more or less formally designated for the Christian work, should not be continued in our churches.—E. T. Hiscox, New Directory For Baptist Churches, pp. 115-116.
James Heron gives the following weighty reasons why this refers, not to deacons’ wives, but to the female counterpart of deacons, the deaconesses.
Thus Lightfoot, Whom, and others take gunaikas (1 Tim. 4:11), translated "wives" in our version, as meaning deaconesses; and for this interpretation the following reasons are adduced. (a) The term he gune is employed in the early literature with this sense. See Apostolical Constitutions, iii, 19. (b) hosautos, according to the plan of the sentence, introduces a new category of Church officials. Cf. verse 8. (c) At verse 12 diakonoi is repeated, for which there was no need if verse 11 was still speaking of them. (d) The family relations of the deacons are first spoken of at verse 12. (e) The wives of the bishops are not mentioned; why, then, the wives of the deacons? (f) There is no word answering to "their" in the original. If the wives of the deacons are meant, auton would certainly be found, so as to render the designation intelligible. (g) If deacons’ wives are intended, it is curious that domestic counsels should be given to the husbands and omitted in the case of the wives.—The Church Of The Sub-Apostolic Age, p. 296.
The "number" into which certain widows were to be taken, (1 Tim. 5:9), would seem to harmonize better with such an office within the church, than a mere group of those chosen to receive charity. This is so because: (1) The age is made a hard and fast rule, whereas the needy might be in any age group. (2) It is restricted to those who have "brought up children," but these would be more likely to be taken care of by their own family, (v. 8), and so, not to need charity, than those who were childless. (3) The requisites for this group would seem more consistent for those who would minister to others, than those who would be ministered unto, (v. 10). (4) If these were requisites for receiving charity, they would hardly have been equitable. (5) If this refers to a female ministry in the early churches, as it certainly must, then it was that which was profitable for the church inasmuch as it would prevent any reproach or slander from coming to pass because of men ministering to, or visiting women saints. In like manner, it would be profitable for the elderly female believers in that it would give them a part in serving the Lord by ministering to other saints.
Though objections to having deaconesses in Baptist churches is often loudly and proudly made, none of them have any Scriptural basis. For example, it is sometimes objected that deaconesses are unscriptural because a woman is not to exercise authority over a man: This moves upon ignorance of the office of a deacon. This is not an authoritative office at all. It is an office of service. The very word means servant. In no Scripture is a deacon ever seen to have or exercise any kind of authority. They were to carry out the service that the preachers appointed them to do, (Acts 6:3). If any church’s diaconate exercises any authority, naturally a woman could not be appointed to it. But such a diaconate would itself be unscriptural, and the deacon who exercised such authority would be as far out of line as a woman exercising authority would be. Sadly, some churches do allow individual deacons and deacon "boards" to exercise authority, but such have left behind biblical church polity, and have embraced a form of church government that is basically presbyterian, and not biblical. Never did Jesus intend His churches to be dominated by any man or group of men, and anyone who tries to do so is manifestly a Diotrephes who needs to be disciplined by the church.
Again it is sometimes objected that a deaconess cannot be "the husband of one wife," as if that were an unanswerable proof. This also proceeds upon ignorance, for "deacon" here is in the masculine gender, and so, technically requires that this must be recognized as a responsibility of "a male deacon." And since the word "deacon" elsewhere appears in the feminine gender, the natural corollary would be that the deaconess must likewise be "the wife of one man." In the Greek, every noun involves in itself the gender to which it applies, and this often is important in determining to what it applies. It is common in Scripture for the duty of one gender to be dealt with without expressing the duty of the other, but which is required nonetheless as the natural corollary of the other.
It is hard to close one’s eyes to the fact that both men and women are dealt which in the section setting forth the requirements for the office of the deacon in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, and it takes a kind of prejudicial blindness to take the hard position that some take to the women mentioned here. Would it not be much better to adjust one’s ideas to the biblical requirements for this office, and recognize that both men and women are fitted to faithfully serve the Lord in his churches, and that this has always been His way of doing things. Historically, Baptist churches in all ages have had women who faithfully served in numerous ways where no authority was involved. And it has only been in the last century or two that the office of deaconess has fallen into disuse, and this has come about primarily because the office of deacon was allowed to become one of authority—in itself a violation of biblical church polity.
Based upon the teachings of Scripture, and the meaning of the word "deacon," to say that a woman cannot be biblically a deaconess, is to say that no woman can ever serve the Lord, for this is all that is involved in the office. There still remains to this day a large field of labor in which the female members of the churches have a decided advantage over the male members, and which should be allotted to the ladies who are qualified to labor in that field. Blessed is that church that has a number of these faithful and zealous "Phoebes" to serve the Lord.
Every church needs officers in order to efficiently fulfill its divinely ordained purpose. It can be said of both offices in the Lord’s church what someone has said of the pastor, that while they are not necessary to the being of a church, they are necessary to the well-being of a church. No church will be efficient in serving the Lord without having dedicated officers who are scripturally qualified to fulfill their duties.