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SATURDAY MORNING first session. church leadership IN THE NEW TESTAMENT Springfield, Virginia Nov. 15-16 Church of Christ 2008

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Presentation on theme: "SATURDAY MORNING first session. church leadership IN THE NEW TESTAMENT Springfield, Virginia Nov. 15-16 Church of Christ 2008"— Presentation transcript:

1 SATURDAY MORNING first session

2 church leadership IN THE NEW TESTAMENT Springfield, Virginia Nov. 15-16 Church of Christ 2008

3 OUR FOREFATHERS ASSUMED... “The New Testament is as perfect a constitution for the worship, discipline and government of the New Testament church... as the Old Testament was for the worship, discipline and government of the Old Testament church.” Thomas Campbell, Declaration and Address, (1809)

4 JAMES W. THOMPSON Professor of New Testament Abilene Christian University ________________________________________________________________ BUT WHAT IF... We come to the conclusion of this study seeking answers that the New Testament, with its variety of witnesses, did not seek to answer. The New Testament offers no uniform view of ministry to be used to deal with our problems over roles and models of ministry.” James W. Thompson, “Ministry in the New Testament,” Restoration Quarterly, 27:3 (1984), p. 155.

5 OUR QUESTION CHANGES... “We seek enlightenment afresh in the New Testament, not for a legalistic reproduction of its details, but to heed, in the light of the gospel, the message that it contains." Eduard Schweizer, Church Order in the New Testament: Studies in Biblical Theology (London: SCM Press, 1961), p. 19.

6 the place to begin... And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.“ (Mark 10:42-45 ESV)


8 What happened at Jerusalem? First reported church decision First act of organization Jerusalem conference Other early glimpses Observations

9 First reported ‘church’ decision Acts 1 12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. 13When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, [the Eleven Apostles]. 14These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (continued)

10 First reported ‘church’ decision (Acts 1:12-26) 15At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, 16"Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas.... 24And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen....

11 The Eleven (Apostles) The Women Mary, Jesus’ mother Jesus’ brothers The 120 disciples _______________ DECISION-MAKING: persons near to Jesus grounded in Scripture divinely led

12 First act of ‘organization’

13 Admin. team appointed to meet need (Acts 6) 1Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 2So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. (continued)

14 first act of ‘organization’ 3"Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men (andres) of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4"But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." 5The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. 6And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.

15 Jerusalem conference

16 Jerusalem conference (Acts 15) 1Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue.... 4When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them... (continued)

17 Jerusalem conference (Acts 15) 6The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter.” _____________________________________________ THE PROCESS 1. State present positions. 2. See what God is doing now. 3. Listen to Scripture afresh in that light. 4. Propose solution in keeping with gospel. 5. Obtain agreement. 6. Announce Spirit-led decision. _____________________________________________

18 Jerusalem conference (Acts 15) 1. State present positions... 7 After there had been much debate,* *Proving, of course, that these were Churches of Christ.

19 2. See what God is doing now... Peter stood up and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8"And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith....

20 Jerusalem conference (Acts 15) 2. See what God is doing now... 12 All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

21 Jerusalem conference (Acts 15) 3. Listen to Scripture afresh in that light... 13 After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, "Brethren, listen to me. 14"Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. 15"With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written [in Amos 9:11-12],

22 Jerusalem conference (Acts 15) 3. Listen to Scripture afresh in that light... 16 'After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, 17 so that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,’ 18 says the LORD, who makes these things known from long ago.’

23 Jerusalem conference (Acts 15) 4. Propose solution in keeping with gospel... 19 Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 20but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood....

24 Jerusalem conference (Acts 15) 5. Obtain agreement... 22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch... [with] this letter … :

25 Jerusalem conference (Acts 15) 6. Announce Spirit-led decision... "The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren... from the Gentiles, greetings... 25 it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men... who... will also report... by word of mouth. 28 "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: 29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication....”

26 Other early glimpses ACTS 4 “32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and.... all things were common property to them. 33And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.”

27 Other early glimpses ACTS 9 “26When [Saul] came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord.”

28 Other early glimpses ACTS 11 29 So the disciples [in Antioch] determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

29 Other early glimpses ACTS 12 17 But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, [Peter] described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place.

30 Other early glimpses ACTS 21 17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

31 OBSERVATIONS FROM JERUSALEM Apostles James Elders Congregation the Seven

32 OBSERVATIONS FROM JERUSALEM APOSTLES *primarily witnesses/teachers *authority = moral, proximity to Jesus *no succession or transfer of position

33 OBSERVATIONS FROM JERUSALEM JAMES *brother of Jesus (James 1) and of Jude (Jude 1) *apostle -- not of 12 (Gal. 1:19) *authority = moral, proximity to Jesus *no succession or transfer of position

34 OBSERVATIONS FROM JERUSALEM ELDERS *mysteriously appear in Acts 11:30 *no explanation of appointment, qualities, work *disappear after Acts 15 (except in passing - 21:18) * apparently continued from Judaism

35 OBSERVATIONS FROM JERUSALEM CONGREGATION *involvement taken for granted *no mention of any majority vote

36 OBSERVATIONS FROM JERUSALEM OTHER (THE SEVEN) *ad hoc appointment, based on need *no precedent or provision mentioned *‘qualifications’ spiritual and practical


38 SATURDAY MORNING second session


40 Village or tribal elders So Joseph went up to bury his father. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt (Gen. 50:7). Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb” (Ex. 12:21). You are standing today all of you before the LORD your God: the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel... (Deut. 29:10).

41 First-century Judaism's elders *Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat” (Matt. 15:1-2). *And [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31). *On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem (Acts 4:5).

42 NT communities – elders mentioned (*known Jewish presence) *Judea (Acts 11:30) *Jerusalem (Acts 15; 21:18) *unidentified Jewish community (James 5:14) *Iconium, Lystra, Derbe (Acts 14:23) *Ephesus (Acts 20:17; 1 Tim. 5:1-2, 17, 19) *Crete (Titus 1:5; 2:2-6) *Pontus, Galatia, *Cappadocia, *Asia, Bithynia (1 Peter 5:1-5) Unknown (2 John 1; 3 John 1)

43 NT communities - no elders mentioned Samaria Antioch Hebrews (locale ?) Corinth Philippi Thessalonica Rome

44 A SPIRITUAL FAMILY... are these generic terms or titles? “Do not sharply rebuke an older man (presbuter- os), but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women (presbuteras) as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.” (1 Tim. 5:1-2)

45 A SPIRITUAL FAMILY (Titus 2:1-6) But as for you, teach what accords with healthy doctrine. Older men (presbutas) are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women (presbutidas) likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women. [Younger women] love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submis- sive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.

46 functions of Christian elders (whether aldermen or seniors) general administrative oversight (Acts 11:30) general spiritual oversight (Acts 15; 21:18) oversee = watch, care for, *help (Acts 20:28-35) rule = lit. preside -> word, teaching (1 Tim. 5:17) instruct, rebuke (Titus 1:9) anoint & pray for healing (James 5:14) shepherd, be example (1 Peter 5:1-5) *epimeleomai (Lk. 10:34-35; Gen. 44:21)

47 NT communities - no mention of elders Samaria Antioch Hebrews (locale ?) Corinth Philippi Thessalonica Rome

48 IF NOT ‘ELDERS,’ THEN WHAT? prophets & teachers (Acts 13:1ff) leaders (Heb. 13:7, 17 - hegoumenos) administrations (Rom. 12:28 - cyberneseis) servants, ministers, deacons (Phil. 1:1 - diakonos) overseers, bishops (Phil. 1:1 - episkopos) co-worker (Rom. 16:3 - synergos) those who have charge over you (1Thes. 5:12 - prohistamenos) -- one who leads (Rom. 12:8 - prohistamenos) -- leader, patroness, helper (Rom. 16:2 - prostatis)

49 Functions performed prophets = speak word from God (local & temporary) teachers = explain & apply gospel and scripture leaders (hegoumenos) = lead administration (cyberneseis) = steer, govern, administer servants, ministers, deacons (diakonos) = serve overseers, bishops (episkopos) = watch over, oversee co-worker (synergos) = Pauline associates those who have charge over (prohistamenos) = preside, govern, provide for


51 Paul’s favorite metaphor for God’s people is “the BODY of Christ.” Always “member” of the BODY Never “member” of the CHURCH A LIVING ORGANISM -- NOT AN ORGANIZATION SPIRIT-GIVEN

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