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This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The Patternists: Applications of Authority – The Eldership

patternist-2.pngHaving concisely stated the principles used to establish authority from scripture, we now present weekly articles making application. Neither the initial series nor this series are exhaustive. Comments and discussion are welcome.

The Holy Spirit directed New Testament Christians to appoint qualified men as overseers in local churches. The authority is established by example, (Acts 14:23), and command, (Titus 1:5).

Guidelines were given as to who can be chosen. The qualifications are listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. These qualifications include the necessity of the elder being male, being married, having believing children, having the ability to teach, and possessing maturity, Bible knowledge and a good reputation. While men may struggle with what these qualifications entail, they are not free to disregard them.

The Bible pattern reveals that in EVERY instance, more than one man was appointed in each congregation. (Note the plurality in the verses above). This conflicts with the “Pastor system” found in the churches of many denominations.

The terms used interchangeably to designate the office indicate the nature of the work. “Pastors” (poimen) are to shepherd the flock (Acts 20:28). “Bishops” (episkopos) are the overseers of the church (1 Peter 5:2). “Elders” (presbuteros) are mature men, responsible for the welfare of the congregation (Hebrews 13:17).

The extent of the elder’s rule is revealed to be the local congregation of which he is a member (1 Peter 5:2). Elders have no authority over any congregation other than their own, and over no humanly devised organization or work.

Religious groups today have one man serving as the sole pastor over an entire congregation; or, unqualified men and women serving in the office; or, men exercising oversight over many congregations; or, elders supervising man devised works and organizations. All of these are violations of the Biblical pattern, and thus are unacceptable to God.

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