Jared Smith on Eldership

3. Evangelists, Bishops And Deacons Are The Only Permanent Offices Recognized In The New Testament

Ephesians 4:11: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”

The apostles and prophets were temporary offices, laying the foundation for both the establishment and edification of Christian churches—apostles were primarily sent to organize new churches; prophets were appointed to nurture existing churches. The evangelists and pastor-teachers are permanent offices carrying out a similar function as the apostles and prophets, respectively— evangelists (missionaries) are appointed to preach the gospel with a design to organize new churches; pastors-teachers are appointed to teach the gospel with a design to manage existing churches. That pastors-teachers are one and the same with bishops is affirmed by the Apostle Peter, who identifies the Lord Jesus Christ by both titles—1 Peter 2:25: “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” The officer gifted by Christ to His church is an under-shepherd (pastor), or an overseer (bishop).

Another permanent office in the church is that of Deacon. There are only two texts which definitively identify the office of deacon, both of which connect it with the office of bishop— Philippians 1:1,2: “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons…”; 1 Timothy 3:1-13: “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be…Likewise must the deacons be…” Neither text uses the term elder to identify the office of bishop/pastor. As stated in the previous arguments, this is because the term elder is not the official title for an office. Although men who are appointed to serve an office may be called elders, yet their official titles are either Evangelist, Bishop/Pastor or Deacon.

This third reason Baptist churches should not appoint elders is because the only offices recognized in the early churches were that of Evangelist, Bishop/Pastor and Deacon. This type of authority/leadership is affirmed by the fourth reason Baptist churches should not appoint elders—the church is designed after the model of the family unit, not the Jewish Synagogue.