• Jared Smith on Eldership

    An Introduction To Eldership

    It is commonplace to hear it staunchly affirmed by preachers that the term elder is one and the same with bishop and pastor; that the term is usually used in the plural, indicating the early churches were overseen by a plurality of elders. Hence, it is argued, if churches today are to reflect the most Scriptural form of governance, then elders must be appointed as overseers. • Some believe there is parity among the elders, wherein all share equal authority as teachers/rulers; whereas others believe there is a difference between the elders, wherein some are set apart with a gift for teaching and others with a gift for ruling. • Some will only use the title Elder to identify the office, whereas others will also…

  • Jared Smith on Eldership

    1. Elders Are Unofficial Leaders Never Elected Or Appointed To An Office

    The Biblical term ‘elder’ was based upon the traditional cultural understanding of what the word universally meant. For in every culture and community, elders are the patriarchs and matriarchs of local and extended family units. These elders are never elected or appointed to an office—they merely assume this unofficial role of leadership by virtue of age, wisdom and influence. An example of continuity in the practice and use of the term surviving with its meaning intact from earliest times until today is cited with perfect clarity by S. M. Stiegelbauer in her paper on the First Nation Elders, published in The Canadian Journal of Native Studies.[1] With reference to the Inuit people who today still inhabit the Arctic regions which include Canada, researcher Stiegelbauer writes:…

  • Jared Smith on Eldership

    2. The Terms Elder, Bishop And Pastor Are Not Interchangeable

    When the term elder is used within Christian circles, it conjures up ideas of ecclesiastical clergy, either elected to office by the congregation, or appointed to office by the denomination. In fact, it is only within Christian churches that the term elder is made to mean something other than persons honored in virtue of their age, wisdom and influence. This irregular interpretation is rooted in a flawed hermeneutic of several biblical texts which refer to elders. It is assumed, because a few scripture passages use the term elder when identifying a bishop/pastor, that therefore, most (if not all) references to elders in the early churches must be bishops/pastors. The absurdity of this presupposition is comparable to one who boasts that all disciples must be apostles,…

  • 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…

  • Jared Smith on Eldership

    4. The Church Is Designed After The Model Of The Family Unit, Not The Jewish Synagogue

    The Jewish Synagogue was not ordained by God as a religious institution. It came into existence as a result of God’s judgment upon the nation—The divinely instituted temple had been destroyed, the people of God scattered, and in desperation the scattered Jews established tiny groups which became known as synagogues. During the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles, the Jewish Synagogue always stood against the Lord and His church. Never does the Word of God identify the Jewish Synagogue as the prototype for the church. In fact, there are only four religious institutions ordained by God, and the Jewish Synagogue is not one of them: The two central institutions, the Tabernacle and the Temple, were established by God for National Israel…

  • Jared Smith on Eldership

    5. The Early Churches Were Small And Had No Need For A Set Of Appointed Elders

    According to Robert J. Banks, in his book, ‘Paul’s Idea of Community’,[1] the early churches met in the private houses of the well-to-do members: “Whether we are considering the smaller gatherings of only some Christians in a city or the larger meetings involving the whole Christian population, it is in the home of one of the members that EKKLESIA is held (Acts 18:7,8; 20:8)—for example in the “upper room” (Acts 20:8; Lk 22:12; Acts 1:13). Not until the third century do we have evidence of special buildings being constructed for Christian gatherings, and, even then, they were modeled on the room for receiving guests in the typical Roman and Greek household. This puts a limit on the numbers involved. The entertaining room in a moderately…