Thursday, May 25, 2006

Power: Use or Abuse

Someone recently complained on their blog: "The large emphasis fundamentalism puts on authority does much to enforce the list and to squelch any independent questioning/research into the validity of the list." Interpreted: "Waaaah, I want my own way. Give me my binky!" Over at Sharper Iron, someone wrote this: "We (Type B types) tend to believe and organize ministries around a de-centralized approach - sharing power and decision-making authority to a variety of Godly men. I don't know that I've ever met a Type-A guy who shares authority with anyone - So your decision-making style would be centralized - on steroids!" Interpreted: "I'd like to keep my job as long as I can, and I don't think I can do that with this group if I act like I'm the boss." Those both sound very popular in the world in which we live. The typical person loves hearing them. I remember talking to a woman about our church and she asked me if "there were any women in our power triangle."

We know Satan wants to eradicate Scriptural authority. All authority is of God (Romans 13:1, 2). Apostates "walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities" (2 Peter 2:10). Jude says they "despise dominion" (1:8). Without authority in Israel during the Judges, "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6; 21:25). As we get closer to the end 2 Timothy 3 says (v. 2) "men shall be lovers of their own selves." People don't want to be told what to do, which is why you will see the bumper sticker: "Question authority." Today in many instances coaches can't coach, teachers can't teach, and parents can't parent. Even in the military, some would like to make the drill sergeant their personal therapist. Punky kids on the street vandalize and steal without retribution because they know their rights. Adults helplessly look on with a fear of lawsuit. Children throw public temper tantrums and parents allow it, afraid what people might think if they were to use some discipline.

Some might excuse their disrespect of authority with examples of Nazi Germany, Stalin Russia, Richard Nixon, Jim and Tammy Baker, and Jack Hyles. They explain that through years of abusive leadership, their trust in authority has eroded to an all time low. Often Bill Clinton doesn't get thrown into that list. Instead, they skip straight from Iran-Contra to "no weapons of mass destruction." Often these attacks on offices of power serve as plays from others seeking to take them. As long as authoritative institutions have existed, corruption has occurred. None of this erases God's design. He still wants to use men to rule.

Even greater influence toward headlessness has come through institutionalized child care. Without the security of a Scriptural home arrangement, in the first few formative years, the child develops a lack of trust. The break up of home authority through state education and a two-income economy, propaganda-like bombardment of the modern mind with poor examples on television and in movies, and popular music pounds its message of rebellion against the restraint of marriage and acquiescence to rightful leaders. Divorce often undermines beliefs in Scriptural and traditional roles. Women struggle to trust again in male headship. Of course, since God originated the chain of command, Satan wants to do everything possible to cut its links, eliminating the ultimate submission to God. Every day he orchestrates compounding consent to the enticement of sinners, making insubordination a new ethic in society.

Satan ruins worship with the wrong object of worship and corrupt methods. He alleviates authority with spotty submission until finally we have no real authority at all. When every man was doing what he wanted in Judges, there was no king in Israel. The people who do rule have often abdicated the God-designed purpose. Very little is left of their leadership except a figure-head.

Several years ago we had a young lady leave our church because, she said, disagreement over pastoral authority. She professed to believe that pastors had authority only in issues of Biblical command. In other words, if the Bible didn't command it, the pastor had no say in it. If a pastor wanted to start a new prayer meeting, he would need a church vote. Another church hired her on staff; I told them of her clearly stated view, but they took her anyway. This lack of accountability diminishes the strength of authority in churches. Finally, few to none pay attention to much of what he says should get done, leaving the man of God toothless. A good way to hurt his ability to influence others toward Godliness is to help others have the impression that he is a dictator, an authoritarian.

With churches hunkered down in the middle of all this, the world prods and provokes them to become like the world. Even though Paul told Titus, "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority" (Titus 2:15), the new way is to share that authority with those to whom God has not given it. No one should be surprised that many like it better, and as a church becomes more worldly, this becomes the new leadershp paradigm. You've seen what has happened to parenting in the last 30 years--unrestrained children abound. Even authoritative dads and moms are parenting dinosaurs. Shift this to the church and the pastor who tells people what to do is a remnant of an earlier, paleozoic era, long ago dismissed for its insensitivity and chauvenism.

I've got one bit of counsel in all this: Rule the church exactly how God has shown in His Word. After having done so, defend your leadership style with the verses from which you developed your conviction. Don't apologize because you choose to rule, to make strong decisions. You'll hear from the weak and whiny who want things their way. Be sure you have on your spiritual armor and be strong. Stand firm. God expects it and your people need it.

27 comments:

Caleb said...

I don't believe the bible teaches "Pastoral authority," that is authority given to one man. I believe the bible teaches a plurality of elders so scriptural authority would rest with them. Some scripture to back that up: Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5, I Peter 5:1, James 5:14. There are other verses as well that talk about elders. It seems that whenever(maybe not in every case) the subject is brought up the term is plural not singular. I believe the position of the Pastor among the elders is that he is the full time minister Acts 11:22-26, I Timothy 5:17, Ephesians 4:7-12. I believe the (plural) elders serve as equals and have authority over spiritual matters (I Peter 5:2-3) but should not "Lord over us" II Corinthians 1:24.

Ruth said...

Well said ,Caleb. Even those with "divine authority" answer to someone; deacons; elders; the board. The ultimate answer is we can answer now or later. It's that free will choice thing. I do beieve the Bible teaches that Christ is the Head of the church; the body of Christ; the Bride of Christ. Kudos.No offense Pastor B.
Your still good.
Ruth

Derek Makri said...

I agree with your article. This needs to be taught from the pulpits today. As an assistant pastor, when I preach I need to encourage the church to submit to our pastor's authority, and I must be an example in this area. Thanks for the article.

Even So... said...

Caleb,

Okay, plurality of elders to rule is scriptural, but the pastor not being able to have a prayer meeting without a vote?

The elders back the pastor, give him accountability, oversight, and support; they aren't supposed to "vote" on everything, just be there to help the overload and to help keep the man from getting too big for his britches.

This doesn't mean that they have to scrutinize every little detail. On the contrary, they would check overall trends and offer suggestions to the man (notice I say man, definitively) regarding that man's decisions and choices.

They would challenge the man (privately!) if he offered up some seemingly unorthodox doctrine from the pulpit or in writing, and they would help him articulate the vision of the church to the congregation. They are there to HELP the man, not stop him. They are to pray with and for him, not undermine his authority.

The pastor must set the tone and provide vision and leadership, he is the front man, the undershepherd of Christ, and curently, his role is being denigrated across the board, IMHO.

Come on, Kent was talking about, if I may paraphrase, a lack of committment to church leadership, and a lack of submission to authority in society being manifest in the church. Not a one man gang, but a man with a backbone.

Kent, I am a man who is pastor of a former SBC church, it spilt from SBC, then went without a pastor for a few years.

When I was called there, they told me they "didn't want a pastor, just someone to help. Most men, including some who counseled me, would have run away as fast as they could. I won't go on, but it was much worse than just what I've said here.

Suffice it to say, in a little less than two years, they have caught the clue, they finally call me "pastor", I set the agenda (yes all you trolls out there, I mean with God's direction!), and I LEAD.

By God's grace we have gone from 16 (I told you it was bad) to around 75 real, genuine converts, baptized 25 new believers last year, and gave 2.5 x the largest missions giving the church ever had, even when it was near 200.

Is it because "I'm the man?".
No way. It is because I have been respected as "God's man".

Thank you Kent, for the encouragement.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I will say more about the plurality of elders issue with verse references, but I just got back from our school program. First, no one should oppose a plurality of elders since we know of Scriptural evidence of this. Nowhere says this is how every church is to operate. Second, Scripture does evidence a ruling single pastor. Third, Scripture also teaches a congregational form of church government. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth, not the pastor. Churches discipline members, not a group of elders. The pastor is still in many ways under the authority of the whole church.

Ruth, you're bailing on me? Smiles.

Even So, thanks for your input; interesting personal story, and nice perspective; I appreciate it.

Jerry Bouey said...

The elders back the pastor, give him accountability, oversight, and support; they aren't supposed to "vote" on everything, just be there to help the overload and to help keep the man from getting too big for his britches.

? Yes, some larger churches in the Bible had several elders - but the elders were the pastors. The terms are synomymous in the NT. Another synonym used is Bishop, meaning overseer. You can see from many passages that these are just different aspects of one role - ie. the shepherd of the church leads and feeds the flock, oversees, and has maturity and wisdom (ie. like an elder - wise in the Lord).

1 Peter 5:1-4 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd (they were undershepherds) shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

That is an excellent verse from Titus. Some others that also come to mind:

Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; (Preach according to the measure of our faith)

1 Peter 4:10-11 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Throwback 13 said...

* I appreciated the response of "Even So", and your response, Pastor Brandeburg.
* I am looking forward to seeing this one discussed, as I hope to learn a lot from it.
* I do agree that the church is run by the pastor, as it is the pastor that will be called to account. However, God did give other men for specific purposes, and the discussion of their roles should be most interesting.

Caleb said...

Kent,
I would be really interested to see how III John 9 fits with this discussion. I think you understand that I am not against "pastoral authority." Our elders are all responsible for teaching the people. Each elder teaches a sunday school class (as well as the Pastor) and they all take a turn preaching on wednesdays. I really like getting a different perspective every week. The elders meet once a week and discuss all church matters (there are some sensitive things that the Pastor and Assistant Pastor only deal with and just ask the elders for prayer). The elders collectively decide on spiritual matters. Coming from the more traditional church leadership format I once asked the Pastor if there is a lot of disagreement in the meetings. He did say every once in a while men will have a disagreement and if they disagree strongly enough (always has to be based on biblical conviction not "I feel" the elders will not go forward with something till there is unity. My pastor told me that after a week of prayer usually the one elder who disagreed comes to the same position as the others. I think that we should absolutely support our pastor. And I agree that people to often question or wont submit. I also think that when there is strong leadership the people tend to take the position of the pastor simply because that is the pastors postion not because they are genuinely convicted. What can happen is that you have a bunch of people in the church who are not spirit lead but pastor lead. I think you know the situation I am getting at.

Ruth said...

"Even So"..most interesting story and one that is repeated many times over all over these United States. I personally lived thru one such as that. I have also been thru a very "ruling" pastor that ultimately almost destroyed the church. Authority in the proper hands is a great thing; in the wrong hands most destructive. But, then history does show us that. The crucifixion of Christ (save for the fact it was intended) was actually obtained by an authorative crowd over the ruler. The pastor should lead his flock by the perfect will of the Lord.
And....Pastor B you know I would never turn on you.. What? My Hero? Never!"big smile"
Keep going guys, you're doing good.
See you next time from Blessings Hill.
Ruth

Hoosier Fan said...

I believe that if a church member is going to balk at a single pastor's authority, they will also rebel against a plurality of elders.

agree with Kent, there is Biblical evidence for a plurality of elders, and in my church there are two of us. The polity of the church, however, is congregational not presbyterian. And in churches that have a pluraltiy of edlers I don't think that it is possible for all the elders to "be equal". Some elders are "more equal" than others.

Michael McNeilly said...

Wow, Kind of sounds like the United Nations. IF we have a plurality of pastors deciding on one issue they all have different points of view. Someone has to be in absolute authority and then delegate it out to his assistants otherwise we have the U.N. and we all know they really get somewhere.

Even So... said...

Okay, all good stuff.

Jerry Bouey, I agree, what I said was that plurality of elders is scriptural, not the only scriptural position.

In our church we have two (working on having three) pastor / elders, where I am the main preaching pastor, and I "make the decisons" day to day, etc.

When we have missions giving, we decide in concert with the council (men we are training to lead, deacons, teachers, all men). If we are making a "major" decision, such as installing another elder, new roof, using the CD's etc., we usually take it to the congregation.

As of this moment, we are all on the same page, and so we have no problems whatsoever. However, if we were to have significant differences of opinion, we have measures in place to deal with these issues.

This way, we get things done, and we have oversight, and we have accountability (we post all financials every month, etc.). We don't vote on every little thing, and we have gone from one very contentious, three to four hour meeting a week, to one very lovely, brotherly meeting once every two months.

I believe it is valid (scripturally based), vital (needed) and viable (it works).

Jerry Bouey said...

In the case of multiple pastors/elders in a church, I believe that it would be more like having a senior pastor and a youth pastor (for example) - so there is still one overall authority where the buck stops. There are no Biblical principles for having an elder board - separate or instead of a pastor. That is some religious tradition that came up and is not Biblical.

Caleb said...

Mr. Bouey,

I think you kind of made my point about plurality of elders in your first blog when you said:

"Yes, some larger churches in the Bible had several elders - but the elders were the pastors. The terms are synomymous in the NT. Another synonym used is Bishop, meaning overseer. You can see from many passages that these are just different aspects of one role - ie. the shepherd of the church leads and feeds the flock, oversees, and has maturity and wisdom."

It seems the elders were indeed the pastors of the church but there were elders who were not full time. I Timothy 5:17b "especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. It seems that here we see elders that are full time paid elders and elders that are not full time. Another case for plurality of elders could be Acts 15:4-23. This talks about a spiritual problem that the ELDERS and disciples discussed and came to an agreement on. James was probably the "full timer" at the church in Jerusalem, but didn't make this decision on his own.

The three words Episkopos, Presbuteros, and Poimen all describe different aspects of the same position. Maybe Im wrong (more like probably) but doesn't I Peter 5:2 use all three words. And doesn't Ephesians 4:11 tells us that some are called to different aspects of the ministry?

Hoosier,
I agree that rebellious christians would just as likely rebel against a board as they would against a single man. I also think its good to have a strong leader, just not a "my way or the highway" kind of leader.

Jerry Bouey said...

The three words Episkopos, Presbuteros, and Poimen all describe different aspects of the same position. Maybe Im wrong (more like probably) but doesn't I Peter 5:2 use all three words.

The first two verses of that chapter use all three words, showing that they do in fact refer to the same men of God and are interchangeable:

1 Peter 5:1-2 The elders (presbuteros) which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed (poimaino - a different form of the word for Pastor in Ephesians 4:11) the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight (episkopeo) thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

I am sure when a NT church had multiple pastors that they worked together - not had some board of "elders" telling them what to do - but we can see from Acts 15, that there was still one head who made the final decisions - in that case, it was James.

Ruth said...

Gentlemen,
While you have all voiced strong opinions about what the bible says in regards to "pastoral authority", we see again that as always different people perceive the written word in differnt ways. IF we all knew exactly what the original text was then we would agree; all worship in the same manner; in the same church; with the same doctrine. Now while that is really a scarey thought to some of you men I personally think it sounds like a great idea!! Being the only female ( I think).So..without furthur ado about this....let's just surprise the whole world and show up in vast numbers at Pastor B's church? Sounds like a plan to me. If not...worhsip in the church of your choice this Sunday but worship somewhere...(til we get this all straight)!
Blessings from the Hill,
Ruth

Kent Brandenburg said...

Ruth, and then everyone else,

Since Scripture is perspicuous (clear, plain), we can know what God wants. He couldn't judge us if it wasn't something we couldn't understand (John 12:48). Since the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, each church unifies around what she believes and practices, the truth, and then fellowships with churches of like faith and practice. Since some of this is purposefully ambiguous, I believe a measure of liberty exists on church government. Each church has its unique mix with a few inalienable truths. One of those is that church leadership should not be rebelled against except where it is unscriptural. Obey God rather than man. Another one of these truths is represented by this distinctive: New Testament churches historically have believed in two church offices---pastor and deacons.

Throwback 13 said...

* Would someone please explain to me where we get the the idea that everytime the word "elder" is used, it refers to a man in an office. 1 Peter 5:1-4 gives instructions to the "elders" and starting with verse 5, gives instruction to the "younger", opening the admoninition with the word "likewise."
* This word "likewise" is a certain connector between elder and younger showing that both are here being treated the same, as men, not offices or office holders, for there is no church that has an office of "younger", except the Mormons, who call them "Elders."
* In Gen. 10:21 (the first occurrence of the word), we have Japeth the elder, certainly not an office, in Gen 29:16, we have Leah, the elder, practiced only in the most unbiblical churches today.
* In the New Testament, we have the tradition of the elders (Mat. 15:2). These were not office holders, but older men who studied the word, or the commentaries.
* In Acts 4:5 and 8, the elders are distinguished from the rulers. In 15:2 and 4, the elders are dinstinguished from the apostles.
* I can't understand how that everything written about elders is written about pastors.

Throwback 13 said...

* Upon further review, as is said in the NFL by the refs, I believe that I should have been even stronger than I was in my above reply. I cannot find any passage in Scripture that makes me believe that Elder is a church office, period. Maybe I missed something, if so, please show me where.
* Two passages mentioning ordaining elders. Here they are:
---- Acts 14:23: “And when they had ordained them elders in every church ...”
---- Titus 1:5: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ... ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.”
* In both cases the passage could mean either “Ordain men to be elders” or “Ordain elders to hold a church office (such as deacon or bishop).” The passages themselves sound more like the second choice. In fact, the idea of ordaining someone to be an elder is kind of silly. That ordaining only comes by time, and no other ordination can make a young man to be an elder.
* Since there is an ambiguity in these two passages, we must look to the rest of Scripture to determine what God meant. As mentioned in the previous reply, I Peter 5 addresses both elders and youngers in the same manner, something that implies the old men versus the young men unless there is a church office called “Youngers.” This distinction is even clearer in 1 Timothy 5:1, where Timothy, THE PASTOR, is charged, “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren.” This comes as close to being a New Testament definition for elder as one could need. It actually precludes “Elder” from meaning the pastor. (I am talking about elementary English, here.)
* According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the use of elder to refer to a pastor began in the first churches in New England. It is in agreement with the Oxford English Dictionary that the position of elder in a church is rooted in the Presbyterian church.
* Further, the Bible does not give qualifications for an office of elder, but it does for bishop and deacon. I believe that these are the only two Biblically mandated church offices. If you want to call the bishop a pastor (which means shepherd), that is O.K. with me, but I have known plenty of pastors who were not elders at the time.
* What says the Scripture?

Throwback 13 said...

* Upon further review, as is said in the NFL by the refs, I believe that I should have been even stronger than I was in my above reply. I cannot find any passage in Scripture that makes me believe that Elder is a church office, period. Maybe I missed something, if so, please show me where.
* Two passages mentioning ordaining elders. Here they are:
---- Acts 14:23: “And when they had ordained them elders in every church ...”
---- Titus 1:5: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ... ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.”
* In both cases the passage could mean either “Ordain men to be elders” or “Ordain elders to hold a church office (such as deacon or bishop).” The passages themselves sound more like the second choice. In fact, the idea of ordaining someone to be an elder is kind of silly. That ordaining only comes by time, and no other ordination can make a young man to be an elder.
* Since there is an ambiguity in these two passages, we must look to the rest of Scripture to determine what God meant. As mentioned in the previous reply, I Peter 5 addresses both elders and youngers in the same manner, something that implies the old men versus the young men unless there is a church office called “Youngers.” This distinction is even clearer in 1 Timothy 5:1, where Timothy, THE PASTOR, is charged, “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren.” This comes as close to being a New Testament definition for elder as one could need. It actually precludes “Elder” from meaning the pastor. (I am talking about elementary English, here.)
* According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the use of elder to refer to a pastor began in the first churches in New England. It is in agreement with the Oxford English Dictionary that the position of elder in a church is rooted in the Presbyterian church.
* Further, the Bible does not give qualifications for an office of elder, but it does for bishop and deacon. I believe that these are the only two Biblically mandated church offices. If you want to call the bishop a pastor (which means shepherd), that is O.K. with me, but I have known plenty of pastors who were not elders at the time.
* What says the Scripture?

Jerry Bouey said...

I can't understand how that everything written about elders is written about pastors.

Unless I missed something, NO ONE said that or is saying that at all.

What some are saying (including me), is that in the NT references to elders as part of church leadership are referring to pastors. They are the same office in the church. Of course, context will determine whether it is an elderly person, an elder believer, or an elder/pastor/bishop.

Cathy McNabb said...

This is going to be quick I am at work reading this,(it is slow Praise God) and thought alot of some of the comments here.

Here is my 2 cents for what is worth. Which it isn't worth much, because it isn't what I say, it is what God states that really matters.

The Bible makes clear of Pastoral authority shown by Pastor B. Many people don't like it. They don't want to be told what to do or how to do it. But our Pastors still answers for our souls. They are our earthly shephard, and can I say I am very thankful for mine.

I have been in churches where pastors have abused their authority. I have suffered in the hands of an abusive pastor. Pastors are still men they still have the flesh and will still sin.
Therefore as a laywoman. I feel it is my job, my obligation to pray for my pastor that he stays pure in word and deed.

It is also my job to know and study the Bible. If my pastor would get up and start preaching a false doctrine I should leave the church and mark him as a heratic.

My decison should be biblically based, objectional, not subjectional in why I leave a church.
Am I making sense?

One of the hardest things I have had to do was learn to trust a Pastor again.

anyway, I got a patient so I got to go.

Kent Brandenburg said...

You are essentially correct, Cathy.

Even So... said...

Cathy and Kent,

Agreed.

Essentially, but confront the man and his false doctrine first, perhaps he will listen to admonition and correction, he is a fallen creature as we all are.

Perhaps we haven't understood him correctly, he has not been able to articulate the position in a way that we can understand. Then he needs just to clarify his position on what the Bible teaches.

But if you are saying that he continues, after loving confrontations, to rebel against orthodox teaching, then I agree, leave, as fast as you can, and yes, warn others as well.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Caleb,

Regarding 3 John 9, we don't know what or whether Diotrephes had as an office. Unilaterally tossing people from the church isn't Scriptural (see Matt. 18:15-17); that's the role of the whole church. It's possible that Diotrephes was a deacon of the church who wanted to to control the church.

Arguments for one head pastor:
1) Revelation was sent to seven individual leaders of the seven churches. Each of them were authoritative, even as they were in the right hand of the Lord (Rev. 1:19-2:1).
2) Bishop is singular in 1 Tim. 3:2 and deacons plural in 3:2, I believe contrasting the two.
3) The pattern in Scripture over His congregation is one ruler: Moses, Joshua, Jesus, Peter, etc.
4) Paul wrote to Timothy at Ephesus, not to a group of elders. Paul wrote to a group of people in other places like Colossians.
5) Paul wrote to Titus at Crete, not a group of elders. These last two are the pastoral epistles and they set up a pattern of one guy in charge.
6) There were elders at the Jerusalem church in Acts 15, but James manifests himself as the leader of the group at that time (Acts 15:13).
7) The terms elder does not always refer to the office (1 Tim. 5:1), but an older man in the church, so it is difficult to know when this is the case (i.e. James 5:14).

I think there are more, but this is enough to chomp on for awhile. I've been busy with three graduations, a funeral, and a wedding, as well as final grades. C'ya.

Throwback 13 said...

* Jerry Bouey's answer and Pastor Brandenburg's point 7 make a statement that seems to me to be true, as opposed to statements I have heard from many preachers and "Bible teachers." But I still don't think that referring to a man as (the or an) elder means that he holds the office of a Bishop (to use the Biblical term).
* Have I missed some place in Scripture where calling a man an elder meant he was the Bishop?

Jerry Bouey said...

Interesting view on point seven - I never thought of that before, but it makes more sense than the explanations I've heard.

Here is part of the Way Of Life Encyclopedia definition of Pastor:

The chief office of leadership in the local assembly.

The Pastor's Title

The terms pastor, elder, and bishop describe the same office in the assembly, referring to three different aspects of the church leader's work. Pastor refers to the church leader as the shepherd of the flock, speaking of his work of teaching and nurturing and protecting the assembly (Eph 4:11). "Pastor" is translated from the Greek word poimen, which 16 times in the N.T. is translated "shepherd" (Mt 9:36; 25:32; 26:31; Mr 6:34; 14:27; Lu 2:8,15,18,20; Joh 10:2,11-12,14,16; Heb 13:20). In the Greek language of the N.T., "feed the flock" (Ac 20:28; 1Pe 5:2) literally means "shepherd the flock"; it is from the same root word translated "pastor" and "shepherd." Elder refers to the church leader's maturity and responsibility and the fact that he is to be an example to the church. Bishop refers to the church leader's authority, to the fact that he is to rule the church. The Greek word translated "bishop" is also translated "oversee" (Ac 20:28; 1Pe 5:2). That these terms refer to the same office in the church is seen in their usage. In Tit 1:5,7 the terms "elders" and "bishops" are used interchangeably. In Acts 20 all three terms are applied to the same office. In v. 17 the church leaders are called "elders." In v. 28 the Greek words for bishop ("overseers") and pastor ("feed the flock") are used. 1 Peter 5 also uses these terms to refer to the same office in the church. Verse 1 speaks of the "elders," and v. 2 speaks of these elders as overseers (bishops) and shepherds. The fact that these terms are used interchangeably is significant. A pastor is an elder is a bishop. These are not separate offices.