New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

NT Church Proliferation Digest Thursday, September 12 2002 Volume 02 : Number 164
Re: [NTCP] re: elder designates their age - pastoring, their role
Re: [NTCP] Components of proper church meetings
Re: [NTCP] re: elder designates their age - pastoring, their role
RE: [NTCP] Give me some "How To's"
Re: [NTCP] re: elder designates their age - pastoring, their role
Re: [NTCP] re: elder designates their age - pastoring, their role

Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 07:47:17 -0700
From: "rcarroll.3" <rcarroll.3 * netzero>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] re: elder designates their age - pastoring, their role

Seems like one of the important words and activities to look at in this
discussion is the "appointing" of elders in the churches. Can you language
scholars give us an informed study on what this word in this context
includes? In our common use, it reflects a level of recognition, authority,
responsibility, etc. These same attributes often reflect back upon those
doing the appointing, as well as the appointee. But is this included in
this word in this context? It would be helpful to know.

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Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 11:56:54 EDT
From: TheologusCrucis * cs
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Components of proper church meetings


Some good questions!

> An observation then a question to perhaps take us further toward our
> goal of more practical church-planting discussions: your expression of the
> "components," though excellent, seems to presuppose a large degree of
> "Christianization". In other words, your use of phrases such as
> "like-minded," "what *they* believe," "join *my*self to ...," etc. tells me
> that you are thinking in terms of a Christian or post-Christian context, in
> which believers already have somewhat firm views on how church meetings
> should be conducted. And you're either joining in with them or forming a
> "plant" mostly from already existing believers.

Yes and no. I obviously am addressing this list, all whom have a pretty firm
biblical background, and use this language simply because we all pretty much
understand what I'd mean. And yes, I am in New England -- what could be more
post-Christian than Massachusetts?

However, I am called to this place because very few here have actually heard
the proclamation of the biblical gospel. Everyone has pretty preconceived
ideas about Christianity, mostly formed by both right and left political and
social ideologies they see on TV or from mainline ICs. Most people I've told
the simple story of Jesus and what it means have simply been amazed -- they
never dreamed that Christianity had to do with the life and death and
resurrection of some obscure Jewish peasant carpenter, in the backwater
section of an Empire that disappeared over 1500 years ago.

I admit that I am in a double bind. I'd like to start from scratch with
converts, but it's hard without an already functioning community of
like-minded believers to integrate them into. On the other hand, to form a
community of believers is to struggle to find some Christians who 1) actually
know the Gospel message, 2) have any conception of what worship is
biblically, and 3) actually want to live a life of sanctification in
discipleship and friendship. I've come to the conclusion that Christianity,
at least the northern hemisphere part of it, hasn't seen darkness within
their own ranks since before the Reformation.

> But what about those of us who minister in non-Christianized
> countries, where the majority of our target group(s) have never attended
> their *first* church meeting? What we often deal with is the challenge of
> contextualization: trying to decide whether certain practices are 1) even
> allowable and/or 2) optimum for the group to honor the King of the covenant
> and to adequately separate from the world-system as it manifests in our

True, context is very important. Yet Christianity has been in most countries
in the world at one time or the other historically. The British and Americans
had such success in Africa in the 19th C because large parts of Africa had
converted to Christianity in the first 5 Centuries. I think almost any place
in the world would have some type of fermentation process with fruit, and
some type of staple resembling bread. I put the ???? behind Sam's deal about
Pepsi and Pizza simply because bread and wine is pretty plentiful in Canada.

The gospel is about freedom, and often Christians will be at odds with their
own families, villages, and governments about what is allowable. What God has
declared clean is clean -- local custom must take a second place to gospel
proclamation. Jesus warned us that as the world hated Him it would hate us.
The Gospel will run into many intellectual strongholds that will set
themselves up against the knowledge of God.

So Muslims are not allowed to drink alcohol -- but communion is the wine and
the bread. So jungle tribes do not allow women to eat or partake food with
men -- but in Christ, at the Lord's table and the Baptismal fount there are
no differences. The kingdom of God is it's own culture -- it is not east or
west. And to all the new citizens in this new kingdom, we must be faithful to
biblically acculturate them. They are to hate their own families, their own
people, and their own countries and come join the kingdom -- that is why
governments should be persecuting Christians, because the kingdom of God is a
threat to the social and political order of a world based on the will to
power. We are to be against the world for the world.

I'm short on time -- I'm going to Nebraska to visit my Mom. She has just been
given a terminal diagnosis with cancer, and she will begin radiation
treatments this week. I'd covet your prayers, by the way! I'm leaving shortly
to hit the airport.

I will have access to a computer, so I'll hopefully get to Links post
tomorrow! Michael, keep your head down and your family safe in Jerusalem, and
may God bless you,


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Date: 11 Sep 2002 13:24:22 -0400
From: Mike Sangrey <msangrey * BlueFeltHat>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] re: elder designates their age - pastoring, their role

On Wed, 2002-09-11 at 10:47, rcarroll.3 wrote:
> Seems like one of the important words and activities to look at in this
> discussion is the "appointing" of elders in the churches. Can you language
> scholars give us an informed study on what this word in this context
> includes? In our common use, it reflects a level of recognition, authority,
> responsibility, etc. These same attributes often reflect back upon those
> doing the appointing, as well as the appointee. But is this included in
> this word in this context? It would be helpful to know.
> Rich

Language scholar? Me? Not exactly, though God appears to have given me
a feel for this type of thing (so I'm told by people who ARE language
scholars). Tell ya what I'll do. I'll give you some information, and
let you decide. If I can claim a role of language servant, that would
be nice. <smile>. All glory to my Lord and Savior, Jesus.

The word is `kathistemi'.

The sense of the word, when used in reference to a person and a role,
appears to me to be that of being given an independent responsibility
and authority for a task. The person is "set in place." (I didn't come
to this place easily, I fought it; and lost.) The idea is a little
different than the notion behind `apostello' in that `apostello' always
carries with it the idea of delegated authority. With `kathistemi' the
idea of delegation may be in the context, but it doesn't appear to me to
come with the word.

Also, the root of the word, `istemi', may also be used in
contexts where the idea of putting or setting a person in place
occurs. I'm not sure of the difference between the two words.

I'll list the NT occurrences; however, extra-Biblical sources
indicate the sense of `to establish' or `set in order'. It's
even used of a ship docking and I suppose the idea there is of a
ship coming to a state of resting at a place--sort of,
establishing a specific location if you will.

I think this idea of `establish' comes out in a number of texts
listed below. The gloss of `set in place' appears to work quite
well, too.

I hope this helps in some way as people make up their own minds.

Acts 6:3

This is the 12 solving the food distribution problem. In this case
it is "all the disciples" who choose but, interestingly!!, the 12

Acts 7:10

Pharoh appoints Joseph ruler over Egypt and his palace.

Acts 7:27, Acts 7:35

Moses beats up someone. The someone replies, "Hey, who appointed

Acts 17:15

This is interesting!. The Berean Christians apparently appointed a
few escorts to see that Paul made it to Athens. So, the idea of a
"title" or an on-going position doesn't necessarily come along with
the word. The person (or people) may be temporarily "put in place."

Hebrews 7:28

Here the Law (the Torah) is viewed as appointing the high priests
who are weak in contrast to the Son and God's oath. The Torah, nor
the oath, can carry out the task. The task is given to someone who
independently carries it out.

2 Pet 1:8

The idea here seems to be that having the qualities Peter just
listed in an increasing manner will "appoint" you to a place
(position?) of productivity in God's kingdom.

My mind immediately goes to the natural result that happens to
people who do a good job. If things aren't circumvented by hidden
agendas or political shenanigans, the person is given more and more

Luke 12:14

This one is interesting, too. Here, Jesus is asked to tell a
fellow's brother to divide up an inheritance, and thus, on the face
of things, to make things more "equitable." Jesus, sees through the
facade and zeros in on the REAL problem. He starts his reply with:
"who appointed me?"

Luke 12:42, Luke 12:44, Matt 24:45, Matt 24:47

A slave owner appoints a slave to manage the other slaves. If he
does a good job, he gets promoted to manage all of the owner's

Matt 25:21, Matt 25:23

Very similar to the above.

Romans 5:19 (2 cases)

This one is rather different.

Here, the ACT of one man or the other "appoints" others to a
particular state of either "sinner" or "righteous".

These are the only two cases of the passive verb in the NT.

Titus 1:5

Titus is to "appoint" elders.
Mike Sangrey
msangrey * BlueFeltHat
Landisburg, Pa.
"The first one last wins."
"A net of highly cohesive details reveals the truth."

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Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 17:24:34 -0400
From: forwarded <forwarded * homechurch>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] Give me some "How To's"

From: "Keith Smith" <castillofuerte * airtel>

This is a multi-part message in MIME format. (Thus delayed.)

In this post I want to respond to some extent to the post by JC Elder on
the 5th Sept. Her concern was for how we treat folk who have suffered
grave hurts, and how we can be a Ïhealing communityÓ for such folk.

As a psychologist I have to deal with folk who for various reasons have
stumbled in their lives, many times their problems have been caused by
inability to deal with situations that the rest of us have successfully
over come. This often leads normally caring and well-meaning Christian
leaders to be somewhat harsh and uncaring. Others have had to cope with
enormous personal difficulties, and these folk normally elicit much more
care and sympathy. Or better still from a counseling perspective, real
empathy, allowing us to Ïfeel where the shoes pinchÓ, and begin to bring
real help. There is however a third group, that it has been my duty to
treat over the years that are much more difficult to deal with. And they
are people who have been brutally and horrifyingly tortured, raped or
abused. I remember my first case of this kind. A dear old man, who had
been tortured by the Gestapo during the war. Who had to confront the fact
that his companiesÌ representative in Germany was one of his ex-guards.
His life became so ÏblockedÓ that he could hardly get up in the morning
Yet after a little over a yearÌs treatment, I was privileged to be
present when the two men met for the first time, and the three of us sat
down for a meal in a London restaurant. How did I treat the man? Well
slowly, little by little, I taught him first to relax, then to trust,
later to empathize and finally to love (His wife never stopped thanking
me). The last I heard these two men had separately made decisions for
Christ, and were sharing holidays together with their families. They had
moved one step on, into forgiveness. Later I specialized in Children who
had been abused, and those who had been abused as children, together with
treating their abusers (which is much harder). Some of these children had
been savagely abused physically, at least two with permanent physical
disabilities bought about by physical attacks. Others sickeningly
sexually abused, subject to every kind of perversion imaginable (and not
a few unimaginable in their horror). I became known as an expert in this
area. But what the folk didnÌt know was the personal cost to me. In
reaching out to help these children and others abused in their childhood,
I had to confront things in me that I wasnÌt ready to address. The sexual
abuse I suffered as a young teenager at the hands of my judo coach. The
extreme physical beatings that I received from my brother, so that I
would be quiet, allowing him to pretend the house was empty when he
bought girls to the house for sex. Once he tied me up under the bed,
whilst he and his girl had sex on top, I was just eleven years old, so
this did nothing to improve my understanding of sex as part of loving
relationships. Later, when I began treating these dear folk other
monsters emerged. I didnÌt touch my daughter for two years, without my
wifeÌs presence, out of some weird idea that I might go on and abuse her.
Later I would follow both my children, when they went out to play with
friends, just incase a ÏpervertÓ approached them, even though I knew that
that was statistically highly unlikely. Through the help of my fellow
professionals and the incredibly loving and caring churches that I have
served, I was able to leave these monsters behind me. You may well ask
why I have gone on so long about this. Well itÌs because I am convinced
that few Christian leaders know how to empathize (that is, have
compassion on) and care for folk who have suffered either horrors or
nothing (the first group mentioned above). Why? Because they cannot
identify with the experience, and so look for a Ïquick fix solutionÓ.
People with ÏnothingÓ are really hurting, and need our compassion, and
healing touch. Whilst Christ will and does heal people instantaneously,
we should will not necessarily see this in every case, some we will have
to put on our donkey to take to the inn, and perhaps we will have to
spend something of ourselves on that person when we pass that way again.
We must be their good Samaritan.

The folk, who have suffered ÏhorrorsÓ, are somewhat harder. Normally, as
church planters/leaders we come across them as adults (as opposed to my
professional work). They are often depressed and/or agoraphobic, with
severe problems in building balanced relationships or dealing with their
emotions, which they often just switch off. Often they bury their hurts
so deep that they donÌt even want to (or canÌt) acknowledge why they are
hurting. The majority of counselor/pastors meeting with this sort of
person, not being able to comprehend them, settle for Ïquick-fixesÓ or
Ïspiritual aspirinÓ instead of trying for real empathy, to allow
compassion and healing to flow. Too often this takes to form of
encouraging the victim to throw themselves in to the ÏworkÓ after all
there is an enormous harvest field out there, you just have to pull
yourselves together and get on with it. I have met so many people that
have been given this kind of advice. Tragically two cases ended in
suicide. To me the lack of real love and compassion shown by the two
pastors concerned verged on the criminal. But how can we criticize them
they only wanted the two people concerned to Ïlive in the victoryÓ. The
problem is, if we are really going to touch these people at a deep and
lasting way we have to make ourselves vulnerable and confront some of the
fears and monsters we have within. We have to get over thoughts like Ïif
you really knew me then you wouldnÌt like meÓ, become real with one
another. house church is all about real relationships. But in very few HCÌs have I
met people that are really prepared to deal with the dark parts of their
character. However much we claim to be genuine and open, most of us feel
too vulnerable when we try, and so stop trying. Sometimes people abuse
our trust when we are open, and use our openness to gossip or bring us
down. Listen, Jesus knows the very worst about me, and he still loves me.
In the churches that I serve I teach them this, and the folk are
beginning to accept it. We are beginning to become real healing

Those who have read the second third parts of my work on organic churches
will recall my mention of ÏhospitalÓ or ÏhealingÓ cells/churches. I
regard the presence of such places as indispensable in the world today.
In my mind every house church should be a ÏhospitalÓ or closely working with one in
their network. But this can only happen when we are prepared to be
genuine and open, unafraid to deal with our dark areas. When needy,
hurting folk arrive we must enfold them in arms of love. This is never
easy, and we will often be rejected, but then if youÌre afraid of
rejection, then youÌre in the wrong ministry, church planting isnÌt for
you. In our churches we normally tell new folk (and demonstrate with our
lives), that we wholly accept them, no matter what, and that we are
prepared to lay down our lives (and even our Ïoh so precious ministriesÓ)
for them. We mean it! It is only as folk meet with the real unconditional
love of God that they can open themselves to the real love that he always
offers. Too many offer spiritual aspirin instead of being prepared to pay
the price of real commitment to one another. You may think that this is
all very well but unrealistic, well youÌre wrong. We have had a church
like this in Cantabria Spain for the past 6 years. I could write a lot
more, but I feel that God wants us to be open to His ways and that I
shouldnÌt give you a Ïhow toÓ, which would soon become inflexible to the
needs of hurting people.

IÌm hurting a bit today. A very close friend has died. I would like to
illustrate the church as a healing community, by sharing a little of His
story. I first met Rom&Mac183;n six years ago. He was living ÏroughÓ in a squat
near my home. It took him a long time to open to us, and later to the
Lord, but when he did, it was a 100% commitment. The change in his life
was so notable that strangers would approach me in the street to ask what
I had done to him. I had to explain not me, but Jesus. However, there
were clearly areas of his life closed of to all. As we continued to love
and minister to him, we began to see the LordÌs love breaking through to
bring healing. Slowly he opened up, that in the past he had run a brothel
for the mafia, and he and his partner had somehow offended a boss when
they refused to sell dope. The mafia murdered the partner and Rom&Mac183;n went
on the run. That was where I found him, living like a tramp. He also told
me of the terrible physical abuse that he suffered from his father as a
child, which left him with a permanent disability. Rom&Mac183;n rebuilt his
life, and immediately began works of repentance without any prompting
from anyone. He started reaching out with the word of God to street
prostitutes in the nearest city. Unfortunately, his health was ruined due
to his life on the run, and in the last year he has spent most of his
time in and out of hospital. Yet whenever I visited him, he was cheerful
and witnessing to the other patients, leading many to the Lord.
Yesterday, he was enjoying a day out in the sun, when the wife of an
ex-friend of his started an argument with him about some money she said
that he owed her. She was drunk and he tried to get away, but she beat
him about the head with a stick. He died of a heart attack in the
hospital a few hours later. Now he is with our Lord. A gentleman changed
by God, who I had the privilege to call friend. The healing that he
received form the horrors of his past were tangible, open for all who
knew him to see. Today I spoke to his doctor (GP), who said that the
emotional and psychological change in his life, when he came to Christ,
were nothing less than miraculous.

Blessings, Keith

-----Mensaje original----- De: owner-ntcp * homechurch
[mailto:owner-ntcp * homechurch] Enviado el: 05 September 2002 03:51
Para: Ntcp * Homechurch Asunto: [NTCP] Give me some "How To's"

Hello all, I seldom post, but I read almost all of what is posted. I have
a question. How do you deal with people in your group who have severe
emotional or spiritual problems. The reason I ask is because I don't
believe that most groups deal with people in a way that brings healing.
They tend to want to ignore emotions and give "spiritual aspirin" as one
friend calls it.

The reason that I ask is this. For years I have struggled in churches. I
have talked to lot's of pastor & lay people who have prayed for me and
tried to "counsel me". The problem is, their answer always seems to be
for me to "DO" more, get more involved, forget about myself. The attitude
is that the past is unimportant and there is a "field to harvest". I
followed that counsel for many years. I found that it only helped mask my
problems, not heal them. I feel like there is not time allowed or support
given for someone to heal.

The problem that I see is that in the house church it is not any
different. Even though it is a smaller group, the same attitude is
present. We have simply moved from the pew to the couch. How is the body
suppose to heal if the bleeding, wounded parts of the body are rejected?
These are the questions I am struggling with right now as I try to help
myself and other's. any suggestions? Real suggestions (no spiritual
aspirin please)

Pueblo, CO

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Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 17:51:22 -0400
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] re: elder designates their age - pastoring, their role

Hi all, hi Link, hi Mike, my brothers in Jesus Christ,

First, let's just look back to the Old Testament to the culture from
which the first Christians emerged. The apostles did not suggest that
eldership was anything new but assumed a continuation of an ancient
institution. OT elders were everywhere yet none is ever said to have been
appointed or ordained or elected to be an elder! That is most
significant. Continuation rather than introduction is what I am
contending for. The fact that Christ nor the apostles did not introduce a
new kind of eldership clearly indicates continuation.

Their "official" role was head of family, patriarch, mentor, judge,
counselor, people's rep, and general community leader.

>The Gospels and the book of Acts refer to the elders, or presbuteros, of the
>people in contexts which seem to indicate a specific subset of leaders, and
>not merely all the older men of Israel.

Exactly, they were a distinguished group of older ones - certainly not
every older man in the town else the divine historians would have
recorded: "every single elder in the town." They didn't.

>Imo, older men would have been considered 'presuteros' in a generial sense,
>but there seems to have been a specific sense in which 'presbuteros' was
>used in an official sense.
>If 'presbuteros' meant _only_ old men, and didn't have any official
>connotation to it, then why would the apostles have appointed elders in the
>churches. The elders would have already have been clearly recognizable as
>'older men' by looking at them. I think the term 'elders of the church'
>refers to 'official' elders, just as the 'elders of the people' in the
>Gospels refers to certain government officials. (I suspect we are in
>agreement on this issue for the most part, but I feel the issue is worth
>elaborating on.)
>If presbuteros' can have an 'official' sense, then the question is whether
>or not the literal meaning of 'older one' is still attached to the word.
>Some in the so-called 'IC' see the word as having an official sense only,
>and do not attach much signifigance to the literal meaning of the word. I
>think the Bible indicates that elders were older men physically. After
>addressing the elders, Peter tells the younger to submit to the elders, as
>you pointed out. Paul tells Timothy how to treat the elders/older men, and
>then tells him how to treat older women and yougner women. Later in that
>chapter, he talks about the elders that rule well-- with the same word for

Yes, when Christian older ones are serving as pastors, that is certainly
"official" business and they, just like their OT counterparts, could be
considered as "officials." Ambassadors, servants of the King, etc.

>> The "novice" thing has been perceived and translated as a "recent
>> convert" but this isn't accurate, according to some. Literally, it means
>> "not a young plant." A simple metaphor to mean "not immature." Deissmann
>> of Germany, who translated a large number of the earliest Greek papyri,
>> confirms it.

>Do you think this word may indicate that elders should be older men,
>physically? Not 'whiper-snappers'?

What it means is that we have a requirement made of every older Christian
- - not a condition to become an "officer." The requirement is to be mature
- - a deep rooted tree, not shallow rooted and shallow minded. A similar
exhortation would be to "be grave." Is this maturity and the other
requirements beyond the reach of any Spirit-indwelled believer? I say not.

>> Jesus, btw, is a pastor (Good Shepherd) but not an elder. He died young.
>> A no-brainer, huh?
>Not according to Ireneaus' contraversial minority view. :)

Which was???

>> Well, if the word elder has been so transformed that it now applies to
>> younger ones, when did that magnanimous change occur? In other words,
>> when we come to New Testament elders - why should we differentiate them
>> from Old Testament elders???

>I stumbled across an Orthodox web page telling about some cannons from the 2
>or 300's. One point was that an 'elder' could not be under 30. If I
>remember correctly, a footnote said that the Romans changed this to 25
>without going through proper channels (a church council perhaps.) The
>Christians who wrote these church cannons within the first few hundred years
>of the apostles, who presumably spoke Greek, thought of 'presbuteros' in an
>official sense, without paying much attention to it's original literal
>meaning. I think it is likely that the word had an 'official' meaning in
>the first century, but that the literal meaning which referred to age
>gradually became less and less important.

Gradually is right. Words, like churches, sure change, no doubt. The
Orthodox church itself scarcely reflects the original, imo. They have
restricted just about everything that can be restricted, why should
pastoring be the exception. Surely, much changed in the first few
generations after the death of last apostle. I'm interested in Biblical
usage, myself. Elder is the comparative form of old. Thus, a 25 year old
would be an elder if in a room full of younger ones. Ordinarily,
elderness is in relationship to the entire Christian community, so the
elders would be the bearded ones. The fathers and grandfathers. Even the
great-grandfathers, as no birth control, early teen marriages, and
"lights out early" were the norm. One man, hardly 50, could have a whole
house full of people looking up to him as their patriarch, guide, and
friend. Why would, how could he not desire to shepherd those who were
just a part of him wrapped up in a different skin? Could you imagine him
being told: "You need to leave the great "gift of pastoring" to others
until you get those ordination papers. Teaching, being mature,
monogamous, sober... you don't have to worry about any of that. That's
only for the pros."

Me, I have two young sons, 10 and 12. I am intentionally raising them and
training them to be pastors.

Jesus, referring to the jealous elder brother of the prodigal won, used
the exact term as those who were appointed to shepherd and to those
referred to as elders of the people. That comparison alone should make
some lights start coming on. :-)

>I'd like to comment on the verse from kings,
>1 Kgs. 12:8 But he (Rehoboam) forsook the counsel of the old men, which
>they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up
>with him, and which stood before him:
>If I remember correctly, the word for 'elders' here is not the standard
>'bearded ones' word ('zaqin' is it?) used to refer to the 70 elders of
>Israel-- the word which seems to correspond with NT 'presbuteros.' But
>there is till a relevant principle in the passage, imo.

It IS the standard word for sure, zahkehn, used for the elders of Israel
and elders of the people. Whether it has a personal or "official"
connotation is easily (?) determined by the context of each occurrence.
>Link Hudson
>Marion, NC, USA

Scholars are divided, of course. Look what is at stake, though. In his
Acts commentary, FF Bruce explains in a footnote that the "elder
brothers" is a more accurate rendering of the attendees at the Jerusalem
Counsel. I also have a quote from Bruce in which he concedes that the
early church did not have officials. Now where did I see that?

A keen English scholar, AE Harvey, who has published a Study Bible wrote:

It must be admitted at the outset that the use of the word presbuteros or
elder to denote the holder of an office is foreign to normal Greek usage.
Outside Jewish and Christian literature, the word presbutero" has only
one possible meaning: 'older men'. It is true that presbuteroi appear on
many Greek inscriptions of the Hellenistic period; but on closer
examination it turns out that all these inscriptions refer to the various
associations of older men which grew up as a kind of complement to the
athletic associations of the young, and it is not until the middle of the
second century A.D. that there is any evidence for presbutero" as a title
for a member of the newly created gerousia of Hellenistic cities - and
even then the epigraphic evidence amounts to no more than one certain and
two possible instances. It therefore seems necessary to assume that in
the Greek-speaking world the word presbutero" meant, not an official of
any kind, but simply an older man...

The point I am making is simply that one of the principles which seems to
have played its part in the development of church order was the
'principle of seniority.' Elders were so called because they were
originally the older and senior members of the congregation, and the
respect to which they were entitled did not differ essentially from that
shown to any 'older man'....

We have not a scrap of evidence from the early period that the Christian
elders were ever organized into anything formal or official, or that they
were ever sitting in committee in such a way that would need a chairman.

The word used here (Tit. 1:5-7) for 'appoint' kaqisthmi, is the same as
that used by Clement when he talks of appointing first-fruits. But, as we
saw, Clement does not mean that certain people were appointed
'first-fruits': this would make no sense, since either you were a first
convert or you were not. What he means is that at that time apostles
appointed their first converts... Similarly, in Acts 14:23, Paul an
Barnabas 'chose elders in each church'. The verb here is ceirotoneivn,
which is often translated 'appoint'. But this meaning is unattested;
there is no other instance in the N.T. or contemporary literature of the
word losing its proper meaning of election or selection, and the sense is
at least as good if we keep the meaning 'choose' and assume that what the
apostles are doing is choosing from among the existing elders of the
churches those who are to bear special responsibility - just as, in Acts
20 Paul calls together the 'elders' of Miletus, whom the Holy Spirit has
made (eqeto) episkopoi . In all these cases there need be no question to
appointing people to be elders: ELDERS EXIST ALREADY. (Emphasis mine. -

A. E. Harvey, Elders in The Journal of Theological Studies XXV:2 Oxford
University, (October 1974) pp. 319, 320, 326, 329, 330, 331.

Another scholar and former Pres of Westminster Seminary made this candid
admission about 1 Tim 5:17, the main passage from which Reformed Church
government is derived:

To begin with, it is not clear that the word in 1 Timothy 5:17 is used of
office rather than of age. In the whole intervening passage, Paul is
discussing the place and responsibilities of older and younger men and
women in the church. It is possible that the older widows who are
enrolled (v. 9) and assisted (v. 16) by the church function as
deaconesses; at least they are recognized by the church for ministry in
the light of a history of good works and benevolence.

In this setting it is most natural to interpret 1 Timothy 5:17 in this
way: "We have been considering the older women who are widows, their
service and support. Now let us return to the older men who are not to be
treated without respect (v. 1) but are to be honored. Those who rule -
and, of course, who rule well - are to be counted worthy of double honor."

Edmund P. Clowney, A Brief for Church Governors. from Order in the
Offices, Essays Defining the Roles of Church Officers edited by Mark
Brown. Classic Presbyterian Government Resources. 1993. p 61.

As Mike pointed out, the appoint and ordain words cover a lot of
territory. I'll take his word for it. But let us look at ordination with
respect to NT elders in the English. Let us move from the plain usages to
the disputed ones targeting elder appointment or ordination. With my
limitations, that's about all I can do.

In Acts 20, elders were commanded to feed the flock. Surely that is an
appointment. Elders were appointed to the task - not to an office. In 1
Peter, again, elders were commanded to be shepherds. That is also a clear
appointment to a particular function. Ergo, when the apostles appointed
elders in every city, it seems most natural that they were appointing
them to the very task upon which all involved mutually agreed, instead of
appointing them to an office of elder. Particularly when the phrase
"office of elder" is conspicuously absent from the Bible.

It is noteworthy that the apostles did the appointing and that after the
churches already were in existence. He did not command that churches
appoint or elect them. Some translators have even tried to read "a show
of hands" into the process, making it a public election.

Office of elder is as unnatural as an office of younger, imo. For the
sake of argument, lets say the NT elders were real officials in the
modern ecclesiastical sense. What function could they perform or what
requirement is made of them that any other "unofficial" elder could not
undertake to perform (or attain) to the good of the church and glory of
God? Underneath so many of these discussions I detect that that some are
determined to restrict pastoring, just as the Lord's Supper, preaching,
and ministering have been restricted to a select few.

Furthermore, in the patriarchal NT context why is there practically
nothing addressed to the "unofficial" elders? Strange omission, indeed.

To my knowledge there is but one modern technical work on the eldership
in the English language. Oh, I know there are some other eldership books
out there but they are not like this one. An entire book on who NT elders
were. I'll quote from it later. Its title is also a summary of the
thesis. "R. Alastair Campbell. 1994. The Elders: Seniority within
Earliest Christianity. Edinburgh: T&T Clark. Challenges the view that the
elders were holders of a definite office derived from a similar office in
the synagogue, demonstrating that "elder" was a title of honor, not
office. $49.95. Naturally, the person I lent it to has not returned it.
<laughter on line> Where is my other copy?

Lastly, I mention Robert Banks, formerly of Fuller Seminary, who wrote a
scholarly book on house churches, Paul's Idea of Community. He is not
emphatic about the position that I bring but he does allow for it. Page
147: In secular Greek, presbuteros simply meant older man. Just possibly,
Luke understood it in that way in Acts. If he did, then Paul appointed
some 'elders' to a particular responsibility, not some people to the
position of elder. End quote.

I hope to live to see this important matter removed from the list of
disputed questions. The implications to church planting, ministry, and
life are many.

blessings to all as you prayerfully consider,

David Anderson

(Please remember to quote only the parts of the this message that you
desire to respond to, otherwise it will bounce due to size. Thanks.)

------- <><><> -------

Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2002 07:27:10 -0400
From: jferris <jferris154 * mac>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] re: elder designates their age - pastoring, their role

David Anderson wrote:

>Pastoring is simply the non-technical outworking of that ancient
>rhetorical question: Am I my brother's keeper? Yes - a thousand times
>yes! As one grows older, he should become wiser, more experienced, and
>have more resources for ministry than younger ones. Therefore it is
>especially and naturally incumbent upon the elders to be shepherds. What
>else would you expect in a patriarchal environment?
Dear David,

Good word, and good question. Being an "elder" is a matter of life.
Jesus spoke to the religious experts of His day in parables. When His
disciples asked Him why, He said because "...seeing, they don't see, and
hearing they don't hear..." Where eyesight is concerned, He also said,
"If the light of our eye be darkness, how great is that darkness." In
combination it is clear, that the religious mind has a very difficult
time seeing things from the vantage point of life. When we think we see,
but we don't see, what we have is darkness, militant darkness, in some
cases even self sacrificial, even suicidal darkness.

It's very hard to get rid of it no matter what its brand name. The
passage of time is a necessary ingredient in the making of elders.
Fathers, for instance are made the moment someone gets pregnant. Even a
novice can do it. But, an elder takes time. You can't get there by going
to school. You simply have to be around, and care longer than others
where you live.

You can't even take it with you as you can take an apostolic calling
with you. Elders pertain to a place in time. It is possible to be both,
but it is good to be clear about who you are in any given situation. It
is said about God that He "knows the end from the beginning", yet, He
Himself is without beginning and without end. Clearly this is a
statement about the knowledge and wisdom of God, but it has its greatest
application to life. even our lives. A younger only knows the beginning.
A father knows the beginning from the middle, but a grandfather knows
the beginning from the end. It is this kind of knowledge which is
essential for godly oversight. Fathers tend to be over doers, and over
doers tend to be very competitive. This competitiveness is a big part of
the problem that elders have to oversee. In other words, the fathers are
as much a part of the problem as they are the solution. It takes elders
to get it sorted out. Pastors, in the first instance are in the place of
fathers, if its working right, (As I've experienced it, it seldom is.)
Old pastors, pastors who are no longer novices are the elders.

It's that simple. This is what life teaches us. Old creation life is a
parable designed to reveal the invisible truth about God and His ways.
If only we could get all the religion out of the way, we might be able
to see it. Problem is, that would be bad for business.

Yours in Christ,


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