Home Church Community

Statement of Beliefs

Contact Us

Search Our Site

Bible Study Resource



Printer Friendly Version

Particulars of Christianity:
312 The Church Ethic


Church Leadership and Authority Conditional

The Importance of Music in Worship
The Church and Going to Church
Ministers, Pastors, and the Calling (Part 1)
Ministers, Pastors, and the Calling (Part 2)
Introduction: Financial Support for Ministers
Financial Support for Ministers (Part 1)
Financial Support for Ministers (Part 2)
Church Leadership and Authority Conditional
Communal Living



Introductory Note: This essay assumes the conclusions asserted in our two-part online article, "Ministers, Pastors, and the Calling," which states that the offices of elder, pastor, overseer, and bishop were all one and the same office in the New Testament, as understood and articulated deliberately by the apostles. Thus, the issue of a hierarchy of authority based upon differentiating between elders, pastors, overseers, and bishops in the modern church is shown to be inaccurate and a contrivance, which does not overturn the conclusions concerning rank established in this essay.

1.) The term or concept of "firstborn" denotes the successor, the heir apparent to the predecessor, the one with ranking authority, even as it is used in the New Testament concerning Jesus Christ (see Romans 8 and Colossians 1 below).

Easton's Revised Bible Dictionary
First-born
Sons enjoyed certain special privileges #De 21:17 Ge 25:23,31,34 49:3 #1Ch 5:1 Heb 12:16 Ps 89:27 See BIRTHRIGHT 23592 The "first-born of the poor" signifies the most miserable of the poor #Isa 14:30 The "church of the first-born" signifies the church of the redeemed. The destruction of the first-born was the last of the ten plagues inflicted on the Egyptians #Ex 11:1-8 12:29,30 Menephtah is probably the Pharaoh whose first-born was slain. His son did not succeed or survive his father, but died early. The son's tomb has been found at Thebes unfinished, showing it was needed earlier than was expected. Some of the records on the tomb are as follows: "The son whom Menephtah loves; who draws towards him his father's heart, the singer, the prince of archers, who governed Egypt on behalf of his father. Dead."

Easton's Revised Bible Dictionary
Birthright
1. This word denotes the special privileges and advantages belonging to the first-born son among the Jews. He became the priest of the family. Thus Reuben was the first-born of the patriarchs, and so the priesthood of the tribes belonged to him. That honour was, however, transferred by God from Reuben to Levi #Nu 3:12,13 8:18
2. The first-born son had allotted to him also a double portion of the paternal inheritance #De 21:15-17 Reuben was, because of his undutiful conduct, deprived of his birth-right #Ge 49:4 1Ch 5:1 Esau transferred his birth-right to Jacob #Ge 25:33
3. The first-born inherited the judicial authority of his father, whatever it might be #2Ch 21:3 By divine appointment, however, David excluded Adonijah in favour of Solomon.
4. The Jews attached a sacred importance to the rank of "first-born" and "first-begotten" as applied to the Messiah #Ro 8:29 Col 1:18 Heb 1:4-6 As first-born he has an inheritance superior to his brethren, and is the alone true priest.
See FIRST BORN 24339

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Hebrews 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.


2.) The Law of Moses required that the firstborn was entitled to a double portion, which of course, referred to the distribution of material goods among the children.

Deuteronomy 21:15 If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: 16 Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: 17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double (08147) portion (06310) of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.


3.) Using the exact same Hebrew words as found in Deuteronomy 21, Elisha requests to be deemed Elijah's successor, with rank above his peers, by requesting a "double portion" of Elijah's spirit. This request is granted and the other followers of Elijah bow down to Elisha after he takes up Elijah's mantle.

2 Kings 2:9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double (08147) portion (06310) of thy spirit be upon me. 10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. 11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. 13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; 14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. 15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.


4.) In the New Testament, Paul speaks of the church elders, which was the office the apostles set up in each local community to act as the authorities once they had moved on. And when speaking of this office in 1 Timothy 5 in the midst of a discussion about the weekly distribution of money among the church, Paul states that those elders who rule well should receive a double value or portion, using the exact same Greek word used in Acts 4 to describe the distribution money. Like Deuteronomy 21:15-17, Paul is assigning a double portion of the money distributed to the children and this double portion designated who was counted as the firstborn, in the sense of being the apostles' successors and heirs apparent to the apostles' rank and authority, just as Elisha received the authority ranking above the other followers of Elijah. Thus, Paul's instruction not only includes the actual double portion of the financial supplement (see our articles online) but also designates who were the apostles' successors.

Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders (4245) in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders (4245) in every city, as I had appointed thee:

1 Timothy 5:5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. 7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. 8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel…16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. 17 Let the elders (4245) that rule well be counted worthy of double (1362) honour (5092), especially (3122) they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Acts 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Acts 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices (5092) of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

5092 time
from 5099; TDNT-8:169,1181; n f
AV-honour 35, price 8, sum 1, precious 1; 43
1) a valuing by which the price is fixed
1a) of the price itself
1b) of the price paid or received for a person or thing bought or sold
2) honour which belongs or is shown to one
2a) of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds
2b) deference, reverence


5.) In addition, here in 1 Timothy 5, Paul very clearly makes who is deemed as the rightful and ranking successor of the apostles a conditional. First, whether or not an elder received the double portion, which denotes the rank of successor, depended on his ruling well. According to Paul here, those elders who did not rule well were not counted worthy of the double portion, a fact which consequently denoted their lack of rank or authority among the church brethren. Notice that this standard given by Paul automatically means that ordination itself does not convey rank, authority, or successorship. Furthermore, there is no mention of ordination as a necessary criterion for being deemed a successor to the apostles’ oversight of the church. Instead, the only criterion that Paul mentions as necessary to be deemed a successor to the apostles’ oversight is to labor well in the word and in doctrine.

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders (4245) that rule well be counted worthy of double (1362) honour (5092), especially (3122) they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Moreover, this passage from 1 Timothy 5 is not a unique comment. On two other occasions, Paul likewise identifies conditional criteria for church leadership. On neither occasion does he list ordination as a criterion. And conversely, on both occasions, Paul expresses the simple expectation that performance in handling the word of God is the lone criterion for demonstrating who can rightfully be deemed to have oversight and authority over the church. (Other passages cited below list other criteria for leadership, such as moral character, but the two passages below focus on doctrinal performance.)

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman (2040) that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Notice that Paul uses the word “workman” (Strong’s No. 2040) here to denote the role of the overseer, just as he did in verse 18 of 1 Timothy 5, where it is alternately translated as “laborer.” Here in 2 Timothy, it is not Timothy’s ordination that merits Timothy’s right or authority as an elder. Instead, Timothy’s authority is merited by his diligent efforts resulting in his ability to correctly divide the Word of God.

Hebrew 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

As we stipulated earlier, the office of bishop, elder, overseer, and pastor are one and the same in the New Testament, and being a teacher of the Word was the primary role of that office. Here in Hebrews 5, Paul states that his audience should have been teachers by that time. But they were not. And what did Paul say was the reason they were not teachers? Was it that they lacked ordination? No. Do we presume that Paul is here talking to a group of ordained men that he describes as being babes in the Word and as not being teachers? Of course not, especially since teaching was a requirement for elders. Consequently, here Paul must be talking to a group of men who are un-ordained. And Paul’s expectation is that over time men would exercise their perception to correctly discern the meaning of God’s word, and when they were mature in this process, they would by virtue of doing so, have become teachers. And, demonstrating this ability to rightly divide the Word of God, according to 1 Timothy 5, they demonstrate themselves to be the successors of the apostles’ oversight of the churches.


6.) Furthermore, as can be seen in the quote of 1 Timothy 5:17 above, Paul also differentiates greater rank even among those elders who do rule well. Note Paul's use of the word "especially," the Greek word "malista" (Strong's 3122), which means, "especially," "chiefly," or "most of all" (see definition below). As indicated by the survey below of the twelve occurrence of "malista," this means that the double portion and the rank of apostles' successor applied more to the elders who labored well in the word and doctrine than it did to the elders who ruled well in areas other than the word and doctrine.

As can be seen in the definition of below, in this sense "malista" also denotes the "chief" or "above all," which in turn designates that the chief in rank even among the successors were those who labored in the word and doctrine. Other elders who did not labor in the word and doctrine did not and could not outrank or even be counted equal in rank with those who ruled well and were expert laborers in the word and doctrine. Consequently, in the post-apostolic era in which the church was governed by the apostles' successors, there could never be any authority higher than or equal to that of an elder who ruled well and was an expert laborer in the word and doctrine, except for other such elders. More than anyone else, more than other elders, those who rule well being expert laborers in the word and doctrine carry the rank and authority as the apostles' successors.

And lastly, given these protocols, it is clear that there is absolutely no rank or authority or office of successor held by those who, even under the title of elder or leader (see introductory note at the top), do not rule well, particularly in the word and doctrine. Such individuals are deemed by Paul unworthy for the double portion and subsequently lacking the rank and succession from apostles.

3122 malista
neuter plural of the superlative of an apparently primary adverb mala (very); ; adv
superlative AV-specially 5, especially 4, chiefly 2, most of all 1; 12
1) especially, chiefly, most of all, above all

Acts 20:37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, 38 Sorrowing most of all (3122) for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
Acts 25:26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially (3122) before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.
Acts 26:2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: 3 Especially (3122) because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially (3122) unto them who are of the household of faith.
Philippians 4:22 All the saints salute you, chiefly (3122) they that are of Caesar's household.
1 Timothy 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially (3122) of those that believe.
1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially (3122) for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially (3122) they who labour in the word and doctrine.
2 Timothy 4:13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially (3122) the parchments.
Titus 1:10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially (3122) they of the circumcision:
Philemon 1:16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially (3122) to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?
2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: 10 But chiefly (3122) them that 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.


7.) In addition to the conditionality and hierarchy established above, the New Testament asserts plainly (see 1 Timothy 3:1 below) that that being a bishop is something a man himself chooses to pursue and attain. And he does attain it, he is counted worthy of that rank and authority established by the apostles in the churches they left behind, if he meets not only the criteria of ruling well, but the following criteria also. Notice from a comparison of Paul's statements about authority in 2 Corinthians 10 to Jesus' own words in Matthew 7 and Luke 6 that the ability to judge and rule in the church also requires meeting the criterion of yourself first becoming perfect or mature in obedience, removing the beam from your own eye. With these criteria met, a man who desires it and rules well should indeed be deemed worthy of double honour, the successor of the apostles and bearing rank over the church with those that are expert laborers in the word and doctrine being chief of all in this present church age prior to the return of Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

2 Corinthians 10:1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: 2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. 7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's. 8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: 9 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.

(Concerning Verse 6 Above - That the phrase, "readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled" refers to Jesus' teaching that in order to administer judgment, a person must have first themselves achieved mature obedience.)

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.

(Concerning Verse 7 Above - That the phrase, "look on things after the outward appearance" is intended as instruction to exercise correct judgment.)

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

(Concerning Verse 8 Above - Who Paul means by "us" in the phrase "our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification.")

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:


8.) Not only do New Testament instructions assert this pattern, but we also have a few historical precedents from the Bible which likewise indicate that the means of determining who had authority was not a matter of ordination but the ability to rightly divide God’s Word. Beginning in the Old Testament, we have the record of Eldad and Medad.

Numbers 11:24 And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. 25 And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease. 26 But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp. 27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. 29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!

Here in Numbers 11, we see God placing His Spirit upon the elders of Israel so that they could administer the Law under Moses. Seventy men were brought out of the camp to the place of the tabernacle for this purpose. This concept of seventy elders of Israel administrating the law under Moses continued through the Sanhedrin, the high religious court of the Jewish nation, even to the time of Christ. At the tabernacle, God’s Spirit did indeed come upon those men gathered there with Moses. However, two men, Eldad and Medad, had not come to the tabernacle for this appointment. And yet, they too, received the Spirit of the Lord and began to prophesy. In reaction to this, some objected and expected the Moses would not approve of these men. However, Moses recognized that though they had not been appointed along with the others, they nevertheless were qualified and approved by God for the task.

Likewise, in the gospels we have a similar account of a man casting out demons in Jesus’ name who had not been appointed by Jesus. Clearly such works demonstrate that the man operated in the authority of Jesus’ name. But the apostles who had been commissioned objected to this because the man was not one of them. Simply put, there objection was that this man had not been directly appointed by Jesus. In like manner as his predecessor Moses, Jesus’ response again affirms that direct appointment is not a requirement for doing God’s work. Neither does Jesus require that the man be a part of or approved of by those he had directly appointed, in this case, the disapproving apostles. Instead, Jesus rebukes the apostles for their desire to forbid this man from doing godly work in His name.

Mark 9:38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part.

Luke 9:49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

As we proceed further into the New Testament the most explicit example can be found in the case of Apollos. Apollos is first introduced in Acts 18.

Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. 27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: 28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

From this passage we learn several significant facts about Apollos that are relevant to our study. First, we see that Apollos is a very capable speaker who was well trained in the scriptures and who diligently taught the teachings of the Lord Jesus (although he had not been present for the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and so only knew the water baptism of John the Baptist). But most importantly we see that Apollos did all of this though he had never been appointed or commissioned to do so by the apostles. In fact, the closest Apollos had come to the leadership of the New Testament church as he began his ministry was Aquilla and Priscilla. But there is no mention of Apollo being ordained by Aquilla and Priscilla, or of Aquilla and Priscilla themselves being ordained elders. Moreover, the mention of Priscilla alongside her husband rules out the possibility that ordination is in view here since it is contrary to the New Testament for a woman to be appointed as an elder and exercise that authority over the ordination of men. And yet, we can see from 1 Corinthians that Apollos was used of God and held in high esteem as a teacher in the early church right alongside Paul and Peter.

1 Corinthians 1:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase….22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s. 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God….9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

But it wasn’t any official appointment that began Apollos’ ministry. Instead, the scripture informs us that it was Apollos’ eager desire to spread the gospel, his understanding of the scriptures, and his ability to teach, which qualified him for his leadership position.

Paul’s own situation is similar. After he is converted in Acts 9, he is healed of his blindness by Ananias and filled with the Holy Spirit. But without receiving appointment or approval from those Christ had put in charge of the church (namely, the apostles), Paul immediately begins to preach Christ in the synagogues at Damascus.

Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God... 22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Paul himself states this in Galatians 1 where he tells his audience that he did not feel the need to confer with the apostles nor to seek out the approval or appointment by men. In fact, it wasn’t until after three years of teaching the gospel that Paul met with Peter and James. He did not do so again until fourteen years later when he returned to Jerusalem to confer with the rest of apostles on the issue of Gentile conversion and keeping the law.

Galatians 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. 20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. 21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; 22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: 23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. 24 And they glorified God in me. 2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. 2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

Though Paul’s case is an undeniably unique one in many respects, it is interesting that no one in the church was present to witness or attest to Paul’s direct commission by Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus as recorded in Acts 9. Yet generally speaking the church apparently did not have any preconceived difficulties with in the legitimacy of this man’s authority even though he had not been appointed by the apostles. This is highly significant. Why weren’t their outcries and protests because Paul had not been appointed by the apostles? Moreover, although Ananias laid hands on Paul in Acts 9, Ananias is described as merely a disciple, not an apostle or even an appointed elder. This means that Paul went on to preach and teach as an accepted leader in the church for quite some time before being appointed at a council of leaders in Acts 13:1-3. Consequently, Paul’s case fits very well with the pattern we’ve seen exhibited elsewhere throughout the scriptures, specifically that being officially ordained by men is not something that God requires before someone can be a teacher, elder, or leader in the church. Instead, we have seen that God’s required qualification for being an elder in the church is the ability to teach and hold to sound doctrine.

Of course, it might be pointed out that Paul’s authority was proven by the “signs” of an apostle, the miracles which he performed, as Paul himself declares in 2 Corinthians 12:12. (However, notice that when seeking to demonstrate the legitimacy of his authority, Paul does not point to his ordination, the laying on of hands by the elders in Acts 13.)

2 Corinthians 12:11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

As we can see, even this objection demonstrates our conclusion because it points out that a man ought to be rightly considered a leader, even without apostolic appointment, provided that he has the right qualifying characteristics. In Paul’s day those characteristics might have included miracles. But in the present time when the supernatural gifts are generally no longer at work, it is absolutely correct to recognize authority based around the remaining characteristics that the New Testament identifies, namely proper moral character (see below) and the ability to rightly divide God’s Word.


9.) It is also important to note that the conditional nature of authority worked both ways. While "ruling well" (particularly in the Word and doctrine) demonstrate one's place as a local elder, a successor of the apostolic authority, conversely, lack of ruling well could lead to the removal of an elder from their position. This is made plain by Paul in 1 Timothy 5 as well. We have already examined verses 5-8 and 16-18 above. But verse 19 states that elders were not above church discipline but, in fact, accusations of them could be heard and established by the mouth of two or three witnesses, the same rule that Jesus' gave for the excommunication of any other member of the church in Matthew 18:15-20. This becomes clear through a side-by-side comparison of Paul's instructions to those given by Jesus for excommunication. Consequently, this further demonstrates that an elders authority was conditional and elders who disobeyed Christ's teaching (whether moral or theological) could be publically rebuked and excommunicated for it. (NOTE: We have also included verses 1-2 of this same chapter of 1 Timothy in order to show that its provisions were not absolute, as demonstrated by verses 19-20.)

1 Timothy 5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity...5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. 7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. 8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel…16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. 17 Let the elders (4245) that rule well be counted worthy of double (1362) honour (5092), especially (3122) they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. 19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. 18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.