Identifying the Church: The Proper Organization

In identifying the Lord’s church, we have seen that its characteristics are quite simple. The same is true when we consider the church’s organization. The Lord’s church is overseen via elders (Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9) with deacons aiding in the physical work. There are no popes, archbishops, presidents, boards of directors, synods, conferences, etc. in the Bible.

Likewise, all the work given to the church to perform is performed by the church. There were no physical organizations or groups in the first century needed to perform any of the work assigned to the church. The work that was assigned included teaching the lost (1 Thessalonians 1:8), strengthening the saints (Acts 11:22-23) and helping poor Christians (Acts 4:32-35).

There was no such thing, in the first century, as a bishop who presided over a number of churches. There was no such officer, in the first century, as a cardinal over churches of the various nations. There was no such creature, in Bible times, as the “papa,” or Pope, of all churches. Rather, congregations were organized on a local level, with a plurality of elders, who guided them in matters of human judgment (Hebrews 13:17). Furthermore, congregations did not band together in their work to “accomplish more.” Each congregation was only responsible for its own effort.

As a final consideration, in the New Testament, the elders are referred to as “pastors,” not the preacher (Ephesians 4:11). The work they did was shepherding or pastoring (1 Peter 5:2). The apostle Paul never called himself a “pastor,” but did call himself a “preacher” twice in his letters (1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11) and an “apostle” numerous times (Romans 1:1; 11:3; 1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; etc.).

Kyle Campbell

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