Section 7. Living The Faith... The Biblical Christian/
The Church... Then and Now

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The Church... Then and Now
Chapter V - The Leaders

A man-made ecclesiastical order has trumped the original plan for the church - Somewhere along the line, a bunch of local extended families became a huge universal organization, with layer upon layer of rank, each subordinate to the one above. 

Carol Brooks



The New Testament Congregations and Their Spiritual Leaders

Part I
The Elders
(Also Known as the Overseers or Shepherds)
The qualifications necessary to become an elder. How many elders were in each church, where did they come from, and were they rulers or shepherds?

The Deacons
Definition of the word, the required qualifications and their role in the New Testament

Deacons in The Modern Church
For the most part nothing about deacons in the modern church bears the slightest resemblance to the New Testament deacons. This includes what they wear, what the necessary qualifications are, and what their role is.

Part II
The Clergy
Bishops and Archbishops

The Questions ..

Introduction - The New Testament Congregations and Their Spiritual Leaders
From the very beginning geography has required the church to be organized into local congregations with men appointed to look after the spiritual welfare of each one. However, the questions we need to ask ourselves are what role these men played and whether the leadership in the modern church bears any resemblance at all to the pattern established in the New Testament.

In order to accurately answer those questions we need to bear in mind that only the original Hebrew and Greek Bible was infallible. This means we have to study the specific Greek words used for the leaders of the New Testament church, understand what they meant, and how they were used.

And when we do, we will find that many of the titles given leaders of the modern church find their roots in the New Testament however, the role, function, and position of these men is completely different from what it originally was.

Besides which, there were literally only two groups of people who were in a position of responsibility in the New Testament church - The Elders and the Deacons..

Part I - The Elders (Also Known as the Overseers or Shepherds)

That all three of these designations (elders, overseers and shepherds) referred to the same person or office is made clear in Acts 20 in which we see Paul about to depart for Jerusalem. Before he left he summoned the church leaders to warn them that after his departure savage wolves would attempt to draw believers away. During his exhortation Paul first called them elders in verse 17 then in verse 28 he referred to them as overseers and told them their job was to shepherd the church of God.

    From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders (Gk. presbuteros)) of the church.... "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (Gk. episkopos), to shepherd (Gk. poimaino) the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.  (Acts 20:17, 28 NASB)

Presbuteros literally means someone who is up there is age. For example, Paul told Timothy not "rebuke an older (presbuteros) man but to appeal to him as a father and the older (presbuteros) women as mothers (1 Timothy 5:1-3).  However, the word does not necessarily mean elderly. Timothy a relatively young man was a leader or 'elder' in the church. Thus presbuteros could also be applied to a mature men who could handle the duties and responsibilities.

Epískopos – properly, an overseer; a man called by God to literally "keep an eye on" His flock (the Church, the body of Christ), i.e. to provide personalized (first hand) care and protection... "Though in some contexts 1985 (epískopos) has been regarded traditionally as a position of authority, in reality the focus is upon the responsibility for caring for others" [00] Emphasis Added]

More about Poimaino in Rulers or Shepherds Below

The Qualifications Required of An Elder
As Paul told Timothy a godly and diligent "elder" was worthy of "double honor" (1 Timothy 5:17), who would receive an "unfading crown of glory" when the Chief Shepherd appears (1 Peter 5:4). However, the qualifications required of those who wished to become overseers in the church were very specific.

    An overseer (Gk. episkopos), then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:1-7 NASB)

Paul pretty much repeated the same instructions to Titus 1:5-9, adding that the elder should not be "fond of sordid gain" - a point that many of the leaders of the modern church should pay particular attention to.

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How Many Elders Were There and Where Did They Come From?
In the New Testament no one man oversaw the local church as is the custom in so many denominational churches. Much to the contrary, the church overseers/elders were always referred to in the plural.

    Paul and Barnabas "appointed elders in every church" (Acts 14:23), and instructed Titus to do the same (Titus 1:5).

    In Acts 15 the elders (plural) in Jerusalem were called on to settle the dispute about circumcision.

    James instructed Christians to "call for the elders (plural) of the church".

Additionally they were 'home grown' - chosen from among the members of the particular church they were to lead. As Acts tells us, when Paul returned to certain cities he appointed elders in the churches. In other words, on his first trip he preached the word and established a church, but only later returned to appoint an elder. On the second go around, he did not take with him a graduate of the Bible college in Jerusalem to look after their churches.

After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. (Acts 14:21-23 NASB)

Not only was the newly planted church apparently without an elder for an unspecified period of time, but every elder had to have been a fairly new believer when he was appointed. No formal theological training and certainly no 'masters of divinity' among them.

That the role of the elders was both multifold and crucially important can be gleaned from various passages in the New Testament. They had to be able to preach and teach (1 Timothy 3:2; 5:17), be an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3; Hebrews 13:7), handle disputes (Acts 15:2), visit and pray for the sick (James 5:14), etc.

In a passage mentioned earlier Peter, as an elder himself, exhorted his fellow elders (Gk. presbuteros) to

    shepherd (Gk. poimaino) the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:2-3 NASB)

They were also charged with protecting the flock from false doctrine. As mentioned earlier, when Paul called together the elders at Ephesus, he told them that as overseers they had to guard the flock against the "savage wolves" that he prophesied would rise from the midst of the believers (Acts 20:28). The elders that Titus was instructed to appoint were to hold "fast to the faithful word" (or, as we may phrase it today - stick to God's word) so that they would be able both to urge others in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict. (Titus 1:9-11)

In today's church heresy is all too often propagated from the pulpit - many of the leaders being the problem rather than the solution.

Rulers or Shepherds?
The Catholic Encyclopedia says that (All Emphasis Added)

    the distinction between clergy and laity was recognized in New Testament times is plain from St. Paul's statement that the bishops have been placed by the Holy Ghost to rule the Church (Acts 20:28), for the right to rule implies a correlative obligation to obey. [01]

Which is an absolutely self serving translation. The Greek word used in Acts 20:28 is poimaino, which means to "tend as a shepherd" and is used about 12 times in the New Testament. The men Jude speaks about in the second example cared only for themselves, not the congregation as a whole. In Acts 20:28 (example 4) Paul charged the elders with the care and protection of the flock.

    1) Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends (Gk. poimaino) a flock and does not use the milk of the flock? (1 Corinthians 9:7 NASB)

    2) These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring (Gk. poimaino) for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; (Jude 1:12 NASB)

    3) for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd (Gk. poimaino), and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:17 NASB)

    4) Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd (Gk. poimaino) the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28 NASB)

Note: Poimaino is used 4 times in the book of Revelation - three times in reference to pagan nations and once in reference to believers. However, it is very clear that the word is being used very differently depending on who is being spoken about. See Footnote I

Finally, the closing chapter of the book of John relates a conversation between Jesus and Peter, in which Jesus used two different words to instruct Peter regarding the flock...

    So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend (Gr. bosko) My lambs." He *said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He *said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd (Gk. poimaino) My sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Tend (Gr. bosko) My sheep. (John 21:15-17 NASB)

The Greek word bosko used twice above, means to pasture or graze, which is why it has often been translated "feed". It would have made absolutely no sense for the Lord to twice tell Peter to "feed" His sheep, and once to "rule" over them. All three instructions were to care for the flock.

Timothy 5:17 has also been used to show that elders are to 'rule' the church.

    The elders who rule (Gk. proistemi) well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. (NASB)

Proistemi is derived from two other words that, when combined, means to stand in front of. Thus Thayer's Greek definitions does not put forth 'rule' as one of the possible interpretations (Strong's does) but rather, to be over, to superintend, preside over. However, the KJV renders proistemi as 'rule' in six of the eight NT occurrences (the other two were translated 'maintain')

And although the NASB also used 'rule' in 1 Timothy 5:17 just two chapters earlier they twice translated proistemi into 'manage'. with good reason... Quite obviously a man does not 'rule' over his own house therefore, as many versions render it, the words 'preside' or 'manage' better suits the role of the elders both in their homes and in their churches.

    He must be one who manages (Gk. proistemi) his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage (Gk. proistemi) his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), (1 Timothy 3:4-5 NASB)

Note: Although the words 'have some overlapping meaning rule means to exercise control or dominion over or to govern. On the other hand, to preside means to hold a position of authority and manage means to have charge of.

The word "elder" described the maturity of the men, who were the homegrown "overseers" of the local congregations. According to the New Testament, all local churches had at least two elders, who had to meet stringent moral requirements, in order to be appointed to the hugely important job of tending the flock under their care.


The Deacons (Gr. diakonos)
The New Testament diakonos has been translated into both "minister" and "deacon". For example, Paul was described a "minister" of God (Romans 13:4) and minister to the gentiles (Ephesians 3:6-7, Colossians 1:23). That this office was distinct from the elders or overseers of the church is made evident by the word "and" in the following verse.

    Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers (Gk. episkopos) and deacons (Gk. diakonos) (Philippians 1:1 NASB)

Strong's defines diakonos as being an "attendant" or "a waiter at table or in other menial duties". In support of this, diakonos has been translated "servant" in the New Testament particularly emphasized by Mary's words at the wedding in Cana,

    His mother said to the servants (Gk. diakonos), "Whatever He says to you, do it."... When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants (Gk. diakonos) who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom...." (John 2:5,9 NASB)

However, diakonos could also mean a labor of love.

    Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister (Gk. diakonos) to Him. (Matthew 4:11 NASB)

    For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered (Gk. diakonos) and in still ministering (Gk. diakonos) to the saints. (Hebrews 6:10 NASB)

    "...the Son of Man did not come to be served (Gk. diakonos), but to serve (Gk. diakonos), and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28 NASB) Also see Luke 22:23-30

Paul was quite clear that the deacons were to be first tested and could only "serve as deacons" if they were "beyond reproach" (1 Timothy 3:10) - the requirements no less stringent than those necessary to become an elder.

    Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women (Gr. gune) must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. (1 Timothy 3:8-12 NASB)

And women could and did fulfill the role. In Romans 16:1 Paul called the obviously female Phoebe "a servant (Gk. diakonos) of the church", and commended her to the Roman church. Note however that Phoebe was not an "elder" - a role that seemed to be strictly reserved for males.

As shown by the example below the role of the diakoneo was to take care of the practical needs of the church, freeing the elders to focus on their primary calling - devotion "to prayer and to the ministry of the word"

    Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve (Gk. diakoneo) tables. "Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. "But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." (Acts 6:1-4 NASB)

Unfortunately, this humble, yet very necessary function of the deacons soon morphed into a far more exalted role in many denominations.

Deacons in The Modern Church - Qualifications and Appearance
In Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox churches a deacon is an ordained minister ranked immediately below a priest. In other denominations the deacon is a lay official appointed or elected to assist the minister. The Catholic Encyclopedia says they are supposed to have...

    "a very special relation to the sacred vessels and to the host and chalice both before and after consecration." [02]

Google images brings up countless pictures of deacons - men and women in Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, Anglican, and Episcopalian churches who wear robes (Baptist deacons do not) and often richly embroidered stoles. Additionally, in many cases, the requirements for becoming a deacon is a million miles away those specified in the Scriptures. For example, the United Methodist Church says

    All deacons and elders are required to complete the Basic Graduate Theological Studies in the Christian faith (minimum of 27 semester hours). These may be completed as part of a theological degree or in addition to a master's degree and/or professional certification in specialized ministry. [03]

Mormon Deacons "have the Aaronic Priesthood conferred upon them beginning in January of the year they turn 12. At that time, they are also ordained to the office of deacon - an office they typically hold until the year they turn 14." [04]

Not only are the visual images of deacons nor the qualifications necessary to become one are anywhere close to being true to the original meaning and intent of the Greek word diakonos, but we took it several steps further...

Part II - The Other Titles

Lets begin with the all too common...

A word that we understand as 'persons ordained for religious work' only came into being around 1300 AD. [05] It was derived from an old French word clergié that meant clerics or learned men and clergie "learning, knowledge, erudition" that originated with the Greek adjective klerikos, derived from kleros "lot' or "inheritance".

However, the Bible does not use kleros to describe someone appointed to an office in the church. Peter instructed the elders to

    ... shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted (Gk. kleros) to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:1-3 NASB)

    Verse three in the KJV reads " Neither as being lords over God's heritage (Gk. kleros)"

All believers, not just the leadership, are God's lot or heritage. All God's people receive a "place" or "inheritance" through the gospel.

    giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance (Gk. kleros) of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:12-14 NASB)

    Paul said that God was sending him to the Gentiles "to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance (Gk. kleros) among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me." (Acts 26:16-18 NASB)

Interestingly, no one seems to know how in the world a Greek word that means share, portion, or inheritance, came to mean a body of ordained religious practitioners. As said by

    Probably the best suggested explanation is, that from "lot" or "portion", it came to mean a particular lot or office assigned to someone, and finally the person himself possessing the lot or office. [06]

Bishops and Archbishops
The noun episkope or "overseer" has often been translated "bishop" in the KJV, simply because 'bishop' comes from the Old English bisceop, derived from the Late Latin episcopus, which eventually finds its way back the Greek episkopos (watcher or overseer). 

As already shown the overseer and the elder were one and same person - an ordinary but wise and mature man whose function was to shepherd or tend the sheep. Note that the word overseer can be applied to anyone who inspects or oversees anything. In the New Testament it was used for those who were appointed to watch over the sheep. Remember that Acts 20:28 says their job was to shepherd the church of God

    From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders (Gk. presbuteros)) of the church.... "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (Gk. episkopos), to shepherd (Gk. poimaino) the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.  (Acts 20:17, 28 NASB)

In 1 Peter 2:25 episkopos is applied to the Lord Jesus the ultimate Shepherd and Guardian of our souls.

     For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (NASB)

Yet, in modern usage, a "bishop" is a high-ranking Christian cleric whom many denominations do not allow to be married yet Scripture tells us that the elders were to be the husband of one wife. The function of modern bishops is also very, very different from those of the humble men of God who oversaw the early church. For example, the United Methodist church says

     "A bishop serves as a general superintendent for the church, assigned to a geographical area". They are clergy elected and consecrated to the office of bishop and are responsible for seeing that the "rules and regulations developed by General Conference are carried out". [07]

In the Orthodox church of America "The Holy Synod of Bishops is the "supreme canonical authority" [08]

The Lutheran Orthodox Church "is governed by Spirit filled men and women consecrated in valid Apostolic Succession... These men and women are appointed according to our By Laws and Constitution" They are issued "licenses to preach" and have to submit to criminal background check and psychological testing. [09]

The power and reverence given modern day bishops is made obvious by how we address them and the fact that ...

The Chair
The word "Cathedral" represents the authority of the bishop. It is formed by adding suffix al to cathedra - the Latin word for "chair" that comes from the Greek, kathedra or seat. Thus, Cathedral refers to the chair or throne of a bishop and is symbolic of the bishop's teaching authority in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches (To some extent this may still be true in the Anglican and Lutheran churches).

The term, Ex cathedra, which literally means "from the chair" is used to designate the pope's official pronouncements intended for a world audience. For an encyclical to be considered infallible, the pope must speak "ex-cathedra". (An Encyclical is a circular letter explicitly addressed to the patriarchs, primates, archbishops, and bishops of the Universal Church)

Although the forms of address vary from country to country, bishops and archbishops are often addressed as "Your Grace", "Your Eminence" or "Your Excellency".

The term "Eminence" means 'a position of great distinction or superiority'. "Your Grace" is used for various high ranking personages. It was used to address the King or Queen of Scotland up to 1707, and to address monarchs of England prior to Henry VIII. The term is still used for non-royal dukes and duchesses in the United Kingdom.

In keeping with the exalted position held by church bishops they often don all the trappings of royalty. "His Eminence" Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, even has his own coat of arms. "The Catholic rituals of heraldry dictate that a circle of stained glass illustrated with Dolan's coat of arms be installed in the ceiling of his private sacristy — the room where sacred vessels and vestments are kept." HERE

Similarly orthodox churches now indulge in unbelievable pomp and show HERE

The Episcopalians, without sacrificing one iota of the pageantry and ostentation, have even elected gay bishops [10] As have the Methodists HERE

How far we have fallen in every regard.

Besides the Catholic and Orthodox churches, the Anglicans and Episcopalians also ordain priests. The problem is that, in the hierarchy of the church, the word "priest" usually means

    "... a member of the second grade of clergy ranking below a bishop but above a deacon and having authority to administer the sacraments. [11]

    one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God [12]

However, according to the New Testament, there are no priests, only elders.... the presbyteros.

Perhaps some of the wrong thinking was initiated by the fact that the Greek word hiereus literally and figuratively means a "priest". However, it was never ever used for any figure of authority in the church. Jesus used hiereus when He spoke about the Old Testament priests. All other occurrences (bar one) are found in the book of Hebrew in reference to the temporary priesthood of the Old Testament temple as compared to Jesus' unchanging and permanent priesthood

    (for they indeed became priests (Gk. hiereus) without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, "the Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, 'you are a priest (Gk. hiereus) forever')... The former priests (Gk. hiereus), on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood (Gk. hierosune) permanently. (Hebrews 7:21, 23-24 NASB)

Significantly, the only other time the word is used is when Peter refers to the collective church as a "priesthood"

    you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood (Gk. hierateuma), to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ... But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood (Gk. hierateuma), a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  (1 Peter 2:5,9 NASB)

These verses say that believers as a "holy" and "royal" are able to offer their own sacrifices to God, without an earthly intermediary. This "holy nation" or universal body of believers has no earthly head or organizational structure, nor does it need anyone to intercede or mediate on its behalf.

In other words, 'priests' had absolutely nothing to do with the New Testament church..

However, by the third century, the original meaning of the priesthood as being the entire body of the faithful, had been changed back to being the elite few who were the sole mediators between God and man and the only ones authorized to perform various religious rites - shades of the Old Testament priesthood

The Pastors
If I have not already sufficiently made the point, the examples below leave no doubt that "shepherd" brings out the sense of the Greek word.

    In the same region there were some shepherds (Gk. poimen) staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night... And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds (Gk. poimen). But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds (Gk. poimen) went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. (Luke 2:8, 18-20 NASB)

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 NASB)

    I am the good shepherd (Gk. poimen) , and I know My own and My own know Me, (John 10:14 NASB)

In fact poimen was translated "shepherd "17 of the 18 times it is used. Yet, when they came across exactly the same word in Ephesians 4:11 the translators decided to render it "pastor" that conjures up a very particular image in the modern mind.

    And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors (Gk. poimen) and teachers,  (Ephesians 4:11 NASB)

Although the word "pastor" stems from the French pastor, pastur (herdsman, shepherd), and from the Latin pastorem, which also means "shepherd", the concept of a pastor has been completely altered. Unfortunately, not only does the pastor usually have far more people in his church than he can possibly disciple to any degree of effectiveness, but he is required to wear more hats than any human being should be called upon to do. According to the Bible, the pastor's primary job in the local church is to preach and teach, "admonish" and be an example to the flock. He is not an administrator, a fund raiser, a politician, a diplomat, nor a CEO. His job is to keep his small flock on the straight and narrow until the second coming of Christ.

Incidentally, a common form of address for pastors is probably the least offensive of all the other more exalted titles. "Reverend" is simply the anglicized version of the Latin reverendus (he who is) to be respected.

The Questions ..
Although most of the titles and ranks found in the modern church were originally derived from the New Testament Greek, we have elevated them to a status the Bible never intended. There were literally only two groups of people who were in a position of responsibility in the early church - The Elders who shepherded the church, and the Deacons who took care of some of the practical matters. Both groups of people existed for the benefit of the congregation. So what changed? 

    How did a bunch of local extended families become a huge universal organization, with layer upon layer of ranks, each subordinate to the one above?

    How did a spirit led church, become an vast organization with dozens of rules and regulations that governed every conceivable aspect of the Christian's belief system?

    How did a God given freedom to contribute to the church meetings become a formal liturgical service, set in stone by the church hierarchy?

    In short, how did man managed to reinvent the entire church system

The answer is relatively simple. With the average human being's love of pomp and show, rituals and ceremonies, ranks and titles, the temptation to import some facets of the Old Testament priesthood must have been overwhelming to the early leaders, who imposed them on New Testament Christianity.

And, since then we have, as usual, accepted the status quo, never bothering to look  any deeper.

Footnote I - Poimaino
Poimaino is used 4 times in the book of Revelation, three times in reference to pagan nations, and once in reference to believers. However, it is very clear that the word is being used very differently in both cases. 

Revelation 2:27, 12:5, and 19:15 all speak of Christ ruling the nations not His followers with a rod of iron.

    and He shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father;  (Revelation 2:27 NASB)

    And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.  (Revelation 12:5 NASB)

    From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.  (Revelation 19:15 NASB)

The Bible speaks about Jesus ruling a pagan world with a "rod of iron" but, as shown, He does not "rule" over believers, but tends them as a shepherd. BIG difference..

    for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd,(Gk. poimaino)  and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:17 NASB) [PLACE IN TEXT]

End Notes
[00] https://biblehub.com/greek/1985.htm

[01] The Catholic Encyclopedia. Cleric. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/c/cleric.html
OR Catholic Online https://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=3047

[02] Catholic Online. Origin And Early History Of The Diaconate. https://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=3690

[03] General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Becoming a Deacon. Educational Requirement

[04] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Deacon. Overview.

[05] https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=clergy

[06] John Bair. The Origin & Implication of "Clergy" & "Laity". http://www.servantsnews.com/sn9903/clergy.htm

[07] Council of Bishops. The United Methodist Church. What are a bishop’s responsibilities?

[08] The Orthodox Church in America. The Holy Synod of Bishops. https://www.oca.org/holy-synod

[09] Governing Body of The Lutheran Orthodox Church. https://www.lutheranorthodoxchurch.org/Governing-Body

[10] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/episcopal-church-ordains-2nd-openly-gay-bishop/.

[11] https://www.thefreedictionary.com/priested

[12] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/priest


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