It is time to get organized. Why’) Have you not heard something like this, “don’t you know I am a Bishop’” Who is a Bishop? What is the place of a bishop in the government of the Church’) The abuse of the office ofa Bishop in the Church and wrong teach ing as to what or who is a Bishop necessitate this series. Biblical and historical scholarly opinions are referred to in support of this write-up. One of the problems or needs of the Christian Church today is how to get organized. There is a lot of confusion and disorder as a result of wrong emphasis emanating from the office of a Bishop as it re lates to the government of the Church.
The Church exists in two levels. On one level it is an eternal, invisible, biblical organism that is welded into one body by the Holy Spirit. On the other it is the temporal, historical, visible, human, institutional organization. The first is the end, the second the means. The development of the Church as an organization was left to the apostles to work out under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Any large corporate body must of necessity have division of functions and consequent specialization of leadership must come if it is to function effectively.
A liturgy to guide the worship of the Church in an orderly fashion (I Cor. 14:40) is another logical outcome of the growth of the Church as an organization. The eventual aim of the Church as a worshiping organism is the achievement of quality of life. Thus, the Christian is part of an organism and of an organization. How is the Church governed The origin of church polity is to be credited to Christ because He chose the twelve apostles who were to be the leaders or the infant church.
The apostles took the initiative in the development of other offices in the Church de when they were so directed b the Holy Spirit. This does not by any means imply pyramidal hierarchy, such as the Roman Catholic Church has developed, because the new officials were to be chosen by the people, ordained by the apostles, and have special spiritual qualifications that involved leadership by the Holy Spirit. Thus there was an inward call by the Holy Spirit to the office, an external call by the democratic vote of the Church and theordaining to office by the apostles. There was to be no special class of priest set apart to minister a sacerdotal system of salvation because both the officials and the members of the Church were spiritual priests with the right of direct access to God through Christ (Eph.2: 18). (See Cairns, Christianity through the centuries pp.79 – 85).
These officials may be divided into two classes. The charismatic officials (Greek charisma means girt) were chosen by Christ and endowed with special spiritual gifts (ICor.12-14;Eph.4:1 112), their function was primarily inspirational. The administrative officials constituted the second class. Their functions were mainly administrative, although after the death of the early apostles, the elders took over many spiritual responsibilities. These officials were chosen by the congregation after prayer for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and appointed by the apostles.
What and who were charismatic officials in the early in Church? These men, whose main responsibilities were the guarding of the truth of the gospel and to initial proclamation, were specially selected by Christ through the Holy Spirit to exercise leadership within the Church. There were four or five such offices designated by Paul.
Apostles, Prophets. Evangelists, Pastors, and/or Teachers. Many think that Pastor/teacher may be designations for the same man. The apostles were men who had been witness to Christ’s by Christ.
Paul based his apostleship on a direct call from the living Christ. These men who were the first officials of the early church had combined in their work all the functions later carried on by various officials when the apostles were unable to take care of the needs of the rapidly expanding early church. Peter is the dominant figure h among the apostles in the d first twelve chapters of p Luke’s record of the history or the early church. Not only I did he make the first official II proclamation to the Jews in p Jerusalem on the day of f. Pentecost, but he als first introduced the gospel among the Gentiles by his preaching to the household Cornelius.
Despite this leadership, nothing of the hierarchal authoritarian concept of the medieval Roman Catholic Church is to be seen in the New Testament account of his activities. Prophets appeared to be among the more influential leaders of New Testament church. They exercised the function of forth telling or preaching the gospel (Acts 13: I; 15:32) as well as foretelling or predicting the future. Agabus is credited with having successfully predicted a corning famine and Paul’s imprisonment at the c hands of the Jews (Acts 11:28,2 I: I 0-14). Evidently ‘“ the early church was a plagued with many who falsely pretended to be prophets because the Didache gives clear instruction as to how to distinguish the false prophet from the genuine prophet (10:7, 11:7-12). Philip exercised the gift of evangelism (Acts 21:8), but little is known of this office and its specific functions. Perharps it had special reference to work of the itinerant missionary whose main task was to proclaim the gospel in new, hitherto untouched areas.
There is also the problem concerning whether the separate offices of pastor and teacher existed in two persons or were simply designations for two functions that one man specially gifted by God was to till. The New Testament is less obscure concerning the test of a genuine teacher. No one who denied the personal advent of Christ into the world as man in human flesh could be a true teacher, according to John (2 John 1-11). The character of a true teacher is pointed out in the Didache (11: 1-2).