International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
I. PRE-CHRISTIAN HISTORY OF THE TERM
II. ITS ADOPTION BY JESUS
III. ITS USE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
1. In the Gospels
2. In Acts
3. In the Pauline Epistles
IV. THE NOTES OF THE CHURCH
V. ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH
1. The General and Prophetic Ministry
2. The Local and Practical Ministry
The word "church," which is derived from kuriakos, "of or belonging to the Lord," represents in the English Versions of the Bible of the New Testament the Greek word ekklesia; Latin, ecclesia. It is with the signification of this word ekklesia as it meets us in the New Testament, and with the nature of the society which the word is there used to describe, that the present article is concerned.
I. Pre-Christian History of the Term.
Although ekklesia soon became a distinctively Christian word, it has its own pre-Christian history; and to those, whether Jews or Greeks, who first heard it applied to the Christian society it would come with suggestions of familiar things. Throughout the Greek world and right down to New Testament times (compare Acts 19:39), ekklesia was the designation of the regular assembly of the whole body of citizens in a free city-state, "called out" (Greek ek, "out," and kalein, "to call") by the herald for the discussion and decision of public business. The Septuagint translators, again, had used the word to render the Hebrew qahal, which in the Old Testament denotes the "congregation" or community of Israel, especially in its religious aspect as the people of God. In this Old Testament sense we find ekklesia employed by Stephen in the Book of Acts, where he describes Moses as "he that was in the church (the Revised Version, margin "congregation") in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38). The word thus came into Christian history with associations alike for the Greek and the Jew. To the Greek it would suggest a self-governing democratic society; to the Jew a theocratic society whose members were the subjects of the Heavenly King. The pre-Christian history of the word had a direct bearing upon its Christian meaning, for the ekklesia of the New Testament is a "theocratic democracy" (Lindsay, Church and Ministry in the Early Centuries, 4), a society of those who are free, but are always conscious that their freedom springs from obedience to their King.
II. Its Adoption by Jesus.
According to Matthew 16:18 the name ekklesia was first applied to the Christian society by Jesus Himself, the occasion being that of His benediction of Peter at Caesarea Philippi. The authenticity of the utterance has been called in question by certain critics, but on grounds that have no textual support and are made up of quite arbitrary presuppositions as to the composition of the First Gospel. It is true that Jesus had hitherto described the society He came to found as the "kingdom of God" or the "kingdom of heaven," a designation which had its roots in Old Testament teaching and which the Messianic expectations of Israel had already made familiar. But now when it was clear that He was to be rejected by the Jewish people (compare Matthew 16:21), and that His society must move on independent lines of its own, it was natural that He should employ a new name for this new body which He was about to create, and thus should say to Peter, on the ground of the apostle's believing confession, "Upon this rock I will build my church." The adoption of this name, however, did not imply any abandonment of the ideas suggested by the conception of the kingdom. In this very passage (Matthew 16:19) "the kingdom of heaven" is employed in a manner which, if it does not make the two expressions church and kingdom perfectly synonymous, at least compels us to regard them as closely correlative and as capable of translation into each other's terms. And the comparative disuse by the apostolic writers of the name "kingdom," together with their emphasis on the church, so far from showing that Christ's disciples had failed to understand His doctrine of the kingdom, and had substituted for it the more formal notion of the church, only shows that they had followed their Master's guidance in substituting for a name and a conception that were peculiarly Jewish, another name whose associations would enable them to commend their message more readily to the world at large.
III. Its Use in the New Testament.
1. In the Gospels:
Apart from the passage just referred to, the word ekklesia occurs in the Gospels on one other occasion only (Matthew 18:17). Here, moreover, it may be questioned whether Our Lord is referring to the Christian church, or to Jewish congregations commonly known as synagogues (see the Revised Version, margin) The latter view is more in keeping with the situation, but the promise immediately given to the disciples of a power to bind and loose (Matthew 18:18) and the assurance "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20) are evidently meant for the people of Christ. If, as is probable, the ekklesia of Matthew 18:17 is the Christian ekklesia of which Christ had already spoken to Peter, the words show that He conceived of the church as a society possessing powers of self-government, in which questions of discipline were to be decided by the collective judgment of the members.
2. In Acts:
In Acts the ekklesia has come to be the regular designation for the society of Christian believers, but is employed in two distinct senses. First in a local sense, to denote the body of Christians in a particular place or district, as in Jerusalem (Acts 5:11; Acts 8:1), in Antioch (Acts 13:1; Acts 15:22), in Caesarea (Acts 18:22)-a usage which reappears in the Apocalypse in the letters to the Seven Churches. Then in a wider and what may be called a universal sense, to denote the sum total of existing local churches (Acts 9:31 the Revised Version (British and American)), which are thus regarded as forming one body.
3. In the Pauline Epistles:
In the Pauline Epistles both of these usages are frequent. Thus the apostle writes of "the church of the Thessalonians" (1 Thessalonians 1:1), "the church of God which is at Corinth" (1 Corinthians 1:2 2 Corinthians 1:1). Indeed he localizes and particularizes the word yet further by applying it to a single Christian household or to little groups of believers who were accustomed to assemble in private houses for worship and fellowship (Romans 16:5 1 Corinthians 16:19 Colossians 4:15 Philemon 1:2)-an employment of the word which recalls the saying of Jesus in Matthew 18:20. The universal use, again, may be illustrated by the contrast he draws between Jews and Greeks on the one hand and the church of God on the other (1 Corinthians 10:32), and by the declaration that God has set in the church apostles, prophets, and teachers (1 Corinthians 12:28).
But Paul in his later epistles has another use of ekklesia peculiar to himself, which may be described as the ideal use. The church, now, is the body of which Christ is the head (Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18, 24). It is the medium through which God's manifold wisdom and eternal purpose are to be made known not only to all men, but to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:9-11). It is the bride of whom He is the heavenly Bridegroom, the bride for whom in His love He gave Himself up, that He might cleanse and sanctify her and might present her to Himself a glorious church, a church without blemish, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Ephesians 5:25). This church clearly is not the actual church as we know it on earth, with its divisions, its blemishes, its shortcomings in faith and love and obedience. It is the holy and catholic church that is to be when the Bridegroom has completed the process of lustration, having fully "cleansed it by the washing of water with the word." It is the ideal which the actual church must keep before it and strive after, the ideal up to which it shall finally be guided by that Divine in-working power which is able to conform the body to the head, to make the bride worthy of the Bridegroom, so that God may receive in the church the glory that is His (Ephesians 3:21).
IV. The Notes of the Church.
Although a systematic doctrine of the church is neither to be found nor to be looked for in the New Testament, certain characteristic notes or features of the Christian society are brought before us from which we can form some conception as to its nature. The fundamental note is faith. It was to Peter confessing his faith in Christ that the promise came, "Upon this rock I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18). Until Jesus found a man full of faith He could not begin to build His church; and unless Peter had been the prototype of others whose faith was like his own, the walls of the church would never have risen into the air. Primarily the church is a society not of thinkers or workers or even of worshippers, but of believers. Hence, we find that "believers" or "they that believed" is constantly used as a synonym for the members of the Christian society (e.g. Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32; Acts 5:14 1 Timothy 4:12). Hence, too, the rite of baptism, which from the first was the condition of entrance into the apostolic church and the seal of membership in it, was recognized as preeminently the sacrament of faith and of confession (Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12, 36 Romans 6:4 1 Corinthians 12:13). This church-founding and church-building faith, of which baptism was the seal, was much more than an act of intellectual assent. It was a personal laying hold of the personal Saviour, the bond of a vital union between Christ and the believer which resulted in nothing less than a new creation (Romans 6:4; Romans 8:1, 2 2 Corinthians 5:17).
If faith in Christ is the fundamental note of the Christian society, the next is fellowship among the members. This follows from the very nature of faith as just described; for if each believer is vitally joined to Christ, all believers must stand in a living relation to one another. In Paul's favorite figure, Christians are members one of another because they are members in particular of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5 1 Corinthians 12:27). That the Christian society was recognized from the first as a fellowship appears from the name "the brethren," which is so commonly applied to those who belong to it. In Acts the name is of very frequent occurrence (Acts 9:30, etc.), and it is employed by Paul in the epistles of every period of his career (1 Thessalonians 4:10, etc.). Similar testimony lies in the fact that "the koinonia" (English Versions "fellowship") takes its place in the earliest meetings of the church side by side with the apostles' teaching and the breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:42). SeeCOMMUNION. The koinonia at first carried with it a community of goods (Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32), but afterward found expression in the fellowship of ministration (2 Corinthians 8:4) and in such acts of Christian charity as are inspired by Christian faith (Hebrews 13:16). In the Lord's Supper, the other sacrament of the primitive church, the fellowship of Christians received its most striking and most sacred expression. For if baptism was especially the sacrament of faith, the Supper was distinctively the sacrament of love and fellowship-a communion or common participation in Christ's death and its fruits which carried with it a communion of hearts and spirits between the participants themselves.
Although local congregations sprang up wherever the gospel was preached, and each of these enjoyed an independent life of its own, the unity of the church was clearly recognized from the first. The intercourse between Jerusalem and Antioch (Acts 11:22; Acts 15:2), the conference held in the former city (Acts 15:6), the right hand of fellowship given by the elder apostles to Paul and Barnabas (Galatians 2:9), the untiring efforts made by Paul himself to forge strong links of love and mutual service between Gentileand Jewish Christians (2 Corinthians 8)-all these things serve to show how fully it was realized that though there were many churches, there was but one church. This truth comes to its complete expression in the epistles of Paul's imprisonment, with their vision of the church as a body of which Christ is the head, a body animated by one spirit, and having one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:4 Colossians 1:18; Colossians 3:11). And this unity, it is to be noticed, is conceived of as a visible unity. Jesus Himself evidently conceived it so when He prayed for His disciples that they all might be one, so that the world might believe (John 17:21). And the unity of which Paul writes and for which he strove is a unity that finds visible expression. Not, it is true, in any uniformity of outward polity, but through the manifestation of a common faith in acts of mutual love (Ephesians 4:3, 13 2 Corinthians 9).
Another dominant note of the New Testament church lay in the consecration of its members. "Saints" is one of the most frequently recurring designations for them that we find. As thus employed, the word has in the first place an objective meaning; the sainthood of the Christian society consisted in its separation from the world by God's electing grace; in this respect it has succeeded to the prerogatives of Israel under the old covenant. The members of the church, as Peter said, are "an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession" (1 Peter 2:9). But side by side with this sense of an outward and priestly consecration, the flame "saints" carried within it the thought of an ethical holiness-a holiness consisting, not merely in a status determined by relation to Christ, but in an actual and practical saintliness, a consecration to God that finds expression in character and conduct. No doubt the members of the church are called saints even when the living evidences of sainthood are sadly lacking. Writing to the Corinthian church in which he found so much to blame, Paul addresses its members by this title (1 Corinthians 1:2; compare 1 Corinthians 6:11). But he does so for other than formal reasons-not only because consecration to God is their outward calling and status as believers; but also because he is assured that a work of real sanctification is going on, and must continue to go on, in their bodies and their spirits which are His. For those who are in Christ are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and those to whom has come the separating and consecrating call (2 Corinthians 6:17) must cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1). Paul looks upon the members of the church, just as he looks upon the church itself, with a prophetic eye; he sees them not as they are, but as they are to be. And in his view it is "by the washing of water with the word," in other words by the progressive sanctification of its members, that the church itself is to be sanctified and cleansed, until Christ can present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Ephesians 5:26, 27).
Yet another note of the church was spiritual power. When the name ekklesia was given by Jesus to the society He came to found, His promise to Peter included the bestowal of the gift of power (Matthew 16:18, 19). The apostle was to receive the "power of the keys," i.e. he was to exercise the privilege of opening the doors of the kingdom of heaven to the Jew (Acts 2:41) and to the Gentile (Acts 10:34-38; Acts 15:7). He was further to have the power of binding and loosing, i.e. of forbidding and permitting; in other words he was to possess the functions of a legislator within the spiritual sphere of the church. The legislative powers then bestowed upon Peter personally as the reward of his believing confession were afterward conferred upon the disciples generally (Matthew 18:18; compare Matthew 18:1 and also Matthew 18:19, 20), and at the conference in Jerusalem were exercised by the church as a whole (Acts 15:4, 22). The power to open the gates of the kingdom of heaven was expanded into the great missionary commission, "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations" (Matthew 28:19)-a commission that was understood by the apostolic church to be addressed not to the eleven apostles only, but to all Christ's followers without distinction (Acts 8:4, etc.). To the Christian society there thus belonged the double power of legislating for its own members and of opening the kingdom of heaven to all believers. But these double functions of teaching and government were clearly recognized as delegated gifts. The church taught the nations because Christ had bid her go and do it. She laid down laws for her own members because He had conferred upon her authority to bind and to loose. But in every exercise of her authority she relied upon Him from whom she derived it. She believed that Christ was with her alway, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20), and that the power with which she was endued was power from on high (Luke 24:49).
V. Organization of the Church.
It seems evident from the New Testament that Jesus gave His disciples no formal prescriptions for the organization of the church. In the first days after Pentecost they had no thought of separating themselves from the religious life of Israel, and would not realize the need of any distinct organization of their own. The temple-worship was still adhered to (Acts 2:46; Acts 3:1), though it was supplemented by apostolic teaching, by prayer and fellowship, and by the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42, 46). Organization was a thing of gradual growth suggested by emerging needs, and the differentiation of function among those who were drawn into the service of the church was due to the difference in the gifts bestowed by God upon the church members (1 Corinthians 12:28). At first the Twelve themselves, as the immediate companions of Jesus throughout His ministry and the prime witnesses of the Christian facts and especially of the resurrection (compare Acts 1:21, 22), were the natural leaders and teachers of the community. Apart from this, the earliest evidence of anything like organization is found in the distinction drawn by the Twelve themselves between the ministry of the word and the ministry of tables (Acts 6:2, 4)-a distinction which was fully recognized by Paul (Romans 12:6, 8 1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 9:14; 1 Corinthians 12:28), though he enlarged the latter type of ministry so as to include much more than the care of the poor. The two kinds of ministry, as they meet us at the first, may broadly be distinguished as the general and prophetic on the one hand, the local and practical on the other.
1. The General and Prophetic Ministry:
From Acts 6:1 we see that the Twelve recognized that they were Divinely called as apostles to proclaim the gospel; and Paul repeatedly makes the same claim for himself (1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 9:16 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 4:1 Colossians 1:23). But apostle ship was by no means confined to the Twelve (Acts 14:14 Romans 16:7; compare Didache 11 4); and an itinerant ministry of the word was exercised in differing ways by prophets, evangelists, and teachers, as well as by apostles (1 Corinthians 12:28, 29 Ephesians 4:11). The fact that Paul himself is variously described as an apostle, a prophet, a teacher (Acts 13:1; Acts 14:14 1 Timothy 2:7 2 Timothy 1:11) appears to show that the prophetic ministry was not a ministry of stated office, but one of special gifts and functions. The apostle carried the good tidings of salvation to the ignorant and unbelieving (Galatians 2:7, 8), the prophet (in the more specific sense of the word) was a messenger to the church (1 Corinthians 14:4, 22); and while the teacher explained and applied truth that was already possessed (Hebrews 5:12), the prophet was recognized by those who had spiritual discernment (1 Corinthians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 14:29 1 John 4:1) as the Divinely employed medium of fresh revelations (1 Corinthians 14:25, 30, 31 Ephesians 3:5; compare Didache 4 1).
2. The Local and Practical Ministry:
The earliest examples of this are the Seven of Jerusalem who were entrusted with the care of the "daily ministration" (Acts 6:1). With the growth of the church, however, other needs arose, and the local ministry is seen developing in two distinct directions. First there is the presbyter or elder, otherwise known as the bishop or overseer, whose duties, while still local, are chiefly of a spiritual kind (Acts 20:17, 28, 35 1 Timothy 3:2, 5 James 5:14 1 Peter 5:2). SeeBISHOP. Next there are the deacon and the deaconess (Philippians 1:1 1 Timothy 3:8-13), whose work appears to have lain largely in house to house visitation and a practical ministry to the poor and needy (1 Timothy 5:8-11). The necessities of government, of discipline, and of regular and stated instruction had thus brought it to pass that within New Testament times some of the functions of the general ministry of apostles and prophets were discharged by a local ministry. The general ministry, however, was still recognized to be the higher of the two. Paul addresses the presbyter-bishops of Ephesus in a tone of lofty spiritual authority (Acts 20:17). And according to the Didache, a true prophet when he visits a church is to take precedence over the resident bishops and deacons (Didache 10 7; 13 3).
Hort, The Christian Ecclesia; Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early Cents., lects I-V; Hatch, Bampton Lectures; Gwatkin, Early Church History to A.D. 313; Kostlin, article "Kirche" in SeeHauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche; Armitage Robinson, article "Church" in Encyclopedia Biblica; Fairbairn Christ in Modern Theology, 513-34; Dargan, Ecclesiology; Denney, Studies in Theology, Ch viii.
J. C. Lambert
I. APPROACH TO SUBJECT
1. The General Sense
2. The Local Sense
II. INTERNAL ORDER
1. Subjects of Admission
2. Definite Organizations
4. Ecclesiastical Functions
(1) Control of Membership
(2) Selection of Officers, etc.
(3) Observations of Ordinances
5. Independent (Autonomous) Organizations
III. EXTERNAL AUTHORITY
IV. COOPERATIVE RELATIONS
The object here sought is to discover what kind of church government is mirrored in the New Testament. To do this with perfect definiteness is, no doubt, quite impossible. Certain general features, however, may clearly be seen.
I. Approach to the Subject.
The subject is best approached through the Greek word ekklesia, translated "church." Passing by the history of this word, and its connection with the Hebrew words `edhah and qahal (which the Septuagint sometimes renders by ekklesia), we come at once to the New Testament usage. Two perfectly distinct senses are found, namely, a general and a local.
1. The General Sense:
Christ is "head over all things to the church, which is his body." (Ephesians 1:22); "the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven" (Hebrews 12:23). Here we have "church" in the broadest sense, including all the redeemed in earth and heaven, and in all ages (see also Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 5:22-27 Colossians 1:24 Hebrews 12:23).
2. The Local Sense:
Here the Scripture passages are very numerous. In some cases, the word is used in the singular, and in others the plural; in some it is used with reference to a specified church, and in others without such specification. In all cases the sense is local.
In Acts 11:26, it is said that Paul and Barnabas were "gathered together with the church," where the church at Antioch is meant. In Acts 14:23, Paul and Barnabas are said to have "appointed elders in every church," that is, churches which they had planted. In Revelation 2 and Revelation 3 the seven churches of Asia Minor are addressed. In Acts 16:5 we are told that the churches "were strengthened in the faith." On the local sense see, further, Acts 8:1; Acts 15:4; Acts 16:5; 20:17 Romans 16:4 1 Corinthians 12; 1 Corinthians 6:4; 1 Corinthians 11:16; Galatians 1:2, 22, and many other places.
There are a few passages that do not seem exactly to fit into either of the above categories. Such, for example, are Matthew 18:17 and 1 Corinthians 12:28, where it seems best to understand a generic sense. Such, also, are passages like Acts 9:31, and 1 Corinthians 10:32, where a collective sense best suits the cases.
Church government in the New Testament applies only to the local bodies.
II. Internal Order.
With respect to the constitution and life of these New Testament churches, several points may be made out beyond reasonable doubt.
1. Subjects of Admission:
They were composed of persons who professed faith in Christ, and who were believed to have been regenerated, and who had been baptized. See Acts 2:41, 44, 47 (the Revised Version (British and American) "added to them"); Acts 8:12 Romans 1:8; Romans 6:4; Romans 10:9, 10 1 Corinthians 1:2; Colossians 1:2, 4 1 Timothy 6:12, and others, where they are called "saints," "sons of God," "faithful brethren," "sanctified in Christ Jesus."
2. Definite Organizations:
They are definitely and permanently organized bodies, and not temporary and loose aggregations of individuals. It is quite impossible, for example, to regard the church at Antioch as a loose aggregation of people for a passing purpose. The letters of Paul to the churches at Rome, Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, cannot be regarded as addressed to other than permanent and definitely organized bodies.
They were served by two classes of ministers-one general, the other local.
At the head of these is the "apostle" (1 Corinthians 12:28 Ephesians 4:11). His official relation to the churches was general. He did not necessarily belong to the group of the original Eleven. Besides Matthias (Acts 1:26), Paul and Barnabas (1 Corinthians 9:5, 6), James, the Lord's brother (Galatians 1:19), Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7) are reckoned as "apostles." The one invariable and necessary qualification of an apostle was that he should have seen the Lord after the Resurrection (Acts 1:22 1 Corinthians 9:1). Another qualification was to have wrought "the signs of an apostle" (2 Corinthians 12:12; compare 1 Corinthians 9:2). He was to bear witness to what he had seen and heard, to preach the gospel of the kingdom (Acts 1:8 1 Corinthians 1:17), to found churches and have a general care of them (2 Corinthians 11:28). From the nature of his chief qualification, his office was temporary.
Next comes the "prophet." His relation to the churches, also, was general. It was not necessary that he should have seen the Lord, but it appertained to his spiritual function that he should have revelations (Ephesians 3:5). There is no indication that his office was in any sense administrative.
After the "prophet" come the "evangelist" and "teacher," the first, a traveling preacher, the second, one who had special aptitude for giving instruction.
After the "teacher" and "evangelist" follow a group of special gifts of "healing," "helps," "governments," "tongues." It may be that "helps" and "governments" are to be identified with "deacons" and "bishops," to be spoken of later. The other items in this part of Paul's list seem to refer to special charismata.
There were two clearly distinct offices of a local and permanent kind in the New Testament churches. Paul (Philippians 1:1) addresses "all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons."
See BISHOP; DEACON.
The most common designation of the first of these officers is "elder" (presbuteros). In one passage (Ephesians 4:11) he is called "pastor" (poimen). In Acts 20:17-28, it becomes clear that the office of elder, bishop, and pastor was one; for there the apostle charges the elders of the church at Ephesus to feed (pastor) the church in which the Holy Spirit has made them bishops (compare Titus 1:5, 7 1 Peter 5:1, 2).
The function of the elders was, in general, spiritual, but involved an oversight of all the affairs of the church (1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Timothy 5:17).
As to the second of the local church officers, it has to be said that little is given us in the New Testament. That the office of deacon originated with the appointment of the Seven in Acts 6 is not certain. If we compare the qualifications there given by the apostles with those given by Paul in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, it seems quite probable that the necessity which arose at Jerusalem, and which led to the appointment of the Seven was really the occasion for originating the office of deacon in the churches. The work assigned the Seven was secular, that is to say, the "service of tables." They were to relieve the apostles of that part of the work. A similar relation to the work of the elders seems to have been borne by that of the deacons.
Again, they exercised the highest ecclesiastical functions.
4. Ecclesiastical Functions:
(1) Control of Membership.
In Matthew 18:17, our Lord, by anticipation, lodges final action, in the sphere of church discipline, with the church. When the church has taken action, the matter is ended. There is no direction to take it to a higher court. In the church at Corinth, there was a man who was guilty of an infamous offense against purity. With regard to the case, Paul urged the most summary discipline (1 Corinthians 5:5). If the church should act upon the judgment which he communicated to them, they would act when "gathered together"; that is to say, action would be taken in conference of the church. In 2 Corinthians 2, a reference to the case shows that they had acted upon his advice, and that the action was taken by the majority ("the many," the more, 2 Corinthians 2:6). In 2 Corinthians 2 he counsels restoration of this excluded member now repentant. Exclusion and restoration of members were to be effected by a church. This, of course, carried with it the reception of members in the first instance.
(2) Selection of Officers, etc.
This was true in case of the Seven (Acts 6:3-13; see other cases in Acts 15:22 1 Corinthians 16:3 2 Corinthians 8:1 Philippians 2:25). Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5 seem, at first, to offset the passages just given. In one of these, Paul and Barnabas are said to have "appointed" (cheirotonesantes) elders in the churches which they had planted. But scholars of first quality, though themselves adhering to Presbyterial or Episcopal forms of church government, maintain that Paul and Barnabas ordained the elders whom the churches selected-that they "appointed" them in the usual way, by the suffrages of the members of the churches concerned. The word rendered "appoint" in Titus 1:5 (katasteses) is more easily understood as referring to ordination instead of selection.
(3) Observation of Ordinances.
Paul gives direction (1 Corinthians 11:20-34) to the church at Corinth about the observance of the Lord's Supper. These directions are given, not to any officer or set of officers, but to the church. Ecclesiastically, of course, the two ordinances are on the same level; and, if one of them had been committed to the custody, so to say, of the churches, so must the other.
5. Independent (Autonomous) Organizations:
The management of their business was in their own hands. Paul wrote the church at Corinth: "Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40). In that comprehensive injunction, given to a church, is implied control of its affairs by the church.
III. External Authority.
The investigation up to this point places us in position to see that there is in the New Testament no warrant for ecclesiastical grades in the ministry of the churches, by which there may be created an ascending series of rulers who shall govern the churches merged into one vast ecclesiastical organization called "the church." So, also, we are in position to see that there is no warrant for an ascending series of courts which may review any "case" that originates in a local church. We may see, on the contrary, that to each local church has been committed by Christ the management of its own affairs; and that He had endowed every such church with ecclesiastical competency to perform every function that any ecclesiastical body has a right to perform.
As the churches are not to be dominated by any external ecclesiastical authority, so they are not to be interfered with, in their church life, by civil government. Jesus taught that Christians should be good citizens (Matthew 22:15-22); so did the apostles (Romans 13:1-7 1 Peter 2:13-16). Jesus also taught the spirituality of His Kingdom: "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36). It follows that only where the life of a church touched the civic life of the community has the civil authority any right to interfere.
IV. Cooperative Relations.
While each local church, according to the New Testament, is independent of every other in the sense that no other has jurisdiction over it, yet cooperative relations were entered into by New Testament churches. Examples and indications of that may be found in Romans 15:26, 27 2 Corinthians 8; 2 Corinthians 9; Galatians 2:10 Romans 15:1; Romans 3John 1:8. The principle of cooperation effective in those cases is susceptible of indefinite expansion. Churches may properly cooperate in matters of discipline, by seeking and giving counsel, and by respecting each other's disciplinary measures. In the great, paramount business of evangelizing and teaching the nations, they may cooperate in a multitude of ways. There is no sphere of general Christian activity in which the churches may not voluntarily and freely cooperate for the betterment of the world, the salvation of humanity.
For other standpoints see BISHOP; GOVERNMENT; MINISTRY, etc.
Hort, The Christian Ecclesia; Hatch, Organization of the Early Christian Churches; Whitley, Church, Ministry and Sacraments in the New Testament; Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early Cents.; French, Synonyms of New Testament; Vitringa, De Synagoga Vetere; Holzinger, ZAW; Schurer, Schurer, History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, II; Driver, Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament; Thayer, New Testament Lexicon, and Cremer, Biblical Theol. Lexicon, under the word, "ekklesia" and "sunagoge"; Neumann, Rom. Staat und die all-gemeine Kirche; Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire.; Lightfoot, "The Christian Ministry," in Commentary on Philippians; Harvey, The Church; Dagg, Church Order; Hovey, Religion and the State; Owen, Church Government; Ladd, Principles of Church Polity; Dexter, Congregationalism; Hodge, Discussions in Church Polity; Abbey, Ecclesiastical Constitutions; Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity; Jacob, Ecclesiastical Polity; Bore, The Church and Its Ministry; Dollinger, The Church and The Churches; Stanley, Lectures on the Eastern Church; Dargan, Ecclesiology.
E. J. Forrester
APOSTOLICAL CHURCH ORDINANCES