Biblical Church Government – Part 1

"'Moses wrote this Law and delivered it to the Priests…and…the Elders.'   Deuteronomy 31:9. The addition of 'the Elders' is not superfluous.   For although the office of teaching was not committed to them, yet were they given as coadjutors to the Levites, in order that they might uphold the doctrine of the Law and not suffer it to be scorned." — J. Calvin: Harmony II:230f.

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BIBLICAL CHURCH GOVERNMENT

1.   What is Church Office? ………………………………………………………………………………. p.    3

2.   Overture to the Fifth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America … p.    6

3.   The Triune God and the Triune Office ………………………………………………………….. p.    8

4.   The General Office of all Christians ……………………………………………………………… p.  48

5.   The Ministry of the Word ……………………………………………………………………………. p.  55

6.   The Office of Deacon …………………………………………………………………………………. p. 183

7.   The Ruling Eldership ………………………………………………………………………………….. p. 277

8.   Miscellanies and Conclusions ………………………………………………………………………. p. 338

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                                          1.   WHAT IS CHURCH OFFICE?

The concept of "office" is difficult to define.   The concept is indeed Scriptural.   But the word as such is not clearly found in Scripture.   Nor is its theological usage at all precise.

However, the idea does indeed seem to relate to man's various appointments and functions in the service of God (the Father and Son and Spirit).   The Triune God created Adam as His image (King and Prophet and Priest), and appointed him to mirror His Own divine activities by Adam functioning in his own creaturely way as a human being.   Genesis 1:1-3,26-68 and Ecclesiastes 7:29.

The Second Adam, Jesus Christ, reflected that same image in His Own humanity.   First Corinthians 15:22,44-45 and Second Corinthians 4:6.

Christ-ians, as they become increasingly conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, are restored to what man was before the fall (Genesis 1 to 2 and Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2:5-8) — and redeemed from what man became by the fall (Genesis 6:5 & 8:21 and Ephesians 4:24-28).   They are also renewed to what man should become, in spite of the fall (Romans 8:29 and Colossians 3:10 and Second Corinthians 3:18).

This is why Jesus Christ, our great Prophet and Priest and King, proclaimed something very significant at the very beginning of His official Ministry right after His Own Baptism.   "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor.   He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted…, and recovering of sight to the blind.   To preach deliverance to the captives…, (and) to  set at liberty them that are bruised.   To preach the acceptable year of the Lord!"   Luke 4:18-19, cf. especially Zechariah 6:9-15.

Jesus was anointed "to preach" (as our great Prophet); "to heal" (as our great Priest); and "to set at liberty" (as our great King).   See Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 42-45.   His anointment to this many-sided Ministry took place at His Baptism (Luke 3:21f & 4:1,18f).  And it was to endure for the rest of His human life — both then while here on earth, and for ever thereafter throughout all eternity.

Christ-ians are installed in Prophethood, Priesthood and Kingship — in the triune general ministry of all Christians (First Peter 2:2,9 and Revelation 1:5-6).   They are anointed and appointed to this many-sided ministry at the time of their unction with the Holy Spirit of Christ, as symbolized by their Baptism in the name of the Triune God (First John 2:20,27 and Matthew 28:19).   And they are to serve Him as Christ-ians, in all that they do throughout the rest of their lives here on earth and for ever thereafter (First Corinthians 10:31 and Revelation 5:9-10).

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