The Elders of the Church

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14).

The office and work of the elders of the church are unknown to many people. This is not because the New Testament lacks sufficient material or clarity on these matters. Frequently, it is because of the misinformation which clouds people’s minds and hinders their ability to separate the chaff of Satan’s lies from the wheat of God’s truth.

The New Testament does not teach a single syllable about any of the following:

1) A denominational hierarchy of church government beyond the local congregation. In the New Testament, every church was self-governing and had the same universal head— Jesus Christ.

2) A clergy-laity organization. All Christians are priests of God (1 Peter 2:5, 9).

3) A single pastor/minister with authority over the local congregation.

What each of the churches of Christ had in the first century was a plurality of spiritually mature men (i.e., elders) who functioned as a team of overseers (i.e., bishops) who shepherded (i.e., pastored) each autonomous congregation (Acts 20:28).

The elders of the church were not simply ecclesiastical administrators, they were shepherds (or pastors) with hands-on interaction with their fellow Christians. They were to “shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3).

Therefore, when a member of the local congregation got sick, it would only be reasonable for him to “call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him”.

   Send article as PDF   

Author: jchowning

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *