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The New Testament Church 0003 - Lesson 5

Its Offices

    1. The Office of a Bishop (1 Timothy 3:1)
    2. The Office of a Deacon (1 Timothy 3:10)
    3. The Obsolete Office of an Apostle (Romans 11:13) – Taken from an article by David F. Reagan
      1. New Testament apostles
        1. The apostles played a crucial role in the ministry of Christ and in the establishment of the early churches.
          1. God set in the church “first apostles” (1 Corinthians 12:28).
          2. This word (found only in the New Testament) occurs in one form or another 83 times from Matthew through Revelation.
          3. The word apostle means sent one, and it refers to those sent out by Jesus Christ for the special work to which He called them.
        2. There were at least seventeen men who were called apostles in the New Testament. The seventeen are as follows:
          1. The original Twelve
          2. Matthias, the replacement for Judas
          3. Paul, as the least of the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:9)
          4. Barnabas, in one place with Paul (Acts 14:14 – “Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul …”)
          5. James, the Lord’s brother (Galatians 1:19)
          6. Jesus, the Apostle…of our profession (Hebrews 3:1)
        3. Of these, Matthias was chosen to replace the fallen Judas. There is no record of any others being replaced at death. If death required the apostle to be replaced, we should have seen a replacement chosen for James after his death in Acts 12:2.
        4. Paul is clearly an apostle, but he is an exception to the rule for apostles.
          1. He declares himself “the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle” (1 Corinthians 15:9).
          2. The twelve were called to minister to the Jews, but Paul declares that he is “the apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13).
          3. Notice, he is not an apostle to the Gentiles but the apostle to the Gentiles—showing him to be the only apostle chosen specifically for the Gentiles.
          4. Paul had the same calling and authority in reaching the Gentiles as the Twelve had in reaching the Jews (see Galatians 2:7-8).
      2. Not apostles and apostles
        1. In 1 Corinthians 12:29, Paul asked, “Are all apostles?”
          1. If we can call missionaries apostles because apostle means sent one and missionaries are sent ones, then practically every servant of God is an apostle.
          2. But to use the word in this weakened form minimizes what God did with the apostles of the New Testament.
          3. It causes a confusion of understanding.
          4. And, despite what some are claiming, the Bible does not use the word in such a common way.
        2. It will not even work to make a distinction big Apostle and little apostle.
          1. If someone is an apostle, they must have the New Testament authority and power of an apostle.
          2. The office of apostle carried great weight and those who use this title are in effect, if not in actuality, claiming this authority.
          3. We need to be careful about using such a title even when we mean well in doing so.
      3. A unique calling
        1. Special calling
          1. Luke 6:12-13 tells us that Jesus prayed all night and then called unto him his disciples and “of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.”
            1. These men were already disciples.
            2. There were other disciples who were never called to be apostles.
            3. But these twelve were given a special office as representatives of the Master.
            4. Their position was exalted to the point that they will sit on the thrones of the twelve tribes of Israel in the time of the kingdom (Matthew 19:28).
          2. Paul was also given a very special, though separate, calling.
            1. He often reminded those to whom he ministered that he was “called to be an apostle” (Romans 1:1) and that this calling was “not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father” (Galatians 1:1).
            2. In Romans 11:13, he said, “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.”
          3. This was not a basic calling to preach but a calling to represent God on earth in a special way.
            1. The apostles could remit or retain sins (John 20:22-23).
            2. What they bound or loosed on earth would be bound or loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18).
            3. They spoke the Word of God and confirmed those words with signs following (Mark 16:17-20).
            4. We must be careful not to minimize their power and authority by giving the title to men who were not meant to have it.
        2. Special qualifications
          1. The qualifications of the apostles are given in Acts 1:21-22. They must have been with Jesus during His earthly ministry (Acts 1:21), been baptized by John the Baptist (Acts 1:22), and been eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:22).
          2. Paul was given an exemption on the first two requirements but emphasized his having been an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ – “And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8). But Paul admitted to being the least of the apostles in qualifications (1 Corinthians 15:9).
        3. Special confirmation
          1. What established the claims of apostleship in the eyes of the people?
            1. Paul warned of many “false apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:13), but how could someone tell the false apostle from the true apostle?
            2. Paul spent a lot of time in 2 Corinthians confirming his apostleship and then sums it up in 2 Corinthians 12:12 – “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
          2. A genuine apostle had the signs of an apostle so that the people would know who they were.
            1. These signs included wonders and mighty deeds.
            2. Paul did many “mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God” (Romans 15:19).
            3. In other words, he performed many miracles that confirmed his calling.
            4. They could therefore rest assured that he was indeed the apostle to the Gentiles.
            5. The other apostles also performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:12).
        4. Now I ask you again, Are all apostles?
          1. Even Paul’s apostleship was “out of due time “ (1 Corinthians 15:8).
          2. There may be men and women today who are doing some of the duties of an apostle.
          3. They are sent by God to do a specific work. But that does not give them the office of an apostle.
          4. We need to avoid calling people apostles in any particular sense. To do so causes confusion. It does not fit our day and age and it does not conform to the Holy Scriptures.
    1. It Is Not a Right.
      1. There are many things we receive in the Christian life as a birthright from our salvation.
      2. The offices of the New Testament church do not fall under that category.
    2. It Can Be Given and It Can Be Taken Away.
      1. An office is an appointed position.
      2. Therefore, it is never assumed to be a lifetime appointment.
      3. Just as a person was given an office, they may also be removed from that office.
      4. Nothing in the Bible declares either office as a lifetime appointment.
      5. Note: Perhaps it is regional, but in our area it is common for churches to give lifetime appointments to deacons, while voting on a pastor annually.
    3. It Brings Responsibility.
    1. The Office of a Bishop
      1. Other titles used
      2. The qualifications of a bishop
      3. The responsibility of a bishop
      4. The pitfalls of a bishop
    2. The Office of a Deacon
      1. The qualifications of a deacon
      2. The responsibility of a deacon
      3. The pitfalls of a deacon
    1. Other Titles Used
      1. Confusion between elder and bishop
        1. The elder
          1. His age (Genesis 10:21; 1 Timothy 5:1-2)
          2. His wisdom (Job 32:4-7)
          3. His leadership
            1. Old Testament (Numbers 11:14-17) “officers over them”
            2. Gospels (Matthew 21:23)
            3. Jewish church (Acts 15:1-4)
            4. Gentile church (1 Timothy 5:17)
          4. Their number in the church – multiple (Acts 14:23; Acts  20:17-18; Titus 1:5)
        2. The bishop
          1. His office (1 Timothy 3:1) bishop means overseer
          2. His duties
            1. To work (1 Timothy 3:1)
            2. To teach (1 Timothy 3:2)
            3. To rule (1 Timothy 3:4-5)
            4. To pattern (cp. 1 Timothy 3:7 with 1 Peter 5:3)
            5. To administrate (Titus 1:7)
            6. To exhort (Titus 1:9)
            7. To convince (Titus 1:9)
        3. Comparison of elder and bishop
          1. Both rule in the church.
            1. Elder (1 Timothy 5:17; Acts 20:28)
            2. Bishop (1 Timothy 3:4-5)
          2. Both can be multiplied in one church.
            1. Elder (Acts 14:23)
            2. Bishop (Philippians 1:1)
          3. Both terms are used synonymously in Titus.
            1. Elder (Titus 1:5)
            2. Bishop (Titus 1:7)
        4. Conclusions
          1. The term elder has a wider range than the term bishop .
            1. Elder may refer to Old or New Testament offices.
            2. It may also refer to men of age, experience, and/or wisdom.
            3. Bishop refers to a specific New Testament office.
          2. The terms may be used as synonyms of the term pastor but are used to describe different aspects of the same office.
            1. Elder emphasizes the person.
              1. His experience
              2. His wisdom
              3. His spirituality
            2. Bishop emphasizes the office.
              1. His duties
              2. His rule
        5. Problem: Why do we, unlike the Plymouth Brethren, have a single ruling pastor?
          1. The scriptural principle: God always uses a man: Abraham, Moses, David, etc. Multiple rule brings confusion.
          2. The example of James in the church of Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13; Acts 21:17-18)
          3. The example of Timothy in the church of Ephesus (1 Timothy 5:17-19; 2 Timothy subscript)
          4. The emphasis on a singular bishop ruling the church, and the example of the family (1 Timothy 3:4-5)
      2. Overseer (Acts 20:28)
        1. Only New Testament reference
        2. To take the oversight (1 Peter 5:2)
      3. Preacher
        1. His duty – to make the gospel heard (Romans 10:14-15)
        2. His office
          1. Ordained (1 Timothy 2:7)
          2. Appointed (2 Timothy 1:11)
      4. Pastor (Ephesians 4:11)
        1. Only New Testament reference
        2. Means shepherd (see also 1 Peter 5:1-4)
      5. Minister
        1. Means one who attends to the needs of another
        2. References: Romans 15:16; Ephesians 3:7; Ephesians 6:21; 1 Timothy 4:6
Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 22:12

The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.