Leadership as Servants
I Peter 5:1-12
A few weeks back we addressed the subject of slaves and masters, (Employee and Employer see week 4). In this week’s posts, we address leadership in the church. Leadership in the church is not just something that developed in the Christian Church. Church leadership has a rich background going way back in Jewish history. In the book of Numbers, it shows Moses appointing Elders to assist him in the administration of the people.
Elders are also associated with prophets (II Kings 6:32) and even Kings had elders that assisted them (I Kings 8:1; I Kings 20:7,8; I Chronicles 11:3). Every town had elders who had roles of authority (I Kings 21:8, 11; II Kings 23:1).
In New Testament times the elders are associated with the chief priests as opponents of Jesus and the early Christian church (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 21:23; Acts 4:5-10). It would seem natural that this title would be used by those providing leadership in the early Christian communities.
Other New Testament authors also talk about the elder and their qualifications and their role in the early Christian Church (Acts 14:22-23; Titus 1:5-6).
There are three names for leaders used in the New Testament. They are, bishops, elders, and deacons, (and yes there is a woman listed as a deacon). Yet amazingly the qualifications for each is virtually the same. In the Christian community elders and deacons are listed in the plural, while bishop is always singular suggesting that each community had one bishop that was over the community and Titus makes it clear that they had to be sound in doctrine and to preach (Titus 1:9). This would imply that a bishop has a greater responsibility on the community than elders and deacons.
Some have implied that since the roll of elders and deacons are so similar in New Testament church that they could possibly be two titles for the same office. But by the second century they had become three distinct roles within the church. By that time elders and deacons had taken leadership role in the local church while bishops were the head over several churches.
I realize this post has not presented much new information. However, it does set the stage for more to come. In our next post, we will look at some of the pit falls that elders or should I say church leaders are subject to.
NOTE: As we have seen over the last few weeks, there will multiple posts to complete this weeks study. My intention is to post three on Saturday and two on Sunday. The thought is to post at 8:00 am, 2:00 pm, and 8:00 pm on Saturday. Then on Sunday follow up with posts at 8:00 am then again at 8:00 pm.
Thank you for returning so often to read these posts on Peter: The Disciple.