Which Church? New Testament Churches Were Guided By Overseers

Which Church?

The responsibility for leadership in New Testament assemblies devolved upon overseers, (often translated ‘bishop’ in the King James Version). These men are also described as being elders, that is, men of a mature spiritual experience, 1 Timothy 3:6. They were not elected by the congregation, but appointed by the sovereign choice of the Holy Spirit, Acts 20:28. Certain qualifications had to be met, and these are outlined in 1 Timothy chapter 3, and Titus chapter 1.

The responsibilities of overseers were varied, but are summarised in both the teaching of Paul and Peter, “feed (shepherd) the church of God”: “feed the flock of God”, Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2. The duty of overseers is to attend to every aspect of the spiritual needs of the believers under their care. That is why the metaphor of a shepherd is used to describe them, Ephesians 4:11. (The word is translated ‘pastor’ in the King James Version but is just the normal Greek word for ‘shepherd’. The modern concept of one ‘pastor’ caring for the flock is not founded on the teaching of scripture). Observe that there were a number of bishops (overseers) in one church, Acts 20:17,28; Philippians 1:1, and not one bishop over a number of churches as is current under some forms of church government today.


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