3/08/2022 Wednesday
Church: Structure
What does the Bible say about the church’s members, officers & government?
Church Members
▰ The meaning of ekklesia expects membership
▻ A New Testament ekklesia did not include all believers everywhere, but only those who are called out to a particular assembly.
▻ A New Testament ekklesia was made up of believers who were baptised (immersed under water) after salvation and added to the congregation. (Acts 2:41)
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”
Church Members
▰ It is true that church membership is not specifically commanded in the Bible.
▰ However, it is implied and it is necessary for church discipline to work.
▻ (Matthew 18:17) “And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a
▻ It is impossible for a church to discipline someone who is not a church member.
Church Members
▰ Biblical requirements for membership
▻ A clear testimony of faith in Jesus Christ, (Acts 2:41) “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them
about three thousand souls.”
▻ Biblical baptism by immersion after salvation, (Acts 2:41).
▻ Harmony with the church’s doctrine and practice, (Romans 16:17) “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the
doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” (See also 2 Thessalonians 3:6). Harmony is compatibility, not necessarily identical thinking.
Church Officers
▰ The Bible only mentions two official church officers, pastor and deacon or three if we include the evangelist.
▰ This does not forbid the election of other lower officers like clerk, treasurer, etc., but it does forbid electing higher officers.
Church Officers
▰ Pastor
▻ The Bible calls the church leader by several titles. He is a pastor (shepherd) and teacher, (Ephesians 4:11). He is a bishop or overseer, (1 Timothy 3:1).He is an
elder, (1 Peter 5:1). Elder and bishop is the same person. (Compare Acts 20:17 ~ Acts 20:28 and Titus 1:5 ~ Titus 1:7)
▻ A pastor’s qualifications, (Read 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9)
▻ Ordaining or choosing a pastor
 By a church “vote by stretching out the hand” (Acts 14:23, 2Co 8:19)
 With missionary guidance that does not rule out a church vote (Tit 1:5)
Church Officers
▰ Pastor
▻ Pastor’s duties include shepherding, willingly overseeing, and being an example not a dictator, (1 Peter 5:2-3, see also Tit 1:9; Act 6:4; 2Tim 4:2,5; Jas 5:14).
▻ The title “pastor” is a respectful biblical term, (Jeremiah 3:15, Eph 4:11). It is not a “lording” title of superiority.
▻ The congregation is to support and honour its pastor. A faithful pastor deserves honour and pay, (1 Timothy 5:17-18, see also 1Co 9:7-14; Heb 13:7, 17).
Church Officers
▰ Deacons
▻ The title means “servant”, “minister”, or “waiter”
▻ The office probably began in Acts 6:1-6, though they were not called deacons. They were chosen by the congregation.
▻ Deacons were chosen when needed and when qualified.
▻ Their qualifications, (Read 1 Timothy 3:8-13).
Church Officers
▰ Deacons
▻ Their duties were to care for secular matters so the pastors could spend more time with spiritual matters.
▻ Their work was more manual and the pastor’s more mental.
▻ They never formed a “board” nor did they govern.
▻ The Bible never says that they were ever the pastor’s advisers or counsellors.
Church Government or Polity
▰ Unbiblical forms of church government
▻ Autocratic – hierarchical in structure ruled by a pope with cardinals and bishop under him
▻ Episcopal – governed by bishops of the denomination
▻ Presbyterian – governed by presbyters, through synods and general assemblies of the denomination
▰ These do not follow the Bible pattern of local church autonomy.
Church Government or Polity
▰ The Biblical form of church government
▻ Every local church, once they are able, is to be autonomous (self-governing and self-supporting).
▻ In each biblical church, Jesus Christ is the head (Eph 1:22, 5:23, Col 1:18), the Holy Spirit is the administrator (Ac 1:8, 4:31, 13:2, 20:28, Re 2:7), and the
congregation biblically governs. Biblical churches do not form an organised denomination.
▻ Every member has an equal vote and the majority decides. Their decisions are final, (Acts 15:22).
▻ Each congregation calls its own pastor, (Acts 14:23).
Church Government or Polity
▻ Each church may send or support missionaries of their own choosing, (Acts 13:3).
▻ All cases of church discipline are settled by the congregation, (Matthew 18:17).
▻ Each church is autonomous. It has no right to control another congregation and no other congregation may control it.
▻ Each church is self-supporting. They do not depend on funds from a denomination for purchases or payment of their pastor.
▻ Any church affiliation with Baptist associations or fellowships is voluntary.
Church: Structure Review
What church membership qualifications are found in Acts 2:41?
Believed, baptised, added unto them
In what passage in Matthew did Jesus instruct on church discipline?
Matthew 18:15-17
What church officers are listed in the Bible?
Pastor, deacons (possibly evangelists)
What biblical duties did the deacons have?
Care for secular matters
What word best describes biblical church government?
Let’s Get Practical
▰ Why would it be wrong to soften our biblical stand in order to increase our membership?