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And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

- Acts 14:23

Is any sick among you? 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

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.

- Titus 1:5-7

When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

And the apostles and elders carne together for to consider of this matter.

- Acts 15:2,6

And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.

- Acts 16:4

 

    If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

    He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings.

    - I Timothy 6:3-4

    We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

    Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.

    For the prophecy carne not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    - II Peter 1:19-21

3. It establishes the plurality and equality of church officebearers - Scripture abounds with references to the plurality of elders in the New Testament church. Paul and Silas ordained elders in every church (Acts 14:23); Paul sent for the elders of Ephesus to meet him (Acts 20: 17); Titus was instructed to ordain elders in every city (Titus 1 :5); those who were sick were to call for the elders to pray over them (James 5:14); and Peter exhorted the elders to feed the flock of God (I Peter 5:1-2). Scripture does not teach that there are to be no elders, nor that church government is to rest with one or very few officebearers.

The plurality of elders is to promote counsel and wisdom. "In the multitude of counsellors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14b). Their plurality is also a means to reduce lording and tyranny in church government. When speaking of elders, the form for their ordination testifies of this truth, when it states, "Moreover, it is proper that such men should be joined to the ministers of the Word in the government of the church, to the end, that thereby all tyranny and lording may be kept out of the church of God, which may sooner creep in, when the government is placed in the hands of one alone, or of a very few."

Scripture never refers to a hierarchy of elders. The terms "bishop" and "elder" are used interchangeably in places. "Bishop" was probably another name for "teaching elder." There was also no hierarchy of bishops. When ruling the church is referred to in the New Testament, the bishops are one with the "ruling elders." (Acts 15:2, 15:6, and 16:4).

    And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

    Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the

    Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.

    - Acts 20:17,28

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