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Are you in Christ? Then consider yourself ordained!

Posted by on Aug 16, 2011 in discipleship, scripture | 29 comments

Are you in Christ? Then consider yourself ordained!

One of my favorite passages in Scripture in Hebrews 10:19-25. On some of my old blog templates, I even included a quote of part of that passage (Hebrews 10:24-25) in the header. Obviously, that section says alot about gathering together, but gathering is not the focus of the passage.

Instead, in Hebrews 10:19-25, the author provides ordination credentials for all of those who are in Christ! That’s right, according to this passage, if you are in Christ, then you are an ordained priest with as much priestly authority as any other follower of Jesus Christ.

In Hebrews chapter 9, the author spells out that Jesus Christ is a high priest above and beyond the levitical priesthood. Then, at the beginning of chapter 10, he tells us that Jesus’ sacrifice is better than the “shadow” sacrifices spelled out in the Old Testament, and that Jesus’ sacrifice ended the need for any other sacrifice. Leading into the section that we’re studying, he wrote, “Where there is forgiveness of these [sins and lawless deeds – see previous verse], there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:18 ESV)

Hebrews 10:19-25 begins with a reminder of some of the benefits we have in Jesus Christ:

Therefore, brothers [and sisters], since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God… (Hebrews 10:19-21 ESV)

Notice the “priestly” and “temple/tabernacle” language used in this passage: “freedom [confidence] to enter the holiest places,” “by the blood,” “way… through the curtain,” “great priest,” “house of God.” The author is putting this section of his letter into the context of the priesthood. While he has already told us that the old temple, priesthood, and sacrifices were only a shadow of the reality in Christ, he is now going to tell us about the new priesthood and temple. (He already said that a new sacrifice is not necessary.)

What follows in Hebrews 10:22-25 is our expected response to this new priesthood. In other words, he is going to tell us about our functions as priests of the new covenant. What are those functions? He breaks them down into three commands/exhortations: 1) Draw near to God, 2) Hold fast to the confession, and 3) Consider one another.

In the next few days, I’m going to publish a post about each of those functions. But for now, I simple suggest that each of those are placed in priestly terms. Each of these exhortation are the responsibilities of those who are in Christ – that is, for those who have a new and living way into the presence of God through Christ and for those who have Christ as a great (better than “high”) priest.

Notice that later in the letter the author will talk about “leaders.” Yes, there are leaders among the church, but those leaders do not hold more of a priestly function than any other follower of Jesus Christ. These functions and responsibilities are presented to all followers of Jesus Christ.

Again… All those who have the benefits of Christ listed in Hebrews 10:19-21 are thus also responsible for living out the exhortations found in Hebrews 10:22-25.


29 Comments

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  1. 8-16-2011

    In referencing ordination, you have confused access with authority. The priesthood of all believers is a precious and critical doctrine, and we should all glory in the work of Christ on the cross that tore the veil and gave all believers equal access to God.

    However, even though all believers are priests, they are not all pastors. God has called and charged certain men with responsibility and authority (1 Tim 3, Titus 1, Acts 20:28, et al.) in the body of Christ. They are called and qualified according to Scripture of course, and their authority is derived, not absolute, and subject to Christ as head and his Word.

    Hebrews is an amazing book, unpacking the supremacy of Christ in all things and the astounding doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. A little further on the same letter, however, biblical structure and authority are also clearly taught:

    Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

    I only point this out because of the use of the term “ordained” in the title can be confusing, because it is the process whereby someone is examined and publicly set aside in the assembly of the saints and commissioned as an overseer/elder/pastor through the laying on of hands (1 Tim 5:22, 1 Tim 4:14, 2 Tim 1:6, Heb 6:2).

  2. 8-16-2011

    Clint,

    Thanks for the comment. I used the word “ordained” specifically because of the way it is usually used today, that is, the way that you’ve defined it. I believe that there are leaders among the church, those who are more mature and those who live in a way that others can emulate as all seek to follow Christ. However, this has nothing to do with priesthood or authority.

    In the OT, priests were ordained (or recognized or set apart) for their role among the people of God and among those who are not part of God’s people. Today, all followers of Jesus Christ are ordained for their role among the people of God and among those who are not part of God’s people.

    The only way we can create the other type of ordination, (i.e. “the process whereby someone is examined and publicly set aside in the assembly of the saints and commissioned as an overseer/elder/pastor through the laying on of hands”) is by pasting together different passages of Scripture that vaguely relate to one another (if they relate at all).

    Can you give me an example from Scripture of a function/action that is permitted ONLY to those who have been ordained in the manner that you described?

    -Alan

  3. 8-16-2011

    Again, perhaps it is the use of the term “ordained” that is causing me to stumble. I’m not sure if you are suggesting that there is not structure and authority (derived and subordinate to Christ, of course) in the local assembly of believers. The New Testament calls these leaders “elders,” “overseers” or “pastors.” The terms are interchangeable as seen in 1 Peter 5:1-2, referring to the same role.

    1 Peter 5:1-2 is addressed exclusively to pastors. So is Acts 20:28. 1 Tim. 5:17 speaks directly to the unique role and authority of elders in the local church, as does Heb 13:17 (although the title is not used, but the context is clear, though I suppose it could be argued otherwise). The qualifications in 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 are addressed specifically to role of elder, but there is nothing in those character qualifications that should not be normative in every mature believer. The point of those qualification texts is to ensure that those called and set apart as elders have given evidence of being a mature believer.

    As far as the laying on of hands publicly as setting someone apart for recognized leadership in the assembly, Heb 6:2 could be referring to praying for the sick as James does. Some wonder if 1 Tim 4:14 and 2 Tim 1:6 was referring to setting Timothy apart publicly or some other event. However, the context of 1 Tim 5:22 is very clear that the text is speaking of commissioning elders (specifically their accountability and rebuking elders in sin) and is correlated to the requirement that the elder not be a new convert (1 Tim 3:6.)

  4. 8-16-2011

    Clint,

    Thanks for replying. I think you misunderstood my question. I was not asking if the NT talks about elders; of course it does. The question is, in all of those lists of passages that mention elders, is there anything set apart for ONLY elders to do because of they are elders?

    I suggest that there is not anything peculiar to elders other than their maturity in Christ and their example (because of their maturity) to the church in the way they live.

    For example, you mentioned “laying on of hands”… yet, in Scripture, they also laid hands on others who were not elders. You mentioned character traits, and rightly said that those same traits are normative for all believers.

    We could talk about teaching. Certainly, Scripture indicates that elders should teach, but then it also indicates that all believers should teach. What about “overseeing”? Elders are supposed to oversee, but according to Hebrews 12:15, all believers should oversee one another as well.

    What about “leading”? Jesus told us that for his followers, serving is leading. When we serve others, we are leading them by our example and our way of life. And, of course, all believers are to serve others, and this includes elders. (1 Timothy 5:17 actually says that those elders who are leading well and working hard at teaching and the word are worthy of double honor. It doesn’t speak “directly to the unique role and authority of elders in the local church.” For example, compare 1 Timothy 5:17 to 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14, where elders are not mentioned, but both leaders and others are mentioned.)

    You said that elders have authority “derived and subordinate to Christ”. I agree. When elders teach/rebuke in a manner that is according to the will of God, then that is authoritative. But, that is true for anyone who teaches/rebukes/corrects/whatever in a manner that is according to the will of God. In fact, Peter (speaking specifically to elders as you point out) tells elders not to exercise authority over others, but to serve as an example to God’s flock.

    Do you know of anything in Scripture that is given specifically to elders (or pastors or overseers if you prefer) that is not also the responsibility of all followers of Jesus Christ?

    -Alan

  5. 8-16-2011

    I am relieved you see the role of elders in the New Testament. Specifically, I think 1 Peter 5:1-4 addresses your question, and I am afraid you are misreading it. The text does not instruct elders to “not exercise authority over others” but to not be “domineering over those in your charge” in v. 3. The word of domineering here (katakyrieō) has a very specific connotation of “lording over” or “overpowering.”

    But in the same breath in the previous verse, Peter instructs the elders to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight…” Again, this word for overseeing (episkpeō) literally means to “supervise, look at, care for.” This is to be exercised by the elders for those “in your charge.”

    The question does not seem to be whether or not there is unique authority and responsibility entrusted to the faithful elder, but what kind of authority he is to demonstrate (or better, in which manner he is to conduct it… as a shepherd, not a tyrant.)

    If Hebrews 13:7 and Heb 13:17 are referring to spiritual authority in the local assembly, it is clearly calling for submission to leaders who watch over their souls and who must give account. I’m not sure what other plain reading of that text could mean, other than there is spiritual authority we are to submit to in the local assembly. As an elder and church planter myself, it is a joy for me to submit to the authority of the body of elders in my local church.

    You wouldn’t argue that there is not authority in the home would you?

    Again, I agree with the glorious doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, and I am certainly not arguing for some popish distinction of clergy and laity. It is clear that every member of the body of Christ is both a minister and a missionary, and the task of pastor-teachers is to equip the saints for this work. All believers can and should preach the gospel and fulfill the over 50 “one-anothering” commands in the New Testament. But not every person is a pastor in the local assembly.

  6. 8-16-2011

    Clint,

    Thanks again for continuing the discussion.

    I really love the 1 Peter 5 passage, where Peter gives us 3 contrasting descriptions (don’t do this, but do this instead) of what it means to “oversee.” He says, 1) “Not under compulsion, but willingly,” 2) “Not for gain, but eagerly,” and 3) “Not by domineering (to use your term), but being an example.” He doesn’t say, “Not by domineering, but by exercising authority.”

    Authority among believers (whether in the home or otherwise) depends completely on God. When someone is speaking/serving according to God’s will, then there is authority, whether the person is an elder or not, whether the person is a husband or not. You wouldn’t argue that a wife must submit to everything a husband tells her, especially if it’s a sin, would you?

    By the way, who is “overseeing” in Hebrews 12:15? (Perhaps this verse, and the fact that episkopeo is the first word in Hebrews 12:15, can help us understand what the verb means, and who it applies to.)

    Hebrews 13:7, again, is about following the example of faith and way of life of leaders, not about authority. Hebrews 13:17 is about submitting (yielding) to the leaders. The fact that we submit to some does not equate to authority. Authority demands submission, which would be subservience. Submission is always offered freely without compulsion. (Again, actual authority among the church is only in God, not in a person or position.)

    I agree that not everyone is an elder, but only those recognized by the church as mature believers (for example, actually living according to the characteristics we read about in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1). However, again, I don’t see anything that is the sole responsibility of elders. Everything necessary for the body of Christ to mature is to be carried out by the whole church because they are all priests.

    -Alan

  7. 8-16-2011

    I’m sorry, I’m not understanding your question about Heb 12:15. Yes, episkoeō (which is simply the verb form of the noun episkopos (overseer)) is used in Heb 12:15 to mean to “look at, see to.” I know you are aware a word may have a range of meanings and the meaning must be determined by context. The same word is translated as “coming” and “visits” in other places in the NT. Of course the same is true of the word presbuteros for elder. In one context it means pastor/leader, in another it means older person. Context is king. So Heb 12:15 has nothing to do with overseeing, but looking to a matter, as the context clearly indicates. 1 Peter 5 on the other hand is speaking in the context of elders/pastors/overseers. (Personally, I’m not fond of the word overseer, but it is the term used in 1 Tim 3:1 to refer to this office.)

    Re: your question about a wife submitting in everything… Eph 5:24 “24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” But no, that is not absolute. No authority (but God) is. All other authority is derived and valid only so far as it submits itself to Christ.

    But again, Heb 13:17 says we are to “obey” leaders and “submit to them.” Peithō is translated “obey” by NIV, ESV, NAS, KJV, and every other major Tx. On The Message changes it. I don’t know what else “obey” could imply if not authority.

    One area I would strongly agree with you: “there is no authority except from God.” Romans 13:1

  8. 8-16-2011

    Clint,

    According to the Shorter Lexicon (shorter version of BDAG, sorry I don’t have BDAG with me), episkopeo has one primary meaning: “to looking into something with a purpose for caring for it.” The problem with Hebrews 12:15 is not the range of meanings, but gloss that is used. The gloss “oversee” is used in 1 Peter 5 because it’s talking about “elders,” while the gloss “seeing” is used in Hebrews 12:15 because it’s not talking about “elders.” But, this is not an issue of meaning. In all three cases, the word means to look into something with the purpose of caring for it, and both elders and non-elders are instructed to look into the lives of one another so that they can care for one another. (Another similar verb is used in Hebrew 10:24, again for all believers.)

    In Hebrews 13:17, the verb peitho is translated “obey”. But, in the very next verse, Hebrews 13:18, the same verb is translated “be convinced” or “be sure.” This is the way the verb is normally translated. You can see how the author of Hebrews specifically uses the verb in Hebrews 2:13 and Hebrews 6:9. “Have confidence in those who lead you and submit to them…”

    So… you agree that all authority is from God. If a non-elders proclaims God’s word, then that proclamation is authoritative because it is from God. If an elder proclaims something that is not from God, then it is not authoritative because it is not from God. Authority is not based on a person’s position as elder, but on a person’s (any person’s) speaking/service in accordance with the will of God. As those who are more mature, I would assume that elders would be very likely to speak/serve according to the will of God. But, again, authority is not based on the person being (or being ordained as) an elder.

    So… we return to the same question… what additional responsibility/function does any ordination (besides being set apart by God into his priesthood) give to anyone?

    -Alan

  9. 8-16-2011

    Clint

    I am in over my linguistic head here but when you say:

    “If Hebrews 13:7 and Heb 13:17 are referring to spiritual authority in the local assembly, it is clearly calling for submission to leaders who watch over their souls and who must give account. I’m not sure what other plain reading of that text could mean, other than there is spiritual authority we are to submit to in the local assembly.”

    I don’t see that as referring to local authorities in the church. Hebrews 13:7 describes these leaders as “those who spoke to you the word of God”. Wouldn’t that be the individual or individuals who spoke, past tense, the Word of God to you and not necessarily those who are in the same local assembly?

  10. 8-16-2011

    Arthur,

    Some suggest that the past tense of Hebrews 13:7, together with the present tense of Hebrews 13:17, indicate that those who “spoke the word of God” in Hebrews 13:7 have already died. I’m not sure what I think about that yet… or if it matters in the interpreting the passage. It is a good question though.

    -Alan

  11. 8-16-2011

    I’m not arguing that every believer does not have rights and responsibilities, privileges and authority in the body. I am arguing that there is structure and derived authority in the eldership, that it is not absolute but conditional, and that we are to submit to God-ordained authority in society (government), home and church. As a consequence of man’s basic resistance to God-ordained authority (first in the Fall, and in every aspect of life every since) there is a propensity to circumvent, ignore, resist or rebel his authority, and every ordained expression of it that he has given us.

    The use of the term “sole” function of authority is unfortunate, because I honestly don’t see it. Elders are to be equipping all the saints for ministry. There is, however, a structure and accountability that God has set up in every church (just as he has given in every home, and every society) and that being New Covenant believers and priests does not change that. We are all under authority: the absolute authority of God and the derived authorities he has ordained.

    Here is BDAG for both the verb form and the noun form of the word episikopos :)

    ἐπισκοπέω fut. ἐπισκοπήσω; 1 aor. ἐπεσκόπησα; pf. pass. ptc. ἐπεσκοπημένος (s. σκοπέω and next entry; Aeschyl. et al.).
    ① to give attention to, look at, take care, see to it w. μή foll. (Philo, Decal. 98) with implication of hazard awaiting one Hb 12:15.
    ② to accept responsibility for the care of someone, oversee, care for (Pla., Rep. 6 p. 506a τὴν πολιτείαν; Dio Chrys. 8 [9], 1 of Diogenes the Cynic’s mission in life; LBW 2309; 2412e; pap [Witkowski 52, 12; cp. 63, 18; 71, 43]; 2 Ch 34:12), hence in a distinctively Christian sense of the activity of church officials 1 Pt 5:2, esp. of one entrusted with oversight: be an overseer τινά over someone of Jesus, the ideal overseer/supervisor IRo 9:1. In a play on words w. ἐπίσκοπος: ἐπισκόπῳ μᾶλλον ἐπισκοπημένῳ ὑπὸ θεοῦ the overseer/supervisor, who is rather overseen/supervised by God=‘the bishop who has God as his bishop’ IPol ins (ἐπισκοπέω of God: Jos., C. Ap. 2, 160). Abs. serve as overseer Hv 3, 5, 1.—DELG s.v. σκέπτομαι. M-M. TW.

    William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 379.

    ἐπίσκοπος, ου, ὁ (s. prec. entry; Hom. et al.; Diod S 37, 28, 1 [of a king w. synonym θεατής], ins, pap, LXX; JosAs 15:7 cod. A [p. 61, 16 Bat.] μετάνοια … ἐπίσκοπος πάντων τῶν παρθένων; Philo, Joseph.—LPorter, The Word ἐπίσκοπος in Pre-Christian Usage: ATR 21, ’39, 103–12) gener. ‘one who watches over, guardian’. BThiering, ‘Mebaqqer’ and ‘Episkopos’ in the Light of the Temple Scroll: JBL 100, ’81, 59–74 (office of ‘bishop’ adopted fr. Essene lay communities; cp. CD 14, 8–12; בקר Ezk 34:11 [LXX ἐπισκέπτειν]).
    ① one who has the responsibility of safeguarding or seeing to it that someth. is done in the correct way, guardian (so Il. 22, 255, deities are guardians of agreements, i.e. they ‘see to it’ that they are kept; Aeschyl., Sept. 272; Soph., Ant. 1148; Pla., Leg. 4, 717d; Plut., Cam. 5, 6 θεοὶ χρηστῶν ἐπίσκοποι καὶ πονηρῶν ἔργων; Maximus Tyr. 5, 8e ὦ Ζεῦ κ. Ἀθηνᾶ κ. Ἄπολλον, ἐθῶν ἀνθρωπίνων ἐπίσκοποι; Babrius 11, 4 P. ’84=L-P.; Herodian 7, 10, 3. Oft. Cornutus, ed. Lang, index; SIG 1240, 21; UPZ 144, 49 [164 B.C.]; PGM 4, 2721; Job 20:29; Wsd 1:6; Philo, Migr. Abr. 115 al.; SibOr, Fgm. 1, 3) παντὸς πνεύματος κτίστης κ. ἐπίσκοπος creator and guardian of every spirit 1 Cl 59:3.—Of Christ (w. ποιμήν) ἐ. τῶν ψυχῶν guardian of the souls 1 Pt 2:25. The passages IMg 3:1 θεῷ τῷ πάντων ἐ.; cp. 6:1 show the transition to the next mng.
    ② In the Gr-Rom. world ἐ. freq. refers to one who has a definite function or fixed office of guardianship and related activity within a group (Aristoph., Av. 1023; IG XII/1, 49, 43ff [II/I B.C.], 50, 34ff [I B.C.]; LBW 1989; 1990; 2298; Num 31:14 al.; PPetr III, 36a verso, 16 [III B.C.]; Jos., Ant. 10, 53; 12, 254), including a religious group (IG XII/1, 731, 8: an ἐ. in the temple of Apollo at Rhodes. S. Dssm., NB 57f [BS 230f]. Cp. also Num 4:16. On the Cynic-Stoic preacher as ἐπισκοπῶν and ἐπίσκοπος s. ENorden, Jahrb. klass. Phil Suppl. 19, 1893, 377ff.—Philo, Rer. Div. Her. 30 Moses as ἐ.). The term was taken over in Christian communities in ref. to one who served as overseer or supervisor, with special interest in guarding the apostolic tradition (Iren., Orig., Hippol.). Ac 20:28 (RSchnackenburg, Schriften zum NT, ’71, 247–67; ELöwestam, Paul’s Address at Miletus: StTh 41, ’87, 1–10); (w. διάκονοι) Phil 1:1 (JReumann, NTS 39, ’93, 446–50); D 15:1; 1 Ti 3:2; Tit 1:7 (s. BEaston, Pastoral Epistles ’47, 173; 177; 227). ἀπόστολοι, ἐ., διδάσκαλοι, διάκονοι Hv 3, 5, 1; (w. φιλόξενοι) Hs 9, 27, 2. Esp. freq. in Ignatius IEph 1:3; 2:1f; 3:2; 4:1; 5:1f and oft.; 2 Ti subscr.: Tim., overseer of the Ephesians; Tit subscr.: Titus overseer of the Cretan Christians. The ecclesiastical loanword ‘bishop’ is too technical and loaded with late historical baggage for precise signification of usage of ἐπίσκοπος and cognates in our lit., esp. the NT.—EHatch-AHarnack, D. Gesellschaftsverf. d. christ. Kirchen im Altert. 1883; Harnack, D. Lehre d. 12 Apostel 1884, 88ff, Entstehung u. Entwicklung der Kirchenverfassung u. des Kirchenrechts in d. zwei ersten Jahrh. 1910; ELoening, D. Gemeindeverf. d. Urchristent. 1888; CWeizsäcker, D. apost. Zeitalter2 1892, 613ff; RSohm, Kirchenrecht I 1892; JRéville, Les origines de l’épiscopat 1894; HBruders, D. Verf. d. Kirche bis z. J. 175, 1904; RKnopf, D. nachapostl. Zeitalter 1905, 147ff; PBatiffol-FSeppelt, Urkirche u. Katholicismus 1910, 101ff; OScheel, Z. urchristl. Kirchen-u. Verfassungsproblem: StKr 85, 1912, 403–57; HLietzmann, Z. altchr. Verfassungsgesch.: ZWT 55, 1913, 101–6 (=Kleine Schriften I, ’58, 144–48); EMetzner, D. Verf. d. Kirche in d. zwei ersten Jahrh. 1920; KMüller, Beiträge z. Gesch. d. Verf. in d. alten Kirche: ABA 1922, no. 3; HDieckmann, D. Verf. d. Urkirche 1923; GvHultum, ThGl 19, 1927, 461–88; GHolstein, D. Grundlagen d. evangel. Kirchenrechts 1928; JJeremias, Jerusalem II B 1, 1929, 132ff (against him KGoetz, ZNW 30, ’31, 89–93); BStreeter, The Primitive Church 1929; OLinton, D. Problem d. Urkirche usw. ’32 (lit. from 1880); JLebreton-JZeiller, L’Eglise primitive ’34; HBeyer, D. Bischofamt im NT: Deutsche Theologie 1, ’34, 201–25; HGreeven, Propheten, Lehrer, Vorsteher bei Pls: ZNW 44, ’52/53, 1–43 (lit.); HvCampenhausen, Kirchl. Amt u. geistl. Vollmacht in den ersten 3 Jahrhunderten ’53; WMichaelis, Das Ältestenamt der christlichen Gemeinde im Lichte der Hl. Schrift ’53; RBultmann, Theol. of the NT (tr. KGrobel) ’55, II, 95–111; TManson, The Church’s Ministry ’56; FNötscher, Vom Alten zum NT ’62, 188–220; DMoody, Interpretation 19, ’65, 168–81; HBraun, Qumran u. das NT ’66, II 326–42; RGG3 I 335–37 (lit.); JFitzmyer, PSchubert Festschr., ’66, 256f, n. 41 (lit.); RAC II 394–407; RBrown, TS 41, ’80, 322–38 (rev. of NT data).—Poland 377. M-M. EDNT. TW. Sv.

    William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 379-80.

  12. 8-16-2011

    Clint,

    So… authority is derived from God both for the ordained elder and for the non-ordained non-elder… so… what’s added by ordination?

    -Alan

  13. 8-16-2011

    Recognition of authority and responsibility evidenced by the call of God and qualifications from scripture for the benefit of the body?

    Thing is… they did it. They laid hands on the apostles, the elders, Timothy and set them apart publicly. I don’t care for the word itself, but the act of laying hands on leaders and publicly commissioning them was normative.

  14. 8-16-2011

    Clint,

    It sounds like you’re trying to have it both ways: 1) Authority is only from God, but 2) authority is also through ordination. That doesn’t work for me. Either authority is only from God, or it’s not.

    By the way, you mentioned some of the reasons of “laying on of hands,” but there were plenty of other reasons as well. Equating “laying on of hands” with the modern concept of ordination is untenable. Who was ordained and received authority in Acts 8:17?

    -Alan

  15. 8-16-2011

    Yeah, I don’t think I made myself clear with that last post. God calls men. He qualifies them. He ordains them. The public laying on of hands is simply a recognition by the body of what God had already ordained. The church is able to recognize, confirm and commission those God has set apart for Acts 4-leadership.

    I would contend that all biblical leadership must be qualified leadership, and that a certificate or ceremony means nothing outside the call and qualifications so clearly outlined in the NT. Therefore ordination is moot where qualification is absent. Neither does any institution/organization that deviates from the authority of Scripture or headship of Christ hold any claim to the keys of the kingdom, or authority to bind or loose (i.e., church discipline).

    Re: Acts 8:17, as you rightly point out and I previously stated, laying on hands occurred in several circumstances: praying for the sick, commissioning leaders, and in playing out of Acts (as the gift of the Holy Spirit was being given according to the program of Acts 1:8, first to the Jews in Judea, then the Samaritans, then the gentiles of the uttermost parts of the world.)

    Not for nothing, but notice the gift of the Holy Spirit was not given in the revival taking place in Samaria under the leadership of Philip UNTIL the apostles arrived and, with authority, laid there hands on them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? (Same was true of Cornelius, and John’s disciples later encountered by Paul… not laying of hands, but the presence of an apostle.)

    The very word apostolos (one that is sent, emissary) carried a meaning of authority associated with the sender, much like the modern political word ambassador does.

    I’ve enjoyed the thoughtful exchange. Thanks for kindly indulging me on your blog.

  16. 8-16-2011

    Oops. I meant Ephesians 4-leadership. My mistake.

  17. 8-17-2011

    Clint,

    I’ve enjoyed the discussion also.

    -Alan

  18. 8-17-2011

    Clint

    Jesus warned us about “making void the word of God by your tradition.” Mk 7:13

    You sound like someone raised up in a “Tradition” where you heard ”Obey your leaders” a lot – like I did. You sound a lot like me and the folks I used to fellowship with. Submission to “God Ordained Authority” was a favorite topic. All the time. Heb 13:17 was our most favorite verse. Ouch!!! :-(

    In my experience…
    Those who become “Spiritually Abusive” preach “Obey your leaders” a lot.
    But don’t spend a lot of time or effort with – watching for my soul. ;-(

    Heb 13:17 KJV
    Obey them that have “the rule over you,”
    and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls…

    After leaving “The Abusive Authoritarian Religious System” I questioned Heb 13:17 a lot and what it really means. After all, the Bible does say,” It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. Psalm 118:8. And …Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm… Jer 17:5 And many more about NOT trusting in man, But, “Trust the lord with all your heart and lean NOT on your own understanding.

    These abusive leaders wanted us to pray, pay and obey.
    And if we questioned them or didn’t obey; we were labeled rebellious. :-(

    Needless to say – There is NOT much trust in someone who says they are leader.

    In asking Jesus; Is there any human I’m supposed to submit to? And reading Heb 13, over and over again, I noticed there are no Titles” or “Positions” mentioned in Heb 13. NO pastors, NO elders, NO overseers. Just someone who was “keeping watch over “My” soul.”

    When you know someone cares for your soul “submission” is not a burden. And it could be anyone who has, “spoken unto you the word of God.” Heb 13:7

    Hmmm? Seems pastor/leaders like to add to Heb 13:17, that the leader here
    is the pastor/elder/overseer even thought the Bible doesn’t say that. ;-)

    I also noticed, “Spiritually Abusive Leaders” when questioned, or disagreed with, no longer considered “my’ soul important. They would label me, call me names And ask me to leave. ;-)

    Ever try telling a Senior Pastor/Reverend NONE of his “Titles” are in the Bible?

    First qualification for me on who to submit to, became…
    Who knows me, cares about me and watches for my soul. ;-)

    Does anyone have to obey and submit to “abusive” leaders?
    Not anymore – Thank you Jesus…

  19. 8-17-2011

    Alan

    I really enjoyed your line of questioning – especially…

    “Do you know of anything in Scripture that is given specifically to elders (or pastors or overseers if you prefer) that is not also the responsibility of all followers of Jesus Christ?”

    Hmmm? That’s good. Wish I would have asked that.
    For me that makes the special clergy class, the ordained professional, NOT so special after all. ;-)

    “However, again, I don’t see anything that is the sole responsibility of elders. Everything necessary for the body of Christ to mature is to be carried out by the whole church because they are all priests.”

    Is plagiarism a sin in the Bible? ;-)

  20. 8-17-2011

    No, Amos, your assumptions are inaccurate and your presuppositions are flawed, and therefore your conclusions unfounded about my point of view. Re-read my dialogue carefully… it is exegetical in form based on analysis of the biblical text (even Alan will agree with that I think, ever if we might differ in some of our conclusions.) And nowhere do I advocate using any of the terminology you used, only that which is found in scripture.

    But using your logic, there are plenty of abusive parents and dysfunctional families, many of which would call themselves Christian. Shall we walk away from the domains of parenthood and family too? Or is it possible that in climbing out of one ditch, we often fall into another?

    Whether you agree with my conclusions or not, please grant me that I made my observations and arguments from the text, not culture or tradition. I appreciate charitable and thoughtful exchange, but please do not construct a straw-man and put my name to it… even with a winky emoticon ;-)

  21. 8-18-2011

    Hi Clint

    You write…
    “No, Amos, your assumptions are inaccurate and your presuppositions are flawed, and therefore your conclusions unfounded about my point of view.”

    You could be correct – I’ve been wrong before. ;-)

    Maybe you could help…

    Which assumptions – and how they are inaccurate?
    Which presuppositions – and how they are flawed?

    And, I thought, my conclusions were about my point of view of Heb 13:17.
    And my experiences with “Spiritually Abusive” pastor/leaders…
    NOT about your point of view.

    You also write…
    “I appreciate charitable and thoughtful exchange, but please do not construct a straw-man and put my name to it… even with a winky emoticon. ;-)”

    Me too. I think… ;-)

    Maybe you can explain the straw-man I constructed and put your name to.
    I don’t know what that means. :-(

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  22. 8-18-2011

    Clint – Here’s a little more of my point of view, that I see in scripture, on who
    to obey and submit to. “Spiritual Abuse” has a benefit – Drives you to Jesus. ;-)

    So for me – The first (1st) qualification for who to submit to became…
    Who is watching for my soul. Not someone with a “Title” pastor/elder/overseer
    NOT found in Heb 13, as I was taught by my abusive leaders.

    “The Second” (2nd) list of qualifications, found in the scriptures,
    for who to obey, and submit to, became…

    1 – Are they living examples of – NOT lording it over God’s heritage?
    2 – Are they living examples of – lowliness of mind?
    3 – Are they living examples of – “esteeming others better” than themselves?
    4 – Are they living examples of – submitting “One to Another?”
    5 – Are they living examples of – preferring others before themselves?
    6 – Are they living examples of – being clothed with humility?
    7 – Are they living examples of – NOT exercising authority over anyone?

    1 – Neither as being *lords over God’s heritage,* but being ensamples to the flock.
    1Pet 5:3

    2 + 3 – Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;
    but in **lowliness of mind** let each **esteem others** better than themselves.
    Php 2:3

    4 – **Submitting yourselves one to another** in the fear of God.
    Eph 5:21 KJV

    5 – Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;
    **in honour preferring one another.**
    Rom 12:10 KJV

    6 + 4 – “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.”
    Yea, **all of you** be subject **one to another,** (subject = submit)
    and be **clothed with humility:** for God resisteth the proud,
    and giveth grace to the humble.
    1Pet 5:5 KJV

    Then Jesus told “His Disciples” NOT to **Exercise Authority.**

    7 – …they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles
    **exercise lordship over them; **
    and their great ones **exercise authority upon them.**
    But so shall it NOT be among you:…
    Mark 10:42-45

    Ever try pointing out these verses to a Senior Pastor who is addicted to
    Power, Profit, Prestige, Honor, Glory, Recognition, and Reputation? Ouch!!! ;-(

    In my experience with “Pastor/Leaders”… And having been in leadership…

    No matter how loving… eventually…
    No matter how humble… eventually…
    No matter how much a servant… eventually…

    Pastor/Leaders will “exercise authority” and “lord it over” God’s heritage. :-(

    That’s always the beginning of “Spiritual Abuse.” :-(

    “Pastor/Leaders” = exercise authority = lord it over = abuse = always

    If an “elder/overseer/shepherd” “Exercises Authority” and “lords it over?”
    Doesn’t that automatically disqualify them from that “Position?”

    But will they ever remove themselves and become an example to the flock?

    Im Blest… I’ve returned to the shepherd and Bishop of my soul… Jesus… :-)

  23. 8-19-2011

    Great discussion, thank you all.

  24. 8-20-2011

    Joseph Justus Barsabas is my favorite NT person. He was a nobody. A man passed over for greatness (as we measure it).

    He walked with Jesus from the time of His baptism. He saw our Lord speak, do miracles, give mercy, teach the public and teach in private, express outrage at hypocrisy, cast out demons, and patiently put up with His position-hungry disciples and their never-lacking advice on how Jesus should do this or that (or not do something). He saw our Lord die. He saw our Lord alive afterwards and Joseph Justus Barsabas was even likely there when our Lord rose into the heavens (Acts 1:21)

    He was regarded highly by the apostles and was recommended as a potential replacement for Judas as one of the twelve. The lots fell, and the choice went to Matthias.

    We are today very much concerned that others not be above us, that we are equal to others, to anyone. Most of us want recognition and to stand out, to be set apart, to be esteemed highly. It’s our nature (Matt 23:1-7; Mark 10:37). It is true we are all ordained for service.

    Joseph Justus Barsabas was not chosen to be one of the twelve, eye-witnesses of our Lord’s life, ministry, death and resurrection and one of the twelve pillars in the Kingdom to come. But he was there at Pentecost. He was among the firstborn filled with the Spirit, uniquely demonstrated by tongues of fire. He spoke in unknown (to him) languages “the wonderful works of God.” Three thousand believed that day.

    We do not highly esteem him. Most would not recognize his name. But he trusted God to choose, and was happy for God’s will to be done. He wasn’t focused on himself; he wasn’t striving to be someone. Joseph was fine without recognition, laboring unseen and unheralded. He had seen Jesus. He trusted him and was filled with Spirit, and he knew he could not be more loved by God. He knew nothing he did deserved God’s attention. He knew justice and fairness were not words appropriate on a Christian tongue–we who rightly deserve hell have not only been forgiven, our payment made by God’s own Son, but we have been made fully righteous. Nothing we do could make us more righteous, more accepted, more known by God, more loved by God.

    This week I turned in my notice at work. I’m moving to a new job. I still work there for the next two weeks, but I am so much more relaxed. Why? I can’t be judged. I can’t screw up and lose my job. That doesn’t make me want to do poorly. I still work as hard and care about customers as much. But, there is this lightness. A calm peace.

    This reminds me of my position today with God. I can serve without trying to achieve personal recognition and without fear of screwing up and being found out. I don’t have to manage my reputation and protect my standing. I don’t care who is ahead, or over me, or better at something than me. How full our hearts can be in His love and acceptance! How free of performance and safety we are!

    Yes. I am an ordained priest of God. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that and to be encouraged that we have all of God’s authority in His word and all of His power in His Spirit within. Sometimes, we need to sit back and consider this wonderful unknown servant of God: Joseph Justus Barsabas.

  25. 8-20-2011

    Art

    :-) :-) :-)

  26. 8-21-2011

    Art,

    Great thoughts!

  27. 8-21-2011

    Art,

    Great comment again. I like what Luke wrote about “those who were scattered” in Acts 8-11… more anonymous believers living out the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    -Alan

  28. 6-26-2013

    When i was converted, id considered my self in Christ, and when replying to letters such as this i leave this as a calling card if you like.
    Some years ago I was considering, under going training to become a minister, In faith I heard from God saying “no” to becoming ordained, the disciples were unlearned men, yet the Holy Spirit transformed these men. Yet we are a priesthood of believers, I do not need a priests permission, to offer bread and wine, I am free Iam a priest as much as my brother or sister in Christ. yours in Christ Richard

  29. 6-27-2013

    Richard,

    I wish all followers of Jesus Christ understood that.

    -Alan