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I've been studying offices, gifts, the episcopate, etc. Just trying to find scriptural and historical support for the hierarchical structures I see in different denominations and fellowships today. I see the offices above as being the same person in scripture. At least by Greek definition. They all have the duty of overseer, even the pastor who tends and feeds the flock is said to be an overseer in Christian assemblies as well. They also seem to be the successors of the apostles in that they were appointed to oversee the flocks. And I don't see anyone being appointed to succeed them as apostles who possessed the type of foundational Bishopric in Acts 1. What's your theological position. Thanks.

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I don't have time to dive deeper into this today, but I thought I'd pass a few resources your way as you study...

 

First, here's a handy chart:

 

Next, here's a brief etymological overview:

Holy Orders and the Sacrificial Priesthood

 

And a quick excerpt to get you on your way, with particular attention to how the technical understanding of such terms developed.

This brings us to the terms relevant to our present inquiry: ‘presbyteros,’ ‘hiereus,’ and ‘episkopos,’ their Latin equivalents: ‘presbyter,’ ‘sacerdos,’ and ‘episcopus,’ and their English equivalents: ‘presbyter’ (or elder), ‘priest,’ and ‘bishop.’ For the sake of simplicity, we will now refer to the Latin and Greek by the English terminology (understanding that ‘presbyter’ will be used for ‘presbyteros‘ and ‘priest’ used for ‘hiereus‘/’sacerdos‘). The terms ‘presbyter’ and ‘bishop’ were subject, as were many other words, to the technicalization of terminology that we just explained. That is, ‘presbyter’ was not originally a technical reference in the Greek language to a religious minister, much less to a Christian minister. The word developed in technicality through wide and consistent reference to the particular idea of the Christian minister, and thus became a technical reference to the office. The same thing happened with the term ‘bishop.’ This makes it much easier to understand how in their earliest usage (the New Testament and First Clement), the terms appear to be used interchangeably. At that point in time, they were still developing from common references to Christian ministers into technical terms indicating the clear distinction between the offices. To understand the history of the terms ‘presbyter’ and ‘bishop’ or to understand the way in which they were used in isolated cases is not sufficient to understand the concepts. It is also necessary to understand the realities to which those words were referring. As the Dominican Pedro de Soto observed regarding the minor Orders specified by the Council of Trent, "to preserve anything at all, it is not sufficient merely to go on uttering its name, but the reality behind the name must be understood and preserved too."

 

I hope it helps. Peace.

I generally agree with the OP -- Scripturally, "pastor," "elder," and "bishop/overseer" seem to be equivalent or at least so heavily overlapping as to be impossible to clearly distinguish.

I'm not quite sure of the meaning of this:  "And I don't see anyone being appointed to succeed them as apostles who possessed the type of foundational Bishopric in Acts 1."

I agree that "The Twelve" were special in some sense.  But it also seems clear that later apostles such as Paul and Barnabas are not a *totally* different class.

Maurice,
I think you are on the right track, but I must say that ecclesiology is not the place whete I've swum in the deep water.
Perhaps Scott will comment, because he looks at it differently, and I think one aspect of his point of view is worth exploring.

I see pastor as mentioned in Eph 4 as a gift, not an office of the church. Can you show me where the word translated pastor is ever used as an office like elder or deacon?

1) a herdsman, esp. a shepherd

Poimen

a) in the parable, he to whose care and control others have committed themselves, and whose precepts they follow

2) metaph.

a) the presiding officer, manager, director, of any assembly: so of Christ the Head of the church

1) of the overseers of the Christian assemblies

In Ephesians 4 this is the translation of "pastors". I know they tend to, shepherd, and feed. But they also oversee as bishops and elders do. 

2) of kings and princes


Rick said:

I see pastor as mentioned in Eph 4 as a gift, not an office of the church. Can you show me where the word translated pastor is ever used as an office like elder or deacon?

Deacons are assistants to pastors as far as I've seen.

Rick said:

I see pastor as mentioned in Eph 4 as a gift, not an office of the church. Can you show me where the word translated pastor is ever used as an office like elder or deacon?

Rick said:

I see pastor as mentioned in Eph 4 as a gift, not an office of the church. Can you show me where the word translated pastor is ever used as an office like elder or deacon?

AFAIK, "poimen" is translated "pastor" only in Eph. 4.  Elsewhere, it is translated "shepherd."  Most of those times it is used literally, in regard to those who tend quadrupedal wool-bearing mammals.  The metaphorical usage of the noun is never applied to any specific person other than Jesus -- Matt. 2:6; 25:32; 26:31; Mark 14:27; John 10 (repeatedly); Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 2:25; 5:4; Rev. 7:17.

The verb form, "poimano" occurs several times, and it *is* used in regard to specific people or groups of people -- John 21:16; Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2.

Acts 20 links "elder" (v. 17) with "shepherd" and "bishop/overseer" (20:28).

1 Pet. 5 links "elder" (v. 1, 5) with "shepherd" (5:2).

1 Pet. 2:25, speaking of Jesus, links "shepherd" and "bishop/overseer."

Interestingly, while you distinguish between "gift" and "office," the word, "office" never actually occurs in the NT.  In the NASB, by my count, it is supplied 4x by the translators.  Twice it is "hierateia," referring to the OT priesthood.  The other two times (Acts 1:20, where it refers to The Twelve and 1 Tim. 3:1) it is "episkope," bishop/overseer.  So, if we're going to split hairs about what is a "gift" and what is an "office"... well... we really shouldn't.  In Eph. 4, "pastor" and "apostle" are both "gifts."  In Acts 1, apostles are bishops/overseers, supposedly an "office."  In Acts 20, elders are overseers and told to pastor/shepherd (verb).  And so on.

Maurice,

 1)      Here are a few thoughts. I’ve numbered them so I could sorta keep track. It wasn’t meant to indicate any sort of completeness or adequacy. I’ll skip over the entire ordination per se question and the issue of priesthood that it includes. Here is a biblical study from the Lutheran/reformed perspective, if you are interested. The formatting is awful. I’d copy and paste it into your own document for easy reading. :-)

2)      The elephant in the room- regardless of what some may or may not find in their personal reading of scripture- is that there seems to be no question that from the beginning, wherever the gospel went, bishops were part of that organic growth. Whether India, Celtic Britain… wherever the gospel penetrated, it brought the episcopacy with it. To my mind there is no confusion about what the apostle’s directions to the church were in regards to these matters. It seems to me that those who say otherwise are like a crowd who, after seeing a football team gather in a huddle, and then execute a harmonious and successful play, lament-‘ I wish we knew what they decided to do in that huddle, but alas; we weren’t there and there's no record.' :-)

3)      It seems to me that the important point is to appreciate the why of it all; and I believe it is a mistake to treat it independently of the gospel, and those other manifestations of the gospel that are the indispensable life of the church. I’m thinking of Scripture, Baptism, Eucharist, Liturgy and Creed. The same is true of each of them- considered or emphasized apart from the others, they become deformed and even a curse. None of these can be understood apart from the death and resurrection of Christ- a facet of which is the very thing each of them bear witness to.

4)      …Which is to say that the Episcopacy is a declaration of the gospel of the crucified and risen Lord. Without it, a part of that gospel has no organic representation/declaration in the life of the church.

5)      As commissioned by Christ, the apostles were the principle of unity within the new born church. They reminded/enacted (by their function as apostles) that conversion was never simply an individual matter. St Paul makes this very point to the Corinthians when he tells them that they forget that we are not saved apart from the rest of the church. Conversion is always into the body of the historic crucified and risen Lord to whom the apostles were the historic link. The apostles were the image of the one church- the one body- that St Paul declared we are all baptized into (Rom.6:1-4, I Cor. 12:13) and with which we have communion in the Eucharist (I Cor. 11:28, I Cor. 10:16). This is why St. Paul declares that the Corinthian sin against church order was a sin against the cross.

The apostles (and later the Bishops) are the gospel manifestation of this reality of one body. There is no place for individualism in the church. An individualistic Gospel is a contradiction. That's what a bishop means.

This is why when the Samaritans believed in Christ, it wasn’t appropriate to allow them to develop alone, out there. John and Peter were sent- because they were apostles: organs of the one church- to lay hands on them and bring them into the organic body, which the gospel of Christ creates; and to which God bears testimony through by various witness/means of grace. (Acts 8:14-17)

6)      As we get farther from the historic events of the Gospel, the need for this aspect of the gospel- its link to the historic crucified Lord and the gospel necessity of our own personal participation in that crucifixion and resurrection by submitting to the life of the one body became more needful- not less. As the apostles died out, others where ordained to continue this manifestation of the gospel of Christ. We see this taking place in the case of Timothy and Titus, for example.

7)      This doesn’t mean that there weren’t variations or development. Something similar happened with scripture. Both the Canon and the Episcopacy were developments that simply made possible the continuance of that which was available through the presence of the apostles. It was needful at the time of the apostles, and it was to be even more needful after they were gone. The episcopacy is just as necessary and just as much a gift of God as is the Canon of scripture that developed along with it. The reality, function, need and power of both were present in the church of the apostles, but neither were present as we find them in the second century- and for obvious reasons.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod churches are congregrational in polity. The congregration calls its own ordained pastor and has laymen as elders to help the pastor to serve the congregration as needed. The elders serve as head of various boards and help with Holy Communion. The head of the national body LC-MS is the office of President. In order for a congregration and an ordain pastor to belong to the LC-MS, both must subscribe unconditionally to the Lutheran Confession and the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. The LC-MS pastors consider themselves as bishop of their church. All are consider equal.

Thank you for all of your comments. In scripture I see the terms used interchangeably. In different denominations they are applied differently.

There is some gold to be mined from 1 Clement as well, chapters 42 et seq.

I glanced at the article, it looks interesting so I'll read it when I have time to study it in it's entirety.

Ryan said:

I don't have time to dive deeper into this today, but I thought I'd pass a few resources your way as you study...

 

First, here's a handy chart:

 

Next, here's a brief etymological overview:

Holy Orders and the Sacrificial Priesthood

 

And a quick excerpt to get you on your way, with particular attention to how the technical understanding of such terms developed.

This brings us to the terms relevant to our present inquiry: ‘presbyteros,’ ‘hiereus,’ and ‘episkopos,’ their Latin equivalents: ‘presbyter,’ ‘sacerdos,’ and ‘episcopus,’ and their English equivalents: ‘presbyter’ (or elder), ‘priest,’ and ‘bishop.’ For the sake of simplicity, we will now refer to the Latin and Greek by the English terminology (understanding that ‘presbyter’ will be used for ‘presbyteros‘ and ‘priest’ used for ‘hiereus‘/’sacerdos‘). The terms ‘presbyter’ and ‘bishop’ were subject, as were many other words, to the technicalization of terminology that we just explained. That is, ‘presbyter’ was not originally a technical reference in the Greek language to a religious minister, much less to a Christian minister. The word developed in technicality through wide and consistent reference to the particular idea of the Christian minister, and thus became a technical reference to the office. The same thing happened with the term ‘bishop.’ This makes it much easier to understand how in their earliest usage (the New Testament and First Clement), the terms appear to be used interchangeably. At that point in time, they were still developing from common references to Christian ministers into technical terms indicating the clear distinction between the offices. To understand the history of the terms ‘presbyter’ and ‘bishop’ or to understand the way in which they were used in isolated cases is not sufficient to understand the concepts. It is also necessary to understand the realities to which those words were referring. As the Dominican Pedro de Soto observed regarding the minor Orders specified by the Council of Trent, "to preserve anything at all, it is not sufficient merely to go on uttering its name, but the reality behind the name must be understood and preserved too."

 

I hope it helps. Peace.

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