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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : The Authenticity of Biblical Leadership

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philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
My understanding on this is that within a eldership team there is one deligated leader, who is leading the team that is leading the church. For queries on presiding elder, do a quick study on the angels of Johns revelation.


Hi ZekeO
If the angels of the Revelation churches are the presiding elders these letters are addressed to them and not to the churches over which they preside. Every rebuke and route of repentance is expressed in the 2nd person singular. This would have put a responsibility upon a single person in a way that has no similar pattern throughout the New Testament.

I don't believe the angels of the churches were presiding elders.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/1/29 18:12Profile
ZekeO
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Joined: 2004/7/4
Posts: 1014
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

 Re:

Quote:

philologos wrote:
I don't believe the angels of the churches were presiding elders.



I did'nt think you would. :-D


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Zeke Oosthuis

 2005/1/30 0:55Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
Quote:
[u]philologos wrote:[/u] I don't believe the angels of the churches were presiding elders.

I did'nt think you would.



I know you didn't ask but I'll tell you anyway... who I think the messengers of the churches were. :-D

You may have heard of Clement of Rome? He is almost certainly the author of a letter sent from Rome to Corinth somewhere around 95-100 AD. (this is the exact period of the writing of Revelation)

The Epistle of Clement To the Corinthians (also called I Clement) (more details here)can be found in collections of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, such as the Penguin Paperback Early Christian Writings, translated by Maxwell Staniforth. The letter is commonly dated around 96 Ad, but recently an earlier date has been suggested.

The letter is occasioned by the fact that a group of Christians at Corinth had banded together against their leaders and had deposed them from office. Clement writes to tell them that they have behaved badly, and to remind them of the importance of Christian unity and love. He speaks at length of the way in which each kind of official in the church has his own function for the good of the whole. The letter is an important witness to the early Christian understanding of Church government, but an ambiguous witness in that we are never told precisely why the Corinthians had deposed their leaders, and therefore the letter can be read as saying that presbyters ought not to be deposed without reasonable grounds, or as saying that they cannot be deposed on any grounds at all.

The letter refers only to the presbyters of Corinth, and makes no reference to the bishop of Corinth. Moreover, there is no mention of a bishop at Rome--the letter is sent as from the Church at Rome collectively, and Clement's name does not appear. From this, some have inferred that the office of bishop had not yet developed at either Rome or Corinth, and that in both congregations the office of presbyter was the highest office known. A probable alternate explanation, however, is that the troubles in Corinth had arisen when the bishop of that congregation had died, and the congregation had split into factions, none containing both a majority of the presbyters and a majority of the congregation.
The Roman Catholics call him the third Pope, the Anglicans call him the third bishop of Rome; both designations are anachronisms. There is no evidence for papacy or monarchical episcopacy at this period of church history. Nevertheless he was clearly known to the church in Corinth; his opening words give a thrilling insight into the way these 1st century Christians regarded ‘church’; [i] The Church of God which sojourns at Rome,to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth,to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God,through our Lord Jesus Christ:Grace unto you,and peace,from Almighty God through Jesus Christ,be multiplied.[/i] The churches saw themselves as sojourners, temporary dwellers in a location, and the concept of territorial churches with territorial bishops is totally absent.

Clement seems to have been one of the elders in the ‘sojourning church at Rome’, but he must have been known to the ‘church at Corith’ for this letter to have any authority. He does not write from his own Episcopal authority however, but as speaking for the whole church at Rome. He is functioning as a ‘secretary’. Not the kind that makes the coffee, but the kind that undertakes the official administration of a company. We might call him a ‘corresponding secretary’; he was the communications person. When Paul wrote to the church in Philippi he can’t have addressed his letter to ‘Philippi Christian Fellowship’, 23 Alexander Street… He must have sent the letter to a link person. In fact we can see the shape of this person very dimly in Philippians. The formal address of the letter is to ‘the saints which are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons’, but I little later we hear him say ‘I intreat thee also, true yokefellow…’ (Php 4:3) There was clearly ‘someone’ in Philippi to whom Paul despatched this letter. It is almost certain, I should think, that this person was part of the ‘oversight’. This anonymous person is clearly being used by Paul as the ‘corresponding secretary’ of the church at Philippi.

The notion of a ‘presiding’ or ‘senior’ elder is not found in the New Testament, although it is plain that different ‘elders’ could have different functions within the local church. The only reference to a ‘senior’ elder is in John’s 3rdd letter where he says [i] I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. (3Jo 1:9 KJV)[/i] Here, clearly, someone is emerging as the pre-eminent elder with a ‘love for first place’ (the real meaning of pre-eminence). When Clement, writing at much the same time as 3 John and the Revelation, wrote on behalf of the church at Rome he names no such ‘presiding elder’ not does he ‘sign’ the letter.

The word ‘angel’, of course, is the usual word for messenger. Paul refers to himself as a ‘messenger of God’ in Gal 4:14 and the Jericho spies are referred to using the same word in James 2:25. It may be that such ‘corresponding secretaries’ were trusted with key information passing between the churches; remember this was an underground organisation at this stage. No doubt the churches in Asia would have attempted to keep some contact with John in exile on Patmos; the natural person for such a key communication role would have been the ‘church secretary’.
I suggest that the most likely candidate for the ‘messenger of the church at…’ is this living link. Such a person fits perfectly into what we know of early church organisation at this time.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/1/30 6:18Profile
ZekeO
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Joined: 2004/7/4
Posts: 1014
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

 Re:

Quote:

philologos wrote:
I know you didn't ask but I'll tell you anyway...

I love you man!

Quote:
The Epistle of Clement To the Corinthians can be found in collections of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers...
There is no evidence for papacy or monarchical episcopacy at this period of church history.



I understand your comments about 'secretary', but if he was just the secretary his writings would not have held such weight at a later stage. He was not the big shot in a corporation which seems to be the only leadership style which you feel exists and can exist only if we talk about 21st century project managers. I would venture to say that the bible has influenced 21st century project managers on the principles of leadership which God placed in his word thousands of years ago, that actually work. Team and team work being the most important. The sum of the whole being greater than the individual.

Quote:

He must have sent the letter to a link person. There was clearly ‘someone’ in Philippi to whom Paul despatched this letter. It is almost certain, I should think, that this person was part of the ‘oversight’.


He was the leader of that team, thats who he was.;-)
This person made sure not only that the letter was read, but also implemented at a local level. Had the responsibility of not only maintaining his relationship with the team, but also shepherding the flock.

Quote:

The notion of a ‘presiding’ or ‘senior’ elder is not found in the New Testament.



I do not think that Jesus would have spoken to the messengers/secretaries in such a manner, as them just being the carrier, it seems that it is addressed to them as being part of the whole and directly responsible for the whole. He would have just addressed the whole church and excluded your understanding of them. The reference to holding them in his hands indicates that they were not just suped-up messengers.

Quote:

Such a person fits perfectly into what we know of early church organisation at this time.

So what exactly do we know, or more appropriatley you know about it? If we have gone over this before please show me the link. Thanks.


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Zeke Oosthuis

 2005/2/2 6:39Profile
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Hi ZekeO

Quote:
I understand your comments about 'secretary', but if he was just the secretary his writings would not have held such weight at a later stage. He was not the big shot in a corporation which seems to be the only leadership style which you feel exists and can exist only if we talk about 21st century project managers. I would venture to say that the bible has influenced 21st century project managers on the principles of leadership which God placed in his word thousands of years ago, that actually work. Team and team work being the most important. The sum of the whole being greater than the individual.


You do understand that I am using the word secretary is a sense which is closer to a company secretary than to the office secretary? Actually, it’s the opposite of what you suggest here. Clement is held is regard, mostly because of this letter, which is anonymous to us but almost certainly not to those who received it; he is writing on behalf of the church. This is NOT the letter of Clement to the church sojourning in Corinth; this is the letter of the church sojourning in Rome to the church sojourning in Corinth. What gave this letter is status was the esteem in which the church in Rome was held, not the personal office of the letter writer.

I would venture to say, ;-) that 21st century project managers have influenced 21st century church leaders. We don’t have ‘teams’ in the Bible we have ‘fellowship’; we don’t have org charts we have personal relationships.


Quote:
He was the leader of that team, thats who he was.
This person made sure not only that the letter was read, but also implemented at a local level. Had the responsibility of not only maintaining his relationship with the team, but also shepherding the flock.


Sheer speculation and not a fact to build it on! ;-)


Quote:
I do not think that Jesus would have spoken to the messengers/secretaries in such a manner, as them just being the carrier, it seems that it is addressed to them as being part of the whole and directly responsible for the whole. He would have just addressed the whole church and excluded your understanding of them. The reference to holding them in his hands indicates that they were not just suped-up messengers.


The ‘suped up’ messengers of the Communist states were the lifeline to the outside Christian world. This was the in and out port for all communication. Communication is a vital part of church fellowship. Local churches had a network not dissimilar from the internet, not single lines of contact but networks and hubs. If one of these links were broken between two churches the fellowship could always be rerouted. Clement, if it was him, was almost certainly part of the oversight in Rome, and as he was trusted to write the letter of the behalf of the church sojourning in Rome he was a man of high reputation, authority and responsibility within the oversight, BUT there is no ‘evidence’ that there was any primacy of one individual in the early church with the single exception of James who represented a grouping rather than a local church.

These ‘messengers’, or equivalents, would have been the people who travelled great distances for the early church conferences. They would be expected to be able to ‘speak for’ the churches of which they were part. They carried the decisions of councils back to their home settings. They were ‘chief men among the brethren’ and ‘chosen men’ (Acts 15:22-25) but they were not ‘The Leader’.


Quote:
Quote:
Such a person fits perfectly into what we know of early church organisation at this time.


So what exactly do we know, or more appropriatley you know about it? If we have gone over this before please show me the link. Thanks.

I am not as old as you think! ;-)
If you are ever able to get hold of
The organization of the early Christian churches. Eight lectures delivered before the University of Oxford, in the year, 1880
Hatch, Edwin
Publisher: New York, B. Franklin [1972]
ISBN: 0-83374-163-2 LCC: BV648 you will find the most erudite Anglican scholar whose grasp of the scene is astonishing. This was a series of lectures delivered in Oxford. His grasp of the writings of the early fathers was stunning. Some have wondered how the Anglicans could have heard this and remained unchanged, but that misses a fundamental point. Anglicanism believes in transition and that the Holy Spirit continued to guide church organisation, so they are able to separate between what they find in the Acts and first century and what things ‘ought to be like’. There needs to be no correlation. They can examine the early church without the need to change their own patterns, consequently they can be more objective than some who, unintentionally perhaps, are actually looking for justification for the way they do things.

Many of the most quotable parts were reproduced in a book called
“The Churches of God” G H Lang.

These books show the inter-dependence of the local churches, with considerable communication between them. (The Acts is an amazing travel diary – the mobility of the early Christians was considerable, hardly anyone appears in the same place twice!!)
These books also show the increasing organization and consequent control of the churches in the late first century and into the second. I don’t know if you have read Ignatius, but he works so hard to convince that hierarchy is the only way that it becomes quite clear that he had his own agenda which was not the norm for the churches at that time. It may be the second law of thermo-dynamics that entropy increases, but it certainly isn’t a law of organisation. Organisation increases as time passes, inevitably, almost always as a means of increasing control. The gap between early church dynamic and Catholic hierarchy is filled with lots of little steps not great leaps.
These books show that the structure was never more complicated that a group of elders mentored by individual apostles and strengthened by the four itinerant gifts groups of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor and teachers. Organisation was spontaneous and not standardised. There is no biblical reference to a ‘leading elder’ concept. Eldership was always multiple, and there is no evidence for any other layers.
These books also show the wonderful variety with unity that was evident in the early church. FF Bruce once commented that the early church was designed for catastrophe. Its flexibility and powers of recovery were the consequence of a dynamic life in the Spirit not proto-project management.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/2/2 7:55Profile





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