The organization
of the church
Since the church belongs to God and to Christ, it is up to them to determine the organization. It,
then, is our responsibility to see how they have organized the church and to follow that
organization. The church should follow the divine pattern revealed in the scriptures, not the
plans of man. If Moses needed to build the tabernacle in the wilderness according to the plan
given by God (Hebrews 8:5), how much more important is it that the church, bought with the
blood of the only begotten Son of God, be built according to the pattern given by God (Acts
20:28; I Thessalonians 2:14).

THE CHURCH IS AN ABSOLUTE MONARCHY

The church is the kingdom of his dear Son (Colossians 1:13). It is an absolute monarchy with
Jesus as "King of kings and Lord of lords." It is his church. He built the church (Matthew 16:18).
He bought the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28). Jesus is the savior of the body, the
church (Ephesians 5:23). He is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22,23; Colossians 1:18).
He is the Lord of his people. As Jesus said, "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things
that I say?" (Luke 6:36) He is the shepherd and bishop of our souls (Hebrews 13:20). Jesus is
the one mediator between man and God (I Timothy 2:5).

There is no room for any man, whether pope, prelate or president, to head the church.

Who is the head of the church to which you belong? Does the church you belong to have a
pope or president? Where in the scriptures do you find it recorded?

As absolute monarch over the church, Jesus holds all power and all authority (Matthew 28:18).
He, and he alone, has the authority to make and establish laws. He is the author and finisher
of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).   That right does not reside in any conference or council or clergy.

THE APOSTLES

The apostles are a part of the foundation of the church, with Jesus being the chief corner stone
(Ephesians 2:19-22).  The teaching of the apostles was the teaching which had been bound or
loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19; 18:18).  At the judgment they will sit upon twelve thrones
judging the nation of Israel (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).  The apostles were witnesses of the
resurrection of Jesus from the grave (Acts 1:22).  Therefore, the apostleship of Jesus Christ,
those sent out by Him as His special ambassadors, was a one time office -- not a continual
office.

Are the apostles of your church (those who are recognized as the special ambassadors of
Christ with the authority to bind or loose what has already been bound or loosed in heaven,
whose teaching is recognized as the commandments of the Lord) those in the New
Testament? or, do you have "modern day apostles" who usurp the position of Jesus' apostles?

NON-DENOMINATIONAL AND ANTI-DENOMINATIONAL

A denomination is an organization of two or more congregations that have a common
government. In other words, a denomination is a form of organization or government for the
church which is larger than a single congregation, but smaller than the church universal. The
church in the New Testament is not a denomination; and, denominations were unknown at
that time. Therefore, the church of Christ is non-denominational. Non-denominational means
that local congregations were not a part of any organization, government or council larger than
the local congregation.

The church of Christ is also anti-denominational. That means it is against denominations.
Since denominations are an invention of man, not a part of the pattern revealed in the
scriptures, they are opposed as additions to God's government for the church. It is not a matter
of convenience, hut of conviction.

Does the church to which you belong, belong to a denomina­tion, council or conference? Is it
non-denominational and anti-denominational? Is its organization or government found
anywhere in the scriptures?

AUTONOMOUS

Each congregation of the church of Christ is autonomous: it is independent of all other
congregations and organizations in its government. That is inherent in its non-denominational
and anti-denominational character. Each congregation is self-governing: it is left free to follow
the direction of the Lord as he has revealed himself in the scriptures, making its own
decisions as to the wisest way to disperse its own funds and to carry out the work which God
has given the church to do. This arrangement means that each congregation is not
necessarily affected by the teachings or actions of other congregations, becoming partners
with them by association (II John 9-11).

Is the church to which you belong autonomous? Or is it subject to governing from outside
sources other than the Lord himself?


ELDERS, BISHOPS, PASTORS, OVERSEERS

The overseers of the local congregation in the New Testament are the elders (Acts 11:30;
14:23; 15:2,4,6,22,23; 16:4; 20:17,18; I Timothy 5:17,19; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; I Peter 5:1),
bishops (Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:1,2; Titus 1:7), pastors (Ephesians 4:11) or overseers
(Acts 20:28). Each of these terms is a synonym for the others. Each of them describe the same
office. An elder is a bishop is a pastor is an overseer.

The elders of a congregation must meet certain requirements, or qualifications, before they
are able to scripturally serve. These qualifications are set out in I Timothy 3:1-11 and Titus
1:5-9. They must be special men, for they have a special responsibility: looking after the souls
of the children of God. These qualifications cannot be treated lightly. They cannot be set aside.
They must be met by the men who are to occupy the office.

Each congregation is to have a plurality of elders, when there are those who qualify for the
office. Elders, not an elder, were appointed in the churches by Paul (Acts 14:23). Elders, not an
elder, were to be ordained by Titus in every city (Titus 1:5). Two or more are elders, one is an
elder; therefore, there must be two or more elders to each congregation.

The elders "feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by
constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over
God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock" (I Peter 5:2,3). They rule the congregation,
not as lawmakers but as stewards of the manifold wisdom of God; "for they watch for your
souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is
unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17). They have a delegated authority from the Lord to carry
out what he has said.

DEACONS

Deacons are special servants under the authority of the elders, bishops, pastors or overseers
(I Timothy 3:8,10,12,13; Philippians 1:1). Their qualifications are given in I Timothy 3:8-13.
Their duties must be inferred from the use of the verb form of their title. It is translated minister
to or unto (Matthew 4:11; 8:15; 20:28; 25:44; 27:55; Mark 1:13,31; 10:45; 15:41; Luke 4:39; 8:3;
Acts 19:22; Romans 15:25; II Corinthians 3:3; II Timothy 1:18; Philemon 13; Hebrews 6:10; I
Peter 1:12; 4:10,11) and serve (Luke 10:40; 12:37; 17:8; 22:26,27; John 12:2,26; Acts 6:2).
From these verses, and the possibility that those appointed in Acts 6 were deacons, we can
infer that deacons looked after the physical needs of the congrega­tion, while the elders
looked after the spiritual needs.

PREACHERS, TEACHERS, EVANGELISTS, MINISTERS, STEWARDS

Those who publicly proclaim the gospel, or the word of God, are known as preachers (I
Timothy 2:7; II Timothy 1:11; Romans 10:14), teachers (I Timothy 2:7; II Timothy 1:11; 4:3),
evangelists (Acts 21:8; Ephesians 4:11; II Timothy 4:5), ministers of God (II Corinthians 6:4; I
Thessalonians 3:2), ministers of righteousness (II Corinthians 11:15), ministers of Christ or of
Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 4:1), ministers in the Lord (Ephesians 6:21), ministers of the word
(Luke 1:2), and stewards of the mysteries of God (I Corinthians 4:1). They are under the
oversight and authority of the elders. They have no authority or rule in the church.

The requirements of character for the preacher are the same as for all Christians (II
Corinthians 2:17; 4:1-6; I Timothy 4:12-16; II Timothy 2:24-26). He is to be an example of the
believers. The preacher needs to "have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not
walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceit­fully..." (II Corinthians 4:2).

Their responsibility is to "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove,
rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not
endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers,
having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto
fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full
proof of thy ministry" (II Timothy 4:2-5; see also Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts
20:20,27; I Corinthians 1:17-2:16; 15:1-11; I Timothy 4:11; 5:20; Titus 1:13,14; 2:1-15). This
must be done without fear, nor favor. Regardless of race, language, nation origin, religion,
social class or economic situation, the preacher is to preach the truth to those he is teaching
the word of God. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God..." (I Peter 4:11).

NO CLERGY-LAITY SEPARATION

There is no separation of brethren into clergy and laity in the scriptures, "we all be brethren."
Each member of the church is a priest unto God (I Peter 2:5,9), and thus entitled to all the
rights and responsibilities that go with being a priest unto God, both publicly and privately
(unless restricted by God, as in the case of a woman "teaching or usurping authority over the
man" I Timothy 2:11-14). Jesus condemned the Pharisees for the usage of special clothing
and titles (Matthew 23:1-12); surely, it would not be presumed that what he condemned in the
Pharisees, he would allow and approve of in his church.

There is one mediator between man and God: Jesus Christ (7 Timothy 2:5). No man can
assume that responsibility.

CONCLUSION

The church of Christ is built according to the pattern revealed in God's word: his divine pattern.
Jesus is the head, the apostles the law revealers, and the elders the caretakers of the local
congregations. The deacons serve the congregation. Preachers preach the word. All are
brethren.

Is the church to which you belong built according to the pattern revealed in the scriptures? Is it
non-denominational and anti-denominational? Is it autonomous in government? Is the local
church run by a plurality of scripturally qualified elders? Is there a clergy-laity separation? Is it
built according to the pattern revealed in the scriptures?

Won't you follow the pattern revealed in the scriptures?
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