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The Two Church Offices
by W. S. Crawford, Wellington, Texas
      The New Testament church is a local, divine organic body. It is composed of disciples of Christ who have been baptized voluntarily to carry on for Christ. Christ is its Founder, its Foundation, its Head and its Law Giver. The Holy Spirit is its Superintendent and it is to do what Christ Himself commanded and authorized it to do. It is thus to be perpetuated until Christ comes again. Its permanent officers are pastor and deacons.

      The New Testament names the pastor and deacons as offices in the church. In I Timothy 3:1, Paul says “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” According to the New Testament, a bishop was the pastor of a church. I Timothy 3:10 tells us, “And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.” These are the only offices spoken of in the New Testament that are permanent.

      Both of these offices are to be filled by men, not by women. Paul instructed Titus, “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;” (Titus 1:5-7). A woman cannot be the husband of one wife, therefore cannot be ordained as pastor. Any man who has two living wives is disqualified to be pastor of a church. The deacon is also to be the husband of one wife (I Timothy 3:12). Therefore, the deacon’s office is to be filled by men.

      In both of these offices men are to be ordained, and that by the authority of the church. Paul said that he was ordained a preacher and an apostle (I Timothy 2:7). And Paul told Timothy to “neglect not the gift that is in thee which was given thee by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery” (I Timothy 4:14). In Acts 6, we see the church selected seven men who were qualified for deacons, and the church placed them before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands upon them thus designating or ordaining them as deacons. We see from these scriptures that pastors and deacons are to be ordained to fill these offices, and are to be ordained by the authority of the church.

      The pastor and deacon are to be servants of the church. Not bosses, nor dictators, but servants. The pastor is to serve in spiritual things. He is to preach the word (Acts 6:4; II Timothy 4:2). He is to feed the church (John 21:15-17; Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:1,2). He is to be the teacher of the church (I Timothy 3:2; II Tim. 2:24). Paul called these things spiritual things (I Corinthians 9:11). The deacons are to serve the church in temporal things. They were to see after the financial things of the church (Acts 6:3). The pastor, deacons, and all the membership of the church are instructed to work together, directed by the Holy Spirit to do the will of Christ.

      The pastor is to have a divine call and the deacon is to have spiritual qualifications. The pastor is to be divinely called to preach (Acts 20:24; I Corinthians 9:16). He is to have a divine call to be pastor (Ephesians 4:11). He is to have a divine call to a church (Acts 20:28). The deacons are to be men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3). The pastor is promised a crown of glory that fadeth not away when the Chief Shepherd shall appear (I Peter 5:4). And they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus (I Timothy 3:13).

      So then our labour is not in vain in the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. Neither is the labour and service of any member of the church lost when it is done according to the will of Christ and from a heart of love. Paul said there was a crown of righteousness for him, and not for him only but for all of them that love His appearing (II Timothy 4:8).


[From The Baptist Defender, January 28, 1941 (as found in The Baptist Waymark, Vol II, No. 8, May-June 1992); via R. L. Vaughn Blog, September 07, 2013. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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