Vol.V No.V Pg.7
July 1968

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Dear Sir:

Can you prove the scripturalness of a formal "confession" (beginning "I believe") as a prerequisite to the baptism of an alien? (digest, rt) CCC


I see no reason to do so, since I do not practice such. In keeping with MAR.16:16; ACT.19:4; ROM. 10:10, etc., I ascertain the candidate's faith in Jesus as the Christ — usually by asking an informal direct question, and expecting an equally informal answer.


Bro. Turner:

Are there "elders" in a scriptural church, who are not "bishops?". We are being taught that all mature and experienced male Christians are "elders" whether appointed or not. DAH


You may be victimized by semantics. Presbuteros, the word from which "elder" is translated, does refer to age, and by metonomy to experience. Also, extended application of the term to "rulers" is well established, both in secular usage and in the scriptures. It may apply to the Jewish ruling council (Sanhedrin), or to the older, experienced men appointed as overseers of saints in a local church (Matt. 27:3; Acts 20:17, 28)

All "mature and experienced" men are "elders" in the basic sense of the word; but those who play this tune to the disturbance of brethren are either woefully lacking in knowledge concerning the use of words, or sinfully lacking in concern for peace. Beware the fool who has gleaned a "little" knowledge — of anything.

Marshall's literal English translation of Acts 14:23 is revealing. "And having appointed for them (dative case) in every church, elders — "(accusative case, rt). "Appoint" or "ordain" (KJ) is from a word meaning "to vote by stretching out the hand." Paul and Barnabas did something for the various churches. Some object was accomplished by a process of selection. Now, what was it??

For 25 years I have heard the limping explanation that "older men" were there, and Paul selected "older men" — then the sentence hangs like the second shoe in the room above. If "elders" are the whom appointed, we must supply "to be" — and wait in vain for the what. Appointed older men to be what?? To be "older men??" They were already that.

Brethren, cease this childish play with words. The "elders" here are not only older men, but older men appointed to oversee, in keeping with instructions from the Holy Spirit. Following the appointment they were then "elders" in the extended use of the term — something that could not be said of them prior to the appointment. Compare Titus 1:5, 7, where again the original word arrangement is "appoint in each city elders."

Not all literal "shepherds" in a local church are "pastors" as in Eph. 4:11; nor are all literal "inspectors" appointed "overseers" (1 Tim. 3:14); and not all "older men" (Titus 2:1-6) are "elders" as in Acts 11:30. Perhaps we use "elder" to the neglect of other terms, but let us not become more "correct" than the Holy Spirit.