Vol.VII No.IX Pg.4
November 1970

Our Church Offices

Robert F. Turner

Does the church of Christ have an hierarchy? Most brethren would give you a blank stare at that question; or say, Hmmmm, No, we dont have any thing like that.

Does the church of Christ have a system of church government, with a body of rulers having differing rank? To this question some might ponder a bit, then say, Well, the bishops are above the deacons, if thats what you mean. A few hardy souls might add, Of course, that is just in the local church.

Websters says of hierarchy: A body of rulers. especially of ecclesiastics, (that means, in the church — rt) disposed organically in ranks and orders each subordinate to the one above it; also, such a system of church government or its authority.

There is much discussion today re. the elders rule etc., and some seem ready to ignore Gods plan for qualified leadership (1 Tim. 3: Ti. 1:) because of abuses they have seen, or think they have seen, among bishops. On the other hand, unlearned or careless brethren play right into the hands of these majority rule advocates (and make no mistake about it — a common mind or decision for action must be reached by some means in order to have team action by talking about the office of the elders or deacons in exactly the same way others speak of their hierarchy.

In 1 Tim. 3:1 the K.J. translation, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work — is an English version of seven (7) Greek words. Literally they say, If anyone oversight aspires to, a work he desires. (I have underlined to indicate the seven words translated, as shown by Marshalls Interlinear.) There is no Greek for office here.

A man who paints, is a painter, and If anyone painting aspires to, a good work he desires. The office (function, work) of painting, is an honorable work.

In the same way, in 1 Tim. 3:10,13, let them use the office of a deacon (eight words, KJ) is a translation of one Greek word, let them minister or serve. (Vs. 13, having served or having ministered.) There is no justification for the official idea of a rank of capital Bishop or Deacon in the church, local or otherwise.

A quarterback is part of the football team, one of the players. But he is one who has been judged qualified to call signals, and do the work of a quarterback. He doesnt make the rules of the game; he functions, as a player, in keeping with the rules. So also, the elders in a local church.

Jesus said, One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren (Matt. 23:8) All ye are brethren — that says. no hierarchy. No differing rank, just different jobs to be done. No Clergy-laity distinctions — but all saints are priests, a holy and a royal priesthood (See 1 Pet. 2: 5,9) in keeping with our High Priest who is after the order of Melchisedec both King and Priest. We plan to have following articles on hierarchy and the sacerdotal system.