GODíS ELDERS AND THE ECCLESIA

1) What kind of elders did they have in the first century ecclesia? The same kind that they had in the Jewish system as we read in the OT Scriptures. They were elders of or among the people, NOT rulers of a religious organization. They had no organization or "church" in the days of the apostles. Elders were not, therefore, Church officials.

2) They were elders by virtue of their age, experience, knowledge of Godís word, ability, and leadership. Because of these qualities they were sought out by the people for leadership and teaching. They did not have any official office or position to which they were appointed; but they did have a vital responsibility as shepherds of the sheep.

3) We canít appoint men TO BE elders by some ritual, ceremony, or rite. A man either is or he is not an elder and the people will know the difference. Godís elders are not position-fillers in some organization, such as the institutional church like those so numerous today. They were not corporate managers; there was no corporate institution for them to manage.

4) The elders of Israel were not elected or appointed to some office known as Elder. They were elders by virtue of who and what they were Ė teachers, shepherds, and pastors. There was nothing like the ritual and rites used today in selecting and "making elders" out of men. Elders were not church officials or managers of a man-devised corporation, such as churches are today.

5) In Acts 14:23 we are told that Paul and Barnabas "appointed elders for them in every ecclesia." Paul instructed Titus (1:5) to "appoint elders in every city as I directed you". There was one and only one ecclesia in each city. I defy anyone to prove that there was ever a plurality of ecclesias in any city in the days of the apostles. Look at the letters that Paul wrote to "the ecclesia" in the various cities. Not once does he indicate that there was more than one ecclesia in any city. The totality of the saints in each city made up or constituted the one ecclesia in the city, without regard to their number, whether a hundred or 50,000!

In the time of the apostles they did not have institutions, organizations, or corporate structures known as "churches" such as abound in our day. The saints did not "belong to a church" for no such thing existed in that day. They belonged only to Jesus Christ who redeemed and "purchased" them with His own blood. MEN, in their wisdom, build churches and everyone of them, regardless of the brand or kind, are the creations of men! If YOU are a member of some church, whatever the brand or kind, you are a member of something in which Jesus has no part nor lot. Ė CAH