Thread: Eldership
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Old 09-12-2008, 04:47 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Peter Debelak View Post
The two competing lines of thought on this are summed up:

1) The apostles obviously did appoint elders (thus, eldership seems to be an office and the apostles deemed them necessary)

2) eldership was a Jewish office and the Jewish tradition relied much on order and structure. The early Christians adopted and merged many of the Jewish practices and structures with the early church practice (many early church leaders were likely Jewish elders, or at least used to being under Jewish elders...). To the extent that these tradition were powerful and not easily purged (and not inherently unhealthy), Paul and the other apostles permitted it and, to the extent they were permitting it, gave instructions to guide the most healthy exercise of an otherwise unnecessary practice.

This second point could be restated: the early Jewish Christians were stuck on keeping the tradition of Jewish elders - and, at that, they were prone to let some "wolves" into that position - so, to the extent they were stuck on this tradition, which had potential for destruction, the apostles said "fine, if you're going to insist on your traditions, let's at least lay out some healthy guiding principles for choosing elders..."

I submit that it is not obvious from the scripture that either of these views is right. But does the scripture lean in one direction more than another?

Can you please provide a good citation or citations you may have as to the latter view?

This is my recent speculation. I've been digging into the so-called pastoral epistles with this as a working thesis. I've corresponded briefly with a British theologian on the issue and, thusfar, I've got no proof of synagogue custom at all. I point to the mention of the "widows roll" as potential evidence of this premise. But I'd hate to spend the next 10 years studying first centurty synagogue custom if I don't need to. I posit that the supposedly well-developed "church offices" seen in the supposedly later "pastoral epistles" were in fact earlier practice with heavy synagogue influence, just as you have said here. But I'm not aware of anyone besides myself, and now you, who has put forward this postulate in a serious fashion. I think this could be a key to understanding both \ekklesia\, as you have suggested here, as well as \apostolos\, which is commonly understood as the top office. I've intended to get to elders and deacons at some point but I'm ready to join in with you on elders right now to see if we can make some headway there.

I think many of us here are in agreement that something went tragically wrong when all the elders signed that letter of allegience to brother Lee in 1986. A sober consideration of what is an elder may shed additional light into that unfortunate event.

I look forward to hearing from you!

PS: Just to keep us on track, Strong's does not include the word "eldership" at all. The word "apostleship" does appear, in a very few limited places. In my opnion, that provides at least some good evidence that there is no such thing as an "eldership" at all: "eldership" is not in the Bible. I know, I know, neither is "trinity."
Let each walk as the Lord has distributed to each, as God has called each, and in this manner I instruct all the assemblies. 1 Cor. 7:17

Last edited by YP0534; 09-12-2008 at 08:01 AM.
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