This article is the beginning of what will become a book or booklet sometime in the future.
Everyone knows what a church looks like—you need a charismatic leader, a board of trustees, and maybe a president’s cabinet, right? These people run the show and, in some cases, dictate every aspect of how things are done in the church. Well, I do not think that is what the Bible says! By the end of this article, you will see, from the Bible, what the Church and its leadership are supposed to look like and I think you will be surprised.
We here, at “Living Love with Jesus,” believe that we need to live by what is written to us Christians [Rom. Through Jude are to us, but we refer to Matt. through Rev., as the Christian Scriptures; not New Testament or Covenant, because they are neither a covenant nor testament biblically, but all were written by Christian prophets]. But understanding that “everything written in the past is for our learning” (Rom. 15:4), we need to learn the Hebrew Scriptures [not Old Testament or Covenant, as there were many Covenants from Gen. through Mal.]. My point is that the written Word, the Bible, must be our standard, not what men say about it, or any ministry’s operational choices.
I have been involved in several ministries. First as I was searching for answers, I found one, which seemed, to have those answers. I served that ministry with all my heart. After many years, I saw that even though there was much truth, error had also crept in. I felt I needed to move on. I found another ministry and spent many years serving. Again error crept in, making me choose to move on. Then I found yet another ministry a little over four years later it happened again. Bear with me; I have a point in all this sadness. I learned very much with each of those three ministries. I served in all three earning little or nothing, but hey, that was my choice. Why was this happening? Oh, I know, pride (Prov. 16:18) was in all of those ministries. It seemed demonic influence reared its head in their operations. Each had great knowledge, yet lacked understanding, love, compassion, grace, and mercy. Yet I felt that even with those things, why were ministries with so much truth collapsing or not growing as they should? My heart was torn. So what should I do? Where could I go next? These ministries were not living understanding, love, compassion, grace and mercy. Even with all that knowledge, they lacked understanding of what they knew! Many friends have been there, at these same spots in life, threw in the towel, and quit ministries altogether. I turned to the only places I can go in times of need, God, His Son, brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the wonderful written Word of God! I turned to all of them. For this article, the Lord led me to the Word of God.
Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures we see many men who seemed to be “leaders.” They were the coordinators of God’s will. In other words, God said something and they carried it out, or they spoke what was said to the families, Israel, and so on. “God spoke” to Noah, and he did what was asked and told his family what had to be done (Gen. 6:13ff). The LORD [Yahweh] spoke to Moses and he spoke to the people (Deut. 1:1 – 6). Look up the words: “God said” in the Hebrew Scriptures. Read the context and you will find many examples. There are many more examples under the words: “LORD [Yahweh] said,” than under “God Said.” You can read the context of those as well. In Jeremiah 17:19 and 20, the LORD spoke to Jeremiah, and then he told the people. A cursory look at the Hebrew Scriptures will show Yahweh speaking and man carrying it out, or Him speaking and the receiver passing it on to others. Were these men and women leaders? Yes! But for the most part they were God’s mouth, receiving words from Him and passing it on to the people. This is still how things are to work today.
So what about the Christian Scriptures? The Gospels were written by Christian prophets, which makes them Christian, even though they complete the Hebrew Scriptures. What do they say? Everything Jesus did in his life was either given to him to do or to say by God, his Father, or he learned it from the Hebrew Scriptures, which came from God. The Christian Scriptures were not written until many years after his Ascension.
Matthew 11:27 (NIV)1
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
This next verse says something similar; Jesus did nothing by himself.
John 5:19 (NIV)
Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
Another verse which shows that Jesus did nothing on his own, and spoke what God gave him to speak, is John 8:28.
John 8:28 (NIV)
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.
There are many verses which back this up but I am only going to show you one more while we are still in John, where Jesus says the words he speaks are not his own.
John 14:10 (NIV)
Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
So as we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus did and spoke what he got from the Father. Although the word “Head” is not used in the Gospels to describe God over Jesus, God was that and more. God was his heavenly Father, and his real Father, and therefore “Head” of Jesus’ family, so to speak. Today we understand (Eph. 5:23) that the husband is the head of the wife [and thus their family]. Being the head of the family was a big deal throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, which were Jesus’ playground. Did Jesus lord over all his followers? No! Jesus was their Teacher and he fed them the Word of God (Matt. 23:10). This will come up a little later.
We next get to the book of Acts, which for centuries has been used to support a hierarchy in leadership in the Christian Church. Many things have been written in Scripture indicating that James was Jesus’ brother [(Matt. 13:55, and Mark 6:3). Paul saw James, an apostle and the Lord’s brother, in Jerusalem three years after his conversion (Gal. 1:19)]. In Acts 12, Peter gave a report about the angel and being let go from prison, and said in Acts 12:17 “…Report these things to James and the brethren.…” This is not proof that James was the leader of the Church in Jerusalem after Christ’s Ascension. It was a report that Peter went to tell James, one of the apostles, who was still living in Jerusalem, about what had happened.
Acts 15 has another record where James is mentioned. In verse 1, Paul and Barnabas had a situation where it was being taught people had to be circumcised to be saved. Knowing this was wrong, they went to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and elders about it. The two reported all that God had done with them (v. 4); and were received by the church, the apostles, and the elders. After much debate, Peter (v.7) addressed everyone there going through verse 11. In verse 12, as many listened, as Paul and Barnabas were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. This brings us to verse 13 through 21, where James shares his heart on the subject. James was just the last one to speak and this does not make anyone the leader or “head” man, just the last one to speak. There is nothing stated which makes him the “head” of the Christian Church.
There are many historical accounts which date from about 180 A.D., which say this shows James was the “head” man, but cannot be proven from the Bible. Because of the length of this article, I do not want to get deep into all of the false proof, but will quote only two: the NIV Study Bible note on Acts 21:18, reads: “James. The brother of the Lord, author of the letter of James and leader of the church in Jerusalem….” Another reads: “Tradition makes James the bishop of Jerusalem….”2 None of this was ever recorded in Scripture, and not reported ever, before 180 A.D. Where did this information come from? This non-Biblical description of James has been improperly used to establish the hierarchical position of “Bishop” in one denomination. This is not God’s Word to us.
In Acts 21:17 and 18, Paul went to Jerusalem, was received gladly by the brothers, and went to see James and the elders. This shows only that James was the only apostle around, not that he was the top dog!
Paul, who wrote by revelation from Jesus Christ [Gal. 1:11 and 12], said in Galatians 1, three years after he was born again, he went to Jerusalem. There he stayed with Peter for 15 days (v. 18). The only other apostle he saw was James (v. 19). We just cannot squeeze James into the top leadership because we want to! He was an apostle, and so was Peter. Depending on who you talk to, or what book you read, one of them was the first leader after the Ascension of our Lord, which is not true according to Scripture. Once again this is a result of man’s faulty reasoning and is not supported by Scripture. In Galatians 2, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem, and met with three of the pillars of the Church, it reads:
Galatians 2:9 (NASB)3
and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas [Aramaic for Peter] and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me [Paul] and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.
The apostles had work to do, which was to teach and make disciples. James, Cephas, and John, went to the circumcised, while Paul and Barnabas, went to the Gentiles. Scripture clearly indicated that James, Cephas, and John were the pillars of the church. James is never shown to be the “head man.” In other Epistles, Scripture does point out one “Head” man, Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:3 (NIV)
Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
Now since James was frequently mentioned, I am not disputing James’ ability, prominence, and influence. But was he the main leader? Scripture never shows us that!
This administration started in Acts chapter 2, with Pentecost. The Twelve [the original disciples of Jesus, with Matthias replacing Judas], were called apostles. The Twelve [apostles] come up again in Acts 6:2, when they had to pick some elders to help with the work. One of the chosen was Stephen [We recommend our article: “Stephen, An Imitator of Christ,” which shows the kind of man The Twelve chose as an elder]. Reading Acts 6:12 through 7:60, will show that as an elder, Stephen knew his Bible [Hebrew Scriptures]. The Word of God shows us that many of the believers in Jerusalem moved out after the murder of Stephen, but not the apostles. Leaving Jerusalem was the result of a great persecution:
Acts 8:1 (NASB)
And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him [Stephen] to death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
From this point on in Acts, most of the believers were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, but the apostles stayed in Jerusalem. That does not mean the Church [believers] never came in to see them. Records throughout Acts and the Church Epistles [Romans through Thessalonians] showed believers coming into Jerusalem. This is a great example of not pulling a verse out of context, and saying “that is what it says, that is what it means.” It says they were all scattered, but the context of the book of Acts shows that is “all” with distinction, not “all” without exception. We do not have enough scriptural information to say we absolutely know who remained in Jerusalem and who did not. As we go through Acts we will see there obviously were Christians still in Jerusalem.
The apostles continued to live in Jerusalem. When Paul was first starting his walk and ministry, he visited two apostles, Cephas [Peter], and James while he was there (Gal. 1:18 and 19). In Acts 8:14, it reads: “When the apostles in Jerusalem….” This record is where the apostles sent out Peter and John to handle a situation which came up. This showed that they coordinated things, and in the end both Peter and John come back. Acts 9 shows that there were some disciples in Jerusalem still (v. 26). Barnabas took Saul, shortly after his conversion, to the apostles in Jerusalem (v. 27), and he stayed with them. As you read through, you will see the “apostles” referred to, over and over. Not just James, or Paul, or Peter, as some teach. Acts 11 shows disciples were in Jerusalem (vv. 27–29), helping with the famine in Judea. In Acts 12 and 13 Paul and Barnabas were in and out of Jerusalem. In Acts 15:2, both went to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. They were welcomed (v. 4) by the Church, apostles, and elders. The context of Acts 15 and 16, show Paul and Barnabas:
Acts 15:2 and 4 (NIV)
2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
Acts 16:4 and 5 (NIV)
4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
Please notice that, in these three verses, questions and decisions were not only attributed to the apostles, but also to the elders. Acts 15:4 shows Paul and Barnabas reporting everything God had done through them to the apostles, but also the elders and the Church. This shows that both the elders and the apostles had to be very knowledgeable of the Word. Yet again this shows that the apostles and elders in Jerusalem were helping to make things right with the revelation they were receiving for the growth of the Christian Church. There were times in the Bible when decisions were made by the apostles and elders with the whole Church. See below:
Acts 15:22 (NIV)
Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers.
These elders [plural] were appointed by the apostles [I do not capitalize elders and apostles, because these were not titles, but functions within the Church]. See these verses below:
Acts 14:23 (NASB)
And when they [apostles] had appointed elders [πρεσβύτερος – presbuteros] for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Titus 1:5 (NASB)
For this reason I [Paul an apostle] left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders [πρεσβύτερος – presbuteros] in every city as I directed you,
One verse which tells us one responsibility elders have is [I hope you notice elders is plural in this and the last three verses]:
James 5:14 (NASB)
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders [πρεσβύτερος – presbuteros] of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
It is important for you to understand Jesus that taught these apostles, even Paul, as we saw in Galatians 1:11 and 12. Throughout the Gospels he used words like shepherd, flock, sheep, etc., and it carries over into this administration. We will see these terms used late in Acts, when the teachings of Christ and his Body were already being taught. Who are these elders, who are to shepherd the Church of God? This is a great record to read, but focus on these two verses:
Acts 20:17 and 28 (NIV)
17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders [πρεσβύτερος – presbuteros] of the church. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers [ἐπίσκοπος – episkopos]. Be shepherds of the church of God [Many manuscripts read: “of the Lord”], which he bought with his own blood.
I did not want to put in this entire section of Acts here, as this is a long teaching and I want to get to the point. Please read all the verses from 17 to 28 in your Bible. When you read through, you will see that the elders from Ephesus in verse 17 are the same overseers of verse 28. Read it yourself. There are different Greek words used, which I believe are showing differing attributes of the same people. “Elder keep watch over themselves and the flock [reminds me to love my neighbor as myself], while overseer, shepherd the Church.” I did not write those verses, they have been around for centuries. Another example is:
1 Peter 5:1–3 (NIV)
1 To the elders [πρεσβύτερος – presbuteros] among you, I appeal as a fellow elder [συμπρεσβύτερος – sumpresbuteros], a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers [ἐπισκοπέω – episkopeo]—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you [This will come up again], but being examples to the flock.
Hey! We struck gold here! We are like our big brother, all of us! Jesus operated all the equipping ministries of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher, and so can we! He used all these words, shepherd, flock, etc. Peter was an apostle and a fellow elder. We also walk as elders and overseers, shepherding the flock. This puts apostles on the same level playing field as the rest of us. We know Peter was an apostle. He says he too is a fellow elder, which would also make him a fellow overseer as well, since they fall in the same category. Now that is awesome! I thought they were different people, and the shepherd and flock were mainly terms for the Gospel period. I see I was wrong, as are many current ministries. I want to consider two more interesting verses. We know John was an apostle, but these verses show he was also an elder. 2 John 1:1 (NIV) reads: “The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth;” and in: 3 John 1:1 (NIV) which reads: “The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.” So an apostle can also be an elder. Notice in most of the previous verses, that even in the Greek, as well as the English, the words elders and overseers, are plural, and they are to shepherd the flock, they are never one individual. WOW! That was a tough one for me, as I have been caring for my flocks, all by myself for over forty years. We all have much to unlearn. I can show more, but I think the point is made. Let us look at the verse in 1 Corinthians 11 again:
1 Corinthians 11:3a (NIV)
Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ…
We cannot have more than one Head, and Christ is the Head of every man, just as this verse says. We read a verse in John earlier, and I want to read it again in another version. This is a much better translation of the verse:
John 14:10 (ESV)4
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
Jesus’ words were not his own; God was working in him. According to Paul in Galatians 1:11 and 12, Paul got what he said from Jesus, and it was not on his own authority. This puts us in a place where we, as Paul, need to let Jesus, be our Head, and pray for him to work in us, like he did in Paul. As we read the Christian Scriptures, we see no book addressed to the Chief Minister, or Head Pastor, nor any such function. We see in Romans 1:7: To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints…; 1 Corinthians 1:2: To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours. You can go through the first few verses of every book in the Christian Scriptures and will find none addressed to any one individual, but all the epistles are written to everyday brethren in the Body of Christ. Reading the entire text of the Christian Scriptures, we see that the main role of shepherding the Church was left to a plurality of elders and overseers, not to one pastor or minister. The reason for this role is to teach, correct, protect, and guide the flock, as a real shepherd would do. A real shepherd guides, and teaches his flock, and corrects them if they go astray, and protects them from evil predators. It may start as one man or woman, but it should not stay that way (Prov. 18:16a (NASB): A man’s gift makes room for him…). The one starting a ministry shoulddo as2 Timothy 2:2b says: “…these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also”. They run the show simply because they know the Word well enough to teach, guide, protect, and correct people in love.
In the King James Version Acts 20:28: says: “elders [plural] feed the Church [flock]”; and in 1 Peter 5:1 and 2, it reads: “elders feed the flock of God.” So what are we to feed them? The written Word of God! Paul is talking in Acts 20:29 and says: “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.” He is referring to the believers as a flock, and the Bible calls Jesus the “Chief Shepherd” in 1 Peter 5:4. Peter received that by revelation written in a general epistle to us. Therefore if Jesus is Chief, there would have to be others called shepherds, and there are, in verse 2, us.
NOTE: Paul had received Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Romans, by the time of this account in Acts 20 [according to “Timeline of Paul’s Life” in NIV Study Bible]; Peter, according to notes in opening of 1 Peter from NIV Study Bible, wrote things in that book showing his familiarity with Paul’s prison letters of Colossians and Ephesians. My reason for showing this was so you would know that they knew the Secret of God [you may know this as The Mystery, or the Sacred Secret, but Secret of God is the best way to say it, this will be covered in an article on that topic], as well as understood the Body of Christ. They still used flock and shepherds in these records!
The more I read the Bible; I see no scriptural support for the establishment of any position above elder or overseer. Pastor really is the most accurate descriptor. The equipping ministries seem to fit in the category of something every elder or overseer might have and use as Jesus did in his Earthly ministry. Today we have been given that ministry. Previously, I showed that these elders and overseers are the same people. 1 Timothy 3:2: ends with “able to teach” in the NIV, and “apt to teach” in the KJV. This proves what was covered three paragraphs back. The only thing which separates the believers from one another is maturity in their knowledge of the Bible. The elders and overseers are able to handle more of the meat of the Word, and are able to teach the milk of the Word to the flock less knowledgeable. They should do what the following verse says:
2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
The KJV reads: “doctrine, reproof, and correction!” Whichever way you handle it, the elders and overseers need to be able to give doctrine, give reproof, and give correction to those in need of any of them. Every elder or overseer needs to be adept at these, following the example of our Head, Jesus.
The hierarchical system of church leadership first developed in the second century. By the sixth century it was perfected, but that does not make it right. It is not Biblical! We must completely do away with this hierarchical form of thinking, or the Church will never develop the type of fruit it should. Those with the most knowledge and understanding must walk in love, compassion, grace, and mercy, not exalting themselves, or becoming super salesmen or the talking head or mouth. Instead, they should be meekly and humbly sharing the knowledge and understanding they have as they feed the flock. As I read the Bible, I see no function higher than any other. What about deacons? The Greek word for deacon διάκονος – diakonos, is used 29 times in the Christian Scriptures. 24 times it is translated servant, but only 5 times it is translated deacon. Servant seems to be the best understanding of the word. Here are three examples:
Romans 16:1 (NIV)
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant [diakonos] of the church in Cenchrea.
Colossians 4:7 (NIV)
Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant [diakonos] in the Lord.
1 Timothy 4:6 (NASB)
In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant [diakonos] of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.
I find nothing which elevates servants/deacons [diakonos] over elders or overseers. I think all are just different functions, like apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, governments, helps, etc. [see 1 Cor. 12:28; and Eph. 4:11]. I see these functions, as I research this topic and all are different ways of serving, but I see them all on equal ground. Only Christ is the Head. By revelation, he directs the operations of his Body, the Church. I will have to do a breakdown of the functions in a future article, but all are servants of the Word of God.
So, as we go through the Christian Scriptures, I see nothing which contradicts 1 Corinthians 11:3 “…the head of every man is Christ….” It never says the Head of every man is a rabbi, priest, pope, reverend, pastor, or anything else. Jesus did not want people exercising authority over others when he was here, so I doubt he would want that now. Remember 1 Peter 5:3 above: “…not lording it over those entrusted to you”?
Matthew 20:25–28 (NASB)
25 But Jesus called them [The Twelve] to Himself, and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 “It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant [diakonos – Jesus is not telling them “whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your deacon!” That is why servant is the best translation, see verses before last two paragraphs], 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Jesus was talking to The Twelve, and said all this, which I have bolded to stand out. Read the bolded part again. He had the authority, and he got that from God. I do not think he was happy that anyone was “lorded” over. His disciples were not, so he would not do that to us with a hierarchy! He is the Head today, does the loving thing of not lording over us. As the Head, he does not need head pastors, chief ministers, etc., to keep people operating within the framework of God’s Word. He is working in us to rightly divide the Word, and walk by his revelation, to lead people to the Truth, by those who know it, teaching others. Remember this section of Romans:
Romans 10:12–15 (NASB)
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; 13 for “Whoever will call upon the name of the LORD will be saved.” 14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? [SENT by the Head, not a head pastor] Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!”
Verse 14, shows that a preacher is needed “…to bring glad tidings of good things!” Verse 15a, shows he [or she] must be sent. It seems that since “the sending” has been done by men since the second century, and has not worked all that well with Crusades, Inquisitions, Holy Wars, etc. We should be sent by the Head. This ministry thing is only a result of the fall of man, and needs true leadership by the one who laid down his life for all of mankind. His Father raised him from the dead, seated him at the right hand of Majesty, and gave HIM the job of Head over man, and over his Body. It is not about us, yet it is for us, that God set this into play. This next verse is in the Gospels it still holds true today:
Matthew 23:10 (NIV)
Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. [Messiah]
From what we believe, [see “When Did Jesus Become Lord and Christ”] the word “Christ” should be Messiah, as he did not become the Christ until Pentecost. Today I believe this is even truer, and how we should operate with Christ as our Head. He teaches us [through the Word or by revelation] and we are to teach one another:
Colossians 3:16 (NIV)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Now here is a verse where it says “leaders”. Although it seems to indicate a hierarchy, that cannot be proven in the verse or in the context. Also how would we know it is not referring to elders or overseers?
Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over [like shepherds] your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Think about this; a leader is the one who goes first to help guide followers. A true leader is a servant, as Jesus demonstrated in all he did. I want you to look at another verse, which I have saved till now to make you think:
1 Timothy 5:17 (NIV)
The elders [plural] who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
This is the testimony of Scripture, and it is found in the Christian Scriptures, which Paul has said were given to him by revelation from Jesus Christ. Paul penned 1 Timothy by that revelation. This verse and others show that elders and overseers are the same people who are to direct the affairs of the Church! They are to shepherd the flock as well as direct, teach, correct, and more. We have had several witnesses to this throughout the Christian Scriptures! Thus it has been established by many witnesses, and what do these verses say?
2 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV)
This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses:
1 Timothy 5:19 (NIV)
Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.
There are many verses which say this throughout the Bible [Deut. 17:6, 19:15; Matt. 18:16; and Heb. 10:28 are a few]. This article has shown that many witnesses attest to the conclusion that a plurality of elders should be over local fellowships and, I believe, the ministry, as a whole. I see no head over anything, with the exception of Head of the man and Head of the Body. Scripture shows the Head to be Jesus Christ. I will prove Christ is the Head of the Body:
Ephesians 5:23 (NIV)
For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
We have covered much, and have seen apostles as elders, elders as overseers, but not one individual person over a group of believers, with our Lord as the only exception. Jesus is the Head, and we need to start giving this something other than lip service. We have to live it! Imagine how far the Church could go, and what it could accomplish, if it operated this way. We need to go to our Lord more and more, for guidance and answers. We need to become even more knowledgeable of the written Word. I am not going to knock any one ministry, but not one I have ever known of, or been involved in or with, has ever approached running a ministry this way. We are a ministry called: “Living Love with Jesus”. I am not the talking head or mouth piece. I am just the writer of this article. It could never become “The Bob Maffit Ministries.” We are walking on ground no one has walked on in a very long time, but we are committed to make it work. It is the Lord’s ministry and I can only say: “Brother Jesus, what can we do for you today?”