Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Appointing Elders in Acts 14:23

(Part 3 of a 7 part series on leaders/elders/overseers/pastors)

Acts 14:23 (NIV)
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
I want to look at the bold terms and examine their meanings. I'll use http://biblos.com/acts/14-23.htm to help with the Greek.

appointed - χειροτονήσαντες - cheirotonēsantes
5500 xeirotonéō – properly, stretch out the hands to commission (send forth).
[5500 (xeirotonéō) literally means, "'I stretch out the hand,' thus expressing agreement with a motion, then, 'I elect by show of hands' [of popular vote]), 'I elect' " (Souter); properly, 'to vote by stretching out the hand' (practised in the assembly, so Athenian, Lucian, Plutarch)" (Abbott-Smith).]

elders - πρεσβυτέρους - presbuterous
  • also used in Luke 7:3, Luke 22:52, Acts 4:5, and Acts 6:12 for elders in the Jewish community
  • and used in other places to refer to elders in the new community of believers

What we know from this verse:
  • Eders were recognized in the Lystra, Iconium and Antioch community of believers
  • Paul and Barnabas either did the appointing themselves, or the community of believers publicly recognized them in some manner
What I don't know:
  • Were these elders given some decision making authority over the other believers?
  • Did these elders ever become non-elders before death or apostasy? Did they have 2 -5 year term after which someone else could take their place?
  • Were elders selected/appointed in the same way in every community of believers? I don't think Lystra, Iconium and Antioch (in Pisidia) were predominately Jewish communities. The concept of elders may have been a cultural piece that Paul and Barnabas wanted to introduce into these new communities. In Titus 1:5 we see a similar scene in Crete. But I don't see examples of elders being appointed in communities of believers which were Jewish. Was it obvious to the Jewish believers who their elders were, and no appointment/selection was needed?
  • How many elders would be in place in each community or gathering of believers? When they gathered in different homes were there a certain number of elders in each home?
  • Were believers allowed to gather without elders present?
  • Are we commanded to appoint/select elders in our communities?

Sorry, on this topic I end up with more questions than answers.

Related Posts: Summary on Elders Overseers Shepherds - 9 post series

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