“Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business…” Acts 6.3
1 Clement 44
Clement of Rome (fl. ca 90-100 AD)
“Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in ministry. We are of the opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry.”
Church leaders must satisfy certain criteria of character and ability (cf. 1 Tim. 3). They must meet the approval of existing leaders, and then take up their offices with the consent of the Church (the majority of the congregation, as Clement will later indicate). Clement insisted that this order had been observed in the churches of the Lord from the beginning, and it must not be set aside. So an orderly process of appointing elders and deacons existed into the post-apostolic period, and no one had a right to change or forsake that process, or to eject duly-elected and faithful servants from their offices, simply because they wanted a change. Clement supported the tradition of the Church, founded in Scripture, against the usurpers at Corinth. Why should we think this divine order was not still valid in our day?
If there is an ancient process for appointing church leaders, and particular offices with ancient and Scriptural standing, should churches today feel bound to follow that pattern of leadership? Why or why not?
T. M. Moore
Shepherding in the Christian Worldview
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The Writing Pastor
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.