Pastor is Master, Isn't He?
Part 1

 


Calvary Chapel Church Government from Chuck Smith's
Calvary Chapel Distinctives
Chapter Two


Commentary by James Sundquist
Chuck Smith's book may be accessed at the following website:
http://calvarychapel.com/hope/library/smith-chuck/books/ccd/
What follows is his entire Chapter Two from his Calvary Chapel Distinctives, followed by commentary on each passage.


CHUCK SMITH: (Opens with the following Scripture)
"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church," * Ephesians 1:22


COMMENTARY:

I find it very ironic that Chuck Smith (founder of Calvary Chapel), who supports a single-pastor-final-authority form of leadership in the Church, would invoke the above scripture to open this Chapter on Church Government, as he spends the balance of the chapter defending a monarchical pastorship of the local church. The above passage from Ephesians makes no room for two heads in the church. Regarding more than pastor leading a church, I have heard the expression that a two-headed person is a monster. Of course, I agree that a person with two heads is contrary to nature. But if we examine the above passage as well as I Corinthians Chapter 12 we see that a pastor or pastors are not the head of the church. Paul's description of the Body of Christ and all its parts shows that the only head is Christ himself! There is no other head!


COMMENTARY:

Pastors, Elders, Deacons, Teachers, Evangelists, Prophets, and Apostles, etc. are all parts of the Body of Christ, but none of these offices are the head except Christ alone! None of these offices in the Church or any of the parts of the body are ever described as a head...not in the Church at large for the whole world, nor the individual local church. There is nothing plural in the parts of the body until you get below the head. Paul in minute detail describes the plurality anatomy of the Body of Christ BELOW the head. So, if we are going to be Scriptural let's keep singular things that are singular and plural things that are plural. The head of the church is singular and in any local church, the head is still singular, but it is Christ himself. Once this is established, authority then pluralizes. But singular, I repeat, singular does not begin with any man but Christ himself, so singular authority cannot remain ascribed to another single pastor, bishop, shepherd, elder, or whatever office is described. I am especially indebted to Vance (Bo) Salisbury for his in depth research in providing a comprehensive list of New Testament and Greek Scholars who unanimously concur that the office of Bishop and Elder are synonymous and plural in the local Church both in the New Testament and during the Apostolic Age. Just some of the names of scholars listed with their quotes are:


Geoffrey Bromiley of Fuller Theological Seminary
Henry De Moor of Calvin Theological Seminary
(Henry De Moor, Associate Professor of Church Polity, Calvin Theological Seminary Leon Morris
Massey Shepherd
J.B. Lightfoot,
Hermann W. Beyer
F.F. Bruce
A.T. Robertson
Philip Schaff
Kenneth Scott Latourette
John Murray
Alexander Strauch
Patrick J. Brennan


1 Tim. 3:2 and Tt. 1:7 speak of the bishop in the sing. and with the art., the reference is to the bishop as a type and not to the number of bishops in a given place. There is no reference to the monarchical episcopate. On the contrary, the evidence of the NT is clearly to the effect that originally several episkopoi took charge of the communities in brotherly comity. (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol.2, pg.617, Ed. G. Kittel and G. Friedrich, 1980, Eerdmans)


->->t even seem to clash because they (bishop and elder) are one and the same office! (Chuck Smith spells elders as "presbyteros", but the correct Greek/English rendering or spelling is "presbuteros.") The Bible does not clearly teach that bishops are established and elders are appointed. Titus who is alleged to be the "bishop" of Crete is appointed by Paul. But Paul himself states in Titus 1:5 that Titus was an elder "appointed" just like the exact same elders ("presbuteros" that Titus was instructed to appoint in all of the cities of Crete). In other words Paul is telling Titus to do the same thing (same verb) to secure elders in Crete, that I Paul did to you. Chuck Smith in one place states that the form of government is not clear in the NT, then he says here that the New Testament "clearly teaches" regarding church government. It isn't the Scripture that is confusing here, it is Chuck Smith who is confusing the offices. There is no distinction in the New Testament between establishing bishops and appointing elders. There is no distinction because they are one and the same office! And even if there were two separate offices in the church as Chuck Smith suggests and that Titus is a bishop, why does Paul appoint him as the text states? He should have established him.

It stands to reason that if the office of bishop were such a superior office to elder, then Paul would have called for all of the bishops of Ephesus in the book of Acts, or only Timothy if the church could have only one bishop over the church of Ephesus. Why would Paul call for the elders (presbuteros) of Ephesus in his farewell to the Church of Ephesus in Acts 20:17?

"And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church." Acts 20:17

For an occasion this monumental (Paul's farewell), why wouldn't Paul send for the episkopos of Ephesus....that is if the office is distinct from "presbuteros"? This would be like the President of the United States holding a Governors convention and the Secretaries of State for each of the Fifty States show up. Paul was very concerned about the Ephesian Church and wolves coming in. So he would not bring together a group of men in that church for final instructions that had no real authority in that local congregation...except the rescindible authority that the pastor of Ephesus gave them. Paul would have sent for just this single pastor.

But there is other evidence, too, of the authority elders had in the Council of Jerusalem. In fact, it was not just the elders, but Apostles too that met at that Council. If episkopos is the sole governing authority over a local congregation vs. presbuteros, then why were presbuteros gathered in Jerusalem (twice) to rule on great matters affecting the whole church? It would have been the episkopos, i.e., the overseers that gathered...the Council of Bishops! Paul goes on further when ALL of the elders (presbuteros) from Ephesus actually show up. In addressing them he says:

"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Acts 20:28

Wait a minute, I thought it was episkopos that are the overseers, that is if Chuck Smith is correct and they are the rulers (not "presbuteros")? Paul could not be more clear that elders that rule the church (plural) is who he is giving final instructions to regarding the Church of Ephesus. The truth of the matter is that episkopos and presbuteros are one and the same office in the church and have identical qualifications. There are not two ruling classes.

In one of the councils in Jerusalem the apostles and elders met to decide a matter in the Book of Acts:

"And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter." Acts 15:6

Well it should not be altogether surprising to discover that the word for elders once again is presbuteros....an office that Chuck Smith insists is subordinate to episkopos. He maintains that it is episkopos is the overseer NOT the elders and that the elders are subordinate to the overseer. If this is so, and if Greek renders episkopos as a superior church government office, then why don't we see this word used to describe this council in Jerusalem and the one in Acts 21:18 when Paul was present? If James is the Bishop, he would outrank even the Apostle Paul at this meeting. The title bishop is not a more special, more powerful title applied to James. This title of bishop assigned to James in Jerusalem as well as is to Timothy and Titus is revisionist isagesis, reading backwards into history and the Scripture something that did not exist in the first place.

Well it should not be altogether surprising to discover that the word for elders once again is presbuteros....an office that Chuck Smith insists is subordinate to episkopos. He maintains that it is episkopos is the overseer NOT the elders and that the elders are subordinate to the overseer. If this is so, and if Greek renders episkopos as a superior church government office, then why don't we see this word used to describe this council in Jerusalem and the one in Acts 21:18 when Paul was present? If James is the Bishop, he would outrank even the Apostle Paul at this meeting. The title bishop is not a more special, more powerful title applied to James. This title of bishop assigned to James in Jerusalem as well as is to Timothy and Titus is revisionist isagesis, reading backwards into history and the Scripture something that did not exist in the first place.

"And the [day] following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present." Acts 21:18

And what do we find? The word elders is translated from the Greek word presbuteros once again. In both cases and in a formal gathering to determine policy in the Church at Jerusalem it is presbuteros (plural) who gather to rule on a matter (not episkopos). The fact is the word episkopos could have been used, since the word did not signify a different office. I only mention all of these passages to prove that elders are not some subordinate office to bishop or pastor, as Chuck Smith teaches and requires all Calvary Chapels to abide by. Chuck Smith has, in fact, diminished the role and authority of elders in the church without any Scriptural precedent or authority to do so. This is harmful to both the pastor as well as the elders and in turn is not healthy for the entire congregation.

We once attended a church that was considering becoming a Calvary Chapel, but was told they can not become one because the church had two pastors. So what is wrong with that I asked myself? Calvary Chapel insisted that they could have only one pastor, because they view pastor as equivalent to bishop, superior in rank to elder, and as Chuck Smith's chapter on church government confirms, there can only be one bishop who presides over a local congregation. But in effect, they were saying they could only have one elder...after all, that is all a pastor is... that is according to Scripture. So this is not a Calvary Chapel "Distinctive" but rather "Directive." The fact is, there is not a separate Biblical church office of bishop from elder. The Bible lists the word pastor only once in the New Testament in a list of teachers and evangelists. But there are NO qualifications given for pastor, or teacher or evangelist for that matter. It is true that pastors shepherd or oversee, but that is simply a verb that all that oversee do, meaning all elders are supposed to shepherd the flock. But this is not a singular role!

Continued: Part 2
 
 
 
       
 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 
       

 
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