Bible ConcordanceMinistry (44 Occurrences)
Luke 3:23 And He--Jesus--when He began His ministry, was about thirty years old. He was the son (it was supposed) (WEY NAS RSV NIV)
Acts 1:17 For he was numbered with us, and received his portion in this ministry. (WEB KJV WEY ASV WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Acts 1:25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place." (WEB KJV WEY ASV WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Acts 6:2 and the twelve, having called near the multitude of the disciples, said, 'It is not pleasing that we, having left the word of God, do minister at tables; (See NIV)
Acts 6:4 But we will continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word." (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Acts 7:53 who have received the law as ordained by the ministry of angels, and have not kept it. (DBY)
Acts 8:21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart isn't right before God. (See NIV)
Acts 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark. (KJV WBS)
Acts 20:24 But these things don't count; nor do I hold my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to fully testify to the Good News of the grace of God. (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV)
Acts 21:19 When he had greeted them, he reported one by one the things which God had worked among the Gentiles through his ministry. (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Romans 11:13 For I speak to you who are Gentiles. Since then as I am an apostle to Gentiles, I glorify my ministry; (WEB WEY ASV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Romans 12:7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; (KJV ASV WBS)
Romans 15:31 that I may be saved from those that do not believe in Judaea; and that my ministry which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints; (DBY)
1 Corinthians 16:15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) (KJV WBS NAS)
2 Corinthians 3:3 manifested that ye are a letter of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not in the tablets of stone, but in fleshy tablets of the heart, (See NIV)
2 Corinthians 3:7 (But if the ministry of death, in letters, graven in stones, began with glory, so that the children of Israel could not fix their eyes on the face of Moses, on account of the glory of his face, a glory which is annulled; (DBY NAS NIV)
2 Corinthians 3:8 how shall not rather the ministry of the Spirit subsist in glory? (DBY NAS NIV)
2 Corinthians 3:9 For if the ministry of condemnation be glory, much rather the ministry of righteousness abounds in glory. (DBY NAS NIV)
2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy, we don't faint. (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
2 Corinthians 5:18 But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
2 Corinthians 6:3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: (KJV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
2 Corinthians 9:1 For, indeed, concerning the ministration that 'is' for the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you, (See NAS)
2 Corinthians 9:12 because the ministration of this service not only is supplying the wants of the saints, but is also abounding through many thanksgivings to God, (See NAS)
2 Corinthians 9:13 through the proof of this ministration glorifying God for the subjection of your confession to the good news of the Christ, and 'for' the liberality of the fellowship to them and to all, (See NAS)
2 Corinthians 11:8 I spoiled other assemblies, receiving hire for ministry towards you. (DBY)
Galatians 2:8 (for he who appointed Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision appointed me also to the Gentiles); (See NIV)
Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (KJV DBY WBS RSV)
Colossians 4:17 Tell Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfill it." (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV)
1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; (KJV DBY WBS)
2 Timothy 4:5 But you be sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill your ministry. (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (KJV WEY DBY WBS NIV)
Hebrews 8:6 But now he has obtained a more excellent ministry, by so much as he is also the mediator of a better covenant, which on better promises has been given as law. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Hebrews 9:6 And these things having been thus prepared, into the first tabernacle, indeed, at all times the priests do go in, performing the services, (See NIV)
Hebrews 9:21 Moreover he sprinkled the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry in like manner with the blood. (WEB KJV WEY ASV WBS NAS)
Revelation 2:19 I know thy works, and thy love and faith and ministry and patience, and that thy last works are more than the first. (ASV)
Numbers 4:12 "They shall take all the vessels of ministry, with which they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a blue cloth, and cover them with a covering of sealskin, and shall put them on the frame. (WEB KJV JPS ASV WBS YLT)
Numbers 4:47 From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that came to do the service of the ministry, and the service of the burden in the tabernacle of the congregation. (KJV WBS)
1 Chronicles 24:3 David with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them according to their ordering in their service. (See NAS)
1 Chronicles 24:19 This was the ordering of them in their service, to come into the house of Yahweh according to the ordinance given to them by Aaron their father, as Yahweh, the God of Israel, had commanded him. (See NAS)
1 Chronicles 25:1 Moreover, David and the captains of the army set apart for the service certain of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with stringed instruments, and with cymbals: and the number of those who did the work according to their service was: (See NIV)
1 Chronicles 25:6 All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of Yahweh, with cymbals, stringed instruments, and harps, for the service of the house of God; Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman being under the order of the king. (See NIV)
2 Chronicles 7:6 The priests stood, according to their offices; the Levites also with instruments of music of Yahweh, which David the king had made to give thanks to Yahweh, (for his loving kindness endures for ever), when David praised by their ministry: and the priests sounded trumpets before them; and all Israel stood. (WEB KJV ASV WBS RSV)
2 Chronicles 8:14 And he appointed, according to the ordinance of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise, and to minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required; the doorkeepers also by their courses at every gate; for so had David the man of God commanded. (See RSV)
Hosea 12:10 I have also spoken to the prophets, and I have multiplied visions; and by the ministry of the prophets I have used parables. (WEB KJV JPS ASV WBS)
ThesaurusMinistry (44 Occurrences)...
1. (n.) The act of ministering; ministration; service; also (in some countries)
a government agency, as the Ministry
of Defense. ...MINISTRY
. .../m/ministry.htm - 51k
Order (809 Occurrences)
... 13. (n.) An ecclesiastical grade or rank, as of deacon, priest, or bishop; the office
of the Christian ministry; -- often used in the plural; as, to take orders ...
/o/order.htm - 48k
Gifts (144 Occurrences)
... 1. The New Testament Facts: The Gospels abundantly show that the ministry of Christ
Himself was one of healing no less than of teaching (compare Mark 1:14 with ...
/g/gifts.htm - 61k
Service (317 Occurrences)
... (6) Yadh means literally, an "open hand, indicating direction, power, and so ministry
as in 1 Chronicles 6:31, where David appoints certain ones to have ...
/s/service.htm - 42k
Ordination (12 Occurrences)
... Noah Webster's Dictionary 1. (n.) The act of consecrating for ministry, appointing,
or setting apart; the state of being ordained, appointed, etc. ...
/o/ordination.htm - 19k
Spiritual (42 Occurrences)
... See ROCK, 2, (1); SPIRITUAL ROCK. SPIRITUAL GIFTS. (charismata): 1. Gifts Connected
with the Ministry of the Word (1) Apostleship (2) Prophecy (3) Discernings ...
/s/spiritual.htm - 51k
Obtained (61 Occurrences)
... parents and asked them, (WEY). Acts 1:17 For he was numbered with us, and
had obtained part of this ministry. (KJV WBS). Acts 1:18 Now ...
/o/obtained.htm - 25k
Tiberius (1 Occurrence)
... In the fifteenth year of his reign John the Baptist entered on his public ministry,
and under him also our Lord taught and suffered. He died AD 37. ...
/t/tiberius.htm - 15k
Government (20 Occurrences)
... The investigation up to this point places us in position to see that there is in
the New Testament no warrant for ecclesiastical grades in the ministry of the ...
/g/government.htm - 50k
Reconcile (10 Occurrences)
... Godward aspect is primary and dominating: "All things are of God, who reconciled
us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation ...
/r/reconcile.htm - 29k
Greek3009. leitourgia -- a service, a ministry ...
a service, a ministry
. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: leitourgia
Phonetic Spelling: (li-toorg-ee'-ah) Short Definition: a charitable gift ... /greek/3009.htm - 7k
1248. diakonia -- service, ministry
... service, ministry. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: diakonia Phonetic
Spelling: (dee-ak-on-ee'-ah) Short Definition: waiting at table, service ...
/greek/1248.htm - 7k
3356. metriopatheo -- to hold one's emotions in restraint
... not too severe or too tolerant. 3356 (), used only in Heb 5:2, ultimately
refers to the ministry of . Word Origin from the same as ...
/greek/3356.htm - 7k
5161. Trophimos -- Trophimus, a Christian
... in Asia. 5161 -- Trophimus, the ministry-companion of Paul, mentioned three
times in the NT (Ac 20:4, 21:29; 2 Tim 4:20). Word Origin ...
/greek/5161.htm - 6k
3478. Nazara -- Nazareth, a city in Galilee
... Nazaret or Nazareth Phonetic Spelling: (nad-zar-eth') Short Definition: Nazareth
Definition: Nazareth, a city of Galilee, where Jesus lived before His ministry ...
/greek/3478.htm - 6k
5545. chrisma -- an anointing, unction
... Cognate: 5545 (from 5548 , "anoint with oil") -- , referring to the ministry of
the , guiding the receptive believer into fullness of God's preferred-will (see ...
/greek/5545.htm - 7k
1936. epithesis -- a laying on, an assault
... It is the principal means of "ordaining" someone to ministry, but should also be
a regular practice in the church when helping someone confirm (discover) God's ...
/greek/1936.htm - 7k
1448. eggizo -- to make near, refl. to come near
... extreme , immediate imminence -- even a ('It is here') because the moment of this
coming happened (ie at the beginning of Jesus' ministry)" (J. Schlosser). ...
/greek/1448.htm - 8k
3010. leitourgikos -- of or for service
... Cognate: 3010 (an adjective, derived from 3011 , "sacred ministry/service to God") --
divinely-authorized (service) referring to sacred ministering that ...
/greek/3010.htm - 6k
1249. diakonos -- a servant, minister
... 1249 ("ministry") in the NT usually refers to the Lord inspiring His servants to
carry out His plan for His people -- ie as His "minister" (like a serving Him ...
/greek/1249.htm - 8k
International Standard Bible EncyclopediaMINISTRY
I. THE WORD "MINISTRY"
Use of the Word in This Article
II. TWO KINDS OF MINISTRY
1. The Prophet Ministry
2. The Local Ministry
III. THREEFOLD CONGREGATIONAL MINISTRY
1. Insistence on Organization
(1) Aid Given in Selecting a Bishop
(2) Bishops and Presbyters
2. Multiplication of Orders: Growth of a Hierarchy
I. The Word "Ministry."
The common New Testament term for the ministry is diakonia, and along with it we find diakonos, "minister," ho diakonon), "he who ministers," and diakonein, "to minister." All these words have a very extensive application within the New Testament and are by no means restricted to denote service within the Christian church; even when so restricted the words are used in a great variety of meanings: e.g.
(1) discipleship in general (John 12:26);
(2) service rendered to the church because of the "gifts" bestowed (Romans 12:7 1 Corinthians 12:5), and hence, all kinds of service (Acts 6:2 Matthew 20:26);
(3) specifically the "ministry of the Word" (Ephesians 4:12), and most frequently the "apostleship" (Acts 1:17; Acts 20:24; Acts 21:19 Romans 11:13, etc.);
(4) such services as feeding the poor (Acts 6:1; Acts 11:29; Acts 12:25), or organizing and providing the great collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem (Romans 15:25 2 Corinthians 8:4, 19, etc.);
(5) such services as those rendered by Stephanas (1 Corinthians 16:15), by Archippus (Colossians 4:17), by Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21 Colossians 4:7), etc.
Use of the Word in This Article:
In this article the word has to do with the guidance and government of a united community, fellowship, or brotherhood of men and women whose inward bond of union was the sense of fellowship with Jesus their Risen Lord. In all ages of Christianity the call to become the follower of Jesus, while it is the deepest of all personal things and comes to each one singly, never comes solitarily. The devout soul must share his experiences with those like-minded, and the fellowship thus formed must be able to take outward shape, which cannot fail to render necessary some sort of rule and guidance. The very thought of the church with articulate expression of a common faith, administration of the sacraments, meetings and their right conduct, aid given to the spiritual and bodily needs of their fellow-members, implies a ministry or executive of some kind. To endeavor to explain what was the character of the ministry of the Christian church in the earliest centuries of its existence and how it came into being is the aim of this article.
II. Two Kinds of Ministry.
The earliest fact we have about the organization of the Christian church is given in Acts 6, where we are told that "seven" men were appointed to what is called a "ministry of tables" (diakonein trapezais), which is distinguished from the "ministry of the word" (diakonia tou logou). This distinction between two different kinds of "ministry" which appears at the very beginning is seen to exist all through the apostolic church and beyond it into the sub-apostolic. It can be traced in the Epistles of Paul and in other parts of the New Testament. It is seen in the Didache, in the Pastor of Hermas, in the Epistles of Barnabas, in the Apology of Justin Martyr, in the writings of Irenaeus and elsewhere. (For a full list of authorities, compare Harnack, Texte u. Untersuchungen, II, ii, 111;.) The one ministry differs from the other in function, and the distinction depends on a conception to be afterward examined-that of "gifts." The common name, in apostolic and sub-apostolic literature, for the members of the one kind of ministry is "those who speak the Word of God" (lalountes ton logon tou Theou). Modern writers have called it the charismatic, but perhaps the better term is the prophetic ministry; while to the other class belong all the names which are given to denote office-bearers in the local churches. The two existed side by side. The great practical distinction between them was that the members of the former were in no sense office-bearers in any one Christian community; they were not elected or appointed to any office; they were not set apart for duties by any ecclesiastical ceremony. The "Word" came to them and they were compelled by inward impulsion to speak the message given them to deliver. Some were wanderers; others confined themselves to their own community. They were responsible to no ecclesiastical authority. Churches were encouraged to test them and their message; for the "gift" of discerning whether a so-called prophet spoke a truly Divine message was always presupposed to be within the local church. But once accepted they took a higher place than the office-bearers, they presided at the Lord's Supper, and their judgment in cases of discipline could overbear ordinary ecclesiastical rules. The contest of Cyprian with the "confessors" at Carthage was the last stage of the long struggle which arose in the 2nd century between the two ministries. Out of the other kind of ministry came, by ordinary development, all the various kinds of ecclesiastical organization which now exist. Its members were office-bearers in the strictest sense of the word; they were selected to do ecclesiastical work in a given community, they were set apart for it in a special way, and they were responsible to the church for its due performance.
But it is important to remember that while the two kinds of ministries are thoroughly distinct from each other, the same individuals might belong to both kinds. The "prophetic gift" might fall on anyone, private member or office-bearer alike. Office-holding did not prevent the "gift." Polycarp, office-bearer at Smyrna, was a prophet; so was Ignatius of Antioch, and many others. The "gift" of speaking the Word of God was a personal and not an official source of enlightenment.
1. The Prophetic Ministry:
In the prophetic ministry we find a threefold division-apostles, prophets and teachers. Some would add a fourth, evangelists, i.e. men like the apostles in all respects save in having seen the. Lord in the flesh. The distinction may hold good for the apostolic period, though that appears to be very doubtful; it disappears utterly in the sub-apostolic; evangelist and apostle seem to be one class. This triple division may be traced through early Christian literature from 1 Corinthians down to the Clementine Homilies, which can scarcely be earlier than 200 A.D. It is hardly possible to define each class in any mechanical fashion; speaking generally, the first were the missionary pioneers whose message was chiefly to the unconverted, while to the second and third classes belonged exhortation and instruction within the Christian communities.
In the New Testament and in the other literature of the early church the word "apostle" is used in a narrower and in a wider sense, and it is the more extensive use of the word which denotes the first division of the prophetic ministry. The Lord selected the Twelve, "whom also he named apostles" (Mark 3:14, the Revised Version margin), to be trained by personal fellowship with Him and by apprentice mission work among the villages of Galilee for that proclamation of His gospel which was to be their future life-work. Two things strictly personal and excluding every thought of successors separated the "Eleven" from all other men: long personal fellowship with Jesus in the inner circle of His followers, and their selection by Himself while still in the flesh. They were the "Apostles" in the narrow sense of the word. But the name was given to many others. Matthias, who had enjoyed personal intercourse with Jesus both before and after the resurrection, was called by the disciple company, confirmed by decision of the lot, to the same `service and sending forth' (diakonia kai apostole) (Acts 1:25). Paul was called by the Lord Himself, but in vision and inward experience, and took rank with those before mentioned (Romans 1:1 Galatians 2:7-9). Others, called apostles, are mentioned by name in the New Testament. Barnabas is not only an apostle but is recognized to have rank equal to the "Eleven" (Acts 14:14 Galatians 2:7-9). The correct rendering of the text (Romans 16:7) declares that Andronicus and Junias were apostles who had known Christ before Paul became a believer. Chrysostom, who thinks that Junias or Junia was a woman, does not believe that her sex hindered her from being an apostle. Silas or Silvanus and Timothy, on the most natural interpretation of the passage, are called apostles by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 6. The title can hardly be denied to Apollos (1 Corinthians 4:6, 9). Paul praises men, whom he calls "the apostles of the churches," and declares them to be "the glory of Christ" (2 Corinthians 8:23 margin). One of them, Epaphroditus, is mentioned by name-"your apostle," says Paul writing to the Christians of Philippi (Philippians 2:25 margin); and there must have been many others. "Apostles" are distinguished from the "Twelve" by Paul in the rapid summary he gives of the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:5, 7). Besides those true apostles the New Testament mentions others who are called "false apostles" (2 Corinthians 11:13), and the church of Ephesus is praised for using its "gift" of discrimination to reject men who "call themselves apostles, and they are not" (Revelation 2:2). This wider use of the word has descended to the present day; "apostles" or "holy apostles" is still the name for missionaries and missioners in some parts of the Greek church. The double use of the word to denote the "Twelve" or the "Eleven" is seen in the sub-apostolic age in the Didache, which recognizes the narrower use of the word in its title ("The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles"), and in the text portrays the itinerant missionaries to whom the name in its widest use belonged.
Those "apostles," to whatever class they belonged, had one distinguishing characteristic: they had chosen as their life-work to be the missionary pioneers of the gospel of the Kingdom of Christ. They were all engaged in aggressive work, and were distinguished from others not so much by what they were as by what they did. They were wanderers with no fixed place of residence. The requirements of their work might make them abide for long periods in some center (as did Paul at Corinth and at Ephesus, or some of the "Eleven" at Jerusalem), but they had no permanent home life. As the earlier decades passed, their numbers increased rather than diminished. They are brought vividly before us in such writings as the Didache. They were to be highly honored, but as severely tested. They were not expected to remain longer than three days within a Christian community, nor to fare softly when there (Didache ii.4-6). The vindication of their call was what they were able to accomplish, and to this Paul, the greatest of them, appeals over and over again.
Prophets had been the religious guides of Israel of old, and the spirit of prophecy had never entirely died out. John the Baptist (Matthew 11:9), Simeon (Luke 2:25, 26), and Anna (Luke 2:36) had the gift in the days of Christ. It was natural for the Samaritan woman to believe that the stranger who spoke to her by the well was a prophet (John 4:19). The reappearance of prophecy in its old strength was looked on as a sign of the nearness of the coming of the Messiah. Jesus Himself had promised to send prophets among His followers (Matthew 10:41; Matthew 23:34 Luke 11:49). The promise was fulfilled. Christian prophets appeared within the church from its beginning. Nor were they confined to communities of Jewish Christians; prophecy appeared spontaneously wherever Christianity spread. We are told of prophets in the churches of Jerusalem and Caesarea where the membership was almost purely Jewish; at Antioch where Jews and Gentiles united to make one congregation; and everywhere throughout the Gentile churches-in Rome, Corinth, Thessalonica and in the Galatian churches (Acts 11:27; Acts 15:32; Acts 21:9, 10 Romans 12:6, 7 1 Corinthians 14:32, 36, 37 1 Thessalonians 5:20 Galatians 3:3-5). Prophets are mentioned by name-Agabus (Acts 11:28; Acts 21:10), Symeon and others at Antioch (Acts 13:1), Judas and Silas in Jerusalem (Acts 15:32). Nor was the "gift" confined to men; women prophesied-the four daughters of Philip among others (Acts 21:9). From the earliest times down to the close of the 2nd century and later, an uninterrupted stream of prophets and prophetesses appeared in the Christian churches. The statements of New Testament writers, and especially of Paul, imply that prophets abounded in the earliest churches. Paul, for example, expected the prophetic gift to appear in every Christian community. He recognized that they had a regular place in the meeting for public worship (1 Corinthians 14); he desired that every member in the Corinthian church should possess the "gift" and cultivate it (1 Corinthians 14:1, 5, 39); he exhorted the brethren at Thessalonica to `cherish prophesyings' (1 Thessalonians 5:20), and those in Rome to make full use of prophecy (Romans 12:6). If he criticized somewhat severely the conduct of the "prophets" in the Corinthian church, it was to teach them how to make full use of their "gift" for the right edifying of the brethren.
Prophecy was founded on revelation; the prophets were men especially "gifted" with spiritual intuition and magnetic speech. Sometimes their "gift" took the form of ecstasy, but by no means always; Paul implies that prophets have a real command of and can control their utterances. Sometimes their message came to them in visions, such as we find in the Apocalypse and in Hermas; but this was not a necessary means. The prophets spoke as they were moved, and the Spirit worked on them in various ways.
The influence of those prophets seems to have increased rather than diminished during the earlier decades of the 2nd century. While the duty of the apostle was to the unbelievers, Jewish or heathen, the sphere of the activity of the prophet was within the Christian congregation. It was his business to edify the brethren. Prophets had a recognized place in the meeting for the public worship of the congregation; if one happened to be present at the dispensation of the Lord's Supper, he presided to the exclusion of the office-bearers, and his prayers were expected to be extempore (Didache x.7); he had special powers when matters of discipline were discussed, as is plain from a great variety of evidence from Hermas down to Tertullian. From Paul's statements it seems that the largest number of the prophets he speaks of were members of the communities within which they used their "gift" of prophecy; but many of the more eminent prophets traveled from community to community edifying each. When such wandering prophets, with their wives and families, dwelt for a time in any Christian society, preaching and exhorting, it was deemed to be the duty of that society to support them, and regulations were made for such support. According to the Didache (chapter xiii): "Every true prophet who shall settle among you is worthy of his support..... Every first-fruit then of the products of the winepress and threshing-floor, of oxen and of sheep, thou shalt take and give to the prophets..... In like manner also when thou openest a jar of wine or oil, take the first of it and give it to the prophets; and of money and clothing and every possession take the first as may seem right to thee, and give according to the commandment." Only, the receivers were to be true prophets. Each congregation had to exercise the "gift" of discrimination and sift the true from the false; for "false" prophets confronted the true in early Christianity as well as in the old Judaism.
While the third class of the prophetic ministry, the teachers, is found joined to the other two both in the New Testament and in sub-apostolic literature, and while Paul assigns a definite place for their services in the meeting for edification (1 Corinthians 14:26), we hear less about them and their work. They seem, however, to have lingered much longer in active service in the early church than did the apostles and the prophets.
2. The Local Ministry:
As has been said, the first notice we have of organization within a local church is in Acts 6, where at the suggestion of the apostles seven men were selected to administer the charity of the congregation.
The conception that "the Seven" were a special order of office-bearers, deacons, is a comparatively late suggestion. These men are nowhere called deacons; the official designation is "The Seven." It may be that the appointment of those men was only a temporary expedient, but it is more probable that "the Seven" of Acts 6 are the elders of Acts 11; for we find those "elders" performing the duties which "the Seven" were appointed to fulfil. If so, we have in Acts 6 the narrative of the beginnings of local organization as a whole. When we turn to the expansion of Christian communities outside Jerusalem, we have no such distinct picture of beginnings; but as all the churches in Palestine evidently regarded the society in Jerusalem as the mother church, it is likely that their organization was the same. Acts tells us that Paul and Barnabas left behind them at Derbe, Lystra and Iconium societies of brethren with "elders" at their head. The word used suggests an election by popular vote and was probably the same as had been used in the selection of the "Seven" men.
When we examine the records of the distinctively Pauline churches, there is not much direct evidence for the origins of the ministry there, but a great deal about the existence of some kind of rule and rulers. For one thing, we can see that these churches had and were encouraged to have feelings of independence and of self-government; a great deal is said about the possession of "gifts" which imply the presence and power of the Spirit of Jesus within the community itself. We find names applied to men who, if not actually office-bearers, are at least leaders and perform the functions of office-bearers-proistamenoi, poimenes, episkopoi, diakonoi-and where special designations are lacking a distinction is always drawn between those who obey and those who are to be obeyed. In all cases those leaders or ministers are mentioned in the plural.
It may be said generally that about the close of the 1st century every Christian community was ruled by a body of men who are sometimes called presbyters (elders), sometimes but more rarely bishops (overseers), and whom modern church historians are inclined to call presbyter-bishops. Associated with them, but whether members of the same court or forming a court of their own it is impossible to say, were a number of assistant rulers called deacons. SeeBISHOP; CHURCH GOVERNMENT; DEACON; ELDER. The court of elders had no president or permanent chairman. There was a two-fold not a threefold ministry. During the 3rd century, rising into notice by way of geographical distribution rather than in definite chronological order, this twofold congregational ministry became threefold in the sense that one man was placed at the head of each community with the title of pastor or bishop (the titles are interchangeable as late as the 4th century at least). In the early centuries those local churches, thus organized, while they never lacked the sense that they all belonged to one body, were independent self-governing communities preserving relations to each other, not by any political organization embracing them all, but by fraternal fellowship through visits of deputies, interchange of letters, and in some indefinite way giving and receiving assistance in the selection and setting apart of pastors.
The question arises, How did this organization come into being? We may dismiss, to begin with, the idea once generally accepted among the Reformed churches, that the Christian society simply took over and made use of the synagogue system of organization (Vitringa, De synagoga vetere). The points common to both reveal a superficial resemblance, but no more. The distinctive differences are great. When we add to them the decisive statement of Epiphanius (Haeresis, xxx. 18), that the Jewish Christians (Judaizing) organized their communities with archons and an archisynagogos like the Jewish synagogues of the Dispersion and unlike the Christian churches, all the evidence makes it impossible to believe that the earliest Christian organization was simply taken over from the Jewish. On the other hand, there is little evidence that the apostles (the Twelve and Paul) received a special commission from our Lord, to appoint and ordain the office-bearers of the earliest Christian communities, so exclusive that there could be no legitimate organization without this apostolic authority and background. We find, on the contrary, the church in Rome exercising all the disciplinary functions of a congregation without this apostolic ecclesiastical rule supposed to be essential. Even in the mother-church in Jerusalem, the congregational meeting exercised rule over the apostles themselves, for we find apostles summoned before it and examined on their conduct (Acts 11:1-4). The whole question demands the recognition of several facts:
(1) Evidence abounds to show that the local churches during the apostolic and sub-apostolic age were self-governing communities and that the real background of the ministry was not apostolic authority but the congregational meeting. Its representative character and its authority are seen in the apostolic and sub-apostolic literature from Paul to Cyprian.
(2) The uniquely Christian correlation of the three conceptions of leadership, service and "gifts"; leadership depended on service, and service was possible by the possession and recognition of special "gifts" which were the evidence of the presence and power of the Spirit of Jesus within the community. These "gifts" gave the church a Divine authority to exercise rule and oversight apart from any special apostolic direction.
(3) The general evidence existing to show that there was a gradual growth of the principle of association from looser to more compact forms of organization (Gayford, article "Church" in HDB; also Harnack, The Expositor, 1887, January to June, 322-24), must not be forgotten; only one must remember that in young communities the growth is rapid.
(4) We must also bear in mind that the first Christians were well acquainted with various kinds of social organization which entered into their daily life and which could not fail to suggest how they might organize their new societies.
Examples occur readily:
(a) Every Jewish village community was ruled by its "seven wise men," and it is probable that the appointment of the "Seven" in the primitive Jewish church was suggested by familiarity with this example of social polity.
(b) It was and is an almost universal oriental usage that the "next of kin" to the founder was recognized, after the founder's death, to be the head of the new religious community founded, and this usage accounts for the selection of James, the eldest male surviving relative of our Lord, to be the recognized and honored head of the church in Jerusalem. James has been called the first bishop; but when we read in Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 11, 1, 2; 32, 4; IV, 22, 4; III, 20, 1-8) how his successors were chosen, the term seems inappropriate. A succession in the male line of the kindred of Jesus, where the selection to office is mainly in the hands of a family council, and where two (James and Zoker) can rule together, has small analogy to episcopal rule.
(c) The relation of "patron" to "client," which in one form or other had spread throughout the civilized world, is suggested by a series of kindred words used to denote rulers in local churches. We find proistamenoi, prostatis, prostates, proestos, in various writers, and the last was used as late as the middle of the 2nd century to denote ministry in the Roman church (Romans 12:8; Romans 16:2 1 Thessalonians 5:12; Hermas, Pastor. Vis. 2, 4; Justin, Apol, i.65).
(d) The Roman empire was honeycombed with "gilds," some recognized by law, most of them without legal recognition and liable to suppression. These confraternities were of very varied character-trades unions, burial clubs, etc., but a large proportion were for the purpose of practicing special religious rites.
The Jewish synagogues of the Dispersion seemed to have been enrolled among those confraternities, and certainly appeared to their heathen neighbors to be one kind of such private associations for the practice of a religion which had been legalized. Many scholars have insisted that the Gentile Christian churches simply copied the organization of such confraternities (Renan, Les Apotres; Heinrici, Zeitschrift f. wissensch. Theol., 1876-77); Hatch, Organization of the Early Christian Churches). There must have been some external resemblances. Pliny believed that the Christian churches of Bithynia were illicit confraternities (Ep. 96; compare Lucian, Peregrinus Proteus). They had, in common with the churches, a democratic constitution; they shared a "common meal" at stated times; they made a monthly collection; they were ruled by a committee of office-bearers; and they exercised a certain amount of discipline over their members. Multitudes of Christians must have been members of such confraternites, and many continued to be so after accepting Christianity (Cyprian, Ep., lxvii. 6).
But while the Christian churches may have learned much about the general principles of associated life from all those varied forms of social organization, it cannot be said that they copied any one of them. The primitive Christian societies organized themselves independently in virtue of the new moral and social life implanted within them; and though they may have come to it by various paths, they all in the end arrived at one common form-a society ruled by a body of office-bearers who possessed the "gifts" of government and of subordinate service embodied in the offices of presbyter and deacon.
III. Threefold Congregational Ministry.
During the 2nd century the ministry was subject to a change. The ruling body of office-bearers in every congregation received a permanent president, who was called the pastor or bishop, the latter term being the commoner. The change came gradually. It provoked no strong opposition. By the beginning of the 3rd century it was everywhere accepted.
When we seek to trace the causes why the college of elders received a president, who became the center of all the ecclesiastical life in the local church and the one potent office-bearer, we are reduced to conjecture. This only can be said with confidence, that the change began in the East and gradually spread to the West, and that there are hints of a gradual evolution (Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries, 180, 183-85). Scholars have brought forward many reasons for the change; the need for an undivided leadership in times of danger from external persecution or from the introduction of Gnostic speculations which disturbed the faith of the members; the convenience of being represented to other local churches by one man who could charge himself with the administration of the external affairs of the congregation; the need of one man to preside at the solemn and crowning act of worship, the administration of the Lord's Supper; the sense of congregational unity implied in the possession of one leader-each or all are probable ways in which the churches were influenced in making this change in their ministry.
This threefold congregational ministry is best seen in the Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch. They portray a Christian community having at its head a bishop, a presbyterium or session of elders, and a body of deacons. These form the ministry or office-bearers of the congregation to whom obedience is due. Nothing is to be done without the consent of the bishop, neither love-feast, nor sacrament, nor anything congregational. The ruling body is a court where the bishop sits as chairman surrounded by his council or session of elders; and the one is helpless without the other, for if the bishop be the lyre, the elders are the chords, and both are needed to produce melody. Ignatius compares the bishop to Jesus, and the elders to the apostles who surrounded Him. There is no trace of sacerdotalism, apostolic succession, one-man government, diocesan rule in those letters of Ignatius; and what they portray is unlike any form of diocesan episcopacy.
1. Insistence on Organization:
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
) The act of ministering; ministration; service; also (in some countries) a government agency, as the Ministry of Defense.
2. (n.) Agency; instrumentality.
3. (n.) The office, duties, or functions of a minister, servant, or agent; ecclesiastical, executive, or ambassadorial function or profession.
4. (n.) The body of ministers of state; also, the clergy, as a body.
5. (n.) Administration; rule; term in power; as, the ministry of Pitt.
Strong's Hebrew8335. shareth -- (religious) ministry...
<< 8334, 8335. shareth. 8336 >>. (religious) ministry
. Transliteration: shareth
Phonetic Spelling: (shaw-rayth') Short Definition: service. ... /hebrew/8335.htm - 6k
4399. melakah -- occupation, work
... From the same as mal'ak; properly, deputyship, ie Ministry; generally, employment
(never servile) or work (abstractly or concretely); also property (as the ...
/hebrew/4399.htm - 6k
3027. yad -- hand
... X enough, + fellowship, force, X from, hand(-staves, -y work), X he, himself, X
in, labour, + large, ledge, (left-)handed, means, X mine, ministry, near, X of ...
/hebrew/3027.htm - 8k
5656. abodah -- labor, service
... NASB Word Usage bondage (4), construction (2), construction work (1), job (2), kind
of service (2), labor (9), laborious (12), labors (1), ministry (2), office ...
/hebrew/5656.htm - 6k