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ORDINATION TO (AND DESIGNATION OF) THE PRESBYTERY OR PRIESTHOOD

ORDINATION is spiritual recruitment by clergy MENTORS (unlike election by lay MEMBERS Act 6:3) through covenantal ordering (1Tim 5:22; 2Tim 1:6) into OVERSIGHT OFFICE of presbyterial priesthood in the Church (Act 13:1-3; 14:23; Tit 1:5), which involves selection, training, examination, authentication and authorization (1Tim 4:14; 2Tim 2:2) to be apostles’ adept emissaries and custodians (or delegation under apostolic succession). Oracular (LOGOS) and sacerdotal (LITURGY) responsibilities are particularly apportioned (allotted Act 1:17, 25) for officer-clerics who are ordained as presbyters for the purposes of oversight and order in the Church wherever they are sent (1Tim 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-11). On the other hand, the Scriptures (Acts 6:1-7) show that the Lay Diaconate who administered the table and financial LOGISTICS was congregationally elected to local responsibility.

Ordination to the Episcopate/Presbyterate (Acts 15:2-6; Tit 1:5-9; Jas 5:14; 1Pet 5:1) i.e. Priesthood (Rom 15:16; 1Cor 9:13f) was based NOT merely on agedness BUT mainly on manners, morality, ministry and mastery of the Kingdom mystery (1Tim 3:3-7; 4:11-16; 5:17-22; 2Tim 2:2). Godly and grounded men were ordained to use their prophetic, evangelistic and teaching gifts to oversee the Church in sacerdotal matters during worship services and to teach the Word as oracles of God (Act 6:2-4; 13:1-2; 1Pet 4:11). Supervisors and Overseers who lead in the Church fulfil their ministry best and apply their ability maximally when they are authorized by their clergy MENTORS and respected by their congregation MEMBERS (Heb 13:7, 17).

The designations of Presbyters, Priests and Bishops were all existent in the society of the days of the Apostles, but were taken and applied in the Church in a special way that fits into the Gospel. These ORDAINED CLERGY were to be accorded “DOUBLE HONOUR” (1Ti_5:17), imitated as examples (1Ti_4:12; Heb_13:7) and obeyed and submitted to as authorities (Tit_2:15; Heb_13:17). The Apostles also borrowed the designation Deacon/Deaconess (i.e. Servant or Waiter Rom_16:1 f; 1Ti_3:8 ff) for the LAY men and women officers who were ELECTED by the local churches (Act_6:1-6; 1Co_16:3-4; 2Co_8:19-20) to serve tables for the saints and administer the treasuries of the Church (LOGISTICS) for the welfare of the saints (Rom_16:2; 2Ti_1:17-18).

Apparently due to abuses and Christ’s warning, the Apostles avoided the use of then controversial titles such as Father, Rabbi and Master for Church Leaders, but used Bishop, Presbyter, Pastoral-Teachers (Eph 4:11), even Angel? (Rev 2-3) and Deacon which were then thought to be less prone to abuses (Mat_23:4-11). The Church must therefore avoid ostentation and extravagance in her honours.

It is important to point out that the “Presbyter” designation was borrowed from traditional and religious CUSTODIAN leaders, while the “Bishop” designation was borrowed from the political SUPERINTENDENT officers. Both terms were used by the Apostles to describe aspects of the shepherd-servant work of sacerdotal Church leaders (Act_20:17; Act_20:28; 1Pe_5:2) under Christ the ultimate Pastor and Bishop (1Pe_2:25; 1Pe_5:4). The Apostles apparently applied both terms interchangeably, even to themselves (Act_1:17-21; 1Pe_5:1; 3Jn_1:1). However with the growth and spread of the Church the “primus-inter-pares” Presbyter who acted as the circuit Presbyter and superintended other Presbyters soon came to be especially and more often referred to as the Bishop or Patriarch, even by fellow Presbyters.

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