CHURCH 05 - Church Leadership in the NT - Summary

The table below is a summary of all words used for spiritual leaders in the New Testament. Following a word study is presented for each of these leadership terms. In the end some interesting conclusions are drawn from this study.

Words used in the NT for different leaders in the church

EnglishStrong’sOccurrenceGreekListing of people in the NT so called or so described
ProphetG4396143xprophetesPriest Zechariah (Lu 1:67) (John the Baptist (Lu 7:26), Jesus (Lu 13:33), Caiaphas (Jn 11:51), Silas & Judas (Ac 15:32), prophets at Antioch (Ac 13:1), Philipp’s 4 daughters (Ac 21:9), Agabus (Ac 21:10), one of the five roles in church (Eph 4:11), one of many gifts God appointed (1 Co 12:28-29)
EvangelistG20993xevvangelistesPhilip (Ac 21:8), Timothy (2 Ti 4:5), one of 5 roles in church (Eph 4:11)
PastorG416617xarchi(poimen)Jesus (He 13:20, 1 Pe 2:25), one of 5 roles in church (Eph 4:11)
ApostleG65280xapostolostwelve disciples, Paul, Barnabas (Ac 14:4), Andronicus, Junia (Ro 16:6), James the Lord’s brother (Ga 1:19), one of 5 roles in the church (Eph 4:11), one of gifts God appointed (1 Co 12:28-29), Epaphroditus by Philippi church (Php 2:25), Jesus (He 3:1)
EldersG424567xpresbuterosAntioch church elders (Ac 11:30), Galatian church elders (Ac 14:23), Jerusalem church elders (Ac 15:2), Ephesus church elders (Ac 20:17), Cretan church elders (Ti 1:5), John (2 Jn 1:1, 3 Jn 1:1), Peter (1 Pe 5:1), 24 elders of Revelation (Rev 4:4)
BishopG19857xepiskoposElders of Ephesus (Ac 20:28)
DeaconG124930xdiakonosPaul (Eph 3:7, Co 1:23, 25), Phoebe (Ro 16:1), Apollos (1 Co 3:5), Epaphras (Co 1:7), Tychicus (Ep 6:21, Co 4:7), Timothy (1 Th 3:2), Epaphras (Co 1:7), Paul & Apollos (1 Co 3:5)
ServantG1401125xdoulosPaul (Ro 1:1, …), Epaphras (Co 4:12), Timothy or a church leader (2 Ti 2:24), James (Jm 1:1), Peter (2 Pe 1:1), Jude (Jd 1), prophets (Re 10:7, 11:18)
TeacherG132057xdidaskolosTeachers in Antioch: Barnabas, Niger, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen (Ac 13:1), Paul (1 Ti 2:7, 2 Ti 1:11), Timothy (1 Ti 4:11, 6:2), Titus (Ti 2:1), older women (Ti 2:4), Jewish believers in Rome (Ro 2:20, He 5:12), James and others (Jm 3:1), one of gifts God appointed (1 Co 12:28-29), elders (Ti 1:9, 1 Ti 3:2), the faithful (2 Ti 2:2), all believers (Mt 28:19)
Co-workerG490413xsunergosPriscilla and Aquila (Ro 16:3), Urban (Ro 16:9), Timothy (Ro 16:21), Paul (1 Co 3:9), Epaphroditus (Pp 2:25), Euodia, Syntyche, Clement (Pp 4:2), Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus-Justus (Co 4:11), Philemon (Pm 1), Epaphras, Demas, Luke (Pm 24), John (3 Jn 8)
HeraldG27833xkeruxPaul (1 Ti 2:7, 2 Ti 1:11), Noah (2 Pe 2:5)

Prophets                                      G4396   ‘prophetes’                     143x in the NT

Strong’s Definition: a fore teller, a prophet; an inspired speaker; a poet
Ma 4:5, 12x in Mt, 1x in Lu 3:4, 2x in Jn 1:23, 12:38
• quoting prophets to show that OT Prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus                                  OT
Lu 4:17 , Mt 24:15, Mk 13:14
• Jesus quoting OT prophets to teach, challenge or evangelize people                         OT
Mt 12:39, Mt 16:4, Lu 11:29
• those wanting a sign will be given nothing but sign of prophet Jonah                         OT
Lu 1:67
• John the Baptist’s father priest Zechariah prophecies about John                              NT
Lu 1:76, Mt 11:9, Lu 7:26-28, Jn 1:21, 1:25
• John the Baptist is called a prophet of God                                                                 NT
Mt 14:5, 21:26, 21:46, Mk 11:32, Lu 20:6
• people regard John the Baptist as a prophet                                                               NT
Mt 10:41
• Jesus: whoever welcomes a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward                          NT
Mt 13:57, Mk 6:4, Lu 4:24, Jn 4:44
• Jesus: prophets are not without honor except in their own place                                NT
Mt 21:11, Mk 6:15, Lu 7:16, Jn 6:14, Jn 7:40. Lu 24:19, Jn 4:19, Jn 9:17
• Jesus is called or considered a prophet                                                                       NT
Lu 7:39 , Jn 7:52
• Jesus is doubted as prophet                                                                                        NT
Lu 13:33
• Jesus calls himself a prophet: no prophet perishes outside Jerusalem                       OT / NT
Mt 26:68, Mk 14:65, Lu 22;64
• Jesus hit blindfolded – prophesy to us who hit you. Ridicule of prophet                      NT
Jn 11:51
• High priest Caiaphas predicts Jesus dying for the people NT
Ac 2:16, 2:30, 3:18, 3:21-2, 3:23, 3:24, 3:25, 7:37, 7:42, 7:48, 7:52, 8:28,30,34, 10:43
• First church quoting prophets in teaching and evangelism OT
Ac 3:22-23, 7:37
• First church calls Jesus the prophet like Moses fulfilling Deu 18:15                            OT
Ac 11:27       Jerusalem prophets come down to Antioch                                                 NT
Ac 13:1
• prophets in Antioch church (Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, Paul)                     NT
Ac 15:32                    Silas and Judas are prophets                                                      NT
Ac 21:10                    Agabus the prophet                                                                     NT
Ac 15:15                    Quoting prophets at the Jerusalem council                                 OT
Ac 13:15, 13:20, 13:27, 13:40, 24:14, 26:22, 26:27, 28:23, 28:25
• Paul quoting law and the prophets in teaching and evangelism                                  OT
Ro 1:2                        Gospel promised beforehand through the prophets                    OT
Ro 3:21                      God’s righteousness disclosed, attested by law and prophets    OT
Ro 11:3                       Quoting Elijah: They have killed your prophets                          OT
1 Co 12;28-29            God set apostles, prophets, teachers, … are all prophets?        NT
1 Co 14:29, 32, 37     Order in the service: how prophets should behave                     NT
Ep 2:20                      God’s household built on foundation of apostles and prophets   OT / NT
Ep 3:5                        Mystery revealed to holy apostles and prophets                         NT
Ep 4:11             Gifts: some are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers to equip the saints for ministry  NT
1 Th 2:15                   Jews killed own prophets and Jesus                                           OT / NT
Ti 1:12                       Paul quotes non-christian Greek prophet Epimenides
He 1:1                        God spoke to fathers by the prophets                                         OT
He 11:32                    Prophets are also called heroes of faith                                      OT
Jm 5:10                     Prophets as an example of suffering and patience                      OT
1 Pe 1:10                  Prophets sought this salvation diligently                                       OT
2 Pe 2:16                  Quoting (false) prophet Balaam                                                    OT
2 Pe 3:2                    Remember words spoken in the past by the prophets                  OT
Re 10:7                     Mystery of God will fulfill as announced by prophets                    OT / NT
Re 11:10                   Two witnesses or two prophets, symbolizing the believers          NT
Re 11:18, 16:6, 18:20, 18:24 saints & (apostles) & prophets                                        OT / NT
Re 22:6                     God of the spirit of prophets has sent his angel > true                 OT / NT
Re 22:9                     Angel to John: you and your comrades the prophets                   OT / NT

  • It seems the role of prophets in the OT and NT were similar: giving God’s word, direction, perspective, challenge, conviction, correction, encouragement, prediction
  • Both OT and NT have male and female prophets
  • OT prophets often addressed kings, ambassadors, leaders, whole nations.
  • For some OT prophets specific callings are mentioned. For NT prophets there is no specific mention, though they are considered to be called by God.
  • In the NT some men and women are specifically called prophets, but in general prophecy was a gift by the Holy Spirit, all were encouraged to prophesy (1 Cor 14:1).
  • For NT writers to quote OT prophets was especially important for Jewish readers. The goal was to prove that Jesus indeed is the fulfillment of OT prophecy, to show his identity and work as predicted in the Law and the prophets.

Evangelists                                 G2099   ‘euaggelistes’                            3x in the NT

Strong’s Definition: a preacher of the gospel, an evangelist
Ac 21:8             Philip is called an evangelist
Ep 4:11             evangelist as one of five church roles
2 Ti 4:5            Timothy is encouraged to do the work of an evangelist
• Clearly there were not only two evangelists in the entire New Testament church.
• Obviously the term ‘evangelist’ could equally be used on Peter, John, the 12 apostles, Stephen, Paul and many more.
• This shows that titles or descriptions like ‘evangelist’ should not be taken to be overly technical or exclusive.
• Also, like with the ‘prophet’, some believers might have had a special gifting in evangelism, but evangelism is clearly meant to be done by every believer and all churches (Mt 28:18, Mk 16:15). To be a witness to others is part of what it means to be a believer.
• Philip is also called a prophet, Timothy is also called a co-worker and co-author of Paul. These titles then are not describing singular gifts or roles with no other function exercised. The question is not: What are you, this or that?
• This also indicates that the five roles mentioned in Ep 4:11 should not be taken overly technical. Neither should they be seen as mutually exclusive:
• Paul was an apostle, but he very much evangelized and taught. Timothy was what we would now call ‘pastor’ in Ephesus, but Paul charges him to do the work of an evangelist (2 Ti 4:5) and teacher (1 Ti 4:16). Silas is called a co-worker of Paul, a leader (Ac 15:22), but also a prophet (Ac 15:32). Philip is called a deacon (Ac 6:5), a miracle worker (Ac 8:13) and an evangelist (Ac 21:8).
• The list of gifts of the Holy Spirit varies in the different passages and should also not be taken as exclusive, exhaustive listings.

Pastors                                        G4166   ‘(archi)poimen’                           18x in the NT

Strong’s Definition: a shepherd, pastor. Archi: head shepherd, chief shepherd.
Lu 2:8, 15,18,20               shepherds become witnesses to Jesus’ birth
• Shepherd refers to actual shepherds
Mt 9:36, Mk 6:34              people like a sheep without shepherd
• Shepherd refers to Jesus Jesus sees the people and has compassion on them
Mt 25:32                           parable of sheet and goats, shepherd separates animals
• Shepherd refers to Jesus Jesus here as judge
Mt 26:31, Mk 14:27          I will strike shepherd and the sheep will be scattered
• Shepherd refers to Jesus Zechariah’s messianic prophecy is quoted at arrest
Jn 10:2,11,11, 12,14,16   Jesus talks of himself as the good shepherd
• Shepherd refers to Jesus Jesus describes himself by this extensive metaphor
He 13:20                          blessing by Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep
• Shepherd refers to Jesus Jesus is described as the great shepherd of sheep
1 Pe 2:25                          Jesus as shepherd & guardians of the believers’ souls
• Shepherd refers to Jesus Jesus is described as shepherd & guardian
Ep 4:11                            pastor as one of 5 church roles
• The only (!) NT reference where ‘pastor’ refers to a role in the church is Eph 4:11.

  • Today’s church: mostly highly structured, defined, centralized and central role of the pastor (sometimes even an all-in-all role). The NT has no explicit mention of such structure or definition, nor of the centrality of such a role. Pastor is only once mentioned in the entire NT, much more frequently mentioned are many other functions.
  • Church leadership in the NT for some initial time (or crisis time) is an apostle, but usually it is described as local elders (Ac 14:23). There are some reference to overseers and deacons.
  • Pastor as a representative of Christ looking after his sheep is a reasonably derived metaphor, though not explicitly mentioned, and definitely not institutionalized.

Apostles                                   G652   ‘apostolos’                                       81x in the NT

Strong’s Definition: a delegate, an ambassador of the Gospel; a commissioner of
Christ, apostle, messenger, he that is sent.
The term ‘apostle’ referring to some or all of the twelve exclusively:
Mt 10:2, Lu 6:13            Listing of 12 disicples whom Jesus also called apostles
Mk 6:30          at the feeding of the 5000 disciples are called ‘apostles’
Lu 9:10           disciples called apostles after returning from mission
Lu 17:5           apostles said to Jesus ‘Increase our faith’
Lu 22:14         last supper: Jesus took his place and the apostles with him
Ac 5:18          Priests & Sadducees arrest the apostles
Ac 5:29          Peter & apostles answer at trial
Ac 5:34          Gamaliel orders apostles out to talk with council
Ac 5:40          Apostles called back before council, flogged but not arrested
1 Pe 1:1         Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ
2 Pe 1:1         Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ
Re 21:14        City has twelve foundations on them names of twelve apostles
The term ‘apostles’ used to distinguish them from other leaders:
Ac 8:1            Persecution > all except apostles scattered in Judah & Samaria
1 Co 15:7       Jesus appeared to James, then to all the apostles, last to Paul
The term ‘apostle’ referring to the twelve (definitely) and possibly to others also:
Lu 24:10         Women give witness of resurrection to the apostles
Ac 1:2             Luke: Jesus gave instructions to apostles to wait
Ac 2:37           Pentecost audience ask Peter & other apostles
Ac 2:42           Believers devoted themselves to apostles teaching
Ac 2:43, 5:12  Awe because many wonders done by apostles
Ac 4:33           Apostles gave testimony about resurrection with great power
Ac 4:35,37, 5:2 Donations laid at apostles’ feet (Barnabas, Ananias, Sapphira)
Ac 4:36           Apostles name a Levite named Joseph ‘Barnabas’
Ac 6:6             Apostles pray and lay hands on seven deacons chosen
Ac 8:14           Apostles hear that Samaria has accepted word > send Peter, John
Ac 8:18           Sorcerer Simon wants to buy apostles’ gift of giving Holy Spirit
Ac 9:27           Barnabas introduces new convert Paul to apostles
Ac 11:1           Apostles in Judea hear of Gentiles accepting word of God
Ac 15:2          Dissension > Paul & Barnabas to go to apostles in Jerusalem
Ac 15:4          Church, apostles, elders welcome Paul & Barnabas
Ac 15:6          Apostles & elders meet together to consider
Ac 15:22        Apostles, elders, consent of whole church > letter & men sent
Ac 15:23        Letter from apostles & elders
Ac 15:33        Delegates sent of in peace (unclear who ‘apostle’ refers to)
Ac 16:4          Apostles & elders’ decision shared with churches
Lu 11:49       Denouncing Pharisees: killed prophets & apostles sent … Jesus includes OT leaders besides prophets here
1 Co 4:9        God has exhibited us apostles as last of all …at least Paul included
1 Co 9:5        Not rights like the other apostle? …at least Paul included

Ro 1:1            Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle
Ro 11:13        I am an apostle to Gentiles
1 Co 1:1         Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
1 Co 9:1          Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus?
1 Co 9:2         Paul and apostle to the Corinthians
1 Co 15:9       I am the least of the apostles
2 Co 1:1         Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ
2 Co 12:12     The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, signs and wonders and mighty works.
Ga 1:1            Paul, an apostle, sent … through Jesus
Ga 1:17          Jerusalem, those who were apostles before me
Ep 1:1            Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus
Col 1:1            Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus
1 Th 2:6          We might have made demands as apostles … but we were gentle
1 Ti 1:1            Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus
1 Ti 2:7           I was appointed a herald and an apostle
2 Ti 1:1           Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus
2 Ti 1:11         For this gospel I was appointed a herald and apostle
Ti 1:1              Paul, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ
People specifically called ‘apostle’ outside of the twelve:
He 3:1             Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession
Ac 1:26           Matthias added as 12th to the eleven apostles
Ac 14:4, 14     Iconium: some side with the apostles Paul & Barnabas
Ro 16:7           Andronicus & Junia … prominent among the apostles
2 Co 8:23        Titus is my partner in your service; as for our brothers, they are apostles of the churches
Ga 1:19           I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother
Ph 2:25           Epaphroditus … your apostle and minister to my need
False apostles being able to claim some authority
2 Co 11:5, 12:11     I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles
2 Co 11:13       false apostles, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ
Re 2:2              Ephesus recognizing those who claim to be apostles but are not

  • The fact that there are people being able to claim the title ‘apostle’ (though here falsely) shows that the term ‘apostle’ was not used exclusively of the twelve.
  • Other people of apostolic authority existed and were known and respected as such in Jerusalem (James) and abroad (Barnabas, Paul, Andronicus, Junia, etc).
  • Besides that, the title ‘apostle’ simply meant ‘sent one’, and could be used of Epaphroditus, sent to Paul by his home church of Philippi.
  • Jesus uses the term ‘apostle’ for OT figures besides the prophets, that Israel rejected. He uses the title ‘apostle’ indircetly of himself as sent of the father, then also directly for the apostles, as sent by him, and by implication:

John 13:16      messenger is not greater than one who sent him (Lord’s supper)
• But the function or calling of an apostle is also used to refer to people called in and for newer churches. Verses like the following show this more inclusive use of:
1 Co 12:28        God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets
1 Co 12:29         Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?
Eph 4:11            gifts by God that some would be apostles for … equipping saints
• This seems to indicate that these roles and functions were meant to be ongoing for churches also of a later generations: God would keep calling and gifting people in this way to serve and expand the church over the centuries, though clearly the original twelve apostles’ testimony would always carry added authority (which is why the gospels were written: not to lose the testimony of the eyewitnesses):
Ep 2:20              church built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets
Ep 3:5                mystery now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets
2 Pe 3:2             remember commandment of the Lord spoken through apostles
Jd 17                  remember the predictions of the apostles

Elders                                         G4245   ‘presbuteros’                              67x in the NT

Stong’s definition: elderly, older, senior; elder, eldest, old.
Describing a person as older
Lu 15:25             Prodigal Son’s elder brother
Ac 2:17               Joel quote > old men shall dream dreams
Referring to Jewish ancestors
Mt 15:2, Mk 7:3 , 7:5, He 11:2      tradition of the elders, ancestors
Referring to Jewish leaders
Mt 16:21, 21:23 , 26:3, 26:47, 26:57, 27:1, 27:3, 27:12, 27:20, 28:12, Mk 8:31, 11:27, 14:43, 14:53, 15:1, Lu 7:3, 9:22, 20:1, 22:52, Jn 8:9, Ac 4:5, 4:8, 4:23, 6:12, 23:14, 24:1, 25;15
• Elders of the Jews, responsible for conflicts with Jesus, for Jesus’ arrest, trial, death, and later for the persecution of the apostles, Stephen, the church and Paul.
Referring to Church leadership
Ac 11:30             Church elders in Antioch sending Barnabas & Paul
Ac 14:23             Paul & Barnabas appointing elders in Galatian churches
Ac 15:2, 15:4, 15:6, 15:22, 15:23, 16:4, 21:18   Jerusalem church has apostles & elders
Ac 20:17             Paul calls Ephesian elders to Miletus
Ti 1:5                  Paul charging Titus to ordain elders in Cretan churches
2 Jn 1:1, 3 Jn 1:1    John calls himself ‘the elder’
1 Pe 5:1             Peter describes himself as elder & witness
Re 4:4, 4:10, 5:5-14, 7:11, 7:13, 11:16, 14:3, 19:4      24 elders around the throne, worshiping the Lamb
Instructions concerning Elders as Church leadership
1 Ti 5:1               Rebuke and elder, but treat him as a father
1 Ti 5:2               Rebuke older women as mothers
1 Ti 5:17             Elders who rule well are worthy of double honor
1 Ti 5:19             Accept accusations against elders only on 2-3 witnesses
Ja 5:14               Elders to pray for sick in the church
1 Pe 5:1              Elders tend the flock in your charge willingly
1 Pe 5:5              Younger accept the authority of the elder

  • Jewish Elders are a distinct ruling group in Jerusalem besides Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and Herodians. They were involved in everything, the plot, the arrest, the trial of Jesus; and also later in opposing the apostles and the church.
  • Church Elders are leading the Antioch church, emerge as a group besides the apostles in the Jerusalem church and are appointed for newly founded churches.
  • Church elders are to be treated with respect, but are also accountable. There is an appeal system against elders (2-3 witnesses have to agree).
  • There are many requirements for someone to become an elder described in Ti 1:5-9.
  • Presumably the term ‘elder’ and ‘bishop’ widely overlap: For example Ac 20:17 says Paul is addressing the ‘elders’ of Ephesus but in the long speech he challenges them as ‘bishops / overseers’ to keep watch over flock and to be alert concerning false teachers (Ac 20:28-31).
  • Another example of this is Ti 1:5-9 where Paul gives the instructions for appointing elders in the newly planted churches, then lists character requirements and gives a reason in the middle of the list: for a ‘bishop’, as God’s steward, must … (Ti 1:7). Again it seems the term ‘elder; and ‘bishop’ is used interchangeably (But: the list has some repetition and can be considered two lists, one for elder, one for bishop).
  • Ep 4:11 shows five gifts of God for the equipping of the saints, but elders and bishops are not on the list. Maybe elders and bishops are local leaders for whom not calling or gifting but character is essential.

Titus 1:5-9      Requirements for Elders / Bishops
“I left you behind in Crete…so that you should…appoint elders in every town, as I directed you: someone who is blameless, married only once, whose children are believers, not accused of debauchery and not rebellious. 7 For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant of quick tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain; 8 but he must be hospitable, a lover of goodness, prudent, upright, devout, and self-controlled. 9 He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refue those who contradict it.”

  • Paul considers appointing of elders ‘to complete the work’ in churches just planted!
  • An apostle’s perspective, confident that they will last and do well. Paul does write letters, sends people, prays, revisits churches, though, so he does do follow-up care.
  • Who appoints? it seems Titus, maybe a participatory process, listening to sugges-tions, recommendations, people should have a say, but apostolic authority at work.
  • Church leadership appointment is not dependent on family, class, ethnicity, nationality, but broadly on character. Is it dependent on calling? Not so mentioned. With apostles this seems to count more. Here: anybody of good character and good repute can have leadership.
  • Appointment is by character, leaders emerge by who they are, they are already trusted, already models, already have taken responsibility, shown effort and lead out. Richard Waddell: ‘ordaining’ is only an official confirmation of what already is a reality
  • in every town … appointing from among their own people, not centralized but local leadership, also locally accountable for their conduct. Does this principle refer to all NT leadership? At least for itslocal expressions: yes.
  • Here: earlier leader (Paul) indicates the new leader (Titus), who then appoints local leaders. Is this the unbroken pass down of apostolic authority (as the Catholic church understands it)? Yet Paul doesn’t leave a list of names, but a list of character requirements. He instructs the church for future leadership changes as well.
  • Elders (presbuteros in 1:5) = bishop (episkopos in 1:7)? Same here, or difference made?… 7 ‘for’ sounds like connecting the list (then: elder = bishop), yet the lists are repetitive (then: elder and bishop are different):
  • 1:5-6 blameless, married once, children believers, no debauchery, not rebellious
  • 1:7-9 blameless, not addicted to wine, not arrogant,
  • If two lists are assumed: List for elder has 5 requirements. List for bishop has 14 requirements. This would show that the higher the level of leadership is, the more stringent God’s character requirements, since their influence over people is more. This completely contradicts normal leadership ideas, which are: ‘if you are the boss, then you can do what you want.’
  • Bishops are called God’s stewards, resonating with Ge 1:28, the first job description
  • nor arrogant, selfish, stubborn, over-bearing, proud. Jesus also defined a leader as one who serves and considers others before himself (Mt 20:26, Mk 10:43, Lu 22:26)
  • quick tempered, quickly angry … this means no good judgment, lack of listening, violent, hurting people and then remorse, fearful and intimidating. No wife-beating.
  • self-controlled, disciplined … otherwise can’t teach, stand for, hold up a standard
  • not addicted, drunken … no habits beyond control, lack of self-control, busy with providing myself with this, depending on this, drawing strength from other things, de-pend on other things. Where do I spend my money? What do I do when frustrated?
  • Other character requirements: see passage before (1 Ti 3:1-7)
  • He must have a firm grasp of the word… though mostly character requirements, here is one that has at least partially to do with skill: the ability to teach, to explain, to
    refute, to convince. Yet still: the authority in teaching comes from a blameless life.
  • Bishop’s (or elder’s) job description: hold firm, teach, preach, refute false doctrine, do apologetics. This requires courage, strength, being sure, a heart willing to learn,
    though maybe starting out as uneducated.

1 Ti 5:17-22 Honoring or rebuking elders
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain, “ and “The laborer deserves to be paid.” 19 Never accept any accusation against and elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I warn you to keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality. 22 Do not ordain anyone hastily and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

  • Elders are working hard for the church, seeking its best and are worthy of double honor. Were elders paid on a regular basis? Not sure, the topic is honor, not money.
  • Honor here is paralleled to financial compensation. Principle of the value of the laborer, the labor, the effort, the time given.
  • Church leaders are not above evaluation or accountability, rather both is needed. If they are doing well > double honor. If they sin or have problems > justice process.
  • Often we jump to believe negative things we hear about leaders. Here is a warning.
  • Don’t jump at one negative comment, be willing to believe the good, but if there are several witnesses, don’t cover up, it must be addressed, verified, acted on.
  • Who speaks up? Witnesses? Affected people? Other elders? Pastor?
  • To whom do they speak up? > other elders? Pastor?
  • Those who persist in sin … not once a sin, but persistently sinning. The elder must be rebuked based on 2-3 witnesses in private. If still persisting, then rebuked publicly (in the presence of all, of the church). Procedure of Mt 18:15-20 or Ti 3:10.
  • If sinning elder is not challenged (because of fear, loss of reputation for the church) the abuse will persist, confusion will spread, people will understand wrongly, sound teaching will be overturned, wrong things will be valued.
  • without prejudice … justice processes in the church are to be fair, not regarding position, standing or relationship. Do not take sides, abuse exists both ways.
  • Do not ordain hastily … because of the influence and power the elder has (for good or bad), their character needs to be evaluated carefully. Time will show, things will come to light eventually, good and evil. Do not be discouraged if you are not honored for doing well! Do not think you can get away with things forever!
  • do not participate in the sin of others … It can be very difficult as a person with a degree of leadership in a church to take a stand, or to even understand exactly where something is going wrong. It’s very hard to speak up against abuse of a principally good institution (like the church) and not be charged with rebellion, disrespect and destroying the very thing I am trying to save. Example: Martin Luther. There is such a thing as over-loyalty.

Bishop, overseer, guardian              G1985   ‘episkopos’                              7x in the NT

Strong’s Definition: a superintendent, a Christian officer in charge of a church (literally or figuratively): bishop, overseer.
Ac 20:28             Paul to elders of Ephesus: as overseers keep watch over flock
Pp 1:1                 Paul calls church leadership bishops and deacons
1 Ti 3:1-7            Requirements for a bishop
Ti 1:5-9               Requirements for a bishop, also called elder
1 Pe 2:25            Jesus is the shepherd and guardian (bishop) of your souls

  • Only 5 times in the entire NT! This is a very limited mention of the term ‘bishop’: They are mentioned only in addressing 2 churches (Ephesus, Philippi) and in 1 Timothy and Titus when talking about character requirements for leaders.
  • How widespread was the term or role of bishop?
  • How widespread was the term or role of bishop together with deacon? > 2x
  • Is the mentioning of ‘bishops’ simply another way of referring to the ‘elders’ mentioned everywhere? For example in Ac 20:17 says Paul is addressing the ‘elders’ of Ephesus but in the long speech he challenges them as ‘overseers’ to keep watch over flock and to be alert concerning false teachers (Ac 20:28-31).
  • Another example of this is Ti 1:5-9 where Paul give the instructions for appointing elders in the newly planted churches, then lists character requirements and gives a reason in the middle of the list: ‘for a bishop, as God’s steward, must …’ (Ti 1:7). Again it seems ‘elder’ and ‘bishop’ is used interchangeably. But the list does have one element repeated, so many say it is actually two lists of character requirements, one for elders and then another one for bishops.
  • In 1 Pe 2:25 it is a description of Jesus, the shepherd and bishop the believers’ soul. Jesus as the ultimate example of a shepherd (pastor) and a guardian (bishop) are reasonably applied metaphors for church leadership, but it is neither institutionalized not technical. Jesus can equally be understood as the ultimate example of a prophet, an evangelist, a teacher, an apostle.
  • Ep 4:11 shows the 5 roles, but elders and bishops are not on the list. Maybe elders / bishops are local leaders for whom not calling or gifting but character is essential.

Titus 1:5-9           Requirements for an elder or bishop  See above ‘elders’

1 Ti 3:1-7             Requirements for a bishop
‘The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. 2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way – for it someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil’.

  • ‘whoever aspires’ … self-initiative, desire, pursuit is affirmed, though appointment or confirmation by others is needed. Desire and effort is good, self-appointment is not.
  • ‘above reproach’ … a truly exemplary lifestyle, a whole-hearted pursuit of God
  • ‘married only once / husband of one wife’ … not an obligation to be married (otherwise Jesus, Paul, etc would be disqualified from being a bishop), not an exclusion of remarried widowers, not an exclusion of women, but a stand against polygamy (a person who is in polygamy and then converted is welcome to be in church, but should not be made a model for others).
  • ‘hospitable’ … must be a lover of people, enjoying and valuing relationships, be open, loving the foreign, the new, the different. He must be welcoming, accommodating, inviting, releasing to his people and new initiatives. Limits are needed in cultures where this good characteristic is abused selfishly by others.
  • ‘able to teach’ though character, attitude & behavior take precedent, skill is needed.
  • ‘gentle, not quarrelsome, temperate, sensible’ … humble, peaceful, polite, listening, understanding, self-controlled, not threatening but approachable, welcoming. Some-body who is safe and who creates a safe environment for others.
  • ‘not a lover of money’ … greed will set leaders up to take advantage of their position, influence or power. It will override adherence to God’s will and undermine integrity in him. Ulterior motives are destructive. The major temptations for leaders have not changed: money, sex and power. How to prevent greed? By thankfulness, contentment, faithfulness. Check: Where does he place importance?
  • ‘manage own household well’ … be an example. A truly flourishing, thriving, respectful family is a powerful testimony. This cannot be done by controlling wife and children with dominance. Careful with coercion. A parent is not ultimately responsible for the choices of an adult child (otherwise no ‘free will’). Pray for leaders’ marriages & children. Satan knows he can disqualify them if they sin.
  • ‘respectable, thought of well by outsiders’ … must be good, perceived as good, both inside & outside the church, proven wisdom, a good testimony, able to represent.
  • ‘no recent convert’ … interesting against background of Paul establishing churches fast (Ac 13-14). Maybe referring to the church’s future appointing of leaders. Yet if this is overly followed, no chance for young upcoming leaders. If this is not followed, some people will be set up for pride and fail, and will hurt many while failing.
  • A recent convert’s enthusiasm, successful reaching out and linkedness with unbelievers is great, but a bishop’s role is quite different.

Deacon, servant, minister       G1249   ‘diakonos’     30x

Slaves, servants, ministers     G1401   ‘doulos’        125x

Strong’s Definition ‘diakonos’: an attendant, a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); a deacon, minister, servant
Strong’s Definition ‘doulos’: a slave (literally or figuratively), a bond (-man), servant, one subjected, one subservient
Describing slaves as common in NT times
Mt 22:13            Parable of Wedding banquet > king & servants
Jn 2:5                Wedding of Cana > servants filling up water jars
Mt 8:9, 13:27-28, 18:23, 18:26-28, 18:32, 21:34-36, 22:3-4, 22:6, 22:8, 22:10, 26:51
Mk 12:2, 12:4, 14:47, Lu 7:2-3, 7:8, 7:10, 14:17, 14:21-23, 15:22, 17:7, 17:9-10, 19:13, 19:15, 19:17, 19:22, 20:10-11, 22:50, Jn 4:51, 18:10, 18:18, 18:26, Ac 16:17, 1 Co 7:21-23, 1 Co 12:13, Ga 3:28, Ga 4:1, Ep 6:5-8, Co 3:11, Co 3:22, Co 4:1, 1 Ti 6:1, Ti 2:9, Phm 16, Re 6:15, 13:16, 19:18
Using slavery metaphorically
Ga 2:17              Is Christ then a servant of sin?
Jn 8:34-35, Ro 6:16-17, 6:20, 1 Co 7:22-23, Ga 4:7, Ph 2:7, 2 Pe 2:19
Jesus re-defining leadership as servanthood
Mt 20:26, 23:1, Mk 9:35, 10:43    Jesus: If you want to be great > be deacon of all
Jn 12:26             Jesus > whoever serves me must follow me, be where I am also
Ro 13:4              Government is God’s servant for your good
Ro 15:8              Jesus is a servant of the circumcison (the Jews)
Mt 10:24-25, 20:27, Mt 24:45-50, Mt 25:14-30, Mk 10:44, Mr 13:34, Lu 12:37-47, Jn 13:16, 15:15, 15:20
Referring to specific people who have a leadership role – ‘diakonos’
Ro 16:1                Phoebe is a deacon of the church in Cenchrea
1 Co 3:5               Paul and Apollos are servants through whom you came to believe
2 Co 3:6               We are ministers of the new covenant, ministers of God
2 Co 6:4, 11:15    We are ministers of God
2 Co 11:23           Are they (the super apostles) ministers of Christ? I am a better one
Ep 3:7                  Paul is a servant of this gospel
Co 1:7                  Epaphras is our beloved fellow servant (though church planter)
Co 1:23, 25          Paul is a minister of the gospel
Ep 6:21, Co 4:7   Tychicus a faithful minister (diakonos) and fellow servant (sundo)
1 Th 3:2               Timothy is a servant of God (diakonos) and co-worker (synergos)
Referring to specific people who have a leadership role – ‘doulos’
Ro 1:1 , 2 Co 4:5, Ga 1:10, Pp 1:1, Ti 1:1       Used for and by Paul
Co 4:12                 used for Epaphras by Paul
2 Ti 2:24                used for Timothyor a leader in general by Paul
Jm 1:1                   used for and by James
2 Pe 1:1                used for Peter
Ju 1                       used for and by Jude
Re 10:7, 11:18      used for prophets by God
Referring to church leadership in general – ‘diakonos’
Pp 1:1                   church leadership in Philippi as bishops and deacons (diakonos)
1 Ti 3:8-13            Requirements for a deacon (diakonos)
Referring to being a slave of God in general – ‘doulos’
Lu 2:29, Ac 2:18, 4:29, 1 Pe 2:16, Re 1:1, 2:20, 7:3, 15:3, 19:2, 19:5, 22:3, 22:6

  • Both words are used in various ways, for slaves, servants, wedding helpers, God’s people, followers of Christ, church workers, government officials, false apostles …
  • Diakonos‘ is specifically used referring to Jesus, Paul, Apollos, Epaphras, Tychicus, Timothy and church deacons.
  • Doulos‘ is specifically used referring to Paul, Epaphras, Timothy, James, Peter, Jude
  • These lists are not mutually exclusive (to say “Peter was not a ‘diakonos’, but a ‘doulos’ ” makes no sense) but rather complementary. Terms used interchangeably.
  • It describes anyone who serves, anyone who ministers (which is the same thing).
  • Though Ac 6:1-7 doesn’t explicitly mention the term ‘diakonos’, the men in this function (Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolaus) are ser-vants and the passage is used to show the appointment of ‘deacons’.
  • These terms are also used for people with no defined structural function in a local church or team. Example: used for Timothy during the 2nd missionary journey (he just joined the team), or for Epaphras, who is not just deacon but a teacher and church founder (currently in absentia).
  • Diakonos is also used for the more defined function in a local church. Example: Deaconess Phoebe (Ro 16:1), address of the Philippians (Php 1:1) and 1 Ti 3:8-13:

1 Ti 3:8-13             Requirements for deacons
‘Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money; 9 they must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons. 11 Women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be married only once, and let them manage their children and their households well; 13 for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.’

  • serious, worthy of honor, committed, attentive
  • not double-tongued, clear conscience
  • be tested, then proven, then serve as deacons. Before giving the ‘position’, let them do work in the church.
  • deacon are servants or service givers. We look at it as lower but there is a high standard, for example in Acts 6.
  • not slanderers
  • 11 addresses women deacons, some translate this as wives of deacons …
  • Catholic tradition: deacons are teachers, but they are not in the church leadership team, do no outside preaching or visiting families. These are the priest’s duties.
  • How are they chosen? Are they ordained? Are they paid? Are they full time? Deacons? Elders? Bishop?
  • Paul calls himself and Timothy a deacon (at the time he is still a youth), so the requirement for deacon ‘let them be married only once’ cannot mean that only married men can be deacons. Rigid interpretation would disqualify unmarried, widowers and remarried widowers. Paul also calls Phoebe of Cenchrea a deacon, therefore this same requirement (translated sometimes ‘husband of one wife’) cannot mean that deacons must be male, rather that nobody living in polygamy (a left-over of life before Christ) should be a deacon.

Ac 6:1-6                  Deacons appointed for Widows
Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Herews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. 2 And the thwelve called together the whole communict of disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the world of God in order to wait on tables. 3Therefor, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to theis task, 4 whilce we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and toe serving the word.” 5 What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man fulll of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus,Nicanor, Timon, Permenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyt of Antioch. 6 They had these men stand before the apostle, who prayed andlaid their hand son them..

  • A clear process is described: deacons are chosen by the community from among themselves, people known and considered faithful. The apostles then put them into leadership, pray, lay hands on them, make it official. No top down appointment.
  • 3 seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and wisdom 5 full of faith and the Holy Spirit. Highly qualified people were chosen to wait on tables and serve widows!
  • Daily distribution to widows is nowhere mentioned but here part of church life. Why the distribution? Widows only? Retired people coming to Jerusalem to die?
  • These deacons will do much else: Philip in evangelism, Stephen in preaching.

Teachers                                   G1320   ‘didaskolos’                                    58x in the NT

Strong’s Definition: an instructor, doctor, master, teacher.
Referring to Jewish teachers
Lu 2:46                  Jesus as 12y old among the teachers in the temple
Lu 3:12                  tax collectors addressing John the Baptist
Jn 3:10                  Jesus addressing & rebuking Nicodemus
Jesus addressed as ‘teacher’
• In 23 verses by the rich young ruler, by the disciples, by Jairus’ men, by the Father of the boy with the spirit, by a scribe, by a lawyer, by Nicodemus, by Martha, by Mary:
Mt 8:19                                               by a scribe who wants to follow
Mt 19:16, Mk 10:17, 20, Lu 18:18      by the rich young ruler
Mk 4:38, 9:38, 10:35, 13:1, Lu 21:7, Jn 1:38    by the disciples at various points
Mk 5:35, Lu 8:49                                by Jairus’ men
Mk 9:17, Lu 9:38                                by the Father of boy with a spirit
Mt 22:36, Mk 12:32                            by a scribe … which is first commandment
Lu 10:25                                             by a lawyer … how to inherit eternal life
Lu 12:13                                             by someone … divide inheritance
Lu 20:39                                             by a scibe … after answer to Sadducees
Jn 3:2                                                 by Nicodemus
Jn 11:28                                             by Martha when speaking to Mary
Jn 20:16                                             by Mary, recognizing Jesus as resurrected
Jesus addressed ironically or deceptively as ‘teacher’
Mt 9:11                   Pharisees to disciples: Why does your teacher eat with sinners?
Mt 12:38                 by scribes, Pharisees
Mt 17:24                 by temple tax collectors to Peter: does your teacher not pay tax?
Mt 22:16, Mk 12:14, Lu 20:21     by Pharisees, Herodians deceptively
Mt 22:24, Mk 12:19, Lu 20:28     by Sadducees address Jesus
Lu 7:40                   by Simon the Pharisee
Lu 11:45                 by a lawyer when denouncing the Pharisees
Lu 19:39                 by Pharisee on palm sunday to stop the crowd
Jn 8:4                     by accusers of the adulteress woman

Jesus calling himself ‘teacher’
Mt 10:24-25, Lu 6:40       a disciple is not above the teacher, enough to be like him
Mt 26:18, Mk 14:14, Lu 21:11      when sending disciples for donkey, passover
Jn 13:13-14       You call me teacher … you are right, for that is what I am
Jesus described as teaching
Mt 11:1, Mk 4:1, Mk 6:2, Mk 6:34, Mk 8:31, Lu 11:1, Jn 7:35, Jn 9:34, Ac 1:1
Holy Spirit described as teaching
Lk 12:12, Jn 14:26, He 8:11, 1 Jn 2:27
Nature described as teaching
Ro 1:20, 1 Co 11:14
referring to leadership roles in church
Ac 4:18, 5:28, 5:42                           twelve disciples (‘apostles’) are teaching
Ac 16:21, 1 Co 4:17, 1 Co 14:19      Paul described as teaching
1 Co 12:28-29   God has appointed in the church … teachers … are all teachers?
Ep 4:11              God’s gifts that some would be teachers
1 Ti 3:2              a bishop needs to be able to teach soundly
2 Ti 2:24            a servant (doulos) of the Lord must be apt to teach
2 Ti 4:3              people will accumulate teachers to suit their own desires
Ja 3:1                Not many of you become teachers, for we who teach will be judged with greater strictness
1 Ti 1:3, 2:12, 6:3, Ti 1:11    false teachers need to be silenced
referring to specific people in the church
Ac 13:1              Church in Antioch has prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, Saul
Ro 2:20              Rebuke to Jewish believers in Rome: You are a teacher … you then,                                        that teach others, will you not teach yourself?
1 Ti 2:7, 2 Ti 1:11  Paul calling himself a herald, an apostle and a teacher
1 Ti 4:11, 6:2     Timothy commanded to teach
Ti 2:1, 2:15        Titus commanded to teach
Ti 2:4                 older women teach younger women
He 5:12              by this time you ought to be teachers (Jewish believers in Rome)
Ja 3:1                Not many of you become teachers, for we who teach (James)
teaching as a general command or general reality
Mt 5:19              whoever teaches others to break law > called small, whoever teaches others to obey law > called great in kingdom of heaven
Mt 28:19            Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you
2 Ti 2:2              what you have heard from me entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well

  • The NT term ‘teacher’ refers to Jewish teachers, John the Baptist, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and in the Christian sense to the 12 apostles, Paul, leaders in Antioch, James
  • Timothy and Titus are commanded to teach, rebuke, admonish. There are many more that are described as teaching, among them Priscilla and Aquila, who teach Apollos (Acts 24:16).
  • ‘Teachers’ is also something God will give to the church, for the equipping of the saints. Many can aspire to become teachers, though James reminds them that this is serious business.
  • Similar to evangelist and prophet (and probably apostle) every believer is meant to teach and will teach in one way or another. But in some this gifting will be more clear.
  • Mt 28:19-20 ‘Go, make disciples, teach them to keep everything …’ (including this command to teach) shows the universal nature of this command to all believers.
  • Not surprising, therefore, that believers in general are addressed as teachers (Jewish believers in Rome in Romans and Hebrews). And all faithful people should be actively conscripted as teachers (2 Ti 2:2).
  • As with all of life and all roles in the church or outside, there is accountability to teach what is right (Ja 3:1, 1 Ti 1:3, 2:12, 6:3, Ti 1:11). 

Co-workers                               G4904   ‘sunergos’                                   13x in the NT

Strong’s Definition: a co-laborer, a coadjutor, a companion in labour, (fellow-) helper (-labourer, -worker), labourer together with, workfellow.
Ro 16:3            Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ
Ro 16:9            Greet Urban, our helper in Christ
Ro 16:21          Timothy, my workfellow … greets you
1 Co 3:9           We are labourers together with God / God’s servants, working together (Paul, Apollos …)
2 Co 1:24         We are helpers for your joy / workers with you for your joy
Pp 2:25            I … send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and co-worker
Pp 4:3              I ask you, my true yokefellow … help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work, together wit Clement and the rest of my co-workers (Luke, Euodia, Syntyche, Clement, …)
Co 4:11            Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus-Justus … are … among my co-workers
1 Th 3:2           we sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God
Pm 1                Paul … to Philemon our dear friend and co-worker
Pm 24              Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers
3 Jn 8               so that we may become co-workers with the truth (John, …)

  • ‘Co-worker’ is widely used by Paul and once by John to refer to his ministry partners, local believers (Urban, Euodia, Syntyche, Clement, Philemon), teachers (Priscilla), church representatives (Epaphroditus), church leaders (Aquila), fellow apostles or missionaries (Timothy, Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus-Justus, Demas, Luke, Apollos), etc.
  • Paul refers to himself and Timothy as ‘co-workers’ of the Corinthian believers.
  • John refers to Gaius directly, but generally to all believers as co-workers with the truth
  • Again there is no exclusive use of the term as a special title or role.

Herald                                        G2783   ‘kerux’                                      3x in the NT

Strong’s Definition: a herald, a preacher of divine truth, especially the gospel
1 Ti 2:7, 2 Ti 1:11    For this I was appointed a herald, an apostle, a teacher
2 Pe 2:5            Noah, a herald of righteousness
• Another term describing somebody speaking the truth. Again it is not specifically or exclusively used for a church function.

Gifts God appointed

Ep 4:11-12         The gifts he gave were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
1 Co 12:28-29    And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
1 Co 12:8-10      To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discerment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

  • God by his Spirit can work any gift in any believer (1 Co 12:6).
  • Most gifts pertain to things all believers are meant to do: evangelize, teach, lead, assist, pray for healing or miracles, speak in tongues, have wisdom, have knowledge, have faith, have discernment.
  • Some people will prove to be especially fruitful with one or the other gift and serve the church in this capacity in a more recognizable way. They are the ones 1 Co 12:29 singles out or that the NT texts refer to by that description ‘Philip the evangelist’.
  • All the lists are a bit haphazard and in combination show that none is claiming to be an ‘exhaustive list’, rather the lists are of ‘common examples’ and could be extended.
  • The roles resulting from these giftings are definitely not democractically elected, nor necessarily anointed by leadership laying on hands, but simply God appointed and proving themselves in daily reality. They are not meant to be illustrous ‘speciality ministries’, rather useful services that plus minus every church can and should have.
  • It is also possible, that one person has several gifts and descriptions, showing that these are not so much formal roles as practical services. For example the shy Timothy is called an evangelist (2 Ti 4:5), a servant (2 Ti 2:24), a deacon (1 The 3:2), a teacher (1 Ti 4:11) and a co-worker (Ro 16:21).
  • Clearly the twelve disciples and apostles as original eye-witnesses had a very clear authority, but authority or giftedness is not limited to them.
  • Even the more ‘authority associated’ roles are not held by an exclusive group of people. Example: quite a few more than the twelve and Paul are called ‘apostles’. Among them also a woman (Ro 16:3) and also every church would do good to have apostolic people (Eph 4:11).
  • Often what one would think a more common designation is not held by many at all, for example only three persons are called evangelists, none is called pastor (!). This again shows that the roles were not institutionalized or even formal.
  • None of the roles seems to have a clearly instructed, institutionalized pathways of appointment. Apostles tend to appoint elders in newly planted churches. The deacons in Ac 6 are chosen in a all-community-involving event.
  • Looking at all sorts of church leadership roles in the NT it becomes clear that leadership is needed, the gifts and roles are definitely needed to help build up normal believers. But all in all it is amazing just how unbelievably little there is on formal positions, roles, hierarchy, appointment pathways and institutionalized leadership.