Another proposal on : Appointments of Christian overseers or elders and ministerial servants. Acts 14:23
The Key Bible
In the pages of this blog, a radical reform of elders ‘ appointing procedures , has been several times proposed , suggesting that elders be recommended by the whole congregation, not only by the body of elders + CO . Anyway, I don’t think the Governing Body will ever accept considering it, for such a reform is too far from the present system and for at the present time, any correction is being made by a chisel not by a sledgehammer. Besides , I think that if such a reform would resolve a problem , it also could cause many other ones. I also doubt whether it is fully scriptural. I believe that the root cause of the problems we are talking about, is not so much the appointment procedure but the poor and low spiritual quality of those who make such appointments. If these had the spiritual depth they should, it would be just fine as it is now. Since they do not have the spiritual means to recommend elders better than themselves ( and there really are a lot of better ones), they just go on to perpetuate themselves or even worse than themselves, with their consequences . But it is also true that a change in the procedures can activate the new mentality needed to a leap in quality and a higher focus on the privilege of serving as elders.
First of all , I’m going to expose what I understand from the Scriptures on this issue
What the Scriptures teach:
In dealing with Christian Congregation leadership and appointments , I see these solid points
1 ) In relation to appointments of elders and ministerial servants, in the Bible we can’t find any detailed procedure to follow.
2) However we are told that the oveseers are” appointed by the holy spirit” , in Acts 20: 28
3) The requirements for being appointed as elders-overseers and ministerial servants are listed in the inspired letters of Paul to the two elders, Titus and Timothy
4) The organization of the first Christian congregations was inspired by the pattern of the synagogue and Jewish communities.
About the Judaic substrate upon which stands the new congregation , let’s take into consideration the following information
I’ll copy and paste these points taken from The Insight as a biblical encyclopedia :
” In keeping with divine direction, Moses selected 70 of the older men of Israel who were officers to help him carry “the load of the people” that he was unable to bear alone. (Nu 11:16, 17, 24, 25) Leviticus 4:15mentions “the older men of the assembly,” and it appears that the representatives of the people were the nation’s older men, its heads, its judges, and its officers.—Nu 1:4, 16; Jos 23:2; 24:1.”….”In Israel responsible representatives often acted in behalf of the people. Ezr10:14 ” (it-1 pp. 496-500 -congregation)
“When Moses, as God’s representative, presented the Law covenant to the nation, it was the official “older men” who represented the people in entering that covenant relationship with Jehovah. (Ex 19:3-8)………In time, the nomadic Israelites conquered the Promised Land and went back to fixed dwellings in towns and cities, as had been their way of life in Egypt. The older men now became responsible for the people on a community level. They acted as a body of overseers for their respective communities, providing judges and officers for the administration of justice and the maintenance of peace, good order, and spiritual health.—De 16:18-20; 25:7-9; Jos 20:4; Ru 4:1-12.” ( it-2 pp. 548-551 – Older man)
Please read also :
it-2 p.1051 Synagogue> Christian similarities
it -1 p. 787 Expelling> The Sanhedrin and synagogues/ the Christian Congregation
The information above need to be considered in order to understand the meaning of “elders” in the New Testament language , for most of the first Christians were Jews already accustomed to a way of living their belonging to a religious community. I’m not going to repeat what has been already written about in the articles already published in italian:
Anyway , I’m wondering whether it is reasonable, according to the Jewish context described above , to think that it was the whole congregation with all its members to be asked to reccommend someone.
The first time I find such a consultation, refers to the choice of the apostle who should have replaced Judas Iscariot, Acts 1:15-23, (the Christian congregation had not been formed yet): Acts 1:15-23
“15 During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (the number of people was altogether about 120) and said: 16 “Men, brothers, it was necessary for the scripture to be fulfilled that the holy spirit spoke prophetically through David about Judas,…… 21 It is therefore necessary that ……one of these men should become a witness with us of his resurrection.” 23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Bar′sab·bas, who was also called Justus, and Mat·thi′as”.
Who proposed the two ones ? Was it a sort of general votation among the whole congregation ? The group of 120 was formed by both men and women but the verse 16 says that Peter asked to men only [ ἄνδρες (males) ἀδελφοί]. That’s why perhaps an old “Question from readers” specified :” Evidently present Christian males”. w 72 15/11 p.70. After all , considering that Jesus himself spent a whole night in prayer before choosing the apostles and considering the jewish custom to be organized, what is it supposed to be logically happened?
One of the requirements for the overseers exposed in 1 Timothy chapter 3 , is :” not a newly converted man”. Is it reasonable to think that newly converted men could participate to assess the requirements of the new overseers? On the basis of what maturity and experience could they make such a test ?
The way Timothy was appointed is described in 1Timothy 4:14 : “Do not neglect the gift in you that was given you through a prophecy when the body of elders (presbyterìou) laid their hands on you”
Afer having exposed elders’ requirements to Timothy , he told him :
“Never lay your hands hastily on any man;…..”
By this warning, it’s clear that it was up to Timothy to do an assessment on the man, so as not to lay his hands hastily
In his second letter, Paul gave to Timothy the authority of assessing faithful men and to entrust to them everything he had been taught by Paul.
“and the things you heard from me that were supported by many witnesses, these things entrust to faithful
men, who, in turn, will be adequately qualified to teach others.”
On the basis of what is written above, it seems clear to me that the evaluation of a new elder should be made by spiritually mature persons and not by disciples just baptized or too young even if already baptized.
THE OPINION FROM THE BASE
By this , I don’t mean that the opinion from the Base doesn’t matter. Far from it!
The Scriptures themselves reveal how well-reported-on some elders were. For example:
“So he arrived at Der′be and also at Lys′tra. And a disciple named Timothy was there, the son of a believing Jewish woman but of a Greek father, 2 and he was well-reported-on by the brothers in Lys′tra and I·co′ni·um.”
2 Corinthians 8:17, 18
“because he has indeed responded to the encouragement, but being very eager, he is coming to you on his own initiative. 18 But we are sending along with him the brother whose praise in connection with the good news has spread through all the congregations.”
13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him by his fine conduct demonstrate works performed with a mildness that comes from wisdom.”
We can find such a thought concerning elders’ appointment even in the publications by the Slave:
w84 2/15 p.23 pr5 “Remember those who are taking the lead among you”
W79 6/ 1 p.18 pr 7
Considering what is already written above and not to dwell too much on the post, I think that the present appointment procedure should be corrected in order to prevent aspirant CATTLEMEN from becoming elders or from going on being elders . I see it feasible first of all to make a check every 3/5 years of each appointed , consulting the most mature of the congregation , brothers and sisters over a certain age and having at least 5 years of faithful service behind. This group representing the Base could also be consulted to recommend a new MS or elder. They could express their opinion by filling an anonymous application form with a YES or a NO , specifyng what biblical requirement is not sufficiently satisfied in the case of a NO. I would see this consultation very incisive for the three/four-yearly check on appointed ones. Even if the vote will not have automatic effects on the appointment , it will be very much worth considering for the Co in his deliberation of appointing or confirming an elder. Of course, before such a change , brothers need to be prepared by a series of specific articles focusing on the principles and reasons that lead to this change. I don’t see it appropriate to consult the whole congregation not only for the reasons already exposed , but also because CATTLEMEN know very well how to secure the consensus of the simple ones, even of those they have beaten some months before. I do know the HYPOCRITES. In the months before the “check”, they would behave exactly as the well- known italian politician before elections, who, having control over many medias , each time succeeds in gaining some millions votes that were not there two months before.
The procedure I propose may be revised and corrected in many ways but I think I gave an idea of it.