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Definition

Apart from the foundational offices of apostles and prophets, the early churches had qualified leaders, elders and deacons, who served the church under the lordship of Christ, guided by both the Scriptures and the Spirit.

Summary

The New Testament presents a consistent, though perhaps not completely uniform, pattern of church leadership. One of the offices was variously called “elders,” “overseers,” or “pastors” (all three of these terms refer to the same group and were used interchangeably in the New Testament). These leaders were charged to lead, shepherd, teach, and equip the flock entrusted to them. The other office, that of deacon, was intended to serve the needs of the flock and to enable the elders to carry out their responsibilities. Other offices mentioned in the New Testament either refer to a foundational role (apostle, prophet) or a role not tied to an individual congregation (apostle, evangelist).

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