• David Osteen

On the Appointment of Shepherds

“And when they had appointed for them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed. “

(Acts 14:23)

There is not much direct instruction in how elders were appointed in churches of Christ beyond the verse provided above. This is perhaps the clearest example (and thereby - authoritative - II Thessalonians 2:15; 3:7) we have of the conclusion of the process that churches went through in selecting shepherds to serve a local flock.

“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that were wanting, and appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge; “

(Titus 1:5)

This is where the process begins. With a preacher, in a congregation without shepherds, fulfilling his charge in setting things “in order” according to the will of Christ. While this would include anything that is “out of order”, it should be clear from this passage (in harmony with the rest of the New Testament), that the order that God has established in the church begins with Christ in heaven (Ephesians 1:20-23) and then shepherds on earth within a local church (I Peter 5:2; Hebrews 13:17; Ephesians 4:11-12). Any church seeking to be the “household of God”, “the pillar and support of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15), is a church that will be pursuing setting this “order” of leadership in place.

”And let these also first be tested; and then let them serve… if they are beyond reproach”

(1 Timothy 3:10)

While the process may begin with the preacher, it is not accomplished solely by him. His work is in instructing the brethren, and their work is both 1) in learning and 2) applying what is taught. In particular, fulfilling their duty in examining both the scriptures (to understand what the qualifications are) and the men (to see if they meet the qualifications of the scriptures). The above verse states clearly that the nominees desiring to do the work are first tested/examined. The connection to “beyond reproach” teaches us that all of the “beyond reproach” statements (I Timothy 3:2,7,10; Titus 1:6,7) are tied to this church-examination of the men. In other words, the church is completely involved in examining the men unto appointment.

“And when they had appointed for them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed. “

(Acts 14:23)

The idea of “appointing” (or “ordained” as your version may say) comes from the idea of “stretch” or “hand-reacher” - the idea of raising and hand to cast a vote. Thus, we have done similar with the “ballots” that were turned in. Today, at the close of AM service, Lord willing, brother Chris Russell will offer prayer, commending those men who have been appointed, to the Lord in His service. The brethren, likewise, have been encouraged over the last week to devote themselves to prayer and fasting in preparation for this event.

We see consistency from other examples of scripture in dealing with appointments. In Acts 1:24 we see prayer was involved in the appointment of Mathias to take Judas’ place as an apostle of Jesus. In Acts 6:6, the appointment of the 7 to oversee the care of the widows, prayer was offered with the laying on of hands for those men selected. And Paul and Barnabas, in Acts 13:3, as they were set aside as apostles of the Holy Spirit, we see that they were appointed with prayer and fasting.

And thus, today we honor the same holy tradition in the appointment of elders here.

19 views0 comments