What type of Church government should be practiced in Church work? Bobby Killmon
The apostolic pattern in Scripture shows that the local Church is the authority of the following things: The local Church elected their own Elder or Pastor, as well as Deacons (Acts 6:2-4; 11:22, 14:23, 2 Cor. 8:19). The local Church also oversaw who would minister in their local congregation (1 Thess. 5:12). Scripture says the local Church was charged with the responsibility of maintaining sound doctrine and exercising discipline (Matt. 18:15, 1 Cor. 5:5, 1 Thess. 5:12, 21-22; 1 Jn. 4:1). The salutations in the Epistles were always written to the local Pastor, or different pastors of local churches in the same city, and their congregations (Rom. 16:3-5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philemon 1:2; 2 Jn. 1:1, 13; 3 Jn. 1:1; Rev. 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14).
Even while Heb. 13:17 commands Church members to obey godly leadership, it also holds a Pastor or Elder accountable to the Church (1 Tim. 5:19-20). Further, 1 Pet. 5:1-3 and Acts 14:23 show that an Elder or Pastor were appointed over local Churches, not a city, section, district, or diocea. While the apostles wrote to multiple Pastors in a given area (Acts 14:21-23; 20:17; 1 Tim. 4:14; Titus 1:5; Jam. 5:14; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:1-2), each Church was served by a single Pastor/Elder or Pastoring couple (Rom. 16:3-5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philemon 1:2; 2 Jn. 1:1, 13; 3 Jn. 1:1; Rev. 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14).
In the NT model, nothing is superior to the local Church other than the Word. No NT evidence shows that a local church was governed by an outside body. Even the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 cannot be regarded as such, because the believers consented willingly to the decision made there. The command to exercise church discipline is given to the local church, not to a group of regional elders or bishops (Matt. 18:15–17; 2 Cor. 2:6). This is why Pentecostals, who have taken the book of Acts seriously, have been congregational.
In Scripture, both the titles “bishop/superintendent” (episkopos) and “Elder/Presbyter” (presbuteros) are used interchangeably (Titus 5, 7). So, both episcopalian and presbyterian forms of government miss the apostolic pattern, which shows that these offices are interchangeable. At the Jerusalem Church Council, James is seen as a moderator. Scripture’s other references to James shows he is only one of the other “apostles” and, like Peter and John, was one of others called “pillars of the church” (Gal. 1:19; 2:9). This means he was one of many in influence, not a bishop according to the Episcopal or Presbyterian model. Should Apostolics believe in either the Episcopal or Presbyterian form of Church government? If it’s not in the Apostolic pattern, we cannot.