Monday, September 7, 2009

Pastors, elders and deacons

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 3 - Doctors and Ministers of the Church
4-9 - Church offices described
4. The 5 offices in Eph 4 are apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. The last two are ordinary offices. God "now and again revives [the first three] as the need of the times demands." Apostles preached the gospel in new places, sent by Christ - Matk 16:15; Rom 15:19-20; 1 Cor 3:10. Prophets aren't all interpreters of the Word, but excelling in revelation. They "either do not exist today or [are] less commonly seen." Evangelists are next to apostles, with the same function, but not the twelve - Luke 10:1; Matt 10:1. These offices have no place in the daily life of the church, though God may raise up the office from time to time [as he did in Luther, Calvin thought]. Teachers do not discipline or administer sacraments. Pastors do both, and teach.

5. Pastors and apostles have the same charge, as do prophets and teachers. Apostles were set apart "to put forth a new and unheard-of thing:" Matt 10:1; Luke 6:13; Gal 1:1.

6. Apostles were to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments - Matt 28:19; Luke 22:19. So are pastors - 1 Cor 4:1; Titus 1:9. Preaching is private, not only public - Acts 20:20-21. Pastors "have been set over the church not to have a sinecure but... to instruct the people to true godliness, to administer the sacred mysteries and to keep and exercise upright discipline." See Ezek 3:17-18; 1 Cor 9:16-17. So, "what the apolstes performed for the whole world, each pastor ought to perform for his own flock."

7. Each pastor should be assigned his church. He can help elsewhere, but shouldn't "dash about aimlessly... forsaking their churches at pleasure." Ministers and elders assigned their places: Acts 14:22-23; Titus 1:5; Phil 1:1; Col 4:17; Acts 20:18-19.

8. Scripture uses interchangeably the terms bishop, presbyter, pastor and minister - Titus 1:5, 7; Acts 20:17, 28. Other offices of power, healing, interpretation, government and caring for the poor are listed in Rom 12:7-8; 1 Cor 12:28. Only the last two are permanent, the others temporary and past. Governors - 1 Cor 12:28; Rom 12:8 - "discipline along with the bishops."

9. "Care of the poor was entrusted to the deacons." Some administer the finances, others have direct contact with the poor - Rom 12:8; 1 Tim 5:9-10. Acts 6:1-4 describes the origin of these deacons.

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