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Why Parachurch Leaders Must Meet the Same Biblical Standards as Church Leaders

May 1, 1994

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During this century the Church has witnessed an increased growth of specialized Christian organizations popularly coined "parachurch." These organizations have labored to establish theological institutions, Christian colleges, campus ministries, Bible societies, overseas mission boards, as well as a number of social and political action groups. The high degree of influence that these endeavors have exercised within the North American context is undebatable. Yet it is precisely this level of influence that provides the occasion to raise some necessary biblical and theological questions regarding the relationship of parachurch organizations to the local church — particularly in the area of leadership qualifications.

In this paper I demonstrate that parachurch leaders are subject to the same biblical standards as local church leaders — and that the basis for this conclusion is rooted in the nature and purpose of Christian leadership. Necessarily, this task requires that I probe a series of related but broader theological questions like: What is a parachurch organization; in what ways is it similar or dissimilar to the local church; and what is a parachurch organization's role in the kingdom of God? Similarly, I must also consider whether scriptural leadership qualifications should be applied to all Christian leadership positions, or whether there exist different qualifications for different forms of leadership.

The plan of the paper is as follows:

I. Analysis of Parachurch Organizations

A. Definition of the Parachurch

B. The Relationship of Parachurch Organizations to the Church

1. The Distinguishing Marks of the Parachurch

a. Organizational and Functional Similarities to the Local Church

b. Organizational and Functional Distinctives

2. The Parachurch Organization in the Kingdom of God

II. A Synthetic Analysis of NT Leadership Categories

A. The Leader is Divinely Appointed

1. God Has Appointed All Leadership and Ministry Positions

2. The Unique Commission of the Apostles

3. Leaders are Recognized by Christian Believers

B. The Leader is Divinely Enabled

1. The Basis for Divine Enablement is Grace

2. The Means of Enablement

a. The Holy Spirit

b. Encouragement and Comfort

C. The Leader Shows External Signs of God's Commission and Enabling Grace

1. Integrity of Character

2. Soundness of Doctrine

3. Spiritual Fullness

D. All Leaders Share Two Essential Purposes for Biblical Leadership Qualifications

1. The Management of a Divine Trust

2. The Public Example of the Leader

III. An Application of Biblical Leadership Qualifications to Parachurch Organizations

A. The Nature and Purpose of Christian Leadership & Ministry

IV. Conclusion


A. Definition of the Parachurch

In many respects, the term "parachurch" is inadequate. As a compound word, "parachurch" does nothing to bridge the ambiguity surrounding the word "church" as well as its relationship to the preposition para.1 Additionally, unlike the terms presbyterian, episcopal, baptist, charismatic, or ecumenical, the word "parachurch" has no direct theological or linguistic ties to the text of the NT.2

On a popular level the word parachurch has come to stand loosely for an organization that shares certain key characteristics with the church, yet falls short of being a church in full organizational structure and function. Again, this popular definition reflects the same ambiguity inherent in the term parachurch — it lacks clarification of the meaning of the term "church," and in this case the word is defined in negative terms instead of positive.3

For the purposes of this discussion, I suggest the following working definition: Parachurch organizations are specialized institutional ministries within the Kingdom of God, which are not under the direct authority of any one local church and do not attempt to fulfill all the functions of a local church, but whose leaders are recognized and approved by their local churches. By referring to parachurch organizations as specialized institutional ministries within the Kingdom of God, I have the following purposes in mind: (i) establish a definition that has fewer built-in ambiguities and difficulties than the term parachurch, and; (ii) recognize the temporal function and relationship that parachurch organizations have within the sphere of God's reign. By characterizing the relationship of parachurch organizations to the local church as functionally close but jurisdictionally separate, I hope to demonstrate the unique nature of each institution. Finally, since the focus of this article is to demonstrate that leaders of parachurch organizations are subject to the same biblical leadership qualifications as leaders in local churches, the question of whether parachurch organizations are legitimate and divinely ordained ministry structures is not directly discussed. Rather the discussion will focus on the nature and purposes of Christian leadership, a leadership that is by very nature recognized and validated within the context of the local church. The rationale for such close ecclesiastical ties will become clearer as I describe the parachurch's peculiar nature and its relationship to the church in more detail below.

B. The Relationship of the Parachurch to the Church

Since most of the literature written on parachurch organizations usually makes some passing reference to the relationship between the terms "para" and "church," at least a partial discussion of what each term means when applied to the parachurch is appropriate. The expression "para-local church," introduced in the notes of the previous section, is an attempt to distinguish between what theologians have often referred to as the "invisible church" and the "visible" or local church.4 Identifying this distinction is important, for if "parachurch" is understood in the general context of the invisible church, the term is self-contradictory. How can5 a "parachurch" organization be described in any sense as "along side of," or "beside" the invisible church? No matter how amiably the relationship might be portrayed, positionally such a relationship would place the organization outside of the body of Christ, and as such, the parachurch could no longer be considered a "Christian ministry." The use of the expression "para-local church" by White and others, however, seeks to narrow the relationship to the visible and local church, but still maintains a critical distinction. Yet this definition also suffers from its the inherent problems that arise as a result of its relationship to the term "church." I suggest that the phenomena which we have come to understand as parachurch ministries would better be described as specialized institutional ministries. Such a designation would avoid the unnecessary confusion that results from "para" or "para-local" church, while still accurately describing the distinct nature of the institution. Nevertheless, for the sake of continuity and ease of discussion with other literature, I will continue to use the term "parachurch" in this essay.

Since there exits a biblical basis for describing the church as both visible and invisible, it is important not to equivocate between these two categories. Accordingly, a specific working definition of the church is also essential — a definition that effectively encompasses both visible and invisible aspects, and that enables us to analyze better its relationship to the parachurch. Thus, I propose the following: The church is the assembly of redeemed people in heaven and earth, created by God through spiritual union6 with Christ. This definition is not far removed from the major concepts of the creedal statement in Constantinople (381), which was reaffirmed by the council at Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451); "We believe . . . in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church."7 By describing the church as "the assembly,"8 I am affirming that the church is one. The statement "in heaven and earth" indicates that the church is comprised of all true believers, whether past, present or future and, hence, is catholic (universal). Comprised of "redeemed people," the church is, therefore, holy. And since my definition states that the church is "created by God through spiritual union with Christ," I indirectly affirm the contents of Eph. 2:19-21, and that the church is thus apostolic.9

1. The Distinguishing Marks of the Parachurch

Although the above definition of the church corresponds in some ways to the main features of historic creeds, ambiguity remains regarding the relationship of the church to parachurch organizations. Accordingly, it is necessary to probe areas where the parachurch and the local church are similar, as well as areas where they vary.

a. Organizational and Functional Similarities to the Local Church

Parachurch organizations and the local church have a great deal in common. The most recognizable element is the substance of each — namely, Christian believers. We must recognize, however, that, unlike the invisible church, which is comprised of all true believers from all times, a parachurch organization and the local church may include individuals who make an outward profession of faith in Christ, but in reality are "false brothers" (see II Cor. 11:26; Gal. 2:4; I Jn. 2:19). Nonetheless, association in a local church and leadership involvement in a parachurch organization are predicated on the same assumption — that one is a true Christian believer – a supposition based on a transformed life (Gal. 5:22-23; II Cor. 13:5-6), and a sincere profession of faith (Rom. 10:9; I Tim. 6:12). Calvin made nearly the same observation when he wrote,

[W]e recognize as members of the church those who, by confession of faith, by example of life, and by partaking of the sacraments, profess the same God and Christ with us.10

A second element of correspondence involves the mission of the local church and the local church. Broadly speaking, the mission of the local church is aimed in three conceptual directions — upward (worship and ministry to God; Col. 3:16; Heb. 8:2); inward (nurture and admonition of believers; Phil. 2:4; I Thess. 5:14; II Tim. 4:2); and outward (evangelism and outreach to the world; Mk. 16:5, Rom. 15:16;11 Gal. 6:10).12 As "ministries," many (see definition on page 3) many parachurch organizations focus their efforts in one or two of these conceptual directions, but not usually all three. Based on the categories listed in the National Evangelical: The Evangelical Directory 1992-93 (Appendix A), the primary focus of parachurch ministry is evidently in the later two directions — albeit in concentrated form.13

A third element of correspondence between the parachurch and the local church is the presence of an organized structure. The history of the church exhibits several forms of church structure, each claiming to represent the principles set forth in Scripture.14 Regardless of differences in form, some type of organizational structure must exist in the visible church.15 Even a casual reading of the book of Acts demonstrates the establishment of a discernible church structure such that by chapter 15 major doctrinal disputes are decided in committee by the "apostles and elders" (15:2, 4, 22).16 Although significant differences remain between the nature of parachurch and local church organizational structures (differences I will later discuss at length), their common mission(s) and common substance (Christian believers) necessitate some manner of order to accomplish their intended purposes.

b. Organizational and Functional Distinctives

Given the areas of correspondence (Christian believers, mission, and organized structure), some Christians have maintained that the parachurch is in reality a segment of the visible, local church. The local church, they argue, is a vertical expression of ministry, whose primary focus is "Godward." The parachurch, on the other hand, is a horizontal expression of ministry, whose primary focus is "manward." As a unit, both expressions comprise the whole visible church.17

While I concur that the parachurch is made up of believers who belong to the invisible church and that the visible, local church shares many features with the parachurch, the problem with the horizontal/vertical position set forth above is one of equivocation between the universal church (of which believers who operate parachurch structures are a part), and the visible, local church. As noted previously, this misconception can often be traced to the ambiguities bound up in the designation "parachurch." I recognize that the primary emphasis in parachurch organizations centers on the horizontal plane of outreach (manward). Nonetheless, the parachurch is different from the local church in nature, not only in its orientation of ministry. The reason: the parachurch is restricted from assuming all the functions of a local church (lest it become a church), and, unlike membership within the church universal, membership within a parachurch is non-obligatory for citizens of God's Kingdom.

However, one might question whether there exists a solid core of biblical criteria that establishes a distinction between the local church and the parachurch, and through which a positive identification or the "marks" of the visible, local church might be determined. Calvin reflected on the second part of that question and wrote:

From this the face of the church comes forth and becomes visible to our eyes. Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard,18 and the sacraments administered according to Christ's institution, there, it is not to be doubted, a church of God exists [cf. Eph. 2:20].19

Regarding the first mark, Calvin obviously had in mind such Scriptures as Acts 2:42, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching . . ." (see also Acts 5:42), and the apostle Paul's address to the young church leader Timothy in II Tim. 4:2; "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction." Furthermore, considering that the "household of God, which is the church" is "the pillar and foundation of the truth" (I Tim. 3:15), it is only natural that a pure exposition (preaching) and reception (hearing) of that truth would be a chief characteristic.

Furthermore, the significance of the sacraments (or if one prefers, ordinances) as a distinguishing mark of the life of a visible, local church is clear from such Scriptures as Matt. 26:26-29, I Cor. 11:23-26, and Matt. 28:19. Baptism, in this case, is an initiatory rite into the assembly of God's people under the New Covenant (Acts 2:38; 8:12, 38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:33; Rom. 6:4; Eph. 4:5; Col. 2:12; I Pet. 3:21), and as such is clearly identified as a mark of the church. Submission to baptism and the Lord's Supper are external signs of an inward submission to Christ and union with his body. This is precisely why withholding the Lord's Supper has been a means of church discipline throughout the history of the church. If spiritual obedience and fellowship with the Lord is broken through unforsaken sin, the external and visible sign of that fellowship must not be allowed to continue — otherwise the table of our Lord has been treated with contempt and judgment may follow (cf. I Cor. 11:27-34).20

We might conclude, therefore, that some parachurch organizations may come extremely close to functioning as local churches. In fact, if the people of God are assembling in a formal and regular manner to preach and hear the Word of God, administer the sacraments, and in our view, exercise some form of spiritual discipline,21 in essence they are a visible, local church regardless of their organizational title. If, however, an organization indiscriminately chooses among the various elements that comprise the church, that organization needs to reassess its purpose and identity in the light of Scripture, and choose whether they want to be a local church or a parachurch organization.22

2. The Parachurch Organization in the Kingdom of God

Since a parachurch organization is not a church in a formal sense, its participation in the mission of the local church raises a question of legitimacy in terms of mandate and accountability. The most frequently asked questions from local church leaders to parachurch structures are: "who gave you your mandate?"; "to whom are you accountable in matters of doctrine, morals, administration and finances?"; and, "who checks up on you, hires you, fires you, or sets you straight?"23 These are serious questions, and for the parachurch and local church to cooperate smoothly together, they must be seriously considered and answered.

The first issue, the question of mandate, has already been alluded to in large measure earlier in the discussion. The parachurch as composed of Christian believers is an integral part of the universal church and, as such, is a convergence of believers who have gathered to focus on specific forms of ministry. Earlier, I touched on the mission of the local church as directed upward (toward God), inward (toward one another), and outward (toward the world). I might add, however, that the goal of the local church is to find an adequate balance of growth in each of these three areas — neither excluding one nor emphasizing another at the expense of the whole.24 The goal of a parachurch structure, however, is just the opposite. Since it is not a church in the visible or local sense, it can afford the luxury of what might in other circumstances be an overemphasis in ministry. Specialization in ministry is precisely what enables parachurch structures to be so often effective in their mission.

Jurisdictionally speaking, therefore, the authority or mandate for the parachurch to participate in the mission of the local church proceeds from the same source that sanctions the visible church — the kingdom of God. When Christ declared, "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mk. 1:15), he was declaring that the reign or kingly rule of God was breaking in to establish a new order.25 God's new order includes a delegation of authority whereby the citizen of the kingdom is charismatically equipped to "use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms" (I Pet. 4:10) — whether it is within the walls of the local assembly or without.


Granting the legitimacy of the parachurch structure's mandate and its authority to share in the mission of the local church, I nonetheless have left unanswered the second issue – the question of accountability. Without doubt, this is a particularly thorny question in the context of leadership, and all the more so after we have established the case for a correspondence in mission between the parachurch and local church. Simply put, since parachurch structures share in the mission of the local church, are the leaders also subject to the same scriptural standards as leaders of the local church? This question becomes even more complicated when some leadership positions have little or no direct comparison to NT forms of leadership, or if their involvement in the actual work of the ministry is behind the scenes in an administrative, financial, or other supportive role.

I propose that parachurch leaders are indeed subject to the scriptural standards of leadership, just as local church leaders are. The method I will use to demonstrate this will be a synthesis of the categories that emerge from an analysis of the NT material on leadership. Using the first few words of Eph. 4:1 as a foundational model ("It was he who gave . . ."), I will track the commission, the enablement, the accompanying external signs of God's grace, and the essential purposes foundational to biblical leadership qualifications. From the evidence in these sections, I intend to demonstrate that the nature and purpose of Christian leadership is what necessitates scriptural leadership qualifications, and not merely the formal operation of leadership within the local church. This is not to say that the same standards are applied uniformly to all Christian leadership positions; it does mean, however, that when we apply biblical standards to parachurch leaders, we are more concerned with the nature and purpose of the leadership position than with whether it is located within a local church or parachurch structure.

A. The Leader is Divinely Appointed

At the heart of every leadership position are the issues of authority and legitimacy. The NT teaches us that the legitimacy of church leadership is rooted in the bestowal of God's grace. Notice the close connection between the gift of grace in Eph. 4:7 (dwrea/) and the various ways in which that grace is described through vss. 8-11:

First we note that grace "was given" (e)do/qh; aorist passive indicative) to the "one body" (eÁn sw_ma; vs. 4) according to the measure of Christ's gift.26 This same verb is repeated in the aorist again in vs. 8 in a quotation of Ps. 68:1827 (which is applied to Christ), with the words "he gave (e)/dwken; aorist active indicative) gifts (do/mata) to men." Similarly, vs. 11 repeats this verb in the aorist with, "He gave (e)/dwken; aorist active indicative) some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers . . . ." Thus the progressive description of the grace in vs. 7 is as follows: grace was given ¾® he gave gifts to men ¾® he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers. Each step in this progression describes more fully the nature of the grace given in vs. 7. This is undoubtedly the reason that the NRSV takes the liberty to translate vs. 11 in a descriptive sense; "The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles . . . ."28 Most notable in this progressive description is the purpose clause in vs. 12, "for the equipping (proj ton katartismon) of the saints for the work of service," followed by the consummate goal, "to the building up (ei1j oi1kodomhn) of the body of Christ." Thus, Christ's gift of grace to his people has as its final object their edification and growth toward maturity.

Since the establishment of leadership within the NT is grounded in Christ's gift of grace to his body, I will now make some observations on the commission of leaders from the data in the NT.

1. God Has Appointed All Leadership and Ministry Positions

Scripture makes it abundantly clear that God is the sovereign source of all authority. Psalm 22:8 declares, "For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations" (RSV). Likewise, Dan. 4:34-35 records:

[H]is dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing; and he does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What doest thou?' (RSV).

The same theme of divine authority is greeted enthusiastically throughout the NT. To name just a few, the apostle Paul declares, "God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see" (I Tim. 6:15-16). Jude likewise extols, "to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!" (Jude 25). It is clear from their acclamations that these NT authors understood that God alone is the final well-spring of all authority.

In Num. 27:19-20 we observe an explicit relationship between a commission to leadership and a grant (delegation) of authority. God commanded Moses:

Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him. Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him.

A similar commission and delegation stands fixed in the created order itself. Man, who was created in God's image and likeness, is granted authority to serve as God's vice-regent over the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). This commission later extends to the formation of civil government,29 which the NT clearly describes as rooted in God's commission and authority:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves . . . . For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer (Rom. 13:1-5).30

In like fashion, Titus 3:1 and I Peter 2:13-14 command the believer to submit31 to rulers and authorities. When Scripture admonishes the believer to respond to the authority of spiritual leadership, however, it prefers the concept of obedience in addition to submission. For example, we observe Jesus telling the disciples in Matt. 23:2-3, "The scribes and Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe32 . . ." (NASB). Similarly, Heb. 13:17 reads, "obey (pei/qw) your leaders and submit33 to them . . ." (NASB). The use of u(pota/ssw, "submit" in reference to civil rulers may be related to the possibility that a civil ruler may command a believer to do something contrary to God's will (cf. Acts 4:19-20; 5:29). Submission, therefore, is a respectful attitude or disposition that recognizes a realm of authority (as with a husband and wife, cf. Eph. 5:22, 24; Col. 3:18; I Pet. 3:1), not a call to unqualified obedience.34

Against this scriptural backdrop of God-ordained authority, we recognize that God has made specific appointments in the church, both for leadership and for ministry (I Cor. 12:27-31; Rom. 12:6-8). Although the jurisdiction of church leadership and ministry is distinct from civil authority, the source (divine authority) and grounds (divine grace) for each remain the same.

2. The Unique Commission of the Apostles

A more specific form of divine commission emerges as we approach the Gospels. Clearly, Christ's leadership is a divine appointment par excellence. Here we observe a perfect delegation of full divine authority (Matt. 7:29; 28:18; Lk. 5:24; Jn. 5:27; Col. 2:10) matched with perfect accountability or obedience (Jn. 5:30; 7:17-18; 8:28-29; 12:49; Heb. 3:1-2). As the appointed "head" over the church (Eph. 1:22), Christ was responsible to commission among men those who would serve as foundation stones in God's living temple (Eph. 2:20); namely, the apostles.

The commission of the apostles was unique in nature. First, it required no human consultation (although it is significant that Jesus did spend the prior evening praying to God; Lk. 6:12) or ratification. Furthermore, the commission of these first NT leaders appears to have been unilateral (Matt. 10:1-16; Mk. 3:13 ff.; Jn. 7:70; 13:18), and demonstrated God's sovereign exercise of authority.35 Moreover, within this selected number of apostles there is evidence that Christ sovereignly chose to bring three apostles (Peter, James and John) into a closer circle of activities (like the transfiguration [Mk. 9:2 ff.], or the healing of Jarius' daughter [Mk. 5:37 ff.]). Clearly, all the above choices were enacted on the basis of and in accordance with God's own sovereign will and purposes.36

Perhaps the most dramatic commission in the NT is the apostle Paul's. Here we observe an obsessed enemy of the church37 sovereignly shaken from his "ignorance and unbelief" (I Tim. 1:13), and commissioned to carry Christ's name "before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel" (Acts 9:15).38 It was to this commission that Paul repeatedly made appeal when circumstances necessitated a demonstration of divine authority. Observe both indirect statements and references in his opening address of NT letters:

Miscellaneous References
I Cor. 1:17 – "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel . . ."
I Cor. 3:5 – "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servant . . . as the Lord has assigned to each his task."
II Cor. 5:20 – "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors . . . ."
Gal. 1:12 – ". . . I received it [gospel] by revelation from Jesus Christ."
Eph. 3:7 – "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power."
Col. 1:25 – "I have become its [church's] servant by the commission God gave me . . ."
I Tim. 1:12 – "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service."
I Tim. 2:7 – "And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle . . . and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles."
II Tim. 1:11 – "And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher."

Opening Address in NT Letters
Rom. 1:1 – "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God"
Gal. 1:1 – "Paul, an apostle — sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father"
Eph. 1:1 – "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God"
Col. 1:1 – "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God"
I Tim. 1:1 – "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope"
II Tim. 1:1 – "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God"
Titus 1:1 – "Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ"

There is no question that the apostle Paul understood the importance of his commission and delegated authority. As I will demonstrate later, this understanding serves as a backdrop for scriptural leadership qualifications.

3. Leaders are Recognized by Christian Believers

As we move beyond the commission of Christ and the apostles, we see that other NT leadership positions are commissioned by God, but recognized by Christian believers. Put another way, the NT demonstrates instances where Christian leaders are chosen on the basis of divinely ordained criteria (qualifications) from among the general assembly of believers, and the decision is then ratified by existing Christian leadership.39

One example of this type of selection is in Acts 6:3-6, where the apostles were faced with administrative concerns that could cause them to "neglect the ministry of the word of God" (vs. 2). The Twelve gathered the disciples together and proposed that they choose seven men from among them who were "known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom," and who could handle these administrative affairs (vs. 3). Interestingly, this group of disciples were genuinely included in the decision, for vs. 5 reads, "this proposal pleased the whole group." They then proceeded to select seven men and present them before the apostles for approval (vs. 6).

Elsewhere in the book of Acts, we see the appointment of elders by Barnabas and Paul (Acts 14:23; 20:17 [elders had been appointed in Ephesus]). In similar fashion, Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders (Titus 1:5 ff.), and he provided Timothy with a list of qualifications necessary for selecting elders and deacons (I Tim. 3:1-12). In each of these cases, we see a clear shift to an active involvement of the people of God in the selection and approval of Christian leaders.

B. The Leader is Divinely Enabled

We have already observed a close connection between a divine commission to leadership and a delegation of authority. But a divine commission entails something more than a mere formal grant of representative authority — it also includes the necessary means to carry out the appointed task. Examples from the OT are almost too numerous to mention: Joseph was empowered by God to fulfill his commission (Gen. 39:2; 41:39-40); Moses' leadership was divinely enabled (4:11 ff.); Bezalel was "filled with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts" (Ex. 3:3) to accomplish his God-ordained work; Israel's Kings, Saul and David, were both anointed with the Holy Spirit to enable them to fulfill their commissions (I Sam. 10:9-10; 11:6; 16:13); and God also appeared to Solomon in a dream and empowered him to fulfill the responsibilities of his position (I Kgs. 3:10-15). Moreover, every OT prophet whom God appointed also had God's enabling power to fulfill that office.40

As we turn to the NT, we observe a strong continuity in God's concern to provide power to Christian leaders. Even Christ41 himself did not enter into the responsibilities of his commission until he was anointed with the Holy Spirit at John's baptism (Matt. 3:13-17; Mk. 1:9-11; Lk. 3:21-22). Since biblically there is such a strong connection between God's commission and corresponding enablement, the following sections warrant our attention.

1. The Basis for Divine Enablement is Grace

Just as Scripture grounds the commission of Christian leadership in Christ's gift of grace, so also it grounds the basis for a corresponding enablement in that same grace. Notice Paul's language when he makes an allusion to his ministry:

Rom. 15:15,16 – "because of the g race God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles . . ."
I Cor. 3:10 – "By the g race God has given me , I laid a foundation as an expert builder . . ."
I Cor. 15:10 – "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and h is grace to me was not without effect. I worked harder than all of them — yet not I but the g race of God that was with me ."
II Cor. 3:5, 6 – "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competency comes from God. He has made us competent as minister s of a new covenant."
II Cor. 12:9 – "But he [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you , for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"
Eph. 3:2-5 – "Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you . . ."

In each of these instances, we observe the principle that grace has a tangible effect on a leader. It was on the basis of grace that Paul is empowered as a "minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles," and became an "expert builder." Likewise it is grace that inspired him to "work harder than all of them," and which made him "competent" as a minister of a new covenant. Most important, however, is Paul's record of the Lord's reply that "my grace is sufficient for you." Perhaps Christ had this all-sufficient provision in mind when he asked the disciples, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything" (Lk. 22:35)?

2. The Means of Enablement

a. The Holy Spirit

Although I will treat this topic later in a section dealing with the external signs of God's commission and enabling grace, we ought to pause briefly to contemplate the relevance of the Holy Spirit as God's means of enabling grace. As previously considered, leaders in the OT were anointed by God's Spirit to function in their ordained roles. With certain exceptions, we observe this phenomenon mostly among key leadership positions. In the NT, however, we see the Holy Spirit anointing all of God's people for works of service and ministry (Acts 2:17, 38; Rom. 12:6- 8; I Cor. 12:4-11; I Thess. 4:8; I Pet. 2:5; Rev. 1:6). Hence, the author to the Hebrews writes, "May the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good for doing his will . . ." (Heb. 13:20- 21). In a specific instance from the gospels, the apostles are told by Jesus, "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high" (Lk. 24:49). Again Jesus states in Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you . . . ." Reflecting on the fulfillment of this promise in his own life, the apostle Paul writes, "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come" (II Cor. 1:22; italics mine).

As we move beyond Acts 2, we observe a trail of effects that the anointing with the Spirit had on these early church leaders. Like King Saul before them, they experienced a tremendous shift in their disposition as a result of the Holy Spirit's coming upon them. Peter, who had once disowned the Lord (Jn. 18:17, 25-27) and stayed behind locked doors "for fear of the Jews" (Jn. 20:19), is now empowered to perform miracles (Acts 5:12-16), and to speak and suffer boldly in the name of Christ (Acts 2:14-41; 3:12-26; 4:8-21, 31; 5:17-42). So marked was his and the apostle John's fortitude that, "When they [rulers, elders, teachers of the law] saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13).

The same results of the Spirit's anointing are also evident in the ministry of the apostle Paul. Combined with Ananias' commission to restore Saul's sight was the intention that Saul "be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:17). This anointing provided the means whereby Paul could "speak boldly for the Lord," and perform miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 14:3; see also 13:9 ff. and Rom. 15:9). Indeed, the same Spirit through whom Paul undoubtedly received strength (I Tim. 1:12a), was also the source of love (Rom. 5:5; I Thess. 4:9), true joy (I Thess. 1:6), and every other spiritual fruit in his life (Gal. 5:22-23). In short, the Holy Spirit is the One who actualizes the gift of Christ's grace to the people of God.

b. Encouragement and Comfort

A second means whereby God enables Christian leaders is through divine encouragement and comfort. This administration of grace is an indispensable part of a Christian leader's provision. In the midst of Paul's trials during his imprisonment in Jerusalem, Scripture records that "the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome'" (Acts 23:11). Also, when it appeared as though Paul might perish beneath the ocean waves, an angel of God appeared and comforted him (Acts 27:23-24). Although most Christian leaders will not experience such dramatic forms of encouragement, nor should such be sought, all leaders should expect to learn to say with Paul, "But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength" (II Tim. 4:17; see also II Cor. 1:3-5).42

C. The Leader Shows External Signs of God's Commission and Enabling Grace

So far, I have examined the biblical categories that pertain to the commission and enablement of the Christian leader. The significance of these preceding sections for this discussion of leadership qualifications will become evident later when I discuss the nature and purpose of Christian leadership and ministry. In this section, however, I will synthesize the NT material that deals with external signs of God's commission and enabling grace. Since postapostolic Christian leadership positions are commissioned by God but recognized by men, it is important to understand the biblical criteria whereby the people of God recognize and approve a Christian leader. I observe from Scripture that these visible (discernible) criteria fall into three basic categories: (1) Integrity of character; (2) Soundness of doctrine; and (3) Spiritual fullness.

1. Integrity of Character

Perhaps the greatest key to recognizing God's authorization of a leader is the sign of integrity of character. Jesus drew on this principle in Matthew's gospel when he said:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit . . . So then you will recognize them by their fruits (Matt. 7:15-20; NASB).

To describe further what he intended by "bad fruit" in this context, Christ proceeded to warn of the many people who at the judgment will lay claim to having served him (Matt. 7:22). As a solid justification for his rejection of them, Christ will rejoin, "I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness" (Matt. 7:23; italics mine). Clearly the "bad fruit" of 7:17 coordinates with the practice of "lawlessness" in 7:23.43 And just as fruit on a tree is visible and reveals the nature of the tree, so also the fruit or character of a individual's life is visible by one's deeds. As a result, it can be concluded that "good fruit" is the manifestation of a godly life, or put another way, integrity of character.

Similarly, Christ warned his disciples not to do as the teachers of the law, because their actions were filled with hypocrisy and were done only to receive the praise of men (Matt. 23:3- 7).44 Instead we observe Christ turning the tables on worldly leadership standards, declaring that, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all" (Mk. 9:35). Yet Christ did not pronounce all of his lessons on integrity of character in a negative format. Sometimes his points were made in the context of an illustration in which he served as the model example. This is certainly the case in Jn. 13:3-17 when Peter balked at the thought of his "Teacher" and "Lord" stooping to wash his dirty feet (vs. 13). Nevertheless, Jesus' object lesson provided fertile ground for the following words:

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them (Jn. 13:15-17).

In vss. 34-35 of this same chapter, Christ provided the engine that would effectively drive this model of servant-leadership. He declared to the apostles, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." Thus, integrity of character is visible in one way through a loving disposition to serve others. Such a disposition is prerequisite to the selection of Christian leadership.

As we turn to the apostle Paul's writings, a wealth of information appears regarding the necessity of integrity in a Christian leader. Most pronounced, however, are the well known passages in the Pastoral Epistles that list the various qualifications for elders and deacons.

Although my purpose in this discussion does not include a thorough treatment of those passages, the following observations are in order:

(i) Each of the leadership qualifications in I Tim. 3:1-13 and Tit. 1:5-9 has points of similarity and dissimilarity. Note the following:

Leadership Qualifications


I Timothy

I Timothy





Above reproach



Husband of one wife

Husband of one wife

Husband of one wife







Apt teacher

Give instruction in sound doctrine

No drunkard

Not addicted to much wine

Not to be a drunkard

Not violent but gentle

Not violent

Not quarrelsome

No lover of money

Not greedy for gain

Manage household & child.

Manage child. & household well

Child. believers/ not insubordinate

Not recent convert (conceit)

Not to be arrogant

Well thought of by outsiders


I Timothy




Not double-tongued

Not quick-tempered

Hold to myst. of faith w/ cl. cons

Master of himself

Must be tested first


Women's qualifications




(ii) Nearly all of these qualifications have to do with character45 — either presented in the negative (e.g., not a drunkard, not greedy for gain) or in the positive (hospitable, above reproach). In any event, Paul obviously considers one's character and reputation among men to be the central consideration in the appointment of a Christian leader.

(iii) I am not certain of the significance that can be attached to the points of dissimilarity throughout. The following are qualifications that each list shares in common:

a. husband of one wife
b. no drunkard
c. no lover of money
d. manages household/children well

The only other qualification that the elder and deacon lists from I Timothy share in common is "dignified/serious." The elder lists from I Timothy and Titus46 share the following in common, distinct from the deacon list:

a. hospitable
b. not violent
c. apt teacher
d. not arrogant

Paul apparently had different criteria for elders than he did for deacons — a difference related to the authoritative position that elders occupied as evidenced by the necessity to be able to teach and not be a recent convert (the danger of conceit). Nonetheless, both leadership positions definitely emphasize integrity of character.

(iv) Finally, the deacon list in I Timothy and the elder list in Titus contain qualifications that are unique to each. They are as follows:

I Timothy

a. not double-tongued
b. hold to mysteries of the faith w/ clear conscience
c. Must be tested first
d. women's qualifications47


a. not quick-tempered
b. a lover of goodness
c. master of himself
d. upright
e. holy
f. self-controlled

Though these qualifications are applied to Christian leaders, that they describe the integrity of character to which all Christians should aspire is a valid observation. Along these lines Paul later writes to Timothy:

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work (II Tim. 2:20-21).

As we closely examine other portions of Paul's letters, character qualifications emerge there as well. In a tone similar to Titus 1:9, Paul commands Timothy, "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" (II Tim. 2:2). Reminiscent of the elder qualifications above, the apostle further exhorts the young Timothy to make integrity of character a life-long pursuit in his service to God. He writes:

Flee the evil desire of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful (II Tim. 2:22-24).48

Most revealing, however, are the times when the apostle appeals to character as an external sign of God's commission and enabling grace in his own ministry. Although Paul elsewhere lays claim to the "signs that mark an apostle" (signs, wonders and miracles) as evidence of the genuineness of his call (II Cor. 12:12), he also points to the integrity with which he has discharged that calling:

We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: . . . in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God . . . (II Cor. 6:3-7).

Thus, we see that it was of supreme importance to Paul that Christian leaders serve as examples of integrity before the people of God and the world.

2. Soundness of Doctrine

A second important external sign of God's commission and enabling grace is that the potential leader be sound in doctrine. Once again, the majority of NT data touching on this topic is found in the Pastoral Epistles. As I noted in a previous section, Paul listed the ability to teach49 as prerequisite to the appointment of an elder. Nevertheless, we must not conclude that Paul did not view it as a premium that all of God's people be sound in doctrine. The emphasis is on the leader, however, because the leader is the means whereby God brings the assembly into doctrinal maturity. This process is two-fold: First, as a steward or guardian of divine truth, the Christian leader is responsible to accurately explain the principles of God's Word to people (II Tim. 2:15). Second, the Christian leader must be prepared to refute false doctrines that are damaging to people's lives (I Tim. 1:3 ff.; 4:3-6; 6:3-4; Tit. 1:10-11).50 Consequently, Paul commands Titus, "You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine" (Tit. 2:1); and likewise to Timothy, "correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction" (II Tim. 4:2).

Arriving at a definition of "sound doctrine" has presented a challenge throughout the history of the church. Among Protestant evangelicals today, sound doctrine typically centers on issues that pertain to the character and nature of the God, the Person and work of Christ, and the authority and integrity of Scripture — issues that most major church counsels have dealt with. In my view, the apostle's concern for sound doctrine relates to any issue that could result in a distorted view about God, or God's salvation in Christ (I Cor. 15:1-8; Lk. 24:45-47). Without question, the apostle recognized that the Scriptures serve as the final arbiter between truth and error (II Tim. 3:15-17).

3. Spiritual Fullness

A third external sign of God's commission and enabling grace is the evidence of spiritual fullness in the life of a potential leader. As noted in an earlier section, when the apostles were faced with an administrative dilemma in the early church they instructed the disciples to "choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom" (Acts 6:3). Obviously such a request was predicated on the assumption that spiritual fullness in an individual's life leaves marks that others can discern. Fortunately for us, two of the seven individuals chosen that day, Stephen and Philip, are discussed in greater detail later in the text. I believe that on the basis of these later details, we can synthesize the meaning of the phrase, "full of the Spirit and wisdom," as it was applied to these early Christian leaders. Observe the various descriptions below:


1. full of faith (Acts 6:5; 7:59)
2. full of God's grace (Acts 6:8)
3. full of God's power [did "great wonders and miraculous signs"] (Acts 6:8)
4. full of wisdom [the Jews could not "stand up against his wisdom"] (Acts 6:10)
5. full of peace ["his face was like the face of an angel"] (Acts 6:15)
6. full of boldness and testimony [he testified to the leaders and rebuked them] (Acts 7:1-53)
7. receptive to God ["full of the Holy Spirit" Stephen saw the glory of God] (Acts 7:55-56)
8. full of forgiveness ["Lord, do not hold this sin against them"] (Acts 7:60)


1. full of boldness and testimony [went to Samaria and proclaimed the Christ] (Acts 8:5, 35)
2. full of God's power [did miraculous signs] (Acts 8:6, 13)
3. receptive to God ["The Spirit told51 Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it'"] (Acts 8:29)

With the exception of the working of wonders and miraculous signs, each of these marks of spiritual fullness are related to the character of an individual.52 Note that in Acts 11:24, Barnabas is also described as "a good man (a)nhr a)gaqoj), full of the Holy Spirit and faith." An examination of the fruit of spiritual fullness in Gal. 5:22, and the marks of heavenly wisdom in Jam. 3:17 further develop the relationship between spiritual fullness and character:

Fruit of Spirit

1. love
2. joy
3. peace
4. patience
5. kindness
6. goodness
7. faithfulness
8. gentleness
9. self-control

Wisdom from Above

1. pure
2. peaceable
3. gentle
4. willing to yield
5. full of mercy and good fruits
6. unwavering
7. without hypocrisy

Each of these lists is explicitly linked to the character of an individual by its context. In Gal. 5:19 the apostle contrasts the fruit of the Spirit against the acts of the flesh or "sinful nature" (NIV). Correspondingly, James contrasts heavenly wisdom against a wisdom that is "earthly, unspiritual, of the devil," and that is marked by "bitter envy, selfish ambition," "disorder and every evil practice" (Jam. 3:14-16). From the evidence we have observed elsewhere in Scripture, we can identify the "wisdom that is from above" as originating from the Spirit who came down as a gift "from the Father of heavenly lights" (Jam. 1:17). Certainly, there is strong continuity in terms of fruit and its effects on an individual's character.

From the content of these passages, therefore, we see that spiritual fullness is a description not just of the Holy Spirit's activity of empowerment for ministry (which is certainly the emphasis in Luke/Acts; cf. Lk. 3:21-23; 24:49; Acts 1:8; 10:38), but also of the Spirit's sanctifying work in the life of a believer.53 Apparently, this is why Jesus said to the disciples, "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth" (Jn. 16:13); and then later prayed to the Father, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (Jn. 17:17). God's will is for all of his people to be "transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (II Cor. 3:18). Therefore, spiritual fullness is a necessary prerequisite for leadership positions responsible in aiding God's people in a progressive process of spiritual maturity.

D. All Leaders Share Two Essential Purposes for Biblical Leadership Qualifications

As I have probed the various categories connected with the commission and enabling grace necessary to Christian leadership positions, several references surfaced regarding the responsibility connected with leadership roles. Among these I noted Christ's terrifying condemnation of Israel's leadership:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to (Matt. 23:13).

Coupled with the various parables given on the faithfulness which God requires of his servants (e.g., Matt. 24:42-51; Lk. 19:11-27), it is no small wonder that Christ told his disciples, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much" (Lk. 16:10).

Scripture teaches, therefore, that two main reasons exist for leadership qualifications. The first is the principle that a Christian leader is the steward of a divine trust. Though ramifications for the principle of stewardship apply in the present, Scripture usually presents this principle within the context of the final judgment. The second reason for having qualifications is found in the principle that a Christian leader is a public example. Although this principle is closely related to the first, it differs in that it helps to explain the practical considerations for leadership qualifications. In the sections that follow, I will attempt to demonstrate the scriptural basis for each of these principles in its turn.

1. The Management of a Divine Trust

Throughout his letters in the NT, the apostle Paul frequently equates the Christian leader's commission with the management of a divine trust. The most explicit references are made either to his own ministry, or to young Timothy's. On these occasions he writes:

I Cor. 4:1-2: So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

I Tim. 6:20: Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.

II Tim. 1:14: Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you — guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

II Tim. 4:5: But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

In a similar manner, Paul's departing exhortation to the Ephesian elders links the stewardship of a trust with the people of God. He declared, "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood" (Acts 20:28). This language is conceptually synonymous with Paul's description of an elder as "God's steward"54 in Tit. 1:7. Likewise Heb. 13:17 also identifies the people of God as the object of a leader's stewardship.55 This is precisely why James exhorted the believers not to presumptuously enter into a leadership role (Jam. 3:1).

Yet, for those who are faithful in the administration of God's delegated authority, Paul elsewhere hints of the eschatological rewards that will be forthcoming (I Cor. 3:8-15; I Thess. 2:19). Such expectations, however, are tempered with the possibility of unfaithful service (I Cor. 3:15), resulting in burned or worthless work. Thus, Paul concludes:

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad (II Cor. 5:9-10).

2. The Public Example of the Leader

The second reason for leadership qualifications is rooted in the very nature of Christian leadership as a public example. First, in the NT we see the apostle Paul boldly instructing the Corinthians to "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (I Cor. 11:1).56 Although the contexts and situations differ, Paul's uses nearly identical language of imitation and example for three other churches. Notice the following statements made by the apostles — these are not arrogant claims, but rather Paul's sober realization that his characteristics can speak louder than words:

Gal. 4:12: "I plead with you brothers, become like me, for I became like you."

Phil. 3:17: "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you."

I Thess. 1:5b-6: "You know how we lived among you for your sake.57 You became imitators of us and of the Lord . . . ."

II Thess. 3:7: "For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example."

Second, the NT exhorts Christian leaders to faithfully fulfill their commission as examples to God's people. I Peter 5:3 entreats elders to "Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be . . . being examples to the flock." Elsewhere, we observe Paul encouraging Christian leaders to do likewise (I Tim. 4:12, 15-16; Tit. 2:7-8), with sober instructions to rebuke publicly any elders who sin,58 "so that the others may take warning" (I Tim. 5:20).

Finally, the closing chapter of Hebrews exhorts believers to imitate leaders on the basis of the unchanging nature of Christ (Heb. 13:7-8). In this way, we recognize that the example of leadership is as applicable today as it was then.


A. The Nature and Purpose of Christian Leadership & Ministry

In the second portion of this paper I attempted to trace the major scriptural categories foundational to Christian leadership. We observed that biblically God is the ultimate source of authority and that all leadership positions derive their legitimacy mediately or immediately from him. Moreover, in addition to the formal delegation of representative authority, God also supplies the necessary enablement a leader needs to faithfully fulfill the commission. Consequently, both the commission and the enablement are granted on the basis of divine grace. Furthermore, we observed that post-apostolic commissions to Christian leadership are generally recognized and validated among Christian believers, so there need to be discernible, external signs of God's commission and enabling grace. I noted that Scripture points to integrity of character, soundness of doctrine, and spiritual fullness as those necessary external signs, and that they exist because the Christian leader is the steward of a divine trust, and serves as a public example.

Now it is necessary to revisit the nature and purpose of Christian leadership and ministry, in order to make a proper application to leaders within parachurch structures. At the onset of the second major section of this paper, I linked the commission of Christian leadership to the gift of Christ's grace in Eph. 4:7-11. Significant to this section, however, was the purpose clause and consummate goal set forth in vs. 12 ff. Here we see that Christian leaders and ministries are ordained by God to equip the saints for works of service, in order that the body of Christ might be built up. The goal of this "upbuilding" or "strengthening" (oi1kodomhn), is further described in vs. 13 by the conjunction me/xri "until," "to the extent that" unity is attained in the faith (th=j pi¿stewj), and in the knowledge of the Son of God. Such unity, vs. 13 further teaches, will result in maturity, which is nothing less than "attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."59

Therefore, I contend that the nature and goal of Christian leadership and ministry are to bring people into maturity, or the fullness of Christ for their lives. Put another way, since the leader serves by example as well as instruction, his aim is to produce in others the same character qualities that are present in him; i.e., make other believers into potential leaders.60 Thus, the author to the Hebrews laments that this process has been retarded when he writes:

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil (Heb. 5:12-14).

We see that this same purpose is clearly present in Paul's ministry when he writes, "we proclaim him [Christ], admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect (mature, te/leioj) in Christ" (Col. 1:28; see also 4:12; I Cor. 14:20; and Jam. 1:4).

The goal of Christian maturity, however, is not an optional calling reserved to a select number whom God will call into leadership positions. Rather, Paul presses the issue of maturity by confronting believers with their obligation toward God; namely, to live worthy of the Kingdom of God. He writes, "For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory" (I Thess. 2:11-12); and, "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received" (Phil. 4:1). The Lord's Word for all of his people is nothing less than that they, "Be perfect (te/leioj), therefore, even as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).

Therefore, scriptural leadership qualifications are not institutionally determined (locative), but are jurisdictionally based in the very fabric of the Kingdom of God. Put another way, any leader who undertakes the ministry of God's Word is a de facto representative of God's Kingdom and authority. As such, scriptural leadership qualifications outline the prerequisite and terminal objectives foundational to that delegated authority. Thus, just as the Kingdom gives rise to the local church and parachurch structures,61 so also the Kingdom provides the occasion for representative delegates who serve as heralds of the King. Scriptural leadership qualifications describe the prerequisite and ongoing nature and purpose of those representatives.

It was observed from Scripture, however, that leadership qualifications do not appear to be uniformly applied to all leadership positions within the church. I noted that there were obvious differences between the qualifications for elders (I Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9), and those for deacons (I Tim. 3:8-13). Such differences appear to indicate that any parachurch leader who exercises a pastoral or elder type of authority (e.g., teaches God's Word and manages the spiritual development in others) is afforded more responsibility, and is therefore, more highly accountable (Jam. 3:1). Nonetheless, due to the visible nature of all leadership positions and the delicate nature of financial stewardship, even the administrative positions (perhaps deacons, as seen in Acts 6:1-6) are also held to a high standard. In parachurch structures, this includes bookkeepers, administrative assistants, or traveling representatives of an organization. Regardless of the visible structure that they minister from within, by virtue of the message of the Kingdom, parachurch leaders are God's representatives before the eyes of God's assembly as well as the world.

Accordingly, the issue of accountability within parachurch structures is really no different in principle from that of the local church. Since the commission and authority for Christian leadership in all its forms arises from God, the principles laid down in Scripture regarding delegated authority and corporate responsibility are applicable throughout the entire realm of God's reign. This means that parachurch leaders, as subjects in God's Kingdom (and hopefully members of a visible church), are under divine obligation to obey the principles of Scripture. Thus, there must be among leaders of parachurch organizations an attitude of submission to God's principles of authority (out of reverence for Christ; Eph. 5:21), as well as a willingness to reprove others and themselves be reproved (Gal. 2:11 ff.). The earnestness with which certain parachurch structures have worked to establish strong ecclesiastical ties testifies to how a strong relationship with a local church makes spiritual accountability much more likely.62

Consequently, in practical outworking, every organization whose authority is derived from a jurisdictionally-based relationship to the Kingdom of God must, like the local church, construct a principled framework for implementing spiritual discipline and moral accountability. Such a framework serves as a means of spiritual protection for both leaders and layworkers within a Christian organization. For this type of framework to function adequately, however, the organizational structure in the parachurch must be decentralized, so that no one person can exercise unquestioned authority. In this way, spiritual discipline and accountability can be administered through a plural and consensual framework.63 Thus, such an approach safeguards the integrity of disciplinary actions from the imbalances and biases that are inherent in an autocratic form of organizational structure — a structure that is all-too-common in many parachurch organizations. Unfortunately, the decentralization of authority is perhaps the most difficult thing for visionary-minded and strong-willed leaders/founders of parachurch organizations to do. Yet, a reluctance in this area can end in shame and misery for both the leaders and the organization.64


The Scriptures provide us with necessary information regarding the nature and purpose of the church. With this information, we can largely determine the nature and corresponding purpose of parachurch structures. Moreover, Scripture also gives us an abundance of information about the nature and purpose of leadership within God's Kingdom. The Christian leader is a servant and a herald of God's message, with the appointed responsibilities of representing God's will through his words and his deeds. In this way, the Christian leader serves as Christ's gift of grace to bring God's people into full maturity. Biblical leadership qualifications enable the people of God to identify God-ordained leaders in their midst (via "fruit"), and serve as objective standards to be attained by all Christians. Since these qualifications are grounded in the nature and purpose of Christian leadership — a leadership ordained within the realm of God's reign — they are jurisdictionally, not institutionally determined. As a result, all parachurch structures are under divine obligation to observe scriptural leadership qualifications. Correspondence between scriptural qualifications and parachurch leaders is delimited on the basis of function and responsibility, and must be roughly equated with that of the pastor/elder (spiritual oversight and development) or the deacon (administrative and other supportive roles). Although the parachurch is jurisdictionally separated from any one local church, accountability is best established through strong ecclesiastical ties and the decentralization of the organizational structure. Even with the establishment of a biblical framework, however, final heart-felt obedience to scriptural principles rests to a large degree on each individual, "who must give an account" (Heb. 13:11).

Appendix A

Parachurch Organizations
Taken from Donald R. Brown, ed., National Evangelical Directory 1992-93
(Wheaton: National Assoc. of Evangelicals, 1993).

Advertising & Graphic Arts Organizations
Advertising & Graphic Arts Service Organizations
Arts in Ministry Agencies

Christian Camp, Conference & Retreat Centers

Consulting/Legal Assistance Organizations
Church Growth Organizations
Financial Consulting Organizations
Legal Services Organizations
Management/Personnel/Public Relations Consulting
Political & Advocacy Organizations

Counseling/Guidance Organizations

Adoption/Crisis/Pregnancy Counseling Agencies
Alcohol/Drug Counseling Agencies
Career Guidance Service Organizations
Chaplaincy Organizations
Counseling & Counseling Associations
Financial Planning/Advisement Organizations

Education/Christian Education

Bible Colleges
Christian Colleges
Seminaries & Graduate Schools
Christian Day School Associations
Christian Education/Sunday School Organizations
Educational Support Organizations
Special Education Institutes
Training & Seminar Ministries

Health Care Services

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"Co-operating in World Evangelism: A Handbook on Church/Parachurch Relationships." Lausanne Occasional Papers, Committee for World Evangelization, n.s. 24 (c. 1983).

Bauer, Walter, William F. Arndt, Wilbur F. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker, eds. A Greek- English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 2nd rev. ed. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1979.

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Ed. Ford Lewis Battles. Vol. II. Trans. John T. McNeil. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament. Ed. Donald A. Hagner. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1993.

Leith, John H, ed. Creeds of the Churches. 3d ed. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982.

Morris, Leon. "Church Government." Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Ed. Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984.

Muck, Terry C., ed. "William Franklin Graham: Seventy Exceptional Years." Christianity Today, November 18 1988, 17-23.

O'Brien, P. T. "The Church as a Heavenly and Eschatological Entity." The Church in the World: An International Study. Ed. D. A. Carson. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987.

______. "The Church." Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, Daniel G. Reid. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Oden, Thomas C. The Transforming Power of Grace. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993.

Omanson, R. L. "The Church." Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Ed. Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984.

Schaff, Philip, ed. The Creeds of Christendom. 6th ed. Vol. 3. The Evangelical Protestant Creeds. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990.

Snyder's, Howard. The Problem of Wineskins: Church Structure in a Technological Age. Downers Grover: InterVarsity Press, 1975.

Stronstad, Roger. The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke. Peabody: Hendrickson Pub., 1984. 48

White, Jerry. The Church & The Parachurch: An Uneasy Marriage. Portland: Multnomah Press, 1983.


1From the Greek preposition para/ meaning at or by (the side of), beside, near, or with. Walter Bauer, William F. Arndt, Wilbur F. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker, eds., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd rev. ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1979), 610. Hereafter BAGD.

2Although para/ is a common NT preposition, nowhere in the NT does the term occur in conjunction with e)kklhsi¿a.

3A good example is Jerry White, whose full working definition of a parachurch is "any spiritual ministry whose organization is not under the control or authority of a local congregation." Jerry White, The Church & The Parachurch: An Uneasy Marriage. (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1983), 19. White also recognizes that the term parachurch is inadequate and, borrowing a phrase from Lorne Sanny, president of the Navigators (19, n. 2), offers the alternative "para-local church" in its place. In his views, "this designation is less ambiguous" than the term "church" (Ibid.). By shifting the name of the parachurch to para-local church, White appears to be narrowing the definition of "church" in this context from the invisible or universal church, of which all of God's people are a part, to the visible and local congregation.

4The distinction between the invisible church and the visible or local church is based on my examination of the 114 uses of e)kklhsi¿a throughout the NT. P. T. O'Brien, however, argues that the times where the NT uses e)kklhsi¿a in a wider sense than a local congregation or house-church (which occurs a clear 94 times), it is pointing to a heavenly and eschatological entity, rather than the more traditional interpretation of a universal, invisible church. In O'Brien's view, this interpretation better fits the primary NT (and apostolic Fathers') use of e)kklhsi¿a as "gathering" or "assembly," and better accounts for the heavenly plane context that surrounds such passages as Col. 1:18. (See P. T. O'Brien, "The Church," in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, Daniel G. Reid [Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993], 125-126, and P. T. O'Brien, "the Church as a Heavenly and Eschatological Entity," in The Church in the World: An International Study, ed. D. A. Carson [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987], 88-119). The more traditional distinction of universal/invisible and local/visible gained acceptance through the writings of the Reformers, who claimed that the invisible or universal church was the true church (and thus represented the elect), and "in whose number are also included the dead." John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. II, trans. John T. McNeil (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), 4.1.2, 7. See also R. L. Omanson, "The Church," in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 231. Even if O'Brien is correct in his position, however, there is still a sense in which one must view the church as invisible (from an earthly standpoint) and universal (with regard to the scope of all true believers who belong to the heavenly assembly). His perspective would simply affect whether there exists a uniform denotation for e)kklhsi¿a throughout the NT corpus. For example, in the 114 times that e)kklhsi¿a appears in the NT, 15 of the occurrences clearly refer to the church as conceptually universal/invisible (or heavenly). The following are some of the more prominent examples:

Matt. 16:1 8 – "and on this rock I will build my church . . ."

Eph. 1:22 – "and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body . . ."

Col. 1:1 8 – "And he is the head of the body, the church . . ."

I Tim. 3:15 – "God's household, which is the church of the living God . . ."

Heb. 12:2 3 – "You have come . . . to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven."

The remainder that speak of the universal and invisible essence of the church are I Cor. 10:32; Eph. 3:10, 21; 5:23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 32; Col. 1:24. It is worth noting that every occurrence of e)kklhsi¿a in Ephesians is intended in the universal/invisible sense.

5 Among the remaining occurrences of e)kklhsi¿a in the NT, five refer to the visible church, but are merged with universal/invisible overtones (Acts 20:28; I Cor. 11:22; 15:9; Gal. 1:13; and Phil. 3:6). Three references are to secular assemblies (Acts 19:32, 39, 40), while two occurrences are to the assembly of the OT people of God (Acts 7:38; Heb. 2:12 [although it can be argued that the quote from Ps. 22:22 in Heb. 2:12 speaks prophetically of the NT church]). Accordingly, we are left with 89 occurrences of e)kklhsi¿a (the majority) in the NT, which make a direct reference to visible, local assemblies. See also James 2:2 where sunagwgh/ is used to refer to a visible, local assembly (note the shift to e)kklhsi¿a again in 5:14).

6John Calvin used the expression "mystical union" (mystica unio) to describe "that joining together of Head and members, that indwelling of Christ in our hearts" where "Christ, having been made ours, makes us sharers with him in the gifts with which he has been endowed." Calvin, Institutes, 3.11.10. Yet, due to the connotations that are associated with this expression today, the term "spiritual" is a more adequate substitute.

7John H. Leith, ed., Creeds of the Churches, 3d ed., (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982), 33, and Omanson 1984, 231.

8Moreover, by using the term "assembly" I am attempting to capture the primary sense in which e)kklhsi¿a is used both in the LXX when translating the Hebrew lfhfq, (e.g. Deut. 23:2; I Chron. 13:2; Mic. 2:5) as well as in its use throughout the NT and the apostolic fathers.

9"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord" (Eph. 2:19-21; see also Heb. 2:3-4, italics mine).

10Calvin, Institutes, 4.1.8.

11Interestingly, Rom. 15:16 describes the apostle Paul's priestly ministry to God via evangelism to the Gentiles. This Scripture demonstrates the principle that every aspect of the mission of the church is ultimately a ministry unto the Lord (cf. Matt. 25:40; Heb. 6:10).

12These categories are very similar to those set forth by Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 867-868.

13Some categories listed in the Appendix appear to be more culturally related than scripturally mandated. As we will discuss later, however, cultural relevancy is the chief characteristic of the parachurch organization. Those organizations whose mission is not in some way related to the stated mission of the local church must of necessity be outside the category of "ministry."

14See Leon Morris, "Church Government" in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 238-242.

15By "organized structure" I am describing the systematic ordering of the parts of a whole, which in an ecclesiastical setting involves leadership roles and forms of government.

16As we will observe in more detail later, what some might label "deacons" were appointed by the apostles in Acts 6:3ff. Paul himself is careful to appoint elders in the churches (Acts 14:23), while exhorting Timothy and Titus to do likewise (I Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9). Clearly the early church had an organized structure.

17According to this perspective the name "parachurch" or its equivalent is illegitimate on all occasions. For a condensed overview of this position see Appendix A of "Co-operating in World Evangelism: A Handbook on Church/Parachurch Relationships," in Lausanne Occasional Papers, Committee for World Evangelization, n.s. 24 (c. 1983), 83-92.

18Calvin later explains what he means by the Word of God "purely preached" when he states, "What is more, some fault may creep into the administration of either doctrine or sacraments, but this ought not to estrange us from communion with the church. For not all the articles of true doctrine are of the same sort. Some are so necessary to know that they should be certain and unquestioned by all men as the proper principles of religion. Such are: God is one; Christ is God and the Son of God; our salvation rests in God's mercy; and the like." Calvin, Institutes, 4.1.12

19Ibid., 4.1.9. Note that the Augsburg Confession (1530) similarly states: "But the Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught (recte [Germ. ed., rein, "purely"] doceture) and the Sacraments rightly administered (Germ. ed,. laut des Evangelii, "according to the Gospel"). Philip Schaff, ed., The Creeds of Christendom, 6th ed., vol. 3, The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 11-12.

20Interestingly, the exercise of church discipline also points to the existence of some form of formal governmental structure — an aspect necessary, but not unique, to the local church.

21The first Scottish Confession (1560) reads nearly the same as Calvin and the Augsburg, adding as a third mark, "Ecclesiastical discipline uprightlie ministred, as Goddis Worde prescribes, whereby vice is repressed, and vertew nurished." Ibid., 461-462. With the absence of church discipline, there cannot be effective discipleship. Likewise, without a church government there can be no effective church discipline.

22In Howard Snyder's, The Problem of Wineskins: Church Structure in a Technological Age (Downers Grover: InterVarsity Press, 1975), 161, denominations are set forth as parachurch structures — a position I am apprehensive to adopt. If by a denomination Snyder is pointing to a conceptual entity or structure (i.e., the relinquishing of individual self-government under Christ to form a more sovereign union), I agree with him. But if he is pointing to a federation of visible assemblies that have strong (formal) doctrinal and ecclesiastical ties, I disagree.

23Lausanne Occasional Papers c. 1983, 32. Of course, the very same questions can be posed to leaders of local churches, in which case a biblical basis for their specific mandate and methods of moral accountability should likewise be set forth.

24Grudem, 868-869.

25George Eldon Ladd's dynamic concept of the Kingdom is based on jurisdiction, and in my view is correct. He states, "The Kingdom is primarily the dynamic reign or kingly rule of God, and derivatively, the sphere in which the rule is experienced. In biblical idiom, the Kingdom is not identified with its subjects. They are the people of God's rule who enter it, live under it, and are governed by it. The church is the community of the Kingdom but never the Kingdom itself. Jesus' disciples belong to the Kingdom as the Kingdom belongs to them; but they are not the Kingdom. The Kingdom is the rule of God; the church is a society of women and men." George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, ed. Donald A. Hagner, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1993), 109.

26 7 ¸Eniìì de e(ka/st% h(mw_n e)do/qh

"But to each one of us was given")


h( xa/rij


½ kata

("according to")

½ to me/tron th=j dwrea=j

("the measure of the gift")

½ tou= Xristou=. . .

("of Christ")


8 eÃdwken

("he gave")


do/mata toiÍj a)nqrw¯poij.

("gifts to men")


11 kaiìì au)toj eÃdwken

("and he gave")

½ ¯

touj men a)posto/louj,

("some as apostles")

touj de profh/taj,

("some as prophets")

touj de eu)aggelista/j,

("and some as evangelists")

touj de poime/naj kaiìì didaska/louj

("and some as pastors and teachers")

27However, the LXX (in this case, 67:19) reads, eÃlabej do/mata e)n a)nqrw¯p%, "you received gifts in (among) men," emphasizing Christ's reception of gifts, whereas the apostle Paul applies this passage in terms of Christ's bestowal of those gifts received.

28We might also note that the use of the aorist for the verb di/dwmi ("I give") in this context, points to the reality of what was accomplished (past) in the resurrection of Christ.

29It is possible that Gen. 9:6 is a grant of civil authority to execute God's sanctions on the earth after the Fall.

30Verse 4, which describes the civil ruler as "God's servant, an agent of wrath," coordinates with and explains 12:19, which states, "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ÔIt is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord." Here the apostle admonishes believers not to step outside of their jurisdiction, which is the essence of revenge.

31In Rom. 13:1, 5, Titus 3:1 and I Pet. 2:13-14 the term used is u(pota/ssw, meaning "to subject oneself, be subjected or subordinated." BAGD, 848. The term is used a total of 37 times in the NT and falls into five general categories: (1) Submission in human relationships (Lk. 2:51 [Christ submitted to his parents]; I Cor. 14:32, 34; 16:16; Eph. 5:21; 24; Col. 3:18; Tit. 2:5, 9; I Pet. 2:18; 3:1, 5; 5:5). (2) T he creation submitted to Christ & Christ submitted to Go d (Lk. 10:17, 20; I Cor. 15:27 [3x], 28 [bis]; Eph. 1:22; Phil. 3:21; Heb. 2:5, 8 [3x]; I Pet. 3:22). (3) H uman submission to God (Rom. 8:7; 10:3; Heb. 12:9; Jam. 4:7). (4) Submission to rulers and authorities (Rom. 13:1, 5; Titus 3:1; I Pet. 2:13). (5) T he creation subject to frustration by God (Rom 8:20 [bis]). The majority of these occurrences have to do with submission within the realm of authority.

32Thre/w, "keep, observe, fulfill, pay attention to," esp. of law and teaching, BAGD, 815.

33A NT hapax legomenon, u(pei/kw "yield, fig. give way, submit to someone's authority," Ibid., 838.

34Note that u(pota/ssw is used regarding submission to the household of Stephanas and "everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it" (I Cor. 16:15-16).

35The exception is Acts 1:23-26 where Matthias is selected among the disciples. It is interesting, however, that the decision to add Matthias was grounded in Peter's understanding of Spirit-inspired Scripture (Acts 1:16, 20), and was fulfilled in prayer and the casting of lots (1:24-26).

36See also Acts 15:6, 13; Gal. 2:9, as well as Lk. 22:31 and Jn. 21:15ff.

37"And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme; and in raging fury against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities" (Acts 26:11, RSV).

38See Acts 22:6-21; 26:12-18 for more details. Unlike the original twelve, there appears to be a measure of community involvement in the recognition of Paul's call. Acts 13:2 states, "While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." Most likely the phrase, "the Holy Spirit said" was a prophetic word given by one of the prophets mentioned in verse one. Note that in Acts 21:10-11, the prophet Agabus prophesied to Paul with the phrase, "The Holy Spirit says . . . ."

39This is not to suggest that every leadership position must of necessity be chosen by the assembly. Instead, I am merely pointing to the human element evident in the selection of leadership outside the circle of apostles.

40See Jer. 1:5-10; Ez. 1:3; Dan. 1:17; 2:28; Hos. 1:1; Joel 1:1; Jon. 1:1; Mic. 1:1; Zeph. 1:1; Hag. 1:1; Zech. 1:7; Mal. 1:1.

41Lit. "the Anointed One," descriptive of the Spirit-anointed leader in Is. 11:1-9; 61:1-7 and elsewhere throughout the OT.

42Certainly there was great strengthening in the hour of his trial, when "Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55). Encouragement on the whole, however, is granted by God through the fellowship of His people; "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Heb. 10:25; see also 13:9).

43Lawlessness or a)nomi¿a in Matt. 7:23 is used only another 14 times in the NT: Matt. 13:41; 23:28; 24:12; Rom. 4:7; 6:19 (bis); II Cor. 6:14; II Thess. 2:3, 7; Tit. 2:14; Heb. 1:9; 10:17; I Jn. 3:4 (bis).

44Frightening indeed are the woes pronounced against those who "shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces" through their hypocritical leadership (Matt. 23:13; see vss. 15-36).

45With the possible exception of the requirement of being an "apt teacher" as an elder (I Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:9).

46In my view, presbu/teroj ("elder") in Tit. 1:5 is equated with e)pi/skopoj ("overseer") in 1:7 with the explanatory connective deiÍ gar, "for":

5 Appoint elders in every city


6 if any man be above reproach

½ ½

For (deiÍ gar)

¯ ¯

the overseer must be above reproach

as God's steward

47Gunai=kaj, "women" can be "women deacons" or "wives." In my view, the context appears to favor the latter.

48Clearly, Timothy (and Titus) have already been tested and approved by Paul before appointment to such leadership positions. Evidence for this approval is in Phil 2:22, "But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel"; and II Cor. 8:23, "As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you . . . ." Note also Rom. 16:10, "Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ."

49More specifically, the elder is required to be "an apt teacher," who is able to "hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also confute those who contradict it" (I Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:9).

50Paul did not question whether false doctrines would emerge within the assembly of God's people. He warns the Ephesian elders, "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears" (Acts 20:29-31).

51We observe this same receptivity to God's Spirit in the apostle Peter in Acts 10:19.

52Even in the case of being full of God's power we observe an influence on the character of an individual (cf. Rom. 1:16). The working of signs and wonders by Stephen and Philip in these instances were just one of several different manifestations of God's power (I Cor. 12:7-11).

53For a thorough discussion on the Lukan/Pauline distinction in emphasis of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, see Roger Stronstad's published M.A. thesis, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke (Peabody: Hendrickson Pub., 1984).

54The noun oi)kono/moj "steward," occurs a total of 10 times in the NT. It is used four times in the gospel of Luke as a steward in Jesus' parables (Lk. 12:42; 16:1, 3, 8). Once it is used in Romans regarding Erastus, the "city treasurer" (Rom. 16:23). Twice it is used in I Corinthians 4:1, 2 regarding the apostle Paul's own ministry (note this reference in the text above). Galatians 4:2 uses it once to describe the steward who manages a young son's affairs until he comes of age. And in addition to the reference under consideration (Tit. 1:7), I Peter 4:10 uses it as a general exhortation, with the grace of God as the object; "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (NASB).

55"Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account" (NASB).

56In this context, the content of Paul's example is clearly explained in the previous verse, "For I am not seeking my own good but the good of the many . . . ." Undoubtedly Paul is thinking of Christ's attitude as recorded in Matt. 20:28, "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

57Paul is explicit about how he lived among the Thessalonians in I Thess. 2:10; "You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed."

58Most likely, the apostle had in mind serious charges that were public in nature (see preceding verse 19).

59Note that Eph. 4:14-15 goes on to describe doctrinal fidelity as a result of maturity in Christ.

60It is interesting to note that in Tit. 2:1, Paul's admonition on what should be taught to older men is very similar to the character qualifications for elders previously listed in chapter one.

61Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, 111.

62For example, I have heard reports that the well-known Christian musical artist Michael Card submits all of his song lyrics to the elders and pastor of his home church for evaluation before they are recorded and released. Card undoubtedly recognizes that spiritual accountability in his "ministry" is best accomplished through strong ecclesiastical ties. Similar ties are visible between the Evangelical Free Church denomination and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL), as well as various denominational Christian Colleges.

63The importance of a consensual framework within the community of God's people is seen in other aspects of the Christian life. For further discussion on this point, see the introduction to Thomas C. Oden's, The Transforming Power of Grace (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993).

64No one needs to be reminded of the problems that have occurred since the late 1980's among a variety of television-based parachurch structures that did not implement or observe a biblical framework for moral accountability. A positive example of a parachurch organization that did implement such a framework is seen in Billy Graham Ministries. For a detailed interview and discussion of how this framework was established see Terry C. Muck, ed., "William Franklin Graham: Seventy Exceptional Years," Christianity Today, November 18 1988, 17-23.

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