Summary: The New Testament provides instruction on how the Lord wants His Church to be governed. Two offices are to be found in each mature congregation - Elders and Deacons. This is a brief look at these two offices.
1. When Paul wrote his Letter to the congregation at Philippi, he addressed it to “all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons” (Philippians 1:1). This verse (with others from the New Testament) indicate that when completely and Scripturally organized, a congregation will have leaders who belong to the offices of overseers and deacons.
The intent of this lesson is to give a brief overview of the organization of a mature congregation of the New Testament Church.
2. In Ephesians 2:19-22, we learn that the Church was built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus being the Cornerstone: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” Not only is Christ the “cornerstone,” but also the Head of the Church. Ephesians 1:20-23; 5:23-24, “He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body….For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.”
Christ rules the Church as its Head by delivering to it His rules and regulations. He has delivered those rules and regulations through His 1st Century Apostles and Prophets, which are collected together in the New Testament Scriptures. To help the Church to understand and follow those rules and regulations, Christ established ministers for the Church. Ephesians 4:11-13, “He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.”
3. The primary ministers who are to lead a congregation are the “overseers” as mentioned in Philippians 1:1. The “overseers” are given three different names in the New Testament. Let’s briefly look at the three different names -
Elders or Presbyters.
The most common name given to the congregational leaders was “Elders.” Acts 14:23; 20:17, “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed….And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.”