One Apostolic Church

These Bible Quotes highlight some of the various essential ingredients of the Apostolic Reformation of the Church,the One Apostolic Church, which are:

This article is for fundamentalist evangelical Protestant Christians who are considering creating a new denomination, an Apostolic Reformation of the Church to take them back to true apostolic Christianity.


Ordination

This section addresses these questions:

The Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches teach the notions of (1) apostolic succession, and (2) sacramental ordination. Protestants must of necessity reject both teachings, that's a cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation.

(Acts 14:23) And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Barnabas and Paul are the ones ordaining. Notice that they ordained men who were already leaders. In choosing who to ordain, they were merely recognizing God's call, not imparting the power of leadership. In the passages in 1 Timothy and Titus we learn that these leaders must have exhibited certain traits already implying that they have already been leaders for a while.

There is no mention of seminary training or denominational authority. The leaders of the early church became leaders because they were called by God; that was all that was required. Certainly leaders should be educated in the essentials of the Christian faith and certainly they should have a pastor's heart.

There is no mention of denominations of branches of Christianity because there was only one church at the time. Therefore, we should not have them either. This is not to say that all local churches must be identical because this is impossible. Even the churches in apostolic times had major differences between them:

(Revelation 1:20) The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Even though these churches had different characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses they were all one church. Thus, a Baptist can ordain a Presbyterian. The fact that denominations typically don't ordain ministers of other denominations implies that they are emphasizing their differences too much. This is, in my view, a problem with denominationalism. (The Catholic and Orthodox views in this regard are even worse.)

Some denominations only ordain you when they send you off to plant a church.

(Acts 13:2) As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

(Acts 13:3) And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

There is no reason to assume that this event was even an ordination at all.

(Acts 6:5) And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

(Acts 6:6) Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

Likewise, there is no reason to believe that this event was an ordination.

(Acts 8:15) Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

(Acts 8:16) (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

(Acts 8:17) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

(Acts 28:8) And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.

Certainly the act of laying on of hands doesn't necessarily mean ordination.

(Titus 1:5) For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.

(Titus 1:9) Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

An important qualification of a church leader is that they be orthodox. A strong argument, in my view, against apostolic succession is that so many bishops and popes were not orthodox. How can an unholy, corrupt, worldly man be the teacher and defender of the faith?

(1 Timothy 2:7) Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

What is interesting about this verse is that Paul was not ordained for the early years of his ministry but he acted as a leader of the Church.

(1 Timothy 5:22) Lay hands suddenly on no man.

Church leaders should have a verifiable history of orthodoxy and faithfulness. The apostles intended that the men they ordained would not be heretics.

(1 Timothy 3:11) Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

(1 Timothy 3:12) Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

If church leaders in the apostolic church could be married why must modern church leaders be unmarried? It doesn't make any sense.

In the apostolic age and the early church only men were church leaders — or so it is said. I suspect there were many women leading local congregationsbut women were not bishops. Certainly there were women prophetessesand deaconessesbut these disappeared after a while, probably when prophets disappeared, replaced by the strong hierarchical bishop.

(Romans 16:1) I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.

The word "servant" is the word diakonos used also of deacons.

(Acts 21:9) And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

The office of prophet was a significant and important one in the early church. Notice in this case they were women.

(1 Corinthians 9:5) Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?

If it was OK for the apostles to be married, surely it must be OK for modern church leaders to be married.


Church Leadership

Apostles, Bishops, Priests, Elders, Presbyters, Deacons, Prophets, Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists

The New Testament refers to various kinds of church leaders and church governance. It seems that the church was at first localized to the larger cities. It wasn't until later that each city began to have one bishop with multiple presbyters (priests) and deacons. I suspect that many of these presbyters and deacons were unpaid volunteers who worked for a living. I suspect also that most of the greetings by the writers of the New Testament letters are to bishops, presbyters, and deacons.

In the early days of the church there were also prophets and teachers but only for the first hundred years or so; after this the bishops took over the role as prophet and teacher. In my view this process of strengthening the powers of the bishop was detrimental to the spiritual well-being of Christians at large and to the church — It took only 1,000 years for this to lead to the great schism which permanently split the church into east and west in 1054 A.D.

There is no reason to accept the rise in power of Patriarchs and Patriarchates.

This section addresses these questions:

In modern business there are various roles / positions such as president, manager, lead. People are assigned (promoted, hired) for these roles / positions by their superiors; thus there is a hierarchical structure of power, authority, and responsibility. People in these roles / positions have various defined responsibilities and their performance is judged by their superiors. I use the word "office" in the discussion below to refer to the equivalent church roles / positions.

This discussion hinges on eight words:

  1. Apostolos — This word is often translated as apostle.
  2. Episkopos, Episkope — This word is often translated as bishop. Catholics consider the bishop to be an office — in fact they claim that bishops are the authority of the church; meaning that they define doctrine, teach the faith, lead the people, and appoint and ordain priests and deacons.
  3. Presbuteros — This word is often translated as elder. In the writings of the early church fathers it is often translated as presbyter. Some Protestants consider the elder to be a church office second only to the pastor. Within 200 years this word became priest.
  4. Diakonos, Diakoneo — Catholic and Protestants typically use this to refer to the office of the deacon. Some Protestants allow for women to be deaconesses.
  5. Poimen — Pastor, Shepherd.
  6. Prophetes, Prophetis, Propheteuo — Prophet
  7. Euaggelistes — Evangelist
  8. Didaskalos — Teacher
  9. Kerusso, Kerux — Preacher

The disciple at Damascus named Ananias (Acts 9) who went to Saul in obedience was probably an elder. We should note that there is no mention of elders, presbyters, deacons before this; it seems that the word disciple was used for all the various categories of church leaders.

Saul (the apostle Paul) probably studied Christianity in his work persecuting Christians; he likely heard Stephan's speech. His conversion did not occur in a vacuum.

The apostle Paul commanded the Corinthian church to shun and excommunicate a sinful member. In doing so he acted as the bishop of this church in Corinth. He expected all the elders (presbyters) and deacons to enforce his command. Perhaps this decree of Paul is a model for the role of the bishops and their power over a group of local churches? Without a bishop in charge of many churches excommunication is practically not feasible — the person can merely go to another local church that will accept them. But as the rampant liberalism (and worse) in the Catholic Church demonstrates, having church authority vested in the bishop (and even the pope) doesn't prevent these problems at all. Perhaps Paul's example of church authority set the stage for the post-apostolic emphasis on bishops as the leaders of the church but as history shows, this system of church governance does not result in true doctrine and church unity. Perhaps the leaders of each local church need to be in regular communication with one another so they can as a group enforce excommunication decrees by one of them (or revoke the decree if they think it is unjust).


elder = bishop

Several passages equate elders with bishops.

(Titus 1:5) For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.

(Titus 1:7) For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.

elder = bishop

(1 Peter 5:1) The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

(1 Peter 5:2) Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.

elder = bishop


Church Governance

(Ephesians 4:11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.

(1 Corinthians 12:28) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

These verses defines the way in which the church should be governed. There are many roles of leadership. Notice there is no reference to bishops, elders, presbyters, or deacons. The church is to be organized with the focus on ministry; not as a strong, hierarchical, government patterned after secular government.

The word hierateia (office of priesthood) is never used for Christian leaders.

(Hebrews 7:5) And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham.

(Luke 1:8) And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,


kerusso, kerux — preacher

(Romans 10:14) How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

One responsibility of all church leaders is to preach the gospel so people can repent and become redeemed. Certainly the apostles did this. In my view today's bishops should also do this.

(1 Timothy 2:7) Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

(2 Timothy 1:11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

Notice that Paul equates his ordination as apostle, as preacher, and as teacher. Thus, ordination is merely the calling by God to do the work of God in the church.

(2 Peter 2:5) And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

Even Old Testament characters were preachers.


euaggelistes — evangelist

(Ephesians 4:11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Evangelists are considered equal to apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers. This is a different conception than that of the church 100 years later in which the bishops, presbyters, and deacons were the only ordained church leaders. A change took place; the question is whether or not the modern church should emulate that change?

(Acts 21:8) And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

Philip was very active. He was one of the 7 deacons (Acts 6:5), he performed miracles in Samaria (Acts 8:6), taught and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:37), was visited by Paul (Acts 21:8) in Caesarea where he lived with his 4 daughters who were prophetesses (Acts 21:9). We should note that he was a deacon yet is referred to in this verse as "the evangelist" implying that his role as deacon was not the main thing. If the office of deacon was an ordained office of the church we should rather expect him to be referred to by that title.

The term evangelist is not used much in the New Testament but certainly the role of evangelist is strongly emphasized — much of the book of Acts concerns the topic of evangelism.

(2 Timothy 4:5) But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

This example is even more striking than that of Philip. Timothy is a bishop but is referred to as an evangelist rather than a bishop. (He was sent by Paul to ordain bishops; surely he himself must have also been a bishop — refer to 1 Timothy 3:2.) In the New Testament there are many examples of church leaders evangelizing, but the word evangelist is not used often.


didaskalos — teacher

(1 Corinthians 12:28) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

(Ephesians 4:11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.

The role of teacher is equated with that of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor. Today Christians typically regard teaching as merely a particular activity that anyone can do but these passages equate it with church leadership.

(Acts 13:1) Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

In Acts 9:27 we see Barnabas vouching for Paul as an authentic apostle. How could he have done such a thing unless he himself were a presbyter or elder? Yet later he is referred to as a prophet and teacher. It seems these roles were equal to presbyter and elder.

The role of teacher is emphasized in the New Testament.

(Romans 12:6) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

(Romans 12:7) Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

The words ministry and ministering are the same word translated as deacon. In these verses we see the role of teaching as equal to that of deacon. Yet in the later church the office of deacon is emphasized over teacher. The question is whether this shift should be normative in the church today?

(1 Timothy 2:7) Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

(2 Timothy 1:11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

Paul considers his role as teacher to as important as that of apostle. Yet the later church replaced the role of apostle with that of ordained bishop but the role of teacher was de-emphasized. I doubt if this development was an apostolic teaching.

(Hebrews 5:12) For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

The writer seems to be addressing Christians at large. He is saddened that they are not diligent in learning the faith. He wishes all to be teachers. I'm not sure how every Christian could be a teacher in the church — perhaps he is subtly rebuking the leaders (presbyters and elders) for not fulfilling their proper role or for not having a solid understanding of the faith.

(John 3:2) The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

There were teachers before the apostolic era. These were Jewish teachers but they played no role in the church.

If the structure of the church is to be modelled on that of God's chosen nation of Israel then we should expect the church to have the equivalent of Rabbi's; teachers who have spiritual authority over the Christians at large.


prophetes, prophetis — prophet

(1 Corinthians 12:28) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

The role of prophet is emphasized in the New Testament. In this verse Paul equates it with the role of apostle. Why should we not have prophets in the church today? And if we do, this role should be a role of church leadership, not merely someone who occasionally speaks out God's word. Charismatics who claim to have prophets probably model this in that these prophets typically travel around (but some are word-faith advocates who fleece the flock).

(Ephesians 3:5) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.

(Ephesians 4:11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

The role of prophet is equated with that of apostle. In my view we should have prophets in the church today who are equal in rank to bishops.

(Romans 12:6) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

(Romans 12:7) Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

The words ministry and ministering: are often translated deacon. It seems that the role of prophet is equated with that of deacon. Early in church history the deacon was an ordained role; it seems to me that prophet should have been also. I'm not convinced that the particular development of the church roles was ordained of God. In my view we should look to the examples of the apostolic church as our model but we should allow for those later developments if certain church communities wish to practice those instead.

(1 Corinthians 14:29) Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

It appears that a local congregation might have many prophets just as it might have many deacons. I suspect that most prophets, deacons, presbyters, and elders were not paid staff but performed their church ministry in their spare time.

There seem to be two categories of prophets: (1) those who stayed in their local church (probably because their paid work was local), and (2) those who travelled around prophesying for various Christian communities.

(Acts 15:32) And Judas [Barnabas] and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.

Barnabas and Silas were sent by the apostles and elders from Jerusalem to deliver the letter drafted by the council of Jerusalem to the Gentiles in Antioch. In Acts 15:22 they are referred to as leaders. In this verse we learn that they were prophets. It appears that prophets had the same status as elders or presbyters.

(Acts 11:27) And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

As a result of the prophecies of one of these prophets Agabus, the church sent relief money to the elders in Jerusalem. It would seem therefore that the role of prophet was equivalent to that of elder.

In my long years of hearing Bible studies I was left with the impression that the various people we read about who were actively doing things in the early church were just regular ordinary Christians, that they were the Christian equivalent of "Joe the Plumber"; there was rarely an emphasis placed on their leadership role. But I am beginning to believe that most, if not all, of these were actually church leaders, equivalent to today's pastors, deacons, elders, priests, and bishops.

(Revelation 16:6) For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

Perhaps the prophets referred to are the Old Testament prophets.

(Acts 21:9) And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

Presumably these prophesied in their local church or the churches in the same city. They seem to have been consecrated to an married life similar to Catholic sisters (or perhaps they were merely as yet unmarried; but why would the writer refer to them as virgins in this case?) There are clear examples of women prophetesses and deaconesses and possibly even presbyters (refer to Colossians 4:15; Acts 12:12,16:40; 2 John 1:1).

(Acts 3:22) For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

Jesus is referred to as a prophet.

(Ephesians 2:20) And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.

I believe the prophets referred to in this verse are the Old Testament prophets. Christianity is built on the Old Testament.

(Revelation 2:20) Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

There were false prophets in New Testament times just as there were heretical bishops in the next generations of early church history.


poimen — pastor, shepherd

(Ephesians 4:11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Pastors are equated with apostles. There are so few verses using the word pastor that I wonder why so many churches emphasize the role of pastor instead of bishop (or presbyter or elder)?

(Hebrews 13:20) Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

(1 Peter 2:25) For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Jesus is referred to as pastor.


episkopos, episkope — bishop

(Philippians 1:1) Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

There were multiple bishops in Philippi. Paul is probably writing to those who lived in the one-half-mile square city as well as those in the surrounding countryside. Philippi at the time had a population of perhaps less than 100,000 with maybe 50 Christians. Acts 16:40 implies that there was at least one house church in Philippi; there were probably more than one with a bishop leading each group. Perhaps different areas of the surrounding countryside each had their own bishop.

This is the only letter of Paul's to a Christian community in which he specifically mentions the leaders in his greeting. The word bishop is used similarly to the word elder. Perhaps he used the word bishop because there were so few Jews living in that city or because of the higher population of military men. In any case, the reference to bishop doesn't match the usage in the next generations of the church in which there is one bishop per city.

(1 Timothy 3:1) This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

The phrase "office of a bishop" is merely the word episkope.

(Titus 1:7) For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

Unfortunately, the qualifications of a bishop were not always followed. Notice that bishops can be married; but the Catholic and Orthodox churches don't allow this.

(Acts 1:20) For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take.

The apostles were bishops.

(Acts 20:28) Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

The purpose of a bishop is to oversee the flock of Christians.

(1 Peter 2:25) For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Jesus is referred to as a Bishop.


presbuteros — elders, presbyters

This word is used of both Jewish and Christian leaders.

(Acts 15:6) And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

There are no bishops in this council. This doesn't match the Catholic teaching that bishops are the head of the church; here we see that it is presbyters that are the head of the church.

(Acts 21:18) And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

There were many elders in Jerusalem. Perhaps the apostles had by now left Jerusalem and were evangelizing the world. James was still in Jerusalem because he was the head of the church in Jerusalem. The elders were probably leaders of the various house churches in Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside.

(1 Timothy 5:1) Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

(1 Timothy 5:2) The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

Here the word elder seems to refer to age.

(1 Timothy 5:17) Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

We see two things about elders in this verse: (1) elders are rulers in the church (just as bishops are), and (2) elders are involved in the word and doctrine (just as bishops are); presumably this means that they are teachers and defenders of the Christian faith.

(Titus 1:5) For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.

If Titus is a bishop, why is he going to Crete to appoint other elders? The other local bishops should be doing that. Presumably Titus is going to Crete to determine which church leaders are truly qualified to lead the church and to acknowledge this via ordination. It seems that Crete is in need of apostolic recognition which has not occurred yet because none of the apostles have travelled there yet for this purpose.

(James 5:14) Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

The elders have the special role of praying for the sick. The Catholic Church teaches that this is referring to priests. Certainly this verse supports the Catholic teaching on this matter.

(1 Peter 5:1) The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

Peter considers himself to also be an elder.

(2 John 1:1) The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

John considers himself to be an elder.

(Acts 11:30) Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Why would someone of inferior rank be sent to deliver money to the elders in Jerusalem? It seems that Barnabas and Saul were of equal rank to that of presbyter or elder, or they were at least equivalent to a deacon. In the early church councils deacons had a role equivalent to bishops.

(Acts 14:23) And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Paul ordained elders. It seems he was not ordaining merely the bishop of each city but the many leaders within each city. Presumably these were already leading house churches and Paul was giving his apostolic seal of approval via the rite of ordination. I imagine that he interviewed people in each congregation to verify that each elder was qualified.

(Acts 4:5) And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes.

(Acts 4:23) And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.

This refers to Jewish leaders.

(Hebrews 11:2) For by it the elders obtained a good report.

This refers to Jewish saints. The remainder of the chapter lists some of these.


diakonos, diakoneo — deacon

(1 Timothy 3:8) Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre.

In 1 Timothy 3:2 the qualifications for bishop includes the phrase "apt to teach". Presumably this is because bishops tend to teach more whereas deacons tend to perform more service-oriented tasks.

(1 Timothy 3:2) A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.

(Philippians 1:1) Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.

It seems that wherever there are elders or bishops that deacons are also present.

(1 Timothy 3:10) And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.

The phrase "office of a deacon" is merely the word diakoneo. The King James Version of the Bible was translated by Anglicans who retained the Catholic church offices of Bishop and Deacon.

(Acts 6:4) But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

The word ministry is the word deacon. Notice that the apostles are also deacons. It seems that teaching and preaching is also the proper role of a deacon.

(Acts 6:2) Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

The word serve is the word deacon. The role of assisting with people's material needs is the role of the deacon. The Catholic Church grants the deacon much more authority than this — a deacon is almost a priest.

(Acts 6:1) And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

(1 Corinthians 3:5) Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

(Romans 15:25) But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

(Romans 12:7) Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching.

(2 Timothy 4:5) But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

(Acts 19:22) So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

(Romans 15:8) Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.

(Hebrews 1:14) Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

The word ministry / minister is the word deacon. Even Jesus had this characteristic.

(2 Corinthians 11:15) Therefore it is no great thing if his [Satan's] ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Even Satan has ministers. This indicates that this word is used in a very generic way to refer to performing activities.


apostolos — apostle

(Acts 15:6) And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

At this time the apostles were still clumped together in Jerusalem. By the time of Acts 21 it seems that they had finally left.

(1 Corinthians 12:28) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

(Ephesians 4:11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.

Clearly the apostles played a key role in the early church.

(Ephesians 2:20) And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.

(Revelation 21:14) And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Clearly the apostles provided the foundation of the church; the church is to be apostolic.

(Ephesians 3:5) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.

The apostles were the ones who first brought the truths of Christianity to the world. They taught the next generation of church leaders.

(1 Timothy 2:7) Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

(2 Timothy 1:11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

Paul was an apostle even though he was not a disciple of Jesus before the resurrection; he doesn't match the qualifications specified by Peter:

(Acts 1:20) For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take.

(Acts 1:21) Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

(Acts 1:22) Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

Paul claims to have been specially chosen by Jesus to be an apostle.

(Galatians 1:11) But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

(Galatians 1:12) For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 12:2) I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

Was Peter wrong in insisting that there needed to be 12 apostles and that the qualifications for an apostle were that he was with Jesus from the first?

(Acts 14:14) Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out.

Barnabas is referred to as an apostle.

(1 Thessalonians 1:1) Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Thessalonians 2:6) Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

Silas and Timothy are referred to as apostles.

(1 Corinthians 4:6) And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

(1 Corinthians 4:9) For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

Apollos is referred to as an apostle.

(Romans 11:13) For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.

This verse hints that there are two kinds of apostles: (1) the twelve who were with Jesus, and (2) those who are called to plant churches, to raise up church leaders, and to bring Christianity to the world.


House Church

It seems the early church typically met in people's houses. Presumably the elders were the leaders of these house churches.

People often say the reason that people met in houses in the early apostolic church was to avoid Roman persecution, but I see no evidence of this; the only early Roman persecution was in Rome in 64 A.D. The most common persecution at the time came from Jews, yet Christians were apparently allowed in some places to attend the synagogue and even to speak in the synagogue.

(Philemon 1:2) And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house.

Paul greets Archippus, the leader of a house church in the city of Colosse.

(Colossians 4:17) And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.

(Colossians 4:15) Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his [her?] house.

One of the local churches in Laodicea met at the house of Nymphas (who was likely a woman).

(Acts 2:46) And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.

They met in the temple and in people's homes. Presumably it is the church at large which met daily in the temple, not every Christian.

(Romans 16:3) Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:

(Romans 16:4) Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.

(Romans 16:5) Likewise greet the church that is in their house. . . .

Priscilla and Aquila hosted a house church.

(Acts 18:24) And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.

(Acts 18:25) This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

(Acts 18:26) And he [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

The Christians Aquila and Priscilla as well as Apollos the disciple of John attended the synagogue and were allowed to speak. Aquila and Priscilla brought Apollos unto to them (presumably to their house church; the NIV mentions the word house).

(Luke 7:20) When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?

(Acts 12:12) And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

They were gathered together in someone's home. Presumably this kind of gathering was a regular occurrence.

(1 Corinthians 1:11) For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

It seems each of the factions of the Corinthians church factions was led by the leader of a house church.

(Acts 16:40) And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

Presumably this was a gathering of the church in someone's home.

(2 John 1:1) The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth.

Presumably this letter was addressed to a woman who was the leader of a house church.


Unity

The New Testament does not teach that Christian unity is based on institutional unity.

(Ephesians 4:3) Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

(Ephesians 4:13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

In the context, Paul is clearly not referring to an institutional unity but to unity of the faith, of belief, of a brotherhood of love.

(John 17:21) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

The unity within the Trinity is not institutional but a unity of essence and purpose.

(Romans 14:4) Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

Paul allows for various views regarding whether or not a person will eat food sacrificed to idols. Thus, he does not demand a fixed rule for all Christians on non-essential issues.