Posted by Mark Lindley on 21 April 2019 | Comments

          God’s plan for the oversight of the church is revealed in the New Testament. The term “oversight” means “the action of overseeing something; supervision, management.” According to the New Testament, elders have the oversight of local congregations of the church.

            Without question, Jesus is the supreme authority of the church. He is the “head.” Paul wrote, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). Therefore, Jesus has all authority over the church (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:22-23). King Jesus rules over his kingdom, the church, from heaven (Acts 2:29-33, 36; Matthew 16:18-19; Mark 16:19). He rules through his powerful word, the New Testament (Colossians 3:16-17).

            Some teach that the Pope is the head of the church on earth. This doctrine, however, contradicts what the New Testament clearly teaches about the headship of Christ. Christ is “the” head of the body. He is not “a” head; He is the only “head” of the church.

            On the other hand, God has a plan for the oversight of individual congregations of the church. The New Testament reveals that elders are to be appointed to serve as overseers of congregations.

            When Paul wanted to address the leaders of the church of Ephesus, he called for the elders: “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church” (Acts 20:17). When the elders came, Paul identified those men as the “overseers” of the flock (church) in Ephesus: “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” (Acts 20:28). Notice that there were “elders,” meaning more than one man, who had the oversight of the church of Ephesus.

            Not only did the Ephesian church have elders, but it was God’s plan for all churches to have elders. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in “every church” they had established (Acts 14:23).

            Those who are appointed as elders must meet specific qualifications set forth in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Having been appointed to this work, elders are to be spiritual shepherds of the flock (I Peter 5:1-3), serving under Christ, the chief shepherd (I Peter 5:4).

            If I were attending the services of a church which chose to have no elders, I would want to know why no men had been appointed to serve as elders. If I were attending the services of a church that had “a pastor,” rather than “elders” as overseers, I would want to know why that church had changed God’s plan for the oversight of the church. Dear reader, please consider these things.