The Organization of the Church

The Doctrine of the Church - Lesson # 11

Joel Stephen Williams


    I. Some temporary positions or functions in the church

       A. Apostles - Rom. 16:7; 1 Cor. 9:5-6; 15:5-7; 2 Cor. 8:23; 11:5, 13; Phil. 2:25

            1.  An apostle was one who was sent, so in a broad sense, many in the early church were apostles. The word "missionary" is quite similar in meaning.

            2.  A more limited sense of "apostle" would be in reference to the twelve, sometimes the apostle Paul being considered equivalent - Mt. 10:2; 2 Cor. 12:12; Gal. 1:1; Rev. 21:4

            3.  In the more limited sense of the word "apostle," what were some distinctive features of an apostle's ministry or work which means that no one alive today can fulfill this role? Acts 1:2, 8, 21-26; 2 Cor. 12:12

            4.  While we do not have living apostles in the church today, we still have apostles through their teaching which is contained within the New Testament. This means that we can still be "apostolic" in that we continue to follow after the teaching of those specially chosen by Christ who were witnesses to his resurrection - Acts 2:42.

            5.  In what way was Christ an "apostle" and an example for his apostles?

       B. Prophets - 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 2:20; 4:11

            1.  What was the ministry of New Testament prophets? Acts 11:27-28; 1 Cor. 14; 1 Pet. 1:10-12

            2.  Why are prophets considered as a temporary ministry or function?

            3.  Just because we do not have living prophets alive today who are inspired by the Holy Spirit, does that mean we have no prophetic guidance for the church today?

            4.  In what way was Christ a "prophet" and an example for his prophets?

  II. Some permanent or enduring positions or functions in the church

       A. Leaders, overseers or shepherds

            1.  What different names or titles were used for these leaders? What were their duties and responsibilities? 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1-4; Phil. 1:1; Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11; 1 Thess. 5:12; Heb. 13:17

            2.  In what ways was Christ as a shepherd an example for his shepherds? 1 Pet. 5:4; Jn. 10:1-18

       B. Teachers, preachers, evangelists

            1.  Eph. 4:11; 1 Tim. 4:6, 11-16; 6:2; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:10-4:5; Tit. 2:4

            2.  What other position or function did some teachers hold in the New Testament church?

            3.  In what ways were women involved in the role of teaching? What are the chief responsibilities of teachers? Jas. 3

            4.  In what ways was Christ as a teacher an example for his teachers?

       C. Servants

            1.  1 Pet. 4:11; Rom. 12:7; 16:6, 12; 1 Tim. 3:8-13; Phil. 1:1; 4:2-3 

            2.  In what ways were women involved in the role of serving? It is a disputed question as to whether or not some women received appointment or recognition for special ministries within the church. If they did, what two categories are the most likely in this regard? Rom. 16:1-2; 1 Tim. 3:11 (compare translations); 1 Tim. 5:3-16. What limitations were placed on the ministry of women in the early church? 1 Cor. 14:33-35; 1 Tim. 2:9-14

            3.  What are some of the specific types of service found in the New Testament?

            4.  In what ways was Christ as a servant an example for his servants? Mk. 10:45; Acts 10:38

III. Conclusion

       A. What overall goal was the organization of the early church trying to attain? How is this sort of organization adaptable to a variety of cultures over the centuries? Eph. 4:11-13

       B. Memory verse - Eph. 4:11