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The Pauline Bootcamp: Session V

Pauline Local Church Polity:
Its infrastructure and officers

Robert E. Walsh, Trinity Grace Fellowship, 1997

Table of Contents

0. Introduction

I. The synagogue during the time of Christ and Paul

A. The Personnel of the Synagogue

1. Ordained Leadership

2. Non-ordained Functionaries

B. The Service of the Synagogue

1. The Official Meeting

2. The Unofficial Meeting

II. The Pauline assembly

A. The Purpose of the Pauline Assembly

1. General Edification of the Saints

2. To Teach Others to Teach Others

B. An Overview of the Infrastructure of the Pauline Assembly.

1. Its Three-fold Division: Bishops, Deacons, and Saints

2. The Floating Office: The Evangelist

C. The Saints of the Pauline Assembly

D. The Deacons of the Pauline Assembly

1. The Character of Deacons

2. The Role of Deacons

3. The Ordination of Deacons

E. The Bishops of the Pauline Assembly

1. The Character of Bishops

2. The Role of a Bishop

3. The Evangelist (Traveling Bishop)

4. The Ordination of Bishops

F. Equivalent Terms for Deacon and Bishop

G. The Role of the "Non-Elder" Male of the Pauline Assembly

H. The Role of the Women of the Pauline Assembly

I. Starting (Booting-up) a Pauline Assembly

III. A comparison of the synagogue and the Pauline assembly

IV. References

0. Introduction
This module is the second under the general category of Pauline Ecclesiology. Herein we examine the particular structure of the local Pauline assembly, and detail its infrastructure, officers, role of male "non-officer" saints, and the role of female saints. We also examine the question of how a local assembly is to be started and what the criteria are for such a testimony. Much has been taken from sources [1,2,5], in particular the format of [5] has been closely followed.

Our English word "church" is an indirect derivation from the Greek word KURIAKON, meaning "of the Lord" or "belonging to the Lord". We see our English word in both the German "Kirche" and Scottish "Kirk". However, the New Testament uses EKKLESIA for the local gathering of body saints. This is a compound word from EK meaning "out of", and KALEO meaning "to call". Hence, the root intent of EKKLESIA is "to call out", "to be called out", or more properly "called-out-ones". The idea is that the "members" of the local assembly have been "called out" to join together for the purpose of "being edified into the body of Christ" (Eph 4:13). Thus, the word "assembly" is used to show that saints "assemble together" for the primary purpose of maturation. The implication from this principle as laid down in Eph 4:13 (and context) is that the primary purpose for the local assembly is for the "professing christian" or saint and NOT for the "evangelization of the lost". No such things as "altar calls"!

Paul was not given his ecclesiology in a vacuum. The Lord used the synagogue and its structure after which to pattern the Pauline local assembly. The Normative Hermeneutic would have us understand the text within the context of the original audience. This audience would have been very familiar with the Synagogue and its polity and as it will become clear, Paul derived much of his church polity from that local organization. We will begin our study by looking first at the Synagogal infrastructure then the Pauline design of the local assembly and finally show how Paul used the Synagogue as a pattern for his local ecclesiastical polity.

Suggested reading and sources for this study are listed in the reference section below.

I. The synagogue during the time of Christ and Paul

As stated above, much of the material in this section is taken from [1,2,5]. Since the synagogue came prior to Paul, the Normative Hermeneutic in particular the Law of Precedence, requires that we understand the synagogue first. The synagogal system was the Jewish solution to the problems arising from the Babylonian Captivity and Dispersion (circa 600 B.C.) thereby having no Temple in which to worship. In almost every city in which Jews lived they constructed Synagogues for central worship, Bible reading, and prayer. There was a system of "due process" and "infrastructure" by which they carried out their daily activities in the Synagogue. These activities included Bible study, observance of holidays, inviting guest rabbis (teachers, speakers), caring for the poor, ministering to Gentiles, etc. The Synagogues were well understood in the New Testament (Luke 4:14,15) and of course were the main place of the Jewish religion outside of the Herodian Temple in Jerusalem. Indeed, some legends contend that Jerusalem alone had some 480 Synagogues. Interestingly enough, the great city of Capernaum apparently had no Synagogue until the arrival of the Roman Centurion (a proselyte of the Gate) who provided at least the funding and perhaps the construction as well (Luke 7:1-10). Indeed, if a Synagogue was unavailable for whatever reason (i.e., financial) the Jewish people would "synagogue in their homes" especially in the early days of the Synagogal practice. We see Body saints meeting in homes as well (example - Philemon 2).

A. The Personnel of the Synagogue
The persons making up the leadership of the Synagogue appear to fall into two categories: (1) Ordained leadership, and (2) Non-ordained functionaries.

1. Ordained Leadership

a. Chazzanim (the ministers)
In the Synagogal service the Chazzan was responsible for the handling of the scrolls and the many physical tasks necessary for the proper functioning of the Synagogue. He also played an important role in the instruction of the Synagogal children. During the day, his pupils would sit around him "as a crown of glory" as he would impart to them the facets of the Law with untiring patience. In this role the Chazzan was the Synagogue's "schoolmaster".

For this reason, and because the conduct of the Services may frequently devolve upon him, great care is taken in his selection. He must be not only irreproachable, but, if possible, his family also. Humility, modesty, knowledge of the Scriptures, distinctness and correctness in pronunciation, simplicity and neatness in dress, and an absence of self-assertion, are qualities sought for, and which, in some measure, remind us of the higher qualifications insisted on by [sic] Paul in the choice of ecclesiastical officers. [1,p.438]

The Chazzanim were considered the basis or foundation (examples) for the other offices of the synagogal personnel.

b. Zeqenim (elders)
These were men charged with overseeing all of the affairs of the synagogue. They are known as the "rulers" (ARKONTES), Parnasim, or the shepherds (POIMENES) and were primarily responsible for the teaching ministry of the Synagogue.

All the rulers of the Synagogue were duly examined as to their knowledge, and ordained to the office. [1,p. 438]

From among the Zeqenim was selected the Archisynagogos (chief elder). The chief elder was viewed as "chief among equals" and among his many tasks was responsible for selecting who should read from the Law, who would conduct prayers, and act as the Sheliach Tsibbur (messenger of the congregation) [see below].

2. Non-ordained Functionaries

a. Gerousia (elders)
The Gerousia were men that apparently were an unordained eldership who were in charge of outside affairs and acted as a "committee of management". They as most of these Functionaries were temporary assignments.

However, from among the Gerousia was chosen the Gerousiarch, or chief ruler of the Gerousia. This was more of a "political" role rather than a "spiritual" one as in the case of the Archisynagogos.

b. Darshanim
The Darshan was the "preacher" of the Synagogue, and was often the local rabbi, or a distinguished visiting rabbi. His main function was to "search out" the Law and the Mishnah (the second law) and expound to the people of the Synagogue.

c. Sheliach Tsibbur
The Sheliach Tsibbur was the spokesman during the Synagogal service and selected by the Archisynagogos. His responsibilities included the reading of the Law and Prophets, leading the Synagogue in prayer, and conducting devotions. It is in this role that Christ functioned in the Synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30).

d. Methurgeman
The Methurgeman (Greek EMERNEUTES ) was the one responsible for "interpreting" the reading of the Law and Prophets, the sermons of travelling rabbis, and explaining the texts being read during the Synagogal service. The language of most of the Synagogue attendees was no longer Hebrew, but Aramaic and it became necessary to "translate" or "interpret" the reading of the Hebrew Law and Prophets. Moreover, when a traveling or visiting rabbi was invited to speak to the congregation, typically if he did not understand the language of the people, his message was interpreted by the Methurgeman. He is also known as the Amora. See 1 Cor 14:5,27,28.

e. Sopherim
The Sopherim were rabbis appointed by the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem that would travel from city to city visiting the many Jewish Synagogues. They provided for communication between Synagogues and were the ones responsible for the Emendations to the Hebrew text - The Massorah.

B. The Service of the Synagogue
This section briefly outlines a typical service of the Synagogue and has heavily relied on references [2,pp.249-296] and [1], with some verification with [3]. Further analysis ought to be done on this entire section (including A immediately above). We must be careful when studying the Synagogue, its infrastructure and service because many discussions include later additions not applicable to the time of Christ and Paul. I have endeavored to the best of my ability and consideration of time to avoid such confusion.

The Synagogue held "services" on various days of the week, feast-days, and holidays beyond the standard Sabbath worship. Indeed, each day required a slightly alteration to the service; perhaps more from the Prophets was read, or more midrash was offered. What we discuss here is the baseline which all "services" were founded.

The service of the Synagogue was essentially composed of "official" and "unofficial" parts. The "official" portions of the service were administrated directly by the "officers" of the Synagogue. We deal with the "official" portion first.

1. The Official Meeting
Though "liturgical" in nature, the first portion of the Synagogal service was primarily for the "teaching of the people" (see Mat 4:23, Mk 1:21; 6:2; Luke 4:15; 6:6; 13:10; Jn 6:59; 18:20) and composed of: A. Two Opening Benedictions - These Benedictions were "liturgical" readings concerning the Nature of God, God as Creator, the Love of God for Israel, the desire of Israel to be taught, etc. B. Shema - The Shema was a "creed" read aloud to the congregation and consisted of Deut 6:4-9; 11:13-21; Num 15:37-41. Thus, the Shema was also a sort of "liturgy". C. Final Benediction - The final Benediction was immediately after the Shema and composed of about eighteen eulogies prayed by the one ordained by the Archisynagogos.

Often the individual asked to read in the Synagogue was also expected to perform the entire 3 items above. This would have been the Sheliach Tsibbur. Finally this "liturgical" portion was closed with a priestly descendant of Aaron, by reading Num 6:23,24. If there were no Aaronic descendants in the Synagogue, the "legate of the Synagogue" would take his place. Accordingly, the most important sections of this "liturgical service" were the Eulogies within the Final Benediction and the priestly closing. The next part of the "official" service was perhaps considered more important, since it was the main teaching of the Synagogal service. This consisted of the reading of the Law and Prophets and the Derashah (Sermon). At least seven persons were called upon to read, and with them of course the Methurgeman to interpret into the tongue of the congregation. No less than three verses were to be read by each reader.

Following the readings was the Derashah or sermon or midrash. Usually this was the job of the Darshan, unless a visiting dignitary or Rabbi was in town. The Methurgeman played a large role in this sermon. In the "official" setting only those ordained to directly participate could speak. This ended the "official" portion of the service.

2. The Unofficial Meeting
Many larger Synagogues had additional space, were the congregation could afterwards gather for discussion and meals (see 1 Cor 11:18-34 .cp. Acts 18:7,8). During this "unofficial" time all were encouraged to discuss the day's sermon and readings, ask questions, and challenge the teachers. This included men and women. Thus, in the "unofficial" setting of the Synagogue all were invited to "honorably" participate in the Synagogue (recall the "official" principle in 1 Cor 14:40).


A. The Purpose of the Pauline Assembly
The assembling together of Body saints is imperative as many scriptures indicate. The purpose of the assembling is seen, but not necessarily limited to the following items.

1. General Edification of the Saints

a. The maturing of the saints - Eph 4:12a
b. Edification of the saints - Eph 4:12c
c. The striving of the unity of the faith (in context the mastering of the 7 ones) - Eph 4:13a
d. To bring each saint to a detailed knowledge of Christ - Eph 4:13b
e. To bring each saint to the fullness of Christ - Eph 4:13c

2. To Teach Others to Teach Others

a. To teach the faithful men of the assembly on how to teach others - 2 Tim 2:2
b. To teach men to teach their wives - 1 Cor 14:35
c. To teach men to rule and teach their children - 1 Tim 3:4,5,12
d. To teach the elder women to teach the younger women - Tit 2:4,5

The primary purpose for the assembling together of the saints is for "education" - education in the faith and the mastery of Christ the Lord as He is the Head of the Body. This means, as the context of Eph 4 dictates, the primary purpose of gathering together is to establish each individual saint in the unity of the seven "ones". "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of this peace...". All other activities of a local Body assembly flow from this purpose.

B. An Overview of the Infrastructure of the Pauline Assembly

1. Its Three-fold Division: Bishops, Deacons, and Saints.
The stand alone reference for a complete and mature local Pauline assembly is seen in Php 1:1.

The three categories are: Bishops, Deacons, and Saints. The details of these divisions are articulated below. Further proof of this three-fold division is seen in 1 Tim 3:14,15 were Paul clearly states that Bishops and Deacons are given to the saints (remember the context).

2. The Floating Office: The Evangelist
Unlike today's definition of an evangelist, the New Testament teaching regarding the office of evangelist, is one who essentially "establishes" Pauline assemblies. In this sense the evangelist is the Biblical equivalent of our modern-day "missionary". Eph 4:11; 2 Tim 4:5.

C. The Saints of the Pauline Assembly
The Greek word for saint is HAGIOS, and means "sanctified one" or one who has been "separated from something to something". It is used of people that have been regenerated by God, and therefore have identified themselves with His people. Almost exclusively this term is used of the Body (search and see). In fact, those that have been accepted into the Beloved (Eph 1:11) are called saints because of that fact (Rom 1:7).

All "truly-professing christians" (which equals "possessing christians") today have been accepted into the Beloved and because of this are called saints. There is no Biblical notion at all regarding this medieval idea of "canonization of saints". This is utterly heretical and flies right into the face of the work of Christ.

Those who have been regenerated into the Body, and accepted into the Beloved are compelled by regeneration to assemble themselves together and to be "officially" built up in the Body of Christ, for Christ is indeed the Beloved. Recall Mat 3:17 "This is Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased", and yet, we are the Body of Christ, His non-incarnate extension. So we are said to be "accepted into the Beloved" as Christ's non-incarnate human extension. Eph 4 clearly indicates that ALL saints are to strive to "fellowship together" for the purpose of understanding and mastering the seven unities.

Thus, the Saints of the Assembly are ALL regenerated people of the assembly, including men, women, and children.

D. The Deacons of the Pauline Assembly

1. The Character of Deacons
The fundamental reference describing the character of the Deacon is found in 1 Tim 3:8-13. The Greek word for Deacon is DIAKONOS and means "servant" or "one who serves". Notice that the deacon must progress and satisfy all of these characteristics, not merely a "specialist" in one particular item.

a. Grave (SEMNOS) honorable.

b. Double-tongued (DILOGOS) Literally, double-speak. The idea is that the deacon does not tell someone one thing, then tell another something else.

c. Not given to much wine. The Greek word for given to is (PROSECHO) and means "beholding to" (i.e., under the bondage of).

d. Not given to filthy lucre (AISCHRODERDOS). Does not desire or require unreasonable profit.

e. Hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. "pure" is from the Greek word (KATHAROS) meaning clean, good, pure. The word "conscience" is from the Greek word SUNEIDESIS, a compound word from SUN meaning "with" and OIDA meaning "knowledge" or "perception". Thus, the intent is that the deacon must have a clear perception, a clear understanding of Paul's gospel, meaning that he can articulate and defend it.

f. Not more than one wife.

g. Ruling their children and houses well. The Greek word for "ruling" is PROSTAMENON and means to "stand before". Thus, the intent is that the deacon is a good provider and good protector of his children and house. With this word is carried the secondary notion of "ruling his children well", for one can provide for his home only if there is discipline as well. Thus, the deacon must be a "loving" and "wise" dispenser of household discipline.

h. Their wives must also be of honorable character

i. Grave (SEMNOS) honorable.

ii. Not slanderers (DIABOLOS) meaning "casting against".

iii. Sober (NEPHALEOS) Calm, cool, collected.

iv. Faithful. Dependable, trustworthy.

2. The Role of Deacons
The fundamental role of the assembly deacon is to administrate the affairs of the assembly, "officially" outside of the teaching ministry.

3. The Ordination of Deacons
"And let these be first proved" (vs. 10). The word for "and" is actually the Greek word DE meaning "but" as the contrasting particle. The Greek word for "proved" is from DOKIMZO and is in the Passive voice. The word literally means to "document". The man must FIRST document himself and his character BEFORE being "considered" for the deaconate. The fact that this word is in the Passive voice speaks much of the process of men becoming deacons. The Passive voice implies that the man is "officially" documented from an outside source, namely the current eldership of the assembly. The men being considered for the deaconate does not hold any office as of yet. How do we know this? Because the only other "official" office is that of a Bishop and his criteria is essentially the same as that of a Deacon (with a few exceptions-see below), and so since he does not yet satisfy the criteria of a Deacon this man must not yet be part of the eldership. This clearly indicates that the candidate for the deaconate is from among the "non-elder" men of the assembly. It is in this sense that ALL men (and indeed women in their own sense) OUGHT to have the desire to fulfill these criteria of character. Therefore, it is the character of the deacon that provides the example for which we MUST ALL strive, and in this sense the deacon defines what means "membership" of an assembly. Today, we have watered down the meaning of the word "member", that it means anyone that "says" he/she attends the meeting of an assembly.

Now some have said, "that that makes all non-elder saints non-entities or at best 'second-class citizens'". Indeed not!!! Quite the opposite!!! Consider Israel the priestly nation in authority over the Gentile Nations. The Gentiles are not considered "less" or "second-class citizens", rather it IS the Gentile nations that provide Israel the "practical" reason for existing. It IS the Gentiles Nations that provide for Israel's purpose. Therefore, it is ultimately the saints, that provide for the elder's (deacons and bishops) purpose, position, and authority. For if there are no soldiers there is no need of generals - No 3rd Army no General Patton.

Permit me to make my point above as clearly as I can. Because the character of the deacon IS THE FOUNDATION SET for authority in the assembly, EVERY man must strive to satisfy character of the deacon.

It is in this context and thought that Paul says to Timothy "lay hands on no man suddenly" )1 Tim 5:22). Let the men manifest themselves BEFORE they are given responsibility over God's church. A deacon is not a neo-phyte.

E. The Bishops of the Pauline Assembly

1. The Character of Bishops
The fundamental reference describing the character of the Bishop is found in 1 Tim 3:1-7. See also 1 Tim 5:17-22; Titus 1:4-9; 2 Tim 2:2. Notice that the Bishop must progress and satisfy all of these characteristics, not merely a "specialist" in this one or that one.

a. Blameless (ANEPILEPTOS). Literally, "not received upon" - no accusation can be made against - Irreproachable

b. Not more than one wife.

c. Vigilant (NEPHALIOS). Temperate - Calm, cool, collective.

d. Sober (SOPHRON). Literally, of a sound mind.

e. Of good behavior (KOSMIOS). Literally, "well ordered".

f. Given to hospitality (PHILOXENOS). Literally, "lover of strangers".

g. Apt to teach (DIDAKTIKOS). Literally, "talent for teaching".

h. Not given to wine (PARA OINOS). Literally, "not beside wine" - not "in need" of wine.

i. No striker (PLETES). Quarrelsome, apt to strike - 1st move is not to go to "fisticuffs".

j. Not given to filthy lucre (AISCHRODERDOS). Does not desire or require unreasonable profit.

k. Patient (EPIKETES). Literally, "super-patient".

l. Not a brawler (from MACHE). From which we get the Spanish word "macho". Not violent or overly aggressive.

m. Not covetous (APHILARGUPOS ). Literally, not a "lover of silver" or "lover of money". n. Rules well his house (PROISTAMENON). The Greek word for "ruling" is prostamenon and means to "stand before". The intent is that the bishop is a good provider and good protector of his children and house.

o. His children in subject with all gravity. Having his children revere and honor him.

p. Not a novice (NEOPHUTOS). Not a neo-phyte or "young sprout". Experienced.

q. Having a good report with those outside.

2. The Role of a Bishop
The Greek word for Bishop is EPISKOPOS, and means "over-seer", one who exercises guardian-ship. An examination of the Bishop's characteristics quickly shows that these are items for the most part items that aid the Bishop in "public" matters. The reason for this is that the primary role of the Bishop is the over-sight of the assembly teaching in every aspect of teaching (i.e., doctrine, behavior, music, etc.).

The Bishops as "teaching pastors" (Eph 4:11) are given to the local assemblies for the express purpose of building up the Body of Christ in doctrine, faith, and practice.

3. The Evangelist (Traveling Bishop)
The evangelist is one "given" to the assembly (Eph 4:11). The evangelist is equivalent to the traveling rabbi, traveling from assembly to assembly proclaiming the mystery. Thus, he is "ordained" (officially recognized) by an assembly sent to other assemblies for the purpose of edification and the perfecting of the saints. An established assembly may send an "official" emissary to another assembly to provide instruction in Paul's gospel, doctrine, faith, and practice. In this context, the evangelist may also form new Pauline assemblies, by "spending time" teaching men to fulfill the character of Deacon and Bishop. Both Paul and Titus performed this function in Crete (Tit 1:5-12). Notice, that there is very little (if any) sense that the evangelist "gets people saved" as his primary function and role. His main function is to provide a "bishop" role outside of his "home" assembly for the purpose of other assemblies. In this way he may be thought of as a "traveling bishop". S.E.Rodabuagh likes to sometimes refer to the evangelist as a "traveling seminary". "Philip the evangelist" was one of the Seven men ordained by the Jerusalem Apostleship to the position of the Chazzanim (Act 6:1-7). Apparently, he later became a traveling Jewish rabbi (probably as a result of the diaspora of Acts 8) preaching the Kingdom gospel to ends of the earth (land) and finally settled in Caesaria (Acts 21:8).

4. The Ordination of Bishops
The Bishops come from among the Deacons (men who have already established themselves as having honor and holding fast to the Pauline mystery). Notice however, there is one additional requirement for the Bishop that is not found in the criteria for Deacon. The Bishop MUST be a man (deacon) that "desires" the office or work (1 Tim 3:1). He must be one that desires to labor in the "official" teaching ministry of the assembly. Clearly, Tit 1:5 shows that Titus was responsible both as a bishop and apostle to "charismatically" ordain the bishops of Crete. It is also clear that these men came from among the deacons, who had already established themselves as honorable folk. Today however, we have no "charismatic" empowerment (contrary to heretics today) to establish those responsible for the teaching ministry (because the Pauline apostleship no longer exists [S.E.Rodabaugh - Module 4]). However, Titus still provides for us the example, since he was also an elder in the Crete assembly. When a deacon indicates to his eldership, that he desires to be part of the assembly "bishopric" then that eldership ordains him to that position, if he satisfies the criteria of the bishop (II.E above). All elders (deacons and teaching deacons) cast their vote for or against the man. This provides the "due process" necessary to establish and evaluate men for the office of bishop.

F. Equivalent Terms for Deacon and Bishop

1. Teaching deacon (DIAKONOS)
Both Epaphras and Paul are considered teaching deacons (Col 1:7,23,25) and Timothy is considered a teaching deacon (1 Thes 3:2; 1 Tim 4:6).

2. Teaching elder (PRESBUTEROS)
There are elders that teach (teaching elders) and elders that don't (1 Tim 5:17).

3. Teaching pastor (POIMEN)
Teaching pastors are given to the Body assemblies for the maturation process (Eph 4:11). The Greek phrase is a Figure of Hendiadys*, where the second noun (teachers) becomes a superlative adjective of the first (pastors), hence teaching pastors.

4. Summary
It is clear that there are two sets of equivalent terms for Deacons and Bishops. The first equivalent set is for the Deacons.

Elder == Pastor == Deacon

The second equivalent set is:

Teaching Elder == Teaching Pastor == Teaching Deacon == Bishop

Most commentators I believe have failed at the proof, often stating that 1 Thes 5:17 states the elder == bishop. But the text clearly distinguishes between "elders" and "teaching elders". "Elders that rule well...especially those that teach (distinguishing from the whole eldership). This proves that there are "elders" and "teaching elders". Hence, elder and deacon are the basic terms.

The Deacons form the foundation for the character of the assembly, and out from among the deacons come the "teaching" deacons (bishops). So that what distinguishes the bishops from the deacons is primarily the "official" responsibility of public assembly teaching (i.e., that additional requirement of "being apt" or "having the talent to teach").

The Pauline local assembly contains these three categories. We are all one in Christ, yet many members. Like the supreme court, all are justices, but the chief justice is viewed as "chief among equals". In the Pauline assembly there is this same notion, as illustrated by comment on the figure below.

Figure 1. The Venn Diagram of the Pauline Local Assembly

The figure above is called a Venn diagram and illustrates the relationship among the Saints, Deacons, and Bishops as outlined in Phil 1:1. From among the saints (all whom are equal) come the eldership (the chiefs among equals). From among the deacons (all whom are equal) come the bishops (all whom are equal). In some sense we see this in other arenas of life. The President of U.S., is no more "American" than an average citizen, yet he holds a positional authority. The same is true here. In this regard there is no "one-man-ministry" as is the case today. The notion of the Archisynagogos was NOT carried over into the Pauline assembly. In this sense the Pauline assembly is a sort of "oligarchy".

G. The Role of the "Non-Elder" Male of the Pauline Assembly

1. Progressing in maturity as in II.A above
As stated in [II.D.3 & II.F] above, the Deacon is the goal for every christian male. Please examine the criteria. Can true christian males say that he would not wish to satisfy these honorable items? I should think not! Notice that Paul tell Titus that "sound doctrine" produces proper behavior and a "lifestyle" that honors Christ as Head of the Body (Tit 2:1,2,6).

2. Honorably operating in a unofficial capacity when called upon by the eldership
Like Philip the Jewish "deacon", all men ought to the best of their ability and within reason, seek to be a working part of the assembly. In this way they manifest and prove "document" themselves as worthy of the office of deacon (1 Tim 3:10).

3. Satisfying the characteristics of a deacon (II.D.1) above and progress to the deaconate
See II.D above.

H. The Role of the Women of the Pauline Assembly

1. Progressing in maturity
Every saint including women are compelled to mature in doctrine, faith, and practice. Eph 4 does not just apply to men. Many women think that they are not under the same obligation to master the scriptures as men. Notice that Paul tell Titus that "sound doctrine" produces proper behavior and a "lifestyle" that honors Christ as Head of the Body (Tit 2:1,3-5).

2. Honorably operating in an unofficial capacity when called upon by the eldership
This of course ought to be the desire of every saint.

3. Older women teaching the young women
The mature women have the responsibility of teaching the younger women. Apparently, this responsibility fall outside of the "official" assembly meeting, when in the normal course of life brings the woman together. As a matter of life this responsibility is carried out.

4. Women teaching their children at home
Mom perhaps and especially in the early years of parenting have a very large impact on the "kids". Moms are commanded to teach their children the scriptures, and in light of Eph 4, this includes Paul's gospel. See 1 Tim 2:15; 5:14.

5. Women teaching in the assembly and Phoebe the deaconess
No greater account and misunderstanding than that of Phoebe the deaconess has caused a "feminization" of "professing" christendom (Rom 16:1,2). Phoebe was a Body saint and in fellowship at the Cenchrea assembly, and a deaconess of that testimony. Now in what sense was Phoebe a deaconess?

We have seen that the assembly officers (deacons and bishops) are all male as the above the scriptures have shown. Moreover, we see also that women are to be silent in the assembly (1 Cor 14:34,35; 1 Tim 2:9-15). The apparent problem is this, how can Phoebe be acting as a "deaconess" and not be committing usurpation?

The problem is resolved by recognizing the distinction between the "official" and "unofficial" aspects of assembly life. Within the "official" setting of the assembly, the ladies are not permitted to teach and thereby usurp authority over the eldership. However, like the "non-elder" males of the assembly, ladies may operate under the authority of the eldership in a capacity for the eldership. No doubt this happened constantly during the Corinthian meals and such. Here Phoebe was acting on behalf of the Cenchrea eldership and by their request to take care of business with the Roman saints. The so-called contradiction is solved by the recognition of the "official" and "unofficial" operation of the assembly, very much like that of the Synagogues.

I. Starting (Booting-up) a Pauline Assembly
Not so trivial a question. Clearly, the criteria for the formation of a proper Pauline assembly is the doctrinal creed provided in Eph 4:4-6. The people involved must have this as their goal - to master the seven "ones" in light of the infrastructure that Paul lays out in 4:7-16. The Talmud talks about the "numbers" of men necessary to start a Synagogue, but upon little reflection their appears little to be offered that can be utilized for the Pauline assembly. There is no record of how to form a Pauline assembly.except that it would seem that most Pauline assemblies grew out of the local Synagogues or "people" disassociated from any local Synagogue were meeting in their homes. History teaches that after time, the majority of early "christendom" was meeting in homes.

It would seem that one solution to this problem is to examine the Cretian account of Titus and his activity. People had "naturally' come together to fellowship around the scripture, and men eventually "manifested" themselves as "leader material" - those satisfying 1 Tim 3:1-13. In Titus' case he ordained the bishops from among the honorable men (deacons). Since, we have no "charismatic" empowerment today, the casting of votes would seem to provide a proper "due process" for the "official" starting of the assembly. The males decide by vote upon the selection of the deacons, and then the newly "ordained" deacons select from among themselves the bishops (those desiring that office).

III. A comparison of the synagogue and the Pauline assembly

The Lord obviously did not object to the "general" Synagogal system. By inspiration Paul took the Synagogal system and "cleaned it up" when developing his local assembly (church) polity. The following table illustrates how Paul took the Synagogal offices and roles of its officers and brought them into the Pauline assembly [amended from 5, p.4].

Synagogal Offices / Officers Pauline Equivalent

Zeqen Bishop
Sheliach Tsibbur

Zegen Deacon
Sheliach Tsibbur
Gerousia (Gerousiarch)

Sopherim Evangelist

In light of the table above, by what principle did Paul modify the Synagogal infrastructure in order to design the local Pauline assembly?


The Synagogal rulers in charge of the teaching ministry of the Synagogue never or rarely taught, especially the Archisynagogos, who was "officially" charged with overseeing the teaching. In other words, he was in charge of the teaching, but NEVER taught himself.

The Synagogal rulers in charge of the physical duties of the Synagogue, rarely or never participated in the work. The example is the elder responsible for the handling of the scrolls. He himself did not handle the scrolls, but oversaw those that did.

Thus, the principle is: one must PARTICIPATE in what one ADMINISTRATES

So that under the Pauline assembly,

1. those RESPONSIBLE for the physical duties of the assembly (the deacons) also PARTICIPATE in performing these duties,

2. those RESPONSIBLE for the teaching ministry of the assembly (the bishops) also PARTICIPATE in its teaching.

The obverse or complimentary principle is: if one is regularly performing a service in doctrine or in deed, then he [sic] ought be given the authority in that area.

IV. References

[1] Edersheim, Alfred, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1980, pp. 431-450.

[2] ________________, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1978, pp. 249-297.

[3] Epstein (Editor), The Babylonian Talmud, Soncino Press, London, UK, 17 Volumes with Index Volume, 1952.

[4] Inrig, Gary, Life in His Body, Harold Shaw Publishing, Wheaton Il, 1975.

[5] Rodabaugh, Stephen, The Synagogue and the Pauline Assembly, Trinity Grace Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, 1985, revised 1987.

[6] __________________, Modern Applications of First-Century Evangelism, Trinity Grace Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, revised 1987.

[7] Walsh, Robert, An Examination of the New Testament Usage of EKKLESIA, Trinity Grace Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, 1986.

[8] _____________, Biblical Creation and the Normative Hermeneutic, Trinity Grace Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, 1996.

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