You teach that only ministers are to appoint members to the ministry. However, doesn't Acts 14:23 show that the entire congregation ordained ministers?


Actually, Acts 14:23 teaches the exact opposite. Looking at the context, we find that the ones who “appointed elders in every church” (verse 23) were “the apostles Barnabas and Paul” (verse 14; compare, too, Acts 15:2).

As we have pointed out before, for instance, in the Q&A of Update #147 (June 11, 2004), God used ordained ministers to appoint others to the ministry (Titus 1:5). Titus was a minister. He is also referred to as a brother. After all, a true minister is a servant and a spiritual brother. This is why Paul could call Titus a brother, but this does not mean that Titus was not also ordained to the ministry. The Bible shows that ministers or elders are ordained or appointed by other ministers or elders. The laying on of hands through the ministry is very important in this regard (1 Timothy 5:22).

Some feel that the Church does not need any ministers, or that every Church member is a minister. This is simply not true. James tells us that sick persons are to call for the elders of the Church to anoint them with oil and pray over them. This is not talking about unordained brethren. In this regard, please read our free booklet, “Sickness and Healing — What the Bible Tells Us.” Also, baptism and the laying on of hands are to be done through the ministry — otherwise, no promise of the receipt of the Holy Spirit is given. Only when Peter and other ministers placed their hands on baptized people, did they receive the Holy Spirit. For more information, read our free booklet, “Baptism — a Requirement for Salvation.”

We read in Ephesians 4:11 that Christ has given the ministry to the Church, “for the equipping of the saints” (verse 12). Verse 11 speaks about certain ranks, offices and functions within the ministry, including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Paul referred to himself on several occasions as a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher (1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11).

God has set in place a ministry (ordained elders), through which He administers the Church. The Church is clearly not run as a democracy. This is not to say, however, that the ministry is to run the Church in a dictatorial or autocratic fashion — rather, as shepherds concerned for the welfare of the sheep, the ministry is to always have the good of the flock in mind. The ministry is well advised to consult with the membership before decisions affecting the members are made, including decisions pertaining to ordination. This does not mean, however, that the ministry is conducting its affairs by vote, but it is always good to obtain and receive a multitude of counsel.

The concept that an entire congregation “ordains” or “appoints” someone to the ministry is not biblical. We don’t read anywhere that Church decisions were reached through a majority vote of the membership. Note how it was done in Acts 15. The Church “agreed” with the decision of the ministry, but by that time, the decision was already made, and when the decision was made, non-ordained members were not even present.

It is claimed by some that the word” ordained” or “appointed,” as it is used in Acts 14:23, allegedly conveys the meaning of “voting.” The Concordant Literal New Testament renders this verse: “Now, selecting elders for them according to the ecclesia, praying with fastings, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

However, this is NOT an accurate rendition of the literal Greek. “The Englishman’s Greek New Testament…An Interlinear Literal Translation,” renders Acts 14:23, word-for-word, as follows: “And having chosen FOR THEM elders IN every assembly, having prayed with fastings they committed them to the Lord, on whom they had believed.”

Again, we see that Paul and Barnabas “chose” FOR THE CHURCH elders IN every congregation or assembly. The word for “ordained,” “appointed” or “chosen,” as it is translated from the original Greek in Acts 14:23, is defined by “Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible,” as “to elect by stretching out the hand.” Note again that it is Paul and Barnabas who do the “electing” — not the entire congregation. There remains no room for contending that the assembly voted on the matter. The Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W.E. Vine (under “appoint”) explains that the Greek word does not have the meaning here of voting, as the same Greek word is also used for God in Acts 10:40-41, as follows: “Him [Jesus Christ] God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses CHOSEN before by God.” Vine explains that the Greek word in Acts 14:23, translated as “ordained,” “appointed” or “chosen,” refers to the “appointment of elders by apostolic missionaries in the various churches which they revisited.”

God is not the author of confusion, but of order. He has designated that the ministry is to ordain or appoint qualified members to the ministry. This is the clear teaching of the Bible, which we must uphold and practice.

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