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In the New Testament, a bishop is a person who functions as a teaching leader among a local group of Christians. The Greek term episkapos has also been translated as "episcopal," "elder," "overseer...
Mr Houdmann answered very well. 1. Bishop = elder = pastor. Those three words are three descriptions of the same position, not three separate positions, as we are taught by the following Scriptures: "From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church... Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood." (Act 20:17, 28 NIV) "The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;" (1Pe 5:1 NKJ) "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... 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;" (Tit 1:5, 7 KJV) You can see from these three passages that the three words "elder", "bishop/overseer", and "pastor/shepherd" are used interchangeably. "Bishop" (same as "overseer"), "pastor" (same as "shepherd"), and "elder" are three views of the same office of leadership amongst the disciples of Jesus the Messiah. 2. "Bishop" mean the same as "overseer" or "supervisor". This teaches us that there is managerial authority to this office. The fact that bishops have actual authority was abused by the Roman Catholic church, and has been abused by many cults. This makes a lot of people shy away from letting church leaders have true authority--but nonetheless, God has willed it to be so: "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you." (Heb 13:17 ESV) 3. Pastor means the same as "shepherd". This teaches us that these men are to guide, feed, and protect the group: "The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;" (1Pe 5:1 NKJ) 3. "Elder" teaches us that these men are to be experienced Christians. It is a sad fact, especially in America, that men are considered useless in the Church and "retire" at just the point where they are truly qualified to be elders. How we need the men who have white hair, who have raised children well, who have seen life, who have learned the lessons of the Lord and can pass them on, who are not burdened with sexual drive any more--to lead our churches! The "one pastor" system is not biblical, and places undue burden on one man. And restricts the participation of other Christians in the meetings. The true set-up that God ordained, is that Christian leadership is to be by a GROUP of MEN over an AREA, not a single man over a meeting place! Unfortunately, beginning very early in the historly of the Church, other forms of leadership have been developed, such as having a "bishop" be a separate office from "pastor". You have almost every variation EXCEPT the biblical one, on every hand. Let us repent and obey God in this matter. It will take the hand of God with mighty power to accomplish it. But let us beseech Him to accomplish this, to demonstrate the greatness and power that is His alone!
I belong to a brethren chapel and it took some time getting use not being pastor centred and the idea of ever going back into a pact or centred congregation, make feel like I am in bondage. We shouldn't be pastor centred but elder/deacon focused which goes along with being the royal priesthood of the believers and thus making Jesus our head, not a pastor. The pastor focused congregation is based on the Roman Catholic Church, the spirit of the nicolation.
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