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Oct 22, 2007


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Greetings again Michael.
Another thoughtful post. thank you.

I particularly appreciate and agree with your comment that the passages in 1 Tim 3 and Tit 1 are
"not job descriptions. They are character [and gifting] descriptions."

You make the comment that
"Timothy 3:1 speaks of “office of bishop/overseer” but there is no evidence of an office in our modern sense of the term."

I agaree.
It seems to me that an “office” exists whether it’s filled or not? Do you agree? Ie – there is the ‘office’ of the President of the USA – whether someone is filling it or not, the ‘office’ continues to exist. But I wonder is that the sense we get of how the NT teaches us about leadership/servanthood in the body of Christ?

I reckon I need to do some more personal homework for myself on the term 'episkophe'.
However, on a quick look it seems this particular noun (I realise there are other variations that I’ll need to study up on such as ‘episkopos’) is only used 4 times in the NT (including 1Tim 3;1).

Twice it seems to be connected with 'overseeing in the sense of visitation' (in these cases used of God himself - 1 Pet 2:12; Lk 19:39) – not any official ‘office’.

The closest the NT seems to come to using the word in terms of an ‘office’ is Acts 1:20, where ‘episkophe’ is used in the context of ‘filling a place’ – ie the apostles decide that Judas should have a replacement. Peter quotes out of Ps 109:8 saying that the “place of leadership” (NIV) or “office” (NASB) of Judas should be replaced by another. There are many questions surrounding this whole action. Did God even tell the apostles to do this? Or was this a ‘man-made’ action. Interestingly, Matthias is never heard of again. Certainly we can understand the ’12 apostles’ picked by Jesus as being symbolic of the 12 tribes of Israel and representing the ‘New Israel’ – so in this case, there was an ‘office’ of apostle (cf. Rev 21:12-14). Yet we know that there are others, eg Paul who were clearly called apostles (sent ones/missionaries) who were not part of this official ‘12’.

I propose that the consistent overriding message of the NT is about the Body operating in their Spirit ‘gifting’ (regardless of gender, race, social status)… … eg those ‘who’ teach are teachers….by the very definition of the fact they teach they ‘are’ a gifted teacher (Rom 12:3-8). The NT doesn’t propose that in each local gathering of the ‘church’ there are one or two specific positions vacant for a teacher or overseer, so get your resumes ready and apply for the job… rather, we are taught to use whatever gifts we have been given in grace by the Spirit, provided we have the godly character to support them…with an attitude of serving, not lording it over anyone.

Am I off track here or totally oversimplifying things?


Michael W. Kruse

Well, if you are off track then we are off track together. :) I think you and I are in a similar place.


I think that makes three of us.
One point that worries me about the fictive family of the Body of Christ is the possibility of insulation and isolation. Looking at how it started in Jerusalem, the body becomes self sufficient and could easily detach itself from involvement in the surrounding culture. When Jesus led his intrepid group in and around Palestine, we get a different feeling altogether of self-sufficiency with total missional involvement.

We are a long way away of being in a similar danger, or at least for these reasons but, any thoughts?

Michael W. Kruse

"One point that worries me about the fictive family of the Body of Christ is the possibility of insulation and isolation."

Sam, going back to the first couple of posts in this series, I think the nature of family has changed and we read back our notion of "family as a safe refuge from the world, giving us emotional support," view back into the biblical message. I'm very much in agreement.

I also think the clergy/laity divide is deeply distructive to missional engagement. I'll be coming to more of that in closing posts.

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