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One Pastor and Church Government (Part 4) - Biblical Examples:Timothy, Titus, Churches of Asia

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Watch the video of this sermon on YouTube: One Pastor and Church Government (Part 4).

For a master copy of the outline and the other sermons in the series, click here: One Pastor.

To listen to or watch the previous sermon in the series, click here: Part 3.
To listen to or watch the next sermon in the series, click here: Part 5.

3. Timothy was the pastor and overseer of the church in Ephesus.
A. The church in Ephesus had many elders (Act 20:17).
B. But Timothy was the pastor who had the rule and oversight for a time (1Ti 1:3).
4. Titus had the singular authority to set in order the things that were wanting in the church and to ordain elders in every city on island of Crete (Tit 1:5).
A. Paul had been to Crete (we know this because he left Titus there) and had started churches in the cities of the island.
B. Paul ordained (appointed) Titus as an elder and then left him in Crete with the oversight of the churches there that didn't yet have a pastor.
C. As an ordained elder, Titus had the authority and responsibility to ordain elders in those churches (one elder per church - this will be proven later in Section V,6).
D. Paul did not instruct a group of elders in the church to set in order the things that were wanting, but rather Titus who was the pastor of the church.
5. The churches of Asia each had their own pastor who was addressed by Jesus Christ.
A. The letters to the seven churches were addressed "unto the angel of the church in..." (Rev 2:1,8,etc.)
B. The angels are represented by the seven stars in Christ's right hand (Rev 1:20).
i. Angels are messengers.
a. Angel n. - 1. a. A ministering spirit or divine messenger; one of an order of spiritual beings superior to man in power and intelligence, who, according to the Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and other theologies, are the attendants and messengers of the Deity.
b. God used them to send messages to His people (Dan 9:20-22; Luk 1:28-33).
ii. Angels are ministers (Heb 1:7,14).
C. Pastors are likewise messengers and ministers of God.
i. Pastors are called the messengers of the churches (2Co 8:23).
a. Prophets are called messengers (Hag 1:13; Mal 3:1).
b. Priests are called messengers (Mal 2:7).
ii. Pastors are called ministers of the church (1Co 3:5; 2Co 3:6).
D. Paul was received by the church as an angel (Gal 4:14).
E. Pastors watch over and protect the church like guardian angels (Psa 91:11-12 & Mat 18:10 & Heb 1:14 c/w Heb 13:17)
F. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the angels to whom the letters were addressed were the pastors of the churches.
G. This is not an unreasonable interpretation, in that the book of Revelation is signified (To be a sign or symbol of) (Rev 1:1).
H. It is not reasonable to conclude that John was writing to literal angels when addressing the seven churches of Asia for the following reasons.
i. There is plenty of scripture which shows that pastors oversee churches.
ii. Outside of Rev 1-3, there is no scripture that indicates that angels are in authority over local churches.
iii. If John were writing to actual angels, how was he to deliver the letter to them?
iv. If the letters to the churches were addressed to actual angels, how could five of God's holy angels been presiding over churches with moral and doctrinal sin in them?
v. Rather than oversee churches, angels observe them in order to learn the truth revealed in the preaching of the word of God (Eph 3:10; 1Pe 1:12).
I. "The angels or pastors of the seven churches, Rev 1:20. The ministers of the Gospel are compared to stars, because of their efficient cause, God, who has made them, and fixed them in their proper place, and for his glory;..." (John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, commenting on Rev 1:16)
J. The letters to the churches were each addressed to "the angel of the church" (Rev 2:1,8,12,18; Rev 3:1,7,14).
i. None of the letters were addressed to "the angels of the church."
ii. This means that Jesus held just one pastor responsible for the conduct and state of each church.
iii. The church in Ephesus had multiple elders (Act 20:17,28).
iv. This means that there was one pastor who had the oversight of the church of Ephesus, including its other elders.
6. Jesus taught in a parable that a lord makes a faithful and wise steward to be ruler over his household (Luk 12:42).
A. Steward n. - 1. a. An official who controls the domestic affairs of a household, supervising the service of his master's table, directing the domestics, and regulating household expenditure; a major-domo.
B. This parable shows that the Lord appoints one faithful steward over His house.
C. There is only one steward per house (Mat 20:8; Luk 16:1; Gen 15:2; Gen 43:19; Gen 44:4).
D. The local church is the house of God (1Ti 3:15).
E. The pastor/bishop is the steward of God's house, the local church (Tit 1:7; 1Co 4:1-2).
F. This is yet another proof that a local church is to be ruled by one pastor.
7. A bishop is the overseer of the church.
A. Bishop n. - 1. A spiritual superintendent or overseer in the Christian Church.
B. A bishop must be the ruler of his own house so that he can take care of the church of God (1Ti 3:2-5).
C. A house only needs one overseer (Gen 39:1-6).
III. There were churches in the NT which had a plurality of elders.
1. Some examples include:
A. Jerusalem (Act 15:2).
B. Philippi (Php 1:1).
C. Ephesus (Act 20:17,28).
2. These churches were very large (Jerusalem had thousands of members - Act 2:41; Act 4:4) and therefore needed multiple elders to oversee them.
3. Having multiple elders in a church that is large enough to need them is still permissible today.
4. But even in churches that had multiple elders, there was always one pastor who had the oversight of the church, as was the case with James in Jerusalem (see Section II,2) (Act 15:13,19; Act 21:18) and Timothy in Ephesus (1Ti 1:3).