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Biblical Presbyters

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  • trygvesson@aol.com
    In a message dated 10/26/2006 6:35:00 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, puritanpresbyterian@yahoo.com writes: Dear brother Chris, Excellent subject matter!! How
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 30, 2006
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      In a message dated 10/26/2006 6:35:00 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, puritanpresbyterian@... writes:
       
      "Dear brother Chris,
       
      Excellent subject matter!!  How about the office of the "Doctor"?  As the Form of Presbyterian Church Government (FPCG) details it;  the office of the Teaching Elder is sub-divided into the Pastor and the Doctor.   This is in addition to the Ruling Elders.  Thus, could it be argued that the office of Elders is three-fold: Pastor, Teacher/Doctor, & Ruling,  no?"
       

      Edgar,

       

      Greetings! Sorry this has taken a few days; I had a very busy weekend!

       

      Ephesians 4:11-12  "11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:"

       

      Regarding the biblical presbyter, it is interesting to look at these two aspects of the teaching elder. The 1599 Geneva Bible notes on Ephesians 4:11 comment that "Pastors are those who govern the Church, and teachers are those who govern the schools." It is also noteworthy that some commentators hold that "teachers' in this passage is only explanative of "pastors" while others read this section distributively as of two separate and distinct types of teaching elder.

       

      The 1578 Second Book of Discipline also distinguishes the Doctor's division of labor as not pertaining to the administration of the sacraments, whereas the 1645 Form of Presbyterian Church Government (FYI, I have pasted the quoted portions of these documents past the end of my comments below) differs and states that the Doctor "hath power of administration of the sacraments."

       

      Additionally, the Second Book of Discipline states that the Doctor is to open the word “without such applications as the minister uses” and the Form of Presbyterian Church Government describes the doctor as “he that doth more excel in exposition of scripture, in teaching sound doctrine, and in convincing gainsayers, than he doth in application.”

       

      To my thinking, this is a fascinating distinction, and one that I want to pursue further in order to understand what under girds this language and point of dissimilarity of duty spoken of in the various standards. I am curious to learn of the further reasoning behind such nuances to the definitions of teaching elder.

       

      -begin quoted portions of standards-

       

      "The Second Book of Discipline (1578)

       

      Chapter 5

       

      Of Doctors and Their Office,

      and of the Schools

       

      1. One of the two ordinary and perpetual functions that travail in the word is the office of the doctor, who also may be called prophet, bishop, elder, catechiser: that is, teacher of the catechism and rudiments of religion.

       

      2. His office is to open up the mind of the Spirit of God in the scriptures simply, without such applications as the minister uses, to the end that the faithful may be instructed, and sound doctrine taught, and that the purity of the gospel be not corrupted through ignorance or evil opinions.

       

      3. He is different from the pastor, not only in name, but in diversity of gifts. For the doctor is given the word of knowledge, to open up, by simple teaching, the mysteries of faith; to the pastor, the gift of wisdom, to apply the same, by exhortation to the manners of the flock, as occasion craves.

       

      4. Under the name and office of a doctor, we comprehend also the order in schools, colleges, and universities, which has been from time to time carefully maintained, as well among the Jews and Christians, as among the profane nations.

       

      5. The doctor being an elder, as is said, [he] should assist the pastor in the government of the kirk, and concur with the elders, his brethren, in all assemblies; by reason the interpretation of the word (which is [the] only judge in ecclesiastical matters) is committed to his charge.

       

      6. But to preach to the people, to minister the sacraments, and to celebrate marriages, pertains not to the doctor, unless he is otherwise orderly called. Howbeit the pastor may teach in the schools, as he who has also the gift of knowledge oftentimes meet therefore, as the examples of Polycarp and others testify.

       

      “Form of Presbyterian Church Government (1645)

       

      Teacher or Doctor.

       

      THE scripture doth hold out the name and title of teacher, as well as of the pastor.

       

      Who is also a minister of the word, as well as the pastor, and hath power of administration of the sacraments.

       

      The Lord having given different gifts, and divers exercises according to these gifts, in the ministry of the word; though these different gifts may meet in, and accordingly be exercised by, one and the same minister; yet, where be several ministers in the same congregation, they may be designed to several employments, according to the different gifts in which each of them doth most excel. And he that doth more excel in exposition of scripture, in teaching sound doctrine, and in convincing gainsayers, than he doth in application, and is accordingly employed therein, may be called a teacher, or doctor, (the places alleged by the notation of the word do prove the proposition.) Nevertheless, where is but one minister in a particular congregation, he is to perform, as far as he is able, the whole work of the ministry.

       

      A teacher, or doctor, is of most excellent use in schools and universities; as of old in the schools of the prophets, and at Jerusalem, where Gamaliel and others taught as doctors.”

       
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Christopher Coombes
      RPCNA


                                                                      _
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                                                    )     `-------/ /
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                                                       _) )    `. \ /
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    • Ic Neltococayotl
      Chris, No problem. I too have been tied up as of late, very busy with things. Could it be that with the 1 & 2 Books of Discipline and then the FPCG, that the
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 31, 2006
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        Chris,

        No problem.  I too have been tied up as of late, very busy with things. 

        Could it be that with the 1 & 2 Books of Discipline and then the FPCG, that the reason there are differences is a maturity of thought or a more developed Presbyterianism as to the distinctions within the office of the TE?

        The same can be seen in the First B of Discipline in their use of Superintendents over ministers during a less settled state of the Church and the abandonment of this use during the Second Reformation and consequently a more settled state of the Church.

        Maybe this is an excellent case example of Biblical reformation (semper reformada) and that the Church moves forward in santification and progress and is not to digress.  But the distinction is a good one to point out, I had not really picked up on it before now.  Thank you!

        What do you think, is it a case of a more mature thought by the Theologians in the Second Reformation or something else?

        In the RPT Seminary, if my understanding is correct,  most of the professors are ordained TEs, no?  If so, can they serve the sacraments?  If so,  then they are in accord with the FPCG, but I am not sure if they acknowledge the distinction between Pastor and Doctor as the FPCG does.  Or do they?

        Is there a three fold office: Pastor, Doctor, and Ruling Elder or just two: Teaching Elder sub-divided into Pastor and Doctor, and then Ruling Elder?

        FYI, Please do not take my lag in responding as rude or an unwillingness to talk, but I may be scarce in posts for the forseeable future.  Thanks!

        In Christ,

        Edgar


        --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, trygvesson@... wrote:
        >
        >
        >
        > In a message dated 10/26/2006 6:35:00 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
        > puritanpresbyterian@... writes:
        >
        > "Dear brother Chris,
        >
        > Excellent subject matter!! How about the office of the "Doctor"? As the
        > Form of Presbyterian Church Government (FPCG) details it; the office of the
        > Teaching Elder is sub-divided into the Pastor and the Doctor. This is in
        > addition to the Ruling Elders. Thus, could it be argued that the office of Elders
        > is three-fold: Pastor, Teacher/Doctor, & Ruling, no?"
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Edgar,
        > Greetings! Sorry this has taken a few days; I had a very busy weekend!
        > Ephesians 4:11-12 "11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and
        > some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of
        > the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of
        > Christ:"
        > Regarding the biblical presbyter, it is interesting to look at these two
        > aspects of the teaching elder. The 1599 Geneva Bible notes on Ephesians 4:11
        > comment that "Pastors are those who govern the Church, and teachers are those
        > who govern the schools." It is also noteworthy that some commentators hold
        > that "teachers' in this passage is only explanative of "pastors" while others
        > read this section distributively as of two separate and distinct types of
        > teaching elder.
        > The 1578 Second Book of Discipline also distinguishes the Doctor's division
        > of labor as not pertaining to the administration of the sacraments, whereas
        > the 1645 Form of Presbyterian Church Government (FYI, I have pasted the quoted
        > portions of these documents past the end of my comments below) differs and
        > states that the Doctor "hath power of administration of the sacraments."
        > Additionally, the Second Book of Discipline states that the Doctor is to
        > open the word “without such applications as the minister uses” and the Form of
        > Presbyterian Church Government describes the doctor as “he that doth more
        > excel in exposition of scripture, in teaching sound doctrine, and in convincing
        > gainsayers, than he doth in application.”
        > To my thinking, this is a fascinating distinction, and one that I want to
        > pursue further in order to understand what under girds this language and point
        > of dissimilarity of duty spoken of in the various standards. I am curious to
        > learn of the further reasoning behind such nuances to the definitions of
        > teaching elder.
        >
        > -begin quoted portions of standards-
        > "The Second Book of Discipline (1578)
        > Chapter 5
        > Of Doctors and Their Office,
        > and of the Schools
        > 1. One of the two ordinary and perpetual functions that travail in the word
        > is the office of the doctor, who also may be called prophet, bishop, elder,
        > catechiser: that is, teacher of the catechism and rudiments of religion.
        > 2. His office is to open up the mind of the Spirit of God in the scriptures
        > simply, without such applications as the minister uses, to the end that the
        > faithful may be instructed, and sound doctrine taught, and that the purity of
        > the gospel be not corrupted through ignorance or evil opinions.
        > 3. He is different from the pastor, not only in name, but in diversity of
        > gifts. For the doctor is given the word of knowledge, to open up, by simple
        > teaching, the mysteries of faith; to the pastor, the gift of wisdom, to apply
        > the same, by exhortation to the manners of the flock, as occasion craves.
        > 4. Under the name and office of a doctor, we comprehend also the order in
        > schools, colleges, and universities, which has been from time to time carefully
        > maintained, as well among the Jews and Christians, as among the profane
        > nations.
        > 5. The doctor being an elder, as is said, [he] should assist the pastor in
        > the government of the kirk, and concur with the elders, his brethren, in all
        > assemblies; by reason the interpretation of the word (which is [the] only
        > judge in ecclesiastical matters) is committed to his charge.
        > 6. But to preach to the people, to minister the sacraments, and to celebrate
        > marriages, pertains not to the doctor, unless he is otherwise orderly
        > called. Howbeit the pastor may teach in the schools, as he who has also the gift of
        > knowledge oftentimes meet therefore, as the examples of Polycarp and others
        > testify.
        > “Form of Presbyterian Church Government (1645)
        > Teacher or Doctor.
        > THE scripture doth hold out the name and title of teacher, as well as of the
        > pastor.
        > Who is also a minister of the word, as well as the pastor, and hath power of
        > administration of the sacraments.
        > The Lord having given different gifts, and divers exercises according to
        > these gifts, in the ministry of the word; though these different gifts may meet
        > in, and accordingly be exercised by, one and the same minister; yet, where be
        > several ministers in the same congregation, they may be designed to several
        > employments, according to the different gifts in which each of them doth most
        > excel. And he that doth more excel in exposition of scripture, in teaching
        > sound doctrine, and in convincing gainsayers, than he doth in application, and
        > is accordingly employed therein, may be called a teacher, or doctor, (the
        > places alleged by the notation of the word do prove the proposition.)
        > Nevertheless, where is but one minister in a particular congregation, he is to
        > perform, as far as he is able, the whole work of the ministry.
        > A teacher, or doctor, is of most excellent use in schools and universities;
        > as of old in the schools of the prophets, and at Jerusalem, where Gamaliel
        > and others taught as doctors.”
        >
        > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        > Christopher Coombes
        > RPCNA
        >
        > _
        > / )
        > (\__/) ( (
        > ) ( ) )
        > ={ }= / /
        > ) `-------/ /
        > ( /
        > \ |
        > ,'\ , ,'
        > `-'\ ,---\ | \
        > _) ) `. \ /
        > (__/ ) )
        > (_/
        >

      • Ic Neltococayotl
        ... (semper ... I meant to say that I had not seen the difference on the Doctor s role with the sacraments between the FBoD vs. the FPCG. Thanks, Edgar
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 1, 2006
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          Chris, et al:

          > Maybe this is an excellent case example of Biblical reformation
          (semper
          > reformada) and that the Church moves forward in santification and
          > progress and is not to digress. But the distinction is a good one to
          > point out, I had not really picked up on it before now. Thank you

          I meant to say that I had not seen the difference on the Doctor's role
          with the sacraments between the FBoD vs. the FPCG.

          Thanks,

          Edgar


          --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Ic Neltococayotl"
          <puritanpresbyterian@...> wrote:
          >
          >
          > Chris,
          >
        • puritanone
          The internet has made many things possible for all of us. One of the special blessings it provided to me was to come into contact with Steve Smith, through
          Message 4 of 4 , Nov 4, 2006
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            The internet has made many things possible for all of us. One of the
            special blessings it provided to me was to come into contact with
            Steve Smith, through the Covenanted Reformation Club and r-f-w lists.
            Although we lived just across Lake Michigan from one another (he in
            Wisconsin and I in Michigan), humanly speaking I doubt I would have
            ever met Steve except for the internet. Steve became a dear friend.
            We both had gone through a winding spiritual journey, but were both
            coming to similar conclusions concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and His
            revealed word. Steve came down with cancer several years ago, but
            this only deepened his love for Jesus Christ and his attachment to the
            reformed faith. It was very special to be able to attend with Steve a
            communion season in a Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland
            congregation in Ontario this past weekend, and to see Steve accepted
            in the membership of the church, in what he knew would likely be the
            closing days of his life. And it was even more special to be able to
            pray with him, looking forward to the day we could reunite before the
            Lamb of God. Steve passed away on Friday, and surely left the rest of
            us a good testimony of one who persevered to the end. We ought to
            pray for Steve's wife and his four young children, that God would
            provide for them in Steve's absence.

            - Parnell McCarter
            Attender, ARC of GR
            Seek member in FPCS
            Grand Rapids, MI
            www.puritans.net
            www.historicism.net
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