This article looks at the offices of elders and deacons. The author discusses their respective tasks in church life. Acts 6:1-7 is also mentioned in this article.

Source: Clarion, 1986. 9 pages.

Are Elders and Deacons Really Office-Bearers?


When we discuss the office of elders and deacons, we deal with a very important topic. Paul writes to his spiritual son, Timothy, about elders and deacons and he gives instructions which are apparently so important that they could not be delayed, not even for a short time. The apostle says, “I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:14, 15). Especially by pointing to the LORD of the house, the Apostle Paul emphasizes his command.

Therefore, the topic of elders and deacons is not a temporary matter, and also today we have to execute the rules of the household of God's Church, faithfully and precisely, being obedient to the assignment given by the LORD Himself. “For if we want to maintain the church,” Calvin once said, “we must have that regiment which the LORD has established as an inviolant regiment” (compare 1 Timothy).

Confession and Church Order🔗

In Article 31 of our Belgic Confession we profess this Scriptural importance of the offices of elders and deacons in the church. “We believe that … elders and deacons ought to be chosen to their offices by lawful elections of the church, with prayer and in good order as stipulated by the Word of God.” In accordance with this confession, the Church Order starts, after the introductory Article 1, in the second Article as follows: “The offices are those of the Minister of the Word, of the Elder and of the Deacon.” Do we indeed profess and accept that?

Time and again we hear that these offices are not prescribed in the New Testament, and that it belongs to the freedom of every congregation, to extend or to minimize these offices. Are these offices indeed instituted? Were some of these offices only temporary, or were they all permanent? In other words are elders and deacons indeed officer-bearers, or not? Are they all at the same level or is there a kind of gradation between them? And what about women in the congregation? May they serve in a special office? We will try to answer these questions, especially in connection with contemporary publications in this respect.


It is a remarkable fact that the origin of the office of the elders is not mentioned in the Bible. The elders of the Church at Jerusalem suddenly appear on the scene. We read in Acts 11:29 and 30, “The disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brethren who lived in Judea; and they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.” Dr. J. van Bruggen is of the opinion that these elders are not the elders in our sense of consistory members. He says it is remarkable that their election is not mentioned by Luke. And it is also remarkable that they appear in the picture so late. His conclusion is that these elders only had a temporary task and they were the same as the “disciples” from the gospel (Ambten in de Apostolische Kerk, Kampen, 1984, p. 78ff.).

But is it so strange that their election is not mentioned? Just three chapters after this story in Acts 11 we read, “When they (Paul and Barnabas, K.D.) had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed” (Acts 14:23). Dr. van Bruggen argues that these elders were at another level than the elders of Chapter 11. But I do not believe that. We must not conclude too much from the fact that no election is mentioned for the first elders in Chapter 11. And besides that, already before Pentecost there were hundreds and hundreds of believers. Paul writes to the Corinthians that “Christ appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6). They were disciples, all of them. But it is quite impossible that all these disciples were involved with the relief mentioned in Acts 11. It is more reasonable that the office of the elders mentioned in Acts 11 and the office of the elders mentioned in Acts 14 are the same. And it is also very likely that there were elders in the New Testament church just as there were leaders in the synagogue. There were many house congregations, and probably elders played a role in them from the very beginning.

In any case, in the rest of the book of Acts we hear about elders time and again. They were involved in the decision of the meeting with the apostles according to Acts 15. They were present at the visit of Paul to James according to Acts 21. These elders are called by two names: presbyters and overseers.


Is there any difference between presbyters and overseers? When we translate the Greek words literally, we get the words presbyters and bishops, or, priests and bishops. All of you know that these words have been claimed by the Roman Catholics, and also that these words do not have exactly the same meaning. But I am of the opinion that these words point to the same office-bearers. I ask you to compare, for instance, Acts 20:17 with 20:28. Paul called the elders of Ephesus, and he said to these same elders, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” Compare also the first letter of Peter, Chapter 5:1 with verse 2. Peter calls himself a fellow elder, and he exhorts the elders, “Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly.” Compare also Titus 1:5 with verse 7.

Paul writes to Titus,

This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you.

And then, in verse 7, writing about the same office-bearers, he says, “For a bishop, as God's steward must be blameless…”

Why, then, are two words used, pointing to the same persons? The name presbyter has been copied from the Jews, and usually this word was used by the Jewish Christian congregations. Also the synagogues had their “elders,” their presbyters – as I mentioned already – and these presbyters made decisions in all kinds of matters, also concerning church discipline. But the name overseer is especially used by the Christian churches of Gentile origin. Probably under the influence of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, where this word is used for instance in 2 Kings 11:19, 2 Chronicles 34:12, Isaiah 60:17 and Nehemiah 11:9.

We can conclude that many names are used to designate the special officebearers of the New Testament, whom we call elders or overseers.


In the beginning of the apostolic church, the elders played an important role. But in the course of time, the episkopoi (also called “bishops”) became increasingly dominant, and slowly but surely the elders disappeared. There were still “priests” as a general name, but they did not form a board or consistory. The bishop was the regional ruler and the other priests had to listen to him and to obey him. So we may say that the rank of elder sank away below that of the bishops, who ruled the church.

It took a long time before the office of elder was rediscovered. It was during the Reformation and it was especially Calvin who put the elder on the stage again. It has once been said, “Calvin checkmated the Pope of Rome with the pawn of the Reformed elder.” Everywhere in the Reformed churches the elders were recognized and honoured again. Unfortunately, after the Reformation the elder disappeared again in several regions.

In September 1979, Prof. D. Deddens presented his inaugural address on the topic: “The disappearing elder” about the omission of the office of elders in the congregational churches in Massachusetts. This omission occurred already in the seventeeth century! How did that come about? The main reason was that especially the ministers of the church let the elders disappear. Dominocracy went hand in hand with independentism, and the result was that there was no work anymore for the Reformed elder.


It is very important to keep the elders in honour. For also today there is a danger that we underestimate the elders over against the ministers of the church. If the position of ministers were to become central, and if one would consider the elders only as the assistants of the minister, then there would be something wrong. It happened in the past, and it happens today, especially in the U.S.A., that one sees the elder as the ruler, but the minister as ruler and counsellor. If there are problems and difficulties, people pass by the elders and go directly to the pastor.

Maybe the old “Form for the ordination of elders and deacons” gave some rise to that. In that old form the government of the elders is stressed, while in the “Form for the ordination (or installation) of Ministers of God's Word” the task of the shepherd is extensively mentioned. But let us bear in mind that the elders are also pastors.

Paul said to the elders of Ephesus, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which He obtained with the blood.”

I think the new Forms are better. Both of them point to the important pastoral task of the elders and ministers. I remind you for instance of these two passages concerning the elders: “Together they tend the flock of God which is in their charge” (in the margin reference is made to 1 Peter 5:1-4) and also: “To do their work well as shepherds of God's flock, the overseers should train themselves in godliness…” (with reference to 2 Timothy 3:14-17).

So let us not underestimate the important office of the elders. Let us bear in mind what the letter to the Hebrews prescribes:

Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.


More than the office of elders, the office of deacons is in danger today. That is not only the case in our days for we can say that none of the special offices in the church experienced so much alteration of assignment and change duty as the office of deacons. One said, “Just as Laban dealt with Jacob's wages, so they dealt with the office of the deacon: they changed it ten times!”

Already in the second half of the second century the deformation began; deacons slowly but surely became no more then helpers, the adjutants of the bishop. They could not do anything without his order or permission. Besides that, one placed between the bishops and the deacons the presbyters, and this hierarchical order was maintained very strictly. Also archdeacons and subdeacons appeared, and it looked like the order in the Old Testament – the bishops being compared to the high priest, the presbyters to the priests and the deacons to the levites. As a rule the deacons had to stand, while the higher clergy might sit.

In the Middle Ages the image is even more sombre. There is nothing left of the care of the deaconry for the poor. There is begging everywhere, and that is not discouraged by the clergy, but rather promoted. The poor complain that nobody takes care of them. Meanwhile there is great luxury and wealth in the monasteries, as well as the costly splendour and lustre of the higher clergy, especially at the Papal court, attained by exploitation of the people. But from the beginning it was not so.

Therefore, the reformers had the enormous task, of looking back to the beginning and restoring the office of deacons completely. Luther discovered from Scripture what the office of deacons actually was, but time and again he let himself be ruled by the spirit of his time. So in the Lutheran church the deacon received the function of assistant preacher. Zwingli recommended the care of the poor to the government, so he did not restore the office of deacons. But Bucer first, and after him Calvin, rediscovered the beauty of the office of deacons, and they read again the Scriptures in order to reform this office.


It is also our task, to read the Scriptures again in order to understand what the task of the deacon is. In the New Testament the verb diakonein (and also the noun diakonos) has a general and a special meaning. According to its proper significance, diakonein means “to serve at the table” (namely, for food and drink), according to Luke 17:8 and John 12:2). Hence the word is used for all “provision” (see Luke 8:3, Matthew 27:6, Mark 15:41), while the personal provision with love is stressed (see Matthew 25:42-44, Acts 2:19 and 1 Corinthians 16:15).

The diakonos is he who practices diakonein, and our Lord Jesus Christ continues to practice it as no one else. He experienced in this world the call from His Father as a service, endlessly great, immeasurably deep, totally unique in its appearance. Although He is the Son of God Himself, He did not come into this world in order to be served, but to serve. He completely breaks the idea of the old world that to serve is something less worthy. He turns around all human ideas of greatness and rank. He tells His disciples, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave” (Matthew 20:25-28, see also Mark 10:42-45). So Jesus Christ did Himself. He did not seek a crown, but the cross.

When Jesus Christ, the great diakonos, ascended into heaven, He continued this office in the first place by His apostles. They have the task, to glorify God's Name on earth, to proclaim His great deeds. They have to serve God by serving their brethren, also with material goods. That was an enormous task! No wonder that when the number of believers increased that much, this enormous task excelled the powers of the twelve. After a short time, there were problems with the care of the poor. The apostles had received and taken charge of the money given by the people of the church. The whole task had become a large one, and the care for the poor did not function as it ought to have. We read in Acts 6 that the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

Widows Neglected🔗

What does that mean, that the Hellenists' widows were neglected in the daily distribution? Dr. Van Bruggen is of the opinion that this means that those widows were neglected, not as objects, but as subjects. In other words: they were not neglected in receiving support, but in giving support (Ambten in de Apostolische Kerk, p. 65ff.). He appeals to Acts 9, where we read that Dorcas was also one of the women who was full of good works and acts of charity. And Dorcas was one of the leaders of the widows, who made clothes for the poor. But I do not think that Dr. Van Bruggen is right. In the first place, we do not read that Dorcas was a leader of a group, but we only read that the people very much regretted that with her death the charity of making clothes had stopped. In the second place, turning back to Acts 6, if the negligence had been in the fact that no women were involved in the distribution of the goods and money, then we might expect that this would be rectified by appointing women now. But that did not happen. Neither did the seven brothers receive the assignment to enlist women in the future as a kind of help to the sisters. No, seven brothers were installed. They were appointed to that duty (verse 3), namely, to serve tables (verse 2).

The Seven🔗

Time and again, the objection has been made that the word “deacons” is not mentioned in Acts 6. But I am of the opinion that this does not at all prove that this chapter does not deal with deacons. I think we have here the prototype of the later deacons, in the special sense of those who have to diakonein.

Repeatedly people have tried to deny and to dispute the ecclesiastical office of the deacons. For instance, one pointed to the fact that in the rest of the book of Acts no deacons are mentioned. In Acts 14:23 we read about election of presbyters, but not of election of deacons. In Chapter 11:27-30 we read that the relief to the brethren of Judea was sent to the elders, so not to the deacons. But we cannot see that this poses a great difficulty. For in Acts 8:1 we read that a great persecution arose against the Church at Jerusalem. So it already happened very soon that the office of deacons could not function any more in the Church at Jerusalem. And also later on, when the persecution grew less, it appeared that the office of deacon was not necessary in Jerusalem, for we read in Acts 21:8 that Philip, one of the seven, lived in Caesarea.

Another objection was that what is said about the seven does not have anything to do with the care of the poor. Philip goes to work as an evangelist, Stephan delivers sermons and does great wonders and signs among the people. Also this objection does not hold water. It is explicable that the work of the deacons is not mentioned in Acts 6, because the reason for the trouble had been solved. The measure was undoubtedly effective. In addition, the “seven” could have received the charisma of didaskalia, the special gift of teaching, just as it happened often in the beginning of the New Testament church. Neither is it excluded that, for instance, Philip started preaching when it was impossible to function as deacon.

There are also the objections that the “seven” had no office at all, that they had the same office as the presbyters, that they had a special status between presbyters and deacons, or that they had a temporary task in order to solve specific problems. These are all arguments against the permanent office of deacons. But I am of the opinion that Acts 6 deals with the service of deacons as a permanent, special, independent and proper office.


It is an office. The seven were not appointed by the apostles or by the presbyters as “helpers.” The whole, broad, solemn course of facts shows us that this is more than a kind of subordinate, less important function; the calling together of the congregation, the exposition of the necessity and the requirements of the service of mercy by the apostles, the election by the congregation, the approval of the apostles, their prayer and laying on of hands – all that is an indication of the institution of a certain office.

It is also a permanent office and not a temporary service. Of course there were in that time temporary services. We should not consider the organization of the Christian church in the very beginning as if everything concerning the offices was finalized. But we may say: the more the extraordinary offices disappeared, the more the normal offices came to the foreground. The distinction in Acts 6 between diakonia tou logou (preaching the Word of God) and diakonein trapedzais (to serve tables) is rather sharp. What was united for the apostles in their service, is now split into two services: the preaching of the Word of God, and the service of mercy.

It is also a special office, discerned from the extraordinary office of the apostles and the prophets of the New Testament. It is a special service in the local church. We do not read that the seven executed their office outside Jerusalem.

It is also an independent office. That independence is strongly expressed by the apostles when they say “whom we may appoint to this duty.” The word that is used here points to the ordination to an office. The apostles leave the whole matter of the care for the widows to the deacons because this whole care became too heavy for them. It appeared that the preaching of the Word required all their energy. They had to hand over the care of the poor to others in an independent office. Therefore the seven were given the responsibility for caring for the needy.

Finally, it is also a proper office. In former Latin publications we can read the term proprius, from which the English word “proper” is derived. That means: this is an office with its own task, not to be shared with others. That also means that the deacons may not claim what belongs to the duties of other office-bearers. Neither is the office of the deacons to be equalled with the function of government officers. What the deacons exercise is Christian mercy, according to Christ's mandate, to the honour of the Name of the LORD and to the well-being of the poor and lonely members of Christ's body.

This permanent, special, independent proper office is not less holy or worthy than the office of minister of God's Word or the office of elder.

No Female Deacons🔗

It is clear that the office of Acts 6 was instituted as an office of men, so there were no female deacons. I agree with Dr. Van Bruggen that according to the New Testament the sisters of the congregation cannot become office-bearers. I also agree with him that there are many tasks for the sisters. We can read in the New Testament that women played an important role, and so, also today women may help in all kinds of ways.

But the thesis of Dr. Van Bruggen is now, overagainst all kinds of emancipation theories, that the deacons have no special office in the church either. He says, “The deacon, as we know him, is a kind of colleague-office-bearer of the elder and he has his own place. But the Biblical deacon is not an office-bearer, and he is only a help for the overseers.” His conclusion is that it would be better if the deacon left his place in the pew of deacons beside the pulpit and that he went to the pew beside his wife. So he could, together with the female deacons, execute help-services in the church. He also concludes that it would be better not to install the deacons, because they have no special office. The best would be that they were appointed by the elders (Ambten in de Apostolische Kerk, pp. 117ff).

I am of the opinion that Dr. Van Bruggen is wrong here. Of course the deacon has a general title, deacon, that means, servant. But I am convinced, just as I said before, that the deacon has a permanent, special, independent and proper office in the church . I think there are more texts in the New Testament besides Acts 6, pointing to that.


Dr. Van Bruggen says that the deacons are not mentioned very often, because they stand beyond the elders and overseers and they do not fulfill an independent service besides them. In this respect I want to point to the letter of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians. Paul and Timothy directed their letter to “all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” But Dr. S. Greijdanus argued that we have to consider the words “overseer” and “deacon” in their official, technical sense. And he adds to that, “There is nothing that points to the idea that the deacons would be helpers of the overseers in the material, financial things.”


In the second place, I would like to point to the first letter of Paul to Timothy, Chapter 3, the verses 1-13. There we read about the requirements of overseers, deacons and women. It may not escape our attention that many conditions are required of the elders, more than of the deacons, and also more than of the women. We may also note that the female helpers are here clearly discerned from the overseers and the deacons. And the female deacons are absolutely not the same as the deacons, who apparently have their own, special, official task in the congregation.

I am of the opinion that the development is very clear. In Acts 6 we have what we called the prototype of the deacons, but in the letter to the Philippians and in the first letter to Timothy, the offices are already more established and Paul then writes down the requirements for the office-bearers.


We also want to point to a writing that does not belong to the Bible, but that gives us insight into the situation of the church right after the time of the apostles. It is the first letter of Clemens, on behalf of the Church at Rome, directed to the Church at Corinth, and presumably originating in the year 96 A.D., that is only a few years after the death of the Apostle John.

We read in that letter:

So preaching everywhere in country and town, they (the apostles, K.D.), appointed their first-fruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be overseers and deacons unto them that should believe. And this they did in no new fashion; for indeed it had been written concerning overseers and deacons from very ancient times; for thus said the Scripture in a certain place: 'I will appoint their overseers in righteousness and their deacons in faith.'

Clemens quotes here the prophecies of Isaiah, Chapter 60:17, and he tries to prove that the Old Testament already delivered a basis for the New Testament offices. In this respect I think Clemens was not right. Isaiah 60:17 (second part) says: “I will make your overseers peace and your taskmasters righteous.” I am of the opinion that this prophecy points to the future luxury and riches of Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, it is very clear that at the end of the first century the Church at Rome had elders and deacons, and it is also clear that one was convinced at that time that these two offices were instituted by the apostles as independent offices.

Pastor Hermae🔗

There is a second source, originating from the early part of the second century, called Pastor Hermae. Hermae was not an office-bearer, but a businessman in Rome. His book is written in the form of visions. He shows in these visions how an angel lays bare the sins and deviations of the church and summons to do penance and to convert. He writes that there are, besides the former apostles, overseers, teachers and deacons as office-bearers in the church. I quote now the passage of the vision concerning deacons who did not execute their office as they ought to have:

And from the ninth mountain, which was desert, which had reptiles and wild beasts in it which destroy mankind, they that believed are such as these; they that have the spots are deacons that exercised their office ill and plundered the livelihood of widows and orphans, and made gain for themselves from the ministrations which they had received to perform. If then they abide in the same evil desire, they are dead and there is no hope of life for them; but if they turn again and fulfill their ministrations in purity, it shall be possible for them to live.

There are also faithful office-bearers. The stones that are squared and white, and that fit together in their joints, these are the apostles and overseers and teachers and deacons, who walked after the holiness of God, and exercised their office of overseers and teacher and deacon in purity and sanctity for the elect of God, some of them already fallen in sleep, and others still living.

This book, just as Clemens had great authority in the church of the second century. Of course they did not have the authority of the Bible books but the church regarded them very highly. It appears from the Pastor Hermae that the office of the deacons was to take care of the poor. It also appears that they distributed the goods rather independently.


The third and last witness of that time (also in the first part of the second century) is the so-called Didache, or Teaching of the Apostles to the Gentiles. It was of course not written by the apostles themselves, but it is based on the doctrine of the apostles and it also had great authority. It originated in Palestine and Syria, and it delivers clear insight into the preaching and life of the old church.

Also in this book we read about the deacons as office-bearers.

We read:

Appoint for yourselves therefore overseers and deacons worthy of the Lord, men who are meek and not lovers of money, and true and approved; for unto you they also perform the service of the prophets and teachers. Therefore despise them not: for they are your honourable men along with the prophets and teachers.

The didache says: “They perform the service.” The word used for service is one which always refers to an ecclesiastical service. So also the Didache recognizes the deacons as office-bearers in the church.


It would be possible to quote more writings from this time, but I think these quotations are sufficient. They show us very clearly that in the time just after the apostles the deacons were honoured as office-bearers, just as in the time of the apostles themselves, as Paul wrote in Philippians and Timothy.

I already said that deformation came very soon, and it would take a long time before Reformation came. It was Bucer who restored the office of the deacons, and he said they had special tasks, for instance at the Lord's Supper. To Bucer the deacons have a permanent office and within the consortium of servants of the church they have their own place, characterized by the original meaning of New Testament Diakonia. Calvin took that over and he said in his Institutions that the deacon's office was not only to take care of the poor, but also to look after the sick people.

I do not want to follow the whole history. I only want to stress that the reformers went back to the early church, just as Calvin always said that he aimed to do.


We saw that after the Reformation the elder disappeared in some regions quite quickly. What about the deacon? Time and again attempts were made to change this office or make it disappear altogether. On the one side there was the effort to separate it from the local congregation, by saying we have to look for a world-deaconry, thereby charging the deacons with the task of looking after the needs of the whole world rather than leaving it to the initiative of all individual believers. On the other hand there is the opinion of Dr. Van Bruggen (and he is not the first one in history) that the deacon could better leave the chair of the office-bearers and take his place in the pew.

Overagainst both efforts I want to stress the importance of the office of the deacon in the church, but then connected with the local church and taking care of the needy, the poor, the sick, and the old people in that local congregation. Let the deacons keep their own office! Let the deacons keep that beautiful office! Let the deacons maintain that office in the church and persevere in it! There are many tasks for everybody in the church, for men and women, for old and young people. But let us continue to preserve the offices in the church for the ministers, the elders and the deacons.

High Office🔗

It is very good that the “Forms for the ordination of elders and deacons” (especially the new form) shows that the offices, including the office of deacons must be held in high regard. After having quoted several texts from the Old and New Testament, we read in the form:

Also today the Lord calls us to show hospitality, generosity, and mercy, so that the weak and needy may share abundantly in the joy of God's people. No one in the congregation of Christ may live uncomforted under the pressure of sickness, loneliness, and poverty. For the sake of this service of love Christ has given deacons to His Church. When the apostles realized that they would have to give up preaching the Word of God if they had to devote their full attention to the daily support of the needy, they assigned this duty to seven brothers chosen by the congregation. It is therefore the responsibility of the deacons to see to the good progress of this service of charity in the church.

We may conclude that it is an office, and even a high office, that the deacons received. I want to stress that offices in the church are Gifts of the exalted Christ Himself, just as we for instance can read in Paul's letter to the Ephesians. And we may not neglect this element! No doubt it is good to say, what for instance Dr. C. Trimp says, that the office-bearers are to be discovered and recognized by the congregation in respect of their charismata. So we may say indeed that the special office in the church is not to be separated from the service of the believers.

But there is more. This is only one element. The other one is that office-bearers are gifts from heaven. The “highness” of the offices in the church is that there is a divine assignment, and connected with that assignment there is also a divine qualification. Each and every office-bearer will ask time and again, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:16). So also the Apostle Paul himself asked that question. But he knew the answer: “He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it” (1 Thessolonians 5:24). Therefore, I emphasize that he who is an office-bearer in the church does not receive only a calling, but also capability for it. I miss that often in publications concerning the offices in the church.


In conclusion, I come back to the question I posed at the beginning: “Are elders and deacons really office-bearers?” My answer is: Yes, without any doubt. Their offices are different from one another, but both offices are true offices. Both of them are also “high” offices, not to be separated from the congregation by whom they are elected, neither to be separated from the exalted Lord Jesus Christ who granted them as gifts from heaven. So let us honour the office-bearers in the church. Let us pray for them, in order that they may exercise their office joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to the congregation. In this way we may be sure that God will grant the office-bearers the gifts they need: wisdom, courage, discretion and mercy, so that each of them may fulfill his office as it is pleasing to our heavenly Father.

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