Who Has Authority Over the Congregation: Elders or the Preacher?

Some brethren and elders shamelessly minimize the important role of the preacher beneath all others while others shamelessly elevate him above all others. The work and role of a gospel preacher is extremely important to a congregation. He should be appreciated and respected as long as he preaches and teaches the truth. The noble work of elders should also be appreciated as it is extremely necessary since it is God’s will that all congregations have them (Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5). But who rules the congregation? Speaking of the concept of rule, there are different types. There is an authoritative type and a subordinate type. Example; when the Lord came to earth by changing his role and responsibility, his rule/authority also changed (Phil. 2:5-7). Did it not? Though he was equal with the Father, on earth he submitted to the Father. See, one’s rule/authority corresponds with their responsibility.

Husband and wives are a perfect example. Within the home the wife rules with some authority in her function/responsibility (guide/rule=1 Tim. 5:14), but is not the authority/rule over the home as is her husband (Gen. 3:16). This is also true in the role of elders and the preacher. Within the congregation the preacher has some authority/rule in his function/responsibility (Doctrine=1 Tim. 4:16; Tit. 2:1; 2 Tim. 4:2), but does not possess authority/rule over the congregation as elders do (Flock=Acts 20:17,28; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:1-2). These different types of authority/rule do not correspond and should not conflict in the church just as it should not in the home.

There is no corresponding rule/authority of elders and the preacher within the congregation. Simply put, they do not possess the same authority/rule. That is foreign to the New Testament. Neither is the preacher overseeing a congregation consistent with New Testament scripture. One man pastoral leadership is found once in the New Testament and he was sinning (3 John 1:9-10). And again, how can elders and the preacher possess the same rule/authority when their responsibilities and qualifications are different? It does not make bible sense. Elders possess rule/authority over “all the flock” and since the preacher is part of the flock/congregation, he too should submit to their rule/authority along with the rest of the congregation (Acts 20:17,28).

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