In his book Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Wayne Grudem suggests the Plural Local Elder Government as the Biblical model. Of this model, Grudem states, “Within such a system [Plural Local Elder Government] the elders govern the church and have authority to rule over it, authority which has been conferred by Christ himself, the head of the church, and by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:38; Heb. 13:17). In this system of government, there is always more than one elder, a fact which distinguishes this form of government from the ‘single elder system’ discussed above.” I would agree with Grudem as there appears to be several verses that support his conclusion. Acts 14:23 indicates that there were a plurality of elders appointed in “every church.” Although James is quite obviously the senior elder at Jerusalem, Acts 15:2 indicates that Paul and Barnabas made their case before the Apostles as well as the elders at Jerusalem. In Ephesus, there was also a plurality of elders as Acts 20:17 indicates. As a last verse, Acts 20:28 also uses plural terminology of the word “overseers” indicating a plurality of elders. So then, regardless of the location of each church, it is quite apparent from the book of Acts that the model was that of plural elders exercising authority over the local congregations.
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand
Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994.
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