Scripture Note.

p. 331.

Titus 1:5.

It is abundantly clear that the apostle directed Titus, as well as Timothy, to appoint elders, and that, as guided by the Holy Spirit, he names certain qualifications to govern them in the selection of these elders or bishops. Paul himself also, together with Barnabas, "appointed elders in every church." (Acts 14:23.) We say "appointed," for neither here nor in Titus is there the slightest justification for the rendering "ordained." It is quite true that in ecclesiastical usage, in after years, this meaning was attached to the word in Acts 14; but no such thought lies in the word itself, for it simply signifies "to choose," as may be seen from Acts 10:41, 2 Cor. 8:19. The word in Titus is not the same, and has the meaning of constituting or establishing. The question raised, however, is, If the apostles, with Timothy and Titus, appointed elders or bishops, why may not the saints now? Two opposite usages are prevalent. First, ecclesiastics, claiming to be successors of the apostles, assert their authority to "ordain;" and, secondly, those who refuse this dogma of apostolic succession contend that the saints themselves possess the privilege of choosing their own officers. There is no scripture to warrant the practice of either the one or the other. The apostles, as inspired men, both appointed elders and delegated their authority to do so to Timothy and to Titus; but they have not in any of their epistles left any direction either for the selection of successors to themselves or for the choice of elders by the saints. On the other hand, Paul, when he warned the elders of Ephesus of coming dangers, commended them to God and to the word of His grace. (Acts 20) The apostle Peter, in like manner, desires that the saints should turn, in their perplexities, to the written Word. (2 Peter 3:1-2; 2 Peter 1:15.) What then remains as to elders? The divinely-given qualifications for such are contained in the Scriptures; and wherever these are detected, as possessed in any measure by a brother, the saints are responsible to acknowledge such an one as fit to rule in the assembly. (See 1 Thess. 5:12, 13; Heb. 13:17, etc.) The work of elders may therefore still be done according to God, though there be no existent authority to appoint to the office. It may be added that no such thing is found in the Scriptures as one elder or bishop presiding over or ruling in the assembly. E. D.