The Offices of the Church


Order of Contents

Regular Offices
.     That Pastors are a Distinct Office from Ruling elders
extraordinary Offices



The Regular Offices of Christ’s Church



Ruling Elders




That Pastors are a Distinct Office from Ruling Elders

Isbell, Sherman – Order in the Offices, a Book Review  1995  13 paragraphs

This article is the best short piece on the Biblical teaching that the Minister is a separate office from, though it shares numerous functions with, the office of Ruling Elder, and that this was the view of the Reformation and Puritan eras.  

Isbell reviews Mark Brown’s book ‘Order in the Offices.’  Brown (of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) compiled numerous essays all related to the office of Minister, but the authors generally take the newer American view espoused by Charles Hodge and Thomas Smyth, and many in the OPC, that Ministers do not fall under the category of the Biblical Greek term ‘presbyter’, whereas the Reformation and Puritan eras did teach and practice that.



Ceased Extraordinary Offices

Give preface on evangelism.






Calvin, John – Institutes, Book 4, ch. 3, sections 4-5  d. 1564  3 pp.

Vermigli, Peter Martyr – Common Places, Part 4, Ch. 1, ‘Of the catholic Church;
Of Sundry Ministers of the Church’  1576  See the table of contents

Hemmingsen, Niels – pp. 136-138 of Commentary on eph. 4:11

Hemmingsen, 1513-1600, was a Lutheran.

Gerhard, Johann – Theological Places, vol. 6, Locus 23

Gerhard was a Lutheran.

“I hold the third opinion [that NT prophets were extraordinary] with Gerhard…  and diverse others…” – Gillespie

Baynes, Paul – pp. 255-7 of Commentary on eph. 4:11  d. 1617

english Annotations on 1 Cor. 12:28  1645

Dickson, David – Commentary on 1 Cor. 14:31

Gillespie, George – Ch. 7: ‘Of Prophets and evangelists: in what Sense their work and vocation might be Called extraordinary, and in what sense Ordinary’  in A Treatise of Miscellany Questions

Gillespie takes’prophets and evangelists’ as having both extraordinary and ordinary aspects and functions.  The offices are not ordinary to the continuing Christian church, but upon extraordinary occasions, ecclesiastical assemblies may commission persons for the ordinary work of messengers to make communications with other assemblies.  Yet Gillespie does not see the office of evangelist has having a permanent place in the church or that there is warrant for them having a distinct ordination, and what he describes as their continuing functions takes place in historically reformed denominations already, such as the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), which, from the Second Reformation in Scotland, never inherited an office of the NT evangelist.

On further details of his understanding of prophets, see ch. 5.

See the other subsection for more.

Owen, John – ‘Of Gifts and Offices extraordinary; and First of Offices’  in A Discourse of Spiritual Gifts in Works, vol. 4, pp. 438 ff.

Smyth, Thomas – ‘Of the extraordinary Officers of the Church’  being Questions 68-76 and pp. 37-40 of An Ecclesiastical Catechism of the Presbyterian Church

eadie, John – Commentary on eph. 4:11

Hodge, J. Aspinwall – Ch. 3, ‘of the Officers of the Church’  in What is Presbyterian Law, as Defined by the Church Courts?, pp. 41-44  1882

Stewart, Angus – ‘Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists’  10 paragraphs


In Latin

Aretius, Benedict – Ch. 62, ‘Of ecclesiastical Offices’  being pp. 183-186 of Common Places of the Christian Religion Methodically Explicated  (Geneva, 1589; Bern, 1604)

Aretius (1505–1574)

Polyander, Thysius, Rivet, Walaeus – Ch. 42, Sections 1-24  of Synopsis of Pure Theology  (1625; ed. H. Bavinck, Leiden, 1881)  In English: Buy



The Westminster Form of Presbyterial Church-Government

“The officers which Christ hath appointed for the edification of his church, and the perfecting of the saints, are, some extraordinary, as apostles, evangelists, and prophets, which are ceased.  Others ordinary and perpetual, as pastors, teachers, and other church-governors, and deacons.”


Matthew Henry

Commentary on eph. 4:11

“The officers which Christ gave to his church were of two sorts—extraordinary ones advanced to a higher office in the church: such were apostles, prophets, and evangelists.

The apostles were chief. These Christ immediately called, furnished them with extraordinary gifts and the power of working miracles, and with infallibility in delivering his truth; and, they having been the witnesses of his miracles and doctrine, he sent them forth to spread the gospel and to plant and govern churches.

The prophets seem to have been such as expounded the writings of the Old Testament, and foretold things to come.

The evangelists were ordained persons (2 Tim. 1:6 ), whom the apostles took for their companions in travel (Gal. 2:1 ), and sent them out to settle and establish such churches as the apostles themselves had planted (Acts. 19:22 ), and, not being fixed to any particular place, they were to continue till recalled, 2 Tim. 4:9.

And then there are ordinary ministers, employed in a lower and narrower sphere; as pastors and teachers…”




Related Pages


Church Government

The Regulative Principle of Church Government

Theories of Church Government

The Ruling of the Church

Church Membership