Ruling Elders

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Order of Contents

Articles
Books
Quotes
.        Ruling Elders are Ordained Officers, not Lay-Persons
.        The Office is for Life
.        Ruling Elders Should be Paid
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     Ruling Elders do Not have the Authority for Preaching by Office
      Ruling Elders do Not have the Authority for Congregational Prayer by Office
.        Ruling Elders are Not to Lay on Hands in the Ordination of a Pastor.

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Articles

Guthrie, James – A Treatise of Ruling Elders and Deacons  

Guthrie (1612?–1661) was a Scottish covenanter.

Binnie, William – The Ruling Eldership, p. 122, 9 pp.  from The Church

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Books

Gillespie, George – An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland in the Points of Ruling Elders, etc.  EEBO  1641  270 pp.

The classic, and fullest, historic, reformed piece on the office of the ruling elder.  Gillespie sets forth the (right) view that the ruling elder is a distinct office from minister, is not a lay-position, and is still an ‘elder’, or Biblical ‘presbyter’.

Miller, Samuel – The Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Office of Ruling Elder  1842  310 pp.

Miller follows the paradigm of Gillespie and was the last American to get the office right, before the American presbyterians mainly in the north, Hodge, Smyth, etc., and the presbyterians in the South, Thornwell, Dabney, Breckinridge, etc. went separate directions. 

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Quotes

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Ruling Elders are Ordained Officers, not Lay-Persons

Samuel Rutherford

Lex Rex, Sprinkle Edition, p. 216, speaking of his Anglican opponent  1644

“…his invectives against ruling elders, falsely called lay-elders…”

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The Office of Ruling Elder is for Life

Quote

Samuel Rutherford

A Peaceable and Temperate Plea, p. 290  1642  Rutherford overlooks the term ‘lay-elders’ here from the opponent.

“Question [Objection] 4:  But the ancients knew no lay-elders.

Answer:  Nor do we de jure [by right] know them [as a standing and universal law in all cases], they are Church-men, and should be for all their lifetime entertained upon the Church’s charges; what our Church de facto [in actual fact] does tolerate by reason of our Church’s poverty, is another question.”

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Articles

Murray, John – ‘The Ordination of Elders: Some Arguments Against Term Eldership’  being pp. 23-25 of The Presbyterian Guardian,  Feb., 1955.  Also reprinted as ‘Arguments Against Term Eldership’  in Works, vol. 2, ch. 29, pp. 351-356.

Reformed Reader – ‘Arguments Against Term Eldership’  7 paragraphs

The article summarized Murray’s argument.

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Ruling Elders Should be Paid

1 Tim. 5:17-18

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.  For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.”

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Samuel Rutherford

A Peaceable and Temperate Plea, p. 290  1642  Rutherford overlooks the term ‘lay-elders’ here from the opponent.

“Question [Objection] 4:  But the ancients knew no lay-elders.

Answer:  Nor do we de jure [by right] know them [as a standing and universal law in all cases], they are Church-men, and should be for all their lifetime entertained upon the Church’s charges; what our Church de facto [in actual fact] does tolerate by reason of our Church’s poverty, is another question.”

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Ruling Elders do not have the Authority for Preaching by Office

Samuel Rutherford

Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery in Scotland, 1642, London

Ch. 20, Whether or not the government of the Church of Scotland can be proved by God’s Word to be lawful?

11th Article, Elders and Deacons

Elders help the Pastors in governing, but labor not in the Word and Doctrine, 1 Tim 5:17, and yet visit the sick, oversee the ways and manners of the people, and so rule with diligence, Rom. 12:8; 1 Cor. 12:28, and judge with pastors and doctors, Matt 18:18-20

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Ruling Elders do Not have the Authority for Congregational Prayer by Office  Pastors do

Westminster’s Form of Presbyterial Church Government

“Pastors.


First, it belongs to his office,

To pray for and with his flock, as the mouth of the people unto God,[g] Acts 6:2-4, and 20:36, where preaching and prayer are joined as several parts of the same office.[h] The office of the elder (that is, the pastor) is to pray for the sick, even in private, to which a blessing is especially promised; much more therefore ought he to perform this in the public execution of his office, as a part thereof.[i]

[g] Acts 6:2-4Acts 20:36
[h] James 5:14,15
[i] 1 Cor. 14:15,16

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Samuel Rutherford

A Peaceable and Temperate Plea  1642

p. 194 (bottom)
p. 197 (top)
p. 272 (Query 2)

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Ruling Elders are not to Lay on Hands in the Ordination of a Pastor

Westminster’s Form of Presbyterial Church Government

“Touching the Doctrine of Ordination


Every minister of the word is to be ordained by imposition of hands, and prayer, with fasting, by those preaching presbyters to whom it doth belong. (Acts 14:23Tit. 1:5Acts 20:17,28)

Touching the Power of Ordination


The preaching presbyters orderly associated, either in cities or neighbouring villages, are those to whom the imposition of hands doth appertain, for those congregations within their bounds respectively.

Concerning the Doctrinal Part of Ordination of Ministers


4. Every minister of the word is to be ordained by imposition of hands, and prayer, with fasting, by these preaching presbyters to whom it doth belong. (1 Tim. 5:22Acts 14:2313:3)

10. Preaching presbyters orderly associated, either in cities or neighbouring villages, are those to whom the imposition of hands doth appertain, for those congregations within their bounds respectively. (1 Tim. 4:14)”

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Samuel Rutherford

A Peaceable and Temperate Plea  1642

p. 80 (bottom)

p. 290 (Question 5)

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