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The basic organization of the first-century Jewish synagogue called for a "ruler" or "chief ruler" to be the presiding officer for the group. The office was that of an "overseer." This overseer served as the chief executive officer of the local synagogue. A second layer of officiality, which functioned as a general council or board, consisted of elders, or rulers (Mark 5:22; Acts 13:15). All of these officers were men. The organization of the early Judeo-Christian synagogue arose from this practice.

In early Christianity, following the existing Jewish prototype, men charged with ministerial, teaching, and administrative responsibility were set apart for the office of ministry as overseers. This occurred through a ritual consisting of prayer and the laying on of hands.  The typical Judeo-Christian synagogue, had a bishop, or literally an "overseer," in authority over the local congregation. This overseer, who was the local pastor of the congregation, had support from the second layer of officials of ordained rank.

The bishop and the elders, at times referred to as the presbytery, πρεσβυτέριον, prĕsbutěriŏn, were in charge of the affairs of a local church congregation (see church). The leading elder was the presiding overseer or bishop. Collectively the bishop and the elders were known as pskopos, "overseers" (Philippians 1:1) with responsibility "to shepherd the church of God" (Acts 20:28). This ministry exclusively consisted of men (I Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9).

Page last edited: 02/02/06 08:13 PM

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