How was / and is the church of the New Testament to be organized?

What type of governing body did it have in Biblical times? It is important for us to learn how the first century church was set-up since many of the churches of today have different types of government. For example, the Roman Catholic Church has a man in which they refer to as a Pope who is head of that church. Still other churches have conventions with representatives from the individual congregations who make laws and decide what kinds of activity that their denomination will be involved in. Still others, especially cults, have a one-man rule that makes ALL the decisions for that religious group, including laws in which they will abide by.

Almost all churches have a headquarters here upon earth or a central figure (person) in which they submit to. However, the church of Christ has NEITHER! We look to Jesus Christ who is in heaven for authority in religious matters and for our moral standard. Even though He is in heaven, Christ does not have a vicar to represent Him here on earth. A vicar, in this sense, would be someone here upon earth to be head of the church and to serve as our Lord’s representative. But the Bible nowhere even suggests that anyone other than Jesus Christ should reign over His church. Even after He was resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven, the scripture declared that our Lord and Savior is the head of the church (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22-23). The New Testament is the will of Jesus Christ and therefore it is to govern the church rather than the creeds of men (Hebrews 9:16-17; Hebrews 10:9-10; Matthew 15:9).

The New Testament church has no governing body here upon earth outside the local congregation. Each local church is to be autonomous, meaning self-ruled, independent. Even in the individual congregation there is no one who has the right or the authority to make laws in matters of faith. Matters of faith have to do with those areas in which the Lord has given commandments and instructions (Romans 10:17).

Within each congregation, when two or more of the men meet the qualifications for elders, the membership should select two or more of these men to serve as their shepherds (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 14:23). Those ordained in a local church are the spiritual overseers, but do not have the authority to make laws in matters of faith for those in whom they oversee, nor do they have the authority to oversee other congregations.

--Dub Mowery

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