Body of Christ: Leaders vs Others


It has to be acknowledged at the beginning of this section that it is impossible to write this properly.  It is difficult to convey some ideas in writing and this particular subject is loaded with assumptions.  I doubt that I will sway those who believe in a strong form of leadership and authority in church leaders to see differently.  At the same time, I believe there are a lot of those who are not in some form of christian leadership who are held in various levels of bondage to their concepts related to this subject.

Additionally, it should be noted that I am not attempting to present a comprehensive view of how those who are leading should relate to other believers.  My hope is to open a new window of thought that may lead to consideration on the part of the reader that an alternate view is valid to consider.  The impact of this alternate view has the potential to introduce an healthier environment in the church that is more conducive to growth of each body of believers.  Additionally, it cannot be denied that there is also the potential to introduce problems into the church environment because rebelliousness does exist in the Body of Christ.  It is clear to this author that God did not establish the church as an environment that was intended to be free of these problems.  The church was intended to be an environment where these kinds of problems are worked through for the benefit of everyone and to bring each believer to full maturity in Christ.  This potentially messy environment matches God’s core nature of love.  He is not an authoritarian as some of us are.

I put all of this forward without judgment of those who are currently in leadership.  I have experienced good leadership and bad leadership.  The experience of each is vastly different.  Ephesians 4:11-16 expresses the core elements of what comprise my viewpoint on this subject:

Ephesians 4:11-16 – And he himself gave some as apostles and some as prophets and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all reach the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to a measure of the maturity of the fulness of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed about by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching, by the trickery of people, by craftiness with reference to the scheming of deceit.  But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow into him with reference to all things, who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined together and held together by every supporting ligament, according to the working by measure of each single part, the growth of the body makes for the building up of itself in love.

Important Note:  Let’s keep in mind that ALL believers have been granted gifts by the Holy Spirit when they become believers.  These verses in Ephesians 4 are pointing to a particular subset of gifts that are classified as having a lot of importance in helping others in the Body of Christ.

For me, this passage expresses so much.  Focus on who it is written to.  It is written to ALL believers, not a subset of them.  This passage shows that there are some key gifted ones that are in the Body of Christ and then it tells their purpose.  When we look at this passage more as a whole and not just for the identification of some of the kinds of gifted ones there are in the Body we start to see some amazing truths about how both these key gifted ones and other believers should operate.

  • It expresses the reasons for these key gifted ones
    • equipping (maturing) the saints for the work of the ministry
  • It expresses some essential goals for each believer
    • until we all reach the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God
    • until we all reach to a mature man, to a measure of the maturity of the fulness of Christ
    • so that we may no longer be infants, tossed about by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching, by the trickery of people, by craftiness with reference to the scheming of deceit
  • It expresses the ultimate outcome of this maturing process
    • we (each one of us) are to grow into him with reference to all things, who is the head, Christ
  • It expresses what things would be like with everyone in this matured state
    • from Christ the whole body, joined together and held together by every supporting ligament, according to the working by measure of each single part, the growth of the body makes for the building up of itself in love.

Within this passage there is an implicit reality which is pretty amazing.  Here it is…

The role of these key gifted ones is temporary and should be going away.  The gifted ones are to help connect the individual believers to Christ as their head so that they relate fully and properly to Christ as their head.  As the whole body matures and each part is operating in its function, the gifted ones who the Lord gave to prepare the body become less needed.  This is what the Lord expected.  He expected all of us to “grow into him with reference to all things, who is the head, Christ”.  This is not reserved to those who are named as these key gifted ones in Ephesians 4, but for each and every believer.

This has an amazing implication.  The real work of the most notable gifted ones is to make themselves less necessary.

Brief Review of Other Relationships with Authority

We have seen several other relationship where the Bible indicates there is some form of authority of one party over the other party.  These other relationships need to be considered for comparing and contrasting with the relationship between one leading and other believers.

  • Government Official <-> Citizen – stronger authority for the government official for the domain of their authority where the Bible expects obedience on the part of citizens
  • Master <-> Slave – stronger authority for masters over their slaves where the Bible expects obedience on the part of slaves.  It is important to remember that this relationship is specific to the master <-> slave relationship.  The Old Testament shows us there is a separate category for the hired worker and hired workers are seen in the New Testament.  The same level of authority does not exist between an employer and a hired worker as does a master and slave.
  • Parents <-> Children – stronger authority for parents over their children where the Bible expects obedience on the part of children.  The relationship between parents and children change as children mature to adulthood and possibly marry.  It is clear that marriage sets up a new sphere of authority.  It is not as clear cut that as a child grows to be an adult that they begin to operate under their own authority apart from their parents, but this does occur.
  • Husband <-> Wife – the level of authority drops in this relationship.  There is no requirement for a wife to obey her husband.  There is the requirement for her submission.  At the same time, the husband has a responsibilities to fulfill and the expectation of a husband loving their wife as Christ loved the church makes the authority given to a husband a spiritual reality which may not be visibly exercised by the husband when a wife is not willing for it.
  • Siblings in Christ – the level of authority between siblings drops to its lowest level in this relationship.  It is difficult to see that there is any authority among siblings in Christ.  There is no requirement for obedience to one another.  There is an expectation of mutual submission to one another out of respect for Christ.  There are also expectations of humility, gentleness, kindness, lowliness among one another.  None of these comprise authority over one another.

With this backdrop, we will investigate how much authority God has vested in leading ones in the church.  We will go ahead and draw basic contrasts with the other relationships.

The relationship between leading ones and other believers on issues of authority is clearly:

  • NOT like Government Officials <-> Citizens – Mark 10:42-43; Matthew 20:25-28; Luke 22:25-27
  • NOT like Master <-> Slave
  • NOT like Parents <-> Children
  • NOT like Husband <-> Wife

The relationship between leading ones and other believers on issues of authority is:

  • A LOT like siblings in Christ and siblings in a family – Matthew 23:8; Matthew 28:10; John 20:17; Romans 8:29

There is not a lot of additional authority uniquely held by leading ones that is not also held by all believers.  Some will disagree with this statement, but upon further inspection the supports for leading ones to hold authority (i.e. the right to choose on another’s behalf) over other believers falls away.  Just saying this doesn’t prove it.  Please read on.

The authority from God wielded by believers is not fully transferred to believers.  They do not get to take ownership of the authority in the same manner as a Government Authority with a Citizen or with a Parent with a Child.  This does not mean we cannot wield any authority from God.  As believers we can transmit God’s authority through our speaking and our actions, but this does not give us control of God’s authority.  It also does not give us control over other believers.  We simply wield God’s authority it for the limited window in which we are acting according to His will.

Let’s clarify what kind of authority that this author believes leading ones do not have.

  • Leaders do not have “delegated” authority where authority is passed from God to the leader in such a way that the leader can act according to their own will (while claiming to represent God) apart from being fully in line with God’s point of view and approach to the non-leading believers.
  • Leaders do not gain personal authority over another believer as a result of any type of spiritual gifting.

Paul does speak of some authority vested in Him from the Lord.  The real question is whether it is “delegated” authority from God or authority from God that can only be wielded in full agreement with God’s will.

Brief Review of the Complexities of this Subject

There are numerous complexities to this subject.   Here are some of the complexities

  • The Bible does not prescribe a lot of rules about how leadership is to function (i.e. governance) in the church.  It presents some principles and it describes some scenarios where leadership seems to be in operation.
  • The modern church consolidates many functions in the church to a smaller subset of people while the early church as seen in the Bible demonstrates that many of the same functions were shared more commonly across all believers in the early church.  The giftings of the entire Body were expressed in the group setting even by those who were not classified as “leaders”.
    • 1 Corinthians 14:26-33 shows us that selecting songs, teaching, sharing inspired by the Spirit, expression of spiritual gifts (tongues, interpretations) was shared commonly by all believers in a congregation.  This type of community driven gathering where each person had opportunity to contribute to the group setting was classified as “orderly worship”.
  • The Bible uses some words repeatedly in different contexts where one context may be using the same word as a title/position while in another context it is a common reference without any signification of title
    • Three key Greek words have to be considered closely: presbuteros, episkopos, diakonos.  A full exploration of these words and their usage in the Bible will still leave some questions open to interpretation and drawing different conclusions.
  • Some in leadership separate their thinking into two categories and relate to these two categories separately.  This allows them to take on a leadership role to the abstract entity called “church” apart from their relationships with others.  This complexity is difficult to address in writing.
    • Their interactions with the “church” as a separate entity that has standing apart from their individual dealings with believers
    • Their interactions with individual believers
  • The operation of the church in various flavors of christianity have formulated leadership practices over many years of operation which don’t have any specific Biblical mandate.  These practices may or may not have Biblical validity, but since they have built up over time many begin to assume these practices are officially sanctioned by God.

The only way to overcome these complexities is to continue to study the Word of God and continuing relate to God in full submission so that He can lead you into the truths related to leadership in the church environment.  Premature conclusions based on partial understanding and an increasing understanding of the character of God and how He has chosen to relate to His children can lead to wisdom on this topic.

I do not consider myself (as the author of this writing) to have arrived on this subject.  I have a spent a long time studying this and still feel ill-equipped to write something completely conclusive.  God always turns out to be bigger than what I am able to capture with any “mental models” or “conceptual constructs”.  Having realized that God is not a mental construct, but a being who operates differently at varying times according to His will I don’t believe that I will ever be able to fully capture this subject in written form.

I do believe I can point out some unsound doctrine and point towards more sound approaches, but this does not capture this subject adequately.  The reader is left to seek God, get to know Him (his character and way of being), be led by Him and have his/her thoughts molded by God.  The willing subject of God who is able to drop their conceptions taught to them through culture, family, traditions of church environments will learn of God and be led by him into further wisdom regarding this subject.

Limited Goals for this Section about Leading Ones and Believers

Because of the broadness and complexity of this subject area, the discussion will be limited to the following key ideas:

  1. Demonstrating that the Bible does not give much special authority to leading ones
  2. Demonstrating that each believer has more authority than most seem to understand and they are not “under” the authority of leading ones to the extent that most believe

In focusing on these two items, it is the hope of this author to promote two things:

  1. The lowering of leaders to being another believer among believers functioning according to their gifting which does not give them special rights over other believers wills.
  2. The raising of believers who do not act or think of themselves as leaders to a higher stature with more expectations of full participation in the Body of Christ under the specific direction of God himself without an intermediary.

If it is possible to accomplish both of these goals, then it would have both a destructive and a constructive outcome in many christian environments today.  For those in leadership who assume they have more control and/or authority over others in the Body of Christ and they want the stature and control that comes with these ideas, then the outcomes would be destructive to their concepts and approaches to leadership.  Whether they realize it or not, it would also help them.  The responsibilities that they are assuming which they don’t really need to assume would be spread to others.  On the constructive side, an environment would be produced where there were “gaps” that need to be filled by believers as it relates to the life and activities of a church environment.  This produces the opportunity for others to grow and fill these “gaps”.

Consider this simple example as an example of what I am referring to as both a destructive and constructive outcome:

  • Let’s say that one Sunday the pastor of a typical congregation came and announced that he would no longer be taking on weekly speaking duties and that the speaking platform was being opened up to others to share or to simply skip the normal sharing time in some meetings in favor of an open environment allowing those to share to speak as led by the Lord and additional singing.  What would happen?  There is nothing in the Bible that precludes this approach.  There are actually Biblical passages that validate different approaches like this.

Review of Diagrams

There are three diagrams in this section.

  • First, the relationship between “One Leading” and a non-leading believer in the church as it relates to “practical” church administration.  It will be impossible to clearly define what “practical” means in this context because there are varying views on what a “practical” matter is versus a “spiritual” matter.
  • The second and third diagrams represent two different views of the relationship between leading ones and other believers.
    • Delegate Authority – God is the head over the believer who is leading.  In turn, the “One Leading” is the head over the individual believer.  This model does not show a direct connection between the individual believer who is not leading and God, so it represents an extreme view.
    • Elder Leading Ones with God’s Direct Headship Over Everyone – God is the direct head over every believer without any intermediary.  There is also a relationship between the leading ones and other believers in their arena.  This relationship is not a direct headship, but something else which will be explored in this section.

Diagram #1 – Leading Ones and Other Believers for “Practical” Church Administration

Relationship between One Leading and Believer for Practical Church Administration

It is important for us to separate out some specific items and make sure that the scope of what is presented is not taken to apply to more than intended.  In most churches (or regular gatherings of believers) there will be a set of administrative duties that need to be performed.  For example, a church may have responsibility to report its finances to the government on a regular basis.  Specific individual(s) may be appointed to these tasks and hold the authority to execute them while making decisions that could affect others in a particular group.

The activities that are considered to be “practical” versus those that are considered to be “spiritual” can vary from group to group.  Some groups may see the order of worship as an issue of practical administration while others see it is a spiritual matter.  There is no attempt here to try to set the boundary between these matters.  The only intention here is to establish the idea that there are some items which are classified as “practical” where some may hold authority to execute these activities while others do not.

Having some hold authority on these types of “practical” matters is valid and necessary.  There is no violation of any Biblical principles in setting some in authority over these these “practical” matters.

Here are a few examples which many would consider “practical” matters

  • Opening the doors for whatever meeting place of a congregation
  • Paying the utility bills
  • Arranging seating for gatherings (note: some do consider this a spiritual matter)

If you want to be very precise there is no requirement for someone to be a leading one to take on “practical” matters of church administration.  If someone is gifted in administration, they can function with this capacity without being classified as a leading one.

Diagrams #2 & #3 – Two views of Leading Ones and Other Believers

Option #1 for Relationship between One Leading and Other Believers

Option #1 for Relationship between One Leading and Other Believers

Having clarified that there are some “practical” matters of church administration we can now consider the how ones leading relate to other believers in other matters.  For simplicity we will call them “spiritual matters”.   Two separate diagrams are presented here.  One diagram shows the one leading as situated between the individual believer and God.  This is a clear model of “delegated authority”.  The other one shows that the one leading is just like the diagram with an older sibling with God added to the diagram.  There is no “delegated authority” in this model.  The leading one represents the person who has “seen it and done it“, but they cannot “command” (with any expectation of personal obedience) other believers to do what they have done or to follow their commands.

These are two disparate views.  The “delegated model” with a leading one between God and man can most easily be seen in the Catholic church.  To a lesser extent the beliefs of “delegated authority” exist throughout most flavors of christianity.

Upon reviewing these diagrams it is unlikely that a Protestant christian would be comfortable selecting either of them as correct.  On the one hand, most protestants would feel that the “delegate authority” model on the left is too strong and that leading ones do not have this level of authority.  On the other hand, they would probably feel that the model on the right is too weak because it doesn’t include any amount of “delegate authority” except in “practical” matters.

At present, this author believes the model on the right which shows little to no “delegated authority” to the leading one is the most correct.  Let’s briefly review some of the problematic approaches that have led to many believers feeling that leading ones have some level of “delegated authority”.  Let’s also look at some healthier approaches to establishing the specific abilities granted to leading ones and the constraints on them in relation to the Body of Christ.

Note:  Even though leading ones cannot give “commands” expecting personal obedience, this does not mean they cannot deliver “commands”.  They just cannot be deliver them like a military commander giving orders to their troops.  They have to be given as commands (i.e. directions) on behalf of a divine being for which the person receiving the command is responsible to God, not the person delivering the command.  In keeping with God’s character (God is love) the bearer of these “command” type is entreated to do so with humility.  Using the word “command” here may be somewhat confusing.  We must address it because Paul uses “command” type words in several places in his epistles, but we must understand exactly what he meant (and did not mean).   (TBD – See Paul’s Use of Command Words)

Key Evidence of Less Authority for Leading Ones

Given the complexity of this subject, the best way to focus in on this issue is to express a few points about what leading ones can and cannot do.  These will be done as a series of questions for the reader to consider and take into their ongoing Bible study.

Authority Leading Ones Have

  1. Do ones leading have the same authority in Christ as all other believers?  Yes.  (Consider reviewing the relationship among sibling in Christ: Key Relationships Defined: Body of Christ – Siblings in Christ with a focus on the type and level of authority each believer has in relationship to other believers)
  2. Do ones leading have some special authorities beyond what all other believers have?  Yes, but very limited.  Authority to come alongside (not overlord) another believer with an expectation that the other believer will listen attentively and be willing to be persuaded of what the leading one has to share.  This should be done in the spirit of what Peter describes in 1 Peter 5:1-5.  This authority also exists with other believers, but is specifically called out for leading ones in a proper translation of Hebrews 13:17 (See Hebrews 13:17 – A Closer Look).
  3. Do ones leading have any special authority over other believers beyond what older siblings in Christ have?  Some would say yes.  It is possible that the answer is actually no.  The important note is that an older believer who is sinning or giving bad instruction (not according to God’s will) does not have any authority over a younger believer.  Review 1 Timothy 5:20 – As for those (elders) who persist in sin, rebuke them before all, so the rest may stand in fear.   This clarifies that the real authority is God’s authority.  An elder has no special privilege when they are in error, while they are due additional respect when they are not sinning.  A younger believer owes the older believer some additional respect, but this does not equate to obedience or subservience.  To some, this may not be clear.

Authority Leading Ones Don’t Have

  1. Do ones leading have the personal authority to command (as a military commander with troops or parent with children) other believers to do or not do something?  No
    1. Upon close inspection, it is clear that Paul did not feel he had this personal authority.  Paul did think he had authority, but only in so much as it coincided with God’s will.  Even in one of the worst situations (incestuous adultery of a brother in Corinth, 1 Cor 5:1-7; 2 Cor 2:5-10), Paul did not expect full compliance of those who he
  2. Do ones leading have the authority to punish (as a civil authority with a citizen) other believers beyond personal disassociation?  No.  Most models for “church discipline” are flawed with the assumption that ones leading in the church setting have some special authority to implement discipline on other believers.  The Bible does not back this up.   Personal disassociation is the only model we see in the Bible.  By personal it means that each believer has the right and responsibility to choose whether to disassociate with another believer who is sinning.  According to what the Bible portrays, it is not done at a group level by representative believers (aka leading ones).  It is done by the community of believers which allows for non-unanimous results.  There is no prescriptive text anywhere in the Bible that shows this sole form of punishment to be something that is wielded by a group as a group.  For example, you could not say that a believer had been disassociated/disfellowshipped by Church A or Church B.  It would be the individuals in each of these churches that would make individual choices which might add up to a majority, but the presence of others who either dissent or abstain from involvement should not be connected to this action by attributing it to an entire body of believers.

Problematic Approaches

  • Inheriting leadership approaches which introduce the control of one believer over another believer from other realms (government, business, family, etc) of authority and applying them to leadership in the church
  • Introducing concepts of “delegated” authority to authorize church leadership to control or expect obedience of other believers. Most use the example of Moses, Joshua or Old Testament Kings as a main support and a few select verses, but this is done in error.
    • The error is different for Moses and Joshua as opposed to Old Testament Kings because they played different roles.  Moses and Joshua were leaders appointed by God, but not as kings.  They never claimed delegate authority.  They both wielded God’s authority, but not as delegates.  Moses was clear that he did not act of his own accord (Numbers 16:28).  Joshua was Moses successor and demonstrates the same pattern as Moses.  
    • On the other hand, the Old Testament Kings parallel government authorities so different rules apply.  As government authorities they do wield delegate authority, but they are kings and not like priests or prophets.  It is erroneous to use them as examples to certify New Testament leadership as having delegate authority.  Old Testament Kings do not foreshadow us as believers.
  • Using Hebrews 13:17 to establish delegate authority.  This verse is mistranslated and does not setup delegate authority
  • Using other lesser scriptures to establish delegate authority (1 Tim 4:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, 1 Cor 16:16)

Healthier Approaches

– Understand all the other relationships that include some component of authority and how they are different from the relationship between those leading and other believers.

– Understand that church leadership is not being raised to a higher level of stature and control, but being lowered to the status of the lower servant with the primary tools of appealing and convincing others to be willing to cooperate with God’s will. Forcing the will of another believer is not a permitted tool.

– Understand that God is the Father and we are all brethren under One Father. We must respect the relationship between Our Father and each of our brothers. We should not interfere in that relationship, but only act in cooperation with God’s will for them by first understanding God’s point of view about each believer and their status with their Father. As brother’s, those leading need to recognize a stronger emphasis on our “peer” relationship and not be misled into thinking we have further control over siblings in Christ.

– Understand where your practices go beyond what is prescribed in the Word of God. Relate to any practices that go beyond the prescribed Word of God with extreme care.

– Understand where your practices are based on descriptive text and do not base any strong leadership practices on descriptive text. Any practices based on descriptive text should be treated with suspicion and not believed by leaders or other believers to hold much weight.


Paul’s Use of Command Words

If you read through all of these, it leaves some doubt open regarding how strong Paul was in his use of “command” / “order” types of words.  He does do some amount of “command” / “order”, but not a whole lot.  He seems to constrain himself to areas related to matters of doctrine (or false doctrine), administering church matters in a broader context (not at the individual level), and idleness (not working for your own food).
The real substance of how Paul presents himself emerges when you compare his use of parakaleo vs. all of these “command” / “order” types of words.  I think that this is the study that I might come up to have with others at your place.  To show Paul’s modus operandi by looking at parakaleo versus command/order.
Looking at these together helps to show how much he is weighted away from “commanding” / “ordering” others around, versus convincing them to act properly according to their own choosing.
I need to prepare some visual materials (graphs/charts) to help make this very clear.
parangello (Strongs 3853)
  • 1 Cor 7:10
  • 1 Cor 11:17
  • 1 Thess 4:11
  • 2 Thess 3:4
  • 2 Thess 3:6
  • 2 Thess 3:10
  • 2 Thess 3:12
  • 1 Tim 1:3
  • 1 Tim 4:11
  • 1 Tim 5:7
  • 1 Tim 6:13
  • 1 Tim 6:17
diatasso (Strongs 1299)
  • 1 Cor 7:17
  • 1 Cor 9:14
  • 1 Cor 11:34
  • 1 Cor 16:1
  • Titus 1:5
  • Galatians 3:19 – put in place, ordained, put
keleuo (Strongs 2753)
  • never used by Paul, but used a lot to indicate order (as in commanding) people to do things
entello (Strongs 1781)
  • Hebrews 9:20
  • Hebrews 11:22
The word used for “command” by Paul in all the places that are of interest to this study of Paul’s mode of operation is parangello is a verb.
It should be STRONGLY noted that Paul normally doesn’t COMMAND of his own authority.  His use of the word command (parangello) is in line with the Word of God and the Will of God.  The best example of his giving “command” type instruction according to the will of God is with Timothy.
1 Ti 1:18 I am setting before you this instruction (parangellia, noun form of parangello), Timothy my child, in accordance with the prophecies spoken long ago about you, in order that by them you may fight the good fight
There is an instance of Paul commanding of his own authority in 1 Cor 7 which helps to demonstrate how clear Paul is when he does so.  He calls out that he is using his own thinking apart from God’s.  He informs the reader of this departure.  I believe that in all the cases where he does not call out his departure he is using the word COMMAND in the sense of “giving instruction” or “passing along a teaching”, not issuing an edict where Paul expects obedience simply because he, Paul, said it.
About the word Command in the Bible:
One of the most important lexicon’s I use is called the TDNT – Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Unabridged).  It is a multi-volume set with copious information about each Greek word.  In most cases, it presents not only the New Testament usage of a word, but also a) the General Greek Usage from other sources and b) the Hellenistic Jewish Usage.
In some cases, this comparative explanation of a word doesn’t add a lot to our understanding of the word, but in some cases it is very enlightening.  The word for command (parangello) that we are interested is highly enlightened by looking at this reference.  The following excerpt from TDNT covers both parangello (verb-command) and parangellia (noun-commandment).
† παραγγέλλω / parangello, † παραγγελία / parangellia
‎A.     The General Greek Usage.
‎According to the dict.1 the verb παραγγέλλω, and with it the noun παραγγελία, embraces a wealth of meaning and shades of meaning which it would be superfluous to enumerate.

NOTE:  This means these are words that are heavily nuanced in their use and can take on different levels of meaning and strength of meaning
On the basis of the original sense “to pass on an announcement” they all have to do with “intimation.”  The only sense to appear in the NT, though with much modification, is simply that of “order” or “direction.” Rather oddly the special use of the verb for the “military order.” which is so common in Hdt., 3 Thuc., 4 Xenoph., 5 and Polyb., 6, 7 does not occur at all (though cf. Ac. 4:18; 5:28, 40; 16:23).  Similarly the so-called official use (common in the pap.) 8 of both verb and noun for a “summons to court” is not to be found. It is thus no surprise that the fairly common use, esp. in Plut., 9 for “running for an office” is alien to the NT. On the other hand, in relation to NT usage it is worth noting that Plat. 10 has παραγγειλλειν for the “orders” of God (Resp., III, 415b), the “laws” (Leg., IX, 860a; cf. Resp., IV, 429c) and “heads of state” (ἄρχοντες, Leg., VI, 764a). The ref. is to regulations of practical conduct. In Aristot., too, παραγγελία is once used for “direction” or “statute,” Eth. Nic., II, 2, p. 1104a, 7. Closest to NT usage, though not with the same content, is that of Epict., though he does not use the noun.11 He has the verb for the recommendations or directions of philosophers12 (Diss., IV, 4, 18), esp. in connection with the Γνῶθι σεαυτόν of the “ancients” (I, 18, 17) or “philosophers” (II, 9, 13) in the sense “to lay down,” “to command.”13 Worthy of special mention is the common use of παραγγελίαι for “astrological rules” in Vett. Val. (156, 21; 221, 7; 273, 32; 308, 26).
NOTE:  The key points to note from a comparative view of the use of these words tell us:
  1. parangello/parangellia are NEVER used in the sense of a military order in the New Testament
  2. parangello/parangellia are NOT used in the sense of a court summons with the authority of government force behind them
  3. The closest comparable usage by external authors to the way these words are used in the NT are like “recommendations or directions of philosophers” <– This is closer to the idea of “a teaching” (not the verb, teaching, but the nounified form, a teaching
‎The difference between παραγγέλλειν and κελεύειν is instructive. Since the former originally denoted passing on a communication from one to the other,14 it is chosen when the one concerned is to be addressed and committed personally, while the latter has rather the actual command in view.15
NOTE:  There are several Greek words for “command” or “give orders to someone”.  The distinction noted just above is between two of the more common words for command, parangello and keleuo.  The emphasis of parangello is not as much towards the idea of the command expecting obedience, but a passing of information that is instructive and or directive.  This is an interesting nuance which helps separate our understanding away from the idea of a command expecting personal obedience. 
 ‎C.     The Usage of the New Testament.
‎1. In the Synoptic Gospels24 παραγγέλλειν is used only of Jesus. It denotes His word of command in His authority as the Christ. It may be in the form of the instructions given to the disciples when He sends them out (introducing direct speech in Mt. 10:5, with a ἵνα clause in Mk. 6:8),25 or it may be a command to the unclean spirit to depart (Lk. 8:29 with inf.),26 or an injunction to the disciples to keep silence (Lk. 9:21), the command to the cleansed leper (Lk. 5:14), the command to Jairus and his family (Lk. 8:56), and the instruction to the hungry multitude to be seated (Mk. 8:6; Mt. 15:35).27 Worth noting is Luke’s liking for the word (cf. Lk. 5:14 with Mk. 1:44 and Mt. 8:4; Lk. 8:56 with Mk. 5:43 διεστείλατο; Lk. 9:21 with Mk. 8:30 and Mt. 16:20 ἐπετίμησεν).
‎2. This observation is confirmed by the use in Ac., where the verb is relatively common. The reference is always to a “directive from an authoritative source.” It may be the command of the risen Lord to the disciples to remain in Jerusalem (Ac. 1:4), or the task of proclamation laid upon them (10:42),28 or the summons which in the name of Jesus Christ Paul issues at Philippi to the spirit of soothsaying to leave the girl (16:18), or the binding of Gentile Christians to the Law of Moses, which is urged upon the apostles by Pharisaic Jewish Christians (15:5), or the command of the council to Peter and John that they should refrain from preaching (4:18), or the similar command to the apostles generally (5:28,29 40), or the command of the magistrates of Philippi to the prison warden that he should keep Paul and Silas securely (16:23),30 or the injunction of the captain Lysias to Paul’s nephew that he should keep silent concerning the communication made to him (23:22), or his order to the accusers of Paul to present their case before Felix, the governor (23:30). Neither in the Synoptic Gospels nor Ac. is there any sign of a specific Christian use of the verb. The word receives its special NT sense, whether used of Jesus or Paul, only in virtue of the supreme authority of Jesus as the Christ, an authority which is imparted to the apostle too (Ac. 16:18).31
‎3. The same point is to be seen in the Pauline Epistles, which alone in the NT use the noun as well as the verb. Here the reference is always to the Christian walk. Even in 1 Tm. 1:3, where Timothy is given the task of issuing a sharp prohibition against the false teachers,32 παραγγελία has according to 1:5 the positive goal of “love out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned.”33 For Paul, too, the decisive authority is the word of the Lord, from which (1 C. 7:10) he emphatically differentiates his own pastoral counsel in the question of separation. In general, however, his instructions, including that concerning women covering their heads at divine service, have the character of authoritative apostolic ordinances, behind which stands the full authorisation of Christ Himself. Thus when he beseeches and admonishes the Thessalonians Paul can refer to the directions which were given “by the Lord Jesus” at the founding of the church, 1 Th. 4:2;34 cf. 2 Th. 3:10. Again, when he renews these παραγγελίαι in a letter with reference to those who are disorderly (2 Th. 3:12), and when he commands withdrawal from “every brother that walketh disorderly” (2 Th. 3:6), this takes place “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” or “in the Lord Jesus Christ.” In the apostle’s saying, then, the readers have to do with the Lord Himself, even though, as in 1 C. 7:10, Paul cannot quote any traditional saying of Jesus.
‎In 1 Tm. παραγγέλλειν is one of the special tasks of the recipient of the letter. The apostle authorises him to discharge this ministry to the community (4:11; 5:7). He acts on this commission (1:18). He is to command, esp. false teachers (1:3f. → n. 32, 33), widows (5:7), and those who are rich in this world (6:17).35 In so doing, however, he must himself be under the apostle’s order “to keep the commandment” in such a way that he is without spot or blame “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 6:13f. This order of the apostle does not rest on his own authority. It is given in the sight of God, who calls all things to life, and also in that of Christ Jesus, who witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate. With great seriousness all genuine παραγγέλλειν is thus referred back to its origin in the saving Messianic work of the Creator. It is thus distinguished radically from all religious or ethical injunctions which do not have their roots in the soil of the saving events of the NT.36



It is with these things in mind that I present the following section which may not agree with some of your beliefs or behavioral patterns in how you operate in the church.
2 Corinthians is co-authored by Paul and Timothy (2 Cor 1:1) and there is indication of authority from the Lord which is granted to Paul and Timothy.
2 Corinthians 10:8 – For even if I boast somewhat more about our authority that the Lord gave us for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be put to shame
2 Corinthians 12:19 – Have you been thinking all this time that we are defending ourselves to you?  We are speaking in Christ before God, and all these things, dear friends, are for your edification (building up)
2 Corinthians 13:10 – Because of this, I am writing these things although I am absent, in order that when I am present I may not have to act severely according to the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.

Let’s be clear authority is not gifting.  There are definitely ones who are more gifted.

Even without additional authority, the leading ones should be held in high esteem as they serve others according to their gifts.  Their gifts do not afford them special authority over other believers.


Jer 23:1-8

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the flock of my pasture,” declares the Lord.  Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people, “You yourselves have scattered my flock, and you have dirven them away, and you do not attend to them.  Look, I will punish you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the Lord.  “Then I myself will gather together the remnant of my flock from all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their grazing place, and they will be fruitful, and they will become numerous.  And I will raise up over them shepherds and they will shepherd them, and they will no longer fear, and they will not be missing,” declares the Lord.

“Look, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous branch, and he will reign as king, and he will achieve success, and he will do justice and righteousness in the land.  In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell in safety, and this is name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.'”

“Therefore look, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when they will no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives, who led up the Israelites from the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the Lord lives, who led up, and who brought the offspring of the house of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where he had driven them.’  Then they will live in their land.”


Ezekiel 34:1-24 predicted the end result where God would directly care for each individual believer.

And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and you must say to them, to the shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who were feeding themselves!  Must not the shepherds feed the flock?  The fat you eat, and you clothe yourself with the wool; the well-nourished animals you slaughter, but you do not feed the flock.  The weak have not strengthened, and the sick you have not healed, and with respect to the hurt you have not bound them up, and you have not brought back the scattered, and you have not sought the lost, but rather you ruled over them with force and with ruthlessness.  And they were scattered without a shepherd, and they were as food for all the animals of the field when they were scattered.  My flock went astray upon all the mountains and on every high hill, and so upon all the surface of the earth my flock were scattered, and there was no one seeking them, and there was no one searching for them.”  Therefore, hear, O shepherds, the word of the Lord:  “As I live,” declares the Lord, “Surely because my flock have become as plunder, and my flock became as food to all the animals of the field, since there was not a shepherd, since my shepherds have not sought my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and they fed not my flock,’:  therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Look! I am against the shepherds, and I will seek my flock from their hand, and I will put an end to them from shepherding flocks, and the shepherd will no longer feed themselves, and I will deliver my flocks from their mouth, so that they will not be as food for them.”

“‘For thus says the Lord: “Look! I, even I, will seek my flock, and I will look after them, just like the caring of a shepherd for his herd on the day when he is in the midst of his scattered flock.  Thus I will look after my flock, and I will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on the day of storm and stress.  And I will bring them out from the peoples, and I will gather them from the countries, and I will bring them to their soil, and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys, and in all the settlements of the land.  I will feed them in good pasture, and their pasture will be on the mountains of the heights of Israel; there they will lie down in good pasture, and on lush pasture they will feed on the mountains of Israel.  I myself will feed my flock and I myself will allow them to lie down,” declares the Lord. “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the scattered, and I will bind up the one hurt, and I will strengthen the sick; and the fat and the strong I will destroy.  I will feed her with justice.”

“‘And you, my flock, thus says the Lord: “Look! I am judging between one sheep and another, between the rams and between the he-goats.  Is it not enough for you that you feed on the good pasture?  And still you must trample the remainder of your pasture with your feet, and clear water you drink, and the leftover water you must make muddy with your feet.  And my flock must graze the pasture treaded upon by your feet, and must drink the mud puddle stirred up by your feet.”

“Therefore thus says the Lord to them: “Look! I, even I will judge between fat sheep and between lean sheep, because with your flank and with your you shoved, and with your horns you pushed all of the sick animals until you scattered it to the outside.  And so I will save my flock, and they will no longer be for plunder, and I will judge between one sheep and another.  And I will set up over them one shepherd, and he will feed them; that is, my servant David.  He will feed them, and he will be for them as a shepherd.  And I, the Lord, I will be for them as a God, and my servant David will be a leader in the midst of them.  I, the Lord, I have spoken.”


Deuteronomy 18:15-22

Moses foreshadowed Christ, not leaders in the body of Christ.  Part of the foreshadowing is that Christ would be constrained to only speak what God commanded him and never anything else.  Any amount of responsibility that Jesus Christ has shared with leadership in the Body of Christ would have to fit under this principle.

15 “Yahweh your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, from your countrymen, and to him you shall listen. 16 This is according to all that you asked from Yahweh your God at Horeb, on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘I do not want again to hear⌋ the voice of Yahweh my God, and I do not want to see again this great fire, so that I may not die!’ 17 And Yahweh said to me, ‘They are right in what they have said. 18 I will raise up a prophet for them from among their countrymen like you, and I will place my words into his mouth, and he shall speak to them everything that I command him. 19 And then the man that will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I will hold accountable. 20 However, the prophet that behaves presumptuously by speaking a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, and who speaks in the name of other gods, then that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say to yourself, ‘How can we know the word that Yahweh has not spoken to him?’ 22 Whenever what the prophet spoke in the name of Yahweh, the thing does not take place and does not come about, that is the thing that Yahweh has not spoken to him. Presumptuously the prophet spoke it; you shall not fear that prophet.”