Vol. 7, No. 2
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The unique organizational structure of the New Testament church stands in stark contrast to all manmade churches. The one true church (Ephesians 1:22,23; 4:4), for which Jesus shed his blood to build (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28), is an absolute monarchy with Jesus himself alone as the head of it (Colossians 1:18). Therefore, the Lord's church completely conforms to the distinct standard of New Testament doctrine--in all things--including how it rules or conducts itself. Any church that did not originate in A.D. 33, and about which one can not read upon the pages of inspiration, is not the one, true church, for which our Lord will return to take to heaven (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Hence, Jesus Christ is the head of each autonomous or independent congregation of the churches of Christ (Romans 16:16), each of which fully organized church is ruled by its own elders (Acts 14:23).
As the head of his body (the church), Jesus Christ rules the church, which is also his kingdom (Matthew 16:18,19) with all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18 NKJV). Consequently, the churches of Christ meticulously conform to our resurrected Lord's authority for congregational organization, exclusively discernible in the New Testament (Luke 6:46; John 14:15 ASV).
The New Testament unequivocally mandates that every fully organized congregation must submit to the authority of its own elders, who themselves must submit to the authority of Jesus Christ (Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1-4). The New Testament requires two or more elders (Titus 1:5), also known in the New Covenant as bishops (Titus 1:7), overseers (Acts 20:28), pastors (Ephesians 4:11), shepherds (Acts 20:28) and presbytery (1 Timothy 4:14), to rule the congregation over which they are appointed (Hebrews 13:17). The Word of God enumerates specific, biblical qualifications that each elder must possess (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Thus, the New Testament creed alone systematically and completely dictates all matters of authority today--including the organizational structure of the New Testament church.