A Quote on Church Organization

By Larry Ray Hafley

It is surprising how many denominational commentators will freely, openly and casually set forth the truth of the Bible which contradicts the teaching of the denomination with which they are affiliated and associated. Certain ones state the New Testament preaching and practice with such emphasis and clarity that it seems hard to imagine they were members of a human church which just as clearly and emphatically contradicted the very word of God. But they were. The quotation below is by Augustus H. Strong. Mr. Strong was a scholar of note and renown. He was, at the time of this quotation, President Emeritus of the Rochester Theological Seminary. His religious credentials are impressive.

Concerning the organization of the local congregation, Mr. Strong, in reference to Philippians 1:1, said:

“In the very first verse you have recognized an organization of the Christian church that is noteworthy. He writes to those who recognize Christ, to the saints in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons; i.e., with the overseers and deacons. Only two orders are recognized, only two sorts of officers in the Christian church. First the pastors, or overseers, of the flock, and then the deacons of the church; and I suppose we have here the outline of church organization in the apostolic time. We do not anywhere find that there are more than these two ranks, or officers, in the Christian church” (A. H. Strong, Popular Lectures on the Books of the New Testament, pp. 242, 243).

By the term “Christian church,” Mr. Strong did not have reference to the modern day denomination known by that name. He simply meant the church of the Lord, the New Testament church. His comment is as plain as it is truthful. What a shame that the simple organization of local churches is not followed as faithfully as it is set forth!

Truth Magazine XIX: 51, p. 814
November 6, 1975