Very good observation. I’ve often heard it said that large churches exist because it allows the members a certain level of anonymity, but failed to see that it offers the exact same to the pastors as well.
I wonder if in our age of mega-churches, we should not include another qualification of a true biblical church: the pastor knows his members by name.
Good thought. This reflects the Biblical metaphor of the pastor as a shepherd. In fact, the authority an actual shepherd has over actual sheep is a great window through which to see how Biblical authority really works. If a sheep is wandering on the edge of a cliff, and the shepherd goes to grab it off and back to safety, shall the sheep reply, “The Bible doesn’t give you the authority! The Bible doesn’t mention this particular cliff at all!” No, of course not. The shepherd knows his individual sheep and rescues them. He does not wait for the sheep to find the pertinent passage in Scripture so that he will rescue himself.
Some brief comments to add here, but don’t have time to write exhaustively at the moment.
@cgatihi, there are a few things that I think Jonathan Leeman really gets right in that first link you shared, so I want to start there and acknowledge what we agree on.
First, I think congregationalism gets it right in recognizing that the church, itself, does have distinct authority which the elders do not possess in and of themselves. Namely, I do not believe the elders have the power to unilaterally excommunicate anyone. I would argue this simply on the basis of 1 Corinthians 5. Paul did not command the elders of the church to excommunicate the man in unrepentant sin; he commanded the church to excommunicate the man in unrepentant sin.
To the church of God that is in Corinth… (1 Corinthians 1:2)
… though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:4-5)
Paul, as the authoritative apostle, commanded the church that they were to purge the leaven out from among them. He does wield his apostolic authority here. Remarkably though, he uses that apostolic authority to command the church to exercise their authority. It is the church who bears the living, breathing responsibility of purging the leaven from among them. The apostle’s job was not to travel from church to church anathematizing people. Rather, the apostles taught the church that this responsibility was to end up with them. The church is responsible for addressing sin among them. Failure to do this will be counted against the entire church.
Consider also the letters to the churches in Revelation. The church of Pergamum had some among them who held to heretical teaching, and so the church was commanded to repent (Revelation 2:15-16). The church in Thyatira was tolerating the false prophecies and seductions of Jezebel, and Christ held this against the church (Revelation 2:20).
So the church definitely has responsibility, and authority as a whole. But what then is the place of the elder in these matters?
I’m going to keep playing the resident layman here, and I’m not even going to go to the Greek on this one. Simply put, overseers are those who oversee. They inspect the work of the church to make sure it gets done properly. If we are slaves (duolos) of Jesus Christ, then our elders (though fellow slaves) are our appointed taskmasters. Overseers are to make sure that the church does the work that the church is supposed to be doing. And if the slaves are not obeying, the overseers are endowed with the authority of the master to command obedience. This comes not merely in the form of teaching doctrine from the pulpit, but also of personal exhortation and admonishment.
So when Paul writes to the church in Corinth, and commands them to excommunicate the man in unrepentant sin, the role of the elders is to make sure the church obeys in this work. And this continues to be the relationship between the apostle, the elders, and the church today. The apostles still command the same weight today – through the Scriptures – that they commanded in the 1st century, and the role of the elder is still to make sure the church obeys those commands. And this extends beyond matters of excommunication; it extends into the life of the individual believer. Because there are things that Christ commands to the persons of the church, as relates to personal sanctification. Our elders are endowed with authority to speak into these things as well.
It’s this authority of the elders that I believe congregationalism tends to miss. There is such an overemphasis on the authority of the church that the functional authority of the elders is either usurped by the congregation, or over time it simply comes to be neglected – which is where we find ourselves today. We have so long neglected pastoral authority that men who rise up among us to be pastors today are never even taught that they have authority. It’s a gaping hole in our ecclesiology.
That’s all I have time to write for now. Thanks for this discussion.
Quick edit to add: I don’t mean to infer that I think this problem is purely an issue with congregationalism. As @tbbayly conveyed in an earlier post, polity is not the root of the issue, and I very much agree. I do think that polity is worth talking about though, only insomuch that I think that each form of polity has the propensity to cultivate its own peculiar errors. And I do believe history is telling us to reconsider the effectiveness of congregationalism.
But alas, I am really not qualified to speak at length here. I am a non-member, regular attendee of a congregationalist church, locked in a loop of endless vacillation.
I think “effectiveness” is ultimately an arbitrary standard that shifts based on prefered outcomes. I’m sure you’d agree that we should be convinced of our polity from scripture (at least primarily), before looking at things like effectiveness, but I wanted to make the point anyway.
I do agree that the authority of elders is sorely lacking in many congregational churches. But Mark Dever (himself a Baptist of Baptists) has written that every church member has a duty to obey his elders in all things that don’t contradict the scriptures. Reading Dever and Leeman, they do emphasize the authority of the church as a whole (meaning each member of the church), I think in part because they see so many SBC churches where the members have outsourced all their spiritual responsibility to the hired pastor. They are also responding to mega-church leaders who set up a miniature episcopalian denomination of multi-site campuses while still calling themselves congregational. But I don’t think it’s fair to cite Dever or Leeman on congregationalism without recognizing they have a high view of the elder’s authority within the congregational framework (not saying Brother @cgatihi was being unfair, but I think the point is worth making).
All that to say, I believe what @tbbayly has written that authority cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred. And churches–regardless of other questions of polity–get all topsy-turvy when there aren’t a plurality of elders exercising authority and members submitting to that authority without abdicating all their responsibility.
I’m grateful for each of you and your input on this thread. I’m slow to respond because I’m prayerfully considering what’s been written (I’m also reminded of how Wisdom teaches us to be slow to respond) and also because other responsibilities have felt particularly heavy this week. Just wanted to let you know I’m grateful for you and I’m not ignoring your questions/challenges.
I expect we will all agree that not all functions of the apostles are carried forward into the function of elders. No argument there. And I agree that Titus is not pictured here as a pastor, per se, but as you put it, an apostolic representative. The same may be true of Timothy too, I’ll grant. But let’s be careful to remember that the function of apostles was to set the church in order – to lay a foundation for the church that was to grow up after them (Ephesians 2:20).
The authority to lay the foundation was, indeed, unique to the apostles (1 Corinthians 3:10-12). That’s why Paul told the Galatians to pronounce anathema anyone who game to them with a different gospel – even an angel from heaven, or he himself. There is no other foundation that can be laid except the ones which the apostles laid – Christ being the head and cornerstone. That’s what makes the apostles unique. Their gifting was temporary, unique, and powerfully authoritative. It will never be repeated.
But part of laying the foundation for the church meant finding faithful men to pass on what was taught by the apostles (2 Timothy 2:2).
“But that verse is just talking about teaching,” you may object. Sure. But it’s not as though Paul only taught abstract doctrine. Paul didn’t just sort of lay truth-propositions before the church for our consideration, for us to sort of take it or leave it. That’s what the Athenians did (Acts 17:21). To the contrary, Paul’s teaching is comprised of commands to act. He taught Titus and Timothy to exhort, reprove, and rebuke. He commanded the Thessalonian church (the church!) to admonish the idle (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
Christianity is not a religion of law, but let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking it isn’t a religion of imperatives. And imperatives require obedience.
Anyway, let’s look at a specific text in Titus 1, which I believe gives a clear demonstration of continuity between what Titus was called to do (apostolic representative), and what the elders were supposed to do (pastors).
Let’s look closely at Titus 1:5-16.
Paul states in verse 10-11 that there are certain people who must be rebuked and silenced.
“… there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” - Titus 1:10-11
Question: Who is supposed to do this work of silencing? We might expect the answer is Titus, right? After all, he is the apostolic spokesman. He is the one endowed with the authority of Paul to come and speak thusly, right?
But look at the full context beginning in verse 5, and don’t ignore the first word of verse 10.
“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you – if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. !!!For!!! there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” - Titus 1:5-16
That “for” is so important. Don’t miss this. Paul is connecting the qualifications of elders with the need for certain persons to be silenced. That work of silencing isn’t going to belong to Titus. Rather, it’s the elders who need to do that work.
That’s why elders need to hold firm to sound doctrine, and be able to give instruction. Because they need to silence people. And silencing people involves authority to shut people up. Let’s not forget that the circumcision party was a faction within the ranks of the church. And in order for the church to endure, faithful men had to be trained and appointed to combat heresy within the church.
The work of combating heresy belongs to the whole church, to be sure. As I wrote earlier, Christ will hold the entire church accountable for our toleration of heresy. But pastors, as appointed officers entrusted with the overside and shepherding of the sheep, have been deputized, as it were, with a specific responsibility to put down wolves. And we should note – for the purposes of our polity discussion – that in the example of Titus at Crete, it wasn’t the congregation doing the deputizing.
So yes, I do believe the primary way we should read Timothy and Titus is to see that they are commending to us an example for pastoral ministry (hence we call them the “pastoral epistles”). If all these epistles did was archive Paul’s unique instruction to Titus and Timothy, but bore no application for the church today, they would be of little use to us.
Plain and biblical thinking from Doug Wilson on Mablog this morning:
“The Bible teaches that I am as a Christian to submit myself to spiritual authorities other than the Bible. These authorities would include my parents (who taught me to love God before I could read), my church (which taught me, for example, to memorize Scripture), and Bauer’s Lexicon (which teaches me that eulogeo means to bless). But none of these genuine authorities in my life are ultimate or infallible, which is fine, because authority is not an all or nothing proposition. However, without the touchstone of an ultimate and infallible authority located at the top of the hierarchy, all lesser authorities will wither and die” (Papa Don’t Pope, p. 137).
Here’s how I think about it. Over in another post on this forum, a brother shared that he’s been given the opportunity to teach from the pulpit as a kind of training opportunity in his aspiration to be an elder/pastor. If through a number of opportunities like that, the church doesn’t recognize that he’s been particularly gifted by the Spirit in teaching, my assumption is that he won’t be established as an elder who would teach regularly from the pulpit (or perhaps he might be established as an elder but not teach from the pulpit regularly). On the other hand, if the church affirms through those opportunities that he’s been particularly gifted to teach, he’ll probably be eventually established as an elder who would teach more from the pulpit than in the former case.
Now in which case would he have a greater exercise of authority not only in terms of the number of opportunities to teach God’s Word, but in the number of people within the congregation that he is able to influence through that authority? The latter, right? This is what I mean by the greater authority that the elders have.
Regarding 1 Timothy 5:19, it’s an interesting question but honestly you’re guess is as good as mine. And that’s the point. At best we can infer. The passage says nothing about authority. Given what I said in the paragraph above, I think it’d be easy to see how other men in the congregation might be jealous/envious of a man having the opportunity to teach regularly in front of the church like that (which they don’t have) and thus to try to sinfully displace him by bringing false accusations against him.
Or am I missing the connection your trying to make between 1 Timothy 5:19 and this discussion on pastoral authority?
Thanks @Jadams07. As you mention, 1 Timothy 3:4-5 are crucial in the connection being drawn between how fathers lead their families and how men lead the church. And thus @tbbayly has helpfully written about “house fathers” and “church fathers.”
The translation “rule” is one I’m skeptical of here. The Greek word proistemi that we translate as “rule” in many English bibles literally means to stand (istemi) ahead of or in front of (pro). In front of/ahead of is a form of leadership no doubt (the way a tour guide leads those who are on a tour) but it’s fundamentally different from above/over, which is what I believe the Greek term hypotasso is associated with (subjection = to come under). I don’t believe a tour guide (1 Corinthians 4:15?) inherently possesses hypotasso type authority because of his title/position, though he most certainly is a leader because people are following him. The authority is in the map he holds and follows as he leads the people. This is how I think about elders.
It seems to me that there are those who would say that because mutual submission in Ephesians 5:21 means that we all submit to each other and husbands are in no way over their wives and households, elders are in no way over the members of the church.
And then there are those who would say that because mutual submission in Ephesians 5:21 does not mean that we all submit to each other but rather that husbands are over their wives and households, elders are in the same way over the members of the church.
I do not believe Ephesians 5:21 teaches mutual submission in the home, but rather that husbands are over their wives and households because I see it clearly in the text (5:22 infers the submit imperative from 5:21 but doesn’t tell husbands to submit but rather to love).
And yet I do not believe elders are over the church in a similar way because I am yet to see it in the biblical text. I’m not yet convinced I have to go there on the basis simply of what logically makes sense to be consistent.
The point, to be sure, is that there is a connection between how a man leads his home and how he leads his family. Paul speaks in the same breath of caring for the church of God so I would see the care of a man’s family carrying over into his care for the church. But, apart from his teaching God’s Word faithfully, I just don’t see the authority which is exercised in his home carrying into that kind of authority in the church.
To go back to my first concrete example, I think a man can command/decide that his family should move or not move somewhere. I don’t think an elder can command/decide that the same man’s family should move or not move somewhere.
Concrete examples are where rubber meets the road so if my example isn’t a good one please offer another to help me understand where you don’t think I’m thinking about this properly.
Dear Chris, you have said that an Elder’s greater authority is his ability to preach/teach, and that when we think of Elders being held to “greater strictness” by God (James 3:1) that it is only in regards to how well they handled the word of God. Let me express my objection to your thinking with an analogy:
A shepherd has been put in charge of a flock of sheep by a wealthy land owner. One night, the sheep find a breach in their pen, and they begin to walk away from the safety and protection of the valley they are in. The shepherd sees the sheep doing this, and begins calling them. He does so loudly and with great passion, using the calls that the wealthy landowner instructed him to use, yet the sheep do not heed him and continue to walk toward the mountains in the distance. Subsequently, all the sheep are slaughtered by the wild beasts beyond.
The next day, the wealthy land owner comes to the shepherd to examine the state of his herd. The shepherd approaches him and explains what happened the night before:
“I used the calls you told me to, but the sheep disregarded me and wandered off. It’s such a shame!”
Now Chris, how do you think the wealthy land owner would/should respond to the shepherd? Congratulating him on successfully undertaking his duties as a shepherd, or excoriating him for his insolence and incompetence?
In my humble opinion, this is your fundamental misconception. Influence and authority are not the same thing.
Actually the equivalent would be the elders deciding to sell their church’s building and buy a different one on the other side of town.
You think you’re being very careful and logical in your reasoning, but you aren’t. There is no office of representative of the apostles. You have created something out of thin air that has no biblical precedent. The church is at that time had no need to listen to Timothy or Titus anymore than you have to listen to your pastors and elders. They also had the letters of Paul. Similarly, the keys of the kingdom were given to the apostles. Under your reasoning the church has no ability to make use of them today, since there are no more apostles.
Titus 3:1 (NASB95): Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,
And now, in obedience to the command that Paul gave to Titus and thereby to pastors down through the ages, let me remind you to be subject to rulers and authorities. For you to claim that everybody in the church has equal authority is for you to claim that there is no such thing as rulers and authorities in the church. This is certainly not a new claim, as many rebellious men down through the ages have made it. However, it leads to a man alone in his room with a Bible, having passed through the house-church phase to the family-church phase, and ultimately the no church phase.
It is to claim that because Christ is the ultimate authority, you will submit to nobody else but him. No creed but Christ. No mediating authorities except the Bible. And all the talk in the Bible about authorities in the church you wave away with a close-reading exercise in missing the point.
Brother, this is not humility. Luther rightly appealed to the Bible as the ultimate rule of life and faith, but only where he found contradiction to the principles being taught by the church authorities in his day. You, on the other hand, are starting with an absurd assumption with no biblical basis—that there is no official authority in the church—and then using that assumption to dismiss texts that both explicitly and implicitly contradict it, while insisting that we provide more evidence that Jesus created any authority structure in his church.
Brother, it is clear that you will not listen to reason or authority on this point.
You might do best to join a church where the pastors and elders use their authority in the way against which you pontificate. You’d likely be able to see the text more clearly if you did.
Said more negatively, Scripture is often unclear at the points where we don’t like what it says. Authority is something hard to like and very easy to hate. It is no wonder, therefore, that Scripture is fuzzy to so many when it speaks so plainly and clearly about the authority of church fathers.
Chris, quick point. Your appeal to 1 Corinthians 4:15 doesn’t work here. Paul isn’t talking about a comparison between apostles and elders in this passage.
When Paul tells the Corinthians they have ten thousand guides, or tutors, this was a deriding statement, not a positive one. Paul was admonishing them for their many guides (1 Corinthians 4:14).
The Corinthian church is painted in both epistles as having a great tendency to be drawn to super apostles – to men who would come to town, making much of themselves, and purporting to give instruction to the Corinthian church contrary to Paul.
So Paul repeatedly reminds them, in both letters, to remember who bore them.
For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. - 1 Corinthians 4:15
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. - 1 Corinthians 9:1
I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. - 2 Corinthians 11:1-4
If I may paraphrase, he’s saying, "Guys, you have ten thousand guides – ten thousand people presuming to be your teachers. But they aren’t your father. They don’t love you. They haven’t labored for your souls like I have. Have you forgotten from whom you received the gospel? Are you so quick to abandon me, your father, to grope after all these tutors and instructors?
If I would argue anything from this text as it relates to the present topic, I would say that the point we are to glean from this text is exactly the one you are arguing against. You want to see pastors as mere instructors and tour guides, but Paul demonstrates not the heart of a tour guide, but of a father. He loves these peoples’ souls.
For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. - 1 Corinthians 4:15
Dear brother, I have to say I agree with Joseph. You are coming to a point where you’re desperately trying to squeeze a desired doctrine out of the text, and in the process you are actually standing Scripture on its head. Which I know is not your intent. But look what you just did to this text, man.
One point of encouragement: Be careful when it comes to spending too much time pouring over Blue Letter Bible / Strong’s word studies. Sometimes we get our nose so deep in a Greek word (which, let’s be honest dude, we don’t even speak Greek), that we begin to neglect the simple and clear arguments that flow from the context of the text.
To those who recognize the authority of fathers before, this from Calvin’s dear brother in ministry, Pastor Martin Bucer:
The work of the church’s ministry is necessary for the Lord to work in man’s
heart and innermost being.
And in all this these ministers of the church are servants of Christ and stewards of the secret things of God [1Corinthians 4:1], that is, of Christ’s salvation and of the Holy Spirit, not merely of the letter.
They take the elect of God and raise them up into the new eternal covenant which has been established through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with all God’s elect throughout the whole world.
They also serve the Lord in ministering the holy gospel to his elect, teaching and admonishing them and also administering the holy sacraments, so that people might come to him, Christ our Lord, and be saved…
—Bucer, Concerning the True Care of Souls; Banner of Truth.
This is the universal teaching of Scripture repeated by our Reformed fathers. Pastors do not only help us along the path of salvation, but they are called and set apart by God to feed and guard His flock and sheep. Our salvation depends upon them because God has been pleased to make it depend upon them now and until our death. Calvin and Bucer say this because Scripture teaches this. Note carefully Bucer’s warning, “not merely of the letter.” Love,
Chris, what’s the point of all your fancy word studies when you’re ignoring the entire cultural context in which those words were given? Do you think ancient Mediterranean society looked like modern American society?
If not, what do you think the differences were in terms of hierarchy, authority, and family? And what are the implications for the “household of God”?
And now I realize that Chris’ thoughts on pastoral nonauthority is the gateway through which egalitarianism enters.
Why is the pastoral office a male-only zone? At least partly because of the authority men have in general. If those pastors have no authority inherent in their office, then certainly a woman can say Bible words without authority just as well as a man can.
If pastors are only tour guides, then there is no reason why a woman couldn’t be one of those. After all, there truly are many women who know the Bible better than many men. Why not leverage them? After all, they are just guiding the tour — pointing out the sights as we walk through Scripture together. That’s pretty inoccuous.
Because when you get down to it, it isn’t about guiding a tour. It’s about authority. That’s why.
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” - 1 Timothy 2:12
If male authority in the marriage were the only kind of authority in the church, then Paul speaks this way for no purpose. Same would be true of 1 Corinthians 14:33-35.
@John, I think the analogy you’ve used is precisely the one God uses in the case of the watchman in Ezekiel 3:16-19, which is specifically applied to church leaders in Hebrews 13:17, so I would point you there for how God/the land owner would respond to the shepherd/watchman. As mentioned earlier in the thread, I believe all saints have this responsibility to watch over each other (Hebrews 12:15) and thus warn each other; the elders model for the rest how to do this. The difference between the times of Ezekiel and the times of the church is that God has given the church authority to put the unrepentant out of the church after repeated calls to repentance are ignored (Matthew 18:15-20).
@jtbayly, I appreciate the clarity with which you are admonishing me, brother. I don’t believe I’m trying to dismiss any biblical text but you’re entitled to your opinion. And if you are convinced that I will not listen to reason or authority on this point, I respect that and can’t change your mind.
@jander, thank you for the length to which you’ve written (which is characteristic of you, helpfully ). I do not disagree with your explanation of how Paul was using the “countless guides” metaphor. Did you notice my “?” after my reference to 1 Corinthians 4:15 in the quote you responded to? I think you tried to get more out of this text than I did . I am totally fine throwing it out because I don’t believe I need it to make my case. Nonetheless, by saying that he became their father in the gospel, Paul does seem to convey that he has a unique authority in their lives that no one else has.
You said this in an earlier part of the thread: “If we are slaves ( duolos ) of Jesus Christ, then our elders (though fellow slaves) are our appointed taskmasters. Overseers are to make sure that the church does the work that the church is supposed to be doing. And if the slaves are not obeying, the overseers are endowed with the authority of the master to command obedience.” I sincerely don’t see this analogy emerging from my reading of the NT. How do you get here from the majority of the epistles placing no such emphasis on overseers making sure that the church does the work that the church is supposed to be doing (especially in Philippi where overseers are mentioned in the greeting but nowhere else in the letter)?
@tbbayly, thank you for the helpful phone call, brother. I truly appreciate your leadership, love, and sincerity.
@bnonn, I’m not trying to be fancy. I think we all agree that specific words have specific meaning which is why preachers take the time to read the text in the original languages and why, to give a specific example, most in this forum would make a big deal of specific Greek words like malakoi and what such words mean when modern translations try to cover such meaning up.
@jonswerens, it’s possible that someone might take what I’m saying to the extreme of eradicating gender distinctions but that is not what I’m doing and don’t think it’s a necessary conclusion of the case I’m making so please don’t try to take me where I’m not going. Clearly, 1 Timothy 2:12, for example, states that a woman isn’t to teach or to exercise authority. But this doesn’t mean that a woman can’t teach or speak the word of God authoritatively, specifically to another woman or child. It seems to be saying that men in general (not elders specifically) are to lead in teaching and exercising authority in the context of the church gathered. Furthermore, many have indicated that Paul is drawing a connection between teaching and exercising authority as if to teach is precisely what he means by exercising authority in this context. “The best evidence suggests that it [“exercise authority”] refers to the authority a teacher has over those who are learning”  is how one commentary put it. This relates to my point above that an elder’s authority is carried out in his consistent, faithful teaching of God’s Word because God’s Word is where the authority is located. Which is why other brothers (but not women!) can teach God’s Word from the pulpit just as authoritatively as the elders, provided they are faithful to the text.
Again, thanks for your time, brothers. Just to be clear, I would much sooner come to a Clearnote Shepherds’ conference (wanted to come this year but it didn’t end up working out. Hopefully it can work out next year or in the future, if I’d still be allowed to come given what’s transpired here ) than the other one that happens here on the West Coast where I live. I don’t say any of this because I’m a MacArthur disciple. This is just where my conscience is currently constrained by the biblical text. And, as has happened on many other topics, that could certainly change in the future. God knows.
I didn’t set out in this thread to change anyone’s mind but just to express my perspective and why I’m coming from where I’m coming from. Thank you for taking the time to listen and for caring enough to try to persuade me otherwise.
 Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). 1, 2 Timothy, Titus (Vol. 34, p. 99). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. (Romans 13:1, 2)
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)
Now we all have a good understanding of the wearisome nature of this grief. But fellow officers, we must not get weary of well-doing, one large part of which is refusing to allow those under us to despise our authority.
With affection for the work of those of you who spoke the truth without apology,