Trace the development of Church Government in the Early Church
In my essay I am going to outline and expand upon how the government of the Christian church developed within the first three centuries. In the New Testament gospels following the life of Jesus, he had called a group of twelve disciples to be with him during his ministry. The idea of the twelve was significant as there were twelve tribes of Israel who were Gods’ people in the Old Testament, and the twelve would soon be leaders of the church. It was their duty to learn from him and carry on his teachings after he had left the Earth. Once Jesus had ascended to heaven, the disciples became known as the Apostles. Disciple means ‘follower’ whereas Apostle translates as ‘sent’, (in this case, by Jesus, to spread his word). On the day of Pentecost after his ascension, the Apostles and other followers were filled with the Holy Spirit. Many Christians believe that this day was the day that the Christian Church began.
The Apostles were seen as the leaders of the church and as figures of authority over laity. To keep the significant idea of twelve apostles alive, the remaining eleven after the death of Judas Iscariot called upon Matthias to be the twelfth apostle, as he had known and seen Christ. Paul also operated as an Apostle but never knew Christ. The Apostles preached in Jerusalem in the weeks after the Pentecost, however there came a dispute between Greek and Hebrew widows. The apostles felt they could not deal with issues such as this themselves, so appointed seven deacons to aid in physical work with the church as the apostles focused on spiritual work.
Once the apostles had spread out and formed individual churches local groups of elders, or bishops were appointed to work and lead in their absence from the different churches. These bishops had their own group of deacons to assist in practical church matters. According to 1Timothy 3 and Titus 1, church leaders were expected to have great self control...