Part 5 We are all kings
The term “elder” was not an office in the Church. Every man in the congregation of the people who was the eldest leader of a family group was called an elder. It was from these men of experience that the ministers were elected and appointed. This is why you read that elders were appointed or that a man might be addressed as an elder.
In fact, terms like “bishop” and “minister” are not really names, but descriptions of offices or positions, just like the words “mom” or “dad”. Language allows us to capitalize those terms or titles when speaking of a particular Mom or Dad, Bishop or Minister.
All these elders were family men which, as a result, brought their sons, daughters, and wives into the ministry, as well. Almost every minister in the early church was married, with few exceptions. When there was that exception, there was still some family relationship associated with his ministry, such as Paul with the couple, Aquila and his wife, Priscilla. The importance of good character and family amongst these men and women, who ministered to the Kingdom of God by serving the congregations of the people and other ministers, is made clear throughout the Bible.
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. Timothy 3
We are told of these qualifications because each individual, in the Kingdom as a prince in his own house, must choose who he shall accept as minister to his family. He must come into agreement with the other men in his immediate congregation. This idea turns the world upside down. Instead of the voice of the people electing kings, senators, conscripti patri or presidents, and legislatures to make law, extract contributions, and regulate the “altars of civic deities”, in the Kingdom of God, each man comes into agreement as to who will be his personal, public- ministering servant.
This is why, “Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?’”1 You have been given by God the right to choose, but only to choose for yourself and to rule over yourself. You may not rule over your neighbor nor rule over your ministers, but instead you must come into one accord. Systems of humility and service based on liberty give us many opportunities to forgive so that we may be forgiven.
God’s Kingdom was a system of checks and balances where each man must weigh the truth and deeds against the Spirit of God. Without God living in the hearts of each man, this system of God will not work. Such systems are not attractive to men who are void of virtue.
Any system will work in a godly way if those in that system are all virtuous men and women, but not just any system will appeal to men of virtue. Why would a humble, forgiving, and loving man seek power over his neighbor and his neighbors goods and household?
Each minister was chosen because of his virtue, and the evidence of it, in his life. He was not ruled by the people just as those living stones of the ancient altars of Abraham and Moses were not hewn by men. Men chose the living stones, accepting or rejecting them as suitable, for the altars of their own congregation. This draws a certain kind of man to service. The people chose by consensus and support who shall be their individual public servant.
Each minister also needed to be ordained by the existing Church ministers with whom they would work, on behalf of the whole Kingdom of God. The existing ministers of the Church accepted by extending their hands in agreement. This may take some ritual form, such as anointing with oils or laying on of hands, but what is truly an ordination is the daily coming-into-one-accord, or unification. We should not imagine this ordination as men in long robes proceeding through luxurious stained-glassed cathedrals or golden temples.
This was a system where men did not forsake the coming together, but lived under the perfect law of liberty. This was a Kingdom where men and women of love and virtue were bound together daily by charity and hope and voluntary sacrifice. This was the kingdom of God. This is where every man was prince and priest in his own family.
Each family and group of families were altars of clay upon which personal and daily charity was freely given. These families congregated together in faith and hope, love, and charity, choosing living white stones as ministers to the altar of their community. As these men, chosen by the people, gathered together, they formed the altars of God until the men, chosen to represent the nation, stood in the midst of the people, not as rulers, but as true public servants of servants of servants under the constitutional restrictions of God.
And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. Mark 10:44
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Matthew 20:27
But ye [shall] not [be] so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. We are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; Luke 22:26-29
These men were not princes and ruling kings in the traditional sense and thought of modern government. They were ambassadors or leaders of the people through their service. They were appointed by the servant King, Christ, to serve His sheep and all who would seek his Kingdom of liberty under God the Father, rather than men who would be rulers over their brothers and neighbors.
And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Ac 1:15
In Ac 1:15, we see twelve apostles and those 120 names. There should be little doubt, from a study of the prior Biblical text and history which followed, that each apostles represented ten names or families in the Kingdom of Heaven appointed by Christ. This pattern is found throughout the ages in countless free republics where men gather in common fellowships of freedom to survive calamity and catastrophe, dictators and despots.