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The New Testament Pattern of Church Government

Ecclesiology has always been an important issue in Baptist discussion. In fact, the argument has been made that this is the theological area in which Baptists have made the most important contribution, particularly in the area of requiring a regenerate church membership. Another particular area of ecclesiology that has seen a great deal of attention from Baptist scholars is church government. This is a complex issue, and there is not room to adequately consider all the many pros and cons for the various positions on church government, elder rule, and so on, even within Southern Baptist circles. Rather than deal with all the various exigencies and practical issues surrounding those matters, this article proposes to address the biblical data in the Pastoral Epistles. While issues of application may change, the biblical data do not, and perhaps by revisiting scriptural teaching on the subject, we will be able to clarify our own thinking on some of these issues and find new common ground on this hotly debated matter.