Sunday, March 2, 2014

Is There a Biblical Pattern for Messianic Communal Governance?

Is There a Biblical Pattern for Messianic Communal Governance?

Some musings from today...

I feel very strongly based on the Scriptural evidence I have surveyed, that Messianic communities should be governed according to the following three principles:

(1) governance should rest in the hands of plural representatives[1], never a single individual[2] (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; 1 Tim. 5:17);

(2) this body of plural representatives should consist of a quorum of ten elders[3] selected based upon their merits[4] and held accountable by the people[5];

(3) each elder must be male (as the term zeken comes from zakan which means “beard” as in Psalm 133:2[6] and also because Paul is explicit in 1 Cor. 14:34 when he says “Women should remain silent in the assemblies.  They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.”).

But, again, this is just my opinion.  Anyone with a different perspective?

[1] Grudem, Systematic Theology; Levine, The Ancient Synagogue pgs. 388 and 407;
[2] The title "rabbi" did not "gain a technical sense of an office of congregational leadership until the 2nd Century CE," (Hegg. "A Community or a Congregation?").  
[3] Amram, The Zekenim
[4] "GEROUSIA (Gr.; council of elders).  In the Roman period, the affairs of many Jewish communities in the empire--including Erets Yisra'el--were conducted by councils of elders.  The gerousia of Jerusalem was headed by the high priest.  Those chosen for the gerousia were selected for their learning and piety and were not necessarily old.  Josephus applies this term to the seventy elders who were chose to aid Moses (Antiquities of the Jews 4.8.14)," The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion; "After the Hellenist conquest, Israel was governed by the "Gerousia (Greek--Assembly of Zekenim)--a standing body representing supreme authority of the nation when Anshei Knesset ha-Gedolah was not in session...[the Gerousia was presided] over by Kohen Gadol, its members included soferim and notables," (Elazar, Jewish Polity, pg. 101).  Later, during the Second Temple era [circa 63B.C.E. according to the Jewish Encyclopedia 1906 edition], the Gerousia continued under a new name, Sanhedrin (ibid, pg. 113).  The Sanhedrin consisted of approximately seventy "leading scholars who themselves were part of an intellectual meritocracy drawn from a widely popular base," Elazar, The Jewish Polity.
[5] Horowitz, The Spirit of Jewish Law:  Abuse of power by the oligarchy which governed the affairs of the community was checked by three basic principles:
    (1) The governing board even where it had complete administrative authority was required to respect the wishes of the community;
    (2) The board's major decisions under the local ordinances were usually subject to referendum or recall by the membership and;
    (3)  The acts of communal boards were generally reviewable by the bet-din (court), the dayan (judge), or the rabbi of the community (Hayim Or Zarua, Resp., p. 65; Mordecai, Nezikin 482).

[6] Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary


  1. The concept sounds good, but the reality would be anything but. I am sure one of the acronyms will take over this Bet Din, turning it into a farce, just like their "rabbinical counsel."

    Read Skip Moen's, "Guardian Angel," for a differing view of wrong translations of verses dealing with women, in the same way verses dealing with torah are mistranslated or misunderstood. If you really believed women should be silent in the assembly, they wouldn't be singing or sharing either. And some fundy groups actually do this, but at least they are being consistent. I have an article on my blog too - didn't write it, can look it up.

  2. Deborah was a judge. What is your problem with her?