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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 3 : The Nature and Extent of Church Power

Paragraph 2 : Several and Joint Power

3-2. Ecclesiastical power, which is wholly spiritual, is twofold. The officers exercise it sometimes severally, as in preaching the Gospel, administering the Sacraments, reproving the erring, visiting the sick, and comforting the afflicted, which is the power of order; and they exercise it sometimes jointly in Church courts, after the form of judgment, which is the power of jurisdiction.

[Historical Summary : The precise form of the current PCA text dates to ______. Apart from these minor stylistic changes--punctuation, sentence division and capitalization--the words themselves of the current text remain the same as those found in the PCUS 1869 draft and the subsequent key editions being tracked. The PCUS 1867 draft was, characteristically, more verbose, but is recognizable as containing the same concepts.]

Background and Comparison :
PCA 1973, Adopted text for 3-2, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, page 129
Continuing Presbyterian Church, 1973, 3-2, Proposed text, p. 4
PCUS 1933, IV-§16
PCUS 1925, IV-§16
Ecclesiastical power, which is wholly spiritual, is twofold; the officers exercise it sometimes severally, as in preaching the Gospel, administering the sacraments, reproving the erring, visiting the sick, and comforting the afflicted, which is the power of order; and they exercise it sometimes jointly in Church courts, after the form of judgment, which is the power of jurisdiction.

PCUS 1879, II-3-2.

Ecclesiastical power, which is wholly spiritual, is twofold; the officers exercise it sometimes severally, as in preaching the Gospel, administering the Sacraments, reproving the erring, visiting the sick, and comforting the afflicted, which is the power of order; and they exercise it sometimes jointly in Church courts, after the form of judgment, which is the power of jurisdiction.

PCUS 1869 draft, II-3-2.
Ecclesiastical power, which is wholly spiritual, is two-fold; the officers exercising it, sometimes severally, as in preaching the gospel, administering the sacraments, reproving the erring, visiting the sick, and comforting the afflicted; which is the power of order; and exercising it, sometimes jointly, in Church-courts, after the form of judgment; which is the power of jurisdiction.

PCUS 1867 draft, II-3-1.
The power which Christ hath committed to his church vests in the whole body, the rulers and the ruled, constituting it a spiritual commonwealth; but this power is exercised by his people in the choice of those officers whom he hath appointed in his church. This power is ecclesiastical, which is wholly moral and spiritual, is two-fold; for the officers sometimes exercise it severally, as in preaching the gospel, administering the sacraments, reproving the erring, visiting the sick, comforting the afflicted, etc., which is the power of order; and sometimes jointly in church-courts, after the form of judgment, which is the power of jurisdiction.


OTHER COMPARISONS :
OPC 2005, III-2
Those who join in exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction are the ministers of the Word or teaching elders, and other church governors, commonly called ruling elders. They alone must exercise this authority by delegation from Christ, since according to the New Testament these are the only permanent officers of the church with gifts for such rule. Ruling elders and teaching elders join in congregational, presbyterial, and synodical assemblies, for those who share gifts for rule from Christ must exercise these gifts jointly not only in the fellowship of the saints in one place but also for the edification of all the saints in larger areas so far as they are appointed thereto in an orderly manner, and are acknowledged by the saints as those set over them in the Lord.
Government by presbyters or elders is a New Testament ordinance; their joint exercise of jurisdiction in presbyterial assemblies is set forth in the New Testament; and the organization of subordinate and superior courts is founded upon and agreeable to the Word of God, expressing the unity of the church and the derivation of ministerial authority from Christ the Head of the church.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 26-27), on II-3-2 :
16.--II. Ecclesiastical power, which is wholly spiritual, is twofold; the officers exercise it sometimes severally, as in preaching the Gospel, administering the Sacraments, reproving the erring, visiting the sick, and comforting the afflicted, which is the power of order; and they exercise it sometimes jointly in Church courts, after the form of judgment, which is the power of jurisdiction.
This must not be understood to contradict paragraph five. Even in exercising the power of order, that is, power that the individual has been ordained to exercise, he is subject to the orders of the court and to its review and control ; hence, what he does severally, that is, as an individual officer, he does as the agent of a court. This is true even of deacons, since they act under the immediate control of the Session. And so all official acts are as such to be according to the judgment of the court having jurisdiction. But the power of jurisdiction itself cannot be committed to an individual officer. For even official reproof of the erring by an individual officer cannot affect the ecclesiastical standing of the reproved. But it is important to note that the exercise of ecclesiastical power is not unofficial when it is exercised severally any more than when it is exercised jointly.



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Chapter Index [links to Par. 1 of each chapter]:
FoG..
1
2
3.
4
5.
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
§4
§5
RoD
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
II. Preliminary Principles
§1
§2
§3
§4
§5
§6
§7
§8
DfW
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]