.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 8 : The Elder

Paragraph 2 : An Exemplary Life

8-2. He that fills this office should possess a competency of human learning and be blameless in life, sound in the faith and apt to teach. He should exhibit a sobriety and holiness of life becoming the Gospel. He should rule his own house well and should have a good report of them that are outside the Church.


[Historical Summary : The current PCA text dates to PCUS 1933 and to the Revised Edition of 1925, which updated the language of PCUS 1879, substituting "holiness of life" in place of the older form "holiness of conversation".]

Background and Comparison :
1. PCA 1973, 8-2, Adopted text, M1GA, Appendix, p. 131
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, Proposed text, p. 8
3. PCUS 1933, IX, § 34
4. PCUS 1925, IX, § 34
He that fills this office should possess a competency of human learning, and be blameless in life, sound in the faith, and apt to teach; he should exhibit a sobriety and holiness of life becoming the Gospel; he should rule his own house well and should have a good report of them that are without.

PCUS 1879, IV-2-2
and
PCUS 1876 draft, IV-2-2

He that fills this office should possess a competency of human learning, and be blameless in life, sound in the faith, and apt to teach ; he should exhibit a sobriety and holiness of conversation becoming the gospel; he should rule his own house well ; and should have a good report of them that are without.

PCUS 1869 draft, IV-2-2

Besides possessing that competency of human learning which is needful, he that fills this office should be blameless in life, sound in
the faith, and apt to teach; he should exhibit a sobriety of behaviour and holiness of conversation becoming the gospel; he should rule his own house well; and should have a good report of them that are without.

PCUS 1867 draft, IV-2-2

Besides that competency of human learning which is needful, he that fills this office must be blameless in life, sound in the faith, and apt to teach; he must exhibit a sobriety of behaviour and holiness of conversation becoming the gospel; he must rule his own house well; and must have a good report of them who are without.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 48-49), on IV-2-2 :
36.--II. He that fills this office should possess a competency of human learning, and be blameless in life, sound in the faith, and apt to teach ; he should exhibit a sobriety and holiness of conversation becoming the gospel; he should rule his own house well ; and should have a good report of them that are without.
Here are named four kinds of administrations, of which the first kind is in the man, and the other three manifestations of what is in him and thus evidential of the fundamental qualifications being in him. And the fundamental qualifications are four. One of these he should possess, for it is extrinsic to his individuality : a competency of human learning. What is a competency is not here indicated. The other three he should be, for they are qualifications intrinsic to his individuality. The most important is a blameless life. While the word must not be pressed to mean more than relative blamelessness, yet it must not be weakened so as to admit any into this office that would not be properly classed as blameless in life in a comparative classification of professors into the blameless and the blemished. Among those that might in this sense be classed as blameless in life, some are relatively sound in their beliefs, and others are erratic. The latter class, however blameless in life, are not qualified for the ministry of the truth. Some men that are blameless in life and sound in the faith are not apt at teaching others, and for this reason are disqualified for the teaching office. If now a man has these fundamental qualifications, they should manifest themselves in three ways. In general there should appear in his conversation or behavior a sobriety or propriety, and a holiness or savor of consecration, such as become the gospel; for the life should not only be negatively blameless, but positively exhibiting a gospel sobriety and holiness. If he is in any relation of authority over others, he ought to show ability to rule well; and this is especially true of the head of a family. For no man is qualified to rule in God's house who cannot rule in his own. And, unreasonable as men of the world may be in judging the saints, yet no one is fit to be in a position of leadership in the Church before the world who cannot command the world's respect for his piety and morality. Jesus, even at the very moment of his condemnation and rejection, had a good report of them that were without.




©PCA Historical Center, 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO, 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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]