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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 8 : The Elder

Paragraph 8 : Of Ruling Elders

8-8. As there were in the Church under the law, elders of the people for the government thereof, so in the Gospel Church, Christ has furnished others besides ministers of the Word with gifts and commission to govern when called thereunto, who are called ruling elders.

[Historical Summary : With minor changes of spelling and capitalization, the current PCA text remains that of PCUS 1879, surviving the chapter-wide changes implemented in 1980. The earlier PCUS drafts of 1867 and 1869 lacked the final clause, but were otherwise essentially the same.]

Background and Comparison :
1. PCA 1973, Chapter 9, "The Ruling Elder," Paragraph 1, Adopted text, M1GA, Appendix, p. 131
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, Chapter 9, "The Ruling Elder," Paragraph 1, Proposed text, p. 9
3. PCUS 1933, X-§40
4. PCUS 1925, X-§40
and
5. PCUS 1879, IV-3-1

As there were in the Church, under the law, Elders of the people for the government thereof, so in the gospel Church, Christ has furnished others besides the Ministers of the Word with gifts and commission to govern when called thereunto, which officers are entitled Ruling Elders.

PCUS 1869 draft, IV-3-1

As there were in the Church, under the law, Elders of the people for the government therof; so, in the gospel Church, Christ hath furnished others besides the Ministers of the Word, with gifts and commission to govern when called thereunto.

PCUS 1867 draft, IV-3-1
As there were in the church, under the law, elders of the people for the government therof, so in the gospel church, Christ hath furnished some besides the ministers of the word, with gifts and commission to govern when called thereto.

The Presbyterial Form of Church Government...Agreed upon by the Westminster Assembly of Divines...(1645),
Other Church-Governors.
As there were in the Jewish church elders of the people joined with the priests and Levites in the government of the church;[*] so Christ, who hath instituted government, and governors ecclesiastical in the church, hath furnished some in his church, beside the ministers of the word, with gifts for government, and with commission to execute the same when called thereunto, who are to join with the minister in the government of the church.[†] Which officers reformed churches commonly call Elders.
[*] 2 Chron. 19:8-10.
[†] Rom. 12:7-8; 1 Cor. 12:28.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, p. 55), on IV-3-1 :
42.--I. As there were in the Church, under the law, Elders of the people for the government thereof, so in the gospel Church, Christ has furnished others besides the Ministers of the Word with gifts and commission to govern when called thereunto, which officers are entitled Ruling Elders.
It is not asserted that they are called Ruling Elders in the Scriptures, but in this Form of Government; but it is asserted that according to the Scriptures there are in the New Testament dispensation as there were in the Old, Elders or rulers that are not Ministers of the Word.



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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]