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The Elder and Overseer

One Office in the Early Church

Benjamin L. Merkle

Recent challenges to the traditional view that the terms «elder» and «overseer» in the New Testament refer to the same office has caused the majority opinion to shift. After examining the background of the terms in Jewish and Greco-Roman sources, Paul’s view of organized ministry in his letters to churches, and the relevant material in Acts and the Pastoral Epistles, Merkle concludes that the two terms are used interchangeably, representing the same office.