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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.

«Recent scholarship has reevaluated the meaning of the terms ‘overseer’ and ‘elder.’ Merkle analyzes the contribution of recent scholarship, and thoroughly examines the biblical text to discern the meaning of these terms. He demonstrates persuasively that the view offered by J. B. Lightfoot remains the most convincing.»
(Thomas R. Schreiner, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky)
«Benjamin L. Merkle sheds new light on a much-discussed issue. This book is a useful and interesting read for all New Testament students.»
(E. Earle Ellis, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas)