Two Office View - Matthew Henry? 1 Timothy 5:17

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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
I. Concerning the supporting of ministers. Care must be taken that they be honourably maintained (v. 17): Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour (that is, of double maintenance, double to what they have had, or to what others have), especially those who labour in the word and doctrine, those who are more laborious than others. Observe, The presbytery ruled, and the same that ruled were those who laboured in the word and doctrine: they had not one to preach to them and another to rule them, but the work was done by one and the same person. Some have imagined that by the elders that rule well the apostle means lay-elders, who were employed in ruling but not in teaching, who were concerned in church-government, but did not meddle with the administration of the word and sacraments; and I confess this is the plainest text of scripture that can be found to countenance such an opinion. But it seem a little strange that mere ruling elders should be accounted worthy of double honour, when the apostle preferred preaching to baptizing, and much more would he prefer it to ruling the church; and it is more strange that the apostle should take no notice of them when he treats of church-officers; but, as it is hinted before, they had not, in the primitive church, one to preach to them and another to rule them, but ruling and teaching were performed by the same persons, only some might labour more in the word and doctrine than others. Here we have, 1. The work of ministers; it consists principally in two things: ruling well and labouring in the word and doctrine. This was the main business of elders or presbyters in the days of the apostles.

Thoughts?
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
Matthew Henry didn't write the commentary on 1 Timothy, it was "Mr. Benjamin Andrews Atkinson" according to the notes in his commentary. I do not know the biography of that man (and time is too short for me to look him up!), but his view on church office might not have been the same as that of Henry himself.

Someone else might know his background and that might be illuminating. That said, there were controversies over the ruling elder at the Westminster Assembly. In my recollection, it was the Scottish Commissioners to the Assembly who had the most developed views of that office and were the staunchest advocates for it. Might be why they receive the heading "Other Church Governors" in the Directory for Church Government.

"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."
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Matthew Henry didn't write the commentary on 1 Timothy, it was "Mr. Benjamin Andrews Atkinson" according to the notes in his commentary. I do not know the biography of that man (and time is too short for me to look him up!), but his view on church office might not have been the same as that of Henry himself.

Someone else might know his background and that might be illuminating. That said, there were controversies over the ruling elder at the Westminster Assembly. In my recollection, it was the Scottish Commissioners to the Assembly who had the most developed views of that office and were the staunchest advocates for it. Might be why they receive the heading "Other Church Governors" in the Directory for Church Government.

"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."
That's helpful insight. The pondering of the views on the numbering and roles of church officers is quite humbling. I tend to lean towards the Westminster Form; however I am not dogmatic on that outline. The PCA paper on the 2 vs. 3 distinction is also very helpful, though it concludes the 2 office view (on paper at least).


Btw, I am looking at my Matthew Henry hard copy and I am not seeing any footnotes for this Mr. Atkinson. Any help with a resource?

I do hold that an RE can be permitted to teach, which I think finds support from 1 Timothy 5:17.
 
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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Not all were on the same page as the Scots and English Presbyterians of the London Provincial Assembly variety so that is why they didn't use the title "ruling elder". In the LPA's Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici they defend the 1 Timothy proof text for ruling elders in 20 or so pages interacting with 12 objections. A new critical edition of JDRE will be the second title out in the 2019-20 NPSE series.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Not all were on the same page as the Scots and English Presbyterians of the London Provincial Assembly variety so that is why they didn't use the title "ruling elder". In the LPA's Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici they defend the 1 Timothy proof text for ruling elders in 20 or so pages interacting with 12 objections. A new critical edition of JDRE will be the second title out in the 2019-20 NPSE series.
Chris,

Was this cited to show that among the assembly there were company who held to more of a 2-office distinction?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
JDRE on ruling elders does not interact with any members of the assembly like they do at least by relation on Erastianism and Congregationalism. They interact mainly with prior Anglican writers who wrote against Presbyterianism and that office.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
That's helpful insight. The pondering of the views on the numbering and roles of church officers is quite humbling. I tend to lean towards the Westminster Form; however I am not dogmatic on that outline. The PCA paper on the 2 vs. 3 distinction is also very helpful, though it concludes the 2 office view (on paper at least).


Btw, I am looking at my Matthew Henry hard copy and I am not seeing any footnotes for this Mr. Atkinson. Any help with a resource?

I do hold that an RE can be permitted to teach, which I think finds support from 1 Timothy 5:17.

It can be found in the preface to his commentary:
The following are the ministers by whom the Exposition on the Epistolary writings, and the Revelation, was completed, as given by J. B. Williams, Esq., LL.D.,F.S.A., in his Memoirs of the Life, Character, and Writings, of the Rev. Matthew Henry, 8vo. p. 308.
Romans … Mr. [afterwards Dr.] John Evans.
1 Corinthians … Mr. Simon Browne.
2 Corinthians … Mr. Daniel Mayo.
Galatians … Mr. Joshua Bayes.
Ephesians … Mr. Samuel Rosewell.
Philippians and Colossians … Mr. [afterwards Dr.] William Harris.
1, 2 Thessalonians … Mr. Daniel Mayo.
1, 2 Timothy … Mr. Benjamin Andrews Atkinson.
Titus and Philemon … Mr. Jeremiah Smith.
Hebrews … Mr. William Tong.
James … Dr. S. Wright.
1 Peter … Mr. Zec. Merrill.
2 Peter … Mr. Joseph Hill.
1, 2, and 3 John … Mr. John Reynolds, of Shrewsbury.
Jude … Mr. John Billingsley.
Revelation … Mr. William Tong.

Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), xxi.
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
It can be found in the preface to his commentary:
Good to know. So the only part of the NT commentary that Henry actually wrote was on the Gospels and Acts. A similar situation exists with Meyer's NT commentary, where he only wrote the volumes through Colossians. Yet in both cases people almost invariably quote the whole as though it was all written by the series' title-bearer.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Good to know. So the only part of the NT commentary that Henry actually wrote was on the Gospels and Acts. A similar situation exists with Meyer's NT commentary, where he only wrote the volumes through Colossians. Yet in both cases people almost invariably quote the whole as though it was all written by the series' title-bearer.
Yep, as much as I ready Henry I almost feel as though I need to print that reminder and stick it on the fridge:D
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Thoughts?

I tend to agree with him, though admittedly I haven't done an in-depth study on the issue. The three office view is prevalent within my denomination, but I haven't seen any very convincing arguments that there is enough evidence to support two separate offices of elder, though scripture is clear that not every elder has exactly the same function in the church.
 
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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
One of the best things about Samuel Miller's book on The Ruling Elder is that he does not just rely on those within his own Presbyterian echo-chamber to defend the office. I came across many of the quotations that I have been posting lately on this subject from Miller's book. These include quotes from English Reformers, later divines in the Church of England, and Congregationalist writers in both Old and New England.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
One of the best things about Samuel Miller's book on The Ruling Elder is that he does not just rely on those within his own Presbyterian echo-chamber to defend the office. I came across many of the quotations that I have been posting lately on this subject from Miller's book. These include quotes from English Reformers, later divines in the Church of England, and Congregationalist writers in both Old and New England.
Good to know. Looking up the book now. Daniel, do you perhaps remember how Miller concludes on the question that sometimes arises regarding a Ruling Elder and "t"eaching in classes and such?
 
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Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
My experience has been that ruling elders’ lack of rigorous theological training puts other lay members in the tough position of either being misinformed by that teaching, or being put in the position of having to decide what to do about teaching they know is missing the mark. What doctrinal teaching is so unimportant that it’s ok for someone without formal training in theology or accountability to the presbytery to teach it?

Some ruling elders will be much more studious, careful, and gifted than others. And teaching elders will get things wrong. But the 3-office view is the historical Presbyterian and I believe the biblical view, and surely provides for the most security and well-being of the sheep.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
My experience has been that ruling elders’ lack of rigorous theological training puts other lay members in the tough position of either being misinformed by that teaching, or being put in the position of having to decide what to do about teaching they know is missing the mark. What doctrinal teaching is so unimportant that it’s ok for someone without formal training in theology or accountability to the presbytery to teach it?

Some ruling elders will be much more studious, careful, and gifted than others. And teaching elders will get things wrong. But the 3-office view is the historical Presbyterian and I believe the biblical view, and surely provides for the most security and well-being of the sheep.
Jeri, I think we hold the same view regarding the # of offices; however, I do think an RE should be allowed to teach a bible class. However, I think from what you have stated above, there could be another solution: Hold RE selection to a higher standard, or really a biblical standard.

Should a man be an RE if he is unable to clearly teach and explain the the gospel or some portion of the Westminster Confession when asked by a member? Even in the OT, the elders would assist in explaining the law to the people.
 

Howard the Reformer

Puritan Board Freshman
My experience has been that ruling elders’ lack of rigorous theological training puts other lay members in the tough position of either being misinformed by that teaching, or being put in the position of having to decide what to do about teaching they know is missing the mark. What doctrinal teaching is so unimportant that it’s ok for someone without formal training in theology or accountability to the presbytery to teach it?

Some ruling elders will be much more studious, careful, and gifted than others. And teaching elders will get things wrong. But the 3-office view is the historical Presbyterian and I believe the biblical view, and surely provides for the most security and well-being of the sheep.


I agree with this as I have had the unfortunate experience with RE's who were not qualified in a theological way to serve. Many of these unqualified RE's create a lot of problems when working to resolve issues within the church in a non-Biblical way. Their teaching's when before a group, whether SS or Bible Study, unfortunately result in error and doctrine inconsistencies in the local church. In my opinion RE's should be examined in a similar way that TE'S are in the areas of doctrine and Biblical knowledge.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
Jeri, I think we hold the same view regarding the # of offices; however, I do think an RE should be allowed to teach a bible class. However, I think from what you have stated above, there could be another solution: Hold RE selection to a higher standard, or really a biblical standard.

Should a man be an RE if he is unable to clearly teach and explain the the gospel or some portion of the Westminster Confession when asked by a member? Even in the OT, the elders would assist in explaining the law to the people.
I agree that a godly ruling elder, studied in the confessions of the church can be a great deal of help in that capacity to members. But apt to teach doesn’t equate to formal teaching in the church. In a classroom setting hard questions, disputes, doctrinal differences arise, etc. which require more explanation than a RE may be prepared to deal with.

A solution could also be that churches teach the difference in calling between RE’s and TE’s as far as formal teaching, and that it would be orderly for a RE to defer to the TE’s help and teaching on a topic, generally speaking.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
As I read 1Tim, the biggest drawback to MHenry's interpretation (and it has some plausibility) is that I find no connection in the observations he makes to the context. How does one make the "leap" from addressing matters that are germane to several "groupings" (loose categories) of people in the church, to a few comments focused on ministers (as elders)? There may be an argument for such, but it isn't obvious to me

Notice, Paul has just finished a lengthy portion of comments that have to do with widows, often elderly women--and he has to distinguish between the "younger" (vv11, 14) and those who are "widows indeed, v3. There is no corresponding category of aged/aging men, however many if not most such might have been expected (or even obliged, in a sense) to take up the duties of elder in the church--the name itself being an effect of the natural dependence on seniority for wisdom. Of course, an Elder in the church is not necessarily an age-determined category, Timothy himself being a specific example, 4:12 (cf. Joseph, Gen.37:3). But the name carries the connotation, and it is worthwhile to detect a formal correspondence in this portion (focused on elders) with the previous.

It seems plain to me that 1Tim.3 gives explicit instructions concerning the choosing of lay-elders, primarily; and no minister (T.E.) may properly have fewer qualifications or a lower standard than those good expectations. Bringing back the same term in a later chapter, it makes sense for the term, elder, to have the same referent. (I realize that some interpretations do not take 1Tim.3 to be concerned especially with the lay-elder; and so this argument will lose force with them.)

Still, this section (vv17-25, with an excuse for v23 which is a kind of personal aside) fits with the pattern or outline of the letter, as pertinent to Timothy in his role of Evangelist, he immediately following Paul in the second generation (of Ephesus Church) and adapting some of his apostolic duties for the sub-apostolic era.

Despite my disagreement, what MHenry has said true is no less true: "The work of ministers; it consists principally in two things: ruling well and labouring in the word and doctrine." It is undeniably true; and yet the concern of Paul (and Timothy after him) is for the good order and discipline of the Ephesus Church, a thing not possible to execute without a functioning eldership, made up primarily of laymen; a pattern as old as ancient Israel even before its national constitution, Ex.3:16, etc., N.B. 18:12ff. Those elders who also are ministers are those whose principal works are preaching and teaching..
 
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