What is the Scriptural foundation for church government by pastor and elder. Which is the governing authority and what references supports either point of view.
This is an important question and misunderstanding of this answer has led to tremendous error even to the point of the spawning of worldwide institutions such as the Catholic church.
First, let me begin by saying that the Scriptures teach the elders and pastors and bishops and overseers are all the same – that is, they refer to the same office in a local church. each of the words simply focuses on certain aspects of the functions involved in this office.
Second, they are to serve in “local” churches and not on any scale larger than this. See Acts 14:23, Phil. 1:1, 1 Peter 5:1-4. For people to take authority over more that a local group of Christens is an act that is unauthorized in the New Testament. Also, as far as we know, there is no evidence that there should ever be a single elder ruling over any local church.
Just to note, this is where the Catholic church began; one man overreaching his rule across several local groups until this eventually evolved into the papacy.
Finally, these men are to meet certain qualifications that are given in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The qualification focus on how a man behaves a and teaches his own family in the Word. This is the training ground that will ultimately qualify him to serve in leading a local church.
By Gary Hunt