Of Ecclesiastical Power | Willem Apollonius

Willem Apollonius (1602-1657)
A Consideration of Certain Controversies (1644)
IV. Of Ecclesiastical Power, pp. 43-66.


Whether the ecclesiastical power, or power of the keys, be given by Christ to the multitude or all the members of a church as the first and immediate subject: so as believers not bearing any church office may by themselves immediately exercise all ecclesiastical jurisdiction, discipline, and causes ecclesiastical, save only the Sacraments. And consequently, whether private Christians being church members have such an ecclesiastical power as that they may authoritatively admit church members to ecclesiastical communion, reprove by ecclesiastical authority such as commit offences, bind by excommunication and church censures, absolve from excommunication, and authoritatively remit sins? Whether to them also belongeth the conferring the power of the keys on the Ministers and Pastors of the Church, and that power which giveth to the Ministers an ecclesiastical office; and consequently, the examination of Pastors, the sending unto and confirming them in that church office by imposition of hands, and again authoritative suspending and removing Pastors from that function?


The Reformed divines teach that none in the Church of Christ, which is his Kingdom, may arrogate any power to himself, but from a divine calling and delegation from Christ. For whereas those ecclesiastical affairs are administered in the Church in the name of Christ and with his power, none may perform them but he to whom they are committed by Christ (1 Cor. 4.1 and 5.4; 2 Cor. 5.20), and when as Christ hath vouchsafed this calling and delegation to administer those holy functions not to all in the Church, but to some only (1 Cor. 12.28-29; Rom. 12.4-6). They therefore deny that this power belongeth to all. They allow indeed to all believers and godly members in the Church visible a spiritual dignity and authority of grace, whereby they are Kings and Priests to God (for divine grace hath a heavenly authority and majesty accompanying it) but deny, that authority of office, and ecclesiastical power or jurisdiction belongeth to them all. We grant in this controversy:

Concession 1. The Keys benefit the whole Church.

1. That the power of the Keys is given by Christ for the benefit of the whole Church, and of all believers, for their spiritual edification (Eph. 4.11-12).

Concession 2. Church members may chose their ministers.

2. That to all the members of the Church belongeth power to choose their Ministers and Pastors, either by suffrages, or by free consent. For this power is found grounded on rules of holy Scripture (Acts 1.23, 6.2-4, 14.22). But by this election the believers do not confer or derive the power of the Keys on the Ministers or Pastors chosen; but only design [i.e. intend] him, on whom the power of that church office is, by divine institution, to be conferred, by ecclesiastical ordination. The whole derivation of ecclesiastical authority and spiritual power on Ministers (so far as it can be ministerially, secondarily, and subordinately performed by the Church) is by the whole ecclesiastical vocation [i.e. calling]. But by election is only the designing of the person on whom that power is to be conferred, and by ordination he is authoritatively sent, and put into possession of that function to which he was by election designed to be ordained. Ordination therefore is an act of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as the Bishop of Spalato rightly discourseth (De repub. eccles. lib. 2. cap. 3. num. 54), but the act of election or nomination is not an act of jurisdiction or ecclesiastical authority, but of the gift of discretion; whereby they prove the spirits, and discern the voice of the shepherd, and choose him by whose teaching they will be lead.

A Pastor’s Calling or Vocation.

For the better clearing of this business, when we consider of a Pastor’s calling entirely and absolutely, and not in reference to some part of it, by it is the whole derivation of ecclesiastical right, on this or that person performed. And thus it comprehendeth election and ordination. 

Election hath three parts, examination, approbation, and nomination. Examination consists in the trial of his learning, and gifts, and former conversation. Approbation lieth in two things, judgement and assent. Judgement we call that sentence whereby the person examined is judged fit to undertake the ministry, and may profitably perform it. Assent is of them who rest satisfied in this judgement. Nomination is when one by name is by common advice discerned to be invited to the ministry of a church. 

Ordination comprehendeth mission and admission. Mission (or sending) is an authoritative act of the Presbytery, whereby the office is conferred on the person elected, and he sent and commended to the church for which he had been designed, and put in possession of his ministry. Initiation (or admission) is the public administration of an outward rite, whereby the person elected is established in the ministry of that church, and is performed by explaining the divine institution, prayer, and a solemn blessing. The common symbol of this ordination is imposition of hands.

In this whole business therefore of vocation, we grant to the people nomination, which was at first in the power of the Presbyters and people in common. The Governors of the church meanwhile moderating the whole action—for they being better able to judge of the quality of their learning and gifts, were therefore to perform this charge, that according to the canons they were not to follow the people, but to lead them. For the election was chiefly the act of ministers, the work of the faithful people to consent to that election (distinct. 63. cap. Nosse, & cap. Cum longè). For it is clear by Apostolic examples, and the practice of the Ancients, that the ministers were first to nominate, and the people to assent to that nomination duly performed, or to consult in common about the person to be nominated. Or lastly, if they have any cause why they might justly oppose that nomination, freely to produce their judgment to the Governors of the church. Their consent they signified anciently (as Junius acknowledgeth disput. 38 Anni 1604 de potest. Ecclesiast. thes. 14) either by lifting up their hands, or in silence approving the judgment of the church. An assenting suffrage was called ἐπιχειροτονία [vote of confidence], a dissenting ἀποχειροτονία [rejection by show of hands]. 

The examination was performed by learned and grave men chosen out of the Presbytery of Pastors, or College of Doctors, for this work—for to these above others is this care committed (2 Tim. 2.2; Acts 20.30). And for the judgment of the Examinate’s sufficiency and learning, that this did chiefly belong to those that labor in the Word, is without doubt, for the spirits of the prophets must be subject to the prophets (1 Cor. 14.32).

The assent is of the whole church, whereby they acquiesce and rest in the judgment of the Examiners and those present at the examination. But that this is necessarily required before proceeding to ordination is a thing manifest. All this business of election doth not constitute anyone a Pastor, but doth judge and declare that person to be fit, and sufficiently endued with gifts, and decreeth by common consent that he shall be invited to the ministry, that the dignity of the Pastoral office may according to the order of Christ be conferred on him. For the people’s nomination, and the whole matter of election may be rightly performed, and yet it may so come to pass that he which is chosen by a people may never be their Pastor. To wit, if the person elected do justly refuse it, or the Presbytery duly determine the person elected to be unfit for the ministry of this people. But by ordination if a man be ecclesiastically sent forth and separated for the ministry (Acts 13. 1-3), and the power of the ministry committed to him (2 Tim. 2.2; 1 Tim. 4.14), and he put into possession of the ministry (Acts 6.6; 1 Tim. 5.22). 

This being a potestative act of ecclesiastical authority, is everywhere in Scripture attributed to those who have ecclesiastical authority: to wit, to the Presbytery (1 Tim. 4 14), to the Prophets and Teachers that ministered (Acts 13.1-3) to the Pastors and Ministers of the Church (1 Tim. 5.22 & 2 Tim. 1.6). Whence also in the Old Testament, God commanded that by Moses, an extraordinary Prophet, should sacrifices be offered for Aaron and his sons, and they anointed, when he made them Priests. And that this rite in the High Priests was still continued, appears by the instance of Zadok, who was by Nathan anointed to be Priest. And Num. 8.10 by imposition of hands of the Elders, and the firstborn, who enjoyed an ecclesiastical function, are the Levites put into their office. 

Ordination therefore contains in it the potestative mission, whereby according to divine appointment a Pastor receiveth the ecclesiastical office. Which mission (or sending) is so necessary, that without it no man may duly undertake an ecclesiastical office (Rom. 10.15).

Concession 3. Some acts require the consent of the congregation.

3. We grant that there are some acts of ecclesiastical government which by the Word of God may not be performed without the agreement and consent of the church. For example, in excommunication of a member in a church, private believers are by the Word of God to exhort and reprove offending brethren, to complain to the church of the obstinate (Mat. 18.15-16). And, by the law of charity, as they are brethren in Christ, to admonish their Governors if remiss and negligent (Col. 4.17), to avoid a person excommunicated as a heathen and publican (Tit. 3.10; Mat. 18.17), to reprove him as a brother (2 Thes. 3.14-15), etc. All which manifestly require an assent of the people to the excommunication of an offending brother.

The exercise of ecclesiastical power—to preach the Word, to administer the Sacraments of the Covenant, to retain and remit sins—is given to the church rulers in some things (called commonly the Power of Order) severally and a part considered, as single Pastors. So a Pastor may preach the Word and administer the Sacraments without special consent either of the whole church or of the Governors to every act.

In other things (as in the use of the Power of Jurisdiction, or Excommunication) the exercise and power thereof is given to an unity, not to one. To the community of the Governors of the Church, not to single Pastors severally. For in the Church, one single man hath not power of ecclesiastical discipline. If a Pastor alone do excommunicate anyone, that excommunication is invalid, as well at the tribunal of Christ, as of the Church. But if one Pastor alone do baptize a person without an assent of the church, that baptism is valid.

The government of the Church or Kingdom of Christ is free and voluntary, to which all the children of the Church do voluntarily submit themselves; but yet it is a government, properly so called, for there is in it authoritative jurisdiction and ecclesiastical coaction by spiritual punishments on the soul. In reference to the former (that this government is voluntary), the whole people by their free and voluntary consent and agreement do concur to the election of the Governors of the Church, and the excommunication of members. But, in reference to the latter (that the government of the Church is properly government), the whole people doth not rule or govern in the Church. But the Church is divided into rulers, and those that are ruled. And therefore only the guides and rulers of churches in ecclesiastical jurisdiction are Christ’s vicegerents to rule, and in his name, to command, to judge, and by church censures, to correct. The power of ecclesiastical office hath therefore in the government of the Church, over and above the people’s consent, an authoritative and coactive power of the discipline and rod of Christ, which belongeth not to the people.

We deny therefore in this controversy, that there belongeth to the brotherhood, or body of believers in the Church, an authoritative power whereby they may join with the Eldership in an ecclesiastical judicial act, as judges authorized with Christ’s authority, in judging causes ecclesiastically determined. We maintain therefore in this cause these following assertions:

Assertion I. The Power of Ruling.

I. That the Power of the Keys, and the exercise thereof in a constituted church, is not by Christ given to the brotherhood, or people in a church, but to the Presbytery and those that have the oversight of churches, or the Pastors and Ruling Elders only. This assertion is proved:

Proof 1. Ministerial Offices.

1. Because that office which doth essentially contain the power and exercise of the Keys is not common to all believers in a church, but to some specifically chosen for it (1 Cor. 12.28; Ephes. 4.11-12). To Apostles, Pastors, etc. as such is the power of the Keys given (John 20.21-23; 2 Cor. 5.20; 1 Tim. 5.17). Therefore to those only, and not to all believers doth this power belong. For to those hath God given the power of the Keys who are stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4.1), who are servants in the House of God by special office (2 Cor. 4.5), who know how to behave themselves aright in the House of God (1 Tim. 3.16), and to give to those in the House their due portion in season (Math. 24.25), rightly to divide and distribute the Word of God (2 Tim. 2.15). For the Keys are a sign of power entrusted, which are by Christ committed to the stewards and overseers in his House, whereby to administer their power. And by the Keys in Scripture is signified authority, faculty, power, administration of government, which is exercised in commanding, forbidding, allowing, restraining. As Isa. 22.22 compared with Isa. 9.6; Rev. 1.18; 3.7; and Mat. 16.18-19 denotes ministers’ power and full administration. They are committed therefore to those who are set over the Church, not to all in the Church.

Proof 2. Many members of one body.

2. That opinion is not to be admitted, which doth overthrow the order constituted by Christ in the Church: by which order, Christ hath in the Church visible, as in an heterogeneous organical body constituted of diverse integral parts, to which he hath given their peculiar functions and operations in that ecclesiastical body. For he hath set in the Church, eyes, ears, hands, feet, rulers, and such as are over them in the Lord, overseers, watchmen, pastors, ambassadors in Christ’s name, preachers, fathers, builders, sowers, etc. And a flock, a people, a house, a field, children, and such as governed, and who are bound to obey those that are set over them, etc. See Heb. 13.17; 1 Thes. 5.12; 1 Tim. 5.17; 2 Cor. 5.20; 1 Cor. 4.1-2, 15; 1 Cor. 3.9, etc. But if all in the Church have the power of the Keys, power of building, ruling the Church by censures ecclesiastical, etc. all will be Ambassadors, Rulers, Fathers, Pastors, Watchmen, Eyes, Ears, for to those parts of the Church do ecclesiastical and authoritative oversight and rule belong, as their proper function. Therefore the power of the Keys and exercise thereof is not common to all members of a church, but is the proper function of the Overseers and Pastors, to whom the rod and that severe power is committed for the edification of the Church (1 Cor. 4.21; 2 Cor. 13.10).

Proof 3. The rules of church government.

3. The canons and rules proposed in holy Scripture whereby the right government of the Church, and the due use of the Keys is directed, are not given to all the believers in a church; but the Pastors and Elders. Timothy and Titus, and other church Governors are by the Apostle instructed how to behave themselves in the house of God as faithful stewards, in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, and also 1 Cor. 3-4. And the faults which are committed in mis-governing of churches, and abuse of the Keys, are not by God imputed as the fault of all the believers in a church, but of some, to wit the Overseers (1 Tim. 3.4-6; Tit. 1.7; 1 Pet. 5.3; Rev. 2.14, 20.3; John 16.10). The praise and reward promised for due ordering of churches, is not by God promised to all the believers in a church, but to the Pastors and Elders who rule well in the Lord (1 Thes. 5.12; Heb. 13.17; 1 Tim. 5.17; 2 Tim. 4.4-5; 1 Pet. 5.4-5; Rev. 22). Therefore to those only is the government of churches and the exercise of the Keys entrusted by Christ.

Proof 4. The Spirit of administration.

4. To whom Christ gave the power and exercise of the Keys, or Rule in the Church, to those he gave the Spirit for administration, and those gifts which are necessary for the government of the Church. For when God sendeth any into his Church, he always qualifieth them with gifts sufficient and fit for the exercise of that ministry and office committed to them. As is evident by the examples of all whom God hath sent into the Church. But where is the Spirit promised to all, whereby all the believers in a church may remit and retain sins, spoken of John. 20.21-23? Where is that prudence and wisdom promised to all, whereby they may be able to rule the House of God, to go in and out before the people of God? etc. Therefore the government of the Church, and the exercise of the Keys is not by God committed to all.

Confirmation from Reformed Standards.

Hence also have the Reformed churches always rejected a popular church government. See Sadeel’s treatise in French, concerning ecclesiastical discipline, against Morellius. Of whom Reverend Beza (libro de Ministrorum gradibus, cap. 25), when he had described the manner of election in the Church, saith thus, “which order by the goodness of God religiously and prudently observed hitherto in this city, when one democratical fanatical Morellius of Paris was bold by word and writing to find fault with, that his writing was both in this church and in France in many Synods worthily condemned.” And in our Synodical constitutions the Church’s ecclesiastical power, judgement, exercise of the Keys, and church government, is everywhere committed to the Pastors and Elders, to Presbyteries, Consistories, Classes, and Synods. See the Synod at Embden: Anno 1571 from Article 25 to art. 35. At Dort. Anno 1578 art. 92 to art. 101. At Middleburgh, Anno 1581 art. 58 to art. 66. At the Hague, Anno 1586 art. 64 to art. 74. At Middleburgh, Anno 1591 art. 58 to 75. At Dort, Anno 1619 art. 71 to art. 81.

Assertion II. The Power of Sending.

II. We affirm that the power of sending or ordaining Pastors or church Governors is committed by God in a settled church, not to the multitude of the church, but to the Pastors and Elders or Presbyters of churches. We grant indeed (as was said before) that there is a liberty of nomination or election allowed by the Word of God to all the members in a church, so as no Minister may without the agreement and consent of the people be obtruded upon a church, whether they will or no: which nomination or election doth not yet confer ministerial power on the person elected, but only designeth a person on whom it may be duly derived according to the instituted rule, by those who have under Christ received that power, whereby ecclesiastical authority is derived on this or that person.

We deny not also but that extraordinarily in a perplexed and depraved estate of a whole visible church, the multitude or faithful people in a church may choose their Pastors and Rulers, and authoritatively put them into the power, right and possession of the ministry; and that by reason of a cogent necessity which admitteth no law, and to which all positive law giveth place. But we affirm that in a settled and constituted visible church, the people by the positive law of God have not power of ordaining or sending their Pastors. But that potestative mission and ordination, whereby ecclesiastical authority or the ministerial power is conferred on this or that man designed to the ministry, belongeth to Presbyteries.

Our assertion is proved:

1. From those precepts described in holy Scripture concerning ordination or sending rulers to a church, whereby it is committed not to the multitude of believers, but to the Elders and church Governors (1 Tim. 5.22; 2 Tim. 2.2; Tit. 1.5 etc.).

2. From the examples of the Apostolic church, wherein the power of sending and ordaining Pastors was reserved to church Governors, and never committed to the people. See examples, Acts 6.6; Acts 13.1-3; 1 Tim. 4.14; 2 Tim. 1.6.

3. Because the power of suspension or degrading ministers of a church belongeth not to the multitude. For to whom belongs the authority of taking away an ecclesiastical ministry, to the same it belongeth to confer it. For in what way anything is obtained, in the same way it is dissolved. But nowhere in Scripture is this committed to the people, to pass an ecclesiastical censure on false Ministers or Teachers, or remove them from the ministry; but is required of the angels of churches, and their Presbyters (Tit. 1.10, 13; Rev. 2.2, 14-16, 20; Acts 20.28-29).

Confirmation from Reformed Standards.

So also is it decreed by our Belgic churches that the election of Pastors and Elders be not transacted without the peoples suffrages or free assent. Yet that the mission or ordination into the ministry of a church, as also the suspension and degradation of a Minister be done by the Consistorial Presbytery upon the judgement and assent of the Classis. See the Canons of the Synod at Middleburgh, Anno. 1591 art. 3, 4, 5, 11, 58. At the Hague, Anno. 1586 art. 4, 13, 72. At Middleburgh, Anno. 1581 art. 4, 7, 64. At Dort, Anno. 1619 art. 4, 5, 79.

We therefore reject the following contrary opinions:

Contrary Opinion I. Congregational power of the keys.

I. Of those who ascribe to the people, or multitude of believers, the power of the Keys, even where there are no rulers or governors, so that a Congregation of believers joined in church covenant, though wanting church governors, hath power of excommunication, and of exercising all acts of the Keys, or ecclesiastical jurisdiction and government, save only the Sacraments.

But to us it is certain from the Word of God, that that Church to which Christ gave the power of the Keys, and the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, is an organic body of diverse members, wherein are eyes, ears, hands, and feet: Pastors, Rulers, and a Flock, which is lead and governed (1 Cor. 12.14-15; Rom. 12.4-6; Acts 20.28-29). But now believers joined in church covenant, destitute of church rulers, do not make up such an organic body. And therefore never in Scripture do we meet with a church, which exercised ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the power of the Keys, and yet was destitute of church rulers. See 1 Cor. 5.4; Acts 20.28-29; Rev. 2-3. Therefore to no church of believers, wanting rulers, are we to ascribe the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Contrary Opinion II. Officers are the Congregation’s servants.

II. Of those who affirm that the multitude of a church doth derive ecclesiastical power on the church Governors, and the church Governors are the believers’ servants properly so called, the Church’s mouth, hand, and instruments, by whose intervention she doth execute her decrees, so that the Church of believers, under Christ the Lord and Head of the Church, as his spouse and wife doth communicate government, stewardship, and legal exercise of jurisdiction, to some certain men chosen by herself, who as her servants and deputies, by an authority borrowed from the multitude, as the first and immediate subject of ecclesiastical authority, do govern the House of God, and exercise the chief acts of their function.

But we in this cause do from the holy Scriptures thus judge:

1. That all the functions and offices, and their authority, are instituted by Christ in the Church and House of God. And that the Governors of the Church do derive and receive the offices which they bear, and their power and authority, not from men but from Christ alone and his institution (Eph. 4.11-12; 1 Cor. 12.26-29; Acts 20.28). And that the power of the Keys and all authority of order and jurisdiction is primarily in Christ, which Christ doth immediately communicate to his Apostles and their successors therein.

2. That the multitude of believers in a church, by this nomination or designation of a person, on whom it may, according to Christ’s institution, be duly conferred, doth effect thus much: That the ecclesiastical office and the power thereof, by the donation of Christ, may be applied to this or that man, but doth not derive this power on that person. But the Presbytery of churches by a potestative mission, or authoritative ordination and imposition of hands, doth apply and send forth that person designed by the people’s choice, into the possession and exercise of that function and authority. So that church offices and their authority is immediately from Christ conferred on the church Governors, but the application of these offices to these or those men, is done by the potestative mission of the Presbytery, with the previous assent or nomination of the people.

3. The Pastors therefore in the execution of all acts of their office, are not the Church’s servants, properly called, but Governors, Guides, Fathers, Rulers in the Church, to whom the people are bound to obey, whose government, rod, and authority they ought to submit to and embrace with due subjection and reverence (Heb. 13.17; 1 Thes. 5.12-13; 1 Cor. 4.1). And therefore when they are called the servants of the faithful (2 Cor. 4.5), they are called by that name, not subjectively, as if they derived and held their authority from the Church—for then were they the servants of men not of God—but finaliter or objectively, because they are the servants of God for the Church, for whose good and benefit they labor. As Christ is called our servant (Mat. 20.28), and the angels are called ministering spirits (Heb. 1.14). Yet neither Christ nor the angels have the authority of their vocation from us, but exercise it for our good and service. The church officers therefore are servants, but servants of God and of Christ (1 Cor. 4.1), in whose name they are Ambassadors in all the acts of their ecclesiastical functions (2 Cor. 5.20), and are furnished with his commands (2 Cor. 5.18), are his Angels (Rev. 2.1), and stewards in his House (1 Cor. 4.1-3, 10).

Contrary Opinion III. Congregational power of excommunication.

III. We also reject the opposite opinion of those who teach that the exercise of excommunication cannot be duly and lawfully done, but by the judgement and decree of the people; so as the whole multitude of the church be the judge in the case of excommunication. Although we grant that no man may in the church be duly excommunicated without the knowledge and against the consent of the people, but that the exercise of the greater excommunication ought to be with the assent of the whole people, as was said before. Yet to set all the church members in the places of judges, we certainly believe would bring anarchy and confusion into the Church. And our assertion is proved:

1. From Mat. 16.17-18, where the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven are promised to Peter, as a Pastor and ordinary Ruler of the Church of God. For to those is promised the power of binding and loosing, of retaining and remitting sins (ver. 19), which authority is peculiar to Christ’s Ambassadors, whom he sendeth into the world with his authority (John 20.20-22; 2 Cor. 5.19-20). To those therefore is the exercise of the Keys in excommunication entrusted; and not to the whole people, to whom they are not promised.

2. From Mat. 18.17-18. We have shewed before, that this place is to be understood of a church representative, or company of Presbyters, to whom Christ hath given power, whereby they actually cast out the scandalous and obstinate, as heathens and publicans, from church communion—which power is not given to the multitude of believers.

3. Our assertion is evident from 1 Cor. 5.4-5, “You and my spirit being gathered together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, let such a man be delivered to Satan.” And this rebuke or church censure, was done “by many,” as he writes (2 Cor. 2.6). Surely, that by these many the Apostle understandeth not the whole multitude, is easily manifest. If all were present at the deliberating, everyone, even of the meanest capacity, may see there was no reason, why Paul should not have written, “of all,” for this had been very suitable to commend that cause which the Apostle was urging; for from the multitude of those who had by ecclesiastical discipline corrected the incestuous person, he endeavors to prevail with the Corinthians that they would now afford pardon to him upon his repentance. And further, let it be remembered, that these many, are described in the former place to be “gathered together with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 5.4). For since we know that this power is by Christ committed to the ministry of the Church, and lies in the administration of the spiritual Keys, we may easily guess that by the term many, is to be understood the company of Pastors and Elders, to whom the care of ecclesiastical discipline is committed.

Confirming Opinions.

Hence Bullinger on that place (1 Cor. 5) doth thus comment: “Therefore the ancient church had a holy Senate of Presbyters, which did diligently admonish offenders in the Church, sharply correct them; yea, and exclude them from church fellowship, to wit, if it appeared that no amendment might be expected.” And Hyperius noteth upon this place, That by Congregation must not simply be understood, the whole multitude, amongst whom are mingled many Jews, Ananiases, false brethren, men vicious, who would never suffer that such a sentence should be unanimously passed; but rather certain selected Elders, eminent for learning and piety, in whose power he would that the judgement of the Church should be in like causes: so that these by a synecdoche are taken for the whole church. Which hence appears, that Mat. 18 after it was said, ‘Tell the Church,’ it is added, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, I will be in the midst of them.’ And 2 Cor. 2.6 he saith, ‘Sufficient is the punishment that was inflicted by many.’” And Tertullian in his Apologetic, ch. 39, saith, that all the approved Elders used to preside, “If any do so offend as that he is to be debarred from communicating in prayer and assemblies, and all holy commerce, all the approved Elders did preside, who attained that honour not for money, but desert.


One thought on “Of Ecclesiastical Power | Willem Apollonius

  1. […] 2. It appears from the Apostles’ practice, wherein Ordinations of Pastors were perfor­med by Pastors and Ministers that had the Government of Churches (see Acts 6.2-3, 13.1-3 & 14.23; Titus 1.5, etc.). Nor is there any example to be found wherein the Ordina­tion of Pastors was performed by the multi­tude of the Church without Presbyters. And because the practice of the Apostolical Church is our safest rule of Church Government, we judge that by God’s Ordinance it cannot be that a Pastor in settled state of Churches should be ordained, and put in possession of his ecclesiastical function, by the multitude of the Church. See also what was said, Chap. 4 con­cerning Ecclesiastical Power. […]


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