What is a church?

What is a church? Generally speaking, a church is a group of people who have gathered in order to hear the preaching of the word of God, participate in baptism and communion, and experience the fellowship of other believers. The word “church” in the Greek New Testament is ἐκκλησία, ekklēsía. It occurs 114 times and is translated into English in the NASB as ‘assembly’ (Acts 19:32, 39, 41), ‘congregation’ (Acts 7:38; Heb. 1:12), and ‘church’ (Matt. 16:18; Acts 5:11; Rom. 16:1, 1 Cor. 1:2, etc.)

In a normal situation, where people gather on a regular basis for the preaching of the word, there are elders and deacons. Some churches distinguish between overseers/bishops and elders even though the terms are used interchangeably.

Titus 1:5–7, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders [presbúteros] in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7 For the overseer [epískopos] must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,”

In the above verses, the word for elders is πρεσβύτερος presbúteros. The word for overseer/bishops is ἐπίσκοπος epískopos. Different translations render epískopos into English as ‘overseer’ (ESV, NASB95, LEB, NIV84, CSB) and ‘bishop’ (KJV, NKJV, RSV).

Elders, Overseers/Bishops, and Deacons

Elders, overseers/bishops, and deacons are to be men, not women. As I noted above, in Titus 1:5-7 above, the elder and overseer/bishop are used interchangeably. It is said of both that they must be the “husband of one wife.” This is not possible for a woman to hold this position.

Likewise, deacons must also be male.

1 Timothy 3:12, “Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.”

Popular Opinion

It is not the popular opinion that the offices of elder, overseer/Bishop, and Deacon are to be held only by men. But that is how the Scriptures instruct us. but culturally based. There theologically significant.

1 Timothy 2:12–13, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.”

You’ll notice that the reason a woman is not to be in authority over a man (in the church context per 1 Tim. 3:15) is because of the created order designated by Paul.


So, the church is a gathering of believers who seek to hear the preaching of the word, participate in baptism and communion, and fellowship with one another. In a church, there should be elders and deacons who are male.


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