In the Scripture, there is an ordination for elders and an ordination for deacons. When a minister is ordained, he is ordained as an elder. In the early morning church, while there were different gifts and offices and there were local ministers and general ministers laboring in the larger field, there was one order of ministers. The word elder is an umbrella term for bishop, presbyter, overseer, etc., and is sometimes used interchangeably in the scripture. Titus 1:5 uses the word elder (presbuteros=presbyters) and then proceeds to give the qualifications using the word bishop (episkopos=overseer) in verse seven. It is one and the same office and was only polluted by the apostasy that would come at a later date. On this subject, commentator Adam Clarke stated: “It appears that those who are called elders in this place are the same as those termed bishops in Titus 1:7. We have many proofs that bishops and elders were of the same order in the apostolic church, though afterward they became distinct.”
Ordination is ordaining one as an elder, NOT to a specific function of ministry in the church, such as a pastor, missionary, or evangelist. An ordained elder in the prophetic ministry is one who has been “designated, officially by the church as morally, mentally, and spiritually qualified to fill the place of a preacher in the church” (The Apostolic Church, Charles E. Brown, 1947, p151).
When apostasy set in and eventually developed into Roman Catholicism, the power of the ministry grew very quickly and man assumed the role that the Holy Spirit wanted to fill in people’s lives. As the centuries progressed, a hierarchy developed with different levels of official leadership in the ministry that did not exist in the early morning church.
The Scripture teaches that the government of the church is on Christ’s shoulders, but it also teaches that there is human leadership by the Holy Spirit through the bestowal of spiritual gifts. It is incumbent upon every minister that claims to operate with the gifting of the Holy Spirit to have that claim subject to the judgment of other Holy Ghost filled ministers as it relates to the exercise of his gifts. “And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Corinthians 14:32). This is not accomplished by a hierarchy of ordained ministers but through the humble, working together of Holy Spirit led men of God.