Belgic Confession 30 & 31: Church Government and Church Officers

13 Apr


We believe that this true church must be governed according to the Spiritual order which our Lord has taught us in His Word.1 There should be ministers or pastors to preach the Word of God and to administer the sacraments;2 there should also be elders3 and deacons4 who, together with the pastors, form the council of the church.5 By these means they preserve the true religion; they see to it that the true doctrine takes its course, that evil men are disciplined in a spiritual way and are restrained, and also that the poor and all the afflicted are helped and comforted according to their need.6 By these means everything will be done well and in good order when faithful men are chosen7 in agreement with the rule that the apostle Paul gave to Timothy.8

1. Acts 20:28; Eph 4:112; 1 Tim 3:15; Heb 13:20-21. 2. Luke 1:2; Luke 10:16; John 20:23; Rom 10:14; 1 Cor 4:1; 2 Cor 5:1920; 2 Tim 4:2. 3. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5. 4. 1 Tim 3:8-10. 5. Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 4:14. 6. Acts 6:1-4;Titus 1:7-9. 7. 1 Cor 4:2. 8. 1 Tim 3.


We believe that ministers of God’s Word, elders, and deacons ought to be chosen to their offices by lawful election of the church, with prayer and in good order, as stipulated by the Word of God.1 Therefore everyone shall take care not to intrude by improper means. He shall wait for the time that he is called by God so that he may have sure testimony and thus be certain that his call comes from the Lord.2 Ministers of the Word, in whatever place they are, have equal power and authority, for they are all servants of Jesus Christ,3 the only universal Bishop and the only Head of the church.4 In order that this holy ordinance of God may not be violated or rejected, we declare that everyone must hold the ministers of the Word and the elders of the church in special esteem because of their work,5 and as much as possible be at peace with them without grumbling or arguing.

1. Acts 1:2324; Acts 6:2. 3. 2. Acts 13:2; 1 Cor 12:28; 1 Tim 4:14; 1 Tim 5:22; Heb 5:4. 3. 2 Cor 5:20; 1 Pet 5:1-4. 4. Mat 23:8-10; Eph 1:22, Eph 5:23. 5. 1 Thes 5:1213; 1 Tim 5:17; Heb 13:17.

Caveat: Reformed churches disagree on whether there are two officers (elder and deacon) or three (elder, pastor, deacon).  I affirm my own denomination’s view (twofold office).  It seems the Belgic Confession presents a threefold system.

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