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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) An elder in the early Christian church. See Bishop.

2. (n.) One ordained to the second order in the ministry; -- called also priest.

3. (n.) A member of a presbytery whether lay or clerical.

4. (n.) A Presbyterian.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

1. Words Used in the New Testament:

This latter word occurs in the New Testament once (1 Timothy 4:14), so rendered in both the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American). But the original Greek occurs also in Luke 22:66, in the Revised Version (British and American) translated "the assembly of the elders," in the King James Version simply "the elders"; and in Acts 22:5, translated in English Versions of the Bible "the estate of the elders"; in both of which occurrences the word might more accurately be translated "the presbytery," just as it is in 1 Timothy 4:14. Besides these three occurrences of the neuter singular presbuterion, the masculine plural presbuteroi, always translated "elders," is often used to indicate the same organization or court as the former, being applied earlier in New Testament history to the Jewish Sanhedrin (Matthew 27:1; Matthew 28:12 Luke 9:22 Acts 4:5, 8), and later in the development of the church to its governing body, either in general (Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22 f), or locally (Acts 14:23; Acts 16:4; Acts 20:17 1 Timothy 5:17 Titus 1:5, etc.). It is sometimes used of the body, or succession, of religious teachers and leaders of the nation's past (Matthew 15:2 Hebrews 11:2). The word "presbyter" has been contracted by later ecclesiastical usage into the title "priest," although in the New Testament they are by no means identical, but on the contrary are often explicitly distinguished (Mark 14:43 Acts 23:14).

2. Based on the Synagogue Plan:

The local synagogue of the Jewish church was under the care and control of a body of representative men called "the elders" (Luke 7:3). Naturally the Christian church, beginning at Jerusalem and formed on the lines of the synagogue, took over the eldership into its own organization (Acts 11:30; Acts 15:2 1 Peter 5:1, etc.); so also in all the cities in which the missionary activities of the apostles made church organization necessary, the local synagogues readily suggested and supplied a feasible plan for such organization (Acts 14:23 Titus 1:5). The mother-church at Jerusalem, formed after the pattern of the synagogue, might well have offered to the churches formed elsewhere under apostolic preaching the only conceivable plan. We do not know from the New Testament passages how these elders were selected; we must infer that they were elected by the membership of the churches, as under the synagogue plan; they were then installed into their office by apostles (Acts 14:23), or by apostolic helpers (Titus 1:5), or by "the presbytery" (1 Timothy 4:14), or by both together (2 Timothy 1:6; compare 1 Timothy 4:14). So early as the Pauline letters the office of presbyter seems already to have borne the distinction of two functions: teaching and ruling (1 Timothy 5:17; compare Acts 20:17, 28 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13 1 Peter 5:2).

3. Principle Found in the New Testament:

In the New Testament history and epistles it does not appear that the various churches of a district were already organized into an ecclesiastical body known as "the presbytery," having some basis of representation from the constituent churches. But the absence of such mention is far from being final proof that such district organizations did not exist; little dependence can be placed on mere negative arguments. Moreover, the council of apostles and elders in Jerusalem, to which Paul and Barnabas appealed (Acts 15), is positive evidence of the principle of representation and central authority. The various district organizations would quickly follow as administrative and judicial needs demanded; such development came early in the growth of the church, so early that it is unmistakably present in the post-apostolic age.

In Revelation the 24 elders occupy a conspicuous place in the ideal church (Revelation 4:4, 10; Revelation 5:6, etc.), sitting for those they represent, as an exalted presbytery, close to the throne of the Eternal One. "The four and twenty elders occupying thrones (not seats) around the throne are to be regarded as representatives of the glorified church; and the number, twice twelve, seems to be obtained by combining the number of the patriarchs of the Old Testament with that of the apostles of the New Testament" (Milligan on Revelation 4:4 in the Expositor's Bible).

4. In the Presbyterian Church:

Presbytery is the court, or representative body, in the Presbyterian Church next above the Session of the local church. The Session is composed of the ruling elders, elected by the membership of a particular church, with the minister as moderator or presiding officer. The Presbytery is composed of all the ordained ministers, or teaching elders, and one ruling elder from the Session of each church in a given district or community. To it now, as in New Testament times (1 Timothy 4:14), is committed the power of ordination; as also of installation and removal of ministers. It has supervision of the affairs which are general to the churches in its jurisdiction, and the power of review in all matters concerning the local churches (see Form of Government, Presbyterian Church in U.S.A., chapter x). The Presbytery elects the representatives composing the General Assembly, which is the highest court of the Presbyterian Church.

5. In Architecture:

In ecclesiastical architecture the presbytery is that part of the church structure which is set apart for the clergy, usually the space between altar and apse; sometimes used of the whole choir space, but ordinarily the word is more restricted in its meaning.


Edward Mack

4850. sumpresbuteros -- a fellow elder
... fellow elder. From sun and presbuteros; a co-presbyter -- presbyter, also an elder.
see GREEK presbuteros. see GREEK sun. (sumpresbuteros) -- 1 Occurrence. ...
// - 6k

4245. presbuteros -- elder
... older; as noun, a senior; specially, an Israelite Sanhedrist (also figuratively,
member of the celestial council) or Christian "presbyter" -- elder(-est), old. ...
// - 7k

1985. episkopos -- a superintendent, an overseer
... official title in civil life), overseer, supervisor, ruler, especially used with
reference to the supervising function exercised by an elder or presbyter of a ...
// - 8k


To the Presbyter Archibius.
... Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, LXI. To the Presbyter Archibius. I did
not let the two letters which I had just received from ...
/.../the ecclesiastical history of theodoret/lxi to the presbyter archibius.htm

To the Presbyter John.
... Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, LXII. To the Presbyter John. A saying
of one of the men who used to be called wise was, "Live ...
/.../the ecclesiastical history of theodoret/lxii to the presbyter john.htm

To Acacius the Presbyter.
... Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, CVIII. To Acacius the Presbyter. True
indeed is the promise of David's Psalm, for through him ...
/.../the ecclesiastical history of theodoret/cviii to acacius the presbyter.htm

To the Presbyter Martyrius.
... Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, XX. To the Presbyter Martyrius. Natural
disposition appears in us before resolution of character ...
/.../the ecclesiastical history of theodoret/xx to the presbyter martyrius.htm

To the Presbyter Basilius.
... Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, XIX. To the Presbyter Basilius. I have found the
right eloquent orator Athanasius to be just what your letter described him. ...
/.../the ecclesiastical history of theodoret/xix to the presbyter basilius.htm

To the Presbyter Theodotus.
... Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, CVII. To the Presbyter Theodotus. The
struggles which your piety has undergone on behalf of the ...
/.../the ecclesiastical history of theodoret/cvii to the presbyter theodotus.htm

To the Presbyter Renatus.
... Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, CXVI. To the Presbyter Renatus. We have
heard of the warm and righteous zeal of your holiness, and ...
/.../the ecclesiastical history of theodoret/cxvi to the presbyter renatus.htm

Li. To the Presbyter Agapius.
... Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, LI. To the Presbyter Agapius. The works of
virtue are admirable in themselves, but yet more admirable ...
/.../the ecclesiastical history of theodoret/li to the presbyter agapius.htm

The Presbyter
... BOOK I. ANTIOCH CHAPTER XII THE PRESBYTER. Salt is good; but if the salt have
lost its savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?"Luke 14:34. ...
/.../chapter xii the presbyter.htm

To Candidus, Presbyter and Archimandrite.
... Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, CXXVIII. To Candidus, Presbyter and
Archimandrite. I am afraid that the vigour of your godly soul ...
/.../the ecclesiastical history of theodoret/cxxviii to candidus presbyter and.htm

... 3. (n.) A member of a presbytery whether lay or clerical. 4. (n.) A Presbyterian.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. PRESBYTER; PRESBYTERY. ...
/p/presbyter.htm - 14k

Presbytery (1 Occurrence)
... officiating priest. 5. (n.) The residence of a priest or clergyman. Int.
Standard Bible Encyclopedia. PRESBYTER; PRESBYTERY. 1. Words ...
/p/presbytery.htm - 14k

Elder (34 Occurrences)
... Everywhere in the New Testament bishop and presbyter are titles given to
one and the same officer of the Christian church. He who ...
/e/elder.htm - 27k

... is evidently leading office-bearer of his church, and is identified with the Clement
whom Eusebius designates as third "bishop" (or chief presbyter) of Rome ...
/s/subapostolic.htm - 38k

... is evidently leading office-bearer of his church, and is identified with the Clement
whom Eusebius designates as third "bishop" (or chief presbyter) of Rome ...
/s/sub-apostolic.htm - 38k

Priest (500 Occurrences)
... Noah Webster's Dictionary. 1. (n.) A presbyter elder; a minister. ... 3. (n.) A presbyter;
one who belongs to the intermediate order between bishop and deacon. ...
/p/priest.htm - 88k

Bishop (4 Occurrences)
... Acts 20:17-28; 1 Peter 5:1, 2; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3). The term bishop is
never once used to denote a different office from that of elder or presbyter. ...
/b/bishop.htm - 40k

Literature (2 Occurrences)
... is evidently leading office-bearer of his church, and is identified with the Clement
whom Eusebius designates as third "bishop" (or chief presbyter) of Rome ...
/l/literature.htm - 82k

Revelation (52 Occurrences)
... about the authorship of the book is first heard of in the obscure sect of the Alogi
(end of the 2nd century), who, with Caius, a Roman presbyter (circa 205 AD ...
/r/revelation.htm - 89k

Apostle (25 Occurrences)
... 1. John the Apostle, and John the Presbyter: Thus the early traditions of the
churches are available for the life of John the son of Zebedee. ...
/a/apostle.htm - 87k

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