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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) A body of elders in the early Christian church.

2. (n.) A judicatory consisting of all the ministers within a certain district, and one layman, who is a ruling elder, from each parish or church, commissioned to represent the church in conjunction with the pastor. This body has a general jurisdiction over the churches under its care, and next below the provincial synod in authority.

3. (n.) The Presbyterian religion of polity.

4. (n.) That part of the church reserved for the officiating priest.

5. (n.) The residence of a priest or clergyman.

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

4244. presbuterion -- a body of elders
... pres-boo-ter'-ee-on) Short Definition: an assembly of elders Definition: an assembly
of elders, the Sanhedrin, officers of the church assembly, presbytery. ...
// - 7k

Innocent the Bishop of the Presbytery of Rome. He Sent an Embassy ...
... Book IX. Chapter VII."Innocent the Bishop of the Presbytery of Rome. He sent
an Embassy to Alaric. Jovius, Prefect of Italy. Embassy ...
/.../the ecclesiastical history of sozomenus/chapter vii innocent the bishop of.htm

The Westminster Standards in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
... The history of the origin of the schism is contained in the Circular Letter of the
late Cumberland Presbytery; the Reply to a Pastoral Letter of West Tennessee ...
/.../ 99 the westminster standards.htm

... The first presbytery in the United States was formed about 1794, by the voluntary
association of several ministers, who had received Presbyterian orders in ...
// book of religions/presbyterians.htm

The Life of Mr. Angus Macbean.
... determined fully to declare for the truth, whatever might be the consequence: And
accordingly in June 1687, he declined to sit in the presbytery, but continued ...
/.../howie/biographia scoticana scots worthies/the life of mr angus.htm

Ordination and Duties of the Clergy.
... Do Thou now also look down upon this Thy servant, who is put into the presbytery
by the vote and determination of the whole clergy; and do Thou replenish him ...
/.../various/constitutions of the holy apostles/sec iii ordination and duties of.htm

Of the Subject to whom to the Key of Church Priviledge, Power, or ...
... sentence. That of discretion is common to all the Brethren, as well as that
of authority belongeth to the Presbytery of that Church. ...
/.../chap iiii of the subject.htm

... Thus, he reads the cardinals of the eleventh century into the simple presbytery
of comprovincial bishops of the third century, [1113] just as he elsewhere lugs ...
/.../hippolytus/the refutation of all heresies/elucidations.htm

The Organization of the Apostolic Church.
... [251:5] Every Jewish congregation was governed by a bench of elders; and in every
city there was a smaller sanhedrim, or presbytery, consisting of twenty-three ...
/.../killen/the ancient church/chapter iii the organization of.htm

What the Keyes of the Kingdome of Heaven Be, and what their Power.
... will challenge no further power, either to the Presbytery, or to the Fraternatie
of the Church, then is more expressly granted to them in other Scriptures. ...
/.../the keyes of the kingdom of heaven and power thereof/chap i what the keyes.htm

To the Philadelphians
... flesh of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and one cup of his blood that makes us one, and
one altar, [251] just as there is one bishop along with the presbytery and the ...
/.../richardson/early christian fathers/to the philadelphians.htm

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

... 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

Timothy (28 Occurrences)
... The other act which was performed for Timothy's benefit, before he set out with
Paul, was that he was ordained by the presbytery or local council of presbyters ...
/t/timothy.htm - 38k

Prescribe (3 Occurrences)

/p/prescribe.htm - 7k

Ordination (12 Occurrences)
... 4) The gift of Timothy for evangelistic work seems to have been formally recognized
in two ways: (a) by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery (1 Timothy ...
/o/ordination.htm - 19k

Ordain (13 Occurrences)
... 4) The gift of Timothy for evangelistic work seems to have been formally recognized
in two ways: (a) by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery (1 Timothy ...
/o/ordain.htm - 19k

Bishop (4 Occurrences)
... In the case of the ordination of Timothy, which Paul says distinctly was by his
own laying on of hands and that of the presbytery, it is of great consequence ...
/b/bishop.htm - 40k

What is the Presbyterian Church, and what do Presbyterians believe? |

What is the Presbyterian Church (USA), and what do they believe? |

Presbytery: Dictionary and Thesaurus |

Bible ConcordanceBible DictionaryBible EncyclopediaTopical BibleBible Thesuarus
Presbytery (1 Occurrence)

1 Timothy 4:14
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.



Related Terms


Timothy (28 Occurrences)

Prescribe (3 Occurrences)

Ordination (12 Occurrences)

Ordain (13 Occurrences)

Bishop (4 Occurrences)

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