X04.03.......Laying on of the Hands of the presbytery--sounds impressive!!
"Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." (1Timothy 4:14)
Wow, sounds like impressive stuff!
When we read this verse in the Bible, our traditional, authoritarian "experience" believes that this is saying something very important.
Since we believe that gifts and ministry are a rarity, and are something which only come with much inspection and proving and testing by the people "in authority" within the church, we interpret this verse in a certain way. Authoritarian experience makes us believe that Timothy's gift and ministry were attained by some super special event, done exclusively by the "presbytery"--the elders--the "big-time" leaders of the church. This is something which does not happen to everyone! Ministry gifts are a rarity, are a special gift--and only given out by special permission of the big leaders of the church. Tradition often makes this into a ceremony--an "ordination"--something very special and rare, which only happens to someone with extraordinary gifts, who has been in the church for a long time and proven themselves trustworthy and reliant and educated properly--etc. etc. etc.
This is simply release.
This is simply the releasing of someone to serve God--the releasing of ministry from one believer to another. It is supposed to happen all the time. In the Bible it did. Jesus did it frequently. He "sent away" the 5,000 (the Greek word is to "release"). Jesus prayed for His followers that they would do all that He did and greater. This is the spirit of release--as demonstrated by Jesus--and being carried on quite properly in the church that is in the Bible.
The Bible church consisted of a group of leaders, often referred to
as bishops or elders ("presbytery" here). The rest of the church
were "deacons"--THE "5-FOLD" MINISTRY. In other words,
everyone in the church operated in the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists,
pastors and teachers. These ministries were what the church DID when they
were together. (Does this church sound different than your church?--you
bet it was!) Ministry was for every believer--gifts within the body--not
"over" others--but within all. Those gifts were spiritually transferred--"released" --from one believer to another.
So what did the "elders/bishops" do? Well, they did ministry also. They functioned in any or all ministry gifts. But, as people who had been believers for a longer time than others, they often would carry on the process of release toward the younger believers.
Timothy was a younger believer....
12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers,
in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
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. (1Timothy 4:12-14)
Notice that the young believer Timothy is told to minister--to teach, to give, (elsewhere to evangelize).
Makes sense doesn't it?
Leadership totally focused on releasing the other believers to serve God in the functions of apostles and prophets and teachers.
It sounds very free, and very effective--like it would really work.
Sounds like the Gospel would spread quickly if we did things this way.
Maybe we need to repent of our authoritarian traditions, and really get a hold of the church in the Bible.