The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 9)

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read the series so far.

Chapter Six: Officers in the Synagogue and the Church

Officers in the Synagogue

The classes of officers in the synagogue as reported in the NT are three in number, namely, “rulers of the synagogue,” “elders,” and “attendants.” The offices as related in the Mishnah include these three, but also others.

Ruler of the Synagogue

The Gospels mention two men who are identified as “ruler of the synagogue” (archisunagogos): Jairus (Mark 5:22, 35, 36, 38; Luke 8:49) and an unnamed individual who rebuked Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Mark calls Jairus archisunagogos four times, while Luke does so once; Matthew in his parallel account does not do so at all. When first introducing Jairus, Luke does use the virtually identical term “ruler of the synagogue” (archon tes sunagoges, 8:41) which is simply the same Greek elements not combined into a compound word. Matthew refers to him simply as “ruler” (archon, Matthew 9:19, 23), making no specific mention of any connection to the synagogue. It is of note that Mark identifies Jairus as “one of the rulers of the synagogue” (Mark 5:22), which suggests or at least allows for a plurality of such rulers within a single congregation.

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Are Leaders Born or Made?

From Paraklesis, a resource of Baptist Bible Seminary (Spring, 2013). Used by permission.

All of us have witnessed those who seem to be “born leaders.” They appear to be naturally gifted to go in front and forge the way for others. Taking a group of people to a necessary and better destination seems easy for them.

They always seem to do well in leading. Some of us who aspire to lead and for whom things have not come so easily have looked at such people with a little bit of jealousy.

Three approaches to training leaders

Is there any hope for the rest of us? Is it possible for those who are not naturally gifted in leadership to be taught how to be leaders?

The first suggested answer is that not everyone can be a leader. Under this belief, no training would be necessary. All that is needed is for the circumstances to supply a need for the inherent leadership qualities of an individual to blossom. One example might be President Abraham Lincoln, whose great leadership presented itself to history because of the occasion of the American Civil War.

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