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Louis R Torres
Before discussing the subject of ordination, we need to give thought to at least one basic truth. God is the One that determines what is holy. He is the One who can set things aside and make them Holy. In Creation, He set aside the Seventh day as “Holy.” In Genesis 2:2-4 He determines which day is holy. There are millions who say that either, “it does not matter, every day is holy,” or, “Sunday is the Lord’s Day.”
When we determine that it is not fair on the basis of logic as to why Sunday is better than Saturday, we are standing on Holy Ground. Or, when we diminish the sacredness of the Sabbath, and call every day holy, we are putting ourselves in the stead of God. In His divine far-reaching wisdom, God has dictated the order of all things. Each has a divine purpose. That is why Paul wrote the rhetorical question: “who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay” (Romans 9:20, 21)?
But God will judge on the basis of what He thinks and ordained, and not on the basis of what man thinks. We are told: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14). The same is true in James 2:10-12.
Let’s now consider the question of ordination. What is ordination, and who determines, and qualifies the candidate? The term “ordination” does not appear in the Old Testament. The word “ordain” does. Its meaning is to: “fix,” or “found,” as in foundation or establishing. In the New Testament it appears in Titus 1:5. Here it is in reference to the setting aside of Elders.
The act of setting things apart for a holy purpose by anointing or the pouring of oil was first registered in Genesis 28:18, 19. “And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel.”
This practice of using oil for consecrating things for a holy purpose was continued into the Theocracy period. The Levites were thus consecrated with oil. “Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him. And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them” (Exodus 29:7, 8). The actual word “Anoint” (in Hebrew “mashach”) means to smear, or spread a liquid. The laying on of hands was another means of setting aside for a holy purpose. “And thou shalt bring the Levites before the LORD: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites: And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the LORD” (Numbers 8:10, 11).”
The means of setting aside with oil for a holy purpose was done for kings also as in the case of Saul. God said: “To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me” (1 Samuel 9:16). David was likewise anointed (See 1 Samuel 16:13). This setting aside was considered sacred. David considered Saul the “Anointed of the Lord” in spite of Saul’s actions. (See 1 Samuel 24:6.)
Anointing was also done for separate and distinct offices. The Lord said: “And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room (1 Kings 19:16).” Same oil, but completely distinct responsibilities. Neither was to cross over—the king was not ordained as a prophet; the prophet was not ordained as a king.
The term “anointed” was used in prophetic language concerning the Messiah. (See Daniel 9:25-27.) But when Jesus came, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit (Olive oil was a symbol of the Spirit) rather than with oil (Acts 10:38). Paul uses the term to establish his calling. “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God” (2 Corinthians 1:21).
The manner of setting aside with anointing continued through the Old Testament period. It is not known when this practice ceased. We simply are told that in the New Testament, Jesus used the anointing of oil for the sick. (See Mark 6:13.) When Jesus called his disciples, he set aside only 12. Many of both genders were following him, but he only chose men. The Bible record is that: “He goeth up into an mountain and calleth unto Him whom He will: and they came unto Him. And He ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils” (Mark 3:14).
It is not clear when the change came in, but Jesus passed on the right of apostleship by laying on of hands, rather than using the oil. Jesus is recorded to lay hands for healing. See Matthew 19:15, Mark 6:5, Luke 4:40; 13:13. It is assumed that this is the manner that he used for setting apart his disciples, in as much as this is the manner that the Apostles used to confer authority to the elders and deacons of the Christian churches.
The laying on of hands was practiced in the Old Testament. It was “A ceremony of blessing as in the case of Jacob conferring his blessings on Joseph’s sons (Genesis 48:14), and consecration (Numbers 8:10), attended and followed by the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 34:9). It is important to note that though Jacob had a daughter named Dinah, only the sons were blessed.
To the Jew, this form was a significant one. When a Jewish father blessed his children, he laid his hands reverently upon their heads. When an animal was devoted to sacrifice, the hand of the one invested with priestly authority was laid upon the head of the victim (Gospel Workers, p. 442).
In the Christian church the laying on of hands in the rite of ordination combines the three aspects of blessing, succession to office, and authority to teach (Acts 6:6; 13:3; 2 Tim. 1:6) (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary on Numbers 27:18).
Once Jesus had ascended, the apostles continued the practice of ordaining as their Lord had given example. In the New Testament, setting aside for service was accomplished by the laying on of hands. (See Matthew 19:15.) In the book of Acts we are introduced into this practice. One text says: “Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them” (Acts 6:6). “Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection” (Acts 1:22). Paul continued the same practice. “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed” (Acts 14:23).
Ordination is vested with Authority:
The Old Testament priests were anointed with oil. And when they were thus set aside, it was with full authority to officiate in that office. “And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office” (Exodus 28:41). “And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons’ after him, to be anointed therein, and to be consecrated in them. And that son that is priest in his stead shall put them on seven days, when he cometh into the tabernacle of the congregation to minister in the holy place. And thou shalt take the ram of the consecration, and seethe his flesh in the holy place” (Exodus 29:29- 31). See also Leviticus 8:29, 30, Numbers 3:3.
The transfer of power from Moses to Joshua was conferred when Moses laid his hands on Joshua. “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened into him, and did as the lord commanded Moses” (Deuteronomy 34:9). This record is registered to authenticate Joshua’s authority over Israel. This transfer of power was done in the presence of Israel. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in who, is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his word shall they come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. And Moses did as the Lord commanded him: and he took Joshua , and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses” (Numbers 27:18-23).
When Saul, the first king of Israel was anointed with oil, he was given authority. “Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?” (1 Samuel 10:1). The same is true with David, “So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel” (2 Samuel 5:3). “I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him” (Psalm 89:20, 21). To Solomon, David’s son, was transferred the authority and kingly power in the same manner. “And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and anointed him unto the LORD to be the chief governor, and Zadok to be priest” (1 Chronicle 29:22).
When Christ called his disciple the record states: “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils” (Mark 3:14). To this Mrs. White wrote,
It was at the ordination of the Twelve that the first step was taken in the organization of the church that after Christ’s departure was to carry on His work on the earth. Of this ordination the record says, ‘He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto Him whom He would: and they came unto Him. And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach.’ Mark 3:13, 14 (Acts of the Apostles, p. 18).
As in the Old Testament the twelve patriarchs stood as representatives of Israel, so the twelve apostles stand as representatives of the gospel church (Gospel Workers, p. 445).
Paul declares, “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity’” (1 Timothy 2:7). See also Mark 3:14.
Their ordination was a public recognition of their divine appointment to bear to the Gentiles the glad tidings of the gospel. Both Paul and Barnabas had already received their commission from God Himself, and the ceremony of the laying on of hands added no new grace or virtual qualification. It was an acknowledged form of designation to an appointed office and a recognition of one’s authority in that office. By it the seal of the church was set upon the work of God (Acts of the Apostles, p. 161).
Before being sent forth as missionaries to the heathen world, these apostles [Saul and Barnabus] were solemnly dedicated to God by fasting and prayer and the laying on of hands. Thus they were authorized by the church, not only to teach the truth, but to perform the rite of baptism, and to organize churches, being invested with full ecclesiastical authority (Gospel Workers, p. 441).
The Lord employs various instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His purpose, and while some with special talents are chosen to devote all their energies to the work of teaching and preaching the gospel, many others, upon whom human hands have never been laid in ordination, are called to act an important part in soulsaving (Acts of the Apostles, p. 355. See also Daughters of God, p. 75).
Take Your Shoes Off, For The Ground On Which You Stand Is Holy Ground
Election by divine dictate:
Though Rueben was the first born, God passed him by and chose Levi for the priesthood. It was God’s choice. God said:
And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’ by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it is an heave offering: and it shall be an heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offerings, even their heave offering unto the LORD. And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons’ after him, to be anointed therein, and to be consecrated in them (Exodus 29:28, 29).
Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle (Numbers 3:6).
And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the LORD) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel (Numbers 3:41)
God set them aside.
When God elects, it is not safe to disregard His divine will. When Uzza touched the Ark he died (1 Chronicles 13:9, 10). There was divine instruction as to who was qualified, and therefore able to touch, or handle the ark. See numbers 4:19, 20; cf. Numbers 1:51; 4:15; 7:9. When Saul offered a sacrifice, he was rejected as king (1 Samuel 13:11-15). He presumed to offer that which only a priest was ordained to do. When Achan took that which was sacred, he was stoned (Joshua 7:19-26). When Ananias, with Sapphira kept a portion that they had consecrated, they died (Acts 5:1-11).
God determines what is holy and who is holy. Those mentioned above that suffered divine retribution did so because they presumed to handle the holy, or appropriate to themselves that which they were not elected to do.
In heaven God set up a hierarchy. There are Seraphims, and Cherubims. However, all in heaven are satisfied. None desires each other’s position. To do so is to repeat the daring of Lucifer to elevate himself to a position only designated for the Creator.
In conclusion, Biblical ordination is a God-ordained act of setting men aside for a holy office, and thus by it, is conferred on him all ecclesiastical authority. It is a divine-directed mode of election. Throughout the entire Bible all of those set aside by anointing or the laying on of hands, were of male gender. While it is true that there were female prophetess, and Queens, there is no record that they were anointed. All who were set aside by anointing, ordination, or laying on of hands were males.
Priesthood of Believers
The phrase “Priesthood of Believers” surfaces when the issue of ordaining women is introduced. However, from whence comes this term? I did a search throughout the Bible to find this phrase. I could not find it. Since it is not a Biblical term, whence its origin? It is important to note that this is not a Biblical phrase. Rather it is a coined modern phrase suggested to have Biblical roots when in reality it is a twist of the Scriptures.
The actual text contorted is:
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. . . . But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:5, 9).
Peter is taking this concept from the Old Testament where God says to Israel:
And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. . . . And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken (Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 26:19).
The question is: what did God mean by this proclamation? Did He intend that everybody in Israel—adults and children, male and female become priests? What did Moses understand concerning the declaration? When Moses was told by the Lord to convey what he had said to Israel, the record states, “And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him” (Exodus 19:7).
Moses did not call the women and men to tell them what God had just declared. Rather he called for the elders to declare the proclamation. God’s divine intention was that the entire nation would be governed by Himself directing a holy priesthood. The next question is, what did God intend would be the makeup of this priesthood? How would He demonstrate or make concrete the interpretation of this declaration?
The Lord rendered the interpretation of this declaration when He said:
And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations (Exodus 40:13-15).
In the New Testament we find an Apostolic commentary by Paul concerning the priesthood:
And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham. . . . If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? (Hebrews 7:5, 11).
It is essential to notice that God himself gave the interpretation and the meaning to the statement. It is therefore not subject to doubt or conjecture concerning His will. By setting up the Tabernacle and its services, then assigning only males to serve as priests, God speaks loud and clear giving a concrete interpretation as to the meaning of the proclamation, “a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.”
What then was Peter’s meaning? It was obviously the practice both in the Old Testament and the New to address the family and nation by its leaders. In the fall of Adam and Eve, God held Adam responsible. He was the head of the family. See Genesis 3:16-21. After the fall, God said:
Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24).
Take special note that God does not say, “behold the man and the woman,” but rather, “man!” In the fourth Commandment God addresses both husband and wife by only mentioning the man. See Exodus 20:8-11. There is no question that God holds the man responsible for the spiritual wellbeing of the family, the same was true with the church, and nation.
When Peter was writing to the “scattered strangers,” he was using the same avenue of communication as was practiced in those days. He sent the message through “Silvanus a faithful brother” from the “church that is at Babylon” (chapter 5:12, 13). Notice that the subject matter in chapter two is addressing the believers in general, but channeling his counsels through the men. In verse 19 he says, “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.”
In chapter 3, he splits his counsel and addresses wives in particular, and then the husband. Then in chapter 4 he returns to the general counsel by addressing the congregants through the men.
And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf (1 Peter 4:8-16).
It would have been highly unlikely for the Apostles to bypass the men or elders of the church and write to the wives, or women to give advice to the men. That is why he wrote in chapter 5, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the suffering of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed” (1 Peter 5:1). It is only the apostle John who writes a personal pastoral letter to the “elect lady,” inserted in the Bible. See 2 John. Otherwise, all counsels sent to the churches were sent to the elders or leaders, and read by them to the churches. These church leaders were all men. In fact the very title “Bishop” is always applied to the male gender, and never to women.
Concerning this fact Paul writes, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach” (1 Timothy 3:1, 2). Notice Paul does not say, “If anyone desire to be a Bishop.” He identifies the gender who is permitted to desire the office—“man.”
For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers (Titus 1:7-9).
“For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25). This title used for Christ by Peter is analogously transferred to human under-shepherds.
The word “elders” or “elder” is generally used as a title for men leading out in the Christian church. It is only used once when making a contrast between the young women and elder women. Paul using the term as an adjective writes: “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1, 2). But in all other cases it is used to refer to the male leaders of God’s church. For example: “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons” (Acts 20:17, 18).
According to Strong’s Lexicon a “Bishop” is defined as: an overseer:
1a) A man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent
1b) The superintendent, elder, or overseer of a Christian church
The term “elders” on the other hand is used: “among the Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches) The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably.” Strong’s Analytical Lexicon on the word, “elders.”
When Korah, Dathan and Abiram rebelled against Moses, the argument used is precisely the assertion made today—that is, “everyone is now a priest.” Notice their rationale.
And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? (Numbers 16:2, 3).
They were adamant that “every one of them,” “is holy.” They also argued that Moses was lifting up himself above the congregation. They might have been sincere. But sincerity does not establish truth. They were sincerely wrong. All had not been called to be priests. God had made his selection. And when they chided against Moses as supposed advocates for the holiness of the people, in reality they were in rebellion against God.
So, the conclusion of this matter is that Peter is using the same declaration and analogy from the Old Testament. He thus intended to convey the reality that just as God had chosen Israel to function as a nation under the leadership of the priesthood, (that was made up of males) he intended for the gentile churches, and all believers to consider themselves in the same relationship with God as ancient Israel. For it was the priest that offered sacrifices in the Old Testament, and who were to lead in the spiritual matters of Israel. It is in the same sense that God’s New Testament church leaders were to hold sacred the spiritual responsibilities of the churches. This was not to say that every member or believer was to be a priest.
In the New Testament the title was changed from “priest,” to “elder.” Suggesting that the earthly priesthood ended, giving way to the heavenly priesthood of Christ, and creating a new order. The church would not be led by “priests,” but rather by “elders!” God would be their God, leading a church with holy leaders as in times past.
Adventist Historical View on Ordination
I decided to look at E.G. White’s statements on ordination. These were 93 in number using the term. I considered each one to see what was the context. What I have discovered is that each time she uses the term, she uses it in association with men being called, or ordained. Not once have I found a reference or consideration in her writings, which include a woman being called to be a minister. There are 1049 references using the word, “ordained.” I only have had time to read 107. Out of all of them, (the majority of the time) the word is used with the sense of “establishing,” “mandating,” etc. None that I have read referring to a call to be a pastor ever mentions a woman.
There are statements referring to women having hands laid on as deaconesses and gospel workers, but never as pastors. There are statements that speak of people who can work for the Lord without having hands laid on them in ordination. Those statements are included below.
Therefore, the more I study the subject, and consider the attitude of some, the more convinced I am that ordination is today being treated as nothing more than a mere title, rather than a divine calling for men to enter full time ministry.
Summary and Conclusion
To sum up this matter:
- Men, not women, were elected to the office of priest or elder in the Bible.
- The election in the Bible was by God in the Old Testament, and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. as in the case of the upper room experience. Though there were women among the 120 believers, the Spirit directed the Apostles to replace Judas with another male. (See Acts chapter 1.)
- The New Testament model of the “priesthood of believers” never implied, or by practice, gave evidence that all believers were priests, for the church was managed by elders. Church issues were resolved by the Apostles and elders. (See Acts chapter 15.)
- Only men were ordained as priests, kings, or elders by anointing with oil or the laying on of hands. The ordination gave the recipient either kingly, or ecclesiastical authority.
The selection of men to be priests or elders was God elected not based on culture. For, in the Old Testament the only woman priest was Jezebel, a practice based on paganism in the surrounding nations of Israel. In Christ’s day the heathen religions had women priestess. And today, that practice still continues.
My wife and I have trained many women to be effective soul winners. Never did any of them need to be ordained as pastors or elders in order to be successful in the work of ministry for the lost.
Various Notes Pertaining to Ellen White
“For many years Ellen White was voted Ministerial Credentials by the Michigan Conference (See E.G. RH, Sept. 10, 1872), and then later by the General Conference. However, she was never ordained by human hands, nor did she ever perform a wedding, organize a church, or conduct a baptism” (Daughters of God, p. 248).
Deaconess type of work:
“Women who are willing to consecrate some of their time to the service of the Lord should be appointed to visit the sick, look after the young, and minister to the necessities of the poor. They should be set apart to this work by prayer and laying on of hands. In some cases they will need to counsel with the church officers or the minister; but if they are devoted women, maintaining a vital connection with God, they will be a power for good in the church. This is another means of strengthening and building up the church.” Review and Herald, July 9, 1895. Daughters of God, p. 249). (Notice that this woman though having hands laid on, is not considered a church officer, or minister.)
Women were ordained as deaconess, but never elders or pastors in E.G. White’s time:
“A number of women were ordained as deaconess during Ellen White’s Australian ministry. On August 10, 1895, the nominating committee at the Ashfield Church in Sydney rendered its report, which was approved. The Clerk’s minutes for that date state: “Immediately following the election, the officers were called to the front where pastors Corliss and McCullagh set apart the elder, deacons, [and] deaconesses by prayer and the laying on of hands” (Daughters of God, p. 249).
“Several years later, in the same church, W. C. White officiated at the ordination of the church officers. The minutes of the Ashfield church for January 7, 1900, state: “The previous Sabbath officers had been nominated and accepted for the current year, and today Elder White ordained and laid hands on the Elders, Deacon, and Deaconesses.” (Adventist Review, January 16, 1986. Daughters of God, p. 249).
People can work without being ordained:
“While some with special talents are chosen to devote all their energies to the work of teaching and preaching the gospel, many others, upon whom human hands have never been laid in ordination, are called to act an important part in soulsaving. . . . The self-sacrificing servant of God who labors untiringly in word and doctrine, carries on his heart a heavy burden. . . . His wages do not influence him in his labor. . . . From heaven he received his commission, and to heaven he looks for his recompense when the work entrusted to him is done” (Conflict and Courage, p. 342).
“Aquila and Priscilla were not called to give their whole time to the ministry of the gospel, yet these humble laborers were used by God to show Apollos the way of truth more perfectly. The Lord employs various instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His purpose, and while some with special talents are chosen to devote all their energies to the work of teaching and preaching the gospel, many others, upon whom human hands have never been laid in ordination, are called to act an important part in soulsaving” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 355).
Mrs. White refers to men only as candidates for the Ordained ministry, or Eldership:
1. “God has repeatedly shown that persons should not be encouraged into the field without unmistakable evidence that He has called them. The Lord will not entrust the burden for his flock to unqualified individuals. Those whom God calls must be men of deep experience, tried and proved, men of sound judgment, men who will dare to reprove sin in the spirit of meekness, men who understand how to feed the flock. God knows the heart, and He knows whom to select” (Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 209).
2. “After these have had some experience, there is still another work to be done for them. They should be presented before the Lord in earnest prayer that He would indicate by His Holy Spirit if they are acceptable to Him. The apostle says: “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” In the days of the apostles the ministers of God did not dare to rely upon their own judgment in selecting or accepting men to take the solemn and sacred position of mouthpiece for God. They selected the men whom their judgment would accept, and then they placed them before the Lord to see if He would accept them to go forth as His representatives. No less than this should be done now” (Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 406).
“In many places we meet men who have been hurried into responsible positions as elders of the church when they are not qualified for such a position. They have not proper government over themselves. Their influence is not good. The church is in trouble continually in consequence of the defective character of the leader. Hands have been laid too suddenly upon these men” (Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 406).
“Ministers of God should be of good repute, capable of discreetly managing an interest after they have aroused it. We stand in great need of competent men who will bring honor instead of disgrace upon the cause which they represent. Ministers should be examined especially to see if they have an intelligent understanding of the truth for this time, so that they can give a connected discourse upon the prophecies or upon practical subjects. If they cannot clearly present Bible subjects they need to be hearers and learners still. They should earnestly and prayerfully search the Scriptures, and become conversant with them, in order to be teachers of Bible truth to others. All these things should be carefully and prayerfully considered before men are hurried into the field of labor” (Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 407).
3. “No man should be set apart as a teacher of the people while his own teaching or example contradicts the testimony God has given His servants to bear in regard to diet, for this will bring confusion. His disregard of health reform unfits him to stand as the Lord’s messenger” (Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 378).
The term or title “elder” is a masculine title and Biblically speaking, never applied to women.
The title “elders” is found 179 times in the entire Bible. None of them ever refers to a woman. (See Strong’s Exhaustive Lexicon.)
1. Concerning the Jerusalem Council convened to determine the “Gentile” issue; Mrs. White wrote: “The entire body of Christians was not called to vote upon the question. The “apostles and elders,” men of influence and judgment, framed and issued the decree, which was thereupon generally accepted by the Christian churches. Not all, however, were pleased with the decision; there was a faction of ambitious and self-confident brethren who disagreed with it. These men assumed to engage in the work on their own responsibility. They indulged in much murmuring and faultfinding, proposing new plans and seeking to pull down the work of the men whom God had ordained to teach the gospel message. From the first the church has had such obstacles to meet and ever will have till the close of time” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 196).
2. “Since His ascension Christ has carried forward His work on the earth by chosen ambassadors, through whom He speaks to the children of men and ministers to their needs. The great Head of the church superintends His work through the instrumentality of men ordained by God to act as His representatives” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 360).
3. “Peter here used a figure of speech familiar to the priests. The prophets had spoken of the rejected stone; and Christ Himself, speaking on one occasion to the priests and elders, said: “Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:42-44). (Acts of the Apostles, p. 64).
Workers not ordained, still recognized by heaven
1. “Have you tasted of the powers of the world to come? Have you been eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God? Then, although ministerial hands may not have been laid upon you in ordination, Christ has laid His hands upon you and has said: “Ye are My witnesses” (Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 444).
2. “There are many who are laborers together with God whom we do not discern. The hands of ministers have never been laid upon them in ordination for the work; but nevertheless they are wearing the yoke of Christ, and exert a saving influence in working in different lines to win souls to Christ. The success of our work depends upon our love to God and our love to our fellowmen. When there is harmonious action among the individual members of the church, when there is love and confidence manifested by brother to brother, there will be proportionate force and power in our work for the salvation of men. Oh, how greatly we need a moral renovation! Without the faith that works by love, you can do nothing. May the Lord give you hearts to receive this testimony” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 187).
3. “Aquila and Priscilla were not called to give their whole time to the ministry of the gospel, yet these humble laborers were used by God to show Apollos the way of truth more perfectly. The Lord employs various instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His purpose; and while some with special talents are chosen to devote all their energies to the work of teaching and preaching the gospel, many others, upon whom human hands have never been laid in ordination, are called to act an important part in soulsaving” (Welfare Ministry, p. 63).
“There is a large field open before the self-supporting gospel worker. Many may gain valuable experiences in ministry while toiling a portion of the time at some form of manual labor, and by this method strong workers may be developed for important service in needy fields” (Welfare Ministry, p. 64).
4. “Brethren and sisters, how much work have you done for God during the past year? Do you think that it is those men only who have been ordained as gospel ministers that are to work for the uplifting of humanity?—No, no! Every one who names the name of Christ is expected by God to engage in this work. The hands of ordination may not have been laid upon you, but you are none the less God’s messengers. If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, if you know his saving power, you can no more keep from telling this to some one else than you can keep the wind from blowing. You will have a word in season for him that is weary. You will guide the feet of the straying back to the fold. Your efforts to help others will be untiring, because God’s Spirit is working in you” (Review and Herald, November 24, 1904).
5. “You have neighbors. Will you give them the message? You may never have had the hands of ordination laid upon you, but you can humbly carry the message. You can testify that God has ordained that all for whom Christ died shall have everlasting life, if they believe on Him” (Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 372).
6. “Let not the work that needs to be done wait for the ordination of ministers. If there are not ministers to take up the work, let men and women of intelligence, with no thought of how they can accumulate the most property, establish themselves in these cities and towns, and lift up the standard of the cross, using the knowledge they have gained in winning souls to the truth. The knowledge of the truth is altogether too precious to be hoarded up, and bound about, and hid in the earth. Even the one talent entrusted by the Master is to be faithfully employed to gain other talents also. Where are the men and women who have been refreshed with rich streams of blessing from the throne of God? Let them ask themselves what they have done to communicate this light to those who have not had like advantages. How will those who have neglected to use their talents stand in the judgment, when every motive will be brought under scrutiny? The heavenly Master has committed to every one of His servants talents. “And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability” (BLJ, p. 90).
7. “There are many ways of working for Christ. Human hands may never have been laid on you in ordination, but God can give you fitness for His service. He can work through you to the saving of souls. If, having learned in the school of Christ, you are meek and lowly in heart, He will give you words to speak for Him. Ask, and receive the Holy Spirit. But remember that the Spirit is given only to those who are consecrated, who deny self, lifting the cross and following their Lord” (Bible Training School, March 1, 1912).
Ordination does not give supernatural power:
1. “The ordination by the laying on of hands was, at a later date, greatly abused; unwarrantable importance was attached to the act, as though a power came at once upon those who received such ordination, which immediately qualified them for any and all ministerial work, as though virtue lay in the act of laying on of hands. We have, in the history of these two apostles, only a simple record of the laying on of hands, and its bearing upon their work. Both Paul and Barnabas had already received their commission from God Himself; and the ceremony of the laying on of hands added no new grace or virtual qualification. It was merely setting the seal of the church upon the work of God—an acknowledged form of designation to an appointed office” (Story of Redemption, p. 304).
The mere act of placing hands on a person does not convey supernatural powers. It is the Spirit that gives power. People of their own selves do not have power that can be transferred just by the laying on of hands.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Louis R. Torres and wife Carol have a long history of pastoral and evangelistic service in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Torres presently serves as president of the Guam-Micronesia Mission, which is part of the North American Division.