Is A “Bishop” The Same Work As An “Elder”?

The answer to this question is “Yes”.

This question arises from a Bible study that was conducted with two young Latter-Day Saint (hereafter, LDS) missionaries who were given the title “elder”.  Each LDS congregation has one bishop.  They also have missionaries who are called elders and serve under the bishop of each of their congregations.  The LDS denomination seeks to be like the true church that is found in the Bible, yet their pattern of church organization is very different from the church organization found in the Bible.

  1. In the study we had together, I pointed out that each congregation of the one body of Christ found in the Bible appointed qualified elders (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-9).
  2. Notice that this one congregation at Philippi had more than one bishop.  The LDS “elder” I studied with stated that this was written to more than one congregation, but with a good and honest heart, one will see that there was a plurality of bishops at this one congregation (Philippians 1:1).
  3. In Titus 1:5-9, before a Christian man can be appointed to the eldership, he must be the husband of one wife and have faithful children.  “Elders” in the LDS denomination are not married and do not have children.  Furthermore, they are still novices in their own faith since they do not have the experience and wisdom to lead others.
  4. In Acts 20, Luke states that Paul wanted to meet the elders of the church of Ephesus at Miletus (Acts 20:17).  As he is talking with them, he states: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”  Notice, they are known as pastors because they are to take care of the flock.  They are also called overseers, which is the same word that can be translated as bishops in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Philippians 1:1.
  5. In 1 Peter 5:1-4, Peter exhorts those who are elders to take the oversight, which is the duty of a bishop.  This strengthens the case that the function of bishops, pastors, elders, and stewards are referring to the same work.
  6. In 1 Timothy 5:17-20, it is strange indeed that Christians are to be careful in accusing an elder; but according to LDS theology, a bishop is higher up than an elder. If such were the case, why did Paul not say bishop instead of an elder?  LDS theology is wrong and the Bible is right!

[NOTE:  Please read through our question for more information: “Who Are the Bishops of Philippians 1:1?”]

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