Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Mk. 3:14; 2nd; 3rd π Jn. 15:16; 2nd π Acts 1:22; 2nd π Acts 6:2-6 π Acts 10:42; 2nd π Acts 13:1-3; 2nd π Acts 13:48; 2nd π Acts 14:14 π Acts 14:23; 2nd; 3rd π Acts 16:4; 2nd π Acts 17:31; 2nd π Rom. 7:10; 2nd π Rom. 13:1; 2nd π 1 Cor. 2:7; 2nd π 1 Cor. 7:17; 2nd π 1 Cor. 9:14; 2nd π Gal. 1:8; 2nd π Gal. 3:19; 2nd π Eph. 2:10; 2nd π 1 Tim. 2:7; 2nd π 1 Tim. 4:14 π 1 Tim. 5:19-22 π 2 Tim. 4:22; 2nd π Tit. 1:5; 2nd; 3rd π Tit. 3:15; 2nd π Heb 5:1; 2nd; 3rd π Heb. 8:3; 2nd; 3rd π Heb. 9:6; 2nd π Jude 4; 2nd

Much to do is made about whether a man (most often a clergyman whether or not he will admit that he is one) has been ordained. This ordination, a ritual often carefully shrouded in mystique or reverence for their highly exalted leader(s), most often must come from a recognized denominational "church" or headquarters or it is considered false or second-rate. And without this ordination from some centralized position of "church" power and authority, it is deemed inappropriate to hold or act in any position or role of spiritual leadership. But is ordination of this sort Scriptural? What do the Scriptures really say about being ordained?

The Scriptures

The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible uses "ordain" 23 times in the New Testament. However, this usage of "ordain" is a bit deceptive as this one English word is used in the place of 14 different Greek words. These 14 words appear 3,322 times throughout the New Testament - even though they are variously translated "ordain" only 23 times. What kind of linguistic shell game is that? And of those 23 times the KJV used "ordain," the New King James version (NKJV) kept only 4 of those usages. Here is how these 14 words are used throughout the whole of the New Testament in the KJV and the NKJV.

1. poieo [4160] - 579 times, 1 time "ordain" (modern version changes to "appoint")

All KJV translations: do - 357, make - 113, bring forth - 14, commit - 9, cause - 9, work - 8, show - 5, bear - 4, keep - 4, fulfil - 3, deal - 2, perform - 2, not translated - 3, miscellaneous - 43, variations of do - 3

2. tithemi [5087] - 96 times, 2 times "ordain" (modern version changes to "appoint")

All KJV translations: lay - 28, put - 18, lay down - 12, make - 10, appoint - 6, kneel down + [1119] + [3588] - 5, miscellaneous - 17

3. ginomai [1096] - 678 times, 1 time "ordain" (modern version changes to "become")

All KJV translations: be - 255, come to pass - 82, be made - 69, be done - 63, come - 52, become - 47, God forbid + [3361] - 15, arise - 13, have - 5, be fulfilled - 3, be married to - 3, be preferred - 3, not translated - 14, miscellaneous - 4, variations of done - 2

4. horizo [3724] - 8 times, 2 times "ordain" (modern version keeps "ordain")

All KJV translations: determine - 3, ordain - 2, as it was determined + [2596] + [3588] - 1, declare - 1, limit - 1

5. tasso [5021] - 8 times, 2 times "ordain" (modern version changes to "appoint")

All KJV translations: appoint - 3, ordain - 2, set - 1, determine - 1, addict - 1

6. cheirotoneo [5500] - 4 times, 3 times "ordain" (modern version changes 1 to "appoint" and deletes the other 2)

All KJV translations: ordain - 3, choose - 1

7. krino [2919] - 114 times, 1 time "ordain" (modern version changes to "determine")

All KJV translations: judge - 88, determine - 7, condemn - 5, go to law - 2, call in question - 2, esteem - 2, miscellaneous - 8

8. eis [1519] - 1773 times, 1 time "ordain" (modern version changes to "which was to bring")

All KJV translations: into - 573, to - 281, unto - 207, for - 140, in - 138, on - 58, toward - 29, against - 26, miscellaneous - 321

9. proorizo [4309] - 6 times, 1 time "ordain" (modern version keeps "ordain")

All KJV translations: predestinate - 4, determine before - 1, ordain - 1

10. diatasso [1299] - 16 times, 3 times "ordain" (modern version keeps 1 "ordain," changes 1 to "command" and 1 to "appoint")

All KJV translations: command - 7, appoint - 4, ordain - 3, set in order - 1, give order - 1

11. proetoimazo [4282] - 2 times, 1 time "before ordained" (modern version changes to "prepared beforehand")

All KJV translations: prepare afore - 1, before ordain - 1

12. kathistemi [2525] - 22 times, 3 times "ordain" (modern version changes to "appoint")

All KJV translations: make - 8, make ruler - 6, ordain - 3, be - 2, appoint - 1, conduct - 1, set - 1

13. kataskeuazo [2680] - 11 times, 1 time "ordain" (modern version changes to "prepare")

All KJV translations: prepare - 6, build - 3, make - 1, ordain - 1

14. prographo [4270] - 5 times, 1 time "ordain" (modern version changes to "marked out")

All KJV translations: write - 1, write aforetime - 1, write afore - 1, evidently set forth - 1, before ordain - 1

Though one could argue that the English word "ordain," especially in 1611, contained some flavors of the meanings of the original Greek words, a look at the modern English dictionary gives a very straightforward definition of the word. "To admit to the ministry or priesthood by the ritual of a church." It is only in its secondary meaning that it has anything approaching its usages in the KJV. "Decree, enact, destine." (Webster's, New American Dictionary) Whether this is a case of the English word losing its original meaning over the centuries and being replaced by a more common usage or whether it's a case of deliberate misusage of the word is impossible to tell. I would prefer to give the translators of the KJV the benefit of the doubt and believe that the word "ordain" had more of the meaning of the original Greek than it does now. Yet the fact that they chose the word "ordain" to translate so many different words, words which were overwhelmingly translated by other words in almost every place, speaks loudly of their own "church" paradigm coloring their work.

But let's look at that first modern definition again - which is what most people believe ordination to be - "to admit to the ministry or priesthood by the ritual of a church." Even the people who compile the dictionary see the resemblance between the Catholic, Orthodox, Buddhist, etc. "priesthood" and the Protestant "ministry"! How is it that those who are in the Protestant "ministry" are so unable to notice this similarity? And it is by a ritual of a "church" that one becomes ready for the priesthood or ministry. This ritual varies from "church" to "church" and covers a great gamut of activities. But what is the Scriptural basis from which these "church" rituals evolved?

We can see the origins in the Scriptures already cited above. But let us isolate only those verses which speak of leaders in the body of Christ raising up more leaders. From the fact that Jesus appointed (poieo [4160]) His twelve disciples ( Mk. 3:14; top ) and that Paul was appointed (tithemi [5087]) a preacher, apostle and teacher, we can see that some measure of appointment, ordination is appropriate and Scriptural. But of the 14 Greek words that are translated "ordain," 3 (ginomai [1096] - "become," eis [1519] - "which was to bring," and kataskeuazo [2680] - "prepare") should probably never have been translated by the word "ordain." Of the 11 remaining Greek words, 7 (poieo [4160], tithemi [5087], horizo [3724], tasso [5021], proorizo [4309], proetoimazo [4282] and prographo [4270]) are used only of God being the one doing the ordaining or appointing. Of the remaining 4, 2 refer only to actions and not to people - 1 (krino [2919]) was used to speak of the appropriate actions of Gentile believers as determined and decreed by the Jerusalem council of apostles and elders, and 1 (diatasso [1299]) was used to speak of Paul ordaining certain actions among all the ekklesias, to speak of the Lord commanding that those who preach the gospel should live of it, and of angels appointing the law by the hand of a mediator. There are only two remaining words that have anything to do with men recognizing and appointing other men to positions of leadership.

These two words are: cheirotoneo [5500] and kathistemi [2525]. Let's look at the 4 verses which speak of this aspect of ordination.

It is also interesting to note that cheirotoneo [5500] is also the word that was used in the later insertion that claimed Timothy and Titus were bishops. When you see the slight Scriptural basis for any ordination, one has to wonder how it became the cornerstone of the modern practice of Christianity. One begins to see a sinister, Satanic hand behind these clever changes in words and meanings over the centuries as the pattern of deception emerges.

But if we were to draw any conclusions from these few Scriptures, we could only say that Paul and Barnabas, as apostles ordained, appointed and called out by the Holy Spirit ( Acts 13:1-3; top ), appointed elders in every ekklesia they ministered to. Titus, another apostle, was to appoint elders in every city he was ministering to. Titus' appointment of elders somehow resembled the way high priests were appointed in the Jewish customs - thus the usage of the same word. But any other conclusions about ordination are the work of supposition and speculation. The New Testament pattern is that clearly recognized apostles from other areas appoint local elders to take up the reins of leadership in that locale. Anything else is different from Scripture (see Gal. 1:8; top for the consequences of changing the gospel)

The Laying On of Hands

Laying hands on the one being ordained is a common practice in the "church" ritual of ordination. But what do the Scriptures really say about "the laying on of hands"? When we track down the concept of laying on of hands, we find that hands were laid on others for only a very few reasons. First, the laying on of hands conveyed healing or blessing. Second, it is associated with receiving the Holy Spirit. Third, it is an expression used when a person is to be captured and imprisoned. Fourth, it is included in the list of elementary doctrines. And finally, there are four passages which speak of what could be called the laying on of hands for the purposes of ordination. As the "church" seems to do with so many things, there is simply very little Scriptural basis for something that has become such an integral part of its leadership.

The first place we see hands laid on anyone for leadership purposes is in the book of Acts. Luke writes:

Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word." And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid [2007] hands [5495] on them. ( Acts 6:2-6; top )

When the seven deacons (in truth, these seven men are never specifically called deacons in the Scriptures but their responsibilities coincide with the activities of deacons) were chosen by the people of the Jerusalem ekklesia, the apostles laid their hands on them and commissioned them to do the work of waiting tables. The New Testament pattern shows that deacons, servants with special responsibilities, those who clearly demonstrate Christlikeness and are filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom, are to be recognized and even chosen by the people. Elders are not to be given positions of responsibility in this same fashion, however. They are appointed by apostles. Anything else is different from Scripture.

The second place we see hands laid on anyone for leadership purposes is also in the book of Acts. Luke writes:

Now in the ekklesia that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid [2007] hands [5495] on them, they sent them away. ( Acts 13:1-3; top )

Here we see a group of prophets and teachers of ekklesia of Antioch fasting and ministering to the Lord. At this time, the Holy Spirit commissions Barnabas and Saul to be apostles. (see Acts 14:14; top ) Then the prophets and teachers laid hands on them and sent them on their way. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is the only one demonstrating the authority to commission someone as an apostle. The other men involved only recognize and ratify what God has already done.

The third place we see hands laid on anyone for leadership purposes is in Paul's first letter to Timothy. Paul writes:

Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on [1936] of the hands [5495] of the presbytery. [4244] ( 1 Tim. 4:14; top )

When Timothy was called to be an apostle, it was accomplished in much the same manner as was Paul's calling. The presbytery, that is, the group of elders of an ekklesia, laid hands on Timothy and there was a prophetic word by which he was commissioned as an apostle.

The fourth and last place we see hands laid on anyone for leadership purposes is also in Paul's first letter to Timothy. Paul write:

Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest may fear. I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality. Do not lay [2007] hands [5495] on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure. ( 1 Tim. 5:19-22; top )

Paul is giving Timothy instructions about how to deal with the local elders and he instructs Timothy not to lay hands on anyone - elder, deacon, anyone - hastily. This was so that Timothy would not be a partaker in that person's sins. In other words, Timothy was to know that person's character and to have a clear leading of the Spirit before laying hands on someone to recognize them in positions of leadership in the body of Christ.

That's it. That's the sum total of Scriptural instruction about laying on of hands. One has to wonder where the "church" leaders get all their stuff from. And if their stuff, their books written by their exalted leaders, is the same as the Bible, then why do they even need those extra books? And if their stuff is different from the Bible, then they indeed have a much greater problem than having a few too many books on hand. (again, see Gal. 1:8; top )

The real question is: What do we look to as the source of authority in our lives? Is it the Bible, the testimony of the Spirit of God about His dealings with men? Or is it our man-made traditions which war against the word and work of God? We can only heed one voice or the other. Let he who has ears hear what the Spirit is saying to the ekklesias and do exactly what he is told.

I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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