What does the word ordination mean?

“And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach” (Mark 3:14).

The English word ordination comes from a Latin word, ordo (order, class, rank). This word does not come from biblical Greek or Hebrew. But, the concept of the church authorizing someone and setting them apart for a holy purpose is found throughout Scripture.

Ordination is a grant of ecclesiastical authority and an acknowledged form of designation to an appointed office. Ordination to gospel ministry is the church’s recognition that a man has been set apart for the office of gospel minister (Exodus 19:22). It is like a professional license, serving to protect people from self-appointed individuals who would claim to speak for the church but who are not authorized by the consensus of the church elders to do the job.

Jesus ordained and blessed His disciples for the ministry “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16).

The Bible speaks also of the ordination of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1, 2); the ordination of Timothy by other elders (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:16); it tells us who should become elders (1 Tim. 3:1–6) and warns us not to ordain any man prematurely (1 Tim. 5:22).

According to the Bible not every qualified person is to be ordained for the ministry. In the old Testament, God selected David from among his similarly qualified brothers (1 Sam. 16:5–13). In the New Testament, Matthias and Joseph were similarly qualified men, but God selected Matthias for ordination (Acts 1:21–26). And Paul, Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, and Manaen were similarly qualified men, but God selected Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1, 2).

Recently some have raised the question: should women be ordained? The Bible teaches that women ought to submit to the authority of men. But this does not mean inequality. Christ submitted to the Father, yet He is equal to the Father in worth and essence. “The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11: 3). The scripture teaches that man is to acknowledge Christ as his Lord and Master; the woman is required to acknowledge that in domestic life she is placed under the guidance and protection of man; Christ, is represented as recognizing God as head. Thus according to the scripture, women are forbidden from holding positions that involve authoritative teaching or authority over men (1 Tim. 2:11–15).

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In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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