Church Government / Church Polity

A system for directing the affairs of the church in an orderly manner. Only a primitive organization existed in the early Christian church, for the obvious reason that organization came only when the growth of the church demanded it. In the New Testament church the bond of union was the common faith of the believers and the personal guidance of apostles themselves. The Jews, who accepted Christ at first, worshiped at the Temple ( Acts 2:46 ; 3:1 ) and separated from the body of Judaism only when forced to. But it was not long before an elementary church government was established. The setting apart of Matthias to take the place of Judas might be considered the first organized act of the Christian church body ( Acts 1:23–26 ). Another major act was the appointment of seven deacons for the...

From the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Published with permission from the Review and Herald Publishing Association.