.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Preface to the Book of Church Order

I. King and Head
of the Church
II. Preliminary Principles
III. The Constitution Defined

Section 1 : The King and Head of the Church
Paragraph 1 : His Dominion

1. Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government rests, whose name is called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth, even for ever (Isaiah 9:6-7); having all power given unto Him in heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised Him from the dead and set Him on His own right hand, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and has put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:20-23); He, being ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things, received gifts for His Church, and gave all offices necessary for the edification of His Church, and the perfecting of His saints (Ephesians 4:10-13).

[Historical Summary : This first paragraph is taken from the Preface of The Form of Presbyterial Church-Government, originally approved by the Scottish General Assembly meeting at Edinburgh on 10 February 1645.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:

PCA 1973, Preface, I-1, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, page 127
and
Continuing Presbyterian Church, 1973, I-1, Proposed text, p. 1

PCUS 1879, Chapter II. Of the Church, Section 1.--Of its King and Head, paragraph 1
I. Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government is, whose name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth, even for ever; having all power given unto Him in heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised Him from the dead, and set Him on His own right hand, far above all principalities and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all; He being ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things, received gifts for His Church, and gave all officers necessary for the edification of His Church, and the perfecting of His saints.


PCUS 1869 draft, II-1-1
Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government is, whose name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David,
and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth, even for ever; having all power given unto Him in heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised Him from the dead, and set Him on His own right hand, far above all principalities and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all; He being ascended up far above all heavens that He might fill all things, received gifts for His Church, and gave all officers necessary for the edification of His Church, and perfecting of His saints.


PCUS 1867 draft, II-1-1.
Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government is, whose name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth, even forever; having all power given to him both in heaven and earth by the Father, who raised him from the dead, and set him on his own right hand, far above all principalities, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and put all
things under his feet, and gave him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all; he, being ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things, received gifts for his church, and gave all officers necessary for the edification of his church, and perfecting of his saints.

Preface to The Form of Presbyterial Church-Government (1645)
Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government is, whose name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice, from henceforth, even for ever; having all power given unto him in heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand, far above all principalities and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all; he being ascended up far above all heavens that he might fill all things, received gifts for his church, and gave officers necessary for the edification of his church, and perfecting of his saints.

PARALLEL TEXTS:

OPC 2005, Form of Government, I-1

Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government is, whose name is called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end; upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice, from henceforth even forever, having all power given unto him in heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised Him from the dead, and set him on his own right hand, far above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come, and put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that fills all in all; he being ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things, received gifts for his church, and gave offices necessary for the building of his church, for making disciples of all nations and perfecting his saints.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 25-26), on II-2-1 :
Having laid down these preliminary definitions, which must rule the interpretation throughout, the Form of Government proceeds to enlarge upon each of the five heads of doctrine. And first is
Chapter II.--Of the Church.
As the Church is a kingdom erected by its King, it is in place first to treat of the King. Then the kingdom itself may be more fully described. And, as this book is giving the doctrine of the government of the Church, it is next in place to treat of church power. But, since the Church is divided into many particular churches, there must be a section on the particular church. And here is naturally added a section on the organizing of a particular church.
Section I.--Of its King and Head,
in its first paragraph presents Jesus Christ as the King and Head of the Church; in the second paragraph shows his offices in the government of the Church ; and in the third tells how he has equipped the Church itself ; and in the fourth points out the nature and method of his activity in the Church, as the other paragraphs have treated of his activity over the Church. And this section is not a meaningless collection of pious phrases about Christ, but is a most careful and intentional expression of views considered specially important.
This remark applies in all its force to the first paragraph, an unusually long and eloquent sentence.
8.--I. Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government is, whose name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth, even for ever;
is the subject of the sentence. "Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government is," is the opening designation of the Head of the Church; and the three following relative clauses ascribe to him three things : first, the dignity of Deity ; second, eternal authority over the Church ; and third, succession to David, thus identifying the Church with the Messianic kingdom. Next is interposed a participial clause concerning authority beyond the Church for it :
Having all power given unto Him in heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised Him from the dead, and set Him on His own right hand, far above all principalities and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all;
This quotation affirms in the most sweeping way the lordship of Jesus Christ as universal, a universal lordship that has been given to him as Head of the Church,
He
Jesus Christ thus described,
being ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things, received gifts for His Church,
which already existed,
and gave all officers necessary for the edification of His Church, and the perfecting of His saints.
Here "edification of his Church" must include what is meant by "gathering" in paragraph 2.
The special point of the paragraph is that Jesus Christ is the sole source of all church power. No man can have any office in the Church except as appointed by Jesus Christ himself, who himself equips and appoints all other officers besides himself. The Church is a KINGDOM, and he is, in right and practice, KING.
But the power of Christ is not merely an appointing power ; he himself discharges all official functions whatever.



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Chapter Index [links to Par. 1 of each chapter]:
FoG..
1
2
3.
4
5.
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
§4
§5
RoD
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
II. Preliminary Principles
§1
§2
§3
§4
§5
§6
§7
§8
DfW
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]