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Prophecy: The Single Pastor Apostasy
October 19, 2009

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An interesting odyssey is to embark upon a study of the various apostasies in the Christian Church. When did they originate and why?

I recall in 1987 being very intrigued initially by the marketing pitch for the Mormon Church. They claimed that authority in their church was vested in a council of 12 apostles. Of course, true headship of their church CORPORATION is vested in the PRESIDENT of the church....ouch!

Apostasy, in the simplest sense, represents a departure from the divine intention. Apostasies have always been rather numerous and usually have centered in some attempt to minimize or deny the deity of Jesus Christ.

But there are other important apostasies that flourish amid the churches where it is affirmed that Jesus Christ is the fulness of Deity in bodily form. These are the apostasies that aflict the saved ones.. Some of which are almost never regarded as apostasies. They still enjoy general acceptance. The single pastor/bishop/elder apostasy is one of those.

We can trace it back to the 1500's, when Martin Luther spearheaded a reformation that brought some truth and life back into a faith that had been bound in darkness for more than a thousand years. But Luther merely replaced the village priest with the town pastor.

We can go back from there a thousand years to the time, around 500AD, when it was realized that a man headed church had a problem if that man was fallible. So, a few Popes decided they were God's vicar's on the Earth and that yes, they were infallible.

But, the Roman Catholics did not even invent the single pastor/bishop/elder apostasy that led to the papacy. It goes back even further than that.

Perhaps we can fathom the enormity of the deception involved here if we just try to intellectually understand the motives behind people who imagine Peter as the first Pope; James as the first Bishop of Jerusalem; Titus as first Bishop to the Cretans and Timothy as first Bishop of the Ephesians.

The forces involved here actually tried to rewrite history, and they placed these concepts into the Holy Bible itself, so that the people were brainwashed into believing that a bishop is a man who sits upon a throne of the church and rules as a benefactor over the laity.

How far back do we have to look to see just where this type of thinking originated?

You can check it out for yourselves by doing a little online search for "james, bishop, barclay" to see what William Barclay has to say about the subject. It seems this "Bishop as King" idea originated in written text during the second century through church historian Hegesippus and later, through Clement.

But is that the start of it? Check this out!

Burial Box of James

Prayer Found On The Tomb Of James

PRAYER (traditional language)
"O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst set thy brother James on the Throne of thy church in Jerusalem: Grant, we beseech thee, that as he continually made supplication for the sins of thy people, and labored to reconcile in one body both Jew and Gentile; so thy Church may give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity, and may ever be an effectual witness for the salvation of all mankind. Grant this, O Son of Man, who art on the right hand of the Father, in the unity of the Spirit, now and ever.

Grant, we beseech thee, O God, that after the example of thy Servant James the Just, brother of our Lord, thy Church may give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever."

The burial box has been dated between 63 and 70 AD. And so, we can see this idea of Bishops as having been seated on the throne of the church is very old. Apparently those who buried James were of the opinion that He had been installed by Jesus as some sort of King on a throne of the church.

But is that even the beginning of the apostasy?

Acts 6, recording events that transpired not very long, a few years at the most, after our Lord returned to the side of the Father in Heaven, relates the story of how the Holy Apostles decided to leave off serving and to devote themselves unto prayer and unto the ministry of the word.

Now, consider the very short, direct and pertinent lessons that Our Lord tried to teach to the apostles when He as here with them on the Earth:

1) They were taught that the path to greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven was to be converted and to become as little children in all humility. Matthew 18:3-4

2) Only those who sought to be the least among their brethren would be regarded as the greatest in the Kingdom. Luke 9:48

3) That when men secretly dispute and jostle for the greatest and highest position among their brethren, the Lord will know what is in their hearts. Mark 9:33

4) Look out! You will be pushed and prodded by your mother or other family members to seek and lobby for the greatest positions in the church, just as the mother and James and John lobbied for her sons with Jesus. Matthew 20:20-21

5) They were taught that authority in the church WOULD NOT operate as it does in earthly kingdoms, where men exercise Lordship and rule over their subjects. Mark 10:42-43

6) Leaders in the church are not to be benefactors, or recipients of earthly honor and wealth, as Kings of the Earth require of their subjects. Luke 22:25

7) Leaders in the church are not to sit at the table, expecting to be waited upon, but are to serve, as their Lord was among them to serve them and wash their feet. Luke 22:27

Jesus reserved his strongest condemnations, however, not for the Kings of the Gentiles who were living in His day. No, the strongest, most fire filled words were reserved for the Scribes and the Pharisees: those who were the religious leaders.

These men, according to Matthew 23, loved the uppermost rooms at the feasts and the chief seats in the synagogue. They loved to be called, Rabbi, Rabbi,(teacher, teacher) in the market. They loved to wear special clothing, called Phylacteries, to draw attention to themselves that they were a noted religious leader.

Luke records at the end of chapter 21 that these men loved to walk in long robes and they loved to to sit in the highest seats in the feasts and the synagoges. He also says that they devour widows' houses (take their inheritances) and that they love to make long prayers in public for everyone to see.

These are the instructions Jesus left us. There were two situations that came up with the apostles that resulted in two sessions of instructions on the subject. These teachings are left to us in two passages in each of the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is very easy to obtain the Lord's mind on these things. He was totally clear!

Paul followed well, and left us not a single example of a church that he founded where a single elder/pastor/bishop ruled in that place. He left us no mention of church thrones or any such nonsense. Elders were always spoken of, like deacons, in the plural. This is blatantly evident in Phillipans 1:1, where multiple bishops are said to be present in Philippi.

Yet, it did not take very long for the desire of people for a king to take hold. And so it remains the case today, that men love to walk under their little popes, and pay them tithes to make them their benefactors.

The day of great tribulation is almost at hand. Jesus Christ shall return as the Lion of the tribe of Judah to place all of His enemies under His feet. On that day, He will war against all that carries and uses His name, but that is not of Him.

He revealed to me in 1991 that He will smash this corporate president headed church into the dust. He showed it to me in a vision, and is found on my website at

I have listed it as my "Defining Vision". It is the very first link at the very top of the front page.

I think that all of you who are expecting that Jesus is returning as your friend should read this vision. When you see Him, will He be friend or foe? Have you been a part of building His House after the pattern He left you? Or, have you been building something that He never designed.

When He returns, what will He do to your works? Will He smile in approval that you have built in accordance with His instructions, or will He howl in wrath as He destroys your work with unquenchable fire, while you escape to heaven as through the flames?

Think Now! Examine yourselves now! For things are not as you have assumed they are with Him.


Stephen L. Bening

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