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Presbyter

(Gr. presbuteros, “an older person”). In the Septuagint the term was applied to “the elders” of Israel who carried out various governing and administrative functions in both civil and ecclesiastical government. In the NT they were those mature Christian men who were appointed to supervise the work of the church (Acts 14:23). In this respect they fulfilled an official function as bishops (episkopos)-(cf. Acts 20:17,28; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1- 4), although the relationship between the use of the two terms is not always clear. Gradually one elder, probably the teaching member of the group (1 Tim. 5:17) assumed presidency to become in the second century the “bishop,” with special powers and privileges. During the [[Middle Ages]] the term “presbyter” was shortened to “priest,” while the presbyter-bishop assumed a superior position, often becoming a feudal lord. Although neither the Lutherans nor the Anabaptists stressed the presbyterate, [[John Calvin]] and his followers did, believing