And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,(Ephesians 1:22)
For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. (Ephesians 5:23)
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.1 Corinthians 11:3)
He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.(Collossians 1:18)
Scripture is very clear about the fact that there is one head of the church…the LORD Jesus Christ. He is the source, the sole authority, His is the final Word on any subject, To be conformed to His Image is the goal of every expression of the church, there can be no doubt, His is the pre-eminence.
It is a gross distortion for any church to set up any man as “the Vicar of Christ” , the church is not to be man-centered, and it is possible that men can enter into the church and subvert the place of Christ in the people’s hearts. That is one of the definitions of a cult…when a man takes the place in the church of the Head, who is Christ.
The Apostle John gives an example, Diotrophes,
I wrote unto the Church, but Diotrephes which loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore if I come, I will call to your remembrance his deeds which he doeth, prattling against us with malicious words, and not therewith content, neither he himself receiveth the brethren, but forbideth them that would, and thrusteth them out of the Church. ( 3 John 9-10)
Diotrophes displayed an unChristian spirit, first of all, in that He loved the Pre-eminence. In other words, He regarded himself as “First” among the Saints, and the Chief Believer. He put his own word and desires above even the Apostles, and would kick people out of the church for the crime of accepting the teaching of the Apostles and citing the Apostles as authoritative.
The teaching of the Apostles is the only authoritative source of instruction for the church, other than the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament. The church is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets and no Pastor, Elder, Prophet, Apostle or Evangelist has any right whatsoever to supersede them.
The mark of whether or not a ministry is even of God, has to do with whether or not they will ‘hear the Apostles”;
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.( I John 4:6)
Having said that, it is also true that Jesus ordained for the church principles of government, which grant to men delegated authority for the edification of the Church. Jesus is not personally going to exercise church discipline in a given situation, He has authorized Elders and leaders to do so. Paul set Titus in Crete and Timothy in the church of Ephesus to “set things in order”,
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:( I Timothy 1:3-5)
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: Titus 1:3)
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith; (1 Timothy 1:3-4 )
My point is that within the church there are authoritative positions, ordained for the purpose of order and edification. All Christians are equal and there is a priesthood of every believer, but there is also a God ordained ministry, gifted and delegated with authority to carry out their labor of love and mercy.
Titus and Timothy were not to be overbearing, but neither were they to be timid. They were appointed to ordain elders, and command certain to cease and desist from their false doctrines, and to see to it that there was public reading of scripture, correction of the erring in doctrine. All of these tasks require the use of authority. The church is not a democracy, there are officers in the church with responsibilities, which is the flip side of authority.
Even within Eldership, there are different functions and tasks; there are Elders who administrate primarily, and there are teaching Elders,
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.( I Timothy 5:11)
The Church is to be led by a variety of gifts and ministries each having the responsibility and authority according to their gifting. Obviously the prime model of leadership is to set an example, but there are times when Authority is exercised,
These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.(Ephesians 4:11-12)
It looks like Timothy was expected to wield God given authority, to command and teach… while at the same time live a life of an example… . The delegated authority has limits, which extend to the level of responsibility, no one is allowed to be a dictator or autocrat in the house of God. It extends to the standard of teaching and conduct within the church, and to the regulation of the ordinances , etc..
My point is that within the church there are legitimate cases where individuals wield delegated authority within the scope of their calling. This is neither autocratic or inappropriate, as long as it is done in the context of a properly functioning local church.