Bishop. The word originally signified an “overseer” or spiritual superintendent. The titles bishop and elder, or presbyter, were essentially equivalent. Bishop is from the Greek, and denotes one who exercises the function of overseeing. Presbyter was derived from the office in the synagogue. Of the order in which the first elders or bishops were appointed, as of the occasion which led to the institution of the office, we have no record. The duties of the bishop-elders appear to have been as follows:
1. General superintendence over the spiritual well-being of the flock. 1 Pet. 5:2. 2. The working of teaching, both publicly and privately. 1 Thess. 5:12; Titus 1:9; 1 Tim. 5:17. 3. The work of visiting the sick. James 5:14. 4. Among other acts of charity, that of receiving strangers occupied a conspicuous place. 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8. Peter calls Christ “the shepherd and bishop of your souls.” 1 Pet. 2:25.