Questions From Readers
● How many overseers are there in a congregation of God’s people on earth?—G. G., United States.
In each congregation the congregation servant is the overseer, and other appointed servants, including the other members of the congregation’s service committee, are ministerial servants. Expressing this view of matters, the book Qualified to Be Ministers says, on page 231: “The overseer, the congregation servant, is held responsible for the affairs of the congregation and is the one with whom the Society communicates on congregation matters.” And on page 234, referring to the “ministerial servants” spoken of in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, it says: “In this case the Scriptures refer to those who are appointed as servants in the congregation, and particularly to those who are the assistants to the overseer of the congregation, known as the congregation servant.”
The Greek word that is translated “overseer” is epískopos and it refers to “one who visits and inspects.” With this in mind, we can appreciate that, while there is today one resident overseer in a congregation, there are other overseers in the organization. For example, the circuit servant visits and inspects with a view to strengthening spiritually the congregations of which he has oversight. And district servants fit in this classification, because they visit and inspect both circuits and congregations as they are scheduled to do so by the Society. Then, too, in cities where the congregation, which usually bears the name of the city, becomes quite large, it is subdivided into units, each of which has an overseer. In this case a city’s congregation has more than one overseer, one to care for each of its units. Thus it is seen that it is proper to speak of the “overseers” of a congregation.