Presbyters have two basic governing functions: 1) to guard the confessional boundaries, such as those expressed in the Constitution of Basileia and 2) administrate the addition or removal of members according to those boundaries. Such guardianship is a function of the Table and only Presbyters are authorized to admit or remove (i.e., excommunicate) individuals from the Table. It is true that all members of God's covenant community have a general representative authority to guard the confessional boundaries of the community. Every member is to be a covenant-keeper in this general sense. However, Presbyters have a special representative, collective role in addition to this, made concrete by what is involved in guarding the Table. To grasp exactly what this special role is requires that we first emphasize that all members have a general authority to bind and loose that which has already been bound and loosed in heaven (Matt. 16:19; 18:18). All members of God's covenant community are accountable to operate within those confessional standards of the community that are consistent with the Apostolic Rule of Faith. As Jesus teaches, all members are to deal with the sin of another member by going to that person and dealing with the sin at issue. This is to happen just “between you and him” and then, if “he will not hear you,” “one or two more” members are to get involved (Matt. 18:15-16). This is the governing role of members acting in their capacity as individuals. However, when this has run its course and the member whose sin is being dealt with still does not repent, then Jesus says, “tell it to the Church” (Matt. 18:17a). The special role of Presbyters in this case, if the member “refuses to hear the Church,” is to conduct an excommunication (Matt. 18:17b). This is the governing role of elders acting in their collective capacity. While individuals are to confront breaches of the covenant according to their governing capacity as individuals, only Presbyters of the Church, acting as collective representatives of the Church (i.e., as covenantal heads), may excommunicate members from the Church. This also implies that Presbyters acting in their collective capacity are also authorized to readmit repentant members or admit new members to the Church. Furthermore, as is illustrated by the consensus decision-making process of the Church in Acts 15, the Church clarifies its confessional boundaries through the collective representative agency of her Presbyters. Thus Presbyters, in their collective representative capacity, enable the community collectively (not just members individually) both to (a) define her “constitution” and (b) to defend that constitution through her courts. Both of these functions are two basic marks of any nation or society, such as the Church. While individuals within a Christian society are to form educational, vocational, and associational structures in line with divinely revealed confessional standards, elders in general and Presbyters of the Church in particular enable the whole community collectively to identify, define, and defend the boundaries of the society. The individual governing authority of individuals can only be exercised within the boundaries defined and defended by the collective governing authority provided by elders of the “congregation.” This is an inescapable concept. Individuals never actually exercise authority in a vacuum, rather the only question is: In which collective context do individuals exercise their individual representative authority? In the context of the Kingdom of Man or in the context of the Kingdom of God? The difference between these two kingdoms is whether the authority of a society is mediatorial (as in the Kingdom of Man) or ministerial in nature (as in the Kingdom of God). If Presbyters exercise collective ministerial authority, then individuals are free to exercise the full potential of their individual authority, giving rise to the Kingdom of God. But if Presbyters are mediatorial, then it gives rise to the operations of the Kingdom of Man.

Also see “Governing Roles of Men and Women in Basileia,” Head, and Presbyter Councils.