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Biblical elders

From a biblical perspective, church leadership is centered in that of the elder. An elder is one of a group of biblically qualified men who work together in the ministry and  watching over the local assembly of believers. The word translated "elder" is used nearly 20 times in Acts and epistles to refer to this unique group of leaders who are responsible for looking after and guiding God's people.


Office of the Elder


As many New Testament passages indicate, the words "elder" (presbuteros), "governor" (episkopos), and "pastor" (poimen) refer to the same office. This means that governors and pastors are not a separate category from elders; these terms are just different ways of describing the same people. Qualifications of the governor (episkopos) in 1 Timothy 3: 1-7, and the elder  The (presbuteros) in Titus 1: 6-9 are unquestionably compatible, and in Titus 1, Paul uses both terms for the same man (presbuteros in verse 5 and episkopos in verse 7). All three terms are used interchangeably in Acts 20. In verse 17, Paul gathers all the elders (presbuteros) of the church at Ephesus to give them his farewell message. In verse 28 he says, "Take care of yourselves and of all the flock, among whom the Holy Spirit has made you bishops [episkopos], to shepherd [poimaino] the congregation of the Lord acquired by his own blood." First Peter 5: 1-2 also mentions all three. terms together. Peter writes, "So I exhort the elders [presbuteros] among you, as also an elder and witness to the sufferings of Christ, and a sharer in the glory that is to be revealed: Shepherd [poimaino] the flock of God that is among you, [episkopeo] not by force but willingly, God's, not for ugly profit, but with devotion. ”Thus, different terms indicate different elements of service, and not different levels in the hierarchy of church authority or different offices, as is the case in some churches.


Multiple elders


A consistent pattern throughout the New Testament is that each local body of believers is led by a group of God-called elders. Simply put, this is the only model of church leadership given to us in the New Testament. Nowhere in the Scriptures do we find a local church governed by majority vote or by a single pastor.


The apostle Paul left Titus in Crete and commanded him to "ordain in the elders' cities" (Titus 1: 5). James instructed his readers to "call upon the elders of the congregation" to pray for those who are sick (James 5:14). When Paul and Barnabas were at Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, they "appointed elders in every church" (Acts 14:23). In Paul's 1 Timothy, the apostle referred to "elders who keep their office well" [or "preside well" - Millennial Bible] in the church at Ephesus (1 Tim. 5:17; see also Acts 20). : 17, where Paul addresses the "elders of the church" in Ephesus The Acts indicate that there were "elders" in the Jerusalem church (Acts 11:30; 15: 2, 4; 21:18).


Time and time again we see a reference to the plurality of elders in each individual church. Thus, whenever the term presbuteros ("elder") is used in the New Testament, it is plural, except when the apostle John speaks of himself in 2 and 3 John and when Peter speaks of himself in 1 Peter 5: 1. Nowhere in the New Testament is there any mention of  a church run by one person. It is possible that each elder had a separate group over which he had individual oversight, but the church was seen as one and decisions were made collectively with respect to the church as a whole, not just in relation to the church.  individual groups.


In other passages  there is a reference to a plurality of elders, though  that the word "presbuteros" is not used. In the opening words of the letter to the Philippians, Paul speaks of "bishops" [plural of episkopos] and of "deacons" of the Philippian church (Phil. 1: 1-2). In the Journal of Laws 20:28, Paul warned the elders of the church in Ephesus, "Take care of yourselves and of all the flock, among whom the Holy Spirit has made bishops [plural of episkopos]." The writer of the letter to the Hebrews urges his readers to be obedient and docile to the "guides" who watch over their souls (Hebrews 13:17). Paul urged the Thessalonians to "recognize those who work among you, are overlords in the Lord and admonish you" (1 Thess. 5:12) - an explicit reference to the church leaders in Thessalonica.


Much can be said about the benefits of the multi-person leadership of a group of pious men. Their combined prudence and wisdom helps to prevent decisions that are arbitrary or serve the individual's own interests (see Proverbs 11:14). If there is a discord between elders in making decisions, all elders should study, pray, and seek God's will together until agreement is reached. In this way, the unity and harmony that the Lord desires for the church will begin with those He has called to be pastors of His flock.


Elderly Qualifications


The nature and efficiency of the operation of the church are  directly dependent  from older quality. Therefore, the Scriptures emphasize the qualifications of Church leadership and provide specific criteria for judging those who would act in this sacred service.

The qualifications of elders are given in 1 Timothy 3: 2-7 and Titus 1: 6-8. According to these passages, the elder must be impeccable, the husband of one wife, sober, moderate, decent, hospitable, good teacher, resistant to drunkenness, not perverse, gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy, who would manage his own house well, keep children in obedience and all honesty, not a new convert, having a good name with those who do not belong to us, restrained, prudent, adhering to orthodox teaching, that he may both exhort in the words of sound doctrine and resist those who follow it they oppose, blameless as God's steward, not arbitrary, slow to anger, loving what is good, and just and godly.


Criterion  that sums up all the rest is to be "blameless." This means that he is to be a leader who cannot be accused of anything sinful because he has a reputation for being impeccable - impeccable. An elder is to be impeccable in his marital, social, professional and spiritual life. In this way, he is to be a model of godliness so that he can challenge the church to follow his example. --Philippians 3:17. All other terms, with the possible exception of teaching and management, only emphasize this idea.

It should be added that the office of an elder is restricted to men. 1. Timothy 2: 11-12 says, “Let a woman learn in silence and in full docility; But I do not allow a woman to teach or be embarrassed by my husband; on the other hand, she should behave calmly. In the church, women are to be placed under the authority of the elders, excluded from teaching or exercising authority over men.


Elder functions


As the apostolic age drew to a close, the office of elders functioned as the highest level of leadership in the local church. Therefore, it carries a heavy burden of responsibility. There was no higher appeal or greater source of knowledge of God's heart and thoughts with regard to Church matters. The primary responsibility of an elder is to serve as the governing and caretaker of the church (1 Tim. 3: 5). This includes a number of specific tasks. As spiritual overseers of the flock, the elders are to decide the rules of church operation (Acts 15:22); oversee the church (Acts 20:28); ordain others (1 Tim. 4:14); govern, teach, and preach (1 Tim. 5:17; and 1 Thess. 5:12; 1. Tim. 3: 2); admonish and resist erroneous teaching (Titus 1: 9); act as shepherds by setting an example to all (1 Letter  5: 1-3). These responsibilities place elders at the center of the life and work of the New Testament church.


Because of a legacy of democratic values and a long history of congregational church governance, modern evangelicalism often views elders' management with distrust. However, the clear teaching of Scripture shows that the biblical standard of church leadership is a large body of God-called elders. Only by adhering to this biblical pattern will the church be able to maximize the effects of its service to the glory of God.

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