What Are Elders Responsible For?


Text: Ezekiel 34:1-10

 

I.         Oversee the Church - I Peter 5:2

            A.        Shepherding the flock - This is where the term “pastor” comes from

                        1.         They see to it that the church is taught, so all can grow - Ephesians 4:11-16

                        2.         But sheep have a tendency to stray - I Peter 2:25

                                    a.         Because people forget to listen - Hebrews 2:1

                        3.         They watch for dangers from without - Titus 1:9-11

                        4.         And dangers from within - Acts 20:28-29

                        5.         Watch for the spiritual health of each member - Hebrews 13:17

                        6.         This means they must know God’s word

                                    a.         A failing of the Old Testament elders - Jeremiah 10:21

                                    b.         Commended to God and His Word - Acts 20:32

            B.        They rule

                        1.         Not legislating rules

                                    a.         They are held accountable to the rule maker (God) - Hebrews 13:17

                                    b.         They are stewards of God - Titus 1:7

                        2.         Not at authoritarians - I Peter 5:3

                                    a.         “Lording over” means “to domineer, to exercise complete control”

                        3.         Not like worldly leaders - Matthew 20:25-28

                                    a.         Even the apostles did not claim that control of a person’s life - II Corinthians 1:24

                                    b.         Not like a king whom you do not question - Ecclesiastes 8:4

                        4.         The word rule in Hebrews 13:7,17,24 is hegeomai, which means to lead or guide

                                    a.         Thayer defines this word as “leading as respects influence, controlling in counsel.”

                                    b.         They rule by their influence as teachers - I Timothy 3:2

            C.        They serve as examples - I Peter 5:3

                        1.         The qualifications in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 list out area where they should be seen as exemplary Christians

                        2.         They encourage others to follow, as Paul did - I Corinthians 11:1

                        3.         The example of Paul - Philemon 8-9

            D.        They give of themselves - Acts 20:35

                        1.         What manner? Again, the example of Paul

                                    a.         He served the Lord in humility, in tears, and through trials - Acts 20:19

                                    b.         He did not shrink from teaching both publically and privately - Acts 20:20

                                    c.         He did not consider his life important, his work was more important - Acts 20:24

                                    d.         He taught the whole purpose of God - Acts 20:27

                                    e.         He did not cease to warn - Acts 20:31

                                    f.         He did not covet anyone’s money - Acts 20:33

                                    g.         He worked to support himself and those with him - Acts 20:34

                        2.         It is hard work

                        3.         It is not about serving themselves

                                    a.         This is the failure of the elders in the Old Testament - Isaiah 56:11

II.        Things Elders did

            A.        Received donations marked for helping the needy - Acts 11:30

            B.        They represented the church - Acts 21:18-20

            C.        They worked to resolve doctrinal disputes - Acts 15:6

            D.        They resolved conflicts between churches caused by members - Acts 15:23-24

            E.        They prayed for the sick - James 5:14

            F.        They gave their blessings and set people apart for tasks - I Timothy 4:14

III.       The preacher’s duties toward elders

            A.        Don’t quickly accuse without multiple witnesses - I Timothy 5:19

            B.        Reprove them if they sin - I Timothy 5:20

IV.      How the congregation should treat elders

            A.        Know them and esteem them - I Thessalonians 5:12-13

            B.        Make use of them when you have need - James 5:14

            C.        Be willing to submit to their guidance (but not blindly). Try to make their job easier - Hebrews 13:7,17

            D.        Support their work - I Timothy 5:17-18

V.        Who are elders?

            A.        They are spiritually mature men, who serve a congregation, ensuring the church develops as it should and remains true to Christ

            B.        Warnings against elders who fail their duties - Ezekiel 34:1-10

            C.        It takes a lot of patience

                        1.         While written for all Christians, it especially applies to elders - I Thessalonians 5:14-15