Question:

A brother in our area is claiming to be "an elder for life" even through he has moved from one congregation to another and not been a serving elder in either. He was an elder for a congregation, but that eldership was dissolved because of his domineering attitude and holding this and other false teachings. Any insights would be appreciated.


Answer:

"This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil" (I Timothy 3:1-7).

"For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you -- if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict" (Titus 1:5-9).

"The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away" (I Peter 5:1-4).

Just because a man claims to be an elder it does not make it so. Nor is a man who is qualified to be an elder always qualified. The qualifications are listed in the present tense. Notice the frequent mention of "must be." These are not optional qualifications. An elder must always demonstrate these qualities. For example, an elder must not be violent. It cannot be argued that he used to be a peaceful man or that he sometimes is a peaceful man.

In addition an elder is only appointed over a congregation (Titus 1:5). An elder in one congregation has no "jurisdiction" in another congregation. If he moves to another congregation, he is no longer an elder unless the new congregation asks him to serve as one for them.

But this man lost his position because he violated the rule that elders are not to be lords over the church. His behavior indicates that the determination was just. If he tries to make himself an elder in a church, then he should be withdrawn from because he remains unrepentant in sin.

Thanks. We are withdrawing, sadly. He is being given space to repent. The congregation is in agreement.