Local Church Tasks: Elders

Church (Local) Tasks: Elders

I Corinthians 12:28-29; Ephesians 4:11-16


I.         Terms

            A.        Elder or Presbyter (presbytros) - someone older and experienced (I Timothy 3:6)

            B.        Overseer or Bishop (episcopos) - a superintendent, a person who watches over and directs those given to his charge (Hebrews 13:17)

            C.        Pastor or Shepherd (poimeen) - a person who watches, feeds, and protects those given to his charge.

            D.        All terms used for the same duty in I Peter 5:1-4

            E.        Not the same as a preacher / evangelist / minister (Ephesians 4:11)

            F.        Yet some might have both duties (I Timothy 5:17)

            G.        Always mentioned in the plural. The implication is that congregations do no have just one elder.

II.        Duties

            A.        I Peter 5:2-3

                        1.         To watch over the spiritual needs of the congregation

                                    a.         To see that each Christian is growing

                                    b.         To see that false doctrine is not being taught

                        2.         Their method of leadership is not that of a dictator

                                    a.         Rule (hegeomai) means to lead or to guide (Hebrews 13:17, 24)

                                                (1)       Luke 22:25-26 - Not the power of world rulers

                                    b.         They guide first by showing how to live as Christians

                                    c.         A shepherd does not drive his flock but walks in front and the sheep willingly follow (Hebrews 13:7)

                                                (1)       They rule by the influence of their teaching

                                    d.         They must especially be watchful over their own lives, since others follow (Acts 20:28)

                                    e.         They have charge over (proistemi) the congregation.

                                                (1)       Literally means to be placed in front, to lead (I Thessalonians 5:12)

            B.        Acts 15:4-6

                        1.         They ensure the soundness of the doctrine being taught by the congregation’s members

                        2.         They are not the source of doctrine. They make sure the members stay within the bounds of the teachings delivered.

                        3.         They enforce sound doctrine by their knowledge of the Scriptures and their ability to use God’s word to convict false teachers (Titus 1:9-11)

            C.        Titus 1:7

                        1.         A steward manages the affairs of the master’s household

                        2.         They take care of God’s house (the members) - I Timothy 3:5

                        3.         They will given an accounting of their work to the Master - Hebrews 13:17

            D.        Acts 11:30

                        1.         They represent the congregation and act on its behalf

                        2.         In this case they received gifts sent to the members of the congregation and saw to the distribution of those in need

            E.        James 5:14

                        1.         They comfort the brethren who are in need

            F.        What is expected of an elder are the things every Christian ought to do. The difference is that elders are responsible for seeing that it happens.

            G.        Preachers have some similar responsibilities, as do most Christians. There are overlapping duties, such as teaching and upholding sound doctrine, but a preacher and the men of a congregation are not substitute elders.

III.       What Elders are Not

            A.        They have authority but are not authoritarians. That is, exercising complete or almost complete control over the will of others

                        1.         Not a source of power. The Greek words for headship or power, arche and archo, are never applied to elders

                        2.         Not a master or dictator (despotes)

                        3.         Not the standard (kanon)

                        4.         Not a lord (I Peter 5:3)

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

                                    b.         Elders are forbidden to be authoritarian.

            B.        Not self-willed. It isn’t about them or what they want - Titus 1:7

IV.      Qualifications - I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9

            A.        These are traits all Christians ought to have. But elders must have these characteristics in order to be effective in carrying out their duties.