Roles in the Church: Elders

What’s the different between an elder and a deacon? Or a pastor and a New Testament prophet? We have been studying these different roles in the church in our New Testament Church class. We thought we’d share what we learning about each role, blogging about a different one each day.

 Elders (AKA, “pastors”, “bishops”, “overseers”, “presbytery”)

The Greek word for elders, “presbuteros“, literally means: “an old man, an elder”.

Oversight of the local assembly (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2, Hebrews 13:17);
by teaching, feeding, and equipping (1 Timothy 3:2, 4:6, 1 Th. 5:12, Ephesians 4:12);
by protecting and shepherding (Acts 20:28-30, 1 Pet. 5:2, Titus 1:9, 2:7-8, 2 Tim. 2:24-25);
and by modeling (1 Peter 5:3, Hebrews 13:7, and Philippians 3:17).

“So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.” Acts 20:28 (NLT)

One of the five elders in the Pai Tavy Tera tribe in Paraguay.

Scripture refers to a plurality of “elders” in a church, not just one (Acts 14:23-15:2,4,6,22, 20:17,18, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:5, Hebrews 13:7,17).

Qualifications: 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9, 2 Timothy 2:2, and Titus 1:5

“This is a trustworthy saying: ‘If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position.’ So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? An elder must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall.  Aso, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.” 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (NLT)

“An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. An elder is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money. Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.” Titus 1:6-9 (NLT)

Notes taken from MTC’s New Testament Church class.


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