Elders (An Introduction)

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
(1 Peter 5:2-4 KJV)

I have been pondering the positions assigned within the called out assembly. One major one is elders. For a time I thought this just meant older people, or people who have been pursuing Christ longer. While this definition is correct, it is not complete. For a more full understanding, let us look at the greek word used for elder:

presbýteros, pres-boo’-ter-os; comparative of πρέσβυς présbys (elderly); older; as noun, a senior; specially, an Israelite Sanhedrist (also figuratively, member of the celestial council) or Christian “presbyter”:—elder(-est), old. “


The part of the definition that popped out at me was the Israelite Sanhedrist and that it also refers to the members of the elders that lay down there crowns at the feet of Jesus in Revelation.

The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
(Revelation 4:10-11)

This showed the position of authority the person, called an elder had in the Jewish tradition and how that has translated into the Christian church. The elders still fall down and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords showing who has the true authority as it was supposed to be throughout the entirety of the scriptures.

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
(Matthew 20:25-28)

With this in mind let us look at Titus chapter 1 and 1 Timothy 3.

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
(Titus 1:5-9 KJV)

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
(1 Timothy 3:1-7)

The first thing to note is that Paul refers to ordaining elders but then goes on to call them bishops. Bishops and elders are the synonyms when it comes to Biblical Christianity. Secondly there are many qualifications to being appointed to this roll: blameless, one wife, faithful children, selfless, slow to anger, sober, meek or not quarrelsome, not getting gain, lover of good and those who do it, just, holy, temperate, not a novice, rules own house well, and having sound doctrine.

This is a long list but shows that it not only relies on the man, but on the results and fruit of his labor found throughout his direct family, wife and children. Blameless is a great one as it means not bringing reproach on himself nor on Christ or His church. So good fruit and not bringing reproach in either behavior or doctrine.

Speaking of sound doctrine, this is a tough one for many people. People like to believe that there are many different ways of interpreting scripture that results in many different doctrines. This is why there are so many “denominations.” However this one phrase, sound doctrine, disproves all of that.

ὑγιαίνω hugiainō, hoog-ee-ah’-ee-no; from G5199; to have sound health, i.e. be well (in body); figuratively, to be uncorrupt (true in doctrine):—be in health, (be safe and) sound, (be) whole(-some).


Hugiainō doctrine, is doctrine(teaching) that is uncorrupt, it is whole and without error. If the doctrine is not without any error then you cannot be an elder. This proves that there is ONE true doctrine, and all other variations, differences of opinion, or different interpretations are all error and corruptions. We have to let the scriptures speak for themselves and not add to or take away. Every time we do so, we are in error and are corrupting God’s word. Remember Jesus is the Word made flesh, do you want to try to change Jesus and His Word to another Jesus. My answer is simply, “No.” and I pray that yours is as well.

A bishop must be must be a steward of God and not selfwilled. These descriptors go hand in hand. The 1828 defines steward as:

STEWARD, noun [G., a room. The steward was then originally a chamberlain or a butler.]

5. In Scripture and theology, a minister of Christ, whose duty is to dispense the provisions of the gospel, to preach its doctrines and administer its ordinances.


And defines selfwilled as:

SELF-WILL’ED, adjective Governed by one’s own will; not yielding to the will or wishes of others; not accomodating or compliant; obstinate.


What did a chamberlain or butler do for their master, whatever the master of the house willed. Any and all requests are met with absolute obedience, they even learn what is needed so that they are prepared without a verbal request. They live to know the will of their master. As Christians that is what we should strive for, but not because it is a “job” or “required” but because we love our Master in heaven and is of special importance for one to be ordained an elder of Christ’s body.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
(1 John 5:2-3 KJV)

Not self-willed. If a person is governed by his own will, will not yield to others and/or God, or is just an obstinate person, he cannot be an elder.

Think about the 5th definition of steward from Webster’s. This definition shows a person that is pouring out into the brethren, to be in subject to the gospel in order to preach doctrine and administer ordinances. This cannot come from an obstinate person, one who thinks his opinion and word is law. This is how the Catholic corruption, Mormanism, and other heresies come into the body of Christ.

Unfortunately for many religious establishments that invoke the name of Christ, this is exactly what is seen. A single head pastor, who deified by the congregants, who “lords” over them and exacts his will on many if not all aspects of the “church.” Many times full of pride, expecting others to serve him rather than the other way around.

An elder is a special position held by those who are sound (without error) in doctrine. They are showing good fruit through their family, in their dealings, in their spiritual life, and within the body of Christ. The elder is after God’s heart, serves others, and is blameless. It is a high calling with high responsibility. They help the body stay on the narrow path, and feed the sheep of Jesus. To sum it up, elders are commanded to be above reproach, and yet humble for God resists the proud.

I strive to be worthy to be called an elder one day. We all should.

If the Lord will, there will be a more in-depth treatise on elders coming soon.

Timothy (A Family Serving the King)

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
(Ephesians 6:10 KJV) My emphasis added.

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