The continued Life of Jesus
through the Apostles
Near the end of their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas
went back through the cities where they had ministered and
“appointed elders in every church . . . turning them over to the care of
the Lord” (14:23).
What does the New Testament teach about the office of elder?
Meaning of the term "Elder"
Greek term is presbyteros, meaning, literally,
“an older person.”
Function/role of Elders
rule the church (Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:2-3);
to watch over/shepherd God’s flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2; Hebrews
to teach the truths of God (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9) to the people
|Qualifications of Elders
||To be one “whose life cannot be spoken
He must be faithful to his wife.
He must exhibit self-control, live wisely, and have a good
He must enjoy having guests in his home and must be able to teach.
He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent.
He must be gentle, peace loving, and not one who loves money.
He must manage his own family well, with children who respect and
obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how
can he take care of God’s church?
He must not be a new Christian, because he might be proud of being
chosen so soon, and the
Devil will use that pride to make him fall.
Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he
will not fall into the Devil’s trap and be disgraced (1 Timothy
3:2-7; see similar list in Titus 1:6-9).
|Number of Elders
||A plurality of elders is described,
if not prescribed, in the New Testament (Acts 14:23;
Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5).
Nowhere is a certain number mandated, however.
|Length of term of Elders
||The New Testament does not specify a
precise term of eldership.
|How Elders are elected
||Those meeting the qualifications seem
to be appointed or chosen by those already functioning as elders
(Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5).
Ordination to the office involved a ceremony that included laying on
of hands, prayer, and fasting (Acts 14:23).
|Proper response to Elders
||Obedience and submission (Hebrews
13:17); respect (1 Corinthians 16:16; 1
|Discipline of Elders
||Accusations or criticisms against an
elder should be received according to 1 Timothy 5:19-21.
If the elder is guilty of an offense, he is to be counseled by
fellow elders with a view toward restoration (Galatians 6:1-2).
If the sinning elder refuses to repent, he is to be removed
from office and disciplined according to Matthew 18:15-17.
(from The Tyndale Handbook of Bible Charts & Maps. Copyright 2001 (c)
by Neil S. Wilson & Linda K. Taylor.)
(Tyndale House Publishers,
Inc., Wheaton, Illinois)