According to the Bible, elders are responsible to:
- LEAD – “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17)
- MODEL – “…not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:3)
- EQUIP – “…pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service.” (Ephesians 4:11-12)
- PROTECT – “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock” (Acts 20:28)
- TEACH – “able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2); “…those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17)
Qualifications of an Elder
1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4
“An elder must be blameless” (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6)
Attention to the selection of a leader saves grief later. Character is paramount.
- PERSONAL QUALIFICATIONS
- “Above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2) – Probably a summary statement of all the qualifications
- “Temperate” and “not given to drunkenness” (1 Timothy 3:2-3) – Moderate in use of alcohol; free from excessive things
- “Self-controlled” (1 Timothy 3:2) – Sober-minded; not given to rash decisions based on immature thinking
- “Respectable” (1 Timothy 3:2) – Honorable; consistent life
- “Able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2)
- “Not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome” (1 Timothy 3:3) – Sweetly reasonable; not contentious; abstaining from fighting. Not a hothead. “Don’t go about the world…carrying a theological revolver in the leg of your trousers” (Spurgeon)
- “Not a lover of money” (1 Timothy 3:3) – Not diverted by money from ministry; not greedy
- “Not a recent convert” (1 Timothy 3:6) –
- “Must have a good reputation with outsiders” (1 Timothy 3:7) – When a Christian leader has a bad reputation in the community, it causes irreparable harm to the church
- DOMESTIC QUALIFICATIONS
- “The husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2) – Most commentators agree that this means “faithful in marital obligations; monogamous; a one-woman type of man.”
- “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) (1 Timothy 3:4-5) –
- RELATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS
- “Hospitable” (1 Timothy 3:2) – Hospitality was needed to host Christian strangers who might come through town. This doesn’t mean entertaining, but rather helping those who are in need of shelter.
- DOCTRINAL QUALIFICATIONS
- “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 3:9)
A Biblical Picture of Church Government
- The congregation selects representatives and officers.
(Acts 6:3,6) Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom…They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
- Unrepentant believers are disciplined by the congregation.
(Matthew 18:17) If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
- Leaders and representatives are accountable to the congregation.
(Acts 14:27) On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
- Direction is set by the elders.
(1 Timothy 5:17) The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
- Doctrinal decisions are made by the elders.
(Acts 15:6) The apostles and elders met to consider this question.
- Authority is entrusted to the elders.
(Hebrews 13:17) Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
“Elder-led; congregationally accountable”