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ADD TO YOUR LEARNING - The Philippine Teaching Ministry
The Philippine Teaching Ministry ADD TO YOUR LEARNING

LEADERSHIP IN GOD'S CHURCH

Joe Woods - Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Editor's Note: Joe Woods, a member of the Lawrenceville ministry and the Executive Director of Hope For Children, has written this article to help the members of the Atlanta Church prepare for the appointment of elders and deacons. Joe has a Master of Theology degree from the Harding University Graduate School of Religion.


INTRODUCTION

The goal of this study is to gain a better understanding of what the New Testament teaches about leadership roles in God's church. Since Jesus purchased his church with his own blood (Acts 20:28) and is the head of his church (Ephesians 1:22), the starting point for discovering what kind of leaders Jesus wants is his own example and teachings about leaders. Some of the attributes that Jesus emphasized for leaders in his kingdom are:

" Leaders must not put religious traditions above the clear teachings of God. (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-3; Matthew 15:1-11; Mark 7:1-14; John 9)

" Humility is an absolute requirement to lead. (Matthew 18:2-4 Mark 9:35-37)

" Leaders must not be self-righteous. (Luke 18:9-13; John 8:31-58)

" Leaders must be servants -- of the church and of the poor and needy. (Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:32-45; John 13:1-15; Matthew 25:31-46)

" Leaders must be more concerned about their followers than about themselves. (Matthew 18:12-14; John 10:1-16; John 21:15-22)

" Leaders must be spiritual people. (Luke 17:20-21; John 3:1-10)

" Leaders must set an example worthy of imitation. (Luke 6:39-40)

" Leaders must have an "inclusive" rather than an "exclusive" attitude. (Mark 9:38-4; Luke 9:49-50)

" Leaders should be friends with those they lead. (John 15:9-17)

Some things Jesus strongly condemned in the leadership of the Pharisees:


(Matthew 23; Luke 11)
" Did not practice what they preached -- they were hypocrites.

" Made their followers sacrifice more that they were willing to themselves.

" Performed religious acts to get the praise of men.

" Loved to have titles that brought honor to themselves.

" Placed more importance on legalistic rules than on obedience from the heart.

" Were more concerned with outward actions than inward righteousness.

" Were proud of their religious heritage.

" Hindered people from seeing the truth and entering the kingdom.

" Condemned true prophets who exposed the evils of their religious system.

" Loved money and justified themselves in the eyes of men. (Luke 16:14)

LEADERSHIP ROLES IN GOD'S CHURCH (this list may not be exhaustive)

Apostles The basic meaning is "a messenger", "one sent on a mission". "The Twelve" were chosen by Jesus to be apostles. (Matthew 10; Mark 3; Luke 6) A requirement to be an apostle was to have personally witnessed the ministry and resurrection of Jesus. (Act 1:21-26) Therefore, there are no apostles in the church today. Others who were not among "the twelve" are also referred to in the N.T. as 'apostles'. (Barnabas and Paul -- Acts 14:14; Andronicus and Junius -- Romans 16:7; a larger unnamed group -- 1 Cor. 15:7) Apostles had the ability to perform miracles and to bestow the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. (Acts 5:12; 6:5-8; 8:14-18) The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:19-22). The apostles and prophets received direct revelation from God so they could communicate God's inspired teaching to the church until the inspired Scriptures were written.

Prophets The basic meaning is "a proclaimer of God's word". Sometimes it involves predicting the future (Agabus -- Acts 11:28; Paul -- Acts 21:10f.), but that is not the emphasis. A prophet is one who receives God's message by direct revelation and communicates it to God's people.

The prophets were key in communicating God's plan of salvation and his will for the life of the church until the inspired Scriptures were written and available. Some examples of prophets in the book of Acts are found in Acts 11:27; 13:1; 15:32. The prophets, along with the apostles, were the ones who revealed God's plan that all people, not just the Jews, could be saved through Christ. (Ephesians 3:4-6) Paul viewed prophecy as more helpful for the church than the other spiritual gifts. (study 1 Cor. 12-14) God is the one who appointed the prophets in the early church. (1 Cor. 12:28; Ephesians 4:11) Prophecy was temporary. (1 Cor. 13:8-12) Since there are no apostles to impart miraculous spiritual gifts today, there are no prophets in today's church. There are men who proclaim the Scriptures in a "prophetic" way, but they are not speaking by direct revelation as prophets in the early church did.

Teachers Teachers are mentioned along with apostles and prophets as being appointed by God to have an important role in the church. (1 Cor. 12:28-29; Ephesians 4:11-14; Acts 13:1) There were those in the early church with the "gift" of teaching (Romans 12:7). All Christians should mature to the point of being able to teach others the basics of God's word. (Hebrews 5:12) Teachers will be judged more strictly than others. (James 3:1)

Evangelists The basic meaning is "one who brings or proclaims good news". Even though the word occurs only three times in the N.T. (Acts 21:8; Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:5), there must have been a number of evangelists in the early church. Philip, the evangelist, preached and baptized in Samaria, but the apostles came to impart the Holy Spirit through laying on of hands. (Acts 8:5-17) Timothy was an evangelist and he served in the church in Ephesus for an extended period with the primary task of "preaching the word". (2 Timothy 4:1-5) The role of evangelist was very important in preparing God's people for works of service and building unity in the faith and knowledge of Jesus. (Ephesians 4:11-14)

Leaders In addition to specific roles, leaders in the early church are often described in general terms by two Greek verbs ('hegeomai' and 'proistemi') that mean "to lead", "to guide", "to rule", "to govern". The church was obviously divided into those who lead and those who were led. God clearly intends for those who are being led to submit to their leaders, make their work a joy and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7,17,24) God wants us to respect our leaders even though they are imperfect. It is God's will for leaders in the church to be honored, encouraged and followed. Judas and Silas were leaders among the brothers. (Acts 15:22) Those with the gift of leadership are instructed to "govern diligently" (NIV). (Romans 12:8) Christians in Thessalonica were commanded to respect those who work hard among you and "are over you in the Lord" ('proistemi'). (1 Thessalonians 5:12) The word 'proistemi' is used of elders in 1 Tim. 5:17 ("elders who rule well" NIV).

Preachers The word translated "preacher" is 'karux' which means "one who proclaims". The noun occurs 3 times in the N.T., twice referring to Paul and once to Noah. (1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11; 2 Peter 2:5). The verb "to proclaim" occurs 60 times in the N.T. and is used predominantly of Paul, but also of Peter, Philip, Timothy and Silas. Those who preached the gospel had a right to be financially supported by those they served. (study 1 Cor. 9:1-18)

Elders/Overseers/Shepherds These three words are used interchangeably for the same role. For example, in Acts 20:17-38, Paul sent for the "elders" of the church in Ephesus. When they arrived and he was sharing with them, he said the Holy Spirit had made them "overseers" and then he encouraged them to "shepherd" the church of God. Let's look at the meaning of each word:

"Elder" is a translation of the Greek word 'presbuteros'. The basic meaning is

"elder" or "older men". In early Greek literature it was used in a positive sense, emphasizing the wisdom and counsel of the aged.

"Overseer" or "Bishop" are translations of the Greek word 'episkopos'. The basic meaning is "overseer", "guardian", "superintendent". There are only 5 occurrences of 'episkopos' in the N.T.: Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Peter 2:25. There were several "overseers" in each congregation and no one overseer took precedence over the others. Their task was the watchful direction of the congregation.

"Shepherd" or "Pastor" are translations of the Greek word 'poimen'. The basic meaning is a shepherd. Congregational leaders are called "shepherds" (Eph. 4:11). The verb "to shepherd" is used for the work of such leaders in 1 Pet. 5:2, Acts 20:28. These shepherds (also called "overseers" and "elders") are leaders in the local church and take care of the congregation. Jesus himself is the chief Shepherd. (1 Peter 2:25) The required qualities of elders/overseers/shepherds and deacons will be discussed in detail in a later section.


Deacons The Greek word that is translated "deacon" in the N.T. is 'diakonos'. Inmost English translations, 'diakonos' is translated as "deacon" only in 1 Tim.3:8-12 and Philippians 1:1. It is most often translated "servant" or "minister" in the N.T. It would probably help us to view the role of "deacon" more accurately if we translated 'diakonos' in 1 Timothy 3:8-12 and Philippians 1:1 as "servants" and not "deacon" (which is actually a loan-word from the Latin Vulgate translated by Jerome in the 4thcentury). The term "deacon" has come to be associated with a position/title more than a special servant role.

The qualifications of deacons are given in 1 Tim. 3 after those of overseers. The overseers must satisfy more demands, including the ability to teach. It seems that the primary task of deacons was one of administration and practical service, although they must also be well-grounded in the truths of the faith (1 Timothy 3:9). This view is based on the meaning of the word("servant") and (in contrast to the words used for elder/overseer/shepherd)'diakonos' carries no meaning of oversight, ruling or watching over.

The word 'diakonos' occurs 30 times in the N.T. and is translated 6 times (in the NIV) as "minister" (Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 3:6; Col. 1:7;4:7; 1 Tim. 4:6; Heb. 13:10). It is most often translated "servant", which is the primary meaning of the word. "Minister" was not so much a title in theearly church as a function of being a servant of the church. 'diakonos' is used to refer to the following individuals in the N.T.: Paul (1 Cor.3:5; 2 Cor. 6:4; Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:2, 23), Apollos (1 Cor. 3:5); Timothy (1 Tim.4:6; 1 Thess. 3:2); Phoebe(Rom.16:1);Tychicus (Eph.6:21; Col. 4:7) and Epaphras (Col. 1:7). In some of these cases their "servant" role seemed to involve preaching and teaching.

'diakonos' occurs in the feminine gender only once in the N.T. "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea." (Romans 16:1, NIV) Only one major English translation (RSV) translates the word as "deaconess". It seems that Phoebe was being commended by Paul for her exceptional serving of those in the church in Cenchrea, and not for serving in the office of a "deaconess".

LEADERSHIP GROUPS MENTIONED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

" The Apostles. (see discussion above)

" Seven Special Servants in Jerusalem (Acts 6). The men chosen for the special task of serving the Grecian widows were very spiritual men -- known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. Stephen was the first martyr in the church and Philip was also an evangelist (Acts 21:8). We should always choose spiritual people to be in charge of meeting needs in the church. These are not referred to as "deacons". However, even though they were not deacons in the fully developed role, with its specific qualifications given by Paul to Timothy, they may have been "prototypes" of the "deacon" role in the church.

" Elders in Jerusalem. They received the financial contribution from Antioch brought by Barnabas and Saul. (Acts 11:30) They welcomed Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem. (Acts 15:4) They met with the apostles to consider the Gentile issue. (Acts 15:6) The apostles and elders, along with the whole church, chose Judas and Silas to go to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. (Acts 15:22) Paul met with James and the elders and reported what God had done among the Gentiles. They advised Paul to take a vow to help the Jewish Christians accept him. (Acts 22:17f.)

" Five Prophets and Teachers in Antioch. (Acts 13:1)

" Elders in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch (Acts 14:23)

" Overseers and Deacons in the church in Philippi (Philippians 1:1)

" Elders in the churches in Crete (Titus 1)

" Elders in the Asia Minor Churches (1 Peter 5:1-4)

" There is no example in the N.T. of a "leadership committee", "men's business meeting", "steering committee", etc. making decisions for the church.

SELECTION OF LEADERS IN THE EARLY CHURCH

" Judas's replacement as an apostle. (Acts 1:21-26)

The selection process:

a. Peter gave the qualifications -- been a part of Jesus' ministry from the beginning and witnessed the resurrection.

b. The group (seemingly the 120 believers) proposed two men who had the qualifications

c. They prayed.

d. They cast lots.

" The Seven Special Servants in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-7)
The selection process:

a. The Twelve expressed the need and asked all the disciples to choose seven men from among themselves.

b. The Twelve gave the qualifications required (known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom).

c. The whole group was pleased with the plan and chose seven men.

d. The group presented the men to the apostles.

e. The apostles prayed and laid their hands on them.

" Elders in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch
Appointed by Paul and Barnabas. (Acts 14:23) The text is silent about what role the congregation played in the selection.

" Elders in Crete
Appointed by Titus, under Paul's direction. (Titus 1:5)
Again, the text is silent about what role the church played in the selection process.



" There is no information about how the elders were selected in Jerusalem, Ephesus, Philippi, or Asia Minor.

" Observations about the selection process for leaders in the church:

a. God chose not to give a specific process to be used in all situations in all churches.

b. When the apostles were present, elders could be appointed by them or under their direction.

c. The principles applied in selecting Matthias and the 7 special servants in Jerusalem would probably serve us well.

d. The men selected should meet the qualifications set by God.

e. The entire group was actively involved in the selection process.

f. Prayer was central in the process.

" In conclusion, there seems to be great latitude about the process by which we select leaders in our congregation.

QUALITIES REQUIRED OF ELDERS/OVERSEERS/SHEPHERDS

Paul wrote to both Timothy and Titus about the importance of appointing elders/overseers/shepherds in the churches they were serving. Timothy was in the church in Ephesus and Titus was helping the churches on the island of Crete. Paul gave very clear instructions about the kind of men they were to appoint to oversee and shepherd their respective churches. These lists of qualities should probably be viewed as painting a picture of the kind of men who should serve in the role, and not a formal or complete "checklist". The necessary qualities can be categorized in the following areas - their example and reputation, their personal character, their leadership in their own family, and their ability to teach the word.

Example and Reputation

"Blameless" - 'anegkletos' (Titus 1: 6,7 -- also required of deacons in 1 Tim3:10)
The basic meaning is "blameless", "beyond reproach", "free from accusation". It clearly does not require perfection, or there would never have been one elder in the church!

"Above reproach" -- 'anepilemptos' (1 Tim. 3:2) The idea of being above criticism. It is someone who cannot be successfully attacked, even by non-Christians. This is a man whose life is of such quality that it is not easy to discredit him in any area.

"Good reputation with outsiders" (1 Tim. 3:7) It is very important for overseers to be respected in the non-Christian community so that Jesus and his church are respected.

Personal Character Qualities (in no particular order)

"Temperate" -- 'nephalion' (1 Tim. 3:2) The literal meaning is "holding no wine". Later became used for a sober manner of life. Figuratively refers to having the clearness of mind and self-control necessary for performing well in the role of a spiritual leader.

"Self-controlled" -- 'sophron' ((1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8) Means moderate, sensible, self-controlled, prudent. This is a quality of character that implies that a person has the spiritual strength to show restraint whenever it is needed. It is easy to see why this is a desire quality for someone leading in the church, since there are many situations which call for restraint and composure.

"Disciplined" -- 'egkrates' (Titus 1:8) This word has a similar meaning to 'sophron' above. It is the idea of being able to master, control, curb or restrain oneself. An overseer must be someone who is strong and has the ability to control his own passions. He must be controlled by God's will and not by other people or circumstances.

"Respectable" -- 'kosmion' (1 Tim. 3:2) Means well-behaved, modest, proper, orderly.

"Hospitable" -- 'philoxenos' (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8) Refers to being generous, hospitable and loving strangers. An elder should be someone who is generous with his time, money, and possessions. He should have a heart of sharing with all people as he has opportunity. The NT Christian is always ready (Heb. 3:2) to show hospitality, and to do so with zeal (Rom. 12:13) and cheerfulness (1 Pet. 4:9).

"One Who Loves What is Good" -- 'philagathos' (Titus 1:8) According to the interpretation of the early church the word relates to the unwearying activity of love. Aristotle calls 'philagathos' the man who places his ego under the good. This is a person who loves what is good and right, no matter what. He is more concerned about what is right than who is right. He is happy when good things happen no matter who gets the credit.

"Upright" -- 'dikaios' (Titus 1:8) The range of meanings is righteous, good, just, proper, honest, innocent, in a right relationship with God An elder should be living an upright life, but also be someone who understands the grace of God and trusts in the blood of Jesus for his righteousness.

"Holy" -- 'hosios' (Titus 1:8) Means devout, pious, righteous. An overseer should be a man who recognized that he is set apart for God's purposes and lives a life of submission to God.

"Gentle" -- 'epieikes' (1 Tim. 3:3) The basic meanings are forbearing, considerate, yielding, equitable, fair, patient. It includes the idea of not insisting on the letter of the law in any given case. It is used to express moderation or kindness toward men. It is used of the "meekness" of Christ. Jesus is gentle as only one who has full power can be. The weak are always anxiously trying to defend their power and dignity. 'epieikas' is not weakness or sentimentality. Elders should have the quality of being patient and fair. They should be men who can look below the surface and

"Not Given to Drunkenness" -- 'parounos' (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7)

"Not Violent" -- 'plektes' (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7) This is the idea of someone who is not a bully, not eager for a fight, not contentious, not quarrelsome. An overseer should be a person who is more eager to peacefully and patiently work things out rather than fight and argue.

"Not Quick-tempered" -- 'orgilos' (Titus 1:7) This refers to someone who is not inclined to anger and is not quick to lose his temper. Unrestrained anger can be especially harmful if it is in a leader's life.

"Not Quarrelsome" -- 'amachos' (1 Tim. 3:3) The meaning is peaceable, not contentious, abstaining from a fight. This word is the opposite of the word 'mache' which is used in Greek literature for physical combat, sporting contests or in general, conflict or battle of words or opinions. Being 'amachos' means to be peaceable and not involved in battles over words or opinions.

"Not Overbearing" -- 'authades' (Titus 1:7) The meaning is not self-willed, self-pleasing or arrogant. An elder must not be a person who is focused on his own agenda and getting his way. He should be focused on meeting the needs of others. He should be a good listener. Not like Diotrephes. (2 John 9-10)

"Not a Pursuing Dishonest Gain" -- 'aischrokerdes' (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim. 3:8 -- also required of deacons) The basic meaning is being greedy for material gain. An overseer must not be greedy or materialistic. The N.T. calls a greedy person an "idolater" (Eph. 5:5), so leaders must not be greedy.

"Not a lover of money" -- 'aphilarguros' (1 Tim. 3:3) The meaning includes greed, as the word above, but emphasizes the love of money. This word is the negative of 'philarguros' in 1 Tim. 6:10, which says "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil". The one other occurrence of 'aphilarguros' is in Heb. 13:5, "keep yourselves free from the love of money". Since overseers are involved in making financial decisions in the church, it is important that they not be greedy or love money.

"Not a Recent Convert" -- 'neophutos' (1 Tim. 3:6) This is the word from which the English word "neophyte" is derived. In the N.T. it occurs only here and it means recently converted. No specific time is given, so it is up to the judgment of the congregation.

Paul says that a recent convert is more susceptible to becoming conceited in the role of an elder and should not be appointed - for his own benefit as well as that of the church.

Spiritual maturity is essential for stable leadership.

Family Qualifications

"Husband of one wife" (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6) Clearly an elder must be married, and to only one wife.

"Manage his own family well" (1 Tim. 3:5) Paul views spiritual leadership in the family as a "training ground" for spiritual leadership in the church. He says if a man cannot take care of his own family, how can he take care of the church? It is wise to look carefully at a man's relationship with his wife and children to see how he will lead in the church.

" Children
a. "his children obey him with proper respect" (1 Tim. 3:4)

b. "not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient" (Titus 1:6)

c. "children who believe" (NIV) or "faithful children" (KJV, NKJV) (Titus 1:6)

This passage uses the adjective "believing" or "faithful" children, which is the
Greek word 'pistos'. 'pistos' can mean faithful, reliable, trustworthy as well as a believer in the sense of being a Christian. The context would determine the meaning of the word. The word occurs 63 times in the N.T. For example, it is translated faithful in Mt. 25:21; 1 Cor. 1:10; 3 John 5; and others. It is translated "believer" in 2 Cor. 6:15; 1 Tim. 4:12; 6:2; and others. If it is taken to mean "believing" children, then Paul would be saying that an elder's children must be Christians. If it is taken to mean "faithful" children, then Paul would be saying that an elder must be raising his children in such a way that they are respectful, obedient children but not necessarily Christians. The emphasis here seems to be on the man's ability to influence his children to be obedient and respectful and to develop a faith in God.

Note on "desire to serve". In 1 Tim. 3:1, Paul says "If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task." This seems to imply a genuine desire to serve as an overseer is necessary. It is more like volunteering than being drafted. Serving well as an elder in a large church is very demanding spiritually and emotionally. It requires a huge sacrifice of time and energy. It can take away some time and energy that should be given to one's family. It can also put pressure on a man's wife and children. Maybe this is one reason why God wants them to be doing well before a person serves as an elder. It is an honorable and noble act of service, but each one must evaluate his own family situation and decide if or when he should serve as an elder.

The qualifications for elders can be summarized in the following three areas: example (includes personal life and family), ability to oversee the affairs of the church, and the ability to effectively teach the Scriptures. A person should have all these to be effective in the role of shepherding the souls of God's people.

Ability to Teach

"Able to teach" -- 'didakton' (1 Tim. 3:2) Beyond the character and family qualities, this is the one gift or skill that an elder MUST have. An overseer must not just be a good person, with a good family -- he must have a thorough knowledge of the scriptures and have the ability to teach effectively. The word 'didaskolos' (teacher) was used in Greek literature in the sense of "master of instruction".

"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 1:9)
An elder must have deep convictions based on the word of God, and be mature enough not to be swayed from it. He must be able to use the scriptures in a positive way to encourage people. He must have the boldness to confront anyone teaching false doctrine and the ability to refute it using the scriptures. As a shepherd of the souls of the flock, he must watch out for those who would destroy the faith of Christians and be able to silence them by using the scriptures. "Elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching." (1 Tim. 5:17) It seems that some of the elders in Ephesus focused their efforts on preaching and teaching, but all were to have the ability to teach.

QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONS (1 Tim. 3:8-13)

There are some similarities and some differences to elders' qualifications.

"Worthy of respect" -- 'semnos' (1 Tim. 3:8) This word means serious, of good character, honorable, a man of dignity.

"Sincere" -- 'me dilogos' (1 Tim 3:8) Literally means not two-faced or double-tongued. A deacon needs to be an honest person who is not a gossip or a hypocrite. He also needs to be someone who is solid in his love for God, not weak and wavering spiritually.

" Other personal qualities which are the same (or very similar to) those for elders are:

a. Not indulging in much wine

b. Not pursuing dishonest gain

c. Husband of one wife

d. Manage his children and household well (believing/faithful children not mentioned)

e. Keep hold of the deep truths of the faith

" Deacons wives. The word translated wives is 'gune', which can mean "wife" or

"woman". There are some who see this as a reference to "deaconess", but that is not clear from the text. The same word is translated "wife" in 1 Tim. 3:2,12; Titus 1:6. The qualities required of deacons wives are:

b. Worthy of respect

c. Not malicious talkers

d. Temperate

e. Trustworthy in everything

" Testing -- Paul instructs Timothy that deacons are to be tested before they formally are given the role of deacon.

" There is not a requirement that deacons have the ability to teach as elders do.

ROLE OF ELDERS/OVERSEERS/SHEPHERDS

The meanings of the words used for this role are descriptive of the function of elders. They are men who are mature and able to give wise counsel and advice. They are men with the ability to oversee and direct the affairs of the church. And they are men who are capable of feeding and protecting God's sheep. Please study the following key passages which speak to the role of elders in God's church.

Acts 20:17-38

" v. 28 -- "keep watch over yourselves" - Paul told the elders to very carefully watch their own lives. Elders should be a "self-policing" body, helping each other to deal with sin in their lives and protecting each other's faith. In v. 30, Paul warned them that even from among their own number (either from among the elders or at least from within the church) that men would arise and distort the truth and draw disciples to follow them. It is the job of elders to act as shepherds who protect the flock from false teachers and people who would destroy their souls.

" v. 28 -- "keep watch over...all the flock" "be shepherds of the church of God" - This is a role of spiritual shepherding. The shepherds are to care for and protect God's people. Jesus is the best example of a spiritual shepherd (John 10). Please study Ezekiel 34 to see God's heart about what he wants the shepherds of his people to be.

" v. 28 -- "the Holy Spirit has made you overseer" - No matter what the selection process from a human standpoint, elders can know that they are doing God's work. They are to oversee the affairs of the church in the many areas of opinion that are not addressed in the Scriptures.

" v. 32 -- "I commit you to God" - God is the ultimate source of guidance, strength and comfort for elders (and all of us).

" v. 32 -- "I commit you to...the word of his grace" - The message of God's grace is the foundation on which an elder must build his life and service. He should be "strong in the grace" as Paul told Timothy (2 Tim. 2:1). An elder should always remember that he is but a sinner saved only by the blood of Jesus. He is not a leader in a legalistic system like the Pharisees. This will keep him humble and help him to persevere.

" v. 34 -- "these hands of mine have supplied my needs as well as those of my companions" -- Paul was an apostle and servant of the church. He modeled hard work for the elders. He supported himself as well as his companions while in Ephesus.

" v. 35 -- "I showed you by this kind of hard work we must help the weak" -- Paul modeled for the elders that they should live a sacrificial life and especially be focused on helping the poor and needy.

1 Peter 5:1-6

" v. 2 -- Peter, as a fellow elder, tells the elders that they should be willing and eager to serve. They should not serve out of obligation only, but have a deep desire to help other get to heaven.

" v. 2 -- "not greedy for money" -- Peter emphasizes, as Paul did, that elders must not be motivated by money.

" v. 3 -- "not lording it over those entrusted to your care" -- It is very important for elders to be humble and understanding in their leadership. They must not be tyrants, ordering and controlling people. This is consistent with Jesus's teaching about leaders. (Matt 20:25-28)

" v. 3 -- "be examples to the flock" -- Elders are to show the flock how a Christian should live. They are to be models for the believers. There influence comes from their example, not their title.

1 Timothy 5:17-20

" v. 17 -- Elders who serve well, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching, are worthy of "double honor". Some elders focus on preaching and teaching.

" v. 18 -- The point is made that elders who preach and teach have the right to financial support. The same verse (Deut. 25:4) is quoted as in 1 Cor. 9 in the discussion about preachers having a right to financial support.

" v. 19 - Paul instructed Timothy not to entertain an accusation against an elder without two or three witnesses. Since elders have to confront false teachers and refute false doctrine, enemies of the truth may slander them. This is probably the reason for this caution.

" v. 20 -- If it is established that an elder is in sin, he is to be rebuked publicly. It is essential that the leadership of the church maintain its credibility.

James 5:14-15

" One role of elders is to pray and serve those who are sick. This give us a glimpse into the compassionate heart and genuine concern for the flock that elders should have.

© 2004-2008 Rolan Monje. All Rights Reserved.