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.
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
" 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;
" 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;
" 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;
" Leaders must set an example worthy of imitation.
" 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.
Some things Jesus strongly condemned in the leadership
of the Pharisees:
(Matthew 23; Luke 11)
" Did not practice what they preached -- they
" Made their followers sacrifice more that they
were willing to themselves.
" Performed religious acts to get the praise
" Loved to have titles that brought honor to
" Placed more importance on legalistic rules
than on obedience from the heart.
" Were more concerned with outward actions than
" Were proud of their religious heritage.
" Hindered people from seeing the truth and entering
" 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
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
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
'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
" Elders in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian
Antioch (Acts 14:23)
" Overseers and Deacons in the church in Philippi
" Elders in the churches in Crete (Titus 1)
" Elders in the Asia Minor Churches (1 Peter
" 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
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
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
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
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
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
" 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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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.
"Husband of one wife" (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus
1:6) Clearly an elder must be married, and to only
"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.
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"
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
QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONS (1 Tim. 3:8-13)
There are some similarities and some differences to
"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
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.
" 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
" 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
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
" 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.
" 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