The Ordination of Elders – Painting by John Henry Lorimer (1856–1936)
According to the Bible, the focal point all church leadership is the elder. But who, according to the Bible, is an elder? Well, an elder is one of a number of biblically qualified men who jointly shepherd and oversee a local body of believers. The word that is translated “elder” is used almost twenty times in the book of Acts and the epistles.
The Office of Elder
There are numerous passages in the New Testament that indicate that the words “elder” (presbyter), “overseer” (episkopos), and “pastor” (poimen) all refer to the same group of men or office. Some think that overseers and pastors are distinct from elders, but this is not the case. All of these terms are simply different ways of identifying the same group of men. There is a parallel between the qualifications for a bishop (episkopos) in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and those for an elder (presbuteros) in Titus 1:6-9. Paul uses both terms to refer to the same man (presbuteros in 1 Tim. 3:5 and episkopos in v. 7).
In Acts chapter 20 all three terms are used interchangeably. In (...)