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 (...)
This is the second in a series on the subject of “Leadership, Authority and Submission”. The first article was entitled Jesus – The Chief Shepherd. It discussed the often misapplication of 1 Samuel 15:22-23.
What do the scriptures have to say about the subjects of authority and submission? Well, Jesus had a lot to say about spiritual leadership. He said that leaders in the church should be servants. Christian leaders should not act as gentiles who “lord it over” people. A good example of this principle is found in Matthew chapter 20.
Matthew 20:25-28 (KJV) – “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.