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Elders. οἱ πρεσβύτεροι. Elders in the OT. זָקֵן , zaqen means old or elder Probably 30 years old or older (Num 4:3, 23, 8:25; 1 Ch 23:24) . Jesus began his public ministry at age 30 (Lk 3:23) The idea of elders was present in the pagan societies of Egypt and Moab (Gen. 50:7; Num. 22:7)

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  1. Elders οἱ πρεσβύτεροι

  2. Elders in the OT • זָקֵן, zaqen means old or elder • Probably 30 years old or older (Num 4:3, 23, 8:25; 1 Ch 23:24) . • Jesus began his public ministry at age 30 (Lk 3:23) • The idea of elders was present in the pagan societies of Egypt and Moab (Gen. 50:7; Num. 22:7) • The NT list in Titus 1 and 1 Tim 3 are to clarify pagan perceptions of elders • Num 11:11-17 some were given of Moses’ Spirit

  3. Elders in the OT • They were not always right (1 Sam. 4:3) • Elders could serve locally as elders of a city (Judg. 8:14), regionally as a tribe (Judg. 11:5), and nationally (Exod. 3:16) • They shared the load of Moses (Exod. 18:13–26; Deut. 1:13) • The elders were a witness for the congregation, esp. in relation to the covenant (Deut. 27:1; 31:28; 32:7; cf. 2 Kings 23:1–3).

  4. OT Principles • The Elders were of an age greater than 30 • They were under the authority of God, and were often accountable for the sins of the people. • The appointment seems to be by the people rather than a leader as Moses, or a succession as the Levites.

  5. NT Terms Five Terns That Describe an Elder • There are four main terms used to describe this position of authority: (elder, overseer, shepherd, steward) • These terms are not honorary titles but descriptions of work to be done. It would be wrong to call someone "Elder Brewster” or "Pastor Charlie Brown" • In the next table, you will notice four individual terms (elder, overseer, shepherd, steward) and one collective term (eldership: which is simply the plural of term elder). • http://www.bible.ca/ntx-elders-pastors-bishops.htm The next two tables were drawn from this source.

  6. Elder Governed Church

  7. Elder Governed Church

  8. Elder Governed Church

  9. How do we choose elders? • Jesus spoke with authority (Matt 7:29) • Jesus selected His disciples (John 15:16) • Jesus is God (John 1:1-5) • God is over Jesus and Jesus is over every man (1 Cor. 11:1-2) • Jesus gave little instruction about the Church or Elders (Matt 16:18) • Eph 4:11-16

  10. How do we choose elders? • All the early church assemblies were established by church plants -- most by Paul • Paul was not called an elder as was Peter (1 Pt 5:1) • It is unknown who began Rome – ironically neither Paul or Peter were there • How was their church government? • Were there elders or deacons? • Who was the pastor?

  11. How do we choose elders? • The early church was participatory or democratic • Acts 6:2-3 the assembly selected the deacons • Acts 13:1-2 the vision for missions came to the group assembled • The counsel of Jerusalem in Act 15 was settled with all different views expressed • Elders were assumed to exist (Act 11:30)

  12. Who Chooses the Elders? • Elders (presbyteroi) are also called bishops (episkopoi) without implying any essential difference in the office (Acts 20:17, 28 ) • Titus 1:5 they were appointed by Paul (though never called an elder) through Titus (cf. Act 14:21-23) • Paul is the first pope not Peter (joke) • 1 Tim 3:1 aspire to the office (BDAG)

  13. Who can be an Elder? • Personal Qualifications • Public Qualifications • Family Qualifications • Ministry Qualifications • Ed Glasscock “The Biblical Concept of Elder”Bibliotheca Sacra Volume Vol. 144, Page 73-74.

  14. Personal Qualifications • 1. “Temperate”—avoiding extremes • 2. “Prudent”—showing good judgment, common sense • 3. “Not addicted to wine”—not abusing wine • 4. “Not pugnacious”—not having a violent temper • 5. “Gentle” (in contrast to pugnacious)—being patient or considerate • 6. “Uncontentious”—being peaceful in nature • 7. “Free from the love of money”—not being greedy for personal gain • 8. “Not a novice”—having been saved long enough to develop a spiritual maturity and wisdom

  15. Personal Qualifications • 9. “Not self-willed”—not trying to get one’s way, looking out only for oneself • 10. “Not quick-tempered”—not being easily angered • 11. “Loving what is good”—being loyal to moral and ethical values • 12. “Just”—being fair and honest • 13. “Devout”—being devoted to God in worship • 14. “Self-controlled”—being able to control oneself under adverse or tempting circumstances.

  16. Public Qualifications • 1. “Above reproach”—having no questionable conduct that would bring accusations • 2. “Hospitable”—being receptive and open to people • 3. “Good reputation with those outside”—having a morally and ethically upright testimony with the unsaved.

  17. Family Qualifications • 1. “Husband of one wife”—literally, being “a one-woman type of man,” that is, not a flirtatious man but one who is content with his wife • 2. “Manages his own household well”—being a spiritual leader of his family • 3. “Children under control with dignity”—having children who obey respectfully • 4. “Children who believe, not accused of dissipation”—having children who display faith (possibly “faithfulness”), who are not living recklessly, who are not rebellious to their fathers.

  18. Ministry Qualifications • 1. “Able to teach”—having ability to instruct in doctrine (possibly “teachable”) • 2. “Holding fast the word of truth”—being firm in doctrine and not compromising Scripture • 3. “Exhort with sound doctrine”—encouraging believers by means of correct doctrine • 4. “Refute those who contradict”—standing against and stopping false teaching.

  19. Troublesome words • 1 Timothy 3:2 δεῖ οὖν τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνεπίλημπτον εἶναι, • It is necessary then the Overseer be above reproach • Necessary • Present tense “be above reproach”

  20. Troublesome words • νηφαλέος, [nephaleos], adj. Three occurrences (1 Tim 3:2,11; Titus 2:2); AV translates as “sober” twice, and “vigilant” once. 1 sober, temperate. 1a abstaining from wine, either entirely or at least from its immoderate use. Strong, James. • Early Gk. usage was for complete absence, “Holding no wine,” TDNT 4:939 • νήφω, verb (1 Th. 5:6, 8; 2 Tm. 4:5; 1 Pt. 1:13; 4:7; 5:8) • 1 Tim 5:23 “a little wine”

  21. One wife • Titus 1:6 … mias gynaikos anēr, man of one woman • 1 Timothy 3:2 …mias gynaikos andra, • Or “a man married only once,” “devoted solely to his wife” (see 1 Tim 3:12; 5:9; Titus 1:6). The meaning of this phrase is disputed. It is frequently understood to refer to the marital status of the church leader, excluding from leadership those who are (1) unmarried, (2) polygamous, (3) divorced, or (4) remarried after being widowed. A different interpretation is reflected in the NEB’s translation “faithful to his one wife.” NET

  22. OT qualifications for Priests • Lev 21:14 • Ezekiel 44:20-24 • Lev 10:9 • Prov 31:4 • 1 Pet 2:9; Ex 19:6; Isa 61:6, 66:21; Rev 1:6

  23. Faithful or Believe Titus 1:6 • pistos adj. AV translates as “faithful” 53 times, “believe” six times, “believing” twice, Strong • Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, (1 Cor 4:17)

  24. Unsaved or Prodigal • asotia, prodigality, a wastefulness, profligacy (a, negative, sōzō, to save) Vine • Two NT occurrences • Eph 5:18 • 1 Pet 4:4 • 2 Mac 6:1-4 the riot and lawlessness in the temple • Prov 28:7

  25. Church Fathers • “The presbyters also must be compassionate, merciful towards all men, turning back the sheep that are gone astray, visiting all the infirm.” • Polycarp To the Philippians 5.

  26. Plurality of Elders • In every instance where elders are mentioned in connection with the church, there are plural elders in a singular church (e.g., James 5:14, τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους της ἐκκλησίας; Acts 14:23, κατ ἐκκλησίαν πρεσβυτέρους).

  27. Conclusion • Acts 20:17, 28: “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church…. ‘Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.’“ • The words “among which” (ἐν ᾡ) refer to the flock in Ephesus.

  28. Conclusions • We as a body are a priesthood of believers (1 Pet 2:9-10) • We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16) • Elders were chosen from fathers of families, and were appointed over tribes in Israel • In the New Testament they were probably appointed by apostolic authority in most cases

  29. Conclusions • Is there a Biblical basis to self-appointed (by the body) Elders? • Who is the authority of our church? Who chooses Elders? • Is this behavior to be expected of everyone? Are Christians to aspire to act like Elders or Widows? • How important is our own walk with God in the selection of Elders?

  30. Conclusions • Let those to whom God has given liberty and freedom (franchise) use it…as singular benefit and a treasure that cannot be prized enough. Calvin • Ephesians 4:16 “from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

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