A Question About Elders

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Question: In what way do “elders” (see 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1 and 1 Peter 5) function among the people of God today?
Answer: When the church was formed, there was unity. The New Testament Scriptures were not yet completed. God would have all things done decently and in order. In Acts 14:2323And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts 14:23) the Apostle Paul appointed elders (plural) in every church (assembly). Scripture never teaches that only one man should have such leadership in an assembly. In the same verse, they prayed with fasting and commended them to the Lord on whom they believed. The Holy Spirit is to have liberty to control the assembly and the meetings held by it.
When Paul spoke to the elders of the assembly at Ephesus, he did not tell them to appoint successors, to choose a pastor, or to make a constitution. He commended them “to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:3232And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. (Acts 20:32)).
Then what about today? Since no one has authority to appoint elders, we do not appoint any. We should, however, recognize those who, without official title, morally function as elders in the local assembly. (This service is only for the local assembly.)
A brother, who once had a question about this, went to an older, respected brother in his local assembly. He asked him, “I read in the Bible about elders. What about elders today?” After some thought the older brother replied, “Well the chances are if you ever met one, he’d never admit to being one.” The brother said later, “I knew then that I was talking to one.” Such humility is characteristic of one who fills the office of an elder without appointment.
The aged Apostle John referred to himself as “the elder.” As an apostle appointed by the Lord Jesus, he was known as an elder. Age alone does not qualify one to act in the capacity of an elder. In 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 we learn that proper behavior is requisite. “Not a novice” implies a proving of one’s self over a period of time. A number of things are mentioned, including a scriptural marital relationship and an orderly family. Having a good report of those without is another important characteristic. Such men have morally proved themselves.
Hebrews 13:7, 177Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. (Hebrews 13:7)
17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)
tells of those who had guided the people of God. We are to follow their faith, not their foibles or failures. They ended well (vs. 7). We are to submit ourselves to their teaching and leading. They are responsible to God and must give an account to Him of how they handled their responsibility (vs. 17). They are also to be “counted worthy of double honor” if they rule well (1 Tim. 5:1717Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. (1 Timothy 5:17)).
T. A. Roach