Thinking Biblically About Elders

Transcript Search
A Church That Functions Biblically  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  48:42
0 ratings

A healthy church requires healthy leaders who raise up healthy members. This is accomplished when there are healthy elders. To have healthy leaders we must know what they are to look like.

Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →


Over the next three weeks we are going to do a mini series.
My desire has been and will always be for Believers in Jesus Christ to think Biblically.
As I look at my time as pastor here drawing to a close, there are three areas I want to challenge Grace Church to think Biblically in.
Because I want Grace Church to be…
A Church That Functions biblically
Today we look at the first of these three areas.
As we begin, let’s pray.
I love a good fictional story.
To be more specific, I love stories with magic and special abilities.
There exists what I call my nerd jam.
My nerd jam is books, movies, or TV shows that merge science fiction with ancient times or things.
Recently I listened to a book that was my nerd jam.
It was about an ancient race of robots who had lived amongst us for millennia.
It was great.
There was one part of the book where the leader of the robots convinced all the other robots to join him in a multi-year sleep because they had conquered the world.
The problem was, he was lying.
He was actually going to harvest the energy from the other robots to keep himself alive.
What this story highlights is the necessity of having a good leader.
History is filled with men who were eloquent, passionate, and charismatic; but they were immoral.
These men were placed into positions of leadership and devastation was the result.
When a leader is not healthy, everyone suffers.
This holds true in the spiritual realm as well.
Today we are going to talk about elders.
Elders are essential to the healthy function of the local church.
However, the elders themselves must be healthy and know both their role and function.
In addition.
The membership of the local church must be able to identify what a healthy elder looks like and how he is to function.
Why? Because.
The health of the local church depends on having healthy leadership.
We could sum it up this way.
Christ desires His church to be healthy.
A healthy church requires healthy leaders who raise up healthy members.
Therefore, as a church, we must be able to identify healthy leaders.
Scripture is not silent on this issue.
Scripture provides detailed information about what a healthy leader looks like.
Today we will consider elders.
Healthy elders are necessary for the local church.
There are three components of a healthy elder.
Where there are healthy leaders there will be a healthy church.
Component #1…

1. A Healthy Elder Is Qualified

It is an almost universal rule that you want someone in a position when they are the most qualified person for the job.
In the workforce, you want someone qualified to fill a role.
The Body of Christ is no different.
We need qualified people to serve in positions of leadership.
How do we know if someone is qualified to be an elder?
Great question!
Scripture gives us the qualifications of an elder in two passages.
We are going to briefly look at them this morning.
The qualifications listed in these two passages are very similar.
There are, however, two major differences.
In 1 Timothy, the difference is the answer to this question.

a. Does he want it? - 1 Timothy 3:1-7

1 Timothy 3:1 NKJV
1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
Bishop - ἐπισκοπή (episkopē) visitation; position. church oversight n. — the office of watching over, directing, and caring for a church. Noun (genitive object), feminine.
Bishop - ἐπισκοπή (episkopē)
Literally, this word means overseer.
In other passages it is translated elder.
So bishop, overseer, pastor, and undershepherd are all descriptions of the same office.
This is a position, given to a man, through which he helps to lead a church.
Paul writes here that the person placed into this office needs to “desire” it.
There are two different Greek words translated “desire” here.
The idea being presented is that the position of elder needs to be something someone both longs for and is working toward or striving to achieve.
Let’s keep reading.
1 Timothy 3:2 NKJV
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach;
The primary qualification of an elder is found in this word “blameless”.
The rest of the description in this passage details for us how someone is blameless.
The husband of one wife - a one woman man.
This is one of the clues that lets us know that the office of elder is reserved only for Biblically qualified men.
Temperate - not extreme in behavior.
Sober-minded - Possessing and exercising self-control.
Good behavior - they act appropriately.
Hospitable - they treat guests and strangers well.
Able to teach - this is something that sets Elders apart from Deacons. Elders need to be able and willing to teach. There needs to be some skill, some ability, at teaching.
Let’s keep going.
1 Timothy 3:3–7 NKJV
3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Not given to wine - better translated “not addicted to wine.” You can drink, but don’t get drunk.
Not violent - not a bully. Not the kind of person who is looking for a fight.
Not greedy for money - this is a desire for money that doesn’t care how the money is obtained.
Gentle - kind, merciful and tolerant.
Not quarrelsome - they are peaceable.
Not covetous - They do not love money.
Rules his house well - He must be the leader of his home. His children need to be under his authority and behave with dignity.
This point brings up the reality that we are not talking about perfection. We are talking about the normal description of his life.
v. 5 asks an important rhetorical question.
The idea is this.
If we cannot lead our household well, we cannot lead the church well.
An elder must not be a new believer.
If a new believer is placed into this position the temptation for pride may be too much and he may fall.
Finally, someone who is an elder needs to have a good reputation among unbelievers.
These are the qualifications Paul listed for Timothy.
Here’s the bottom line.
An elder must desire the position and live a life that glorifies Christ.
Repeat - read aloud
None of us will fulfill these qualifications perfectly.
However, obvious violation of the things listed here leaves someone disqualified for the position of elder.
There is the question we get from 1 Timothy. Does he want it?
Paul’s instructions to Titus differ from those given to Timothy in the answer to this question.

b. Is he able? - Titus 1:5-9

Titus 1:5 NKJV
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—
Here we run into an important point.
In the local church there are to be a plurality of elders.
Meaning, there should be more than one.
Why? We’ll get to that.
Let’s keep reading.
Titus 1:6–8 NKJV
6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled,
Most of this is a repetition of 1 Timothy.
Again we encounter the basic requirement, blamelessness.
Be above reproach. Unaccusable.
When talking about the children of an elder, they are here called to be faithful.
They need to be dependable, reliable.
What does that mean?
They cannot be charged with excessive behavior to the point of sin.
Nor can they be charged with defiant rebellious behavior.
An elder is to be blameless because he is a steward of God.
He is someone called by God to supervise the church, to lead and manage.
He cannot be self-willed. This means stubborn. It is the idea of being primarily concerned with self.
Quick-tempered - easily angered.
Not a drunkard, not a bully, not greedy.
Hospitable appears again, as does sober-minded.
Lover of what is good. This needs to characterize the life of an elder, a love for good things.
Just - righteous, moral.
Holy - Pure.
Self-controlled - his desires are under control.
Most of that sounds similar to 1 Timothy.
Here in v. 9 is where we get into some different territory.
Titus 1:9 NKJV
9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
The elder must be able to defend the truth.
By holding to the Word he has been taught.
Holding fast – ἀντέχομαι (antechomai) be devoted to; help. to be devoted v. — to give oneself entirely to a specific person, activity, or cause. Verb, present, either middle or passive, participle, singular, accusative, masculine.
Holding fast – ἀντέχομαι (antechomai)
God’s Word is described here as faithful.
This word means reliable or certain.
An elder must be devoted to the Word of God.
He must view it as reliable and certain!
He also needs to have been taught.
This is not necessarily formal education, though it can be, what this represents is that They know the Word of God and have been trained in it by others.
Why is it important that an elder know the Word and be trained in it?
Part of an elders job is to use sound doctrine to exhort and convict those who contradict.
This is an ability that an elder must have!
One of the things I want to note is that all these qualifications are in the present tense.
These are things that must be true of a man at the moment he is being considered for the position of elder.
We don’t put someone in the position of elder and then work on the qualifications, to do so violates Scripture.
We place a qualified man in the position.
The end of v. 9 moves us from qualification to role, so we will deal with that in the next point.
Here’s the bottom line in this passage.
An elder must know the Word and be able to use it effectively to minister to others.
Repeat - read aloud
These are the qualifications of an elder.
These are not optional.
To be placed in the role of an elder, a man must meet these requirements.
This has all dealt with who an elder is, now we move to what an elder does.
There are three components to a healthy elder.
Component #1: A healthy elder is qualified.
Component #2…

2. A Healthy Elder Knows His Role

When we talk about someone’s role, we are discussing what they are to do.
In a sense, this is a job description.
In the work force, an unclear job description leaves everyone frustrated.
The worker is frustrated because they don’t know what is expected.
Everyone else is frustrated because things are not getting done.
To be effective in our service for Christ, all of us need to know what we are supposed to do.
The role of an elder is best seen in two passages.
The first of these passages reveals…

a. The Elders Priorities - Acts 6:1-4

Priority #1 - The Word of God.

Before we go to Acts, let’s finish Titus 1:9.
Titus 1:9 NKJV
9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
Sound doctrine means healthy teaching.
Correct and accurate instruction.
That is what people who contradict need!
It is the Word of God that changes lives!
Through the Word of God, the elder is to exhort and convict.
Exhort – παρακαλέω (parakaleō) urge; implore; exhort. to exhort v. — to earnestly support or encourage a response or action. Verb, present, active, complementary infinitive.
Exhort – παρακαλέω (parakaleō)
Convict – ἐλέγχω (elenchō) expose; reprove; convict. to sternly admonish v. — to admonish someone strongly; likely using argumentation to convince and refute. Verb, present, active, complementary infinitive.
Convict – ἐλέγχω (elenchō)
The elder is to be able to encourage and confront those who contradict.
Contradict - those who speak against, speak contrary and oppose the Word of God.
The teaching, defending, and explanation of the Word of God is a primary task of the elder.
We see this clearly in Acts 6. Go there with me.
Acts 6:1–2 NKJV
1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.
Verse 1 is the setup.
There was a problem in the church.
“Desirable” in v. 2 means acceptable, pleasing, or satisfactory.
The idea is that there needs to be men in the church who are devoted to the Word of God!
There are other men who are devoted to the task of practical service, we’ll get to that next week.
Priority #1 for the elder is the Word of God.

Priority #2 - Prayer.

Look at vv. 3-4.
Acts 6:3–4 NKJV
3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
“Give ourselves continually to” is one Greek word.
The idea of this word is “be devoted to”.
An elder is to devote himself to prayer.
The third priority is also mentioned in this verse.

Priority #3 - Ministering.

Ministry is the idea of service.
The elder is to devote himself to serving people through the Word of God.
These are the priorities of the elder.
The Word of God, prayer, and ministry.
Here’s our lesson.
An elder who knows his priorities is able to serve well.
Repeat - read aloud
This is the role of the elder, to know and function in the proper priorities.
Be a man of the Word, a man of prayer, and a man who serves.
As the elder serves in his role, he must know his priorities.
In our second passage we learn of…

b. The Elders Objective - Ephesians 4:11-15

Ephesians 4:11–15 NKJV
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—
Verse 11 gives us the gifts that some elders will have, more on that later.
Verse 12 reveals the first objective.

Objective #1 - Equipping.

The word “for” is a preposition of purpose.
This is why those listed in v. 11 are given to the church.
To equip the saints for ministry.
This is the idea of preparation or completion.
The task of an elder is to prepare the body of Christ, the saints, to minister.
By the way, every single person who has believed in Jesus Christ is a saint.
That means that every single believer is called to do ministry.
Ministry just means service.
The elder equips believers for service.

Objective #2 - Edifying.

Edifying means to build something towards completion.
The elder is to build up others in the body of Christ!
For how long?
Ephesians 4:13 NKJV
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
Until there is unity of faith and knowledge!
There will not be perfect unity this side of heaven.
We are to build others up until Christ calls us home.
The end of verse 13 introduces us to our third objective.

Objective #3 - Maturity.

“Perfect” means mature.
The measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ is the idea that one day we will be perfectly conformed to His image!
That will take place when we are glorified.
The elders task is to bring people toward maturity.
Look at verses 14-15.
Ephesians 4:14–15 NKJV
14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—
No longer children, not immature.
A child is easily deceived and swayed.
The mature know truth and stand firm on it.
The mature speak the truth in love.
The mature look like Christ.
This is the objective of an elder.