The word “elder” in the Bible is the Greek presbyteros, which simply means “a leader of the church”. There are other words that describe this office as well such as epískopos which means an “overseer” or “administrator” and poimen which could be translated “pastor” or “shepherd”. However, they all refer to the same position. An elder is someone who leads the church in a shepherdly way. They lead it with great maturity and wisdom.
We might add that every church in the New Testament had elders that we know of. We do not know of any other form of church government in the Bible. So for instance, there were elders in the Churches of Jerusalem, Ephesus, Galatia, Pontus, Cappadocia, Bithynia, Philippi, Antioch, Thessalonica, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Crete. And they all had to be qualified for office. You could not just say to someone, “Do you want to be an elder? Okay, you are an elder.” The Bible gives us an examination process which is laid out for us in Titus 1:7-9:
For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
And this is what we are currently studying at Grace Fellowship Church. We are looking at the qualifications for an elder in preparation for the day when we will be ready to expand our elder board. We are taking a detailed look at this passage so that we will know what to look for when it comes time for us to appoint new leaders in our church.
So far, we have looked at the first half of this passage, but this week we are going to look at the end. In verses 8-9, Paul says that an elder must be devout, self-controlled, and able to teach. In other words, he must be Godly, disciplined, and able to present the Word of God to people. Come join us this Sunday morning as we learn what that means. We meet at 9:30 at 46024 Riverside Drive in Chilliwack. Join us as we study this amazing passage and learn more about God’s plans for the church and its leaders. These are exciting days for us at GFC. We look forward to sharing them with you and enjoying this wonderful portion of God’s Word together. See you there! – Jeremy Cagle