Biblical Requirements of Church Elders
Elders: The Biblical Picture of Maturity in the Faith

According to “Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary,” the Greek word 'presbuteros' is translated: “elder.” It is refers to “an old man, and elder.” It is used to denote age and rank or position of responsibility. “ … in the Christian Churches, those who, being raised up and qualified by the work of the Holy Spirit, were appointed to have the spiritual care of, and to exercise oversight over, the churches.” “To these the term 'bishops' 'episkopoi,' 'overseers' is applied … indicating the nature of their work, [and] 'presbuteroi' their maturity of spiritual experience.”

Qualifications of Elders and Deacons
1 Timothy 3:1-13 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted too much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

Instructions to Elders
1 Peter 5:1-3,8&9 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

Refute Error Entering the Church
Acts 15:1-11 Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, ... [God] made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.

Life Style and Purpose of Elders
Titus 1:5-16 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 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. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach ... For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

Instructions to the Man of God
2 Tim 3:16-4:5 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Main Tasks of an Elder
Titus 1:9 may well summarize the elder's two most important responsibilities as he shepherds the church by example: “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Because false teachings will come into the church, elders must become involved in protecting their brothers from false doctrine. Elders must be so loyal to the biblical message, and hold to its sound doctrine with such steadfastness in detail, that they are determined never to stray from it's message. Raising their own children in the faith, will be evidence that they are able to nurture, disciple and discipline others in the church into the fullness of the true biblical faith. In their teachings, and discipling of others, they are to be loyal to the biblical message above their loyalty to their wives, friends, money, power, church, or any other organization. Jude writes to all Christians and tells us to earnestly contend for the faith that was once and for all given to the saints, because certain persons have crept in unnoticed (Jude 3). As they earnestly contend for the faith and oversee the teachings, they will become involved in controversy. Biblical elders can not remain “closet Christians” and effectively “refute those who oppose” the gospel. Because they oppose those who teach false doctrines, their faith will be known publicly. True biblical elders will be zealots for God by displaying their loyalty to God's word.

No one is born an elder. Biblically, the elders of the church are the older, mature married men who have raised a family and are experienced in living a life of faith and have raised their kids in the faith. When we become Christians, we all start as “babes in Christ.” As we mature in the faith (Hebrews 5:12), true elders will discover God's biblical truths and learn to stand for them (1Peter 3:15). During their journey through life, elders are developed by God as they learn to trust him and follow his word.

1 John 4:1 says to test the spirits to see if they are from God. The following books are helpful in learning how to test false teachings. Fast Facts on False Teachings – Ron Carlson & Ed Decker; So What's the Difference? - Fritz Ridenour; The Four Major Cults – Anthony Hoekima; The Chaos of the Cults – Van Balaan; Another Gospel – Ruth Tucker; The Kingdom of the Cults - Walter Martin
         Marshall Almarode (509) 582-5627

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