Route 21 - Elders and Deacons - Philippians 1:1
As seen in the lesson on the Church, it is from among the saints, who comprise the church, that all other positions of
responsibility come. God intended for the church to be organized in order to carry out His purposes in its
edification, work, and worship. Today's lesson will focus on those individuals who act on behalf of the church in an
official capacity. We will look at their names or descriptions, their qualifications, and their responsibilities.
Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
21 - Elders and Deacons - Philippians 1:1
Elders (Shepherds, Pastors, Bishops, Presbyters, Overseers) and Their Responsibilities
There are three Greek terms used to describe those men known as elders.
21 - 1st Peter 5:1-2
- Elder - Greek: "presbuteros" - one advanced in life, and elder, a senior.
- Presbytery - an assembly of elders
- Shepherd - Greek: "poimen" - a herdsman, feeder.
- Pastor, Shepherd, To Feed (verb tense)
- Overseer - Greek: "episkopos" - an overseer, a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by
others are done rightly; any curator, guardian, or superintendent.
- Elder = Shepherd = Overseer = Presbyter = Pastor = Bishop
21 - Acts 14:23
- There is to be a plurality of elders in each church.
- Acts 20:17
21 - Acts 20:28-31
- Elders in the church have no legislative authority, but are to see to the spiritual well being of the church, as a
shepherd guards his flock.
- They are on guard against false teachers.
- Autonomy of local church: Elders are limited in their oversight to the local congregation from which they have
been appointed, ruling over only one local church. See 1st Peter 5:1-3.
- Tend the flock, exercising oversight, not lording it over the flock.
- Watch over the souls of the brethren. See Hebrews 13:17.
- Rule - go before, to show the way, to guide, to lead
- Rule with diligence. See Romans 12:8.
Qualifications of Elders
21 - 1st Timothy 3:1-7
21 - Titus 1:6-9
**Notice that both passages indicate a man MUST have these qualities before he can serve as an elder in the
Lord's church. And it is not a list of requirements of an eldership, but of each man, individually. Each man must
- Man - Mature male
- Desire the position - He cannot enter the office with a reluctant attitude since he would not do a good job.
Although he may not enjoy the prospect of the difficult tasks he will face, he can still have the desire to enter the
office for the good of the cause of Christ.
- Blameless - not guilty of wrong doing. When he sins, he will seek immediate forgiveness and resolution.
- Husband of one wife - a married man, living in scriptural union with only one woman, as provided by the marital
laws of God.
- Temperate - Sober, thinking with a clear head and self-control, so as to be very watchful.
- Sober-minded - Sensible, prudent; of sound mind. Calm and cautious. Not rash, impulsive, or unstable (from
alcohol, mental disturbance, etc.).
- Of good behavior - Orderly, well behaved, of good conduct in attitude, manners, appearance and all relations
- Hospitable - Generous (to guests), loving (to guests). Kind in meeting strangers, receiving them in the home,
and supplying their needs.
- Able to teach - Skillful in teaching. A diligent student of the Bible should be able to teach it. Formal, oratory
skill is not implied. Impart spiritual information and defend it in the face of error.
- Not given to wine - Not addicted to strong drink. It can be shown from scripture why it would be wrong to even
drink socially today.
- Not violent - Not a striker. Not quarrelsome, contentious, ready with a blow, fist fighter.
- Not greedy for money - Not covetous, desirous of filthy or dishonest gain, or excessive desires for material
goods that lead to ungodly methods to obtain them.
- Gentle - Avoids contention, kind, mild, reasonable.
- Not quarrelsome - Not of an argumentative spirit, trying to create an argument out of every statement or
expression of others.
- Not covetous - Not having a disposition of a greedy heart toward possessions. Not willing to resort to
dishonest methods to gain possessions.
- Rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence - Superintends,
presides over his family. Having domestic or home relations in order. His wife and children will be submissive to
his leadership in the home.
- Not a novice - Not a new convert. Having knowledge, experience and wisdom in connection with spiritual
matters. Men are not made elders in hope that they might grow into maturity.
- Good testimony among those who are outside - A good reputation among non-Christians. Fair in business
dealings, proper conduct at social or civic gatherings, pays debts, honest in testimony in secular matters,
supports moral decision of a community.
- Having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination - Must have offspring who are
Christians. Old enough to obey the gospel as well as old enough to commit "dissipation and insubordination." If
a man cannot lead his children to become Christians, what effect can he have as a leader to lead others to
Christ? Plural children? Not necessarily. Genesis 16:1, Genesis 11:30, Genesis 21:7, Luke 20:27-31,
Ephesians 6:1, 1st Timothy 5:4 and 10, Luke 14:26.
- Not self-willed - Not stubborn or arrogant or self pleasing. Open minded to suggestions that may be better
- Not quick-tempered - Not irritable or quick tempered or hot headed. Not as likely to make rash or
unreasonable decisions with an unclear mind.
- A lover of what is good - Loving all good: good men, good character, good traits, good deeds. Should seek
to develop the good in every Christian and encourage them to be more like Christ.
- Just - Upright, fair, rendering to each his due. Honest, not showing partiality or prejudice.
- Holy - Religious and pure life. Devout and pious toward God. Hates sin more and more while loving God more
and more. Avoids becoming involved in things that have a shadow of question as to their purity.
- Self-controlled - Self-governed, mastering, curbing, restraining. Control of desire so as to abstain from all that
is unlawful. Exercised at all times, not just in the assembly.
- Holding fast the faithful word that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict
those who contradict - As faithful students of the Bible, they will be able to use it properly to not only seek
positive growth among the members, but protect the church from those who pervert the scriptures to their own
Responsibilities of Local Church to Elders
21 - Hebrews 13:17
- Obey and submit to them that they may do their work with joy.
- They will answer to God for how well they rule the members.
21 - 1st Thessalonians 5:12-13
- Recognize, esteem highly, and love them for the work they are willing to do on behalf of the church.
21 - 1st Timothy 5:17-19
- Count them worthy of double honor, supporting them if needed.
- Do not receive criticism against an elder without proper justification. Do not listen to gossip about elders.