David Devenish explains the qualifications for eldership, the role of an elder and how the church recognises this anointing.
THE SCRIPTURE: Acts 14:21-23 (NLT)
“After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia,where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.”
A STORY FROM THE WORD OF GOD:
“The disciples were filled with Joy and the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52
These new churches needed establishing
Confirmed the outline of apostolic doctrine
Taught them that we enter the Kingdom through many hardships
Appointed “elders” in each church
LOCAL CHURCH LEADERSHIP IN NEW TESTAMENT TIMES:
Three words used:
- Elder Presbuteros - Maturity. Respect.
- Overseer Episkopos - ability, given by God (Acts 20:28)
- Do shepherding Poimen - function and the manner of their function
These three words describe the same people in Acts 20:
- “From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.” v17.
- “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds (literally “care for”) of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” v28.
The function of elders / overseers / shepherds is:
- To lead or manage - 1 Tim 5:17
- To teach - 1 Tim 3:2
- To shepherd - Acts 20:28
- To pray for the sick
Discipline of leaders is proportional to their authority - 1 Tim 5 v 19-20, James 3:1
HOW ARE ELDERS RECOGNISED?
The call anointing/appointing of God
Recognition by existing elders and apostolic ministry
Received by the people. “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church.” Acts 14:23