Thinking Biblically About Elders

Our church family is studying Paul’s letter to Titus. It is a short offering. There are only forty-six verses in the whole letter. It may take a slow reader fifteen minutes to read the whole thing. Yet, it has take our church a long time to study the first chapter of this book.

This is true for a few reasons. Quarantines, regulations, special occasions have slowed down our study. There is a more important reason; namely, we have been studying the word “elder.” As a matter of fact we took 10-12 weeks to look at that one word. Seriously? One word. Elders. Three months. Why?

One reason we have taken so long is to clear up confusion and disagreement in our church family. By disagreement, I do not mean nasty arguments. I mean the kind of disagreement where we simply don’t agree on the meaning of a concept and how that concept plays itself out in church life. For some in our church family, the word elder was another term for deacon. For others it meant older people in the church. Others simply thought of the Presbyterian denomination. There were other ideas as well. There still may be other opinions. However, we took about three months to work through the Bible’s teaching on elders. We worked through this to clear the air and get us all on the same page.

We studied elders by:

1. Studying their titles, which are actually picture words describing who they are and what they do.

2. Looking at multiple passages that were addressed to elders or descriptive of elders. We studied:

• Acts 20:17-38

• 1 Peter 5:1-4

• 1 Timothy 3

• Other passages

3. Studying Titus 1:5-9 to understand their qualifications and purpose. The main qualification we studied was being “above reproach” or “blameless.” This was the overarching quality. Then Paul then showed what that would look like in:

• The Elder’s Family

• The Elder’s Attitudes and Behavior

• The Elder’s Commitment to the Good News of Jesus

I hope to have a series of posts that discusses our study of elders in detail. Such a study will serve as a review for our church family. This will also serve as a resource for our church family for future discussion regarding elders in the local church.

Anyone else who finds this helpful, please feel free to join in and use it!