Before we start this study on elders, it is essential that we remember – Jesus is the Head of the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:15, 5:23; Colossians 1:18, 2:19).
Jesus has died for His church and purchased us with His own blood (Acts 20:28). God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). The Spirit has sealed the church until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:32). It is through faith in the name of Jesus that we have been rescued (Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus has given us access by the Holy Spirit to God the Father (Ephesians 2:18).
The elders have not died to rescue the church. They could not die in the place of the church. The elders are sinners and unable to save themselves, let alone the church. The elders are not the saviors or lords of the church. Peter even said to the elders of his original audience that they could not be domineering (1 Peter 5:3). This word is the eternal Word of God, and still applies to the elders of our churches today.
Peter also told those elders that the Chief Shepherd is going to appear. He commanded them to shepherd the flock of God that was among them. Then he gave the solemn reminder that there is a Chief Shepherd, and He is coming. In other words, he told them, “You are shepherding these people, but keep in mind you have a Boss. You have a Shepherd-in-Chief. You have a Lord, who has died for His sheep. They are His. Someday you will give an account for the way you care for His sheep.”
In Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:1-4, the elders were told that the church is God’s flock. Shepherd the church of God. Feed the church of God. The New Testament never says the church is the elder’s church. It is always clearly the church of God. This is true, because He purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28).
So, as we consider elders, let’s be careful and clear. This church family is not my church. It is not the church of the leaders. It is Christ’s church. He is the One who personally watches over, strengthens, and cares for His church. That means He is in charge. He is the One to whom we will all give an account – elders and members alike.
When we discuss elders, the Bible does not present a board of autocrats calling the shots the way they want. The elders are Jesus’ servant-leaders of His church. The elders are leaders under the Leader, and they are responsible to lead the church His way. The members of the church are members of Jesus’ body, and as such, we must trustingly obey the commands of our Head.
Jesus is the Head of the Church. As we continue this study(and every Bible study!) let’s resolve as a church body and individuals in that body to serve the Head, His way, together.
Questions for thought and discussion:
Read Ephesians 1:15-23 and 1 Peter 5:1-4 in their context.
• What does it mean that Christ is the Head of the Church?
• Why is Christ the Head of the Church? What gives Him that right?
• Who’s is the Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, of the sheep?
• What implications does this have on the body of Christ as a whole, and the body of elders as leaders?
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