Picturing Elders – Overview

God is so kind to us. He knows our frailties. He knows how we think. He leans into us in kindness and speaks to us in ways we can understand. That is a beautiful thing. God has spoken to us in the Bible. He did not have to, but He did. He has revealed Himself and His plan.

One of the ways He shows kindness is by explaining truth to us in a pictures. Most of us think in pictures. If I say, “Dog,” you have a picture of dog that appears in your mind. That goes for “cat”, “tree”, “hat” – you know what I mean. God kindly leans into us and teaches us truth with pictures.

He has done this with the truth concerning church leadership. He uses picture words as titles for these men, and this helps us understand what they do.

In the upcoming posts, we will look at the words “elder,” “steward,” “overseer,” and “shepherd.” You probably had pictures come into your mind when you read “elder” and “shepherd.” Did you see an old man with a beard for “elder”? If not, you do now! When I said shepherd did you picture a little boy in a Christmas play with a shepherd’s staff and bathrobe? Or did you see a picturesque scene of a man calmly standing in the midst of resting sheep? These words provide us with pictures to help us understand the roles and purposes of elders.

As we consider these words, keep in mind that they are used interchangeably for the word “elder.” In Acts 20:17-38 the words “elders” and “overseers” are used as titles for the same group of men. “Shepherd” (sometimes translated “feed”) is what these elder-overseers are to do (verse 28). Titus 1:5-7 used the words “elders”, “overseer,” and “steward” as interchangeable titles. So, the elders are stewards, overseers, and shepherds.

We will take short looks at these title in the upcoming posts. This will give us a pretty clear picture of what the do.

Be sure to check our the next post on the word “elder.”

Questions for thought and discussion:

– What pictures come into your mind when you think of elders, stewards, overseers, and shepherds?

– Do you think the picture in your mind is the same that God was painting in Scripture?

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani @ Unsplash.com

Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by

permission. All rights reserved.