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INTRODUCTION

The following is a rough daft of a study of the qualifications of an elder based on an outline of mine. In my original outline, I grouped the qualifications as positive or negative. In this study, I followed the grouping of the qualifications in Shepherds Among Their Sheep by Arthur W. Adams.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

H. Stanton See

1

 

DEFINITION OF TERMS

 

There are three terms that are used interchangeable in the Bible with reference to the office of the elder. There three terms are elder (or presbyter), bishop (or overseer), and pastor (or shepherd). Each one of these terms tells us something about the qualifications of the elder. So let us look at the definitions of each one of these terms so we can understand what each one of these words tells about the qualifications of the elder.

The first one is elder (presbuteros presbuteros) and is defined as:

Moulton – elder, senior; older, more advanced in years.

Green – elder, senior; older, more advanced in years.

Thayer – advanced in life, an elder, a senior.

Vine – an adjective,…, an old man, an elder.

Now let us look at the following passages where this word is used:

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your OLD MEN shall dream dreams." (Acts 2:17)

"So when they had appointed ELDERS in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed." (Acts 14:23)

"Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and ELDERS, about this questions." (Acts 15:2)

"Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the PRESBYTERY (presbuterion – a body of old men, an assembly of elders)." (1 Tim. 4:14)

"For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint ELDERS in every city as I commanded you—" (Titus 1:5)

"The ELDERS who are among you I exhort, I who am a FELLOW ELDER (sumpresbuteros – from sun, together with, and presbuteros, an elder) and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:" (1 Pt. 5:1)

This word emphasizes the maturity that comes with age. This word points out the fact that an elder is an older man and not a young man in his late teens or early twenties like the Mormons teach. My own personal thinking is that a man would have to be at least in his fifties to be old enough to be an elder.

The second word is bishop or overseer (episkopos epikopos, noun; episkopeo episkopew , verb). Episkopos is defined as:

Green – pr. an inspector, overseer; watcher, guardian.

Vine – lit., an overseer.

Thayer – an overseer, an man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian, or superintendent

Zodhiates – watcher, overseer. In the NT the elders are called episkopoi [the plural of episkopos] (Acts 20:28), knowing the watchful care which those holding this office are to exercise (cf. 1 Pt. 5:2).

Episkopeo is defined as:

Green – to look at, inspect; met. to be circumspect, heedful, He. 12:15; to oversee, to exercise the office of episkopos, 1 Pe. 5:2.

Vine – lit., to look upon, (epi, upon, skopeo, to look at, contemplate),…

Thayer – to look upon, inspect, oversee, look after, care for.

Now let us look upon the following passages where this word is used:

Acts 20:28 – "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."

Phil. 1:1 – "Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:"

1 Tim. 3:1,2 – "This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop (episkope – the office of a bishop or overseer. Lit., ‘(if any one seeketh) overseer-ship,’ there is no word resenting office.), he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;"

Titus 1:7 – "For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,"

1 Pt. 5:2 – "Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;"

This word tells us that a man must be able to see what needs to be done and make sure that it is done like a foreman, etc. at work.

The third term is pastor (poimen poimen – noun; poimaino poimainw – verb). It is defined as follows:

Moulton – Noun – one who tends flocks or herds, a shepherd, herdsman; met. a pastor, superintendent, guardian. verb – to feed, pasture, tend a flock.

Vine – noun – a shepherd, one who tends herds or flocks (merely one who feeds them), is used metaphorically of Christian "pastors," Eph. 4:11. Pastors guide as well as feed the flock.. verb – to act as a shepherd.

Thayer- noun – one who tends flocks or herds, a shepherd, herdsman; met. a pastor, superintendent, guardian. verb – to feed, pasture, tend a flock; trop. to nourish, promote the interest of; met. to tend, direct, superintend.

Zodhiates – noun – shepherd. verb – to shepherd, tend. It involves much more than bosko, to feed. It implies the whole office of the shepherd, guiding, guarding, folding of the flock as well as leading it to nourishment.

The word can be found in the following passages:

Mt. 2:2 – "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd (verb) My people Israel."

Mt. 9:36 – "But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd (noun)."

Lk. 2:8 – "Now there were in the same country shepherds (noun) living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night."

Lk. 2:15 – "So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds (noun) said to one another, ‘Let us now go Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." See also Lk. 2:18, 20.

Jn. 10:2 – "But he who enters by the door is the shepherd (noun) of the sheep." See also Jn. 10:11, 12, 14, 16.

Acts 20:28 – "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd (verb) the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."

Eph. 4:11 – "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors (noun) and teachers."

1 Pt. 5:2 – "Shepherd (verb) the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly."

Rev. 2:27 – "He shall rule (verb) them with a rod of iron; As the potter’s vessels shall be broken to pieces"—

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