Harvey Allen (417.264.2274)
Don Johnson (417.867.3373)
Art Oakes (417.264.2727)
A message from our eldership…
A couple facts about what the Bible says concerning what a biblical elder and eldership is…
First things first, a biblical eldership requires biblically qualified elders.
Note: an elder is a pastor is a shepherd is a bishop is an overseer is presbyter, etc… they are the same office with different names to describe that same office. The Bible does not say that the minister or preacher is the “pastor.” Nor does the Bible authorize or speak of any “head pastor.” The Bible does NOT authorize one man to be in charge of any church or group of churches.
The Bible gives qualifications for one to be a pastor (elder, bishop, etc.). If a man (being male is one of the qualifications) does not fit all of the qualifications listed, he cannot be approved of by God as an elder in the Lord’s church. The qualifications are listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:5ff. Among these qualifications we conclude that there must be a plurality of elders for an eldership to oversee a congregation of the Lord’s church.
1 Timothy 3:1-7 speaks of the qualifications for a man to be an elder (Greek word for elder here is “EPISKOPE” meaning “Overseer“) in the Lord’s church.
1 Timothy 5:17 reminds us, “Let the elders (Greek word for elder here is “PRESBYTEROS” meaning “elder, senior, more advanced in years” ) who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”
Titus 1:5-16 speaks of the qualifications of elders once again. Here the Greek word used is EPISKOPE. Many trustworthy translations translate this a BISHOP. But it still refers to the same office of an eldership.
EPISKOPE is a verb, literally meaning, “exercising oversight“. Which is exactly what the Lord wants the men in this office to do. That is why there are such ‘strict’ qualifications to be an Overseer. It is the most important duty a Christian man can aspire to do this side of eternity.
POIMAINO is another word the Bible uses to describe this same office, it is translated “Shepherd” or some times “Pastor“. The literal definition is “to feed, to pasture, to tend the flock.”
Ephesians 4:11 “And he gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors (POIMAINO) and teachers.”
1 Peter 5:1-4 we see all three titles for this same office used interchangeably. It is easier to see in the original language of the New Testament, the Greek.
In 1 Peter 5:1-2 we see that the office of eldership described and all 3 descriptive titles are used: EPISKOPE (Overseer, aka Bishop), PRESBYTEROS (Elder or Senior), and POIMAINO (Shepherd, Pastor). This shows us that they are all referring to the same office. One or more of the words are used to stress a point in the context in which it is being used.
EPISKOPE: Overseer, Bishop
PRESBYTEROS: Elder, Senior (the transliterated word Presbyterian comes from this Greek word).
POIMAINO: Shepherd, Pastor
1 Peter 5: 1-2, “The elders (PRESBYTEROS) who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder (PRESBYTEROS) and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd (POIMAINO) the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers (EPISKOPE), not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;”
In Acts 20:28 we see another example of two words used interchangeably to describe the same office of the eldership. We see EPISKOPE (Overseer or Bishop) and POIMAINO (Shepherd or Pastor).
In Philippians 1:1 we see EPISKOPE used (Overseer or Bishop).
In Acts 11:30 we see PRESBYTEROS (Elders) is used.
By looking at these biblical definitions of what an elder is we can see that a Pastor (as the denominational world views the term) is NOT the Preacher. Not saying, of course, that an elder can’t preach the Gospel, actually they are expected to do so (1 Timothy 5:17). And not saying that a Preacher can’t be an elder if he meets the qualifications set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. We must understand, if we are to be biblical in all we do and say, the Preacher (Evangelist, Minister) of a congregation is NOT the leader, or “in charge,” of a congregation. That oversight is meant to be for an eldership.
Therefore we must seek godly things in godly ways and then implement those godly things in the manner that our God prescribes. That is our mission here at the church of Christ in Thayer.