Summary: The requirements for Biblical elders should be something that every Christ follower strives for.
When the New York Giants won the Super Bowl last Sunday, Eli Manning was chosen the Most Valuable Player in his role as the quarterback for his team. But he was certainly not the only reason, or even the main reason, his team won the game. They won because every one of the 45 players on the roster, the coaches, the trainers and even the players on the practice squad all fulfilled the roles for which they were best designed.
The same is true for a local church. Every church operates best when every person in that body fulfills the role which has been entrusted to them by God based on how He has equipped them. Over the past four weeks, we have observed that principle when it comes to the elders who oversee the local church. In each local church, God establishes a group of Godly men who oversee the spiritual development and shepherd the members of the body. And in turn the members of the body submit to that leadership. And when that occurs, both the body as a whole and the individual members of the body benefit and can become what God desires for them to be.
Because the role of the elders is so important to the body, God has established the qualifications for those men who would hold those positions in the body of Christ. There are two primary passages where those qualifications are set forth and even though we read them both last week, let’s refresh our memory by looking at them once again.
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
1 Timothy 3:1-7 (ESV)
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you - if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Titus 1:5-9 (ESV)
As I pointed out last week, the overall qualification is that elders are to be above reproach, which means that they live in such a manner that they are not open to accusation. It certainly doesn’t mean that they are perfect or never sin. If that were the case, no human could ever fulfill these requirements. But it does mean that they consistently demonstrate these character traits as they live their day-to-day lives.
So, rather than look at each requirement in detail, I’ve categorized these requirements into…
SEVEN MARKS OF A BIBLICAL ELDER
We discussed in quite some detail the first of the seven last Sunday. An elder must be:
Before we go any further, I need to correct something that I said last week. After Mary pointed this out to me and I went back and listened to the recording of the sermon, I realized that I made a horrible error in my theology. What I meant to say was that prior to the fall Adam and Eve had a perfect marriage. Adam didn’t have to listen to Eve talking about all the other men she could have dated. But it didn’t quite come out right when the words left my mouth. If you weren’t here last week and don’t know what I’m talking about or if you were sleeping during that part of the message, all the better. But for those of you who were here and paying attention, I wanted to clear that up.
In God’s divine plan, men are to fulfill the role of elder in the church. That in no way diminishes the value of women or the importance of their role in the body. In fact, God protects both the body as a whole and the women by not permitting them to be placed into roles for which He has not equipped them.