Summary: The body is responsible to respect, compensate, protect, rebuke, submit to and pray for the elders.
This morning we’ll be looking at the third of four messages that deal with the Biblical model for church leadership that we are attempting to implement the very best we know how here at TFC. Since each of these messages builds on the previous ones, let’s take a moment to review what we’ve learned so far.
We began by focusing on the concept of shared leadership from which we developed these four foundational principles:
1. Pastoral oversight of the church is to be a team effort
2. The concept of shared leadership allows for a “first among equals”
3. The New Testament uses three different words to describe the same leadership position:
• “presbuteros” = elder
• “episkopos” = overseer or bishop
• “poimen” = pastor or shepherd
4. Biblical church leadership does not distinguish between “clergy” and “laity”
Then last week, we focused on the role of the elders within each local congregation, including here at TFC.
The Elders’ “P.L.A.C.E.” in the Body:
Protect the body
Lead the body
Admonish the body
Care for the body and
Equip the body
In order to carry out those responsibilities, our elders have developed an Elder Family Ministry and hopefully this week each of you has been contacted by one of our elders who will be a resource for you in helping you to grow in your relationship with Jesus. We think we have included all of our families in that ministry, but if we have somehow missed you, please let me or one of our other elders know and we’ll make sure that you’re included.
Today, we’ll look at the other side of the coin and focus on our responsibility as a body toward the elders. To be honest, this is kind of an awkward sermon for me because it seems a bit self-serving to stand up here and teach all of you about how your are to treat me and the other elders. But let me assure you that our only purpose this morning is to share with you what the Bible teaches about this subject. I am extremely blessed to be able to minister here in this church and to be generously compensated for my work here. So I am certainly not seeking anything more for myself this morning.
But I do have a responsibility to make sure that all of us have a good handle on what the Bible teaches about how we are to treat those who have been entrusted with a leadership role here at TFC. As an elder, overseer and shepherd, I would be neglecting my responsibility to all of you if I failed to do that.
I’m going to begin this morning with a passage that establishes the overall principle and then we’ll pull in a few other passages that give us some more guidance on how to apply that overall principle. So go ahead and turn with me to 1 Timothy 5 and follow along as I begin reading in verse 17:
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.
1 Timothy 5:17-22 (ESV)
The overall principle
The body is to honor the elders
The Greek word which is translated “honor” in verse 17 originally designated the amount of money paid which determined the value of an item. But it came to be used much more broadly to indicate the honor which was due to a person as well.
Paul began this chapter by describing how the body of Christ was to honor widows and then goes on to give some specific instructions about how that should be done. Then once he finishes that section, he goes on to point out that if the widows are due honor in the body, then the elders who lead the body are due double honor. Paul then goes on to describe how that honor is to be demonstrated. So we’ll begin with this passage and then go to a few others as well and look at some practical ways that we as a body can apply this overall principle of giving honor to the elders.