The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to
observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
April 24, 2011
1) 1 Peter 5:1 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
1 Peter 5:1
by Tom Edwards
Peter begins this chapter with an exhortation to "the elders."
These are men who not only desire to serve in overseeing the work of
the church, but also who meet the qualifications to do so.
The Bible uses several terms to refer to elders. One such term is
seen in Ephesians 4:11, where Paul states, "And He gave some as
apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as
PASTORS and teachers" (Eph. 4:11, emphasis mine). So this one
verse that speaks
of the "pastors" also shows that they are not necessarily the same as
the "evangelists"; yet, this is how we often hear the word "pastor"
wrongly used in the religious world today, as if it were a synonym for
the word "preacher."
This does not mean, however, that a pastor could never be a preacher,
nor a preacher a pastor; but one does not become a preacher simply
because he is a pastor, nor does one become a pastor simply because he
is a preacher.
I would think that in most churches today, a preacher does not also
serve as a pastor -- and in some situations, preachers work with groups
in which there are no pastors (or elders) at all. And, as we will
see, God's word shows that there must be a plurality of pastors in a
congregation -- rather than just one -- if there are going to be any at
"Pastors" is from the Greek word "poimen," which Bullinger (in his
Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New
Testament) defines as
"a shepherd, one who tends herds or flocks, not merely one who feeds,
but one who tends, guides, nourishes, cherishes, and rules, etc."
Though the English word "pastors" is used just once in the NT, the
Greek word poimen, from which it comes, is used 13 times as "shepherd,"
where it usually refers to a literal shepherd of sheep, though a few
times it is figuratively used in referring to Christ. It is also
rendered 4 times in the plural, as "shepherds." Here in 1 Peter
5, the verb form "poimaino" is used in verse 2, where Peter exhorts the
elders to "shepherd the flock of God among you." In verse 4,
referred to as the "Chief Shepherd," in which both of these English
from the same Greek word --"archipoimen."
The term "elders," which Peter uses here in 1 Peter 5:1, comes from the
Greek word "presbuteros." "...The word always implying dignity
and wisdom. [Among the Gentiles it was the name of dignity and official
position...In the Jewish nation, persons who were apparently the
deputies of the tribes and families according to the right of the
first-born...In the...church they were men appointed...or chosen..."
(Bullinger). So we need to see how "elders" is being used in the
context to determine what it actual has reference too.
The two main passages that set forth the qualifications of an elder are
Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Let us look at Titus' list, and
also see the similarities between it and Timothy's.
1) "above reproach" (Titus 1:6). Greek word:
"anegkeltos" = "that cannot be called into to account, unreproveable,
unaccused, blameless" (Thayer's Greek Definitions). In
the NASB, it is translated twice as "above reproach," twice as "beyond
reproach," and once as "blameless." Others do not have any
justifiably bad things to say about the one who lives above
reproach. This is also brought out in 1 Timothy 3:2; and in
addition 1 Timothy 3:7 reads, "And he must have a good reputation with
those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the
snare of the devil." Therefore, the elder must live above reproach both
in and out of the church. In selecting a new elder, brethren
have been asked if they know of any reason why the person seeking to
serve as an elder should not be one. Failing to live above
reproach would be one of those
2) "the husband of
one wife" (Titus 1:6; 1 Tim.
3:2). This also makes a strong argument in showing that
preacher is not necessarily the pastor, for the preacher does not have
to be married -- but the elder or pastor does! This is also
another reason why a woman could not serve as an elder. For as we
will see, it is not merely in being married that is necessary, but also
that the husband will properly rule over his wife and family. He
is to be the head of his family -- a role which the Lord authorized for
the husband, rather than for the wife. This also shows that an
elder could not be a polygamist; and, of course, it too is true that he
could not be in an unscriptural marriage. Some have actually
taken this passage to mean that a man doesn't really have to be married
to serve as an elder; but if he is married, then he must not be a
polygamist. But if that be true, then how could the single man
have believing children and show his ability to take care of the Lord's
church by how he manages his own household, as Paul expresses in 1
Timothy 3:4,5? In addition, isn't it interesting, that though the
Catholics for a long time have practiced celibacy for their popes and
priests, the Bible shows that men who desire to serve as overseers to
the church need to be married and have believing children.
3) "having children
who believe" (Titus 1:6).
not only is the elder to be married, but also have children who are
Christians. cf. 1 Timothy 3:4: "He must be one who manages his
own household well, keeping his children under control with all
dignity." The following verse (1 Tim. 3:5) shows the reason for this:
"but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will
he take care of the church of God?" This is the "proof of the pudding,"
as the old cliche goes.
"Children" comes from the Greek word "teknon," which is also translated
in the NT as "child" 14 times and "son" 7 times; but it is mainly
translated as "children" 75 times. This raises the question,
"Does a man have to have more than one child to meet this
qualification?" Zerr gives the example of a captain on a sinking
ship giving orders for "women with children" to board the lifeboats
first. In this example, we realize that a woman with only one child
would still qualify. This has also been likened to Sarah's remark
in Genesis 21:7, "...'Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would
nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.'"
Sarah never had more than one child, but she uses the word "children"
to refer to him. In addition, isn't it still a man's household
even if he has only one child? and can't a man prove that he can
rule over that household with just one child? Still, however, if
brethren felt that the man must have a plurality of believing children,
then that conviction should not be violated by a man who would seek to
rule as an elder in spite of their belief.
4) "not accused of
dissipation or rebellion"
(Titus 1:6). "Dissipation" ("asotia") = "1) an
abandoned, dissolute life. 2) profligacy, prodigality" (Thayer). cf. 1
Tim. 3:2 -- "temperate... respectable." "Rebellion"
("anupotaktos") = "not subject to rule."
5) "not self-willed" (Titus 1:7). From
"self-pleasing...arrogant" (Thayer). One who is self-willed is
one who always wants his own way and is, therefore, stubborn or
obstinate. He would not be the kind who could work well together
with others, as elders need to do. cf. 1 Tim. 3:3 --
"uncontentious." Where there is self-will, stubbornness, or
arrogance, contention can often be the result when trying to reason and
quick-tempered" (Titus 1:7).
"orgilos" = "prone to anger, irascible" (Thayer). cf. 1 Tim.
3:3 -- "...gentle, uncontentious...." In writing to Christians,
in general, Paul exhorts those who are spiritual to seek to restore the
erring "in a spirit of gentleness" (Gal. 6:1). In encouraging the
Ephesians to walk in a manner worthy of their calling, Paul writes,
"with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for
one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:2,3). And to the Colossians, Paul
instructs them to put on "a heart of compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each
other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave
you, so also should you" (Col. 3:12,13). To Timothy, Paul also
declares, "And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be
kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness
correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them
repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim.
2:24,25). So in view of these qualities that each Christian is to
possess, how contrary it would be to have a "quick-tempered" spirit
wine" (Titus 1:7).
Tim. 3:3 (same). Some versions render this as "not given to wine"
(NKJV, Young's Literal Translation).
pugnacious" (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim.
3:3). It is translated in the KJV as "no striker."
"plektes" = "1) bruiser, ready for a blow 2) a pugnacious,
contentious, quarrelsome person" (Thayer). The dictionary defines
"pugnacious" as "inclined to quarrel or fight readily; quarrelsome;
belligerent; combative" (Random House Webster's College Dictionary).
sordid gain" (Titus 1:7).
From "aischrokerdes" = "eager for base gain, greedy for money"
(Thayer). Also used in
1 Tim. 3:8 (as a qualification of the deacon). cf. 1 Tim. 3:3, "...free
from the love of money." Consider Paul's warning to Christians in
general: "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a
snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin
and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil,
and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and
pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Tim. 6:9,10).
10) "hospitable" (Titus 1:8; 1 Tim. 3:2). From
= literally, "loving strangers." Thayer:
"hospitable, generous to guests." Strong: "fond of guests, that is,
11) "loving what is
good" (Titus 1:8).
Will the one who loves what is good find much trouble in doing what is
good? Loving righteousness was one of the qualities of Jesus
(Heb. 1:9). God has shown us in His word what is good (Micah
6:8), and that which is good is also that which a person can rejoice in
(2 Chron. 6:41). A couple of Paul's exhortations to the
Romans were that they would "Abhor what is evil" and "cling to what is
good" (Rom. 12:9). They, therefore, needed "to be wise in what is
good" (Rom. 16:19) -- just as we also need to.
12) "sensible" (Titus 1:8). From "sophron"
= not only "of a sound mind," but also "curbing one's desires and
impulses, self-controlled, temperate" (Thayer). cf. 1 Tim. 3:2 --
13) "just" (Titus 1:8). From "dikaios"
= "righteous, observing divine laws...innocent,
faultless...approved of or acceptable to God...in a narrower sense,
rendering to each his due and that in a judicial sense, passing just
judgment on others, whether expressed in words or shown by the manner
of dealing with" (Thayer). This Greek word is more often
translated as "righteous" in the NASB.
14) "devout" (Titus 1:8). Greek word: "hosios"
= "righteous, pious, holy." Thayer: "undefiled by sin, free from
wickedness, religiously observing every moral obligation, pure, holy,
15) "self-controlled" (Titus 1:8). In the KJV,
this is translated as "temperate." From "egkrates"
= "...mastering, controlling, curbing, restraining...controlling
one's self, temperate, continent" (Thayer). cf. 1 Tim. 3:2
16) "holding fast
the faithful word" (Titus 1:9) --
fast" from "antecho" = "to hold against, that is to hold
firmly to." In exhorting the people of his day, Moses
pointed out that life and death had been set before them, the blessing
and the curse. "So choose life...by loving the Lord your God, by
obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life
and the length of your days..." (Deut. 30:19,20). How does one
hold fast to God? By holding fast to His word, which should also
be so of each of us. This is also how we truly love God and can
then have fellowship with Him, as Jesus shows in John 14:23, "If anyone
loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We
will come to him, and make Our abode with him." If a Christian
does not hold fast to God's word, his faith will then become vain, as
seen in 1 Corinthians 15:1,2: "Now I make known to you, brethren, the
gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also
you stand, by which also you are saved, IF YOU HOLD FAST THE WORD which
I preached to you, unless you believed in vain" (emphasis mine).
17) "able both to
exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict" (Titus 1:9). cf. 1 Tim. 3:2
-- "...able to teach." "Exhort" from "parakaleo" = "...to
address" or "speak to" in order to bring "exhortation, entreaty,
comfort, instruction, etc." It also means "to
admonish...to encourage and strengthen" (Thayer). "Refute"
is from "elegcho" = "to expose, convict, reprove,
Just as the young shepherd David had protected his father's flock from
even a deadly lion and a bear (1 Sam. 17:34-36), elders need to be on
guard against that which would bring harm to the flock among them and
be able to eliminate those dangers.
In addition, there are a couple qualifications, as seen in what
follows, that Paul brings out in 1 Timothy 3 that are not seen in Titus
18) "...if any man aspires to the
office of overseer, it is a
fine work he desires to do" (1 Tim. 3:1). So a man doesn't
automatically become an elder by meeting all the other qualifications,
nor could he be appointed without his consent, for he must also first
desire to be one.
19) "and not a new
convert, lest he become
conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil" (1 Tim.
3:6). It was pride that led to Satan's downfall, and it
could also be the downfall of one who would enter the eldership too
soon. So one cannot be an elder who has been a Christian
for only a short while.
"Can the elder be a young man?," someone might ask. The Greek
word that is translated as "elder" in Titus 1:5 is rendered 8 different
ways in the NASB: "elder," "elders," "men of old," "old
men," "older," "older man," "older ones," and even one time as "older
women" (1 Tim. 5:2). So in these verses, the Greek word is often
being used to denote an "OLDER" person. For instance, 1 Tim. 5:1,
"Do not sharply rebuke an older
man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as
brothers." In considering the various qualifications that need to
accompany an "elder"
or "pastor," it would probably take many years for a
person to be able to acquire all. And we need to point out that
it is not just age that qualifies one to be an elder, but he must meet
all of the qualifications that we have considered.
Another term used in referring to the "elders" or "pastors" is
"overseers." The passage we just read in Titus 1 that speaks
of "elders" in verse 5, also refers to these same individuals as
"overseer[s]" in verse 7 of the NASB and the NIV. In the KJV,
Acts 20:28 is the only reference to this term in the NT, though the
English word is also used in the OT several times. Bullinger
defines the Greek word for it as "a watcher, overseer. (In Athens
it was the name given to the men sent into subdued states to conduct
their affairs.) In the N.T. it is used of presbyters, (Acts
20:28), denoting the watchful care which they were to exercise, (cf. 1
Pet. 5:2)." Bullinger goes on to show that the Greek word
translated as "overseer" denotes the "duties" of one who is such rather
than the dignity of the office.
Consider also Acts 20:17, "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and
called to him the ELDERS of the church." Note now in verse 28
what Paul said to these: "Be on guard for yourselves and for 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." These
"overseers" are the same as those who are called "elders" in verse 17
-- and it was the Holy Spirit who made them that. Can the Holy
Spirit still make men overseers today? Yes -- through the
word. The NT shows the qualifications that are necessary, which
have been given by the Holy Spirit. In Acts 20:28, the ASV uses
the term "BISHOPS" (instead of "overseers").
In 1 Timothy 3:1,2, the term "overseer" or "bishop" is commonly used in
various translations in speaking of the "pastor" or "elder."
Concerning the rendering of "bishop," Robert Milligan writes: "The word
'bishop' is but a corruption of the Greek episkopos. It was
introduced into the English language through the medium of the
Anglo-Saxon, and has, consequently, the same meaning as the word
"overseer." (The NASB does not use the word "bishop" even once.
In 1 Timothy 3:1, it uses "overseer.") Milligan also makes this
following observation in the different terms used for the pastors of a
congregation: "They are called Elders on account of their superior age
and implied wisdom and experience. They are called Bishops or
Overseers, because it is their duty to watch over their...flocks: they
are to watch for souls as those who must finally give an account to
As we consider these various qualifications for an elder, we realize
that most of these should also be true of every Christian. I say
"most," because a person does not have to be married to be a Christian,
as an elder does to be an elder. An elder, therefore, is one who
has matured as a child of God by incorporating all these various
qualities in his life and, as a result, has become well-equipped to
serve in that capacity of an elder. For those qualities have been
a major part of his way of life and of who he truly is. Elders
can be a great benefit for the local congregation, and they are to be
Next week, we will consider the function of the elders, as seen in the
early church, and some additional truths about them.
News & Notes
Let those of us who are Christians be praying for Ashley Robertson Walters (daughter
of Ken and Becky Robertson). She is 18 weeks along in her
pregnancy and had something irregular show up on a recent
ultrasound. Sometimes this happens to women where it either turns
out to be nothing or it resolves itself through the pregnancy
stage. But, even so, let us be praying that all will go well for
Ashley and her baby.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ
(Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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