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 all. 

"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, Jesus is referred to as the "Chief Shepherd," in which both of these English words come 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 reasons.  

2) "the husband of one wife" (Titus 1:6; 1 Tim. 3:2).  This also makes a strong argument in showing that the 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).  So 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 "authades" = "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 work together.  

6) "not quick-tempered" (Titus 1:7).  From "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 instead. 

7) "
not addicted to wine" (Titus 1:7).  cf. 1 Tim. 3:3 (same).  Some versions render this as "not given to wine" (NKJV, Young's Literal Translation).

8) "
not pugnacious" (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim. 3:3).  It is translated in the KJV as "no striker."  From "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).

9) "
not fond of 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 "philoxenos" = literally, "loving strangers."  Thayer: "hospitable, generous to guests." Strong: "fond of guests, that is, hospitable."

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 -- "prudent."

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, pious."

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 -- "temperate."

16)  "holding fast the faithful word" (Titus 1:9) -- "holding 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, correct."   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 2:

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 God."

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 respected.

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; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
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Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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