November 7

Titus 1:5-7 5The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless–not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.

This is the beginning of a list of the qualifications of an elder. Another list can be found in 1Timothy 3. The first century church did not have a single man lead the local congregation, but rather a group of elders jointly led. Notice that in the above passage elders is plural, but town is singular. The Christians in each city, even though they may have met in several different homes, were considered the church of that city. Paul, Timothy, Titus, or one of the other church planters appointed the men who met the qualifications and were called of God as elders.

We have an example of how they functioned in the first verses of Acts 13. Instead of having board meetings, they met together in prayer and fasting. As they worshipped, they sought God's heart. Though some individuals may have led out, the head of the meeting was the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit. They were following a similar pattern of the synagogue worship that they previously experienced. Those who had an understanding of God's Word were given opportunity to speak. It wasn't always assigned to one man. The word elder, overseer, and shepherd/pastor were interchangeable in the first century. (Acts 20) Together they oversaw the flock of God under the Great Shepherd. They may not have all had the gift of preaching and teaching, but they were all pastors who were ready to share God's Word.

The qualifications of an elder are important enough to be recorded twice in Scripture. Though the interpretation varies among groups, we can see that the standard of an elder is very high for a reason. They should not be elected in a popularity contest but appointed because of their reputation as men that live and teach God's Word while looking out for God's sheep.

Consider: These are qualities that every Christian should allow the Holy Spirit to express in his or her life.