Elders (also known as overseers) are the primary leaders of the church who as under-shepherds love and lead God’s people towards the Chief Shepherd who is Jesus. Throughout the New Testament, elders are spoken of in a plurality because God’s design is for the church to have a team of elders who are leading the church together in unity.
1 Peter 5:1-4 says, “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
In order for someone to become an elder they must meet the biblical qualifications outlined in scriptures (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
1 Timothy 3:1-7 says, “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”
Biblical Qualifications for an Elder:
V1 - An elder must be a “he,” this means the office of elder is reserved for men only.
V2 - An elder must be “above reproach,” this means he doesn’t have any character flaws.
V2 - An elder must be “the husband of one wife,” this means he is sexually pure and committed to one woman. However, this doesn’t mean he must be married as there are several examples in the bible of men who were elders but had the gift of singleness.
V2 - An elder must be “sober-minded,” this means he is emotionally and mentally stable and healthy.
V2 - An elder must be “self-controlled,” this means he exercises self discipline and has no areas of his life that are out of control.
V2 - An elder must be “respectable,” this means he is worth following and imitating.
V2 - An elder must be “hospitable,” this means he is friendly to people, especially non-believers.
V2 - An elder must be “able to teach,” this means he is able to effectively teach people the bible.
V3 - An elder must not be “a drunkard,” this means he is without addictions.
V3 - An elder must not be “violent but gentle,” this means he relates to people in grace and love without having any outburst of anger.
V3 - An elder must not be “quarrelsome,” this means he is a peacemaker who builds unity.
V3 - An elder must not be “a lover of money,” this means he has financial integrity and is not motivated by greed.
V4 - An elder must “manage his own household well,” this means he loves and leads his family in a godly way so that his wife and children flourish under his leadership.
V4 - An elder must keep “his children submissive,” this means his children love and respect him and gladly follow his leadership.
V6 - An elder must not be “a recent convert,” this means he is a mature Christian.
V7 An elder must “be well thought of by outsiders,” this means he has a good reputation with non-believers.