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(A short Bible study.)

  • What is an elder?

  1. A pastor (feeder, shepherd) Elders, feed (pastor) the Church/flock of God.. Acts 20:17, 28, 1 Peter 5:1-2.
  2. A bishop (overseer)..Acts 20:28, 1 Tim 3:1-2, 1 Peter 5:2,4.
  3. One of the 5 leadership gifts to the Church..Ephes.4:11.
  4. In a sense, the NT equivalent of the OT priest (not high priest)..Ezekiel 44:23.
  5. In effect (only), a husband/father in his own house.

However.. in today's language 'pastor' has been applied to the senior or founding elder, pastoring-apostle or prophet or likes. For convenience, this meaning of ‘pastor’ is adopted in the, following, and ‘elder’, as meaning both a senior and junior capacity.)  

  • Who ordains elders?
  1. The Holy Ghost: Over Whom the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers.. Acts 20:28, Hebrews 5:4.
  2. Founding elders/pastors: Acts 14:23.
  3. Elders under the direction of a founding pastor: Titus 1:5.

(In the sense of acknowledging and confirming the calling of the H.G.)  

  • How many elders are required in a Church?
  1. As many as the Lord calls; usually depending on the need and church size.
  2. Moses had 70 with a congregation of 1 million or more.
  3. 2 at least are preferable. Jesus sent out His disciples 2 by 2, and the apostles usually acted that way.


  • Credentials of an elder/shepherd (to name a few):
  1. One who gives his life for the sheep, is not dependent on wages (a hireling), and does not flee when the wolf comes. John 10, Exodus 32:32.
  2. One with a father’s heart, 1 Thess. 2:7-12, though with sharpness and a rod in case of rebels or grievous wolves. 1 Cor.4:21, 2 Cor. 13:10, Acts 5:3-4,9, 8:20-23, 13:9-11.
  3. Is an example in word, conduct, charity, spirit, faith and purity.. 1 Timothy 4:12.
  4. Is blameless, sober, just, holy, temperate (disciplined), not soon angry.. Timothy 1:7-8.
  5. Not selfwilled, but holds fast the faithful word as he has been taught....Titus 1:7.9, 1 Timothy 3:14.
  6. Rules well his own house.. 1 Timothy 3:4.


  • The responsibility/work of an elder
  1. To feed the flock of God. Acts 20:28.
  2. To bring the Church into remembrance of the founding pastor's ways which be in Christ.. 1 Cor 4:17.
  3. To exhort and convince the gainsayers... Titus 1:9.
  4. To take heed to the flock (as also themselves), particularly in respect of grievous wolves entering in or from among themselves, who seek to draw away disciples after themselves by way of contrary doctrine. Acts 20:28-30.
  5. To divide between the holy and unholy, the clean and unclean, and stand between the living and the dead. Ezekiel 44:23, 22:26, Leviticus 10:10, Numbers 16:48.
  6. To mature the saints, so they are not tossed about with contrary doctrine.. Ephesians 4:14.
  7. To be accountable to God (not to the Church) for the Church. Hebrews 13:17.
  8. To rule/correct. 1 Timothy 5:18, Romans 12:8. Hebrews 13:17, 1 Cor. 4:21.
  9. To bring and maintain unity in the Church.. Ephes.4:13.


  • How elders who are faithful should be regarded/responded to.
  1. Esteemed very highly in love...1 Thess.5:13.
  2. Counted worthy of double honour.. 1 Timothy 5:17.
  3. Remunerated.. 1 Timothy 5:18, Galatians 6:6, 1 Cor. 9:7-14.
  4. Their faith followed...Hebrews 13:7, Philippians 4:9.
  5. Obeyed - Obey them who have the rule over you and submit yourselves... Heb.13:17, 1 Cor.16:16.
  6. Reverenced (that is, the anointing of God). 1 Samuel 24:5-6, 26:9,11, Galatians 4:14.
  7. Supported in prayer.. Ephes.6:19, Colossians 4:3-4, 1 Thess.5:25, 2 Thess.3:1, Heb.13:18, Exodus 17:12.
  8. Defended. 2 Samuel 21:15-17, 2 Timothy 4:16.

(Smith Wigglesworth said something like, “The ones closest to the spiritual shepherd will be the ones most anointed.” ) 


  • What an elder is not
  1. Not one of the 10,000 instructors.. 1 Cor.4:15.
  2. Not a novice and therefore prone to pride of position (and only by pride cometh contention) 1 Timothy 6:6.
  3. Not an over-lord, requiring of others what he is not an example in.. 1 Peter 5:3.
  4. Not a grievous wolf, speaking contrary things to what is being taught, giving him a personal following.. Acts 20:30.
  5. Not a woman: 'I suffer not a woman to teach or usurp authority over the man.. 1 Timothy 2:12. He must be the husband of no more then one wife. 1 Timothy 3:1-2.
  6. Not anyone falling short of the above qualifications.


  • Who judges elders? (a not unusual question when one rejects correction!)
  1. Not man's judgment, but
  2. The Lord.. 1 Cor.4:3-4, 2 Cor.10:18, James 3:1, 1 Samuel 26:10.
  3. One with the calling and faithfully fulfilling a senior office in the Church, Galatians 2:ll, 3 John 3-10.


  • Is an elder open for discussion?

Yes. Anyone who knows and is keeping their place with a right spirit in the Body is eligible to discuss any concerns with an elder. (How different this is to behind his back,) 1 Samuel 25:24-35, Esther 2:20, 8:5, 1 Peter 5:5.


  • Is an elder/pastor infallible - has the last word?

No. Paul said, ‘We see through a glass darkly. We know and prophecy in part'- up to the light we have. 1 Cor.13:9.12, Proverbs 4:18. At times Paul said, “I have no commandment of the Lord, yet I give my judgment as one ... faithful, and believing I have the Spirit of God." 1 Cor. 6:12, 7:25,40. I give my advice ... not by commandment. 2 Cor.8:8,lO, (contrasting with 1 Cor.14:37). Other examples: David and Nathan the prophet. 2 Samuel 7:2-4. Elisha. 2 Kings 4:29-31. Varying advice for varying conditions. 1 Cor.7:26, Acts l6:3.  


  • Is an elder/pastor a dictator?

No. My sheep hear my voice and follow Me. John 10:27, 1 Cor. 11:1.
(And He who receives you receives Me. Matt.10:40.)  


  • The seriousness of despising or usurping the position of leadership

Korah, Dathan and Abiram - an example.. Numbers 16.


  • How are babes or backsliders tempted to regard those in leadership?
  1. As taking on themselves too much. Numbers 16:3.
  2. As bringing God's people into bondage, and
  3. As not delivering the promised goods. Numbers 16:13-14.
  4. As equal to any other preacher.. 1 Cor. 1:12.
  5. As having unacceptable personal defects. 2 Cor.10:10.
  6. As judged after appearance. 2 Cor.10:7.


  • What is the manifested position and effect of those who oppose elders?
  1. A seeking of a position above the God-appointed leader who they criticise, and above what they were appointed to.. Isaiah 14:13-14, Numbers 16:7,10, 2 Chronicles 26:18.
  2. Disobedience and deception.. Numbers 16:18.
  3. Brazenness and pride. Numbers 16:18, 3 John 9.
  4. An inciting of general discontent and rebellion in the Church.. Numbers 16:19,41.
  5. Smiting the shepherd that the sheep may be scattered. Zechariah 13:7, Matt. 26:31.
  6. Strife and confusion.

A froward (ungovernable, won't take correction by leadership) man sows strife; and a whisperer separates chief friends... Proverbs 16:28.
And where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.. James 3:19.


  • What does such rebellion call for?
  1. Personal separation from it.. Numbers 16:21,26,27, 2 John lO-11, Romans 16:17-19.
  2. Separation of it from the Church.. Numbers 16:29-35.
  3. A pastor's intercession for those who remain. Numbers 16:46-50.


  • What is it sometimes necessary for professed repentance to be followed by?

A period of probation.. 1 Kings 2:36-38, 1:52.


  • Is a leader's position necessarily gauged by his followers?
  1. All they of Asia have turned away from me.. 2 Tim.1:15.
  2. The more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. 2 Cor. 12:15.
  3. Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth? Galatians 4:14-16.


  • Is disloyalty usual?

Matt.26:47-49,58,74, Psalms 41:9, John 6:66, Gal.14:15, 2 Timothy 4:16, 2 Samuel 15:6, 16:5-8, 20:1.2.6. 1 Kings 1:5.


  • Are divisions in a Church inevitable?

Yes!.. 1 Cor.11:18-19, Rev. 12:7-9.


  • Who is your pastor?

Who the Lord has given you.
1 Cor 1:12,13, 3:10, 4:15-17, ll:l, Numbers 17, 2 Cor.l0:18, John 1:46, 3:20,21,34, 6:68, 7:46, Matt.7:16, Luke 22:10.

May the dear Lord bless His word to our hearts (largely as expounded by Pastor William Wilson, one-time associate of Smith Wigglesworth, and for 60 years a founding-senior pastor), towards the fulfilment of Ephesians 4, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence!


Written by Brother Donald Wilson

For further teachings of Brother Donald click here.... Birds of a Feather