Qualifications of Church Leaders
Part 3 of The Anatomy of a True Church
1Timothy 3:1-11, Titus 1:6-8
Luis Cruz, GCF Durham
Paul as an apostle, brought the message of God to His people. He wrote letters to Timothy and Titus, providing God’s instructions to provide structural organization by setting up the qualifications of church leaders, namely: elders, deacons and deaconesses. We will look into these qualifications today because we want to lay down the biblical church structure by appointing qualified elders in our church. Qualified leaders will surely contribute to the growth and strength of the body of Christ.
1. God designed the structure of His church.
“5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.” Titus 1:5
The plurality of leaders.
The church wasn’t designed for one-man rule or majority-rule.
Theocracy in the church. “4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:4
Leaders must have the mind of Christ.
Unanimity in decision making requires prayer and searching the Scriptures. Romans 12:16
Eldership is not for personal gain.
2. God sets out the leaders’ tasks.
“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” 1Timoithy 3:1
overseer in NIV and NASB translations.
bishop in KJV and NRSV translations.
The Greek word for overseer, is episkopos or bishop – means guardian of our soul.
The Greek word for elder is Presbuteros transliterated as Presbyter.
The Greek for Shepherd (or pastor) is Poimen
All these three terms are being used in the bible interchangeably to refer to one person.
The word elder has been used 70 times in the New Testament.
It was also used both in the Old Testament and the New Testament to refer to older people.
This word was also used 28 times to refer to the Jewish spiritual leaders like in Matthew 27:3 and 41; Luke 22:52 and Acts 4:8.
In Matthew 15:2, elder has been used to refer to an ancestry of spiritual fathers who taught their children the Jewish religious system.
The Jewish concept of elder was adopted into the early New Testament church.
Spiritual fathers in the Jewish sense are strong in their faith and moral character, filled with the Holy Spirit (Num. 11:16-17), full of wisdom, thus, they have deep spiritual experience. See MacArthur, Answering Key Questions About Elders
3. God’s prepares those He called into leadership.
An elder is a spiritually mature disciple of Christ.
Titus 1:6-8, “6 An elder must be blameless, …7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless, … 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught…”
The word elder and overseer were used interchangeably.
However, the word elder gave emphasis to the leader’s personal life.
The elder displays godly leadership in the home.
Loves God and lives for His pleasure.
Overseer refers to the office or the function he holds in the church.
Strongly believes and able to teach the Word.
4. God qualifies the called.
1 Timothy 3:1-3, “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”
a noble task - unselfish, respectable and admirable work.
See 1 Timothy 3:2-3 for the role of an elder in the church.
He sets godly examples within and outside the church.
He co-manages and supervises the whole body of Christ.
He spiritually feeds the flock.
He watches over, protects and cares for the members of his church.
He makes sacrifices for the well-being of others.
See Titus 1:8-9 for the elder’s attitude:
He loves what is good.
He lovingly corrects those who fail to do good.
He encourages others with biblical teachings.
5. God gives spiritual authority to elders.
“ 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.” 1 Timothy 4:14.
The authority to affirm God’s calling on an individual,
The authority to commission,
and the authority to bless people.
Collective prayers for the Spirit to infill the called, to guide and to send.
Paul’s challenge to the whole church. 1 Timothy 5:17-20,
Give double honour to the elder/overseer/pastor.
Do not entertain accusation without two or three witnesses.
Admonish sinning elders only after having credible witnesses.
Here are some challenges for all of us.
Pray for our aspiring leaders.
Ask God to reveal to us the names of candidates for eldership.
Pray that our church will be led by qualified godly leaders who are able to teach, cares enough to watch over our soul, and who are filled by the Spirit.