Elders in Every Church - Part 1

In order to function properly, an organization must have some form of government. The purpose of government is to oversee the organization and to carry out its rules and purpose. Without some kind of government, an organization cannot do the work it was designed to do.

God has appointed three organizations for the happiness and good of mankind. These are (1) the government of the nation (2) the home or family (3) the church of Christ. In Romans 13:1-7, God has told us to obey the leaders of our nation. However, if they command us to do something that is against God’s will, then we must put God first. When the apostles were commanded by the rulers to stop preaching about Jesus, they said: “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29).

In the home or family, the husband is the head (Ephesians 5:22-24). His wife must submit to him and respect him (Ephesians 5:33). The wife and mother is to manage the home under the father’s leadership (I Timothy 5:14). Children must obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3). This is God’s plan. A family will only be happy and successful when they follow God’s plan.

The church of Christ that we read about in the New Testament also has a form of government which was given to it by God. Jesus Christ is the only head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). He has “all authority, both in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Since Jesus Christ, the head of the church, is in heaven, the headquarters of the church of Christ is also in heaven (Acts 1:9-11; 2:33). There is no headquarters for the Lord’s church upon this earth.

Christ, the head of the church, has given a plan for the organization of His church on earth. Each congregation is to have leaders who are called “elders,” or “bishops” (overseers), or “shepherds” (pastors). These men must meet the qualifications God has given (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). The elders are the
shepherds of the flock, but they must give an account to Christ who is “the chief shepherd” (I Pet 5:1-4; Hebrews 13:17). Members of the church must respect and obey the elders in everything that is right and good (Hebrews 13:7, 17).

First Timothy 3:1 says: “Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” Please note that the office of a bishop (overseer, elder) is a work. Men must never seek to be elders in order to have power, or to receive the praise of men. They must be humble servants of God who understand that much work is required of an elder. Also please note that the work of an elder is “a good work.” It is God’s work. It is work done on the behalf of God’s people. It is work which is done, not for money or the praises of men, but to bring glory to Jesus Christ.

Godly Christian men should study carefully the qualifications for elders which care given in God’s Word. They should work hard in order to qualify to serve in this important work of the Lord’s church.