John T. Willis

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Elders and Deacons--Part II

Out of the six terms for elders in the Bible itself: 1. Elder; 2. Presbyter; 3. Overseer; 4. Bishop; 5. Shepherd; 6. Pastor, the function or role of an elder is not clear at all. For example, "elder" or "presbyter" might mean an older person physically or an older person spiritually. The Bible does not tell anything about this. "Overseer" or "bishop" is not clear at all. This could mean a co-ordinator, a person appointed to do a specific job. The Bible does not make this clear at all. A text like 1 Peter 5:1-4 makes clear that none of these means a dictator or a boss of any kind. The best chance one has to determine the function or role of an elder is the term "shepherd" or "pastor." Great texts in the Bible describe the role of a shepherd. The most important texts are Ezekiel 34 and John 10. Anyone can study these great texts. One will find that the role of a shepherd is:

1. To lay down one's life for the sheep. John 10:11, 15, 17.
2. To lead the flock into green pastures and beside calm waters. Psalm 23; John 10:3-4.
3. To strengthen the weak. Ezekiel 34:4, 16.
4. To heal the sick. Ezekiel 34:4.
5. To bind up the injured. Ezekiel 34:4, 16.
6. To bring back the strayed. Ezekiel 34:4, 16.
7. To seek the lost. Ezekiel 34:4, 16.
8. To feed the flock with justice. Ezekiel 34:16.
9. To destroy the fat and the strong.; to overthrow those who rule harshly Ezekiel 34:4, 16.

Peter emphasizes that elders are not to "lord over the flock in your charge, but be examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:3.

It is obvious that biblically, a church or a group of people must not elevate or set apart elders from the rest of the church, leaving the impression that they are more important or more spiritual or better trained or nearer to the heart of God. On the contrary, every good elder will always be in close contact with the flock to be an example for all. The purpose of all elders meetings is to deal with the issues which exist in the church of which they are a part. Their role is not to take the role of God the Father or Jesus Christ our Lord. We are all servants--period.

Share YOUR reversals and issues and concepts and fears and feelings with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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