Coming now to examine the concept of ‘elders’, we are definitely not in the same position as we were in looking at ‘deacons‘ and ‘pastors‘. With those two there was such a dearth of obvious material to study (‘deacons’ are only mentioned 5 times and ‘pastors’ only once in the whole Bible) that we had to do a lot of digging below the surface. However, with ‘elders, we come to a wealth. For example, in the New Testament, elders are referred to as leaders of Israel or the church 62 times, and in the Old Testament another 135 times!

My main concern is that we today so completely underestimate the significance of the elder, we haven’t looked even at the obvious carefully enough to have a correct understanding. With this in mind, we need two studies on them: this one in this series looking at elders and their work in the context of all the other leadership roles and the second, not as part of this series and dealing with the practical side of recognising and appointing elders. We will insert the link to that when I’ve finished it. 

TODAY’S UNDERSTANDING

Concise Oxford Dictionary: ‘elder – official in early Christian Church (from Greek presbuteros) and in some Protestant (especially Presbyterian) churches’

The Oxford rightly points out the use of the word in the early Christian church and our present deviation from this in that only a few churches now even acknowledge the office. In most churches today, this Biblical term for a church official has been replaced by priest, vicar, warden, bishop, or pastor, and where we do use the word ‘elder’, we usually mean something quite different from how the Scriptures use the word.  

EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
As already seen from studying Acts 14 in the previous study on ‘Pastors’, the apostles Paul and Barnabas having preached the gospel and made many disciples, organised those disciples into gatherings, or what they called ‘churches’. After leaving those churches for some time without any structure, they later returned, taught some more and then appointed elders before leaving again. This was Paul’s usual practice as can be seen in his instructions to Timothy and Titus1. He had left them behind with the churches he had founded to await the right time before ‘setting them in order by appointing ‘elders’, and in Timothy’s case, by also recognising ‘deacons’ i.e. those called to full-time ministry. 

When Paul writes to the Philippians, he addresses the letter ‘to all the saints… including the overseers (i.e. elders) and deacons (i.e. ministers)’.  Notice, he calls for no other structure to be put in place despite his obvious love, care and sense of responsibility for the new disciples, and indeed attributes this particular structure to the Holy Spirit.2 

The term ‘elder’ already had a great deal of meaning to the first century believers so it didn’t need any explanation. Paul’s writing to Timothy and Titus is not to describe what an elder is, but what kind of person should be recognised as such. He took for granted that they already know what elders are, and need simply to find the right people to fulfil the role. The reason for his confidence can be seen in Acts 13-14, in the churches of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lycaonia, Lystra, and Derbe: Paul and Barnabas had made many disciples initially amongst the Jews, having begun their work in each city by going to the local synagogue.3 So although they had also won many Gentiles, the first Gentile believers were usually ‘God-fearing proselytes’4 or Gentiles who had gathered to the synagogues to listen to them.5 Accordingly, these new Christians had a clear link with Israel’s history, and Israel’s history included well-defined eldership. As Paul wrote:

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God…6

‘The oracles of God’, the Scriptures, had provided the Jews with a history of 1,500 years of divinely inspired and outworked concepts of human leadership, one of which was the elder.

Today we Gentile believers have to put in special effort in order to rightly understand what the early Christians would have accepted quite readily, because we are so far removed from that time and culture. Nevertheless the promise remains true:

Now these things happened to them [Israel] as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come7

I would ask you to bear with me in a short digression to look briefly at all of the concepts in order to gain the overview before progressing in the study of elders alone.  

OLD TESTAMENT CONCEPTS OF LEADERSHIP AND THEIR DISTINCTIVENESS
Israel had eight different and distinct forms of human leadership, seven endorsed by God to meet the various needs of His people. Their manner of appointment and way of functioning were equally various and each was very deliberately kept distinct as we shall see: the patriarch, the elder, the prophet, the priest, the Levite, the military leader or general, the judge, and the king.

Although some individuals had several of these callings and functions, these callings were to be kept distinct as we see God Himself on several occasions judging those who dared to move outside of that to which He’d called them. There is the obvious example of Saul, called as king and who tried to offer the sacrifices of the prophet and thereby lost his kingdom,8 but consider too Uzziah the king who became a leper because he dared to burn the incense of the priests.9 Or Uzzah, who was struck down by God for his irreverence in taking hold of the ark,10 David later ruefully acknowledging that ‘no one is to carry the ark of God but the Levites; for the Lord chose them…’11 Korah the Levite and his followers were first rebuked for seeking to gain the priesthood12 and then destroyed for failing to heed the warning!13 There was Gideon who as judge and military leader clearly knew better than to allow himself to be appointed as king14 but who then brought a snare to Israel by making for them the garment of a priest.15

While it may not at first have appeared important to us, it is obviously very important to God that we keep the callings from being confused.This deliberate separation of powers was not only to allow focus and increasing expertise but also to allow for the fallibility of each, a strategy finally embraced and celebrated by the American Constitution. The eight leadership roles were mutually corrective since most had differing duties and responsibilities and no one role had ultimate control. For example, the prophetess and judge Deborah had to call a reluctant military leader Barak to take the lead against Sisera and the Canaanites,16 as celebrated in her song:

“That the leaders led in Israel, that the people volunteered, bless the LORD!”17

Of course, kings were called to account by prophets, as in David by Nathan18 and Ahab by Elijah19, as were high priests, such as when Samuel, even as a young boy, prophesied judgement on the high priest, Eli and his corrupt sons.20 King Jehoash corrected the high priest Jehoiada21 and the elders reproved King Rehoboam.22 On the other hand, the entire nation was called to reject prophets going astray.23

Having separate and independent testimonies, they could also serve to support each other in the truth. To give just two examples, Nathan the prophet was able to confirm, with a slight correction, King David’s plans to build the temple24 and Josiah the king re-established Israel’s covenant with God, working with Hilkiah the high priest and confirmed by the words of the prophetess Huldah.25 Thus the facts of the will of God were confirmed by the testimony of two or three independent witnesses.

THE EIGHT LEADERSHIP ROLES

(i) The patriarch. Those named as patriarchs were Abraham, the original father of the nation, and the twelve sons of Israel, i.e. the fathers of the twelve tribes

(ii) The elder. As the patriarchs died, the elders took up the leadership of the families as they were the older members; they were leaders and spokesmen of every town and city, district and tribe, as well as of the nation

(iii) The prophet was God’s particular spokesman or spokeswoman at any time that God wanted to speak directly to His people

(iv) The priest led them in offering sacrifices and by teaching the ways of God from the Law    

 (v) The Levite was separated from all other work and land to take care of the work of God in the tabernacle and later the temple, and also became the civil administration in the land of Israel

(vi) The military leader or general led Israel into battle to gain or retain the land

(vii) The judge helped them resolve disputes at both the local and the national level and for some time the judge was the overall leader of the nation

(viii) The king held civil leadership of the nation, not only as the chief enforcer of law and order and the chief judge but also often as the military leader

In my study of these roles, I personally found quite a few surprises, not the least of which was to find that not only did God want the roles kept distinct, but He also wanted their significance recognised so clearly that any failure to accept the lead given in most of these areas was punishable by the death penalty! This of course points for New Covenant believers to the ultimate fulfillment of all these roles in Christ, warning us against any rejection of Him who is not only our leader but also our life. However, it also emphasises the importance to God of each particular role. 

THE ELDERS’ UNIQUE CONSISTENCY
The elders had a unique consistency as leaders in Israel in that they alone remained intact and functioning in every circumstance: the patriarchs died and weren’t replaced; the prophets fell silent for about four hundred years prior to the coming of Christ; the military leaders were nowhere to be seen in Egypt or the Babylonian captivity; the national judges were replaced by the kings, who in turn disappeared in Babylon; and the priests and Levites came into existence in the wilderness and lost many of their ceremonial functions with the destruction of the Temple and the loss of the land. But consider the elders:

(i) After the patriarchs, they were the primary leadership Israel as a nation had in Egypt 26

 (ii) They led the nation with Moses the prophet through the wilderness 27

(iii) They led the nation with Joshua the military leader into Canaan 28

(iv) They functioned in every town and city, district and tribe 29 as well as on behalf of the nation 30 during the entire time Israel inhabited the land. 

(v) Even during the Babylonian captivity, the elders functioned amongst the exiles in Babylon 31 and amongst the remnant in the land of Israel 32

(vi) They led in the return to the land and in the rebuilding of the temple 33

(vii) They were still leading the nation, as a council known as the Sanhedrin, in the time of Jesus and the early church 34

THEIR ORIGIN AND A MODERN MISUNDERSTANDING
As already mentioned, the elders quite naturally took over from the patriarchs as the first leaders of the embryonic nation while it was still forming in Egypt. The original 70 descendants of Jacob, or Israel, who had gone into that land with him 35 had grown into such a mighty people that an incoming Pharaoh felt threatened enough to enslave them.36 From the census in Numbers 1, we find there were 603,550 men of fighting age plus some 22,000 Levite males of all ages, which is usually approximated to an overall population of 1.5-2 million. Obviously, in the beginning, a family of seventy had sufficient leadership in the twelve patriarchs but with their deaths and the increasing size of the population, more leaders were needed. These leaders were the elders of each family and tribe that made up the nation, and this replacement leadership was recognised and accepted by God when He sent Moses to speak to the nation:

“Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me…’” 37

Moses was also commanded to take the elders with him and Aaron when they confronted Pharoah:

“… and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him…”38

After Israel had left Egypt, Moses complained to God: “I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me.” God’s response was to once again affirm the leadership of the elders:

“Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be elders of the people and their officers … and I will take of the [Holy] Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you shall not bear it all alone”39

Many have made from this event a principle that every church leader, whether pope, archbishop, bishop, vicar, pastor or minister, therefore needs an eldership to help or support him, i.e. that Moses is a type or prefigure of normal New Testament leadership. However, this is a simple but profound misunderstanding – Moses is not a type of human leadership but of Christ’s:

For I do not want you to be unaware… our fathers were all… baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea…40

The nation of Israel being ‘baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea’ foreshadows all new covenant believers being baptised into Jesus, in the Spirit and in water. Paul is explicit:

all of you… were baptised into Christ41

Paul also explicitly renounces any other concept:

…no man should say you were baptised in my name…42

Since Moses is a type or prefigure of Jesus and His supernatural leadership (which is surely what we want), that leaves elders as the primary human leadership in the churches of God, hence Paul and Barnabas appointing them ‘in every church’ along with the ‘deacons or ministers, as we saw earlier.

THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES
Out of the many Old Testament references to elders, I would like to pick out just a few that reveal the significance and responsibilities of the elders. It will become apparent that they had two quite distinct roles in four different areas of influence. The areas of influence:

(i) Every assembly of dwellings, whether villages, towns or cities had elders43

(ii) Every tribe and region had elders44

(iii) The whole nation had elders, the Sanhedrin45

(iv) The king had elders46

As for the two roles, the first was specifically representative, Moses telling the people:

Choose wise and discerning and experienced men from your tribes… as your heads”47

They represented their community whether it was to any individual in the resolving of disputes, or to the priest, judge, prophet or king in community or national matters. When this entailed speaking for the people, they did this not in the sense of making decisions on behalf of the people, but rather in that they intimately knew the desires of the people and were responsible for articulating them, thus they were truly spokesmen. It’s worth noting by those of us who live in New Zealand that this same concept is held and practised by Maori today.

The second role in the ancient Israel was to give the benefit of their wisdom, discernment, and experience to the people and to the king, as we will see.

THE FIRST ROLE – REPRESENTATIVES
The Law of Moses gives six specific instances of how the elders were to be representative of their people, the first two nationally and the next four in their local community:

(i) in Lev 4:15 the elders of the nation were to accept responsibility and offer the sacrifice for any specific sin committed by the whole nation

(ii) in Lev 9:1 they represented the nation when Aaron offered the sacrifices dedicating the whole nation to God

(iii) in Deut 19:12 the elders of the city were to be responsible for the bringing to trial of any of their city’s citizens accused of murder

(iv) in Deut 21:2-9 the elders of the city were to offer the sacrifice on behalf of their locality for any unsolved murder

(v) in Deut 22:13-21 they were to deal with any of the men of the city who falsely accused his wife of pre-marital immorality

(vi) in Deut 25:5-10 the elders of the city were to speak to, and if necessary publicly shame, any man of their city who refused to accept responsibility for his brother’s widow

In these instances, they represented the people to the high priest to offer sacrifices, to the judge to deal with accusations of murder, and to the individual in resolving disputes of a public nature. Later we find them representing the people to the prophet Samuel:

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and they said to him, ‘Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations’….And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.’48

Notice here that God sees the elders as truly representative of the people in that they speak with ‘the voice of the people’. As already stated, this points to the elders’ intimate knowledge of the desire of their people and their articulating of it rather than to a decision made amongst the elders on behalf of the people. This understanding is confirmed by the Lord’s response: He chooses to grant their carnal request, knowing that the inevitable consequences of their choice will be sufficient punishment and this punishment will be suffered by all the people, not just the elders.49

Lastly, we see the elders representing the people to the king:

So all the elders of Israel came to the king [of Judah] at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the LORD at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel50

David had been called and anointed by Samuel some fifteen or twenty years earlier, and his own tribe of Judah had already accepted his rule for seven and a half years,51 but David wasn’t king over the whole nation of Israel until all the people were willing to accept him, as signified by the elders.

We see this again in 1 Kings 20:7 when, in a rare moment of wisdom, Ahab ‘the king of Israel called all the elders of the land’ to seek their counsel regarding a threatened invasion. The reply: “all the elders and all the people said to him, `Do not listen or consent [to the opposing king]”” 52. The elders are again truly speaking on behalf of the people as seen in the phrase “all the elders and all the people”, and it’s good advice they are giving, as a prophet confirms.53

THE SECOND ROLE – COUNSELLORS
The second role was to be a source of discernment and wisdom. As in English, the word “elder” has the primary meaning both in Hebrew (zaqen) and Greek (presbuteros) of ‘an old man’, and as Job rightly says:

Wisdom is with aged men; with long life is understanding54

Since experience often the best teacher in life, those with the most experience should know more. The other Old Testament word translated as elder is an Aramaic word (sib) which means to be hoary, or gray-haired. To go beyond graying to become white-haired was a sign of great old age and therefore of having great wisdom, and we see in Daniel’s vision God Himself being described in such terms:

I kept looking until thrones were set up,
And the Ancient of Days took His seat;
His vesture was like white snow,
And the hair of His head like pure wool.55

And of course John describes the glorified Christ in identical terms:

His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire56

In this verse we see not only the wisdom but the all-seeing, all-knowing eyes of Christ – nothing can be hidden from the consuming fire. So old age and wisdom were generally held to be synonymous. When young people were seen to be wise, this was recognised as being beyond their natural abilities and accordingly as a supernatural gift, ‘the word of wisdom’.57
As the youthful Elihu puts it:

I thought age should speak,
And increased years should teach wisdom.
But it is a spirit in man,
And the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.58

Joseph was said to have been so favoured by God that he could “teach his elders wisdom”,59 as was the writer of Psalm 119:100 – “I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Thy precepts”. Nonetheless, Israel looked primarily to elders for inspired wisdom, as can be seen from Jeremiah:

“Surely the law is not going to be lost to the priest, nor counsel to the sage, nor the divine word to the prophet”60

They looked for teaching in the overall ways of God to the priest, for wisdom and counsel to the wise, and for specific words from God to the prophet, and all three were God’s provision to them.

SITTING IN THE GATES
The elders and judges of every city sat at the gate of the city and it was there that their wisdom and judgement, or discernment, was sought by the people.  For example, a woman seeking justice was commanded to “go up to the gate to the elders”61. Apostate Israel was said to ‘hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks with integrity’; they ‘distress the righteous and accept bribes, and turn aside the poor in the gate and God called them to instead “‘hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate’.62

It was to the gates of Bethlehem that Boaz went to sit with the elders and negotiate on her behalf Ruth’s future 63 and any statement made in the gate was held to have been spoken to all the people (Ruth 4:9). Solomon tells us that ‘at the entrance of the gates in the city, wisdom utters her sayings’.64

Consider too the well-known but usually misunderstood statement of Jesus to Peter that ‘the gates of Hades shall not overpower’ the church. Attempts have been made to try to explain how this must be a mistranslation or a scribal error as literal gates are always on the receiving end of attacks and cannot overpower anything. However, when the gates are in this instance properly understood as the place of judgement and wisdom, the passage is found to be correctly preserved and translated and giving a wonderful promise: all the judgement and wisdom of Satan will not be able to overpower the people of God, provided of course that we continue to follow Jesus Himself (see my fuller explanation of Matthew 16:13-20 here). Since Satan is both ‘the accuser of the brethren’ as well as ‘full of wisdom and perfect in beauty’,65 thereby being well able to deceive mankind both in his cunning and in his appearance as an angel of light, this promise of Jesus offers us both a freedom from Satan’s condemnation and a wonderful protection from his deceptions.

So ‘gates’ are sometimes literal and sometimes figurative. The figurative form comes from the public location of the judges and elders who were to be looked to by the people for justice and wisdom in every city of Israel.

COUNSELLING THE KING
The elders were also looked to for discernment and wisdom by kings. King David, although a prophet in his own right, actively sought the counsel of Ahithophel, ‘and the advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one inquired of the word of God; so was all the advice of Ahithophel regarded by both David and Absalom’66. At the same time, David also sought the counsel of Hushai67as did Absalom, though David exploited this to bring about Absalom’s downfall.68 Solomon, the wisest man on the face of the earth,69 had elders to advise him, as did his son Rehoboam:

And King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive…70

It was surely a mark of Solomon’s great wisdom, that he sought the wisdom of elders. Rehoboam’s great folly was that he rejected their advice and acted on the counsel of the young men who had grown up with him71 thereby losing the majority of his kingdom.

Looking now at how John describes the surrounds of the throne of the King of Kings, God Himself:

And around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting…72

Who the elders are is not stated, nor is their purpose, but consider the behaviour of God in His talking with Abraham about Sodom and Gomorrah73 and with Moses about Israel74 before He exercised His kingly right of judgement: the plain implication is that God Himself as the source of all wisdom and counsel is yet humble enough to receive, and plainly enjoys, counsel!

SUMMARY OF THIS CONCEPT OF ELDER

(i) Elders were one of eight distinct forms of leadership in Israel but they had a unique consistency.

(ii) In every stage and circumstance of the nation they were present and functioning.

(iii) They were the first form of national leadership and the last before Jesus came as the King. 

(iv) They had four areas of influence, in every village and region, and in the nation as well as with the king.

(v) They functioned in two distinct roles, the first as representatives because of their proximity to and knowledge of the people, and the second as sources of wisdom and discernment because they were the older and more experienced members of their community. 

Let’s now see how this relates to the New.

PARALLELS WITH NEW TESTAMENT ELDERS

Whereas the Old Testament elders functioned primarily in the natural realm and in civic responsibilities, New Testament elders function primarily in the spiritual realm and in church responsibilities. What we find in the New Testament, however, shows a remarkable continuity and the parallels are perfect: elders are one of a number of distinct forms of leadership, they have a unique consistencythey are the first form of leadership appointed in the churches and are to continue until the Lord Jesus returns. They are to function in every assembly and city and they are called to represent, to be close to and know their people, and to be able to give sound counsel and wisdom.

Let’s examine each point briefly:

 (i) They are one of a number of leadership roles.

In Ephesians 4:11 shepherds are one of five roles named (‘apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers) and we have seen from the ‘Pastors’ study that elders are the shepherds. There are obviously other roles in the New Testament church besides these five and some will be explored in detail in another study ‘Counterparts’. Meantime, it is clear that elders worked in with other leaders.

(ii) They have a unique consistency and are the first form of leadership appointed in the churches.

Some may protest and point to the twelve apostles, but consider the phrase ‘in the churches’ The Twelve were the leaders of a travelling mission group and as soon as they started forming churches, they started recognising elders. For example, in Jerusalem we find that the apostles and disciples meeting before the day of Pentecost recognised that the Twelve were not only apostles but also elders. Peter, in calling for the replacement for Judas, referred to Judas’s ‘position as overseer’ (some translations put it as bishopric’) which is that of an elder.75 After Pentecost, these believers began for the first time to be referred to as the ‘church in Jerusalem’76 Famine relief from Antioch was sent to Jerusalem ‘to the elders’77 and by the time of the great controversy over circumcision, the Jerusalem church was described as being led by ‘the apostles and elders’.78 By Acts 21:18 we find the leadership is described simply as ‘the elders’, though James the apostle is also mentioned by name.  

The Twelve patriarchs of the New Covenant were thus gradually replaced by the elders just as they had been in the Old Covenant. This is not to say the role of apostle was replaced or abolished but more of that later.

When many of the Jerusalem believers were scattered by persecution to other cities in Judea and Samaria79 and Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch,80 they formed new churches81 Since the Twelve remained in Jerusalem,82 it is reasonable to assume that from the very beginning all these churches recognised other, local elders as their leaders. As for the churches established by Paul and Barnabas, we are specifically told that after making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas ‘appointed elders for them in every church’,83 believing that this was by inspiration of God Himself84 and surely reproducing the pattern of their home church in Antioch. Paul later reminded Titus of the need to ‘appoint elders in every city’.[/note]Titus 1:5[/note]

So elders were universal – they were appointed in ‘every church’. At this stage, no other leadership role is mentioned though others clearly came later. And just as in Israel, elders were and are expected to function at all times and in every circumstance85 until ‘the Chief Shepherd appears’86, which is the Last Day.

(iii) They are called to represent, to be close to and know their people.

As already mentioned, the Antioch Christians sent famine relief to ‘the brethren living in Judea’ but they sent it ‘to the elders’87 because the elders represented the brethren. In the great controversy over circumcision, Paul and Barnabas were sent by the church at Antioch to Jerusalem where ‘they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders’.88 After much debate the issue was eventually resolved unanimously and ‘the apostles and the elders, with the whole church’89sent out a letter recording the resolution from ‘the apostles and the brethren who are elders’. In the light of the plain testimony of unanimity of saints, apostles, and elders, it’s clear the letter was meant to represent the understanding of all the believers in Jerusalem of what was the will of God.

As to elders being close to and knowing their people, Jesus taught that a major way of recognising a genuine shepherd is that ‘he calls the sheep by name and leads them out, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice, whereas a stranger they simply will not follow because they do not know the voice of strangers’.90 Of course, the primary application is to Jesus Himself but it was true regarding any shepherd of Biblical times. A shepherd lived amongst the flock so that he knew his own and his own knew him 91. Accordingly, for elders to shepherd they must have lived amongst their people for some time in order to know them and to qualify for eldership.

(iv) They must be able to give sound counsel on the basis of maturity and experience.

Paul particularly refers to an elder’s experience of overcoming normal personal temptations,92 of family life,93 of spiritual life,94 and of living in society.95 They must have lived the life before they speak. He says they must be ‘able to teach’96 and ‘able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict’.97 In other words, while they don’t have to be teachers, they do need to know the general boundaries and be willing to confront in love.

In summary then, we see that the Old Testament concept of elders is carried over into the New, with astonishing precision. While the area in which they work has changed largely from the natural to the spiritual and from civic affairs to church affairs, the parallels remain perfectly intact, and this validates the opening statements of this study: the term ‘elder’ already had a great deal of meaning to the 1st century believers and so didn’t need more explanation to them.  It has also been shown that what we have understood in our time is woefully inadequate, and we need to do a lot more work to catch up not only in our understanding but also in our structures.

Elders – Pt 2 Counselling a King >>


  1. 1 Tim 3, Titus 1
  2. Acts 20:28
  3. Acts 13:5, 14, 42-44; 14:1
  4. Acts 13:43
  5. Acts 13:44, 14:1-2
  6. Rom 3:1-2
  7. 1 Cor 10:11
  8. 1 Sam 13:8-14 cf 10:8
  9. 2 Chron 16:16-21
  10. 2 Sam 6:7
  11. 1 Chron 15:2
  12. Num 16:10
  13. Num 16:30-33
  14. Judges 8:22-23
  15. vv. 24-27
  16. Judges 4:4-9
  17. Judges 5:2
  18. 2 Sam 12
  19. 1 Kings 17
  20. 1 Sam 3
  21. 2 Kings 12
  22. 1 King 12
  23. Deut 13:1-5
  24. 2 Sam 7
  25. 2 Kings 22:1 – 23:3
  26. Exodus 3:16-18
  27. Numbers 11:17
  28. Joshua 7:6
  29. Deut 19:12, Judges 11:5
  30. Lev 4:15  9:1, 1 Kings 8:1
  31. Ezek 20:1, Jer 29:1
  32. Jer 26:17
  33. Ezra 5:5, 6:14
  34. Matt 5:22, Acts 5:21-41
  35. Gen 46:27
  36. Exodus 1
  37. Ex 3:16
  38. Ex 3:18
  39. Num 11:14, 17
  40. 1 Cor 10:2
  41. Gal 3:27
  42. 1 Cor 1:15
  43. Deut 19:12, 21:3-4
  44. Judges 11:5, 1 Sam 30:26-31
  45. Ex 3:16, Deut 27:1
  46. 1 Kings 12:6
  47. Deut 1:13
  48. 1 Sam 8:57
  49. 1 Sam 8:18
  50. 2 Sam 5:3
  51. v. 5
  52. v. 8
  53. v. 13
  54. Job 12:12
  55. Dan 7:9
  56. Rev 1:14
  57. 1 Cor 12:8
  58. Job 32:7-8
  59. Ps 105:22
  60. Jer 18:18
  61. Deut 25:7
  62. Amos 5:10-15
  63. Ruth 4:1ff
  64. Prov 1:21
  65. Ezek 28:12
  66. 2 Sam 16:23
  67. 2 Sam 15:34
  68. 2 Sam 15:31ff
  69. 1 Kin 3:12
  70. 1 Kin 12:6
  71. 1 Kin 12:13-14
  72. Rev 4:4
  73. Gen 18:16-33
  74. Ex 32:9-14
  75. Acts 1:20
  76. Acts 5:11, 8:1
  77. Acts 11:30  12:25
  78. Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22-23, 16:4
  79. Acts 8:1
  80. Acts 11:19
  81. Acts 9:31, 11:26
  82. Acts 8:1
  83. Acts 14:22
  84. Acts 20:28
  85. Acts 20:28-31
  86. 1 Pet 5:4
  87. Acts 11:30
  88. Acts 15:4
  89. Acts 15:22
  90. John 10:3-5
  91. John 10:14
  92. 1 Tim 3:2-3
  93. vv. 4-5
  94. v. 6
  95. v. 7
  96. v. 2
  97. Titus 1:9