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Elders as community leaders

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Since older men act as responsible leaders in many communities, “elder” is used as the title for a recognised leader.

Notes & Transcripts

Elders in early Israel

Elders represented their people

Exodus 19:7 NLT
So Moses returned from the mountain and called together the elders of the people and told them everything the Lord had commanded him.
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Elders assisted Moses

Numbers 11:16–17 NLT
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you. I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.
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Elders met in a national assembly

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Elders functioned as judges, sometimes in the town gate

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Elders during the period of the monarchy

Tribal and town elders

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Elders were local representatives at national functions

1 Kings 8:1 NLT
Solomon then summoned to Jerusalem the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes—the leaders of the ancestral families of the Israelites. They were to bring the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant to the Temple from its location in the City of David, also known as Zion.

Elders advised the king

1 Kings 12:6–8 NLT
Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?” The older counselors replied, “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.” But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers.

Elders functioned as judges at the town gate

Proverbs 31:23 NLT
Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders.
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Elders in Israel during and after the exile

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Elders in NT Jewish society

Elders were local town and synagogue leaders


Elders were members of the Sanhedrin

Mark 15:1 NLT
Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.
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Elders were guardians of religious traditions

Matthew 15:1–2 NLT
Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”
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The elders’ rejection of Jesus Christ predicted by him

Matthew 16:21 NLT
From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.

The involvement of the elders in the trial and condemnation of Jesus Christ

Matthew 27:1 NLT
Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders of the people met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death.

The elders’ involvement with the first Christians

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