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Introduction: Recap of series and introduce today’s focus.

Elders, shepherding members.

The origin of elders.
Throughout the new Testament there are basically two words that are used interchangeably to describe the office of elder.
Acts 20:28, I Timothy 3:2 , Titus 1:7 (Episkopos, overseer, shepherd, or bishop)
Acts 20:28 ESV
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
1 Timothy 3:2 ESV
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
Titus 1:7 ESV
For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,
I Timothy 5:1, Acts 15:1-2, I Peter 5:1-3 (Presbyturos, elder)
1 Timothy 5:1 ESV
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers,
Acts 15:1–2 ESV
But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.
1 Peter 5:1–3 ESV
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
The point is that both of these words are describing the same role within the body of Christ. Presbytrous signifies the office (title)… and episcipos signifies the work (function).
Application: I often hear the question why are there so many different protestant denominations? One answer to that question is the way we translate and interpret these two words.
Another signification note to observe is the plural usage of these words when they describe the office of elder. Other than the passages we have looked at already another example of this plurality of elders is in…
Acts 14:23, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:5
Acts 14:23 ESV
And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Philippians 1:1 ESV
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
Titus 1:5 ESV
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—
The point is that within every local body there should be more than one shepherding elder. Certainly not all elders will function in the same way, just as all deacons wont be doing the same thing, however, there should be more than one elder who is overseeing each local body of Christ. Not only is the Biblical, but it is wise and practical in order to share the various responsibilities of shepherding the flock of God. Also, it share the innate authority that inevitably comes by serving in an office like this. Which takes us to our first point…

Recognized Authority

If you were here for TC’s ordination you may recall that it is God who initiates the calling of a man to the office of elder. Even from the verse we looked at from Acts 20:28 the apostle Paul reminded the gathered elders that it was the Holy Spirit who made them overseers. As the authoritative head of His church jesus calls members of His body to serve in this role of elder, however, Jesus also delegates His authority through the church to recognize those shepherds.
We saw the example of this with the election of deacons in Acts 6, but its also true of elders.
The way that we see this occuring in the early church was a cooperation with the local churches and the apostles. For example look at Titus 1:5 we see that as an apostle, Paul directed Titus to appoint elders in every town. Keep in mind this is a time when most of the apostles were still living. Jesus had commissioned them specifically to extend the church from Jerusalem to the utter most parts of the earth. As that was happening the apostles could not be everywhere at the same time. So the Lord rose up elders among the local church whom the apostles appointed to shepherd the flock. This doesn't mean that elders are apostles, but it certainly does seems that pastors have been extended the torch of a very similar responsibility to teach the Scriptures and pray. Basically, the apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit to record the written word of God, and pastors have been called by the Holy Spirit to teach the written word of God. To uphold the foundation of the apostles.
As we read from Ephesians 4 the Lord Jesus gave the apostles and pastor teachers as gifts to the body of Christ. And as the apostles died so the recognized authority was extended through the church to the teaching elders to pray and preach God’s Word.
Transition: Which takes us to our next question. What are the qualities necessary for a man to serve the responsibilities of an elder?
Titus 1:5 ESV
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—

Qualified Responsibility

There are basically two passages in Scripture that offer lists of qualifications for an elder. I’m simply going to read these lists and then we’ll make some observations. The first continues where we left off in Titus 1:6-9 The second passage is found in I Timothy 3:1-7
Titus 1:6–9 ESV
if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
1 Timothy 3:1–7 ESV
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
2. This doesn't mean that all the elders in a local church are going to function in the same way. However it does mean that they must possess the same kind of character. The same kind of Christ like maturity.
3. For example in I Timothy 5:17 we read… My point is simply that it seems the apostle Paul understood that even though elders were all tasked with the responsibility to rule not all elders were especially laboring in preaching and teaching. The word rule in that passage mean to manage, lead, to be in charge of, to guide, to be active in serving… hence where we get the function of shepherding. The way this usually look sin our day is that there is usually some elders who are compensated because along with other shepherding tasks they especially pay close attention to the teaching ministry… we usually call these guys pastors. Then there are those who serve right along side the other elders with the same qualifications but generally focus more on others aspects of ruling or shepherding, we usually call these guys lay elders. (Or elders who are not financially compensated)
1 Timothy 5:17 ESV
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
4. Again, the point is that as members of the body of Christ we do not have to guess or use subjective guidelines for recognizing potential elders among us. No, rather the Lord has been gracious to give us objective qualifications and responsibilities for those who would serve as under shepherds of Christ's church.
Transition: Which takes us to our final point today…

Joyfully shepherding and being shepherded

1. In I Peter 5:1-5 the apostle Peter exhorts elders…
1 Peter 5:1–5 ESV
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
2. There is great joy in being called to under shepherd the body of Christ. Often, that joy will come in the form of suffering. Bearing burdens. Praying through hard situations. Just as often it will come from baptizing new converts, witnessing the spiritual growth, being invited into major moments of people’s lives. However, the greatest joy of serving in the office of elder is that when the Chief Shepherd appears, we will receive the unfading crown of glory. That is eternal joy for those called upong to serve as elders of Jesus’ church.
3. However, there is also great joy in being shepherded by those whom Jesus has gifted to His church. i want to close this morning by looking a Hebrews 13:17
Hebrews 13:17 ESV
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
4. First we should notice the great caution leaders should be watchful of, since we have to give an account for the souls who are entrusted to our care. However, also notice the advantage there is, the joy for those who are being cared for. the word there for advantage has to do with profit. In other words it is profitable for your soul to submit to those whom we have recognized and Jesus has called to be elders among His body. And if we are doing diligence in using God’s qualifications to affirm men for this role who are growing in those qualification hen we should really have no resistance in submitting to them for their joy and ours! It doesn't mean that once a guy is affirmed s an elder he isn't accountable to the body, rather as those accountable to one another the particular role of elder should be one in which we hold in high esteem and submissive respect. See I Timothy 5:19-22 for accountability of elders.
Conclusion:
We’ve seen through this series that jesus the Christ is the authoritative head of His church. That the body of Christ is made up of those members who have the authority, responsibility and joy to recognize among themselves deacons who serve the body and elders who shepherd the body. So as we wrap up today I wonder if you might consider.. is Christ calling you today to trust in Him alone to be right with God and become a member of His body? Perhaps you are converted but have never obeyed Jesus in baptism, would you make that commitment today? Perhaps you have been baptised and are growing in your relationship with Christ and have been getting acquainted with this local body, and realize that its time to make a formal commitment and identify with us as a member? Perhaps you see among us those who should be serving or shepherding the flock of God. Maybe God is calling you to one of these roles? Consider these things today and as we sing our final song together please respond to Christ in a way that would be pleasing to Him and bring you great joy!
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