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Elders?

July 15, 2012

Greetings,

“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 to be revealed.  Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock.”  1 Peter 5: 1-3  Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament

Yes, there are such people as elders in the Body of Christ.  However, please notice that they are among us and NOT over us.  In my over 30 years of serving the body I have noticed that true elders do not accept titles or pay for their service.  No, they serve gladly and give of themselves continually without compensation or reward.  These older folk help us find safe pasture where we are able to grow and learn from The Master.  They help make sure we are safe in matters of doctrine and practice.  

The Lord never meant for these gifts to become offices to be filled.  This is not about positions within the body, because there are really no positions in the true Body of Christ.  Because we are all equal siblings and Priests in God’s Church.  There is no positional Leadership in the church, except that Jesus is King and we are not.  The only way to effectively lead in Christ’s Body is by example.  We are not to stand over and above others in the church and tell them what to do.  We will not Lord over others in the body.  What we will do is live lives worthy of the callings we have received.  We will be the same person in public or private.  We will love others by laying our lives down for them.  The greatest calling any of us can receive is that of being a servant to all.

I have witnessed the church function gloriously without professional, positional, paid leadership for over 30 years.  It can and does work very well.  The church does not need those with titles or positions to be effective in its ministry.  The church I am speaking of makes disciples and cares for others extremely well.  Any human hierarchy within the church hinders the church.  I know it is a simple way that I follow and in that way Jesus is the ONLY Head.  I will bow to Him and no other.  Who do you follow?  I certainly don’t want anyone to follow me.  I am just glad when folks choose to stand alongside me.

Love and …..

Kirk Out ! 

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11 Comments
  1. Kirk, you chose a good and correct translation for that verse in 1 Peter. The KJV boys always put “over” and “office” in these verses about eldership in order to make it sound hierarchic. King James gave the translation team through Bishop Bancroft of the Church of England, instructions to do so. The Church of England was to be nothing more than an extension of the Kings rule over the people by way of the bishops, priests and deacons and his twisted Bible verses on authority. BTW, what the heck is a bishop? Another fabricated term put in the place of elder. Compare these two translations:

    This [is] a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
    (1 Timothy 3:1 KJV)

    and the more correct International Standard Version’s translation…

    This saying is trustworthy: The one who would an elder be, A noble task desires he.
    (1 Timothy 3:1 ISV)

    As for the word, “office” here is what W. E. Vine has to say about its usage in the “Authorized Version.”

    Notes: (I) In Rom_11:13, AV, diakonia, “a ministry,” is translated “office” (RV, “ministry”). (2) In Act_1:20, RV, episkope, “an overseership,” is translated “office” (marg., “overseership;” AV, “bishopric”). (3) In 1Ti_3:1, the word “office,” in the phrase “the office of a bishop,” has nothing to represent it in the original; the RV marg. gives “overseer” for “bishop,” and the phrase lit. is “overseership;” so in 1Ti_3:10, 1Ti_3:13, where the AV has “use (and ‘used’) the office of a deacon,” the RV rightly omits “office,” and translates the verb diakoneo, “to serve,” “let them serve as deacons” and “(they that) have served (well) as deacons.”

    The word deacon should in each case been translated “servant.” So should the word “minister.” For more information on how the verses in the N. T. about church leadership are NOT about hierarchic positions in the original Greek read: “The Great Ecclesiastical Conspiracy” http://www.awildernessvoice.com/GEC.html. It is also in PDF format at: http://www.awildernessvoice.com/GEC.pdf. Copies of this book are available for free and can be ordered from our website.

  2. Sandra permalink

    Excellent! It’s amazing how the translations we use and the interpretations we put on them are the basis for our Theology. We looked at an interlinear Bible of the literal translation from the Greek based on the oldest texts and found so many discrepancies between what is taught by many and what was actually said.
    I love this teaching on elders. I remember an ocasion when a Mormon came to our door and introduced himself as’ elder whatever’. When we said we woud talk to him if he told us his real name, he refused! Incidentally, we were at least twice as old as he was at the time!! “Elders’ Hmm

  3. “They help make sure we are safe in matters of doctrine and practice.”

    This is often where the rubber meets the road in the manner of authority. One person says “a”, another says “b”, and a conflict arises. Even Paul and Barnabas had a split over the issue of John-Mark. At some point someone has to make the call, and elders are (mostly) the ones who have the ultimate responsibility before God to do so.

  4. Reformed by the Spirit permalink

    But Tim, do you just want a bunch of folks following elders like Lemmings because they are “supposed to” or do we want elders to rise up in a manner that people are drawn to them by the Holy Spirit? I am not into following blindly anymore. Often, people who are actual elders are overlooked because they don’t fit the “mold”. Often those who wind up being “elders” have no business leading anyone and they have selfish motivations.

  5. Sandra permalink

    I believe the Holy Spirit is well able to correct our doctine, and anything else that needs adjusting if we are all listening to Him. Personal opinion, whether the person have a ‘position’ or not, is irrelevant to me. Some ‘churches’ have a policy that no decisions are taken unless there is a concensus of agreement and if there isn’t, they wait on God until there is. That’s the way my marriage works. We trust God to bring us into agreement. No-one has to sacrifice their integrity or hearing from God themselves in order to have an agreement based on someone elses opinion. And we are both very strong individuals!! Sometimes we have to wait for a long time, but eventually God will bring us into agreement based on our both hearing from Him.

  6. “Often, people who are actual elders are overlooked because they don’t fit the “mold”. Often those who wind up being “elders” have no business leading anyone and they have selfish motivations.”

    Yeah- who needs qualified elders anyway?

  7. Reformed by the Spirit permalink

    We need elders….and those that God rises up will be qualified. Doesn’t that make sense?

  8. RBTHS- I agree- in fact, it is only those men whom God raises up. It’s a calling, for sure.

    I seriously don’t agree with the entire dynamic of the thinking that assumes that these men are NOT qualified simply because they are in an ‘institutional’ church. There’s an implicit ‘either/or’ to the question-

    “do you just want a bunch of folks following elders like Lemmings because they are “supposed to” or do we want elders to rise up in a manner that people are drawn to them by the Holy Spirit?”

    -that excludes the possibility of folks actually following Christ through the leadership of these men, and obeying them (Heb. 13:17)- men who, of course, meet the objective criteria laid out in 1 Tim. 3, Titus 1, etc…

    BTW, speaking of correcting bad doctrine, this is what the Word says regarding elders and correction:

    “…holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” (Titus 1:9)

    The question is: How do you respond if your doctrine is refuted or corrected by an elder?

  9. Reformed by the Spirit permalink

    Tim, I know you are an elder in your church. That is fine. I also believe that elders were raised up quite differently in the times when the body of Christ was young.

    Lets be upfront….are you referring to how I should respond to you as you are an elder?

    I am always open to correction. I am careful to weight things out though…..not everyone who assumes to lead is actually an elder.

    For instance, I was once told, by an ordained preacher, that God was not sovereign in all things. I did not agree with him. Was I in the wrong? Was I being unteachable?

  10. Sandra permalink

    We were questioned by a minister about our saying we listen to God speak to us . He said ‘People who say they hear rom God directly scare me.’ We said’ You have been a minister for 15 years and you say you don’t hear from God directly? Now that’s what we find scarey!”

  11. “Lets be upfront….are you referring to how I should respond to you as you are an elder?”

    No, no, no- I am not your elder- I have about 100 people that I have to give an account to God for (myself and 2 other godly men), so let’s not go and add more responsibility to my account!

    What I meant by the question was indeed “How do you respond if your doctrine is refuted or corrected by an (YOUR) elder?”

    “For instance, I was once told, by an ordained preacher, that God was not sovereign in all things. I did not agree with him. Was I in the wrong? Was I being unteachable?”

    That is a really good question, and there are a few variables that would affect how I would respond:
    Was this in a Church that held to the verbal-plenary inspiration of the Bible?

    (Because if they did not believe this, then what good would it do to humbly go to the text and ask for clarification?)

    If, however, he did believe in the full inspiration of the Bible, then he should at least be willing to demonstrate why he believed as he did. That’s the responsible application of Titus 1:9:

    “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”

    You see, if the man wasn’t willing to take some time with you and more fully explain why he believed God wasn’t exhaustively sovereign, then he wasn’t taking the Bible seriously as regards his own responsibility and he surely needed to be corrected by his elders.

    We should always take a “help me out- where in Scripture?” attitude with other Christians, and especially to those who have been given the responsibility to shepherd, and to whom we should give double honor.

    BTW- I have to obey all of this as well. If one of the other pastors says something that I think is maybe out-of-line, I can’t just assume the worst and go charging in. But we all need correction from time to time, and I’ve received it as well as given it. Humility rules the day in the body of Christ.

    Thanks RBTS- I hope I’ve clarified the waters over here…

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