Qualified Elders and Overseers

Qualified Overseers and Elders

The apostle Paul left the young preacher Titus on the island of Crete to “set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). In the early church, older men known as elders (also called bishops, overseers, pastors, and shepherds) were given the task of overseeing a local congregation and ensuring that the flock was fed and the wolves kept away. The character, virtues, and qualifications for those appointed to serve as elders was not left up to the wisdom of Titus. The qualifications for elders were given by inspiration (1 Tim 3:1–7; Titus 1:6–9).

Paul hoped that godly men would aspire to leadership within a congregation (1 Tim 3:1). At the same time, an overwhelming desire for this position is a reason for automatic disqualification. Such ambition indicates that a man does not understand either the job or what will be required personally and professionally. A man must desire the work of an elder enough to be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to meet the qualifications.

Those men who prepared in their youth to be elders and then served well in their later years have a promise from God (1 Tim 5:17). Older members of a congregation need to encourage young men to start working on the qualities of life that will enable them to serve as elders.

Qualified Overseers, a book by David Padfield, is an exegetical study of the qualifications of an elder. This book contains four sermons on these qualifications and explores in great detail the meaning of each of the attributes set forth in Scripture. Instead of just quoting from Greek lexicons to find the meaning of the words found in the Greek text, this study focuses more on how the words have been rendered in over twenty English translations of the Bible.

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