Pastoral Exhortation

The Duties of Elders

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 08 October 2017

Print

Teaching of the Church:

According to 1 Timothy 3:2, elders must be “apt to teach”. In Titus 1:9, elders are expected to be “holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” The Greek word translated as “exhort” (parakaleô) can also mean “encourage”, “comfort”, etc. Thus, the ruling elder’s teaching – though not formal or on a full-time basis like the pastors who are teaching elders – includes informal counselling and words of encouragement. The elder should also be able to “convince the gainsayers” by sound doctrine (Titus 1:9). The Greek word translated “gainsayers” (antilegô) refers to “those who speak against”. Hence, elders must acquaint themselves with the biblical doctrines and practices of the church, that they may give a sound response to those who object to the doctrines of the Word of God.

This, of course, does not mean that every elder must be equally knowledgeable and gifted to perform the task of teaching. It is abundantly clear that there are some elders (being pastors) who are specially tasked to “labour in the word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:17), while others focus mainly on ruling the church. However, every elder must be able to communicate sound biblical knowledge. To fulfil such an important duty, elders must have a constant, prayerful commitment to equip themselves with sound theological knowledge. They must equip themselves to teach efficiently in the Bible studies and to answer the inquirers wisely and adequately. They must labour to both propound sound doctrines and defend them for the purity of the church.

Rule of the Church:

Elders are expected to rule well, and such are worthy of double honour (1 Timothy 5:17). As rulers, they are not to be lord over God’s heritage (1 Peter 5:3), but rather as fathers who rule their household (1 Timothy 3:4). They teach the Word of God (Hebrews 13:7), and labour to admonish the church (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:12). They watch for the souls of God’s people (Hebrews 13:17), and lead them by example (1 Peter 5:3; 1 Timothy 4:12). As men entrusted with responsibility for the wellbeing of the souls of the people, they will have to give an account to the Lord for them (Hebrews 13:17).

Elders ought to be in charge of the admission, spiritual nurture, and discipline of the members of the church. Their collective supervision as rulers of the church is crucial to maintaining the purity of the church. The special attention of the elders to catechise those who seek membership and to ascertain them to be credible followers of Christ is most needful. It is also their duty to admonish (with a loving and firm spirit) members of the church who walk disorderly. They are expected to carry out their roles as rulers with much diligence and labour (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:12).

The elders also have important duties to perform in the meetings of the Board of Elders and the Church Session. In those meetings, the situation and needs of the church will be considered, and the elders should confer together to find the best biblical way to manage matters at hand for the benefit of the church. Hence, elders must have a commitment to attend all such meetings and to participate in the discussions concerning the administration of the church with eagerness and patience. As the meetings of the Board of Elders and the Session cannot be held in a hurried or perfunctory manner, much forbearance, tolerance, endurance are expected. Elders must not think of themselves as mere advisers in the Board or the Session, but as colabourers together with the pastor to shepherd the flock of God. Elders must also be careful to avoid any misunderstandings, quarrels or alienation between them. Only when the elders – who are the rulers of the church – endeavour to work together in sincerity and faithfulness, in harmony and love, and with zeal and patience can the church be effective in bearing a glorious testimony for the Lord.

An invitation to
Calvary Pandan BPC’s
500th Reformation
Anniversary
Thanksgiving Service

Title: “Reformation Revisited”
Speaker: Rev Dr Jeffrey Khoo
Date: 29th October 2017
Time: 6.00pm

As buffet dinner will be provided after
the service, it will help Calvary Pandan
greatly in their planning if you could
sign up at the reception table.

A List of Biblical Duties of Elders

  1. Remember the teachings and faithfulness of the apostles, and faithful men of the past and present, and emulate them (Acts 20:17-21, 28-31, 35; 1 Peter 5:1; Hebrews 13:7).
  2. Keep watch over the souls of believers and the church (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17).
  3. Teach, exhort and admonish from the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9).
  4. Shepherd (or feed) the flock of God (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2).
  5. Exercise oversight of the church (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Peter 5:2).
  6. Serve the Lord in the church willingly and readily (1 Peter 5:2).
  7. Be exemplary to the church (1 Peter 5:3).
  8. Serve with humility (1 Peter 5:5).
  9. Labour together with fellow elders and pastors (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
  10. Serve as to give an account to God (Hebrews 13:17).
  11. Be watchful against destructive false teachers (Acts 20:29-31).
  12. Visit and pray for the members, especially the sick and needy of the church (James 5:14).