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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

What is a church elder?

  1. The Basics: An elder is a man who (i) meets the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9, (ii) is recognized by his congregation as an elder, (iii) and leads the congregation by teaching the Word (1 Tim. 3:2), praying for the sheep (Jas. 5:14), and overseeing the affairs of the church (1 Pet. 5:2).
  2. Oversight: An elder must watch over the flock. He must instruct all the sheep, strengthen the weak ones, guard the vulnerable ones, rebuke the obstinate ones, and bear with the difficult ones (2 Tim. 2:24-25; Acts 20:28; 1 Thess. 5:14). An elder watches over the members of his church as one who will give an account to God (Heb. 13:17)
  3. Plurality: In the New Testament, local churches consistently have a plurality of elders (Acts 14:23, 20:17; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 5:17; Jas. 5:14). Christ, the Chief Shepherd, means to care for his flock through a number of godly men who together teach, guard, guide, protect, and love the sheep. This means that every local church, following the leadership of their pastor, should look out for men who are already doing the work of an elder and appoint them to the office.