PHBC September 12, 1999
Series: First Peter, Ser. #78
OF A CHURCH OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
BIBLICAL WORDS DENOTING THE WORK AND SERVICE OF THE PASTOR-ELDER-BISHOP-TEACHER
Scripture: I Pet 5:1-14
TEXT: 1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.
INTRO: First, I want to introduce you to the study we will be following for the next few Sundays. It will involve the work, character, and methods of the elder or elders of a congregation.
Second, it will give particular notice to some things that Peter says of himself as a fellow-elder.
We will first notice some words that are used to refer to this office. The pastor-bishop-elder-teacher of a congregation is a multifaceted office. The words used to refer to this multifaceted office and service give a general idea of what it is about.
I. THE FIRST WORD THAT I DESIRE TO CONSIDER IS THE WORD PRESBUTEROS.
A. This word that refers to those who presided over the assemblies of the churches.
B. Strong says of this word:
1. "A term of rank or office. Among the Jews it referred to members of the great council or Sanhedrin (because in early times the rulers of the people, judges, etc., were selected from elderly men)."
2. Strong also says that it was used "of those who in separate cities managed public affairs and administered justice."
3. Concerning the used of this word by New Testament speakers and writers, Strong says that "among the Christians," the word was used of "those who presided over the assemblies (or churches)."
4. Strong adds, "The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably."
5. Let me point out that one may be referred to as elder because of his whether he is a preacher or not.
a. It is used this was in verse 5 of this chapter. 1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
b. It is used as an adjective when referring to older women. 1 Timothy 5:2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
6. On the other hand the word is used of the presiding officer of a New Testament church, regardless of his age, as it is in various Scriptures which we will notice.
C. Since we are concerned with the use of the word in relationship to New Testament Christians and churches, consider these verses where this word is used.
1. The first is the case of the offering for the impoverished saints in Jerusalem that was received at Antioch and sent to the elders in Jerusalem for distribution to the people. Acts 11:27-30 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
2. The second is the occasion of the choosing of elders to preside over the churches that were organized or found on the first missionary journey of Paul. Acts 14:21-23 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
3. When there was trouble at Antioch over circumcision, the church at Antioch sent Paul, Barnabas, and others to Jerusalem to confer with the Apostles and the elders of that assembly on the matter. Acts 15:1-6 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. Acts 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
4. The word is again used of the presiding elders of the Jerusalem assembly. Acts 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. Acts 21:18-19 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. 19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
5. It is used by Paul in his epistle to Timothy concerning the support and discipline of presiding officers of a church. 1 Timothy 5:17-19 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. 19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
6. It is used of Paul in his instructions to Titus to ordain elders in the churches and it is used interchangeably with the word Bishop. Titus 1:5-9 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 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.
7. James uses the word in some instructions concerning praying for the sick. James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
8. The apostle John refers to himself as an elder in two of his epistles. 2 John 1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth. 3 John 1 The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
9. And, of course, it is used in our text of the elders among these pilgrims to whom Peter writes and of himself. 1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.
a. I want to point out that in this verse Peter, in no way, sets himself above the other elders.
b. He uses the following word in the Greek. sumpresbutero" (SUMPRESBUTEROS).
c. A better rendering would have been "who am a fellow-elder" which indicates an equality with those to whom he is speaking.
d. No pastor, preacher, bishop, or elder of New Testament times considered himself above his fellow elders.
(1) John called himself and other elders fellowhelpers to the truth and rebuked those who desired preeminence. 3 John 8-9 We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. 9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
(2) Paul held to this equality of the ministers of Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are Godís husbandry, ye are Godís building.
(3) I will have more to say about this in another message but wanted to make it clear that, though Peter and John were pillars in the church in Jerusalem, they never considered themselves superior to other elders in the church or in other churches.
(4) Peter was not the first pope but a fellowelder, a fellowhelper, a fellowlaborer, and a true yokefellow with other elders.
D. Before moving to our second word I should point out that another word related to this is PRESBUTERION. This is the word that is used for a presbytery. It is a body of elders, pastors, or bishops. It does not include deacons. it is a body or council of pastors. 1 Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
II. THE SECOND WORD TO WHICH I CALL YOUR ATTENTION IS EPISKOPOS.
A. This word refers to the one who fills the office of a bishop or elder of a local church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
B. Thayer says that this word refers to "the overseer or presiding officer of a Christian church. Oversight, overseership, office, charge."
C. Strong says the word has reference to "oversight, overseership, office, charge, the office of an elder the overseer or presiding officers of a Christian church."
D. It refers to an overseer such as Jesus who has the oversight of our souls. 1 Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
E. It is used of the elder having the oversight of a New Testament church.
1. Paul used it in addressing the elders of the church in Ephesus. Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
a. Note that they have the oversight of the assembly or flock.
b. Note also that they are the shepherds who feed the flock.
2. Paul also used the word in his epistle to the Philippians in addressing their leaders and ministers. Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.
a. I use the word ministers since I do not believe Paul is referring to men who have been ordained to fill the traditional office of deacon as it is now used among Baptists and others.
b. I should also point out that the word translated deacon here is used more often in relation to the pastor and preacher than it is in relation to some other person.
3. Paul also used the word in his first epistle to Timothy where he gave the qualifications of a bishop. 1 Timothy 3:1-2 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.
4. Paul, as I pointed out earlier, used it in his epistle to Titus where he used it interchangeably with elder. Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.
5. This same word in the plural is translated overseers in Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
6. I should also point out that these overseers were also called elders. Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
III. THE THIRD WORD I MENTION IS POIMEN [poimnh].
A. This is a herdsman, a shepherd, and a feeder.
B. Strong says the word is used metaphorically of "the presiding officer, manager, director, of any assembly: so of Christ the Head of the church; of the overseers of the Christian assemblies; and of kings and princes."
C. Thayer says, "The presiding officer, the director, the manager of a Christian assembly."
D. Paul uses the same Greek word in his letter to the assembly of the Ephesians where it is translated pastor. Ephesians 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
E. In the chapter we are studying, when addressing the elders, Peter uses the word to refer to Jesus as the chief Shepherd, indicating that these elders whom he is addressing are undershepherds. 1 Peter 5:2-4 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over Godís heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
IV. THE WORD TEACHER IS ALSO USED OF THOSE WHO ARE THE PRESIDING OFFICERS AND OVERSEERS OF NEW TESTAMENT CHURCHES.
A. Barnabas, who had become one of the elders of the assembly in Antioch was, it seems, also called a teacher. Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
B. This seems to be the use of the word in Paulís epistle to the Ephesian church. Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.
1. Of pastors and teachers John Gill says, "I rather think they intend one and the same office, and that the word Ďteachersí is only explanative of the figurative word Ďpastorsí or shepherds; and the rather because if the apostle had designed distinct officers, he would have used the same form of speaking as before; and have expressed himself thus, Ďand some pastors, and some teachersí; whereas he does not make such a distribution here as there.
2. Though this is the only time the word "pastor" is used with reference to the presiding officer of a New Testament church, the inference is there several times.
a. It is inferred in Paulís address to the elders of the church in Ephesus. Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
b. They are instructed to "shepherd (or pastor) the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."
c. Shepherding them involves feeding them and feeding them involves teaching them the word of God.
C. One of the qualifications of a pastor is that he be apt to teach. 1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach. 2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient. Titus 1:9 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.
CONC: With various hierarchical systems in the different denominations today, Baptists have sometimes gone to another extremeóthe disparagement of the elder. I have known of churches that would not even let their pastor moderate business meetings because they feared that would give him too much of an authoritative position over the church. Whoever moderates can do the same thing. The very term elder indicates that he is the presiding officer. Or there may be a plurality of elders as in most of the churches in the New Testament. But, even then, as in Jerusalem, it seems that there was one who actually presided over the meetings of the assembly. Acts 15:13-22 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. 18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. 19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. 22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren.
I pray that God may be pleased in this day of extremes to give us the wisdom to conduct our affairs in this realm in the true New Testament manner. There is a wonderful balance in the New Testament examples of elder leadership and church autonomy.
Click to return to Central Baptist Church HomePage
Click to go to Table of Contents of This Site
Send E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to see a complete listing of all messages on this site
This page last updated Friday, March 04, 2011