The qualifications of an Elder are found in the book of Titus. In Titus 1:3 Paul states that God has “manifested His word through preaching”. It can therefore be derived that an Elder must be able to preach the word of God to the congregation of the saints.
The Qualifications of an Elder (Titus 1:5-9)
|Blameless; a husband of one wife; having children who are faithful [to the Christian faith], and who are not accused of dissipation [overindulgence in sensual pleasures; dissipated living; a descent into drunkenness and sexual dissipation; debauchery, decadence, excess, self-indulgence, wildness; squandering money, energy or resources.]. The principle is that if a man cannot manage his own [small] household and keep them in the faith, neither will he be able to manage a larger “family” [congregation] and keep them in the faith (1 Timothy 3:5). It is also clear from this passage of Scripture that a woman cannot and should not be an elder in the Church.||Titus 1:6|
|Blameless as a steward of God; not self-willed or self-seeking; not quick-tempered; not given to wine [not a big drinker]; not violent; not greedy for money.||Titus 1:7|
|Hospitable; a lover of what is good [according to God’s word]; holy; self-controlled (one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self-control.)||Titus 1:8|
|Holding fast to the word of God which he himself has been taught, and able to preach sound Christian doctrine [not his own version of Christianity]; so that he is able to exhort [strongly encourage or urge someone to do something], and convince those who contradict God’s word [either those who are Christians but do not conform to the teachings of the Bible, or to those who are antagonistic to the gospel and the Christian faith]. In words, he must be able to defend the Christian faith and base his defense on sound Christian doctrine at all times.||Titus 1:9|
The Elder’s Task (Titus 1:10-16)
|To stop the mouths of those who are idle talkers. They are identified as those who subvert others through teaching and preaching false doctrine for the sake of dishonest gain [money, status, power, popularity etc].||Titus 1:11|
|To rebuke false teachers strongly (to ensure that they remain true to the word of God and sound Christian doctrine and faith.)||Titus 1:13|
|To ignore man’s version of the gospel or Christian doctrine that is not in accordance with the teachings of the Bible. (i.e. commandments of men rather than of God). Those who preach their own version of the Gospel demonstrate that they have turned away from the truth [of God’s word and sound Christian doctrine]. Elders are therefore not to function in the fear of men but of God, because the fear of man will trap them [they will be compromised in their position as leaders of the church if they are tempted to give in to the whims of men and their perverted versions of truth]. (Proverbs 29:5)||Titus 1:14|
Qualities of a Sound Church (Titus 2:1-10)
|Speak things that are in accord with sound doctrine.||Titus 2:1|
|Have older men who are sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, love and patience.||Titus 2:2|
|Have older women who are reverent in their behavior; not slanderers, nor given to much wine, and who are teachers of good things.||Titus 2:3|
|They also admonish young women to love their husbands and their children, to be discreet, chaste, home-makers, good, obedient to their own husbands, in order that the word of God may not be blasphemed.||Titus 2:4-5|
|Young men are exhorted to be sober-minded, to demonstrate good works, have integrity in their doctrine, be reverent, incorruptible, have sound speech that cannot be condemned (so that their opponents may be ashamed and have nothing evil to say about them).||Titus 2:6-8|
|Bond servants (those who are employed by others), should be encouraged to obey their masters; to be well pleasing and to not answer back; not pilfering [stealing], but showing fidelity so that they may display the doctrine of God their Savior to others in their place of work.||Titus 2:9|
Trained by Saving Grace (Titus 2:11-15)
A healthy church and healthy believers (Christians):
- should demonstrate the grace of God that brings salvation to all men through their conduct.
- by denying ungodliness and worldly lusts in whatever form it takes.
- by living lives that are sober, righteous, and godly.
- by living a life that demonstrates that they look ahead to the blessed hope and appearance of their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ rather than for the things of this world.
- and who speak things that exhort and rebuke with all authority (in accordance with the word of God).
Graces of the Heirs of Grace (Titus 3:1-8)
- should be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey and be ready for every good work.
- should speak evil of no one; should be peaceful and gentle – showing humility to all men (because we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived – serving various lusts and pleasures; living in malice and envy – hateful and hating one another) [before the kindness and the love of God our Savior appeared, and who saves us – not according to our good works or righteousness, but according to His mercy and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit].
- because we have ourselves been justified by faith in Christ and His grace, and have inherited eternal life as a free gift from God, we must be careful to demonstrate the love, grace, mercy, and kindness of God to others, just as he demonstrated His lover, grace, mercy and kindness to us.
Avoid Dissension (Titus 3:9-11)
- should avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and striving about the law for they are all unprofitable and useless.
- should reject a divisive man (after he has been warned twice about his wrong behavior)
Conclusion and exhortation
It is unfortunate that in many churches today we do not witness adherence to the principles and guidelines contained in these passages of Scripture. As “slaves of righteousness”, we as Christians are not free to live self-indulgent lives. The Bible speaks of the “great cloud of witnesses” who constantly observe our lifestyle. As ambassadors of the Kingdom of God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we have a great responsibility to demonstrate Kingdom principles to those who are lost or who may be seeking truth. In writing this article, I realized that even if one is not an elder in a church, the guidelines for Elders and healthy Churches contained in these passages, provide every Christian with a wonderful standard to which we should all aspire.