Elders & Deacons

Elders, Deacons, and Deaconesses


The component parts of a spiritual assembly are clearly defined. Saints, bishops, and deacons are distinct functions (Philippians 1:1). They can be in the same person, but they spring from a different source:

    - To be a saint comes from conversion.

    - To be a bishop comes from desire and character.

    - To be a deacon comes from spiritual gifts (see Romans 12:7).


Eldership is not in itself a spiritual gift. 1 Timothy 3:1 says, “If a man desire the office of a bishop, or elder, he desireth a good work.” Another has translated this “If a man stretcheth himself to overseership.” This implies deep and prolonged spiritual exercise before God, and a faithful ministry before men.

There are five duties that should characterize a true elder:

    1. He should be a pastor or shepherd to feed the flock.

    2. He should be a sentinel to protect the flock.

    3. He should be a pillar to support the flock.

    4. He should be an administrator to guide the flock.

    5. He should be an example to encourage the flock.

In 1 Timothy 3:5, the Spirit reveals to us that the elder has to take care of the Church of God, but he must take care of his own home first. He has to act on behalf of the Great Shepherd as an under-shepherd. His duties to the flock are laid out in Isaiah 40:11:

    1. He has to feed the flock as a shepherd.

    2. He has to gather the lambs in His arms.

    3. He has to carry them in his bosom.

    4. He has to gently lead those that are with young.


There seems to be a flurry of interest lately, in the office of deacons. Books are being written and articles published. Some churches are wondering if they are scriptural if they do not have deacons. Others that have deacons wonder if they even know what they should be doing. First of all, it should be emphasized that elders are essential as an assembly matures and God raises up men with a shepherd‘s heart for the sheep. These should be recognized as leaders of God‘s people and al...

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First of all it should be mentioned that the idea of leadership by elders is not new. Down through the ages various reformation movements have inclined in that direction. The Presbyterian Church derives its name from its form of church government, leadership by elders (Gk presbuteroi). The pastor is called a "teaching elder" and the other elders are called "ruling elders" and are chosen by the congregation. In practice the system is similar to a Baptist church where they ...

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Those Who Serve

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In the New Testament, the bishops were not a class of men, mediating between God and man. Perhaps it was as a rebuke to such pretension as might arise in the future that the Spirit of God listed the bishops second, not first, when Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus . . . with the bishops and deacons.”

In the New Testament, the thought of officialism is absent. Instead of a lofty office with magnificent titles, we are pointed to humble service among the people of God. Thus we read, “If any one is eager for oversight, he is desirous of a good work.”’ Overseership is work, not dignity of office.

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