Acts 14:23 (NIV)
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.I want to look at the bold terms and examine their meanings. I'll use http://biblos.com/acts/14-23.htm to help with the Greek.
appointed - χειροτονήσαντες - cheirotonēsantes
- I elect by show of hands, choose by vote, appoint.
- Help from Helps Word-Studies:
5500 xeirotonéō – properly, stretch out the hands to commission (send forth).
[5500 (xeirotonéō) literally means, "'I stretch out the hand,' thus expressing agreement with a motion, then, 'I elect by show of hands' [of popular vote]), 'I elect' " (Souter); properly, 'to vote by stretching out the hand' (practised in the assembly, so Athenian, Lucian, Plutarch)" (Abbott-Smith).]
elders - πρεσβυτέρους - presbuterous
- also used in Luke 7:3, Luke 22:52, Acts 4:5, and Acts 6:12 for elders in the Jewish community
- and used in other places to refer to elders in the new community of believers
What we know from this verse:
- Eders were recognized in the Lystra, Iconium and Antioch community of believers
- Paul and Barnabas either did the appointing themselves, or the community of believers publicly recognized them in some manner
- Were these elders given some decision making authority over the other believers?
- Did these elders ever become non-elders before death or apostasy? Did they have 2 -5 year term after which someone else could take their place?
- Were elders selected/appointed in the same way in every community of believers? I don't think Lystra, Iconium and Antioch (in Pisidia) were predominately Jewish communities. The concept of elders may have been a cultural piece that Paul and Barnabas wanted to introduce into these new communities. In Titus 1:5 we see a similar scene in Crete. But I don't see examples of elders being appointed in communities of believers which were Jewish. Was it obvious to the Jewish believers who their elders were, and no appointment/selection was needed?
- How many elders would be in place in each community or gathering of believers? When they gathered in different homes were there a certain number of elders in each home?
- Were believers allowed to gather without elders present?
- Are we commanded to appoint/select elders in our communities?
Sorry, on this topic I end up with more questions than answers.
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