Here is part 5 of a series on leaders/elders/overseers/pastors. Looking at Scripture references typically used to support the traditional models of church leadership. If you haven't read the first 4 posts in this series, here they are. I'd encourage you to first study what Jesus says on the topic of leadership before reading any of these other passages.
Previous Posts in this series:
- Jesus on Leadership
- Elders and Overseers in 1 Peter 5:1-4
- Appointing Elders in Acts 14:23
- Overseers in Acts 20:28
Titus 1:5-9 (NIV)
The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
appoint - καταστήσῃς - katastēsēs
- only occurance of this term
- could mean: appoint, conduct, make, ordain, or set in order
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
- an adjective here (an office or position title would be a noun)
2nd occurrence of elder isn't in the greek... some translation start verse 6 "if anyone ..."
overseer - ἐπίσκοπον - episkopon
- This term is used 3 times. Once to refers to Jesus in 1 Pet 2:2.
- These people are charged with the task of watching out for and caring for others
"Though in some contexts 1985 (epískopos) has been regarded traditionally as a position of authority, in reality the focus is upon the responsibility for caring for others" (L & N, 1, 35.40). http://concordances.org/greek/1985.htmmanages - οἰκονόμον - oikonomon
- or steward - caring for that which God has asked him to watch over
What I know:
- Jewish communities had always had elders, and held a place of respect for them in their communities.
- Crete was one of the predominately non-Jewish places the early church expanded to.
- Timothy is given the task to appoint, or set in place elders who would have the responsibility for caring for and watching out for others.
- God is entrusting these men to manage or be stewards of God's household. A noble task to take care of not just earthly treasures, but to take care of God's family.
- We have a list of godly characteristics that these men should possess or strive toward.
What I don't know:
- What process were these elders appointed or set in place? Did Timothy know these believers well enough to do the appointing himself, or was his task more to allow each community of believers to set in place the men who were recognized as the older wise men who had this list of characteristics.
- Were these elders elected or appointed for a specific term. Once they became recognized or appointed as elders did they ever become non-elders before death (or leaving the faith)?
- Were these elders given some ruling decision making authority?
- Don't all believers share this responsibility of caring for and watching out for others? Were these older wise men leading by example how the rest should follow?
- Does Manage mean rule... like the manager of a corporation would? If we consider Jesus take on leadership I think we can conclude that manage does not mean rule here.
What do you think?
If Paul sent Timothy to your non-Jewish community do you think Timothy would get some elders selected? What do you think that process would look like? What roles and responsibilities would they have?