Throughout the Old Testament we also see many references to Elders. Elders had a recognized role in the Jewish community. They were older men with experience that the community respected and relied on for guidance. Here are a few references: Exodus 3:18, Leviticus 9:1-4, Deuteronomy 31:9, Joshua 8:33, 2 Samuel 19:11, 1 Kings 8:3, Jeremiah 29:1, Ezekiel 7:26.
However the elders in the Old Testament did not manage or run the Temple. They were not the religious authorities.
The New Testament church believes that their own bodies are the temple of God (Acts 17:24, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Pet 2:5, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:19-22).
The New Testament church believes that all believers are a new type of priest. (1 Pet 2:5, 1 Pet 2:9 ).
So it makes sense that in the New Testament church we don't see a continuation of the titles of Levites and Priests.
As the church expanded into non-Jewish communities, older respected men were recognized as elders in these new communities as well.
By using the term elder, I believe the writers of the New Testament had a different role in mind that what we tend to see today. There is no evidence these elders were responsible for religious buildings, church programs, church organizational policy, or church staff. There is no evidence they were elected for a limited term, and then became non-elder laity again a few years later.
What is my point? I don't know. I guess I find it interesting how the meanings of terms we use change over time.
I believe the role of elders is important, and it makes sense to study what the Bible has to say on the topic. Consider who are the older respected people in your life. Recognize who they are. Go to them for advice and guidance. Let them influence you. And at some stage in life you may play the role of elder to others in your community.
I know this is a brief summary. I'd love to hear any feedback.
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