ELDERS, BE AWARE
For three years Paul had been among the Ephesian Believers teaching the things of Christ and the Kingdom of God, as he did everywhere he went (Acts 20'31). As usual, he appointed elders.
He had a close relationship with the Ephesian elders. Luke describes the poignant occasionwhen Paul arranged to meet with them on his way to Jerusalem in Acts 20'17-37.
Here are two excerpts from it:
“From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the Elders of the Ekklesia.
And when they had come to him, he said to them: ‘You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you'," Acts 20’17-18.
"'Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you Overseers, to shepherd the Called-Out People of God which He purchased with His own blood.
For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.
Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified',” Acts 20’28-32.
The meanings of three words highlight this ministry:
Elders (Greek "presbuteros": "elder", "of age").
Overseers (Greek "episkopos": "overseer").
Shepherds (Greek "poimaino": "feed", "rule", "govern").
What Paul is saying by the Spirit to these Elders is valuable to all who would be overseers-shepherds of God's Flock.
[There is a tendency to think that the ministries referred to later Paul in Ephesians 5'-11-12 (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers) are above Elders.
This is not the case. But any one of them could be an elder if they desired to be and qualified to be.]
The Eldership ministry of shepherding and overseeing involves them in a range of things that include:
- Praying for the sick:
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord,” James 5’14.
“Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership,” 1 Timothy 4’14.
- Ministering doctrine personally:
“When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him (Apollos) aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately,” Acts 18’26.
In order to provide the fullest ministry for the growth of God's People the joint contributions of Elders and their Wives is indispensable.
Whether those with particular needs are male or female, old or young, adult or child, unmarried or married couples Elders and their Wives have the breadth of experience to provide the varied ministry to help them.
This Eldership partnership of ministry is particularly significant when the needy person is a female and/or one of a married or betrothed couple.