"So when they had appointed elders in every church"
“The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder”
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today and forever"
Because of their ministry, Kingdom Elders could be described as "the spiritual backbone" of the Body of Christ. Their's is a primary ministry, ordained by God (see Acts 1'1 to Revelation 3'22).
The first reference to it was made by the apostle Peter in the 40 days prior to the Day of Pentecost. Jesus had breathed the Holy Spirit on them. This was to enable them to receive His Kingdom teachings.
Immediatel following the Lord's ascension, Peter realises that a certain job has to be done. Whether he knew it or not he was about to begin fulfilling Jesus' words "I will build My Ekklesia" (His Called-Out Ones).
Nevertheless, Lord had said that He would give Peter "the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 16'18-19) for that very purpose.
Now he was about to use the first one.
In doing so the pattern of the Elders' shepherding and overseeing ministry in the building of Christ's Called-Out Ones would be revealed.
Acts 1 says:
15 "... in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples
(altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty) and said,
16 'Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled,
which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas ...
17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry'"...
20 "... it is written in the book of Psalms … ‘Let another take his oversight’”.
Peter used the words "ministry" and "oversight" which describe perfectly the two main elements of eldership: serving and overseeing.
The word ministry (verse 17) is from the Greek word diakonia meaning service or to serve. The noun is diakonos which is usually translated minister.
The word Oversight (verse 20) is from the Greek word episcope meaning overseeing. Its noun is episcopos which translates to overseeing elder.
He goes on to say that the one to fulfill the scripture would have to be from among the "men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us".
But above what an elder does, is what an elder is. The shepherd-overseer for this ministry would have to be godly and servant hearted like Jesus was (more later).
Acts 1’20-26 shows that Matthias was chosen. He had been with Jesus from the day John declared: "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world," John 1'29.
These first 12 Apostle-Elders would lead the way in “preaching the Kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ,” Acts 28'31.
They were to be Christ's overseers, shepherds, in the founding, building and continued growth of His Ekklesia, His Called-Out Ones, the Body of Christ.
The Day of Pentecost came. The Father sent the Holy Spirit signifying that Jesus had been glorified (John 7'38) and the 120 received and were filled with the Holy Spirit .
With the Spirit came Christ's New Covenant Kingdom of God. The Spirit's arrival changed the realities of everything!
A primary one of these realities the ministry of elder. Godliness was now the essential disposition of elders, as it was with the Lord.
Consequently, also like Him, they would be aware of the Father's presence and be aware of His will. (Refer Kingdom Godliness on the Menu.)
These New Covenant Kingdom apostle-shepherd-overseers were soon very busy. Acts 2'41 says that on that very day "about 3000 souls" were added.