Kingdom Elders

“The overseers who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow overseer,” 1 Peter 5'1.


Elders were given for the spiritual oversight of the congregation. That means they are responsible to the Father for overseeing the spiritual state of His People in the light of the Word of Christ, which they also minister. The apostle Peter, who also calls himself a fellow-elder, tells them to:

"Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock," 1 Peter 5'2.

It could be said that Elders are the backbone of the Body of Christ and should be the leading citizens in  His New Covenant Kingdom. That is emphasised later when it's shown that the word elder should be overseer. So, when Jesus gave Peter the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven the first thing he unlocked was Kingdom Oversight.

He laid down what kind of men He intended His followers to be during His earthly shepherd-overseer ministry, and they learned from the way He led them. Some years later the writer of the letter to the Hebrew Believers stated that "Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today and forever" should be the mark of an Overseer.

Their example involves having the foundation of the first principles of the oracles of God, the elementary principles of Christ, in place in their lives. And they should be able to teach them as well as live them. The Hebrews writer is emphatic about that. (See Your Kingdom Foundation on the Menu.)


By calling himself "fellow elder" Peter is purposely pointing out that all elders have equal standing. That's in spite of the fact that he need not have said it. After all, Jesus did single him out on several occasions.

One of those occasions relates particularly to the ministry of an elder. It was when the Lord said to Peter: “Feed My lambs” and “Tend My sheep” and again “Feed My sheep" (John 21'16-18) . Peter was disturbed by the Lord's persistence.

So, for the Lord's Called-Out People everything starts and finishes with "... looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith," Hebrews 12'2. Our Father commanded disciples to "Hear Him" (Matthew 17'5).

As Shepherd and Overseer of souls (1 Peter 2'25) He is the model and example for all Kingdom Elders. It's the ministry that God ordained for the building, shepherding and overseeing of His People (see Acts 1'1 to Revelation 3'22).

It emerged immediately following the Lord's ascension. Peter understood that a certain job had to be done, someone was needed to replace Judas:

And 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,

"Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.
"For it is written in the book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his oversight.’

“Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias,” Acts 1'15-17,20-24.

It is significant that Peter talks of  "ministry" and "oversight".

Earlier, Jesus had said, "I will build My Called-Out People". He also said that He would give Peter "the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 16'18-19). In inaugurating overseers Peter uses the first key towards the fulfillment of those words.      

The words "ministry" and "oversight", describe the two main elements of an overseer's shepherding ministry: serving and overseeing.

The word ministry (verse 17) is from the Greek word diakonia meaning service or to serve. And diakonos is usually translated minister.

The word oversight (verse 20) is from the Greek word episcope meaning overseeing. Its noun is episcopos. (which most translations render as bishop Together they translate to "overseeing elder". Strong's Concordance has:

Elder (Greek "presbuteros": "elder", "of age"). Overseer (Greek "episkopos": "overseer"). Shepherd (Greek "poimaino": "feed", "rule", "govern").

Matthias was chosen (verse 26). He had been with Jesus from the day that John declared: "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" (John 1'29). 

So, having made up the number, 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.

But everything depended on what happened next.


The Holy Spirit came, on the Day of Pentecost. The first, very significant, thing that His arrival indicated is something that's rarely-mentioned: Jesus had been glorified in heaven (John 7'38).

At the Son's request, the Father sent the Spirit and consequently the 12, and the 120, were filled with the Holy Spirit (John 15'26).

The Spirit's arrival also made the way into Christ's New Covenant Kingdom of God available to Believers. And on that Day He changed the realities of every thing.

A prime one of these things was the ministry of elder. These shepherd-overseers would be like Him, godly, holy and servant hearted.

Being godly is the essential disposition for elders. As Jesus was, they would be aware of the Father's presence and His will. (Refer Kingdom Godliness on the Menu.)

These first New Covenant Kingdom apostolic shepherd-overseer elders were soon very busy. To start with "about 3000 souls" were saved on that very significant Day!

And they soon found out that they needed assistance. Certain needs were brought to their notice but they didn't have the time to meet them. So the practical ministry of Servants was brought into being for such purposes (Acts 6'1-6). (For more go to Kingdom Servants on the Menu.)

The result was the new order of Saints, Elders and Servants.


The beginning of the letter to the Philippian Believers shows Paul's acceptance of the order the apostles had put in place:   

"To all the Saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the Elders and Servants".

And the critical place of elders in the building, shepherding and overseeing of the Body of Christ is always foremost in his mind.

He says this to Titus:

"For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking and appoint overseers in every city as I commanded you,” Titus 1'5.    

Apparently he had preached the Good News throughout the island of Crete but he had not been able to complete a number of things, particularly appointing elders.

But he was confident that Titus could do it. Paul knew him well, calling him "a true son in our common faith" and "my partner and fellow worker" (Corinthians 8'23).

Titus had a heart for the Lord's People. Paul had also said, "... thanks be to God who puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus," 2 Corinthians 8'16.

In the letter to Titus he opens with something like a refresher of their common faith:

"Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Saviour," Titus 1'1-3.

Paul wanted elders to be appointed who were of like thinking to himself and the Apostles. So he gave Titus, and Timothy as well, the godly characteristics that were necessary:

To Titus he said:

“… if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.

For an overseer must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict,” Titus 1’6-9.

To Timothy he said:

"This is a faithful saying: If a man desires to be an overseer, he desires a good work.

An overseer then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behaviour, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence

(for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the People of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.

Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil," 1 Timothy 3'1-7.


Paul had been among the Ephesian Believers for three years so he had time to get to know them and to develop a close relationship with their Elders.

Luke describes the later occasion when Paul arranged to meet with them on his way to Jerusalem. His sad farewell also reveals some of the responsibilities and the dangers relating to oversight ministry. And the Holy Spirit's involvement:

“... ‘You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you'," Acts 20’17-18.

"'And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you Overseers, to shepherd His Called-Out People 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 20’25-32.

Every Overseer, in fact, every Saint, would benefit from noting those words.



Jesus was strong about the kind of attitude that those who lead His People have. They are to lead, not with a lordly attitude as the world does, but like a servant as He did.

Peter knew that well. In his first letter he addressed the Elders of the "flock of God":

“The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world,” 1 Peter 5’1-9.

This is an example of Peter doing what Jesus called him to do: “Feed My lambs”, “Tend My sheep” and “Feed My sheep".


The idea of elders' ruling usually raises some nervousness. A reason for this may be because of the misconduct or dictatorial behaviour of some unmonitored so-called pastors.

One thing that has to be foremost in the minds of Believers and elders. They must understand that they have free will. Elders must honour a Believer's free will.

Nevertheless, Kingdom Overseers are called to rule among the Lord's Called-Out Ones because God's will is to be done, but it has to be done God's way. That involves obedience to the Word of Christ. But obedience has to be voluntary. After all, the Kingdom of God is in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14'17), not in the flesh.

Ruling is to be done with genuine godly love and wisdom, accountability, transparency and above all, done with open free will. This letter addresses the people so care needs to be taken when reading what the inspired writer says:

“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today and forever,” Hebrews 13’7-8.

An Overseer is to have a Christ-like disposition. The congregation must see Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday and today and forever in them, especially when they hear this exhortation:

“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you,” Hebrews 13’17.

To summarise, Elders are to:

-   speak the word of Christ,

-   be examples of faith,

-   be open to questions about their conduct,

-   hold to the fact that Jesus Christ is always the same,

-   watch out for the souls of the Lord’s People,

-   behave in a way that mirrors the Lord's way, of ruling in  love.

Remember Matthew 12’20: “A bruised reed He will not break and smoking flax He will not quench”.



Obviously, the overall shepherd-overseer spiritual ministry is likely to include many things. Like 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.

Or prophesying:

“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.

However, in certain situations the ministry of an elder alone is inadequate or inappropriate, especially regarding woman or girls. This is where the ministry of the elder's wife is necessary.

Together they are able to call on Biblical understandings and life experiences and provide effective ministry for particular needs.

In the same way that they are equally yoked together with their husbands in marriage, elders' wives they are coupled with them in ministry:

“When Aquila and Priscilla heard him (Apollos that is) , they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately,” Acts 18’26.

Singly and together they can minister to men, women, old people, young people, adults or children, singles or married couples.



Elders are at the forefront of a movement of the Body of Christ that is very close to God. And that is, to make known His manifold wisdom to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul lays it out in context:

"To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;"

Everyone who has received Christ and is born-again experiences that "fellowship of the mystery". Therefore, each one is one of those to whom ...

"... God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1'27).

Possessing this understanding, the Body of Christ is in the place ...

"... that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by Christ’s Called-Out Ones to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord," Ephesians 3'8-12.    

Living in the Kingdom life of the Son of His love Believers express the manifold wisdom of God, because ...

"... of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God - and righteousness and sanctification and redemption - that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the LORD',” 1 Corinthians 1'30-31.      

Jesus became wisdom for us. We are not our own wisdom. With His righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, Believers glory in Him and His wisdom.      


This wisdom is the word of Christ. It is the resource for a Believer's Kingdom lifestyle and expressed in the face of the enemy.

But the doing of it is not about loudly declaring things loudly. Satan first began opposing God's wisdom in the Garden of Eden and still is.

So now, in making God's wisdom known to the enemy, Christ's Elders are to lead His People in victory, in the power of the Holy Spirit.