“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:” (I Peter 5:1).
What are the biblical qualifications for a man holding the office of elder? Two particular passages referring to an elder’s qualifications are I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. We have already looked at I Timothy 3. Let’s now examine Titus 1:5-9.
“5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
First of all, we notice that where the Apostle Paul exclusively used the word “overseer” in I Timothy 3, he adds the word “elder” in Titus 1. We therefore conclude that these two words are interchangeable and refer to the same office. What are the requirements of church elders in Titus 1? While there many similarities to I Timothy 3, there are some notable additions. The list is as follows.
- Above reproach. Without accusation or blameless.
- The husband of one wife. A one-woman man.
- His children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.
- For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. A responsible manager of the church.
- He must not be arrogant. Not self-willed and stubborn.
- Not quick-tempered. Inclined to anger.
- Not a drunkard. One who habitually drinks too much.
- Not violent. Not a bully.
- Not greedy for gain. Greedy for material gain.
- Willing to perform humble duties.
- A lover of good.
- Self-controlled. Sensible and moderate.
- A righteous man.
- Devout and dedicated to God.
- Exercising self-control.
- He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
The prerequisites needed to be an elder found in Titus 1 do not detract, even with those qualities unique to the text, from the previous list given in I Timothy 3. Both lists point to a person and a position within the church that is limited by design to a select few. The Apostle Paul is not calling for a perfect man, but rather a consistent and godly man in word, faith and practice.
Pray for the elders and pastors in your church today. Their task is important, but their consistent, godly character is even more important. Pray that God would protect them as they serve.
Soli Deo Gloria!