As Set Forth in
The New Testament Scriptures

by Al Maxey

#1 --- They are men of knowledge, experience, and wisdom to whom the members of the Body can appeal for a "Thus sayeth the Lord" to vital questions and issues facing the church (Acts 15:2, 6; 16:4). They made judgments and decisions which were to be followed. They did not do so, however, without the input of the congregation (Acts 15:4, 22).

#2 --- They perform the duties of a shepherd: Feeding, leading, guarding, going after the lost & straying sheep, and seeing that their needs are met (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2). For a spiritual shepherd, both the physical/material needs (Acts 11:30) and the spiritual needs (James 5:14) of the flock are to be met.

#3 --- They are guardians of the flock (Acts 20:28-31; Hebrews 13:17). The word "overseer" (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2) can also be rendered "guardian; one who watches over protectively." To "rule" (I Timothy 5:17) can also signify "to watch over with concern; care for, guard, render aid."

#4 --- They feed (teach) the flock; they are able, skilled teachers (I Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 13:7; I Timothy 5:17; Acts 20:30). They must guard their own teaching against false and destructive attitudes and doctrines, and guard the flock against such attitudes and teaching from others. They must be "men of the Word" who can persuade, encourage, and build up the Body in their teaching of sound doctrine, and who can refute and disprove those who are in opposition to sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).

#5 --- They help to equip the members for works of service; they help them to attain knowledge and spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:11-13).

#6 --- They are examples to the flock (I Pet. 5:3; Hebrews 13:7). They lead spiritual lives; their lives are lived in harmony with the teaching of the Lord. They show the way to the flock of God through their own example.

These are the duties of elders as set forth in the New Testament writings. This is what God expects from His shepherds. Each of us probably have additional expectations, some of which may grow out of the above duties. May we use caution, however, lest we bind duties and responsibilities upon these men that God has not. Let us remember: It is the Holy Spirit who creates elders (Acts 20:28), and through the inspiration of that same Spirit of God their duties are clearly declared unto us.

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