Elders: The Spiritual Shepherds of the Church

(Leadership Structure of the New Testament church) Bible Lesson. Teen Bible Lesson.

Leadership is important. Without good leadership, important goals are not accomplished. Godly leaders are vital to us as Christians. God knew that His church would need leadership in order to fulfill its commission (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Jesus trained the apostles to begin this work. But as Christianity spread throughout the world, the apostles could not possibly meet the specific needs of the many Christians in the various parts of the world. We learn from the Bible that God raised up other forms of leadership – elders and deacons – to serve in each church.

Keep in mind that this lesson is a very general overview of the roles and qualifications of an elder.

What Does the New Testament Teach About Elders?

Directions: Fill in the blanks (or answer the questions) below. You can read the Scripture references by clicking on them. A new window will open for your convenience.

Acts 20:17, 28 – 32

1 Timothy 3:1 – 7

Titus 1:5 – 9

1 Peter 5:1 – 4

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1. An elder must have vigilant eyes, so he is spoken of as an ____________ (1 Timothy 3:1).

2. Before one can be given the task or work of an elder, he must first ____________ it (1 Timothy 3:1).

3. Because they watch for the welfare of their flock, elders are spoken of as ____________ (1 Peter 5:2).

4. Elders have God and ____________ to feed the church and to protect the church (Acts 20:32).

5. An overseer or elder must be above ____________ (1 Timothy 3:2).

6. The church leaders from Ephesus (who met the apostle Paul in Miletus) are called by three different titles (Acts 20:17, 18 – 32). List them here:

  • ____________
  • ____________
  • ____________

7. An elder must also have a ____________ reputation with non-Christians (1 Timothy 3:7).

8. Why is Paul’s list of eldership qualifications focused mostly on “being” and not on “doing” (Titus 1:5 – 9)?

9. An elder must not be a lover ____________ (1 Timothy 3:3).

10. Because there is a need to know God’s truth and because there are so many false teachers, an elder must be able to ____________ (1 Timothy 3:2).

11. Some people view the office of elder as a way of gaining power and wealth (1 Peter 5:1 – 4). How does the apostle Paul oppose this idea in Acts 20:28 – 35?

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Concluding Remarks:

There are only three qualifications for elders and deacons that do not apply to every Christian: he must be man, he must be the husband of one wife and he must have children (1 Timothy 3:1 – 13; Titus 1:5 – 11; 1 John 1:9).

The point being that elders and deacons are just normal people who use their God-given abilities to serve others. They are not superhuman and (in most cases) they are not even extraordinary people. Much of what God expects of them, He expects of us (members of the church; His children).

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