Written by Roger M. Norman, this article first appeared in The Faith Magazine, P. O. Box 102, Holt, MI 48842.
This is a true saying, "If a man desires the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work."1 Tim. 3:1

This four-part article is presented here one after the other. Part I will look at the definitions of the words elder and bishop, where the words are used in the New Testament, the office of the elder and bishop (that is, what are their work assignments), and the foundational requirement of being an elder (that is, being blameless, above reproach). The Apostle Paul presents two "laundry lists" of specific qualifications of elders in 1 Timothy 3:1?7 and Titus 1:6?9, and Parts II and III of this series will discuss such. Part IV will conclude by discussing some interesting questions: When should elders be ordained? What is the elder's reward or "pay"? How is the elder to lead the flock? What goes into the making of an elder? How is an elder groomed and developed? Should we have women elders? (You will be surprised ?.) And, what is there for the person who fails to meet the test of being an elder?
Scriptural quotes will be from the New American Standard Version ("NASV"), unless from the King James Version when they will be referred to as "KJV." "Strong's" refers to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. The names Yahweh and Yahshua will be reinstated in quotes, and words in brackets within a quote reveal that Roger has inserted the word or phrase. "Assembly" will be used instead of "church." Words underlined in scriptural quotes or in italics indicate emphasis by Roger. Dictionary quotes will be from the American Heritage Dictionary, 1975.
Roger Norman, the author of this series, solicits your comments (I Cor. 14:29). Email him at: Norman@ftw.com, or reach him by telephone at: (817) 923-0648.

A. The Scriptural References
B. The Meanings of the Words
C. The Office of a Bishop and Elder
D. Bishops and Elders in the Old Testament.
E. Qualifications of Bishops and Elders.
F. Above Reproach

The Scriptural References

Two Greek words rendered as bishop (or overseer) are used nine times in the New Testament. Episkopee, Strong's No. 1984, is used four times, and the other word, episkopas, Strong's No. 1985, is used five times. In Luke 19:44, episkopee (No. 1984) is rendered visitation, when Yahshua, while weeping over Jerusalem because of the approaching destruction which was about to fall, said it was "because thou knowest not the time of thy visitation." (Question: What does the word bishop have to do with visitation? We will examine this later.) In Acts 1:20, it is rendered bishopric when Peter quotes from Psalms 109:8 for the premise that another should take the office of bishop which had been held by Judas Iscariot. In I Tim. 3:1, Paul says if a man desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good thing. In I Peter 2:12, episkopee is again rendered as visitation, " . . . having your behavior honest among the Gentiles that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify Yahweh in the day of visitation." As stated, the second Greek word for bishop, or overseer, is episkopos, Strong's No. 1985. (Does the word overseer sound like someone who is a superintendent of a project?) In Acts 20:28, Paul states that the Holy Spirit has made certain men overseers in the assemblies. In Phil. 1:1, Paul and Timothy write to the saints at Philippi plus the bishops and deacons. In I Tim. 3:2, Paul tells Timothy that the bishops must be blameless by meeting certain qualifications. He states the same plus additional requirements in chapter 1 of his letter to Titus. Lastly, Peter uses the word in referring to Yahshua, "the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls" in I Peter 2:25.

On the other hand, the Greek word for Elder is "presbuteros," Strong's No. 4245. It is used 67 times in the New Testament. In the four Gospels, it refers to those elders, who along with the chief priests and scribes, were continual enemies of Yahshua. In Acts, it again refers to the Jewish elders who opposed the people of Messiah, but the same word is also used to refer to the Spirit-filled and ordained elders in the early assemblies. In his epistles, Paul uses presbuteros in referring to the elders of the early assemblies, the requirements for becoming such, and their duties as elders. The Apostle John, in II John 1 and in III John 1, uses the word in referring to himself as an elder. In the book of Revelation, the word is always used in referring to the twenty-four elders who are before the throne of Yahweh.

Paul, in Titus 1:5-7, uses the words for elders and bishops interchangeably, in effect considering them to refer to the same office. The assembly leaders of Ephesus who bid the final farewell to Paul as he was on his last journey to Jerusalem are denoted both as elders in Acts 20:17 and as overseers (bishops) in Acts 20:28. And, we shall see that the word elder is often used in describing the office and work of a bishop, or overseer.

The Meanings of the Words

As stated, Strong's No. 1984, episkope (bishop), is used four times in scripture. Strong's defines episkope as "inspection (for relief); by implication it means superintendence; specially the Christian episcopate." The King James Version renders the word as the office of a bishop, bishopric, and visitation. Episkope derives from another Greek word, Strong's No. 1980, episkeptomai, which means to inspect, i.e., by implication, to select. By extension it means to go see [Does this sound like visitation?], relieve. It is rendered in the King James Version as to look out, visit. Number 1980 in turn derives from number 1909, epi, meaning superimposition.

The second Greek word for bishop, Strong's No. 1985, episkopos, is defined as superintendent. It derives from two other Greek words, epi (No. 1909), to inspect, as discussed above, and skopos (No. 4649). Strong's defines skopos as "scope," to peer about. It comes from a Greek word meaning skeptic, a watch (sentry or scout), i.e., by implication, a goal. And, as we will shortly see, a bishop or elder is to be a skeptic - he is to watch as a sentry or scout watches for and over others for their protection in their journey toward their goal. He is to peer about. What is his goal in this? The elder should inspect, peer into, and watch over the flock with the goal of presenting the flock to Father Yahweh at the end of our journey, spotless, clean, and perfect.

As so clearly shown to me by my missionary friend, Steve Hickman, Yah's purpose is for every Believer to be conformed into the image of Yahshua, Rom. 8:29. This is accomplished as the fruit of the flesh is replaced with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:19-23), and it does not happen instantaneously, but is the result of the process of time, Phil. 1:6 and Heb. 10:14. Scripture refers to this process as edification, or the building up of the Believer in Yahshua, Eph. 4:11-16. Edification is the purpose and goal of every assembly gathering, I Cor. 14:26. Believers are to meet together regularly to teach one another from the Bible, to pray with and for each other, to bear the burdens of one another, to share with those in need, to encourage, comfort, and exhort one another, and to worship Yah. Each of these spiritual exercises is vital for the healthy growth of the Believer.
In order to serve one another effectively in these areas, Yah's Spirit has given special abilities or gifts to each Believer. These gifts are to be used to fulfill the particular ministry that Yahshua gives to each member of the body individually. Every member is a minister and is in full-time service for Yahshua, Col. 4:17 and I Pet. 4:10. Each member has the responsibility to build up the other members of the body, encouraging them to become exactly like Yahshua, Eph. 4:16. When any Believer withholds his ministry from the assembly or when man-made structure limits or does not allow for the Spirit-led expression of these gifts, the whole body suffers. A true elder will understand that each child of Yah has a part, and he will encourage the development of each member of the body to this end.

How is all of this applicable to our assemblies of today and our elders/bishops? Keep these principles, definitions and words in mind and we will see that they truly do describe the office and word of the bishop or elder. And, may we all see just how serious this office and responsibility is.

The Office of a Bishop and Elder

As noted above, the Greek word for bishop, episkope, derives from another Greek work, episkeptomai, and it, in turn, derives from two words, epi and skopos. With that in mind, let's start at the bottom, the root, and work back up through the meanings and definitions of these words to see if we can define the two basic jobs of a bishop/elder. We will see that these jobs relate to exactly the two meanings given for episkopee (Strong's No. 1984), that being inspection and superintendence.

Skopos, Strong's No. 4649, is defined as "scope," to peer about. It derives from the Greek word skeptomai from which we get our word skeptic. It is further defined as a watch (sentry or scout), and by implication, it means a goal. The American Heritage Dictionary defines skeptic as (1) one who instinctively and habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted assertions, (2) one inclined to skepticism in religious matters. It says that it derives from the Greek word skeptikoi, meaning to examine or to consider. The dictionary states that it derives from a base word spek, meaning to observe, to watch. We can, therefore, see that a bishop or elder should be slow to accept doctrines, teachings and assertions. He should first look into the matter thoroughly. This reminds us of the Bereans who first heard Yah's word from Paul and Silas. Luke, the author of Acts, states that these Bereans were more noble minded than those in Thessalonica. Why? True, they received the word with great eagerness; but, they examined the scriptures daily to determine whether these things were so - the things being taught them by Paul and Silas, the great apostles of Yahweh, Acts 17:10-11. It is O.K. - it is even noble minded - to examine and compare assertions, doctrines, statements and words against the scriptures to determine if they match up. If the Bereans could do this and be applauded for such, then certainly the same principles should apply to elders and bishops of today.

Another word used to define skopos is a watch, in other words, someone who watches over or oversees others. This reminds us of the statement in Hebrews 13:17, "obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account..." Acts 20:17-36 records how Paul, while on his last trip to Jerusalem, realizing that the Holy Spirit was solemnly testifying to him in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions awaited him, and that it would probably be the last time those of Ephesus would see his face, gave the elders his final words of admonition and guidance. In verse 28, he tells the elders to be on guard for themselves and for all the flock over whom the Holy Spirit made them overseers (bishops) to shepherd the assembly. He says that even from their own midst (right out of the Elder Board!), men would arise, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, in verse 31, they are cautioned to be watchful, to be on the alert, remembering how night and day for a period of three years, Paul himself did not cease to admonish each one to righteousness with tears.

In this series, we will see that these responsibilities of the elders/overseers/bishops can generally be summarized, as my friend Steve has concluded, as:

- guarding themselves and the flock from savage wolves (Acts 20:28-30);
- working hard with their own hands to minister to their own needs, to the needs of their fellow workers, and to the weak (remembering Yahshua's words, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," Acts 20:34,35);
- exhorting in sound doctrine;
- refuting those who contradict (Titus 1:9);
- silencing rebellious men, empty talkers, and deceivers (Titus 1:12,13);
- avoiding unbiblical traditions (Titus 1:14);
- keeping watch over the souls of the saints (Heb. 13:17); and
- proving to be examples to the flock (I Peter 5:13).

The functions of overseers (elders) when viewed alongside the qualifications in I Tim. 3 and Titus 1 indicate that biblical leaders are older men of Yah who reflect the character, attitude, and concerns of Yahshua Himself for His body. They are living testimonies to the headship of Messiah, and they have matured to the point that they are no longer enamored with their own gifts and abilities. They realize the significance of the priesthood of each Believer, and they strive to point each one to Yahshua for direction rather than drawing attention to themselves by having all the answers and making all the plans. They seek, instead, to train each Believer to "walk by the Spirit." Like John, their desire is that "He must increase, but I must decrease."

Biblical leaders also understand the necessity of the "proper working of each individual part" in the process of growing the body up "in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Messiah," Eph. 4:15, 16. Thus, they are diligent to preserve the freedom of the Spirit as He seeks to minister through and to each one (I Cor. 14:26, 31), aggressively guarding against any individuals or groups who would monopolize the ministry and quench the Spirit.

Bishops and Elders in the Old Testament.

There are many references in the Old Testament to elders, and we see they basically served in the same functions and roles as those of the New Testament. But, what about bishops or overseers? In Acts 1:20, immediately after Yahshua had returned to Heaven from His visit to earth, the Apostle Peter quotes Psalms 109:8 for the premise that another man should be selected to take the place of Judas Iscariot:

"...And, his office let another man take."

In the KJV it is rendered, "And his bishopric let another take." In Psalms 109:8, it is rendered, "And let another take his office." Strong's Concordance shows us that this Hebrew word for office or bishopric is No. 6486, pequddah, meaning visitation! And, it is rendered in the KJV not only as visitation in many places, but also as "at the charge or custody of, and oversight. It springs from the Hebrew root word No. 6485, paqad, defined as to visit, to oversee, care for, etc. It is translated many ways, such as oversee, oversight, and visit. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says of this verb that it is used to express "making a visitation" by a superior power in order to make a great change in the situation of a subordinate and generally represents an active intervention to help or injure the one visited. The word can be used in a positive way of help, or a negative way to injure. This sounds exactly like the Apostle Paul in I Cor. 4:21.

What do you desire? Shall I come to you [for a visit] with the rod [to injure], or with love and a spirit of gentleness [to help]?

He then leads into Chapter 5 and the immoral relationship which was being tolerated by the Corinthian assembly. In other words, Paul was going to visit, and his visit would be either as a "rod" to injure, or with love and a gentle spirit to help and build up. But, either way, the visit by the one in authority was to be made, as stated by The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, in order to make a great change in the situation of those visited. And, we know that in this case, it turned out to be a change for the better.

When Yah's children know that Yahweh's servant in charge of them is visiting, it generally motivates us to get our houses cleaned up and in order. And, this pictures getting our bodily houses, our lives, in order.

Why has Yahweh designed people like this? Because it pictures getting ready for the great and final visit from the chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, Yahshua. It is a rehearsal for that great and terrible day of visitation which is coming to all the earth, Malachi 4:5, a great day for those who have their houses in order and ready to meet the Savior, but a terrible day for those unwise virgins who are not prepared.

And, could it be that we elders in the assembly are not doing a good job in this matter of visitation? You can bet that if we were to spend just a few days each year visiting in the home of each family of the assembly that we could find out in a hurry (usually through the children ?) the areas of a family's life that need "cleaning and dusting." We could also spot the talents and spiritual gifts, which Yah has entrusted to each member of the family, and thereby help water and cultivate these gifts for full use in the assemblies to the glory of Yahweh. The visits might appear awkward at first, but, as pointed out in The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, the root word means to attend to the care of. And, it points to action (a visit) that produces a great change in a person.

Yahshua came to visit the earth, and in particular Israel and Jerusalem. And, rightly so, He came looking for fruit on the fig tree but found none. On His last visit to the city after rejecting the demand of the Pharisees that He rebuke His disciples for proclaiming, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of Yahweh," He stated that if the people become silent even the stones would cry out. He then approached the city, wept over it, and stated, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes." He then continues to lament over the city because of their enemies, which will throw up an embankment against it and slaughter the people. He states this would happen, "because you did not recognize the time of your visitation" - the same word used for bishop. In other words, the Bishop par excellence had come - had visited - those of whom He was in charge. But, they were not ready. Their household was void of righteousness - it was void of fruit. Therefore, He came bearing a rod - a rod of judgment, which fell shortly after the conclusion of His visit.

Yahweh's elders and bishops of today need to visit, and these visits must be the type that prepare Yahweh's people for the ultimate, final visit of the great Shepherd and Bishop of our souls - the last great day visit. But, what kind of person is qualified to produce this result from something as simple as a visit?

Qualifications of Elders and Bishops

First and foremost, a man must be a believer in Yahshua - he must be a new creature in Yahshua - for without Yahshua, there is no way a man can have the grace to develop and acquire the qualifications of an elder. In chapter 3 of his first letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul lists fifteen qualifications of a bishop or overseer. These qualifications are so important that they are repeated (with some variations) a second time in chapter 1 of his letter to Titus. Therefore, they merit our close scrutiny. And, an assembly of Believers should insist that their elders/bishops meet these requirements if they are to enjoy the good hand of Yah working in their midst. We will also want to explore the conditions under which a man should be appointed or anointed as an elder. But, first, let's explore the qualification "laundry list."

"It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the [assembly] of Yahweh?); and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the [assembly] so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." 1 Timothy 3:1-7. NASV

Above Reproach (or Blameless, as Rendered by the KJV). The American Heritage Dictionary defines reproach as (1) to blame, (2) to bring shame upon; disgrace, that which causes rebuke or blame. The King James Version uses the word blameless which, we can therefore see, has the same meaning: above, or without, reproach. Could it be that the spotless, blameless sacrificial animals of the Old Testament also picture this requirement for eldership qualification? In Malachi 1:6-9, Yahweh makes an interesting statement when chastising the priests of Israel:

"A son honors his father and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is my honor? If I am a master, where is my respect? says Yahweh of hosts to you, O priests who despise my name. But you say, 'How have we despised thy name?' You are presenting defiled food upon my altar. But you say, 'How have we defiled thee?' In that you say, 'The table of Yahweh is to be despised.' But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly? says Yahweh of hosts. But now will you not entreat [Elohim]'s favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?" says Yahweh of hosts. (N.A.S.V.)

Is Yah upset with the priests and people of Malachi's day because they were offering spiritually blind, lame, and sick "sacrificial" elders, pastors, prophets, and bishops to Him for His service? Yahweh insists upon "sacrificial lambs" - those who give their lives to and for Him and His service - who are without spot and blemish. The sacrificial lamb par excellence was, of course, Yahshua, "the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls." Paul and the apostles imitated Yahshua, this spotless and blameless sacrificial lamb. And, the people of Yah are told to imitate their leaders (I Cor. 4:16), who, in turn, imitate the leader Himself, Yahshua. Therefore, it greatly behooves a congregation to ensure that they do not uselessly kindle fire on Yah's altar in order to offer spiritually blind, lame, and sick elders to Him. Otherwise, He will not accept the "offering" from the congregation.

"O that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on my altar! I am not pleased with you, says Yahweh of hosts, nor will I accept an offering from you." Malachi 1:10

In Part I of this series, we have found that the word bishop or overseer means one who inspects, watches over, or serves as a superintendent or overseer of a project. The Greek word comes from root words meaning one who is to be a skeptic, scout, or sentry. He is to look out for others. And, we discussed the requirement that he is to be spotless and blameless as were the sacrificial animals of the Old Testament. Yahweh will not accept an offering from our hand or an elder from an assembly that is not spotless and blameless. The word elder simply means an older or more mature person, but the Apostle Paul uses it interchangeably with the word bishop.

The Apostle Paul gives us two "laundry lists" of qualifications to explore to see if a person is indeed spotless and blameless, and therefore, qualified to be an elder. In the next issue, in Part II, we will explore thirteen of these requirements. In my opinion, the most important requirement is the last one we will discuss, that being, one who ruleth (manages) well his own household.
Part II

The Husband of One Wife
Able to Teach
Not Addicted to Wine
Not Pugnacious
Gentle, Patient
Not Greedy of Filthy Lucre
Not Covetous
One Who Ruleth Well His Own House
In Part I of this series, you will remember that we found that the word bishop or overseer means one who inspects, watches over, or serves as a superintendent or overseer of a project. The Greek word comes from root words meaning one who is to be a skeptic, scout, or sentry. He is to look out for others. And, we discussed the requirement that he is to be spotless and blameless as were the sacrificial animals of the Old Testament. Yahweh will not accept an offering from our hand or an elder from an assembly that is not spotless and blameless. The word elder simply means an older or more mature person, but it is used by the Apostle Paul interchangeably with the word bishop.

The Apostle Paul gives us two "laundry lists" of qualifications to explore to see if a person is indeed spotless and blameless, and therefore, qualified to be an elder. In Part II, we will explore thirteen of these requirements. In my opinion, the most important requirement is the last one we will discuss, that being, one who ruleth (manages) well his own household.

An overseer [bishop], then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the [assembly] of Yahweh?);... I Timothy 3:2-6. NASV

The Husband of One Wife. First, let's not overlook the obvious. To be the husband of a wife is to truly be a husband. What does a husbandman do? The dictionary gives husband three definitions: to be joined to a woman in marriage, a manager of a household, and a prudent and thrifty manager. It is the second definition, the manager of a household, which merits our attention. We will see later in this Part II that he must be one who "ruleth (manages) well his own household." To be a husband, a husbandman, is to care for and look after others, and to look after things for the benefit of others. A real husband will have the heart of a husbandman. As husbandmen of, for example, the vineyard, the wine cellar, the household, the king's servants, the flock, and the crops of the field all realize they must present the work of their hands to the owner and account for their stewardship, so the husband of a wife realizes that he must care for and manage well that allotted to his care in order to present her to The Owner on the day of his accounting, Ephesians 5:25?28.

And yes, this passage also means that an elder cannot engage in polygamy and have two, three, etc., wives under his roof, all at the same time. But, even more important for our generation, it means that a man cannot have one, two, three, etc. "ex-wives" as a result of divorce and remarriage. Divorce and remarriage results in adultery/adulteration, Luke 16:18. Adulteration is defilement. As noted in Malachi, Yah does not want ordained spiritual leaders of the assembly who are defiled and adulterated. Why? First, it sets a bad example for the flock. But secondly, and far more important, is this: Yahweh has a greater assignment for a man who is divorced and remarried to his second, third, etc. wife! What is this assignment that to the world seems absolutely impossible? To present all of his wives spotless, clean, and pure to Yahshua on judgment day, Ephesians 5:25-27!

It's a full time job for a man to live his life in such a way that his wife is attracted to and conformed to the image of Yahshua. How especially difficult the assignment, therefore, for the man who has two or three wives - and especially when he was the one who divorced his wife or lived his life in such a way that she chose to divorce him. She has absolutely no respect for him! Therefore, how can he gain her respect in order to motivate her to look to him as the one who is leading her to Yahshua? Yes, to the world, impossible! But, these impossible assignments are Yahweh's specialty (. When this husband ties in to Yahshua to such an extent that he begins to economically, emotionally, and spiritually support his "ex," and lives his life in such a way that his current wife even strongly supports it, is when the "ex" is drawn to Yahshua. [Note: This "mystery" is hidden in Exodus 21:10-11 and Ephesians 5:25-27 for men who have ears to hear.] And, it will certainly make it a lot easier for his current wife to back him once she realizes that he is fully committed to and in love with her ? a love which he is committed to "till death do us part, for better or for worse."

Being an elder is a full time job. It takes all of our energy, time, effort and a lot of our finances. If a man has one or more ex-wives, and realizes that Yahweh is holding him responsible for their salvation, then he simply has no time, energy, or effort to be an elder for others. He must devote all of his time, energy, resources, and efforts to providing for his current wife and his one or more ex-wives. He realizes that he is an "elder de facto" to all of his wives and that the day of his accounting, as described in the parable of Luke 19:11-27, is fast approaching. He consequently has no time to be an elder of the assembly at large. Rather, he is the elder, bishop, and shepherd of his family (extended as it is in the form of ex-wives and children via different marriages). Under these circumstances, there is simply no time for anything else. But, of course, once he does his job properly even in the toughest of family situations, then others outside his family grow to respect him, and, while not officially such, he can become an informal elder to others ? a good shepherd via his example.

It is not uncommon to see a man whose non-trusting, disobedient wife leaves him, and he then turns his ministry to others, and the more people his ministry can reach, the better he feels. But, this is not the way of Yahshua, the Great Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. When one strayed from His care, He left the ninety and nine and went searching for the one. And yes, it often appears to the abandoned husband that he is leaving the assembly, the fellowship of the brethren and the body of Yahshua when he goes "into the wilderness" searching for his runaway little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished (II Sam. 12:3). But, the true man of Yah, the real bishop/elder, as does the Great Shepherd Himself, will leave the ninety-nine and go search for his lost lamb until he finds her and gently brings her back to the fold.

Also, we cannot limit our "one wife" discussion just to the physical husband/wife situation. Consider, for example, a person or family who leaves an assembly. There are myriads of reasons given for why people leave an assembly, just as there are myriads of reasons why little ewe lambs stray from the ninety and nine. The elders often shrug their shoulders but do nothing more. They do not go to the person or individual and explore, in depth, the reasons for the exodus. Elders need to go searching for this person or family, with Yahweh's Spirit as their guide, in an effort to "find them"; that is, find out where they are spiritually. Then, they need to again gently lead them back to the sheepfold. This, in turn, sets a good example for the man to follow whose wife has left him.
Temperate (Vigilant, KJV). Your dictionary defines temperate as exercising moderation and self-restraint. It defines vigilant as on the alert; watchful. We are reminded of Proverbs 16:32:

"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city."

Yahshua is again the example par excellence of such a requirement. His disciples were sometimes less than we would require in their behavior. For example, after He told them He was going to Jerusalem where He would be impaled by those in authority, they immediately got into an argument about who was going to be the greatest among them! If ever Yahshua had opportunity to "blow His stack," that was it. But, He ruled His Spirit well; He was slow to anger. He was temperate and vigilant. Yah's elders should be like Yahshua. If they are hot-tempered, they should step down and resign their position. If a man is "fast to anger" without using self-restraint, this is a sign he is walking in his flesh, and not walking in Yah's Spirit.

Prudent (Sober, KJV). Strong's Concordance defines this Greek word, sophron (No. 4998), as safe (sound) in mind, i.e., self-control (moderate as to opinion or passion). We would probably define it as "level-headed." And, as we know, we cannot have elders who are up one minute and down the next. With all the many ups and downs of those in the assembly, the elders must be level, walk the straight and narrow, and be "level-headed" so they can be used of Yah to bring self-control and a level path to those in the assembly.

Respectable (Of Good Behavior, KJV). An elder or bishop must be of a character which generates respect from those within the body of Messiah as well as those outside. How can we follow a person we do not respect? The dictionary defines respectable as meriting respect or esteem; worthy; having an acceptable appearance; presentable. If an elder does not merit respect or esteem, it would be extremely difficult for him to lead the flock. And his outward dress, appearance, and clothing mirror his inner man. He must always be someone whom we would be proud to be around.

Hospitable (Given to Hospitality, KJV). The dictionary definition of hospitable is: welcoming guests with warmth and generosity, fond of entertaining, well-disposed towards strangers, having an open and charitable mind, receptive. In other words, the elder/bishop must indeed welcome guests, and especially strangers, with warmth and generosity. A recluse is simply not suitable to be an elder. He must have a clean, neat, livable house where others will indeed feel at home. Strong's No. 5382 defines hospitality as "fond of guests." And this command of being hospitable is not limited to the elders, but is given to the body at large, as we see in Romans 12:13 and I Peter 4:9. So, if our home is not always open to guests, and if guests, especially strangers, do not feel at ease about coming to visit with us, we should check ourselves. Something may be wrong.

Able to Teach. Your dictionary defines teach as to impart knowledge or skill to; give instruction to; to cause to learn by example or experience; to advocate; preach. It is defined as instructive by Strong's No. 1317. In I Timothy 5:17, Paul tells us that the elders who rule well should be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. We are all disciples of Yahshua Messiah. The word disciple means "learner." And, a true disciple quickly realizes that the more he learns, the more he does not know (. The Word of Yah is so deep and so broad, it is a lifetime, everlasting, learning experience. Each day is full of learning experiences. The elder or bishop is quick to record his learning experiences and then to share them later with the flock. Why? Because he wants them to enjoy the quiet and peaceful paths, the green pastures and still waters free of all the trouble, dryness, hunger, and hurt the world is experiencing because it has not learned Yah's ways. As a sentry or scout, the elder is continually on the lookout for the paths of Yahweh which lead to this quiet, peaceful, happy, joyful, contented life for the flock - especially those who look to their elders as imitators or examples of Yahshua, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. Questions: How does the elder learn to be a good teacher? Who gives him the training he must have in order to develop into an elder who is "apt to teach?" You will be amazed at what Yahweh will show us later, so keep reading (.

Not Addicted (Given) to Wine. The Hebrew word for wine is Strong's No. 3196, yayin, meaning effervesce, which in turn in our dictionary is defined as high-spirited. It is readily apparent that a "wino" or alcoholic would not be suitable to serve as an elder/bishop. Why? The elder receives his "high," his joy and happiness by seeing the members of the flock, those under his care, conform to righteousness and the image of Yahshua. Looking to anything else, such as drugs or alcohol, for his pleasure in life would leave him far short of where his focus needs to be - on those under his care.

Not Pugnacious (Striker - KJV). An individual who is a striker or pugnacious is always eager for a fight. He has a quarrelsome, disrespectful spirit. On the other hand, the elder or bishop must be eager for peace. He must have a quiet spirit.

And Yahweh's bond servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps Yahweh may grant them repentance, leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. II Timothy 2:24-26

Yes, even when a member of the flock has "lost his senses" and is in the snare of the devil, held captive by Satan to do his will, Yahweh's bond servants, and especially His elders and bishops, must through all of this not be quarrelsome, but be kind, and gentle in order that Yah may grant repentance through the knowledge of the truth shared by the elder. Elders who are quarrelsome and "looking for a fight" should do themselves and their flocks a favor and immediately resign and go to work on their personal relationship with Yahshua. After they get their own house in order, then there can be reconsideration of their position as an elder.

Gentle, Patient (KJV). The Greek word is epieikes, No. 1933, meaning appropriate, mild. The New American Standard renders the word gentle. Question: Where do elders learn character traits which produce gentleness and mildness? And for sure, when working with diverse people in the assemblies, the elder must always know what is appropriate. He must be mild and gentle as was Yahshua - an essential character trait.

Uncontentious (Not a Brawler, KJV). The NASV renders the word uncontentious. It is Strong's No. 269, amachos, meaning peaceful. If an elder is a brawler, contentious, always looking for a "doctrinal debate," he is an embarrassment not only to himself and his family but also to the assembly and to Yahweh. Sadly, there are people in the assembly who had much rather fight over doctrine than to use the word to edify, exhort, and encourage the building up in righteousness of their fellow believers. Do not even consider them. They should not be elders.

Not Greedy of Filthy Lucre. The Greek word which the King James renders as filthy lucre is Strong's No. 146, meaning sordid. It derives from another word, aischros, meaning shameful or base. Your dictionary defines sordid as filthy or dirty. A man who is greedy for ill gathered gain should not be considered for an elder. There are probably many examples, but for certain, it is one who gambles and plays the lottery (Prov. 28:20).

Not Covetous (KJV). The one Greek word for this phrase, aphilarguros, Strong's No. 866, is rendered by the King James Version as "not covetous." Aphilarguros is rendered by Strong's Concordance as unavaricious. Your dictionary defines avaricious as immoderately fond of accumulating wealth; an extreme desire to amass wealth. The Greek word is from the root philarguros meaning fond of silver. This reminds us of another bishop/elder (Acts 1:20) who was fond of silver - Judas Iscariot. A man who has his heart tied to accumulating wealth cannot serve two masters. He will end up denying one. To deny Yahshua is, of course, to betray Yahshua and to crucify to oneself the Son of Yahweh and put him to open shame. And, of course, when a shepherd/elder brings shame to Yahshua and the assembly, this is much worse than that of a non-elder because the eyes of not only the assembly, but those outside the assembly are on the elder.

Also, the more "things" we have, the more our mind dwells on these "things" and the less it dwells on the good Word of eternal life and how it is to be applied to bring soundness to the assembly. No, these things do not have to be large bank accounts and stock and bond portfolios. A man's riches can also consist of his "golf game," his garden or land where he spends undue time, or anything that detracts from constantly staying tied to Yahshua. A true elder/bishop, because of the demands placed upon him in the position he holds, simply has no time to meditate on things which are passing away, which are not eternal.

One Who Ruleth (Manages) Well His Own House. This is a most important requirement for becoming an elder, because it is here that the person learns to be, and is trained to be, an elder. The Greek word for ruleth (the New American Standard Version uses the word manages) is Strong's No. 4291, proistemi, meaning to stand before, i.e., to preside, or, by implication, to practice. Practice is defined in your dictionary as to exercise or perform repeatedly in order to acquire or polish a skill. But to practice what? Eldership! If a man does not have the skill to lead his own wife and children to Yahshua in righteousness, then he certainly cannot lead those in the assembly to Yahshua. And look at this definition again: to exercise or perform repeatedly in order to acquire or polish a skill. This is a beautiful example of why Yahweh gives a wife and children to a man, Exodus 21:4. The family is a constant training ground (. And, it is a training ground for the wife and children. They, via their attitudes, responses and behavior can motivate, shape, and form their dad and husband to be the leader Yahshua wants him to be. So, look at the man and his family. If he does not manage his own household well, if he does not have the skill to lead his own family members to Yahshua, then he is not yet ready to be an elder/bishop. But, be patient, Yahweh is not finished with him yet, and the day will come, if he will be diligent to be led by the Spirit, to in turn lead his family to Yahshua. This is further confirmed in I Timothy 3:5 where it says that if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the assembly of Yahweh?

And, he is to have his children in subjection with all gravity. Or, as the New American Standard Version renders it, keeping his children under control with all dignity. The Greek word for subjection or under control is Strong's No. 5292, hupotage, meaning subordination and it derives from No. 5293 meaning to subordinate or to obey. The man must have children who obey him. The Greek word for gravity (NASV dignity) is again the word proistemi, Strong's No. 4291, meaning to stand before, to preside, to practice. It comes from Strong's No. 4253, pro, meaning in front of, and No. 2476, histemi, meaning to stand. So, we can see the picture which the Holy Spirit is drawing through the Apostle Paul as he writes to Timothy that an elder must be one who presides over and practices well before his own household, keeping his children under control not by "beating the devil out of them," but by standing before them in dignity. He gives them a good example of a dignified person whom they can imitate. And if his children can imitate him, the one who imitates Yahshua, then the assembly can do likewise.

So, in summary of Part II, we see that being an elder or bishop is serious business. There are a multitude of requirements that the person must meet. And how is the person trained or qualified to meet these requirements? He learns this in his own household with his wife and children, and we will especially look into this more in Part IV. But next, in Part III, we will continue by examining the two additional requirements of the I Timothy 3:1-7 listing, plus ten additional requirements from the Titus 1 "laundry" list.



In Part I of this series on elders and bishops, we reviewed the meanings of the words elder and bishop. You will remember that the Greek word for elder simply means an older person, but the word for bishop means one who watches over, superintends, inspects - one who is similar to a sentry or a scout. And, Paul uses the words elder and bishop interchangeably when referring to those in positions of leadership in the assembly. As a shepherd, an elder is to watch, guard, and superintend the flock of Yah. In Part II, we examined thirteen of the basic requirements for being an elder as listed in I Timothy 3. In this third installment, we will discuss the last two requirements of the I Timothy 3 passage and ten additional requirements as set forth in the Titus 1 passage.

Not a New Convert (Novice).

Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil. I Timothy 3:6. KJV

The New American Standard Version renders novice as, "a new convert." Why does Paul say that new converts, or novices, should not be elders? Because they can become conceited (prideful) and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. What is the condemnation incurred by Satan and how does it relate to pride? Please read Isaiah 14:1-23. Sure, Isaiah Chapter 14 is addressed to the King of Babylon, but this king was a type or picture of Satan himself. He had been created as the Star of the Morning, the Son of the Dawn (verse 12), but he was cut down to the earth because:

You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of Elohim, and I will sit on the mount of the assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the most high." Isaiah 14:13-14

And what was his condemnation because of this pride and the resulting rebellion?

Nevertheless, you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. Isaiah 14:15 (See Luke 8:31 for another reference to this pit)

The new believer, the novice, has not had opportunity to be fine-tuned, tested, and tempered. A man needs these "trials and tribulations" to conform him to the image of Yahshua, Hebrews 2:10-11. If a man "sidesteps" these refinements and moves directly into the eldership, he is a prime target to be shot down because there will be weak points of vulnerability in his Ephesians 6:13-17 armor. If he misses out on the preliminary training with his own household as set forth in I Timothy 2:4-5, then he is a sure candidate for being cut down by the tree cutter himself, Satan (Isaiah 14:8, Jeremiah 6:6, and Luke 13:7), a prime candidate to fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. [Note: for an interesting parallel with this concept, see Lev. 19:23-25, and compare it with Isaiah 14:8 and Luke 13:7.]

A Good Report (Reputation) with those Without (Outside).

"Moreover, he must have a good report of them which are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." 1 Timothy 3:7. KJV

Why this requirement? An unbeliever requires a higher standard of Believers, and especially those in leadership roles among the assemblies. A man I know divorced his wife and family, lived with a woman out of wedlock, and fathered a child by her while a member of the school board of a very large city. Nothing was said in the worldly media about this sinful lifestyle. Yet, had the school board member been of the "religious right" or a leader in his assembly, it would have been front-page news! The Apostle Paul fully realizes this double standard of the world, but he does not condemn the world for it. Why? Those outside the assembly (unbelievers) simply do not have Yah's grace (power) within them to be non-hypocritical and non-two-faced. Yahweh and His apostles simply accept this fact and, therefore, require that the elder must have a good reputation so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. "Reproach" is defined in your dictionary as "to bring shame upon; disgrace."

If a man in the assembly is associated with any group or organization which does not carry a good report and reputation with the world, then this association will pull down the Believer and the assembly to the level of the world, to a level bringing shame and disgrace. For example, Yahshua did not engage in violence with those "outside." Rather, He commands to go the extra mile and turn the other cheek. True, for those within the temple, or the people of Yah, He could become quite aggressive in overturning the tables of the moneychangers and boldly calling them hypocrites to their faces. But, that is for those within, not for those without. The Apostle Paul tells us Yahweh's bond servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all (2 Timothy 2:24), and the word "all" would certainly include those outside the assembly. Yahweh's bond servant must be "able to teach and patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps Yahweh may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will." For example, a Believer in the pro-life movement would not shoot the doctor and nurse who are killing babies via abortion. This would be doing the same thing as the abortionist - producing death instead of doing Yahweh's will to produce life.

Not Accused of Riot. Now, let's move to Titus 1:5-9, where the Apostle Paul uses almost an identical list of qualifications for an elder as in I Timothy 3:1-7, but ten are different. First, the elder must not be accused of, as the King James renders it, riot. The Greek word is asotia, Strong's No. 810, rendered unsavedness or, by implication, profligacy. Profligacy is defined in your dictionary as recklessly wasteful or extravagant, or dissolute. Being wasteful or extravagant certainly applies to improper use of finances. But, there is something more being said here. He who is faithful in that which is little will be faithful in that which is much. He who is unfaithful in that which is little will be unfaithful in that which is much. Finances, or money, are, in reality, little things compared to the eternal. Could Yahweh be saying that, in reality, the man must not be one who is wasteful of the assembly, those entrusted to him?

The New American Standard Version renders asotia as dissipation. Dissipation is defined as to break up and drive away, squander. Riot is defined as public uproar or disturbance. So, what do we see? If a man produces disturbance and public uproar to such an extent that he breaks up and drives away those in the assembly, then he will squander, waste, or dissipate that which Yahweh has entrusted to him - whether it is money, or, more importantly, those of the flock. If an elder is known for breaking up assemblies, then he should resign, get his own life in order, and ask forgiveness for all the splits he has caused. It is very traumatic for those in the flock, and especially newborn "little lambs," to see these break ups. It even drives some of them away from the flock so that they want nothing else to do with any assembly. And what does Yahshua say about this?

But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones who believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:6.

We reap what we sow. If we sow a "church split" or breaking up of an assembly by pulling or pushing out in a riotous, disturbing way, then we are bound to reap the same thing later in the assemblies we start or move to.

Children Who Believe. In Titus 1, one of the requirements for an elder, as stated in the King James Version, is "having faithful children..." The NASV renders it as "having children who believe,..." J.P. Green's Interlinear also renders it as "believing children." This is one requirement, which disqualifies many men from being an elder. It would have even disqualified the prophet Samuel whose children were riotous and unbelieving. And yet, the requirement is there. If we don't have enough time, patience, and desire to work with our children to lead them to Yahshua, then what business do we have trying to lead an entire flock to the green pastures and quiet waters of Yahshua? We must get our priorities straight. Yahweh first, family second, and others third.

Not Accused of Dissipation. In the King James, it reads, "...having faithful children not accused of riot, or unruly." As noted above, faithful children really should be rendered as believing children. There is no comma between the phrase, "believing children" and the phrase, "not accused of riot," in the King James Version. J.P. Green in his Interlinear renders it "[believing children], not an accusation of looseness..." Does the phrase, "not accused of riot (dissipation)," apply to the elder, or to his children? Regardless, however, of whether the phrase applies directly to the elder or to his children, at least indirectly it applies to him. If his children are subject to the accusation of being riotous, dissipation or looseness, then it is a reflection upon their dad who raised them. As previously noted, the Greek word for riot is Strong's No. 810, asotia, defined as unsavedness, i.e., by implication, profligacy. Unsavedness in turn seems to apply to the previous phrase, "unbelieving children." Profligacy is defined as given to dissipation, recklessly wasteful, wildly extravagant. Dissipation in turn is defined as the act of scattering, wasteful. So, if we see this character trait in either the elder or his children, we should back off from ordaining the man as an elder. He still has other work and training to do with his family before his family in turn can "loan" him to the assembly as an elder.
Rebellion. In the KJV, it is rendered unruly. It is Strong's No. 506, anupotaktos, defined as unsubdued or insubordinate. The word is used four times in the New Testament. Here in Titus 1:6 and 10 and again in I Timothy 1:9 and Hebrews 2:8, where we see that it basically means disobedience, or not in subjection to. Again, does the phrase apply to the children of the elder or to the elder himself? Suppose the elder is indeed subject to those in authority over him, but his children are disobedient. Does this disqualify him from being an elder? The Scripture doesn't seem to be clear on this, but, if we are going to err, we should err on the side of safety. To be safe in the matter, we should insist that the man first work with his children to develop in them an obedient and submissive spirit. Once he learns how to do this, then he will have the good training, which he needs to install this ultra important character trait in the life of the assembly.

Self-Willed. The Greek word is authades. It is defined in Strong's as self-pleasing, arrogant. Arrogant in turn is defined in our dictionaries as overly convinced of one's own importance, overbearingly proud, haughty. In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul reveals those things which makes his joy complete. What are they? Basically seeing other believers treat each other as they themselves want to be treated. And, he tells us, "do nothing from selfish or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself." If an elder is self-willed, always wanting to do things his way, how could he possibly lead others into the attitude which was in Yahshua the Messiah who, although he existed in the form of Yahweh, did not regard equality with Yah a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself - He emptied himself for others. Elders are to do the same. There is no room for self-will or self-interest.

Quick Tempered. This Greek word, Strong's No. 3711, is orgilos, meaning irascible. Irascible is in turn defined as prone to outbursts of temper, easily angered. One of the best ways to lose respect is to lose one's temper and to show outbursts of anger. True, there are times for proper anger, but 99% of what we see in the assemblies is improper anger, not directed at sin, but rather directed at those who have "ruffled our feathers." There is nothing more disturbing than to see this character trait in an elder. It sets a bad atmosphere for the entire assembly. It will quickly take away joy and happiness from an assembly. Elders with a quick temper should immediately resign.

Lover of Good. The phrase is rendered "lover of good men" in the King James Version. It is Strong's No. 5358, philagathos, meaning fond of good, i.e., a promoter of virtue. This reminds us of Philippians 4:8-9:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and see in me, do, and the [Elohim] of peace shall be with you. KJV

An elder's life and conversation are to reflect those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtue and praise. He should continually think on these things. Why? Because they are of Yahweh. And, even more importantly as pointed out in Philippians 4:9, the things which the elder has learned, received, and heard, and the things which are seen in him, others are to do and imitate. Why? So that the El of all peace may be with the flock. If a man has a mind, thoughts, words, and deeds which fall short of these things of good report, if, for example, he is continually talking about another assembly and all of their shortcomings - albeit their shortcomings may be very true and very important - he is not a proper elder. Yes, the falsehoods and falseness of other assemblies are to be pointed out and discussed, with the purpose of exhorting the assembly to improve. But, we should not dwell upon them. Why? Because these things are only so much trivial pursuit when compared to that which is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtue and praise.

One of the surest ways to spot a real elder is his desire to promote virtue in those around him. If he is fond of good and a real promoter of such, you can count on him to probably have all of the other required characteristics as well.

Just. Dikalos (Strong's No. 1342) is defined as equitable, innocent, or holy. Equitable is defined as characterized by equity; impartial or reasonable in judgment; just. Equity in turn is defined as the quality of being just, impartial, and fair. Why this requirement? Disputes arise among fellow believers. In I Corinthians 6, we born-again believers are told that we should not dare go to the courts of law before the unrighteous [where does this leave a person seeking a divorce decree?], but rather are to go before the saints. In I Cor. 6:3, the question is, "do you not know that we shall judge angels?" And the answer, "how much more, matters of this life." Therefore, when the elder "sits in the gates" (Prov. 31:23) of judgment, he is to have the characteristics of a good judge. He is to be equitable and just. Then, his decisions in the various disputes that arise among assembly members will not only be respected, but also followed. On the other hand, if he shows partiality, his decisions are bound to be disruptive and to be disregarded.

Holy. Strong's No. 3741, hosios, is defined as right, hallowed, pious, sacred, and sure. It is used eight times in the New Testament and generally rendered in the King James Version as holy. In Acts 2:27 and 13:35, it is rendered as the Holy One in referring to Yahshua whom Yahweh would not suffer to see corruption. The elders are to imitate the apostles who in turn imitate Yahshua. As Yahshua, so the elders. As He is holy, so are the elders to be holy.

Temperate. Egkrates, Strong's No. 1468, is defined as strong in a thing (masterful), i.e., self-controlled. Elders are to be strong in the Word and masterful in the ways of Yahweh. Why? If they are not strong in character, the Word, and the ways of Yah, then they will be "people pleasers" as was Balaam. Balaam was a prophet of Yah, and yet prophets who are people pleasers will place stumbling blocks (things sacrificed to idols and immorality) before the people of Yah (Revelation 2:14) in their efforts to "just make everybody happy." After all, if you keep your flock happy, they are less likely to run off to the assembly down the street or around the corner (. And, it is so easy to be people pleasers, and so difficult to be strong in and firm upon the Word. A man who is a piece of milk toast is not to be an elder. This requirement is confirmed and expanded even more in Paul's next requirement for qualifications of an elder; that is, one who holds fast the Word.

Holding Fast the Faithful Word.

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convince (confute) the gainsayers (opposers). Titus 1:9. KJV

Yes, the elder is to hold fast or cling to the Word, its ways, and its precepts, and to be strong in the Word in his guidance of the flock, especially as the flock wants to stray.

"Holding fast" is the Greek word antechomai, Strong's No. 472, rendered as, "to hold oneself opposite to, by implication to adhere to, to care for." So? The elder is to hold himself opposite to the ways of the world and the "I, me, my" people-pleasing ways of people. He is to adhere to the good Word of Yah. In so doing, he cares for the flock who often are so prone to stray, especially when they want relief from an oppressive, testing spouse or situation. And why is he to hold fast the faithful word? In order to exhort and refute. The word exhort is Strong's No. 3870, parakaleo, meaning to call near, to invite, to invoke. Yes, the flock is often prone to stray from Yahshua, the Word. The elder in turn is to call them near, to invite them back, to invoke the good Word in a loving and gentle manner while remaining strong in and firm upon the Word. He is to do this in order to refute the opposers. Opposers of what? The Word. Where do these opposers come from? Generally, right from the middle of the assembly itself in their people-pleasing words and interpretations of Scripture, and it is not easy to refute those of the elder's own assembly. But, it is necessary, and it is a requirement. It takes strong leadership to be an elder, not a self-pleasing, people-pleasing piece of milk toast.

We have now reviewed thirteen requirements or qualifications to become an elder in Part II of this series and twelve additional requirements in this Part III, a total of twenty-five. Why so many? A person must be blameless and spotless. What if our candidate meets twenty-four of the requirements, but fails on one? Would Yahweh accept a "living sacrifice" with just one blemish?

Part Four, the Next Installment. In the next and last part of this article, Part IV, we will discuss some interesting questions: When should a person be ordained as an elder? Who should do the ordaining? What is the reward or "pay" of an elder? How is an elder to lead the assembly? What do you do if you are convinced your elder is "out in left field" on a point? How is a person groomed to become an elder? Women elders? Then, we will conclude by looking at a beautiful story - the story of a man who failed the test of being an elder.
By Roger M. Norman
This is the last installment on the series of elders and bishops. We have discovered that the Greek word for elder, presbuteros, simply means an elderly, older or senior person. But the word is used interchangeably with the Greek word episkope which is rendered bishop or overseer, and it is defined as one who inspects, superintends, oversees, visits, peers about. It comes from a root word meaning a scout or sentry who watches out for others. We have seen how the elders and bishops are to be above reproach and blameless as were the sacrificial animals of the Old Testament.
In fact, Yahweh, via the Apostle Paul, gives a detailed list of approximately twenty-five requirements for becoming an elder, and the elder cannot fall short on any one. In this final Part IV, we will now consider some very important questions regarding the elders. Who ordains elders? When, and under what circumstances, should a person be ordained as an elder? What is the reward, pay, or wage of an elder? How does an elder effectively do his work and what role does the assembly have in ensuring that he effectively does his work? What goes into the making of an elder? (We discussed this briefly in Part II.) Should an assembly have women elders? And finally, what of the person who fails the test of qualification for an elder?
When to Ordain? You can see that it has taken quite some time just to examine the requirements for being an elder. With this in mind, how long should the consideration and ordination process take for the elder? Long enough for those who ordain and appoint to ensure that he is above reproach. Paul speaks of the elders in I Tim. 5:17, and in verse 22, he says:
Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of another man's sins; keep thyself pure.
In the New American Standard, it reads:
Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thus share responsibility for the sin of others; keep yourselves free from sin.
If a man with sin in his life is ordained as an elder, he is going to bring his sin to the other elders and to those in the assembly. The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment [going before others in the assembly]; for others, their sins follow after [only to be discovered after thorough investigation or after ordaining when it is too late!]. Also, deeds that are good are quite evident [to the assembly], and those which are otherwise [i.e. sinful] cannot be concealed [but will be exposed during the examination process], I Tim. 5:24-25. Therefore, a man should be thoroughly examined to determine if he is qualified to be an elder, bishop or overseer. To lay hands upon anyone hastily, without thoroughly checking them out, is sin, in violation of 1 Tim. 5:22, which in turn opens up the assembly to more sin.
I did not meet this qualification. I was ordained hastily on the recommendation of one man during an assembly meeting, and within ten minutes I was an elder! I realize now this was wrong. I should have been thoroughly examined by the other elders, and the elders should have asked the flock what they thought of me and my qualifications. Therefore, I resigned my eldership in October of 1996.
Who Ordains the Elder? The Apostle Paul told Titus that he left him in Crete so that he might set certain things in order and appoint elders in every city. Paul adds that Titus is to do this "as I had appointed thee," Titus 1:5. In Acts 14:23, we are told that Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for the new assemblies which had been established a short time earlier as people believed upon Yahshua in response to the preaching of Paul and Barnabas. So, we can definitely see that the elders are to be appointed by other elders and apostles. But, do the appointing ones do this without the guidance of Yah's Spirit and without first checking with those of the assembly and securing their input and opinions? Of course not. This would be foolish. Who knows the men of the assembly better than their fellow members they associate and rub elbows with?
Plus, every member of the assembly will have a different view and perspective because we each come from different backgrounds. All ? 100% - of these opinions, views, and perspectives are absolutely essential for the appointing persons to know so that they can then make wise, prudent, and Spirit-led decisions in whom to appoint as an elder. Yahweh does not operate in a vacuum and neither do His people. To appoint without first securing opinions of the assembly would be disastrous. And, what better way to secure opinions from each person than to ask each one privately? Yahweh's scouts, sentries, and superintendents of the assembly are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. What better way to gain this wisdom in a peaceful way than to ask the members privately for their assistance and guidance via the sharing of their opinions as to the appointment of elders and their qualifications or lack thereof?
The Elder's Reward. What is the "pay" of the elder? What are his wages?
Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the Word and doctrine. For the Scripture saith, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn; and the laborer is worthy of his reward." I Timothy 5:17-18. KJV
The New American Standard renders "labor in the word and doctrine" as work hard at preaching and teaching. The elder who rules well is to be considered worthy of double honor. And lest there be any misunderstanding of the word rule, we see that it is the same word used by Yahweh's servant, Paul, in I Timothy 3:4-5, the Greek word "proistemi," Strong's No. 4291, meaning to stand before, i.e., to preside, or by implication to practice before one's household (family). Preside is defined as to hold a position of authority, to act as chairman, and it comes from a Latin word meaning to superintend. And, this gets us right back to the definition of the bishop or elder, to superintend or watch over Yahweh's flock, Yahweh's building, I Cor. 3:9. No, the elder is not "the king." Rather, he is the superintendent to watch over and superintend the flock to ensure their maturity and completeness in Yahshua. Those who do a good job are to be considered worthy of double honor for the laborer is worthy of his reward, his wages. And what is this honor, or his wage? It is a Greek word, Strong's No. 5092, meaning, among other things, value and esteem. When those looking to the elder for guidance follow his advice, counsel and example, when they value him and his counsel, they thereby show esteem and honor to him. This is his true reward, his wage. A true elder is not in it for money. He is in it to present the flock pure, spotless, and clean before Yahshua on Judgment Day, the day of his accounting (Hebrews 13:17), and to hear the words, "well-done, good and faithful servant." This is his great reward. When the elder sees his "children" walking in the truth and in the commandments with a thankful heart, this is what causes him to rejoice as did the elder John, as recorded in II John 1 and 4. This is his joy, his happiness.
For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. III John 3-4.
So, if you want to really reward, honor, and bless your elders, then follow their counsel. And, if you really want to hurt an elder? Reject his counsel and find someone else who speaks the words you want to hear, words that tickle your ear. Bless your elders by praying for them that they will be filled to overflowing with Yahshua, that their counsel will be His words, and that they will always imitate Yahshua in their walk. When they are doing this, we in the flock can truly relax and enjoy their good leadership. And, do you know what? The more we honor and trust our elders, the more motivation they will, in turn, have to do a better job for us and for Yahshua.
The Work of an Elder - To Lead by Example. Peter the elder (I Peter 5:1) talks of the fiery ordeals, testings, and sufferings which come upon Yahshua's people. Therefore, he continues, we are to be of sound judgment, sober in spirit, and prayerful. We are to be fervent in our love to each other, hospitable, and each of us are to use the special gifts of Yahweh in serving one another. With this background, and in order to bring about this love, care, and service to each other, Peter then moves into Chapter 5 stating in verses 1-3:
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of [Messiah], and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of Yahweh among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of Yahweh; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. I Peter 5:1-3
An elder leads not by "lording it over" those in the flock allotted to his charge. Rather, he leads by example. It will be his example of holding up under the fiery ordeals, testings, and sufferings of life which in turn exhorts and motivates the flock to do likewise. His reward for this? Not "sordid gain" (I Peter 5:2), but an unfading crown of glory! (I Peter 5:4). And, sometimes, it is difficult to follow the elders, especially when we think they might be wrong on a particular subject. But, in I Peter 5:5?6, Yahweh gives the answer through His apostle/elder, Peter:
You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, for Yahweh is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty handof Yahweh that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. I Peter 5:5-7.
When the younger men and others in the flock subject themselves to the elders and clothe themselves with humility towards one another, then Yahweh gives grace to these younger men and the flock. This grace then enables them to accomplish Yahweh's will. . For example, if the elders are "out in left field" on a particular doctrine, teaching, or position, then the younger men and those in the assembly who have humbled themselves will be anointed with grace (power) from Yahweh to make a proper appeal to the elders. When this is done and we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of Yahweh (i.e. under the elders and those through whom He works), He then will exalt the younger men at the proper time to be elders. Therefore, realizing this, we can cast all of our anxiety regarding the eldership and their leadership upon Yahweh because He does indeed care for us through the elders and through each other as we care for and serve each other with the gifts He has given, I Peter 5:6-7.
The Making of an Elder. What goes into the making of a good elder? How is a man groomed to become an elder? Where is he groomed? Very important questions which are seldom asked. Could it be that Proverbs 31 (addressed to one who is to preside) gives us the foundation of the answer? The first foundation, as stated in verse one, is, "the prophecy (oracle, or word) that his mother taught him." We believers are to be kings and rule and reign in righteousness, Rev. 1:6. And, where do we receive the early instructional foundation which kings need in order to so reign? From our mothers! The foundations of her teachings are set forth in the first nine verses of Proverbs 31.
Second, the making of a good man, who is in turn qualified to become a good elder, is via the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31:10. Let's examine her for a moment. She is so virtuous, upright, and pleasant that her husband's heart safely trusts in her. He has no need for spoil of anyone or anything else - she meets all of his needs (verse 11), and she does it all the days of her life (verse 12). She works at that which at first appears to be only mundane. She looks for and acquires wool and flax and works with her hands in making clothing and household items. She prepares meals and does the cooking, even as merchant ships are bringing her "food from afar." [She will also bring her spiritual food from afar - from Yahweh.] She works hard at preparing meals, even rising while it is still dark. She is industrious, buying a field and planting a vineyard. She is always prepared, and her lamp does not go out at night. She is like the wise virgins of Matthew 25 who have plenty of oil. She can make her own garments with the distaff and the spindle. She stretches out her hands to the poor and needy and clothes her household (verses 19 through 22). She makes merchandise which she sells. Because she studies and knows the Word well, she therefore opens her mouth in wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness (25 and 26). She is far from being idle, always looking well to the ways of her household to such an extent that her children and husband bless and praise her (27 and 28). She is a woman who fears Yahweh, who realizes that charm is deceitful and beauty is vain (verse 30). Now, with this in mind, look at the last verse, verse 31:
Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.
She is now pictured as reaping what she has sown, the fruit (works) of her hands. What is this fruit, and where is it reaped? It is her works (fruits) which praise her! And, where do her works praise her? In the gates. How can this be, and what does this mean? For our answer, we go back to verse 23:
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
In other words, behind every successful man there is a successful woman - his wife. Behind every successful elder there are Proverbs 31 women - his mother and his wife! And his wife's works, her character traits, which are sown in his life, are then revealed through him as he "sits in the gates, among the elders of the land." The other leaders of the land, and the ones these leaders serve readily recognize that this man has all the excellent qualities of an elder and leader. And, how did he acquire such, they should ask: because of the women in his life - his mother who taught him as a child, and his virtuous, excellent wife, whose price is far above rubies, who taught him via her character traits and righteous works. This is the wife who was subject to her husband in everything (Eph. 5:24) to such an extent that he fully knows he can safely trust her. A man can trust, admire and adopt the character traits of a wife who wins his admiration not by words, but by her quiet and peaceful spirit. This is why she is of great price - very valuable - to Yahweh, I Peter 3:1-4. And, because he can safely trust in her, he can trust in and adopt all the fine examples and character traits which he observes in her. By his observing, he in turn learns and acquires these character traits which then qualify him as an elder above reproach.
Here are just a few examples of the fruit of her teaching which is now revealed in the life of her husband:
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26.
Her husband has picked up on this, and as a result, has fine-tuned the character traits of kindness and gentleness, and therefore, very well meets the requirements of II Timothy 2:24-25:
And Yahweh's bond servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps Yahweh may grant them [those in error] repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth...
And how does he acquire the ability to teach? When his wife refrains from speaking in the assembly, when she subjects herself to her husband and asks her own husband at home (1 Cor. 14:34?35), is when he realizes that others (his wife and children) are looking to him for answers, leadership, and truthfulness. This realization is what motivates a man to begin to dig deep into the Word so that he can accurately teach his family. This trust they place in him is what motivates him to become a trustworthy person. Because she and the children subject themselves to him, he learns to subject himself to Yahshua and develop the Galatians 5:22-23 fruits of the Spirit.
Also, look at Proverbs 31:27:
She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Again, her husband, the elder, has picked up on this character trait, and now he looks well to the ways of his household, the assembly. Yahweh can now use this man whom has been set in the gates (by the everyday household works of his wife which appeared so mundane and non-exciting at the time) to safeguard and watch over the flock. He looks well to their ways as the scout or sentry looks to the ways of these for whom he is responsible. As his wife did not eat the bread of idleness, neither does he. He is diligent all the time, as an elder must be. It is a full time job being an elder in charge of leading the flock to Yahshua's green pastures and quiet waters.
Then consider Proverbs 31:28: Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her.
As the virtuous woman who has been the teacher of her children and husband, via her life work and character traits, receives blessing and praise from her household, so does the well trained elder as he follows in the footsteps of his wife.
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the scripture says, "you shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing," and "the laborer is worthy of his wages." I Tim. 5:17-18.
What is the double honor of the elder, what are his "wages?" It is the blessing and praise he receives from the assembly who in effect, say "well done, good and faithful servant." There is nothing to motivate an elder any more to do a better job than to receive a good word of thanks for the job he has done.
The wife is to be subject to, servant to, her husband. The world looks to the leader as "the greatest." But, the Believer and child of Yah who understands the work and words of Yahshua will realize that it is the servant who is the greatest! The one who would be greatest among you must be servant of all. Why? Because, Yahshua can use a servant's heart and work of service to train others for their assignments. This servant's heart is of great price, it is precious to Yah, I Peter 3:4.
And yes, the home is Yah's training ground for His future elders and bishops. Now, let us ask ourselves as we move into the next topic: where do the virtuous wives of Proverbs 31 receive their training?

Women Elders?
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, not enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind [Does this sound like the Proverbs 31 passage?], being subject to their own husbands, that the word of [Yahweh] may not be dishonored. Titus 2:3-5 (NASV)
What makes for a good elder? How is an elder molded, developed and groomed? For sure, he must be born again and filled with Yahweh's Spirit so that he will have Yahshua guiding him in his service to the assembly. But what, and who on earth, does Yahweh use to develop good elders? He uses elders "de facto," that is, the older women in the assembly! When an assembly has older women who are doing their part, it is guaranteed success through the good leaders (elders) whom they train up. Halleluyah.
The Greek word (presbutis) is used to describe the older women. It is rendered older in Titus 2:3 in the New American Standard Version, or aged in the King James Version. It is a "first cousin" word to the Greek word (presbuteros) for elder. And no, we are not to have officially ordained women elders. But, in reality, the older women are to serve as elders in a very special role, and if they fail in their assignment, it will destroy the assembly! When they succeed, it will ensure good success for the assembly. How and why can this be? When the elder women are reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, not enslaved to wine, but teaching the younger women what is good, that is, in effect, teaching all the good character traits that the elders are to have, those character traits described by Paul in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, they are, in effect, elders de facto, or elders in reality or in fact. And their specialized job as an "elder"? To teach or encourage the younger women to love their husbands, their children, be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, and be subject to their own husbands. Why? When a younger woman has been trained to be a Proverbs 31 woman, this in turn sets the stage for the training of her husband to be molded into and become the perfect man of Yah which Yahweh wants him to be so that he in turn, years later, can be an elder of the assembly.
But what if some of these younger husbands are disobedient to the Word, and if they are far short of the twenty-five qualifications of being an elder? There is nothing too hard for Yahweh. His Spirit can mold and transform them as they behold the quiet, respectful, chaste conduct of their wives, 1 Peter 3:1?2. This makes it so much easier for the dad's commandments and guidance to be followed by his family, Prov. 1:8. This is why a woman like this is of great value to Yah, 1 Peter 3:4. And for sure, before the older women can serve the younger in this role, they themselves must be wives who are, or were, subject to their husbands in everything, Eph. 5:24. Yes, Yah has designed us all to serve each other. We are a big circle, and not one link in the circle can be faulty - we all have a part. When these family conditions are taught and developed, the Word of Yahweh will not be blasphemed or dishonored. Rather, the Word will gain great respect, not only in the assembly but to those around the assembly and in the world as they see that Yah's ways do indeed work. These ways bring about the quiet, happy, peaceful, contented life which Yah desires for all of mankind. And, who is the key to developing the elders of tomorrow and producing this good life? The older, aged women, our "elders, de facto."
This is yet another example of how Yahweh looks at things completely opposite from the way the world looks at them. The world sees the leader, the boss, the president, or the elder/bishop as being the most valuable in a group. Yahweh looks at it just the opposite. Those who are greatest in his kingdom are servant to all. This is why the elder women, as they serve the younger women, who in turn serve their husbands so that their husbands, as elders, in turn can serve the assembly, are the greatest in Yahweh's kingdom. [Note: It is interesting to see the definition of de facto in your dictionary. It is defined as in reality or fact; actually exercising power (.]
If We Fail the Test. A beautiful and wonderful thing happened during a recent Feast of Tabernacles. Following one of the sermons, a man was unexpectedly called forward by the speaker to be anointed as an elder. The man, however, very wisely and humbly responded by stating that he was not now qualified to be an elder because his household was not in order to the point that he would like to see it. He further added that because of mistakes he had made in the past there were still things to do to get his life and his household in order before he was anointed as an elder.
What did this public acknowledgment do for those in the assembly who observed this and understood it from a biblical perspective? It built great respect in the flock for this man. Why? Because of his wisdom and his great humility which was revealed in him. Here was a man who understood the Scriptures and who understood the importance of the office of an elder. Here was a man who stood on the Scriptures and his faith, not on his pride. Here was a man who had the wisdom to choose the best, even over that which was offered to him - that which was very good. Here was a man who generated great respect for himself by his declining the office of an elder. Here was a man who indeed was the temple of Yahweh Himself (I Cor. 6:19) - the Spirit of Yah dwelt mightily within him.
Yes, Yahweh's people in whom He dwells are compared to His temple in whom He dwells. The sin of the people of Israel (and this man had experienced the consequences of sin in his life and in his family) led to the destruction of the glorious and large temple which Solomon had built. Years later following the Babylonian captivity, a smaller, much less glorious temple was built on the site. The old men who, in their youth, had observed the glory of the first temple wept with a loud voice when the foundation of the second, less glorious temple was laid before their eyes. Yet, the current younger generation shouted with joy at the laying of the foundation of the second temple, Ezra 3:12-13. Yahweh Himself then asked through the prophet Haggai, "Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison?"
But Yahweh continues by telling the people to take courage, His Spirit was still abiding in their midst. And then, He makes an amazing statement about this second, or latter, house in which He would dwell:
The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former," saith Yahweh of Hosts; "and in this place will I give peace," saith Yahweh of Hosts. Haggai 2:9. KJV
Amazing! Mankind often considers lives as wasted, never again able to reach that apex of glory originally intended for them by their Creator. But, there was and is glorious news for the man from the land of the Gaderenes who had been demon possessed living a wasted life among the tombs, for the woman at the well who had blown every opportunity she had for a family, for the woman of John 8 who had been caught in the act of adultery, and for the Apostle Peter, who had denied Yahshua in his hour of testing. The news: "the glory of this latter house [and we are His house, Hebrews 3:6] will be greater than that of the former house," saith Yahweh of Hosts.
And look at the last half of Haggai 2:9, "...and in this place (house) will I give peace,' saith Yahweh of Hosts." Yes, when those of the assembly see a man humbly and wisely take the position which this man took when declining to be anointed as an elder, and see the peace of Yah dwell upon him when he does, then they are drawn to a man like this to seek his wisdom, counsel, assistance and direction, so that they in turn might have peace within their houses, their lives, their families. He, in effect becomes an elder "de facto" - not in name, not in title, but in reality. Praise Yah for a man like this. And who knows, but what with the passage of time and the work of Yah's Spirit within him, his own family will be restored into completeness, oneness, and holiness in Yahshua at which time this man should be anointed as an elder. Therefore, we should all well remember the admonition, "Be patient, Yah is not finished with me yet."
Yes, when it appears that the fruit of our labors have been eaten by the locust (by Satan himself), that the intended glory of our temple has been destroyed, and there is nothing left except a wasted life, is when Yahshua will arise with healing in His wings, healing and restoration for us and for our families. Then He will impart His good word of restoration to all of you who are true elders, bishops, and shepherds of those allotted to your care and oversight, regardless of whether you officially bear the title of an ordained elder:"And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten..." Joel 2:25.

Your servant, Roger M. Norman (817) 923-0648

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