Authority Of Elders

"Ordain Elders in every city as I had appointed thee"


1. God's Word authorizes us to have Elders -Titus 1:5

A. There is scriptural authority for each congregation to have Elders.

B. 1 Corinthians. 12:28 "God hath set some In The Church Governments

1 God intended to have some kind of structure, some kind of government, some kind of oversight in the church. The scriptures tell us this is the job of Elders.

C. Act 20: 17 Elders are always listed in the plural in scripture.

D. Act 20:28 Holy Ghost hath made you Overseers

E. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to give the qualifications these men must posses to fill this office. 1 Timothy 3:1-8, Titus 1:5-9

F. The Holy Spirit instructed evangelist's to ordain or appoint men to this position.

1 Paul told Titus to "ordain Elders in every city as I have appointed thee"

2. Recognizing that there is authority for a congregational eldership let s consider the question, Did God give them any authority?

A. Speaking to Elders, Peter notes that the Holy Spirit Has made you overseers - Acts 20:28

B. Speaking of church authority, Hebrews says Obey them that have the rule over you Heberws13:17

C. To ask if Elders have authority is akin to if God gave parents any authority in the home. It is a worthwhile question, but a question with a definite answer.

D. Consider Acts 20:28

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock,
among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers,
to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

E. Now notice 1 Peter 5:2

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers

F. It seems obvious that it was the intent of God that these men, elders, be overseers in the church. They are to oversee the church. Could this be done with no authority? I don t believe that in these passages, God means spectators with no ability, responsibility, or authority to direct and guide.

G. These men are also called Shepherds Acts 20:28

1 Imagine a shepherd that was not allowed to tell a sheep to get off the highway.

2 Imagine a shepherd that was not allowed to drive the sheep away from poison water.

3 Imagine a shepherd that was not allowed to warn of a wolf or intervene when one attempted to attack the flock.

4 God's shepherds are to Guard, to Warn, to Protect

H. God wants men that will lead, guide, oversee and authorized Elders to do this in the congregation. Not only that, but he is going to require it of them.

1 Paul, in Acts 20 , commanded the elders to take heed to the flock.

2 Hebrews 13:17 says that elders are those who must give account and that they watch for your souls

3 Romans 12:8 directs he who rules to do so with diligence.

I. God also requires those under the eldership to submit to their elders in the church.

1 In Hebrews 13:7 he admonishes Christians to Remember them that have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation

2 Once again, Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive . That is pretty plain speaking isn t it? We would have no difficulty understanding that if it were said to children as in Ephesians 6:1-2.

J. In matters of scripture, God s word is the final arbiter. No elder or any other man has the right to change, set aside, or add to the requirements of God s word.

K. But what about matters of judgment in a local congregation?

1 Elders have the final say, just like a father has the final say in his family.

a. We must remember that this is because God placed them in a position of authority as overseers. It does not mean that they will always be right, but it does mean that they are the one s who will give account for the judgment decisions of the congregation, thus they must be allowed to make the final call in matters of judgment.

b. It would be a Foolish person who would not consider others in their decision making but just selfishly want to have their own way.

2 Elders are limited in making these judgmental decisions to their local flock or congregation.

a. 1 Peter 5:2 The flock of God which is among you An elder cannot oversee more than his local congregation.

b. An Elder's decision cannot be binding on any congregation except their local one.

c. Those that they are among on a weekly basis.

3. Let's notice some words the Bible uses to describe the relationships

A. Obey

1 Ephesians 6:1 Children obey your parents in the Lord

2 Titus 3:1 Obey magistrates

3 Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you.

4 Here the same words are used to describe these different relationships. Is there any reason to believe that they don t mean the same thing?

5 Some object that the authority of an Elder is only his example.

a. But based on these passages above, we would have to ask, is the only authority a father has over his children his example?

b. What happens if a child refuses to do what the parent directs? Should the parent say Well, you're not following my example but that's okay. ?

6 The same God that said children obey your parents said obey them that have the rule over you

B. Submit

1 Ephesians 5:22 Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands

2 Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you and submit

3 Once again, the words are the same in both passages.

4 Christians, do you expect the wife to submit to the husband in the home?

5 Then should we not expect the congregation to submit to the elders?

6 There are some overbearing fathers and there are some extremely overbearing husbands and there are some overbearing elders.

a. This type character really hurts families and churches. The Bible warns fathers not to provoke their children to wrath; and Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He also tells Elders not to be Lords over God s Heritage.

b. Let s be sure as husbands, fathers, and elders that we re not overbearing.

7 With that in mind though, what should we do, or encourage others to do in a situation where those in authority are overbearing? Should tell their children they don't have to obey, or a wife she doesn't have to submit?

a. Some say "I wouldn't put up with that. You don't have to take that."

b. A person who approaches a problem this way may end up being a home wrecker or a church wrecker.

c. This does much mischief and harm to homes and to churches. All under the, often well intentioned, motive "I'm trying to help these people".

d. People are not helped by breaking up their homes and we don't help people by tearing up a church.

e. To do that is to be guilty of the very serious sin of causing division.

1. Romans 16:17-18 says to mark and avoid those who cause division

2. Galatians 5:20 Speaks of sedition's or divisions and says that they that do such shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.

4. Accountability for Elders

A. The Bible says that evangelist's are to appoint Elders, Titus 1:5

B. Paul said to an Evangelist (Timothy) concerning Elders: Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. (1 Timothy 5:20).

C. Lording over congregation is a violation of 1 Peter 5:3 and therefore is a sin.

D. According to the Bible - an evangelist can rebuke and elder publicly when there is a serious sin issue.

E. Note: It is wrong to try to solve a problem with an elder/eldership by backbiting and undermining an elder s influence and/or authority.

5. Consider what the Bible says about those who challenged the authority of God's designated leaders.

A. Old Testament:

1 God chose Moses to lead Israel.

a. Numbers 12:1 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses "Hath the Lord spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us" "And the Lord heard it"

1. When you speak against an elder you can be sure the Lord will hear you.

b. "The anger of the Lord was kindled against them"

1. Miriam was struck with leprosy. It was called sin. Very foolish thing.

2. Aaron recognized and admitted his sin and Moses prayed for Aaron.

c. This is the proper way to fix this kind of sin.

1. The guilty one needs to repent. He needs to confess his sin.

2. The one sinned against needs to forgive, and pray for the sinner.

3. Deuteronomy 24:8,9 Remember what happened to Miriam

2 There was another person who challenged Moses' authority. That person was Korah (Numbers 16: 1) Korah and 250 princes

a. They gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron

b. They made accusation against Moses vs.11-13: accused Moses of making himself a prince vs.26:

c. Moses warned the congregation to get away from these wicked men vs.31 -35

d. They murmured again vs.41, notice that in this situation, the sympathizers died, the whiners died, the murmurers, the complainers died. Vs.49

e. They provoked Jehovah God to anger.

f. Please consider how serious this is. We must understand how God looks at this. It is no trivial matter with God.

g. When you speak against an Elder - you speak against the one whom God has authorized to lead and guide his people.

h. When you stand behind those who speak against Elders you are just as guilty as the spokesmen.

B. New Testament:

1 1 Corinthians 10:10,11

a. These are for our Example. The Message: Don't murmur and complain like those who spoke against Moses and Aaron.

2 Act 20:28

a. Speaking against an Elder is speaking against God because Paul told the Ephesian Elders - "The Holy Ghost has made you overseers"

b. Act 20:29-31 Those who draw away disciples are called wolves by God.

c. God looks at them as wolves scattering his flock. Perverse men speaking perverse things.

d. This is exactly what Korah did. These priests Korah and the others rebelled against Moses. They spoke against Moses and they drew others after them.

3 Specific NT warnings

a. Jude warns: Jude 8-10

b. Peter Also 2 Pet 2:9-10

1. Please do not speak against an Elder. Just as Korah, God is not pleased with murmuring, and will call murmurers to answer for it.

c. Act 23:1-4 Paul and the High Priest

1. Exodus 22:28 thou shalt not revile God, nor curse the ruler of thy people

2. Was the high priest right in having Paul smitten on the mouth? No

3. Was Paul right in calling a name? No

4. Paul realized he had made a mistake.

5. Paul acknowledged that what he had done was wrong.

a) When a person sins, that's all they can do; acknowledge it. They can't undo it. When someone has spoken against an elder, when someone has drawn away disciples; they need to acknowledge their wrong.

b) When a person acknowledges their wrong, that's all they can do. They need to be forgiven.

c) Totally, completely, and unconditionally.

d) 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin

d. If men speak against elders and draw away disciples and come into your congregation and they won't acknowledge their sin, then the Bible is very plain.

1. Romans 16:17-18 Those who cause division need to marked and avoided

2. Paul says: Avoid them. Don't socialize with them Cut off your association that they may be ashamed and led to repentance.

3. Don't be deceived by good words and fair speeches; Causing division is wrong, it is sinful. Don't be party to it.

6. Many churches were destroyed in 1950s by backbiting, division causing people like Korah.

A. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

1 Korah and those other backbiting, division causing. People like Korah had their families destroyed. Maybe they were spreading that poison to their families.

2 When you have people with this nature - Their families will be destroyed . Look around and see if that's not so.

B. Renegade preachers who came into congregation and challenged the authority of Elders over matters of judgment, primarily about church discipline.

C. Mt. 18 1,2,3

1 Matters of Church Discipline:

a. How long between step 1&2? Matter of judgment - Decision of elders

b. How long between step 2 & 3? Matter of judgment - Decision of elders

c. How long? Hour, day, week, month. Matter of judgment - Decision of elders

d. If Elders say we're going to give this a little more time. Then Evangelists and everyone else stay out of it.

e. The elder s authority in matters of judgment is what God Ordained.

f. Sometimes elders may backbite and speak against other elders' authority to make judgmental decisions for his congregation. This also is sin.

1. "We withdrew from this person and we think you elders in another congregation must do the same thing at the same time."

g. Decisions by one eldership are not binding on another congregation.

D. If an elder from congregation A tells elders in congregation B "It's time for you to withdraw from one of your members." This elder is wrong - When to exercise discipline is a local matter. [Note: We re not considering advice here, but rather someone who tries to enforce his judgment on another congregation.]

1 It is sinful for anyone to backbite, gossip, or rail against others. Be that elders, evangelists, or anyone else.

7. Conclusion:

A. God looks upon this criticism and challenging of authority with great distaste.

1 When this accelerates to the point of division God really hates it.

B. Remember Korah as our example.

C. God hates those who sow discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:19)

1 People who do this don't usually see themselves in that light.

2 This is a very deceitful sin. These people usually think they're helping things.

3 Burning down the barn is one way to get rid of rats. Effective but devastating.

D. Brethren, let's recognize that God gave Elders authority to make judgmental decisions in their local congregations.

1 Let's mind our own business more. Let's respect and honor another.

2 Let's love as brethren and remember Ps. 133:1