|Notes on Elders in the Church & Older People in the Assembly
||[Feb. 9th, 2012|03:08 pm]
Older Men Appointed to Shepherd
These men were not appointed (made) to be elders (it is impossible to "make" someone older, wiser, spiritual, etc.): they were already older, wiser, spiritually matured, but these elders were appointed (recognized) "overseers (shepherds)" because of the spiritual work they were doing. Paul and Barnabas helped the people of God to understand that there existed such a work, and that those who did that work were to be recognized, respected and esteemed.
The Scriptures are silent about an "ordination service," one in which men are "appointed," and made into something they were not just a moment ago. This is an invention of the Catholic Church and a hand-me-down from the Denominational Churches. We should recognize it as such and call for the cessation of this heretical practice!
The Greek word in Acts 14:23 if from cheirotoneo. W.E. Vine states that the word in this passage indicates "THE RECOGNITION OF THOSE WHO HAD BEEN MANIFESTING THEMSELVES AS GIFTED OF GOD TO DISCHARGE THE FUNCTIONS OF ELDERS...It is also said of those who were appointed (not by voting, but with general approbation) by the assemblies in Greece to accompany the Apostle in conveying their gifts to the poor saints in Judaea, 2 Cor. 8:19" (Vol. 1, p. 69). There is a suggestion by Vine that these "elders" possessed spiritual gifts and were working among the brethren even before Paul and Barnabas returned. Therefore, easy recognition was possible.
In Titus 1:5 the Greek word for "appoint" is kathisteemi. "The R.V. (Revised Version) translates it by 'appoint' in Titus 1:5, instead of 'ordain,' of the elders whom Titus was to appoint in every city in Crete. NOT A FORMAL ECCLESIASTICAL ORDINATION IS IN VIEW, BUT THE APPOINTMENT, FOR THE RECOGNITION OF THE ASSEMBLIES, OF THOSE WHO HAD ALREADY BEEN RAISED UP AND QUALIFIED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, and had given evidence of this in their life and service" (Vine, Vol. 1, p. 67). The emphasis in the quotations are mine. I believe Vine to be right. What Paul and Barnabas, and later Titus, did was to recognize men WHO WERE ALREADY FUNCTIONING AS OVERSEERS (SHEPHERDS).
Remember in Acts 20 that the Holy Spirit made the older men overseers. Today older men should guard, guide by example, and teach as the Holy Spirit leads them. Yes pastor/shepherd, elder, and overseer are not titles, positions of authority, offices, or people who have a special authority over others. These are one in the same work of guarding, guiding by example, and teaching as lead by the Holy Spirit! When Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:2 "overseer" he means the one who over-sees, the one who looks out for, one who guards. Paul in no way meant as we often think of today "Elder Tim" or "Pastor Bill" who call themselves by words found in scripture but do no such personal, interactive work of guarding.
An older man does not have to wait for a group to "appoint him" before he involves himself in the work of shepherding. It is preposterous to assume that men like Peter, Paul, Timothy or Titus would have to refrain from doing the kind of work until the brethren "appointed him!"
We give out titles that presume by having a title one is automatically being and doing what the title refers to. Being called a Pastor by your self and even the community at large does not mean you do the work of shepherding as described in the New Testament! Today's Pastor does not equal a New Testament overseer or shepherd!
Why is a man called a baker? Because he bakes; why is a man called a teacher? Because he teaches; why is a man called a shepherd? Because he tends to the flock. He is what he is because of what he does. The matured man of God is called a shepherd because he is doing the work of shepherding the flock, per instruction of the Holy Spirit! You can select a man by the most sophisticated system and put him through a dozen ordination services, and if he is not already doing what God wants him to be doing as a shepherd (elder, overseer), then, by no stretch of the imagination is he one. If he is not "Holy Spirit Made," HE WILL NEVER MAKE THE GRADE. He is not really a shepherd of God's people!
What I am saying is if God is leading you to do the work of overseeing and shepherding humble yourself and do it. Do it without needing to be called something. The point is not to be called "elder," "pastor," "overseer," or "shepherd" as a title but that you are to lovingly do the things that scripture commands for the benefit of others! Exemplify Christ-like behavior and teach the scriptures rightly!
The elder is an older man who is recognized for his care & character. That character is sketched out in 1 Timothy 3 & Titus 1. Since Paul didn't give the exact same list to both Timothy and Titus in his letters we cannot say that someone must meet all the things described in 1 Timothy 3 AND Titus. These were character sketches not mandatory qualifications.
Age of the Older
According to "Health as a crucial factor in the changes from hunting to developed farming in the eastern Mediterranean" by Lawrence J. Angel, the average lifespan for a person living from 320 B.C. to 120 A.D. would have actually been 41.9 years of age for men (38 years of age for women). It would be perfectly reasonable for people to have lived much longer as this is the average but the average does determine who are the older and younger people of society. The average life expectancy in the US over the past 50 years is 69-78 years old. The older portion of society has to be lower than the average life expectancy although it is certainly those above that age as well.
Jews were considered men at 13 years old. Again the average life expectancy at this time was about 38-42 years old. So someone in their mid and likely even their early 30s could be considered older or elder. Any age above 38 would certainly be considered older. Peter was likely in his late 50s to early 60s when he called himself a "fellow elder" or a "fellow older man" in 1 Peter 5:1.
Some Notes taken from Dusty Owens on The Examiner.org
See my main teaching on this here.