The Biblical Doctrine of Eldership

By Dr. Robert Morey

Twelve Foundational Principles
#1. The office of elder was set up by King Messiah as a permanent office in the local church because provision was made in Scripture for its continuance. The New Covenant requirements, duties, authority, and discipline of the office of elder should be followed today. This is in sharp contrast to the offices of apostle, prophet, and evangelist.
#2. The New Covenant office of elder was originally carried over from the Jewish synagogue. The “elders” of the synagogue were charged with the teaching and discipline of the congregation.  Since the early church began as a Messianic Jewish synagogue (James 2:2), it is no surprise that Christian elders adopted the same duties and authority as their Jewish counterparts.  
#3.  The primary passages in the N.T.

I Tim. 3:1-7

Titus 1:5-16

#4. The secondary passages in the N.T.:

  1. Gospels: Matt. 20:20-28 cf. Mk. 10:35-45

  2. Acts: Acts 6:4; 20:17-38

  3. Church Epistles:  Phil. 1:12-18, I Thess. 5:12-13.

  4. Pastoral Epistles: I Tim. 1:2-7, 18-20; 3:2-7; 4:6-16; 5:1-22; 6:11-21; 2 Tim. 1:6-14; 2:1-19, 20-26; 3:10-17; 4:1-8; Tit. 2:1-15; 3:1-11, 13-15.

  5. Hebrew Epistles: Heb. 13:7, 17; I Pet. 5:1-4

#5. The requirements for the office of elder focuses on 7 things:

  1. Salvation

  2. Character

  3. Knowledge

  4. Talents

  5. Tasks

  6. Inner Call in the heart

  7. Outer Call of the church

#6. The New Covenant church did not expect or demand perfection.  We should not do so, either. Peter, Paul, Mark, etc. all had weak areas.

#7.  Only mature men can be elders over the entire congregation.

#8. No women pastors or elders over the New Covenant church.

#9.  A plurality of elders is the goal where possible.

#10.  Some elders are fully employed in the ministry according to their gifts, while other elders maintain their secular careers.

#11. Full time elders should be financially supported by the congregation.

#12.  Those elders who are fully employed in ministry are to receive“double  honor.”  While this means that they should receive double the financial support given to widows, they should also receive “double” respect. This is why a full time elder is usually called “Pastor.”