What Is An Elder?

In order to understand the eldership, one must first understand the definition of the term “elder”. It is worthy to note that there are terms within the Holy Scripture that are interchangeable with the word “elder” – which are “bishop” (1 Timothy 3:1; Titus 1:7), “overseer” (Acts 20:28), “pastor” (Ephesians 4:11), “shepherd” (Ephesians 4:11) and “presbyter” (1 Timothy 4:14).

In order for a congregation to have an eldership, it must have a plurality of men who meet the qualifications as laid out in 1 Timothy 3:1-8 and Titus 1:5-16.

In Acts 14:23, during Paul’s first missionary journey, he and Barnabas ordained elders in every church, or every congregation of the Lord.

The Greek word for “elder” here is rendered “presbuteros”. The term “presbyter” is also rendered “presbuteros”. This term signifies one whose maturity level is sufficient to hold the office. The terms “bishop” and “oversight/overseer” translates “episcopos” which refers to the oversight of an elder, one who looks diligently over the flock that he feeds. It has significance to the superintendence over matters to ensure those things are done properly. The term “pastor” translates “poinmen” which means “shepherd” and has respect to the action of one who shepherds and feeds. The term “presbytery” is used in regards to the plurality of elders.

As we consider the above definitions, we can arrive at an appropriate definition for an elder and eldership. An eldership is comprised of a plurality of men who meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:1-8 and Titus 1:5-16 and possess a maturity level efficient enough to hold the office ordained by God.