Transfer of Leadership
“When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” (Acts 14:23; NASB95)
The term “Elder” (in Greek, presbeuteros) took on several meanings in the New Testament, always referring to religious leadership.
In the Gospels and through Acts 6, Elders are always in conjunction with Jewish religious leaders such as Scribes and Priests. From Acts 7 through Acts 16, the term Elder is always used of the Christian church, and is in conjunction with and subordination to “Apostles.” After Acts 16 the term “Elder” begins to stand on its own and refers to the leader of the local church.
In the early days, Elders were appointed with apostolic authority to “Pastor” local congregations. Now, not believing in “Apostolic succession,” Elders are selected and called out by local churches.
The role of Elder is one of providing the leadership of the Apostles in their absence. Not having Apostolic authority or power, Elders work under the rule of scripture and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Their role is to feed the flock with the Word of God, nourishing and strengthening them to carry on the work of the Kingdom.
The church should be diligent to raise up Elders for the next generation. They do this by preparing young men from an early age to be strong in the Word, equipping them in the use of the Word, guiding them in a Biblical world-view, and then calling out the called, as the Spirit leads. Because the church will be under their direction in years to come, it is in the church’s best interest to guide the calling, preparation, instruction, and apprenticeship of the Elders of the next generation. When the church fails to prepare a new generation of leadership, the church fails!
In His Grace,
Dr. Randy White
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