Church Elders

Acts 20:9-16 Eutychus

Acts 20:17 Elders

Acts 20:18-25 Asia
ACTS 20:17  17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.

Why did Paul call "for the elders of the church at Ephesus" (Acts 20:17) to come to him in Miletus?
Paul "was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost" (Acts 20:16). Had he met the elders in Ephesus instead of the elders coming to him, he would have had "to spend time" (Acts 20:16), seeing everyone in the Ephesus' church, who would have been eager to see Paul again. Pressed for time, he wanted to speak to just the elders.

Who could be "elders of the church" (Acts 20:17)?
Those who met the criteria that Paul indicated to Titus: "5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you - 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict." (Titus 1:5-9) - and to Timothy: '1 ... If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil" (1 Timothy 3:1-7).

What is the difference between an "elder" (Acts 20:17) and a "bishop" (1 Timothy 3:2)?
πρεσβυτερους (presbuterous), the original Greek word translated "elder," means one who is elderly, and επισκοπον (episkopos), the original Greek word translated "bishop," means one who oversees, but the two words are used interchangeably, as in Titus 1:5 and Titus 1:7 above.

Can someone who is unable to teach the Bible become an elder/bishop?
Not according to God, who said an elder should be "able to teach" (Acts 20:2)

Can a greedy and/or violent person become an elder/bishop?
Not according to God, who said an elder should be "not violent, not greedy for money" (Acts 20:3).

Can a woman become an elder/bishop?
Not according to God, who said an elder should be "a man" (1 Timothy 3:1) and a "husband" (1 Timothy 3:2).

What about Deborah in the Old Testament?
Deborah was not an elder/bishop. She was a prophetess whom God used to judge Israel at a time when the country so lacked real men that even the commander of its army was a wimp who refused to fight unless a woman came with him: "Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “Has not the LORD God of Israel commanded, ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’?” And Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” (Judges 4:4-8). When the 'prophet' Balaam couldn't see the Angel of the Lord, the Lord spared his life by making a donkey talk to him: "And when the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!” So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?” And he said, “No.” Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. And the Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live” (Numbers 22:27-33). And Jesus told the Pharisees that if people don't welcome Him as prophesied, the stones will: "Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: “‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:37-40). God is sovereign. If the vessels designated for certain tasks don't perform them, He uses other and even unconventional vessels to perform those tasks. People who think talking donkeys and crying stones should be the norm may cite Deborah to advocate women elders/bishops.

What about the pairs of young men in white shirts, black pants and black neckties who walk around wearing black "Elder" badges?
See young elders?