Title: The Biblical Model for Church Leadership: Elders
Text: 1 Tim 5:17-25
CIT: The Church’s Responsibility in Caring for their Elders
CIS: As has been asked of you concerning the deacons, be in prayer as you diligently consider the man or men the elders present to complete their team.
Introduction: Keep your place in 1 Timothy and turn to Acts 20. Paul’s journey back to Jerusalem for the last time. On his journey, Paul stops in Miletus after sailing by Ephesus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. 17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him.
Paul had a very special relationship with these men. Look with me at this passage as he charges them with responsibility.
Rd Acts 20.17-35; He will return to Jerusalem. There, he will be arrested and spend the next two years in Caesarea, where he will appeal to Caesar. That appeal will be granted and he will then spend another two years in Rome. He will leave Timothy in Ephesus to care for the church there and help the elders with their leadership problems.
Church: leading is hard work. It doesn’t come easily by any stretch of the imagination. I know of my accountability. And I fearfully consider the past and pray over the future. I’ve made mistakes. And it scares me. And, I think about those in my life who made being a pastor so hard. I think about those who tried to destroy the church in moments of trying to ‘be right’ or keep their power.
t.s.: In our passage this morning, Paul will remind Timothy and the church of their responsibility to the elders: Respecting them, Protecting them, Correcting them and Selecting them.
- Respecting your Elders (17-18)
exp.: rd 17-18; Give respect and ‘double honor’ to the elders (Acts 20) in your body; vb – “be considered worthy” is one word in Greek; imperative verb; which elders? The ones who rule well; requirements: ministry of the Word, prayer; Here we see responsibility in ‘ruling”; not lording, but προί̈́στημι (proistēmi); Stand before; a beautiful picture of leadership, out front; head of household;
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13: 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
Heb 13:7, 17; 7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. And, 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
How do we respect these men? Giving them double honor; to those who: 3 job requirements – rule well and ‘labor in the word’ and ‘in teaching’ (preach and teach); This isn’t an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination. This really just seems to me to be the work seen in public – which fits our context. The Truth is, so much of what they do is really ‘alone’ stuff or ‘one on one’ stuff or even ‘small group’ stuff.
John Newton described ministry as ‘a sorrow full of joy’… That’s really accurate.
This is a beautiful description of the men in our church who have been laboring, toiling in the word and then preaching this Word. They work on a couple of texts and prepare that work to be presented to a group of their peers. Then, they have an opportunity to preach one of those texts to the congregation.
Some see these as two separate elder groups: Leaders and preachers/teachers. Note it says those who rule well, but ‘especially’ those who preach and teach. I don’t think ‘especially’ is focused on the teaching and preaching, but on those who κόπος (kopos)- labor; this is a demanding work; vs 18 is the proof text (rd); I like this; Paul uses two separate passages: Deuteronomy 25:4; The 2nd is a quote of Jesus; that’s pretty cool; Lk 10:7; Paul was very familiar with Luke; some scholars insist that Paul would have been familiar with Luke, since Luke may very well have been working on it while traveling with Paul;
app.: The point is this: respect, w/ double honor, your elders
t.s.: Respecting your elders…2nd,
- Protecting your Elders (19)
exp.: rd v 19; protect them from accusation: it is a very serious matter to bring a charge against your elders; Don’t allow it, except where the process of church discipline has properly taken place;
ill.: Consider this: because the elders are very public in their service, they open themselves up to harsh criticism. They’re easy targets. That criticism can be harsh, especially when those who pass judgment don’t have all of the information in front of them. We do so much harm when we ‘accuse’ our elders of negligence and self-motivation because we simply disagree with their leadership; oftentimes it is simply a matter of change that upsets an individual; Someone doesn’t like a decision, a plan, a program, a change in the current system or program;
app.: Respecting our elders is seen in the protection of our elders from false or inflammatory remarks about their leadership and the decisions they make.
t.s.: However, with that said, no elder is perfect; Sometimes an elder needs to be corrected;
ill.: Vibe magazine interviewed popular comedian and actor Chris Rock.
When asked, “Were you raised Christian?” Rock answered: “I wasn’t raised anything, to tell you the truth. My grandfather was a…preacher. He was the funniest guy. He used to curse a lot, run around, whatever. A bunch of deacons from his church got arrested for selling coke. Not selling it out of the church, but you know.”
When asked, “Do you ever regret that you don’t have a connection to a long tradition of belief?” Rock replied: “That I’m not Baptist or whatever? And I don’t have this thing to pass down? Not at all. ‘Cause I do have a long tradition of belief. My belief is in working hard and treating people well. All that other stuff is nonsense.”
app.: Ok, there is so much in those statements, but let me just say: Elders Cursing and ‘running around’. That needs to be confronted. Deacons selling cocaine? Elders like that need to be asked to step down. But there is a huge spectrum between an elder participating in illegal behavior and making mistakes. So, just being an elder doesn’t mean he won’t make mistakes. He will. And when he does, he needs to be corrected…
t.s: that is why Paul continues v 20;
Correcting your Elders (20-21)
exp.: when coupled with v 19, this lines up with church discipline as we’ve been taught by Jesus in Matthew 18; We often err, by not going to the member or the elder; and discussing this one-on-one; We hurt the body when we stand in the hallway and criticize our elders (or anyone for that matter); Should one of us have a problem, go and talk directly to him (that’s first); and if he won’t listen… then 2nd, take two or three witnesses and talk this over with him; if he still won’t listen; bring your two or three witnesses and rebuke him in the presence of the body; The process Jesus gives us is for protecting us on all sides:
- It protects the person in sin, by allowing them the opportunity to repent without humiliation before the whole body.
- It protects the person doing the confronting, by allowing them to be corrected if they’re wrong. Most problems like these can be cleared up with a little understanding.
- It protects the body by strengthening these relationships and bringing healing to that one localized area.
Exp.: rd v 21; Paul reminds Timothy not to show partiality to the elders, don’t prejudge them.
t.s.: each one should be Respecting, Protecting, Correcting, and finally Paul reminds them to be careful in …
Selecting your Elders (22-25)
exp.: rd v 22; caution: don’t lay hands on to quickly; 1st, this is for Timothy, not the body; The senior elder has a tremendous responsibility in leading the flock; when he lays his hands on a man who is unqualified, he ‘shares’ in their sins, past and future; κοινωνέω (koinōneō); this is the vb form of Koinonia (n); that is why he says in v 22c; keep (a watchful eye); yourself pure;
ill.: IH Marshall: this can be used of sharing in gifts and experiences or in actions; it may also be used for giving a share in something to somebody. Here the thought is clearly that by showing some kind of positive attitude to a sinner one is approving of the person and thereby sharing in that person’s sins in the sense of sharing in the responsibility and hence the guilt for them.
It makes me think of Chris Rock’s Grandfather and his leaders selling cocaine. And then Paul adds this parenthetical statement: rd v 23; issues of purity and health; So Paul brings his thoughts to a summation in vs 24-25; rd v 24-5; Here is his point: you will recognize an elder before you select them; their good deeds will go before them;
Church, you have a great responsibility in caring for yourself – and it begins in the Leadership you pick. I’m proud of the men you’ve selected. You’ve done a great job.
- Jason Hall
- Joshua Webb
- Phil Baker
- Lyle Skeels
Who is next or who are next? Will you commit this to prayer?
- Prayer for those who lead…
- Prayer for those whom God is bringing…
- The Elders will bring a recommendation, but the church has the final say. So pray…