That a local church can
exist for a time without elders is seen by the fact that churches
established by Paul and Barnabas did exist for a time without such
from this same context it is clear that it was God’s will that in due
time each church should appoint elders. It is easy for us to understand
why each local church needs a plurality of men to serve as its spiritual
leaders, yet such is truly lacking among many churches of Christ today.
It seems amazing to us that the churches established by Paul and
Barnabas did not exist very long before they had men who qualified as
elders. Obviously, something is lacking in our teaching when we fail to
measure up to the pattern of elders in every church
It is certain that we
can’t appoint men to this office who are not truly qualified in
Timothy 3:1-7 and
1:5-9. To appoint
unqualified men to serve in this office would be more disastrous than to
continue for a while without elders. But we must not be content to allow
this condition to continue without special efforts to correct it. It
takes time for men to prepare themselves for this office, and it seems
that very few are willing to truly prepare themselves for it. It is
amazing how the early churches were able to appoint elders so soon after
their establishment. Apparently there must have been Jewish converts
from the various synagogues who already had a good knowledge of the Old
Testament Scriptures, for it is not likely that Gentile converts had
much knowledge of the Scriptures. But it is certain that the apostles
would not have appointed men who did not truly qualify.
It is a sad condition
that, in our day when the Scriptures are so readily available and our
educational standards are a top priority in our society, so few men have
a basic knowledge of the Scriptures. Even a generation ago such
knowledge of the Scriptures was better than it is now. Obviously, there
must be reasons for this unjustified condition among us. Let us here
list what this writer considers to be some of the reasons for this
condition among us:
• Failure on the
part of preachers to teach men the need to prepare themselves for this
office by obtaining a good knowledge of the Scriptures.
• Preachers who don’t like to work under qualified elders and thus
neglect to encourage men to qualify themselves for this office.
• Preachers who feel they know the Scriptures better than most
elders and thus would like to change God’s divine arrangement of a
plurality of qualified shepherds over the flock.
• There are so many events going on in the way of sports and
entertainment that many men are unwilling to put these secular matters
in their proper place, thus fail to set aside time to study the
Scriptures as they should in preparing themselves for this divine
• Some men feel they really do not have to meet the qualifications
given in the Scriptures, and thus make no serious effort to qualify
themselves for this spiritual office.
• Some who are very successful in business leadership seem to feel
they should be appointed on this basis without the need of the
scriptural qualifications, and therefore make no genuine effort to
qualify themselves for this spiritual office.
• Some desire the office thinking this gives them recognition
within the congregation as its rulers rather than providing the needed
spiritual leadership that God intended they should provide. Having
scriptural qualifications doesn’t seem to have entered their mind.
Yes, each local church
needs elders, but it needs the kind of men that God’s word calls for.
Nothing will enhance the growth of a local church more than godly
elders. However, nothing can hurt the cause of Christ more than
appointing men to the office who have neither the qualifications, nor
the proper concept of what this office places on their shoulders as
spiritual leaders. Until men who desire this office clearly understand
the spiritual function of this office, and the need to have a good
foundation knowledge of the Scriptures, they have no business being
appointed to this divinely ordained office of work.
A Clarification on the Legalism Quote
The Consequence of Confusion
The Scriptural Work of Elders
The Booing Spectators