Greetings to the Father, Son, Spirit, angels and saints in Christ. The book of Acts has revealed the interesting application of the word “elder” in the early church. Today, I would like to draw your attention to Acts 20: 17, 28 – 35 in which the Apostle Paul used the terms elder and overseer synonymously when addressing the elders of the Ephesian church, where he had spent three years laboring in the word and doctrine. Strong’s in blueletterbible.com, show that the word overseer or episkopos referred to either “an overseer, a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly,” or “any curator, guardian or superintendent the superintendent, elder, or overseer of a Christian church”. Paul told the elders that they were guardians. Their role as elder/overseers/guardians was described in these passages of scripture. In order to fully understand the importance of this scripture, we need to understand that it was Paul’s final meeting with these men in the role of general overseer. This was because of his impending departure to Jerusalem where he was expected to be captured by the Jews,as the disciples prophesied everywhere. Paul was not deterred, however, because later said that he had been sent by the Lord to Jerusalem to preach the gospel. He knew what lay in wait. These scriptures can therefore be seen as his last will and testament for the church at Ephesus in relation to the role of the elders.

ELDERS FEED THE CHURCH OF GOD

Paul imparted the gravity of their roles by reminding the elders that they had been chosen by the Holy Ghost (v 28). We can deduce from Acts 13 and Acts 14: 23, that Paul had used prayer and fasting as the means for selecting the elders of the early church. What an act to follow! The elders’ role was to labor in the word and doctrine or to “feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (v 28). This is the command that the Lord had given to Peter. How many of us have been given the mandate to “feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood?” Why did Paul add the reminder that the church had been purchased with the blood of the Lord? He did so because he wanted to remind the elders of the magnitude of the sacrifice that the Lord had gone through to call out a people for Himself. He wanted to remind the elders that the church of God was very precious to Him and that it too should be very precious to them. How do we perceive the church of the Lord today? What is the diet that we are feeding to the church of God? Is it the pure, unadulterated word of God? Is the flock growing in grace and resembling the Lord?

ELDERS WATCH OUT FOR GRIEVOUS WOLVES

Paul also exhorted the elders to watch for grievous wolves and prevent their entry into the flock. He warned the elders that these wolves would come in from outside the church and steal, kill and destroy with false doctrines. Furthermore, they were to watch for those among them who would teach perverse things and draw the flock away. This is a really serious duty and requires that elders be in prayer. This is how we watch. Elders should pray and listen to the leading of the Lord and deal with the issues that arise that could lead people astray. Paul himself had set the example when the believers who held to circumcision for salvation had come in to teach the gentiles that they needed to be circumcised to be saved. Paul was certainly no easy man to deal with when defending the faith.

ELDERS SUPPORT THE WEAK

Paul reminded the elders of the example that he had set while laboring in the word and doctrine among them. He did not at any time take advantage of the believers by coveting their stuff and demanding returns for his labor in the Lord. He worked with his hands in order to support himself and the ministers who had accompanied him. those who had come with . He was also a generous giver to those in need as he implied in Acts 20: 35. I don’t know how much time he spent in income earning, but his desire was that the elders follow his work and labor of love to the brethren. I hope that Paul’s example and exhortation would serve as a source of encouragement to modern day elders and may God bless you richly. Remember that your work is not in vain in the Lord. Blessings until next time.

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