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THE WORK OF ELDERS (3)

Some Pointed Responsibilities

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.    We have been examining the work of elders for the past two lessons.

 

B.      We are going to look at “The Work of Elders” in one final lesson.

1.      We have entitled this lesson:  “Some Pointed Responsibilities.”

2.      These responsibilities come from various passages in Scripture that have reference to elders.

 

I.                   WATCH AND REMEMBER WARNINGS (Acts 20:29)

 

A.    Paul had called the elders of Ephesus to his side while at Miletus because this would be the last time he would see them.  To them, he addressed what some refer to as “Paul’s Farewell Address.”

 

B.      After reminding them that they are both overseers and pastors (shepherds) of the church, he spoke some sobering words (Acts 20:29-31).

 

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.  Therefore, watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn you night and day with tears.

 

1.      Outside influences:  grievous wolves

2.      Inside influences:  of your own selves

3.      Paul’s influence:  watch, and remember…I ceased not to warn

 

C.     Watch and Remember

1.      Watch

a.      Strong (1127):  to keep awake                       :- to be vigilant

b.      Thayer:  strict attention, be cautious

c.       Vine:  keep awake

2.      Remember

a.      Strong (3421):  to exercise the memory, to recollect

b.      Thayer:  to hold in memory, to keep in mind

c.       Vine:  to call to mind, the keep in mind

 

D.    There are so many things that elders must be always watching:

1.      False teachers

2.      Sin

3.      Apathy

4.      Negligence

5.      Diversion from purpose

6.      Strife and division

7.      Themselves

 

II.                GIVEN TO HOSPITALITY (I Tim. 3:2) 

 

A.    Some of the qualifications of elders also reveal duties of elders.

B.      In I Timothy 3:2, Paul says that elders must be “given to hospitality.”

1.      Hospitality: 

a.      Literally the word means “love of strangers”

b.      An elder must be “fond of guests” and “generous to guests.”

2.      Elders need to open their homes often to members. 

3.      This serves numerous purposes:

a.      It obeys the command to be given to hospitality.

b.      It enables the shepherd to know his sheep.

c.       It enables the sheep to get to know the shepherd.

d.      It develops deep, trusting ties between the elders and the members.  Thus, the members are more willing to follow these men.

 

III.             LABOR IN WORD AND DOCTRINE (I Tim. 5:17)

 

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in word and doctrine.

 

A.    Elders need to be men of the book.

 

B.      They should “labor” in word and doctrine.

1.      Labor

a.      Strong (2872):  to feel fatigue, to work hard

b.      Thayer:  to grow weary, tired, exhausted, to labor with wearisome effort, to toil

2.      Elders should be men who care constantly studying the Word of God.

3.      They spend hours reading, studying meditating, and memorizing the Word of God.

 

C.     This labor enables them to do many things:

1.      Keep the church in the straight and narrow way.

2.      Teach when opportunities arise (See Heb. 13:7, “who have spoken unto you the word of the Lord”)

3.      Know the difference between truth and error.

4.      Enrich their lives as disciples of Christ.

5.      Enable them to make Scriptural decisions for the church.

6.      To enable them to discern between:

a.      The carnal and the spiritual

b.      The wasteful and the useful

c.       The harmful and the helpful

d.      The non-essentials and the essentials

e.       The traditions of men and the traditions of the apostles

f.        The irrelevant and the relevant

g.      The common and the holy

h.      The things desired and the things that are needed

i.        That which is optional and that which is of faith

 

IV.             BE GOOD EXAMPLES

 

A.    Two verses exhort elders to be good examples to the flock.

1.      I Peter 5:3

 

Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

 

 

a.      Ensample

1)      Strong (5179):  tupos       a die as struck, a model for imitation

2)      Thayer:  a mark of a strike or blow, print, an example to be imitated

b.      Elders are the typeset. 

Elders are the writing at the top of the page. 

Elders are the blueprint.

Elders are the picture instructions.

2.      Hebrews 13:7

 

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God:  whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

 

B.      Because they must be men that others can follow, God has set forth a long list of qualifications that these men must possess. 

1.      If they do not possess these qualifications, they are not worthy to be followed in all areas of life.

2.      In fact, if they do not have these qualifications, others will look at them, shake their heads, and laugh.  They will wonder:  “Why should I follow a man who does not conform to the qualifications God has given?”

 

V.                MEN WHO WATCH FOR THE LORD’S RETURN

 

A.    There are two passages that caused me to consider this obligation of elders.

1.      I Peter 5:4

 

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

 

2.      Hebrews 13:17

 

…for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account…

 

B.      If the elders do not keep in mind that the Lord is coming, they could become negligent in their work.

1.      They would quit studying as they should.

2.      They might become negligent in their oversight of the local congregation.

3.      They might not watch for the souls of the flock as they should.

4.      They might not take heed unto themselves.

5.      They might turn their rule over to others who should not have it.

6.      They might allow wolves to enter into the flock.

 

C.     They are watchful of the Lord’s coming.

1.      As shepherds, they will stand before the chief Shepherd.

2.      As elders, they will give account.

3.      If they have been diligent, they will receive a crown of life that fadeth not away.

 

CONCLUSION

 

A.    During the course of this study, we have examined 15 responsibilities of elders.

 

B.      These are serious works.  They should be taken on only by serious men.  This is because they will one day stand before a very serious God.

 

C.     Perhaps after this study, each of us as sheep can understand the need for Paul’s words in two different passages.

1.      I Timothy 5:17a

 

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour…

 

2.      I Thessalonians 5:12-13

 

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.  And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.  And be at peace among yourselves.