The office of elder in the first century church was an important one. As such, Scripture includes specific qualifications for a church elder. To be clear, we should note that Scripture uses several words to refer to “elder” including bishop, overseer, elder, presbyter, shepherd, and pastor. These are all used interchangeably across different Bible translations from the same Greek words, “presbuteros,” “poimen,” and “episkopos.”

“Church” today has become a big business. Given the complex and legal challenges that a church might be faced with, it might seem logical to consider business, management, or even legal experience for church elder qualification. What does Scripture show us?

how Scripture answers "What are the qualifications for church elder?"

The church elder (e.g. overseer1,2,4, pastor3, shepherd4,5) is one of several official roles in the local church3,4. The qualifications for a church elder that are found in Scripture are:

  1. An office that is desired1,5 and aspired toward2.
  2. A man1,2 that has demonstrated he manages his household with all dignity2 (since he will have oversight of God’s household)1,2
    • …of one wife1,2, with
    • believing children1 that are under control2 and respect his authority1.
  3. From those outside the church he should have a perfect reputation1 and well thought of2 so that he does not fall into a trap by the devil2.
  4. His personal character should be hospitable1,2 and looking for ways to do good1, serious-minded2, self-controlled1,2 and temperate1, gentle2, and not arrogant1, greedy or after money1,2,5, hot-headed1, given to wine1,2, violent1,2 or argumentative2.
  5. He must be upright and holy1,5 in the faith and not a recent convert2, being true to the word of the gospel and able to not only effectively teach the truth2 but also stand against false doctrine1,4.

It should be noted that we see no requirements around business, management, or legal experience. If these qualifications for church elder as laid out in Scripture seem inadequate in some way, maybe our understanding of “church” and the “body of Christ” need realignment?

our answer is built on the following scripture-blocks

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