Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jon On Elders

Jon at Jon's Journey shares some excellent thoughts in a recent post entitled Levites Priests and Elders.

I'm particularly interested in what Jon writes about elders. He makes a solid case that what we see in the Old Testament should inform how we think about elders in the New Testament. According to Jon, "Throughout the Old Testament we also see many references to elders. Elders had a recognized role in the Jewish community. They were older men with experience that the community respected and relied on for guidance."

Jon continues regarding the New Testament, "As the church expanded into non-Jewish communities, older respected men were recognized as elders in these new communities as well.

By using the term elder, I believe the writers of the New Testament had a different role in mind that what we tend to see today. There is no evidence these elders were responsible for religious buildings, church programs, church organizational policy, or church staff. There is no evidence they were elected for a limited term, and then became non-elder laity again a few years later.

I believe the role of elders is important, and it makes sense to study what the Bible has to say on the topic. Consider who are the older respected people in your life. Recognize who they are. Go to them for advice and guidance. Let them influence you. And at some stage in life you may play the role of elder to others in your community."

I appreciate that Jon is trying to understand what the scripture writers actually meant when they used the term elder. Only when we have correct definitions in mind will we truly understand the bible.

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