QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS

Click on the hyperlinks to see the Greek definition of the term used.

I Timothy 3:1-7
1 This is a true saying, If a man desire <3713> the office of a bishop <1984>, he desireth <1937> a good work <2041>.
2 A bishop <1985> then must be blameless <423>, the husband <435> of one wife, vigilant <3524>, sober <4998>, of good behaviour <2887>, given to hospitality <5382>, apt to teach <1317>;
3 Not given to wine <3943>, no striker <4131>, not greedy of filthy lucre <146>; but patient <1933>, not a brawler <269>, not covetous <866>;
4 One that ruleth <4291> well his own house, having his children in subjection <5292> with all gravity <4587>;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule <4291> his own house, how shall he take care of <1959> the church of God?)
6 Not a novice <3504>, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good report <3141> of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.


Titus 1:6-9
6 If any be blameless <0410>, the husband <0435> of one wife, having faithful <4103> children not accused <1722> of riot <0810> or unruly <0506>.

7 For a bishop <1985> must be blameless <0410>, as the steward <3623> of God; not selfwilled <0829>, not soon angry <3711>, not given to wine <3943>, no striker <4131>, not given to filthy lucre <0146>;

8 But a lover of hospitality <5382>, a lover of good men <5358>, sober <4998>, just <1342>, holy <3741>, temperate <1468>;

9 Holding fast <0472> the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine <1319> both to exhort <3870> and to convince <1651> the gainsayers <0483>.

I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9

External Qualifications
<0435> Husband of one wife / male - aner
<4103> Faithful children / believers - pistos
<5292> Obedient children - hupotage
<4291> Rule house / manage household - proistemi
<3623> Steward of God / manager- oikonomos
<3504> Not a novice / not a new believer - neophutos
<3141> Good report / testimony - marturia

Spiritual Qualities
<3741> Holy / pious - hosios
<1342> Just / virtuous - dikaios
<1933> Patient / gentle - epieikes
<4998> Sober / self-controlled - sophron
<1468> Temperate / self-disciplined - egkrates

Personal Character
<0146> Not greedy / not money hungry - aischrokerdes
<0866> Not covetous / not avaricious - aphilarguros
<0410> Blameless / irreproachable - anegkletos
<0423> Blameless / unaccused - anepileptos
<0829> Not self-willed / not self-indulgent - authades
<0269> Not brawler / not contentious- amachos
<3711> Not prone to anger / not quick tempered - orgilos
<4131> No striker / not quarrelsome - plektes
<3943> Not given to wine / not drunken - paroinos
<3524> Sober / calm / without wine - nephaleos
<2887> Good behavior / orderly life - kosmios

Personal Abilities
<3713> Eager Desire / reaching for - oregomai
<1317> Able to teach / skillful teacher - didaktikos
<1651> Able to convince / refute - elegcho
<3870> Able to exhort / admonish/comfort - parakaleo
<0472> Holding fast / hold on to - antechomai
<5358> Lover of good / loving goodness - philagathos
<5382> Lover of hospitality / hospitable - philoxenos

Click any of the numbers above to see a definition and biblical useage.

External Qualifications

<0435> Husband of one wife / male - aner
There is no apparent quality definition in the word "aner" which means husband. It also means a male. Which should give us a clear sense of meaning that a woman cannot be an elder. Now this flies in the face of some modern theologies on the liberation of women but it seems quite emphatic on the part of the apostle Paul that women had no such role in the church. A study of Pauline attitude towards women may offend the feminists of our day, and may seem to us to be culturally insensitive in todayís world but remember we are not to be governed by this changing worldís standards but by the eternal, changeless Word of God.

Others have derived from this qualification that Paul was prohibiting divorced and remarried men from serving as elders. Still others specify that this disqualifies single men from serving. In such a case Paul himself evidently would not qualify being a single man. Yet Paul clearly calls himself an elder and an apostle. What then is the clear meaning intended here? We may never know for certain. Let us therefore employ good hermaneutical principles of biblical interpretation; "When the first sense makes good sense, seek no other sense."

<4103> Faithful children / believers - pistos
The godliness of onesí children does not qualify and individual to be an elder but it is evident that a father who has not been able to lead his own household to faith in Christ and to godly character should not be set over the house of God lest the same thing happen in the church. "How then shall he rule/oversee the house of God?" One might infer from this that they also must "believers," for that is the meaning of "pistos." It cannot mean simply well-behaved since that is addressed in the next

<5292> Obedient children - hupotage
The sense seems to be that the children need to be well disciplined, not rebellious. In comparing Scripture with Scripture we come to a better understanding of the apostles intent. Example is the issue. People follow good examples. If a manís household is not worthy to be replicated then he should not be an elder.

I Timothy 3:4 "having his children in subjection <5292> with all gravity <4587>;" and Titus 1:6 "having faithful <4103> children not accused <1722> of riot <810> or unruly <506>."

<4291> Rule house / cause to stand - proistemi
To "rule" oneís house is the first evidence that there is leadership potential and the giftedness required of an elder. Home life is not irrelevant to the office of elder. The home is the first church - "the church that is in your house." A father is the head of his household. His first responsibility before God is to that mini-church. How he manages that household will determine whether he is fit to be graduated to manage the house of God. Put your own house in order then look after the church.

<3504> Not a novice / not a new believer - neophutos
Maturity is spiritual matters is a requirement to the office of elder. A new believer has not been tested. He has not had enough time to prove himself faithful. He has not had the opportunity to show his metal under fine. How will he react when the going gets tough? Only time will tell. Seasoned veterans cannot be hurried. Good wine must ferment and the longer the better. No requirement is set for the age of an elder, though in Israel 30 years of age was a requirement for leadership in the congregation. It is years of experience that is being measured not chronological age.

<3141> Good report / good testimony - marturia
Solomon said a manís good name is a rare and precious jewel. It does matter what other people think of you. (Proverbs 22:1 & Ecclesiastes 7:1) You as an elder are men on display, as Paul said, "Known and read of all men." (2 Corinthians 3:2) Let the church decide the quality and good report of its elders. This is why Paul insists that an elder be "above reproach, and blameless or unaccusable." His reputation is the reputation of Christ and the church. Elders are to be Christ-like in conduct and character. Character plays a very important role in the selection of elders as we will see later.

Spiritual Qualifications

<3741> Holy / pious - hosios
Holiness is a very subjective thing. It is internal. It is private. Who can be holy? Who among us thinks of himself as holy? Yet the Word tells us that "without holiness no man will see the Lord," and "Be holy for I am holy." Holiness here is not sinless perfection else no one would stand. But holiness is an attitude of heart. It is a longing after purity. It is having a heart for God and the things of God. David said, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you O God." That is holiness.

<1342> Just / virtuous - dikaios
Elders are often called on to be judges. This was true when Moses first selected elders over the people and it is still true today. It is important that they be impartial and fair. A elder needs to be one who can put aside his personal likes and dislikes, and his own personal preconceived ideas and judge a matter fairly and objectively. Rash people and people quick to rush to judgement do not make good elders. That means an elder must put aside personal politics, friendships and be equally fair with friend or foe.

<4998> Sober / self-controlled - sophron
Literally it means a mind safe from danger or a mind that is properly fenced in. Paul uses this word four times in reference to eldership. It has the sense of a sword that is made of hardened steel. 1) of a sound mind, sane, in one's senses 2) curbing one's desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate

<1468> Temperate / self-disciplined - egkrates
"Eg" is preposition meaning on or with, "Krates" is dominion or strength. It gives the meaning of one who has a strong sense of self discipline. He is a well disciplined person, not sloppy or careless. He makes himself do what he knows is good for him, even when it is hard. 1) strong, robust 2) having power over, possessed of (a thing) 3) mastering, controlling, curbing, restraining 3a) controlling one's self, temperate, continent

<1933> Patient / gentle - epieikes
It is often translated as "gentle." It is also translated "moderation." It is the combination of "epi," to be on, and "eikes," to be like, a copy of something. The idea being "nice enough to be copied." Likeable, easy going. The kind of person you donít mind being with. Twice it is coupled with "easy to get along with."

Personal Character

<0146> Not greedy/or money hungry - aischrokerdes
Paul seems excessively concerned about the matter of money in the life of an elder. Why? "The love of money is the root of all evil." Paul knew that in his day as in ours there are certain things that easily turn away men from serving the Lord. Loving oneís job more than loving oneís God is at issue here. On the spiritual side of this it is important that an elder be a tither. No excuses! If Jesus is not Lord of your money he is not Lord of your life.

<0866> Not covetous / not avaricious - aphilarguros
The other side of the coin, to use a pun, is that enticement with gain can become an stumbling block. We all know there are some men who would use the Word of God as a get rich quick gimmick. They donít usually start out with that intent but the incitement to get a profit, to turn a buck, make money off this ministry is a snare. Pastorís beware! The writing of books, selling of tapes, or taking of offerings is not what the ministry is all about. Money matters often hinder Godís work. Beware!

<0410> Blameless / irreproachable - anegkletos
designates one against whom there is no accusation, implying not acquittal of a charge, but that no charge has been made. "egkaleo" from which the word is derived means "to call into question" Therefore anyone who is of questionable qualifications should not be considered for eldership. It is the dubious nature of his character that disqualifies him. His righteousness is not clear.

<0423> Blameless / unaccused - anepileptos
The root you will recognize are the root for our word "epilepsy." The meaning is a snag or snare, or weakness that can drag one down. The word derives from "seizure." It means irreprehensible, designating one who affords nothing upon which an adversary might seize, in order to make a charge against him. O put it in practical terms, not one who can be accused of "falling down" on the job.

<0829> Not self-willed / not self-indulgent - authades
Comes from the root word "hedone" from which we get the word "hedonism." We get out English word "Selfish" from it. It is anything that is self-pleasing, self-willed, arrogant, conceited. A self-willed person is a person in love with himself. He will not be submissive to authority therefore should not be given authority. He is the lord of his live and Christ is not Lord Supreme. Self is still on the throne of his life.

<0269> Not brawler / not contentious- amachos
The root is "mache" from which we get the word "macho." It is one who is contentious, argumentative, hard-to-get-along-with, who muscles in on others. He is pushy. One who arms for battle.

<3711> Not prone to anger / quick tempered - orgilos
The root of the word is "orge" from which we get the word. One enflamed by his passions or emotions. One who exhibits a natural disposition to be angry. "An angry man abounds in transgression." Ė Prov 29:22 Temper flare ups should not be a normal scene in an elders life and ministry.

<4131> No striker / not quarrelsome - plektes
Literally, a bruiser, or a bully. One who lashes out at others either physically or verbally. He is an abusive person whether at home, at work, or at church. Nothing should disqualify a man for eldership faster than a bad attitude, and a contentious spirit. Grouches need not apply.

<3943> Not given to wine / not drunken - paroinos
Literally, means "with wine." One addicted to the bottle or any other drug dependency.

<3524> Sober / calm / without wine - nephaleos
One who is modest in conduct. Temperate or under control. A calm and collected spirit. It does not necessarily refer to wine at all but to a orderly personal life.

<2887> Good behavior / orderly life - kosmios
It is used to describe apparel as "modest." In good taste. He is one about whom others will say, "Good choice! Thatís a good fit."

Personal Abilities

<3713> Eager Desire / reaching for - oregomai
This particular qualification is of great concern in our day and age. An elder must "want" to be an elder. He must long to be a man of God. There is nothing more noble in his world view than to be a servant of the Living God. He is humbled by it. He surrenders himself wholly to it. It is his calling from the Lord. Too often we have to convince elders to serve. We have to water down the requirements and make it almost a negligible work to gain their consent to serve. These ought not to serve.

<1317> Able to teach / skillful teacher - didaktikos
"Skillful in the art of teaching" does not mean that one needs a degree in teaching. It is not a matter of oneís secular education or educational level. It is a gift of God, a desire and need to pass on to others what you yourself have learned. It is that eagerness to impart light, to show the way to others. He has an enthusiasm for the Word. He loves the Word. Psalm 1 and Psalm 19 are his passion.

<1651> Able to convince / refute - elegcho
It literally means "to find fault with." It is the willingness and ability to reprove, rebuke, convince, tell (one's) fault, and bring conviction to others in things that are not what they ought to be. Paul commands Timothy to "reprove, correct and instruct with all patience." An elder needs to be a man of courage who is not ashamed to call a spade a spade. He tells it like it is. He is bold when it comes to the Word. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvationÖ"

<3870> Able to exhort / admonish - parakaleo
The Holy Spirit is given the name "Comforter" which in Greek is "parakletos." It is one who is summoned, called to one's side, especially called to one's aid. An elder is to have this character too. He is the helper. The one who comes along side to assist in their spiritual walk by giving support and encouragement. Hebrews 2:8 uses a derivative of the word with the old King James word "succour." "For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." It is this commiserating identification with the sufferer that is to be the character of the elder. Not just empathizing but providing aid and assurance that everything will turn out all right.

<0472> Holding fast / hold out against - antechomai
Able to withstand, endure, to put oneself on the line in the fight for truth. He is tenacious and tough. He is anchored to the solid rock which cannot move. Therefore he is as paul said in I Corinthians 15:58 "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." Titus 1: 9 "Holding fast <472> the faithful word as he hath been taught."

<5358> Lover of good/loving goodness - philagathos
He is a lover of excellence. A lover of all things that are good. He rejoices in the good that he sees. He revels in it. He isnít overwhelmed by evil but he overcomes evil with good. Therefore in adversity he has learned to see the good and rejoice in it. He has learned Philippians 4:8 "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Elders have to see a lot of the bad things within the church. They see the dirt. Therefore elders should have the ability to see the good in every situation as well as the bad.

<5382> Lover of hospitality / hospitable - philoxenos
"Xenos" means foreigner or stranger. The elder is to be a lover of strangers. He is to be hospitable. He loves to meet new people. He welcomes them with open arms. His home is open for fellowship, not only with the well-known and familiar saints, but especially to those new to the community of faith. He is guest conscious in the church context. He looks for the stranger in their midst and makes him feel at home, wanted and welcomed.