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Qualifications for Elders (Part 2)


1 Tim.3:2 “vigilant, sober” (KJV); “Temperate, sober-minded” (ASV).
Tit. 1:8 “sober…temperate” (KJV); “sober-minded…self-controlled” (ASV).
The reader can easily see the similarities in the above words which are listed in the qualifications for elders. Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines the Greek word translated vigilant or temperate as meaning “self-control.” The term translated sober-minded “denotes of sound mind; hence, self-control.” The idea of mastering, controlling or restraining oneself is suggested by all these terms. Such self-control applies to the whole of the man’s life such as his eating, drinking, conversation, temper and habits. He remains watchful (vigilant) over himself in restraining his appetites and passions.
Sober-mindedness suggests that one be serious with life. He will not be known to be light-hearted, or frivolous. His remarks and actions will not be, generally speaking, silly or childish. Of course this does not mean that such a man can never have any humour, or participate in wholesome fun and games. However, it does mean that, as a general rule, he is regarded as being sober-minded, serious, or grave. He must be one capable of obtaining all the facts, and of weighing them carefully before making his decision. He must be able to make wise and just decisions. Serving as an elder is serious business, and only serious-minded men should be appointed to such an office.


1 Tim. 3:2 – “…of good behaviour” (KJV); “orderly” (ASV)
Thayer defines this Greek term Kosmios, as meaning “well-arranged, seemly, modest…a man living with decorum, a well-ordered life.” The life of an elder should be balanced and directed. He is neat in appearance, courteous in manner, and systemic in work. His speech and actions exemplify well-mannered conduct, regardless of the occasion. He respects the law and abides by it. He is peaceable and a peacemaker. Negatively, he will not be insulting, uncouth or boorish. He will not embarrass his wife, children or friends by his remarks in public. He will not be careless or haphazard in his daily work or appearance. The work of elders involves planning, co-ordinating and directing the affairs of the Church. Men with order and a sense of priority in their daily lives are needed to bring the same qualifications into the daily work of the Church.


1 Tim. 3:3 – “Patient” (KJV); “Gentle” (ASV)
Although these two words may suggest different qualities in some respects, they are basically the same in meaning. A patient person will be gentle, and one who is gentle will exercise patience. Other translations render the word, “forbearing, considerate, of a forbearing disposition.” Elders must be men of gentle habits, men who possess patient dispositions. Negatively, they must not be bitter, impatient, unfair, unkind and unpleasant to be around. Positively, an elder must be kind, mild, genteel, refined, polite, and courteous.


Tit. 1:8 states that elders are to be just and holy men. The word “just” applies to his dealings with his fellowman. The term suggests that he be known to deal fairly, honestly, and in an upright manner with all people. He recognizes the rights of others and acts to protect them as much as he would his own. His sense of fairness would forbid him ever refusing to others their rights and privileges. Negatively, he will not be selfish, clannish or biased in his thinking, or in his dealings. He seeks to view a problem objectively and then proceeds to make his decision without partiality.
The term “holy” denotes his personal relationship with God. Thayer says the holy person is “undefiled by sin, free from wickedness, religiously observing every moral obligation, pure, holy pious.” The holy person is one who is right with God. It has been observed that the words “sober, just, holy” present the three sides of human duty – to oneself, to men, and to God. In reality this is the threefold duty God expects of every Christian.

(To be continued)

Richard Harp, Enduring Words, Vol. 2, Issue 5, May 1983


One comment on “Qualifications for Elders (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Qualifications for Elders (Part 6) | We Are Radical

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This entry was posted on 02/05/1983 by in Church, Uncategorized, Worship and tagged , , , , .
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