What is meant by the term ELDER

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What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby Bare_Truth » Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:36 pm

Ok, I expect a lot of different answers to this one as there appear to be several differences between the various uses of the terms translated "Elder" in the Bible. Ranging from the 70 elders that advised Moses in the old testament, to the elders who were to be called upon to anoint the sick, James 5:14, and the elders which were ordained in all the churches Acts 14 23, and in every city. Titus 1:5

Then of course there are all the different congregations and denominations that may have various different meanings for the term. And knowing which denomination uses what definition would also be nice to know. And sometimes that definition will depend on what duties, rights and privileges are attached to that title.

It appears that I may be called upon to present a study of what is the intent when the various scriptures that are translated into English are really referring to when the English word "Elder" is used. The study is not intended to establish doctrine per se, but to try to lift the fog of confusion that results from the various things this word is intended to reference.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby Jim » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:20 am

As is often the case, the word "elder" has a variety of meanings. It seems that sometimes it is just an older person, but usually it is an office. I don't have much familiarity with the use in the Old Testament. In the New Testament it refers sometimes to Jewish leaders and sometimes to leaders in the church. I expect the church leader meaning is what most of us would be interested in.

The similar descriptions in Titus and 1 Timothy describe the qualifications of the church leader translated elder, overseer, presbyter (Greek πρεσβύτερος) or bishop.

Titus 1.6-9 wrote:An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, with faithful children who cannot be charged with dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be blameless as one entrusted with God’s work, not arrogant, not prone to anger, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy for gain. Instead he must be hospitable, devoted to what is good, sensible, upright, devout, and self-controlled. He must hold firmly to the faithful message as it has been taught,1 so that he will be able to give exhortation in such healthy teaching and correct those who speak against it.

The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money. He must manage his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity.note But if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God? He must not be a recent convert or he may become arrogant and fall into the punishment that the devil will exact. And he must be well thought of by those outside the faith, so that he may not fall into disgrace and be caught by the devil’s trap.


It does not seem duties and authority are so well defined. In Acts they were involved in financial distributions (11.30) and meetings with the apostles about doctrine (chapter 15).

They laid hands on people, probably to bless them in some work and might prophecy (1 Timothy 4.14). They also anointed the sick and prayed for healing (James 5.14). Annoint here means to rub with oil, and a full body annointing was common, which may be of interest to us naturists.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby Petros » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:40 am

This will not help.

In most natural cultures, the olfer and more experienced men make the decisions which the young and strong men implement.

But people vary. Not everyone is sage enough to be an alderman, whatever his age. A man may be an elder if he has a family and wisdom, even though he is half the average elder age. So it becomes not an agegrade but a rank.

And that may lead to new-hatched teens being appointed elders.

There is often a detectable evolution - but elder means what Big Brother - or the Org, or Society - says it means.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby Maverick » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:49 pm

I have heard pretty much the same as what Jim delineated very well above. I'm pretty sure my Baptist church doesn't do this, but according to my dad, who grew up in a Baptist church in Georgia in the 1960s, there was a differentiation made between elders and deacons. Deacons can pass the offering plate, participate in church governance, be a big(ger) part of church ministry, etc., but elders are the "wise sages" who act sort of like a Board of Directors of a business might. In other words, they would have the final say about things like hiring/firing ministers, building new buildings, etc.

In this differentiation, I've also heard that there is no problem with a church having women deacons (and I don't have a problem with that either), but that the elders should always be men who fit the bill in Titus and 1 Timothy, as Jim wrote.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby naturaldon » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:31 pm

Petros wrote:And that may lead to new-hatched teens being appointed elders.

I've known several men who, as teens, were quite elder-ish in their spiritual deportment. And I've known some men who, as elderly, were quite juvenile in theirs. Not only have I known, but I do know now of some of each. Sadly, in my role I actually have more trust in many young men than in many older I know.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby Bare_Truth » Thu Sep 21, 2017 9:55 am

I am about to pose an interpretation of scripture to which some of you might justifiably have the reaction "Well, DUH! Obviously!" Or maybe not. But cut me some slack on this point because so far as I can remember I have always been around churches that used the word "Elder" as the title of a church office, but what if it is not intended that way by writers of the New Testament? What if it is a term which was always intended to have a broader social usage? This concept started to form in my head when I noted that in the new testament that the word Elder overwhelming seems to occur in the Plural, that is to say Elders
Consider if you will what might have been meant in Chapter 14 of acts where the scribe wrote: 23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
and also in the first chapter of his epistle to Titus, Paul wrote: 5 ............ and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
Churches that regard the term "elder" as the title of a church office read these as commands to make persons into "Elders" by ordaining them to that office. But is it appropriate to instead read these passages in the sense of ordaining only those who are already acknowledged as being mature men of wisdom to church offices such as Deacon or Bishop, laying hands on them that they might receive the power of the holy spirit relevant to the office that they are to fulfill? Or in other words saying that from the elders of the congregation, ordain suitable men to the offices of deacon or bishop!

Indeed there is a warning to Timothy specifically not to ordain a younger inexperienced man
In 1st Timothy Chapter3, cautioning Timothy about ordaining a Bishop, Paul wrote: 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
So then while many churches use the term "Elder" as title for a church office, particularly an ordained office, perhaps it was never intended to denote an office but rather to identify mature intelligent and wise and godly faithful men, from among which, church offices might be filled, and who might otherwise be called upon in cases of special prayer or other service such as healings as we see in James 5:14,
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby dv8 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:09 pm

This discussion is quite timely for me, since I will be interviewed tomorrow to see if I should stand to be an Elder in our local congregation, a Presbyterian church. Mostly the interview is about me asking the Session member what is meant by the term, and what are the expectations. I understand it is a role of decision-making for the church, and also availability to extend communion both in worship services and also taken to shut-ins. I've never been in a congregation before that had this role so it is unfamiliar in the sense that there is more formality with it. From my own background, communion would be shared in a group of 2-3 or more who had gathered "in Jesus' name" - regardless of there being anyone present in an ordained position.

If I learn anything useful I will certainly pass that along.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby New_Adventurer » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:10 am

When my new wife and I were going to the First Presbyterian Church of Inglewood in southern California, I was invited to be an Elder. My first reaction was why me? What did they see in me? I did take the job and did what was reported to be a good job, but had to resign after two years because we were moving to northern California in anticipation of our first child's birth; I was 29 at the time. All that was in the mid ’70s.

The Session runs the Church, the congregation’s powers are limited to electing the elders, approving the call of pastors, and approving the budget. The real governance is by Session committees whose recommendations are approved by the Session, and the Session only recommends senior pastor candidates and budgets to the congregation. All other staff positions and associate pastors are hired by the Session. In all the Presbyterian churches I have been associated with, the church is also a civil corporation and the state mandated trustees are recommended by the Session and approved by the congregation; the trustees may or may not be elders. Also, in the Presbyterian structure the churches in the local area are grouped into another entity called the Presbytery. The Presbytery is the actual title holder of the local church’s property

The Elders assist the Pastor in serving Communion to the congregation, although the Deacons are the ones who generally assemble the bread and wine onto serving trays.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby Bare_Truth » Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:51 am

dv8 wrote:This discussion is quite timely for me, since I will be interviewed tomorrow to see if I should stand to be an Elder in our local congregation, a Presbyterian church.

Your post was apparently written at 9:09 PM EDT and here it is 4:07 AM CDT, (5:07 AM EDT) a mere 7 hours later, So possibly you will see this if you check your e-mail fairly early in the morning. So, Particularly if you see this before your interview, I am wondering what your thoughts are with respect to how your naturism will influence the outcome of that interview.
-- Are the Presbyterians open in their acceptance of the practice of naturism by their elders or will there be a negative impact?
-- Even if not asked by others, would you in the interest of full disclosure, bring the matter up?
-- If you were asked about your naturist involvement would you tell them where they might find your on-line postings relevant to naturism
-- If you shared with them about your "On Line Naturist Postings" How would you characterize to them your screen name "DV8" so that they would not see it as deviant from Christian Practice?
-- Within the Presbyterian practice, is the office of "elder" one that is sought, or is one merely expected to be called to it by the government of the congregation/church? (E.G. Some churches regard seeking an office as "self promotion" while others view it as aligned with:
In chapter 3 of 1st Timothy the Apostel Paul wrote: 1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
Which seems to imply that aspiring to a church office for the right reasons is a good thing.)

dv8 wrote: Mostly the interview is about me asking the Session member what is meant by the term, and what are the expectations.
That is a good thing on two points.
-- Getting a good inside look at just what you would be getting into.
-- I am hoping you will be able to report back just what the Presbyterian definition of an elder is so that we can see at least one official definition of what the office of elder is.

dv8 wrote:I've never been in a congregation before that had this role so it is unfamiliar in the sense that there is more formality with it.
Well then, it is a good thing that the "Interview" has an element of you interviewing them as well as (I assume) vice-versa.

[quote=""dv8]I've never been in a congregation before that had this role so it is unfamiliar in the sense that there is more formality with it. From my own background, communion would be shared in a group of 2-3 or more who had gathered "in Jesus' name" - regardless of there being anyone present in an ordained position.[/quote]That is most interesting, but it raises the question as to what your former background/"churc haffiliation" was and the path that has brought you to where you are now.

[quote=""dv8]If I learn anything useful I will certainly pass that along.[/quote]I certainly think that would be very appropriate to the focus of this strip and I, (and I believe others), will be most interested to read what you have to pass along.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby dv8 » Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:49 am

I (obviously) don't log in all that often, but I happened to check this morning and so I saw this post. I'll do my best to quickly reply:
Bare_Truth wrote:Your post was apparently written at 9:09 PM EDT and here it is 4:07 AM CDT, (5:07 AM EDT) a mere 7 hours later, So possibly you will see this if you check your e-mail fairly early in the morning. So, Particularly if you see this before your interview, I am wondering what your thoughts are with respect to how your naturism will influence the outcome of that interview.
-- Are the Presbyterians open in their acceptance of the practice of naturism by their elders or will there be a negative impact?
This I do not know. It certainly isn't a major tenet of the faith, from what little I have learned in the past 15 months.
-- Even if not asked by others, would you in the interest of full disclosure, bring the matter up?
It is my intention to do so, although I expect I'll raise the matter first with the pastor, and only take it to the Session if she recommends I do so.
-- If you were asked about your naturist involvement would you tell them where they might find your on-line postings relevant to naturism
Yes. I believe I represent myself honestly on these online forums, so if something I have said here is deemed inappropriate, they should be free to see it and judge me as I am.
-- If you shared with them about your "On Line Naturist Postings" How would you characterize to them your screen name "DV8" so that they would not see it as deviant from Christian Practice?
I believe there is a clear and significant difference between the "deviate" my screen name implies - I have chosen a path that deviates from the one I was raised in or what is a cultural norm - versus "deviant," which carries a connotation of "aberrant" or "perverted." I trust my fellows not to have trouble with that, but I will enter the conversation gladly if they want to have it.
-- Within the Presbyterian practice, is the office of "elder" one that is sought, or is one merely expected to be called to it by the government of the congregation/church? (E.G. Some churches regard seeking an office as "self promotion" while others view it as aligned with:
In chapter 3 of 1st Timothy the Apostel Paul wrote: 1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
Which seems to imply that aspiring to a church office for the right reasons is a good thing.)
The post is one of nomination; that is, one does not stand for Elder unless a certain number of the congregation recommend it; I do not know the critical number, whether it be one or more.
dv8 wrote:If I learn anything useful I will certainly pass that along.
I certainly think that would be very appropriate to the focus of this strip and I, (and I believe others), will be most interested to read what you have to pass along.
The session interview is today, but the conversation with the pastor would come later, if I decide to let my name stand. And I appreciate the words of wisdom and thoughtfulness here. Thank you!

Peace!
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby Bare_Truth » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:10 am

Wishing the best of outcomes for you, whatever that may be, God knows the best for his church and his children, His will be done.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby New_Adventurer » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:29 pm

In 2010 I applied for membership in a local naturist club that required three references. I gave them the name of a co-worker, former pastor, and current pastor; both are Presbyterian. No one even batted an eye, they just signed the form for me. The following year I began courting a nice lady, but she had issues with my membership, so I resigned from the club. She grew up Lutheran and also attended a Baptist church, so we started going to all three services. Skip ahead four years, the pastor retires and we get a new pastor who has his own agenda and style. Then he said that since I was now retired I could become an evangelist. No, not my style. Later in the conversation I mentioned that I enjoyed visiting nudist resorts and he acted shocked. "You mean you just let it all hang out?" "Yes, I do and yes it does." Thereafter he treated me the same as everyone else and it was not an issue for us. Last year I decided I did not like the declining membership problems, changing from traditional hymns to more contemporary soul music, and a half-dozen other issues, so I joined the Lutheran church.

My interpretation of all that was a lot of people seem to have an unreasonable fear of skin, and I do not know why. If anyone asks, stand up straight and tell them without apologizing. There is nothing in Presbyterian doctrine that I know about denouncing naturism as we know it.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby naturaldon » Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:50 pm

New_Adventurer wrote:There is nothing in Presbyterian doctrine that I know about denouncing naturism as we know it.

There's nothing in Baptist doctrine either about naturism, pro or con. Probably not in most denominations that I'm aware of. Since nakedness is talked about in the Bible a lot, I think anyone who tried to make a doctrinal statement about it would be hard-pressed to get very far, especially when someone points out that the naked body is the penultimate creation of God. What do you do with that?

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then I guess nakedness is in the eye of the naysayer. And I'm sure there are plenty of the latter in every church.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby dv8 » Sat Sep 30, 2017 11:03 pm

I now know more of what an "Elder" is to the Presbyterian church, at least where my wife and I now attend. It is an ordained position, meaning that matters of faith and faithfulness are judged by the Session, so that the nominee is judged whether or not to be suitable, and the ordination process includes declarations of belief and vows of service to the congregation. The ordination is perpetual - unless the elder does something to violate the vows taken - although the term of service varies based on the needs of the congregation.

I elected to allow my name to stand, and told the Session member I would have a further conversation with the pastor. That conversation - or at least the first one - happened this afternoon. Results as follows:

I still don't know if there is a minimum number of nominations required before the Session would take up a name; I was told today that my name came up more than any other at this time. Believe it or not, I am below the average age in this congregation, and so I suppose I look like "fresh blood." In our conversation I talked about the fact that I am not Presbyterian - I don't know the tenets of reformed theology, and I don't know the reasoning for some of the worship rituals we follow. Pastor Stephanie replied that she was fairly certain that most elders don't know all of the confessions, and that's all right :wink: . Since ordination will include acknowledgement of those tenets, and since I don't know them, I thought I'd share my understanding of the authority of scriptures, and she was comfortable with that brief statement from me. So far, so good.

So then I did it; I told her there is more about me that I thought she should know, and I told her I am a naturist - a term she didn't know. I described naturism as "ethical nudism," a belief in the rightness and beauty of social nudity, and a desire to be nude in nature. Unfortunately, the time to return to our next session at retreat was coming up, so we didn't have much time beyond that, but when I asked her if she thought that would be an issue, she said she didn't believe so, but she had never come across this before. I said she was free to share with the Session if she felt she should, but just to let me know - and that I'd rather stand down than cause a ruckus. I suspect she'll have a more considered response in a few days. That's where things are for the moment.
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Re: What is meant by the term ELDER

Postby Bare_Truth » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:28 am

dv8,
First of all, I am following your situation with "high interest". If I am to understand the context of the events, I do need to ask for what definition you have for the term "session" Normally that term has some sort of "time sense" to it (e.g. "the session lasted for 5 days") yet I sense that in the usage you have made of the term that it means something different (perhaps it means some sort of deliberative body that has a changing membership over time and a single session is defined by having the same membership, and when the membership is changed then the session ends and a new one begins.) e.g. the various congresses of the United States government from one general election to the next.
In which case the various "sessions" can have a radically different composition and orientation as to objectives or viewpoints.

If my understanding of the definition of "session" is correct, then the understanding of the statement, "The ordination is perpetual - unless the elder does something to violate the vows taken", is variable depending on who is interpreting what is meant by a "violation of the vows" and the criteria by which a variation is to be judged. So that if at one time a person's conduct is judged to be Chaste while they are a naturist and at another time their identical conduct is judged to be lewd, their service may be considered a beneficial blessing and at another timean insidious corruption. And in that case it may (and often does) require only one opinionated persuasive person to sway the judgment of the governing group.

While one can take such a situation, on the basis of a servant willing to help the group in accordance with the desires of the majority, the process can and often does generate acrimony and vilification and recrimination, and becomes very unpleasant. E.G. as to how bad that can get,, the adherence to "ill set" and misapplied and inappropriate precedents was a major factor in getting Jesus killed ! That is an extreme example, I admit, but my point is that things can get nasty.

Accordingly, it is no wonder that Paul found it necessary and prudent to advise Timothy so extensively as to the character needed for person to serve the needs of the congregation, citing various facets of maturity and temperament (not to mention a tough hide and a gentle and forgiving nature!)

1st Timothy 3: (Bible in Basic English, BBE annotated)
2 The Bishop, episkopos; a superintendent, i.e. Christian officer in charge of a (or the) church (literally or figuratively):--bishop, overseer. then, is to be a man of good name, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, serious-minded, having respect for order, opening his house freely to guests, a ready teacher;
3 Not quickly moved to wrath or blows, but gentle; no fighter, no lover of money;
4 Ruling his house well, having his children under control with all serious behaviour;
5 (For if a man has not the art of ruling his house, how will he take care of the church of God?)
6 Not one newly taken into the church, for fear that, through his high opinion of himself, he may come into the same sin as the Evil One.
7 And he is to have a good name among those outside the church, so that nothing may be said against him and he may not be taken by the designs of the Evil One.
8 Deacons,diakonos (to run on errands;); an attendant, i.e. a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); specially, a Christian teacher and pastor (technically, a deacon or deaconess):--deacon, minister, servant. in the same way, are to be serious in their behaviour, not false in word, not given to taking much wine or greatly desiring the wealth of this world;
9 Keeping the secret of the faith in a heart free from sin.

If the writers of the Bible had had access to modern word processors with the ability to utilize font effects perhaps 1st Timothy would have looked like:
1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work !!!
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