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Deacons and Elders

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Question:   Can you give me some information on what the Bible has to say about deacons and elders?  

Response:  Major biblical passages about deacons and elders are as follows:

Elders: Titus 1:5-9; 1st Timothy 3:1-7

Deacons: 1st Timothy 3:8-13

There are many other New Testament passages mentioning both (too numerous to list here). I would suggest getting a Concordance (any reference library would have one) such as Strong's Concordance for the KJV or Thomas' Exhaustive Concordance for the NASB (most versions have one). Also, any Bible Dictionary (such as Unger's or Smith's) will have an extensive article on elders and deacons (and Church governance in general), as will any good Encyclopedia of the Bible (Interpreter's; Anchor; etc.). Your Bible may have a small concordance in the back, as well as cross-reference listing for verses where elders and deacons are mentioned.

As to the sub-text of your question, it is fair to say that this topic is one of the more controversial in Christian circles (because every Christian denomination has a position staked out and therefore a stake in the outcome). In my view, bishops, elders and pastors are the same thing (e.g., Acts 20:17 "elders" compared with 20:28 "bishops" where "to shepherd" is also mentioned). Deacons are pretty clearly an administrative, non-teaching, non-ruling office. The question of "plurality of elders" is often at the heart of these discussions. I cannot find in the Bible where we are told either that there must be only one, or must be a plural college, or must be a college with one teaching elder. What is important is not so much what specific manner of government a church has as whether or not it teaches the Word of God.

You might also find these links of use:

Deacons and Deaconesses.

Some Questions on Church Polity

Church Polity et al.

The Local Church and Personal Ministry I

The Local Church and Personal Ministry II

The Local Church and Personal Ministry III

The Local Church and Personal Ministry IV

Is the local church meant to be a patriarchy?

Bible Teaching versus Sermonizing

In Jesus,

Bob L.


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