Why is it important for a church to have a plurality of elders?

1 Min Read

First, having a plurality of elders seems to be biblical teaching and a biblical pattern. When Paul planted churches during his missionary journey, he started working backward halfway through it, and Luke tells us in the Acts of the Apostles that he appointed elders in every single church he planted. Further, when Paul wrote to the Philippians, he wrote to the Philippian church together with their overseers or elders and their deacons. So, first, it’s a biblical pattern.

Second, we need pastoral help. We need shepherds. Peter speaks about this beautifully in 1 Peter. He begins the letter by saying, “This is Peter the Apostle writing to you,” and then, in chapter 5, he addresses the elders particularly and says: “I am addressing you as a fellow elder, as someone to whom Jesus has said, ‘Feed the flock,’ and I am passing the baton to you. Feed the flock that is among you, guard them and feed them.” That is what our elders are for.

Elders are pastors. They are men to whom we ought to be able to go. They’re men who are also called to model the Christian life for us and protect us. Those are their functions. That’s why when Paul describes the qualifications for elders in his first letter to Timothy and his letter to Titus, he says two things: they should be able to teach us from the Scriptures, and they should be the kind of men to whom we can look and say, “That is the kind of Christian I want to be.” We need those things. We need examples, and we need to be cared for.

This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with Sinclair Ferguson and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email ask@ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.