The Continuity of Elders
C. D. Plum
Paden City, West Virginia
Continuity as used here simply means continuous. By the continuity of elders we simply mean God intended that "elders and their work" be continuous in the church, and not cease when the "miraculous gifts" in the church ceased, as some erroneously suppose.
When I was a young preacher 43 years ago, an old preacher at Paden City, W. Va. tried to take me under his wing and warm me with the false idea that the elders and their work were not intended for the church in this day. He did not even get to first base with me. He fooled a few, but this false teaching soon faded away.
I am told now about another preacher with whom I am not personally acquainted, who is singing this same wicked tune, and who is fooling a few who ought to know better. In this case, as in the case of the Paden City preacher, I do not remember the Scriptures they perverted in trying to prove elders are unscriptural since the special gifts ceased. Hence, in this article I am not attempting to answer their so-called arguments to uphold their false teaching, but I shall set forth some positive proof that it is the will of God that elders continue in the church. But, first let us notice that God authorized:
The Appointment of Elders
Acts 14:23. "And when they had ordained them elders in every church."
Titus 1:5. "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee."
Acts 20:28. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy 'Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood."
Now let us take an additional step from this thought. Here it is: God not only authorized the appointment of elders but,
God Specified the Work of Elders
Acts 20:28. Elders were to "oversee" the flock (church).
1 Timothy 3:5. ("For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?")
Hebrews 13:17. "Obey them that have the rule over you, etc."
1 Peter 5:1-4. "The elders which are among you I exhort... feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall wear a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
God Never Placed a Time Limit Upon the Work of Elders
God's word does not say elders are to oversee," "rule," "feed" till the special gifts cease. Who dares say he does? Who dares "pervert" this word to make it say what it does not? Such a one better read and heed Galatians 1: 6-9.
1. As long as there are "sheep" there must be shepherds. "And when the chief Shepherd (Christ) shall appear, ye (the little shepherds, elders) shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." (1 Peter 5:4.)
2. As long as sheep need food there must be someone to look after the feeding. Who does this? (1 Pet. 5:2.)
3. As long as there needs to be overseeing in the church, there needs to be overseers.
4. As long as there are wolves to destroy the flock (church), there needs to be elders (shepherds) to protect it. (Acts 20:28-32.)
5. As long as there are "gainsayers" there must be elders who are sound in the faith to resist them. (Tit. 1:5-11.)
The Lord still has sheep in this world, and these sheep still need shepherds (elders).
Men are still made elders "by the Holy Ghost," when 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1 are obeyed.
Neither Timothy nor Titus could lay hands on elders to impart the special, miraculous, spiritual gifts, yet they were to appoint elders. (Only apostles could do this.) Why was this so? Perhaps to save us from that false doctrine that elders are not today because they have no miraculous gifts. Neither Timothy nor Titus imparted anything to those they appointed as elders.
The "apostles," "prophets," "evangelists," and "pastors" were not done away with the coming of the "unity" of the faith; just their miraculous powers ceased to be demonstrated "when that which is perfect (New Testament) is come." (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 13:810.)
Truth Magazine VI: 11, pp. 22-23