1 Timothy 3:1-7

Talks for Growing Christians

Qualifications for Elders and Overseers of the Local Church

1 Timothy 3:1-7

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Lesson Number 7

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Elders are responsible for spiritual leadership.
  2. Elders are characterized by moral integrity and ability to teach.

Practical Application

  1. Watch out for the snare of the devil.
  2. Who wants to be an elder?


  1. There are only two offices in the church today according to the New Testament. What are these offices?
  2. What terms are used interchangeably for elders?
  3. What is an elder’s responsibility?
  4. Does the Bible envision some ecclesiastical hierarchy? What is the line of authority?
  5. What does it mean that a church is autonomous?
  6. Is one elder per church sufficient?
  7. Is the role of elder open to both men and women?
  8. Is an elder elected or voted into office? What makes a man an elder?


  1. The office of elder and the office of deacon.
  2. Overseers and bishops.
  3. They are the spiritual authority in the church. “Elder” emphasizes their maturity and dignity; “overseer” emphasizes their function.
  4. No, the Bible teaches that every New Testament church is directly responsible to Christ. The line of authority goes directly from Christ, the head of the church, to the elders, the spiritual leaders of individual churches.
  5. The church is self-governing before the Lord.
  6. No. The Bible teaches the plurality of elders.
  7. No. the Bible teaches that the office of elder or overseer is limited to men.
  8. No. The Holy Spirit makes a man an elder or overseer (Acts 20:28). It is the responsibility of the church to recognize them (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).


  1. As shepherds lead their physical sheep, so elders are to give spiritual leadership to their spiritual sheep. Discuss the responsibility of elders to care for the flock. Remember, it is not an easy role, but it is a fine and noble work, which earns a reward. See 1 Peter 5:4.
  2. Qualifications of elders include moral integrity and the ability to teach. Discuss the meaning of moral integrity. Discuss the ability to teach. Are your elders characterized by these qualifications?


  1. Be careful to rightly recognize the elders in your midst. Satan loves to trap a church leader into making a mistake that ruins his reputation, thus bring shame on him, on the church, and on the Christian community. Pray earnestly and continually for your elders.

Key Verses

  • “ An elder must be blameless, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach…gentle, not quarrelsome or covetous…not puffed up with pride…” - 1 Timothy 3:2-6 “ An elder must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. ” - 1 Timothy 3:7

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