I am continuing with the topic of elders of the city. Many have responded to me about how the first article has helped place key people who do not have an official ministry yet carry great influence in cities. For a long time, we have not been able to place people into a structure who seem to have strong influences. They just don’t fit in the Eph 4 grace gifts, nor do they seem to have a voice in a local assembly. This understanding has helped many as they have contacted me personally and said they now see where they fit. As I met with one man locally, he asked me what the key is, as I see it, to connect our state. I told him to find the elders of the cities and the fathers of the state.
Titus 1:5 (KJV 1900) — 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:
Notice again, they ordained elders in every city, not in every gathering of believers and certainly not in every church as the Church was seen as one. Paul, in the following verses gives a list of qualifiers for eldership. We take this list and look at it through a church model. We need to look at it through a Kingdom model and see the influence of culture that it carries.
Titus 1:6–9 (KJV 1900) — 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
As we look for Biblical pattern, this mindset paradigm shift of eldership really comes alive once we begin to unfold it. For years I have heard of people trying to put a tag on key influential people in the book of Acts. I have heard Priscilla and Aquila placed as apostolic leaders and Ananias as a prophet. It seems we feel they must be in a ministry gift/grace to function and have impact. This is far from the truth. Many have been called apostles or prophets trying to fit our current understanding. Now I clearly see they are really elders of cities functioning as such.
Ananias was an elder of the city and recognized by many. When he went to Paul and welcomed him, he was welcoming him into the family of God but also into the brethren of the city. When Aquila and Priscilla ministered to Paul (Acts 18) they did it from the position of eldership. Thus Paul had an open door to minster in that city because of their positioning. Further reading shows Tabitha who appears to carry eldership qualities, was raised from the dead in Acts 9. It appears she was “A Certain Disciple”. Perhaps this focus may point to eldership in the book of Acts.
In Acts 10, we see Cornelius is a devout man who feared God and was a man of prayer. He also was a centurion. A centurion was an officer in the Roman army. So he is a man of responsibility. This sounds like qualities of an elder. He has a vision and has authority to send for Peter to receive Peter’s input. Because of his concern for the Church, the Gospel is eventually opened to the Gentiles.
In Acts 17:34, Paul had an encounter with “certain” men again. One of them is Dionysius, a name we really know nothing about. This man was converted in this encounter and stayed steadfast in the Lord. Historical records show this man later became the first bishop of Athens and carried tremendous influence over the city.
We also see that every time a major transition occurred in Acts, three groups met to discuss: the apostles, the elders and the Ecclesia. The apostles would bring up the subject and input was received from the eldership. The Ecclesia remained silent. When it was finally decided, the Ecclesia affirmed the decision and it was in motion. Imagine today if we gathered these three groups to make transitions and establish correct doctrine in this pattern. Doctrine and strategy that did not affect a single church but the entire Body of Christ in a city or region! We have limited the scope of eldership to a small group when in Kingdom dynamics, it was to help govern and oversee entire cities and regions. We need to find the elders of cities and the fathers in states to establish the future.