The apostle Paul gave an inspired charge to the elders of the Ephesian church. "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).
Attention was to be given by the elders [bishops, pastors] to themselves. This attention was to assure that they were walking in the truth path of God (see 2 Cor. 13:5). They were to give attention to the flock, the church. This charge was given to those whom the Spirit of God had made bishops or elders. They had a charge for God’s church.
While the church, including her elders, are to be about the work of savings souls they must also be about the work of feeding God’s flock, his church. The word feed here denotes the work of the shepherd. The elders are to ‘shepherd’ the flock of God. They are to protect them from wolves, feed them nourishing food, and guide them in safe paths.
Elders who allow just any teacher to have an influence in the congregation are not fulfilling their responsibility. Every teacher must be known by the elders. If they are not living and teaching the truth of God the elders must not allow their voice to be raised. What shepherd would place a wolf in the midst of the flock for fear of hurting the wolf’s feelings, or concern that the wolf would leave and go to another flock? Sounds ridiculous? This is what elders do when they allow those who teach falsehood an opportunity to teach the church.
Elders are to feed the flock, guide them in safe paths. This is done in part by their example. It is done in part by their selection of preachers and teachers to provide ‘food’ for the flock. But, elders are those who are apt or skillful in teaching. If the elder is not able to teach he is not qualified as an elder and needs to resign this position wrongfully given him. The church needs elders who will personally feed the flock. The feeding is not measured by dynamic presentation but by communicating the truth of God faithfully.
In our zeal to reach the lost let us never neglect the saints. We have a charge in the church to feed. And, when there are no men qualified as elders then those wise and understanding among the men should teach. But with the same principles set forth above in the work of elders - protecting the flock, feeding the sheep, and leading in safe paths. God has provided this perfect pattern, we can rejoice as we live within it.
By Greg Weston
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