An elder is a leader within a local church. Three Greek words describe this role in the New Testament.

Presbuteros, usually translated elder, is a general word referring to a person of older age. In ancient societies, elders were dignified men who served as judges, community leaders, and respected counselors. Elders in local churches have similar qualities and jobs.  2 Samuel 5:3; Joshua 20:1-4

Episkopos, translated overseer or bishop, describes the job of supervising the members and work of the local church.

Poimen means shepherd or pastor. The verb form is translated shepherd, feed, tend to, or care for. Elders must shepherd souls as good shepherds do for sheep.

Elder, overseer, and shepherd are used interchangeably in the context of the church.  1 Peter 5:1-5; Titus 1:5-7; Acts 20:17-35.

Elderships are precisely regulated by God’s word. Each church must have more than one elder to have an eldership. Elders must have the qualities described in the New Testament.  Acts 14:23; 15:4; 20:17; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-11; 1 Peter 5:1-5

Elders are part of God’s design for fully equipped local churches, so appointing elders should be an important goal for every church, as it was in the first century. The benefit of elders is invaluable.  Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.  1 Timothy 5:17

~ SR

Ruhmann, Scott. “Word of the Week: Elder.” 27th Street Church of Christ. Access date: . http://www.churchofbend.com/wow/elder.htm