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Biblical Eldership

Dick Benjamin

Course Overview

Biblical Eldership explores the significance of a proper personnel structure in local churches. The course highlights the qualifications and responsibilities of elders, who are appointed to oversee and shepherd the congregation, providing spiritual care and guidance. The fivefold ministry mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 is examined, and the offices of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, and Teacher are explored. The significance of five-fold ministry is for the Church’s growth and unity.

What You’ll Learn

  • Personnel of a local church 
  • What an elder (presbyter) is
  • Elders in the Early Church
  • Responsibilities of elders
  • Qualfiications of elders
  • Five-Fold ministry (Ephesians 4:13)


1. What is a Biblical Elder?

The lesson on Biblical Eldership emphasizes the importance of having a proper personnel structure in local churches, including saints, deacons, and overseers. The term “elder” is explored in both the Old and New Testaments, with an emphasis on being qualified and appointed to this leadership role. Elders are called to oversee and shepherd the church, working at the local level to ensure proper spiritual care and guidance. The lesson encourages raising and sending out individuals of character and ability to start other local churches as part of fulfilling God’s purpose for building His Church.

2. The Function of Elders

The lesson on Biblical Eldership emphasizes the role and responsibilities of elders in the local church. Elders are appointed to oversee, shepherd, and teach the flock, providing spiritual nourishment through the Word of God. They play a crucial role in governing and managing church affairs, including doctrinal matters and extending hospitality. The saints, in turn, should honor and support the elders, praying for them and obeying their guidance. Additionally, the lesson stresses the importance of recognizing the senior pastor as the one-head leader in the local church, with the ultimate responsibility for its direction and well-being. Ultimately, the focus is on building a strong, unified church body with Christ as the head.

3. Qualifications for Elders

The session focuses on the qualifications for individuals aspiring to become elders in a local church. The Apostle Peter’s instructions on elder selection are examined, emphasizing the significance of character traits, family values, and leadership abilities. A total of about 28 qualifications are discussed, emphasizing the need for exemplary conduct, integrity, and spiritual maturity. The importance of disciplined action towards elders persistently sinning is highlighted, emphasizing the need for rebuke, removal, and restoration if they repent. Unity among elders and faithfulness in service are also underscored. By adhering to these qualifications diligently, local churches can benefit from having excellent and godly elders who lead with integrity and serve as examples to the congregation.

4. The Fivefold Ministry (Part 1)

In this session, the focus is on the fivefold ministry mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. These ministries (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, and Teacher) are vital for the Church’s growth and unity. Jesus exemplified all these roles, and they are intended to remain until the Church reaches unity of faith. The ministries emerged in the early Church and served different purposes, such as establishing churches and nurturing believers. The Apostle’s role involved preaching, establishing churches, and providing guidance, while the Church is built on the foundation of both apostles and prophets. The session emphasizes the need for these ministries today and hopes for more apostles to fulfill God’s purposes within the Church.

5. The Fivefold Ministry (Part 2)

In this session, the focus is on the other ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11, beginning with the prophet. The distinction between those who possess the gift of prophecy and those ordained as prophets is discussed, emphasizing the importance of the Holy Spirit’s role in giving the gift of prophecy and Jesus Christ’s role in appointing prophets. The ministry of the New Testament prophet is exemplified through Agabus, showcasing their ability to predict future events, encourage believers, and reveal truths. The lesson also explores the evangelist’s role as a preacher of the Gospel, equipping believers, and instructing others to do the work of an evangelist. The ministry of the New Testament pastor is compared to a shepherd, emphasizing the importance of feeding and caring for the flock, while the New Testament teacher’s role in teaching the Gospel and equipping saints is discussed. The conclusion underscores that all fivefold ministers are elders and must meet biblical qualifications, but not all elders must be fivefold ministers, as these ministries are given by Christ according to His purpose.

Course Preview

Biblical Eldership

Brad Andrews sits down with Dr. Berin Gilfillan to discuss the office of the elder in the local church.

About the Instructor

Dick Benjamin

Richard “Dick” C. Benjamin, Sr. was the founding pastor of Abbott Loop Community Church (now Unite Church) in Anchorage, AK. He also helped to found Abbott Loop Christian School, a K-12 school, and Abbott Loop Bible School, a two-year diploma program. Under his leadership, Abbott Loop sent out more than 1,300 people in church-planting teams and missionaries throughout the world. He was a mentor and spiritual father to Dr. Jim Feeney, who’s book Church Planting by Teams is the basis on which ISOM was built.

Benjamin went to be with the Lord on August 10, 2019.

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