Book Review: Biblical Eldership

Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church LeadershipBiblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership by Alexander Strauch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent basic overview of the office of elder. The strength of the book is the exegesis of various passages, such as I Timothy 3, 5 and Titus 1 on the office of elder. I also appreciated his sections on Acts 15, James 5:13-18 and Hebrews 13:17. I did not necessarily agree with all his conclusions, but his work on these passages provided a lot of food for thought. I would recommend it to anyone interested in being an elder.

I had two questions that he did not answer well. First, how much of Paul’s ministry is paradigmatic for the elder? For example, I and II Corinthians contain several passages describing Paul’s ministry. Do these passages have anything to say to the elder? Strauch did not answer this question very clearly. The reason I bring it up is because if Paul’s ministry is a paradigm for an elder then it would seem to imply two types of elders or two offices (minister of the Word and ruling elder). Normally, a ruling elder who works a job 40-50 hours a week cannot be doing what Paul did.

Second, how much of Paul’s instructions to Timothy and Titus, outside of the passages specifically about elders, apply to elders? Here I am asking the same question as the one above. If Timothy and Titus are paradigms for elders then there would appear to be two offices or at least two very different duties within the same office. A man who works 40-50 hours and is a ruling elder on the side is going to have a difficult time using Timothy or Titus as a paradigm. Some of this is implied in I Timothy 5:17-18.

My point is that whether you call a position “Three office” or not, if you use Paul, Timothy and Titus as your paradigm there is going to be at the very least a functional difference between the man who devotes himself full time to the ministry and the ruling elder. I do not think Strauch addressed this issue very carefully or clearly. By focusing on the passages that just specifically address elders, he left a lot of relevant passages on the cutting room floor.

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