New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace says that the “consistent pattern in the New Testament is that every church had several elders,” citing, among other passages, Acts ; 15:2, 4; 16:4; , 28; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim ; Titus 1:5; James ; 1 Pet 5:1-2, and especially Acts where Paul and Barnabas appointed “elders in every church.” The reason for a plurality of elders in the church is to provide mutual accountability among the leaders in order to prevent a single leader from going astray.
Even the apostles were accountable to other apostles, as is evident when Paul confronted Peter (Gal -14) and when Paul submitted his teaching ministry to the scrutiny of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem (Gal 2:-1-2).
When someone is moved atop a pyramid, that person no longer has colleagues, only subordinates.
Even the frankest and bravest of subordinates do not talk with their boss in the same way that they talk with colleagues who are equals, and normal communication patterns become warped.” Critical thinking guards a Christian from submitting to false spiritual authorities.
Its force is an ultimatum: ‘Follow these principles and you will discover truth; disregard them and you will wander in the labyrinth of error.’” The New Testament strongly emphasizes truth as a qualification for spiritual leaders (cf.
Acts -31; 1 Tim 3:9; 2 Tim 4:2-4; Titus 1:9, 10, 14).Veracious authority cannot coerce others to follow it.Bernard Ramm, former dean of the theology school at Baylor, notes that: “Veracious authority may not use physical force, as that would be self-defeating.Trustworthiness is proven by competence and godly character.Competence is the first component of trustworthiness. He adds that spiritual leaders should also have a good reputation with people outside the church; they must be tested prior to attaining leadership; and they must be faithful in all things (1 Tim. In the book of Titus, Paul adds that spiritual leaders must demonstrate competence to teach God’s truth (Titus 1:9).These traits are not optional; they are the standard.Traits required of a person in order to qualify as a spiritual leader include being above reproach, monogamous, temperate, prudent, hospitable, sober, gentle, peaceable, not pugnacious, not greedy, mature in the faith, humble, dignified, truthful (1 Timothy 3:2-8); not self-willed, not quick-tempered, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled (Titus 1:6-9); eager to serve voluntarily and not under compulsion, not lording it over the flock entrusted to their care, and clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:2-5).When Paul lists qualifications for positions of spiritual leadership in the church, he includes several areas of demonstrated competence. They also must be people who manage their own households well, keeping their children under control with all dignity, for “if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God? Spiritual authorities, according to these passages, must demonstrate competence in social, religious, economic, and familial spheres of life.Character is the second component of trustworthiness.The clearest New Testament model for ecclesiastical governance is a plurality of elders and deacons.Alexander Strauch devotes an entire chapter to the biblical requirement for a plurality of elders in his excellent book .