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An Elder Must Be Able To Teach

C. Michael Moss, in The College Press NIV Commentary: 1, 2 Timothy & Titus, writes, “. . . able to teach represents a single Greek word (didaktikos). The word appears only here and in 2 Tim. 2:24, indicating one who is an able teacher.”

You will find this word in the list given to Timothy (1 Tim. 3:2). Paul wrote to Timothy in reference to the qualities (i.e. characteristics) of “aspiring” elders, and instructs him to see to it that any such man be “able to teach.” Does this apply to teaching in a class (i.e. Bible Class or Bible Study group) or teaching in a personal (i.e. “one-on-one) situation?

Well, we are not given specific information as to the answer to this particular question (usually given as an objection), but are given information concerning some of the teaching done by the elders.

In Titus 1:9, we read, concerning the elder that he is to be “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (NAS). We see that the elder is to be a man of the Word, able to refute false teaching and “exhort in sound doctrine.” This would involve personal and private (two or three) teaching and teaching in a larger gathering in “refuting” the false teaching.

1 Thessalonians 5:12, as Moss rightly references in his commentary reads, “We request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction” (NAS). Those who “have charge over you” would certainly include the elders!

The passage in Hebrews 13:7 seems to echo this instruction. “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith” (NAS).

I believe that the following passage, found in 1st Timothy also sheds some light on our question. “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17, NAS). It can be seen here that (at least some) elders were “teaching and preaching.” Therefore, it is evident that the elders who were presently serving in this work were doing both “teaching and preaching” within the body. It is sad when there are men known as elders in the church today who will do neither!

A man who has already shown to possess the other qualifications for the work of elder, and also possesses this ability (and desire) to teach, would certainly be a man who would be reliable when it comes to teaching and living the word (holding fast the faithful word). A saint in the congregation in which he serves would certainly be able to approach him with problems and questions about God's truth. Could he ever make a mistake? Certainly! Some of the most scripturally knowledgeable men in the church will tell you that they have been incorrect in some of the things that they once taught, but having studied these things further, they have come to a different understanding. But there is a vast difference in studying out of error and never knowing the word.