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I am referring to 'Elders' in the sense of 1 Timothy 5:17 (NIV) :

17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

As opposed to 'Respect your Elders'. Is there an age-requirement?

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Are you looking for a biblical answer or a denominational answer? I'm not sure the Bible speaks to this, but I'm also not sure you want an individual answer for each tradition. –  wax eagle Aug 31 '11 at 15:21
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I definitely do not want a list of each church/denomination's belief. Am hoping for a biblical basis for it. –  DTest Aug 31 '11 at 15:23
    
No, there's no such requirement. See the answer below about Timothy's age. The lists in 1 Timothy and Titus are commonly regarded as generalized panegyrics demonstrating character traits, rather than an exact lists of qualifications. If it were the latter, it would seem all elders must be married, which would bar Paul and Jesus both from leading the church. There you have a reductio ad absurdum. –  metal Apr 12 '13 at 19:13
    
could? Yes. should? Probably. typically? No, there are politics in everything. Those whippersnappers will ruin everything. IMHO, church elder is a status, not an age. HOWEVER it's typically not applied that way. –  The Freemason Mar 31 at 12:58

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

From Paul's own writing to Timothy, specifically verse 12:

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

So no, there is no "age requirement", but one must at least fulfill the prerequisites listed in Titus 1 & 1 Timothy 3.


As a sidebar, Jesus did not start His ministry until he was about 30 - the typical age for a rabbi to be able to have his own disciples. Whether or not 30 should be normative in the church, all of His disciples would've been at least adults of taxable age (over 20) when He called them. Paul was most certainly over 30 when he was called, since he was already a well-established pharisee. I cannot speak with dogmatism on this, but I personally think that it's a good ballpark age :)

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Although I agree there is no age requirement, does this verse actually apply to elders? Was Timothy an elder? –  a_hardin Sep 1 '11 at 14:50
    
@a_hardin - in general, "elder" "bishop" "pastor" "overseer" and a variety of other terms are used interchangeably when referencing those in authority in the church –  warren Sep 1 '11 at 15:25
    
FWIW, I voted down because this answer hinges on a single proof-text, but no justification is given for why the text is relevant to a question about "elders". –  Jas 3.1 Apr 12 '13 at 16:32
    
@Jas3.1 - there are three texts cited. How do they not relate to "elders"? –  warren Apr 12 '13 at 18:29
    
Your answer is "no", and your evidence is 1 Timothy 4:12, but you don't show how 1 Timothy 4:12 has anything to do with "elders." It's like saying women can be pastors based on the fact that Paul was an Apostle; You don't show me how the verse is relevant to your conclusion. | You go on to say that a person must at least fulfill the requirements listed in two other texts (which actually do pertain to elders), but those texts do not give a clear "yes" or "no" answer. Simply citing a verse about age, and then two separate verses about elders does not prove your thesis. –  Jas 3.1 Apr 12 '13 at 18:52

This all kind of depends on what you mean by "young".

Titus 1:5 - 9 has a more detailed description of what an elder should be:

Titus 1:5 - 9

5 I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you.

6 An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious.

7 For an elder must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.

8 Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life.

9 He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.

As you can see while this description does not explicitly give an age requirement, it gives the expectation that this person is established, and that they have a proven track record of being Godly.

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I have never seen "young" elders in churches in Africa.Naturally, those who are older in age tend to be elders in church because they are believed to have the experience to lead.But youth groups are also very popular.

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Can you explain more? Experience alone can't answer the question. –  curiousdannii Mar 31 at 6:53
    
What am saying is, the seniority system is still very much enforced in the everyday way of life of Africans.This is extended to the church.Elders are often appointed based on the literal meaning of the term. –  Ojonugwa Ochalifu Mar 31 at 7:04

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