First Among Equals 3

Series: First Among Equals
Presenter: Alexander Strauch

Third in this series, the speaker explains the concept of “first among equals” in detail and gives examples from Scripture of this concept in action.

Audio File
Lecture Outline
Detailed Outline

Remember It

Contemplate these questions, then click on each question to see the answer.
1. Explain the principle of “first among equals” as illustrated by the twelve apostles.
All twelve apostles were equally apostles. All were sent out to preach the gospel and to heal. They all shared equal authority and the commission from Christ. But not all were equal in their preaching ability or leadership effectiveness. Peter stands out among the Twelve as first (Matt. 10:3-4). The Gospels demonstrate that Peter is the mouthpiece of the group, and the natural leader. They, however, are not his subordinates or assistants. Peter does not make the final decision for the group.
2. In what ways are all elders equal?
All elders are placed by the Holy Spirit to shepherd God’s flock together (Acts 20:28). All elders are to be able to teach and refute error. They are all equal in their authority and status as elders.
3. In what ways are all elders different?
Not all are equal in their giftedness, knowledge of the Scriptures, personal dedication to the work, time availability, years of experience, or effectiveness in the ministry.

Discuss It

  1. How does Ephesians 4:11 help to explain who Paul is referring to with the phrase “laboring in preaching and teaching” in 1 Timothy 5:17?
  2. What happens when all elders attempt to exercise the same level of giftedness? That is, when there is not a recognition of the different levels of giftedness?

Apply It

  1. Consider the elders in your church: How are they different in gifting and functioning? How do you see the elders exercising their equality? You might interview them or ask others for input. Write this down so that you crystalize your observations, thinking and conclusions.
  2. If you are an elder, set aside a time when the elders can share with each other how they see each one's gifting working in the church. For example, going around the circle, consider the first elder. Have everyone verbally say where they see that the man's gifting lies and how God has been using him. Do this for each of the elders.

Digging Deeper

Embracing Shared Ministryby Joseph H. Hellerman.