Assessing Prospective Elders

Series: Protecting and Disciplining an Elder
Presenter: Alexander Strauch

After his instructions for dealing with elders who sin, Paul gives Timothy four principles for choosing qualified men and therefore avoiding many problems.

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Remember It

Contemplate these questions, then click on each question to see the answer.
1. What does Paul mean by “do not be hasty in the laying on of hands”?
The church and its leaders are not to appoint someone to eldership too quickly without first conducting a thorough examination (1 Tim. 3:10).
2. What adverse consequences does Paul warn Timothy of in relationship to hastily appointing an elder?
The one who appoints a person to leadership shares in both the success and failure of that leader. If an elder is found to be immoral or a false teacher or otherwise unfit for office, Timothy (or those who appointed this elder) will share the consequences. There is a bond created between the one(s) who appoints and the appointee.
3. Paul lists four categories or principles to help Timothy have confidence in the process of appointing a person to eldership. What are these four principles?
If Timothy will take the time to carefully assess a candidate for eldership, he will find it is not that difficult. There are those who are most obviously unfit for eldership and will not even be considered. Others, upon careful evaluation, will be seen to be unqualified. Some of those who are qualified for eldership will be obvious to all. Some of those who at first may not appear to be qualified will, upon further investigation, be found to be eldership material.

Discuss It

  1. From what you heard about the scandalous activity of the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches (who have hidden the sins of their leaders, and moved them on to other churches without discipline), what are the consequences of these actions to the gospel and to the church? List as many adverse consequences as you can.
  2. Why is the public act of laying hands on a newly appointed new elder a good thing? List as many reasons as you can think of.

Apply It

  1. Read the article, “Should Adulterous Pastors Be Restored?” by R. Kent Hughes and John H. Armstrong (

Digging Deeper

John H. Armstrong, Can Fallen Pastors Be Restored? The Church’s Response to Sexual Misconduct (Moody Press, 1995).