The N.T. uses four terms to describe the leadership of the church:
(1) “elder” (Gr., presbuteros) which places emphasis upon the authority that the leadership has to teach or rule in the church;
(2) “bishop” (Gr., episkoposoverseer) which emphasizes the fact that the leadership is charged with overseeing the local church and as such is responsible for the spiritual well-being of those in the church;
(3) “pastor” (Gr., poimenshepherd) which places emphasis upon the responsibility of the leadership of the church to shepherd the flock. No shepherd has ever given birth to his sheep. It is the responsibility of those in leadership to do for the sheep what they cannot do for themselves and to make sure that they are in good spiritual condition so that they can do what comes naturally, that is, beget other sheep;
(4) “deacon” (Gr., diakonosminister) which places emphasis upon the attitude that the leaders are to have in their leading. They are not to “lord it over” the flock, but are to realize that they are the ministers or servants to those whom the Lord has put under their care.
The function of the office of elder is twofold:
(1) teaching and
(2) ruling (1 Tim 5:17).
An elder is to be able to teach his people what the Word of God teaches and to give direction as to how that is to be accomplished in and through the local church.
The qualifications for the office of deacon are essentially the same as those for the elder except that the deacon is not to be “apt to teach.” The deacons are to be spiritual and in tune with the elders and seek to assist them in implementing the goals that the elders feel the Spirit of God is leading them to pursue through the local church.