Elder, Eldest - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

Elder, Eldest

[ A-1,Adjective,G4245, presbuteros ]
an adjective, the comparative degree of presbus, an old man, an elder," is used
(a) of age, whether of the "elder" of two persons, Luke 15:25, or more, John 8:9, "the eldest;" or of a person advanced in life, a senior, Acts 2:17; in Hebrews 11:2, the "elders" are the forefathers in Israel; so in Matthew 15:2; Mark 7:3, Mark 7:5; the feminine of the adjective is used of "elder" women in the churches, 1 Timothy 5:2, not in respect of position but in seniority of age;
(b) of rank or positions of responsibility,

(1) among Gentiles, as in the Sept. of Genesis 50:7; Numbers 22:7;

(2) in the Jewish nation, firstly, those who were the heads or leaders of the tribes and families, as of the seventy who assisted Moses, Numbers 11:16; Deuteronomy 27:1, and those assembled by Solomon; secondly, members of the Sanhedrin, consisting of the chief priests, "elders" and scribes, learned in Jewish law, e.g., Matthew 16:21; Matthew 26:47; thirdly, those who managed public affairs in the various cities, Luke 7:3;

(3) in the Christian churches, those who, being raised up and qualified by the work of the Holy Spirit, were appointed to have the spiritual care of, and to exercise oversight over, the churches. To these the term "bishops," episkopoi, or "overseers," is applied (See Acts 20:17 with Acts 20:28, and Titus 1:5, Titus 1:7), the latter term indicating the nature of their work, presbuteroi their maturity of spirtual experience. The Divine arrangement seen throughout the NT was for a plurality of these to be appointed in each church, Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:5. The duty of "elders" is described by the verb episkopeo. They were appointed according as they had given evidence of fulfilling the Divine qualifications, Titus 1:6-Titus 1:9; cp. 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Peter 5:2;

(4) the twenty-four "elders" enthroned in heaven around the throne of God, Revelation 4:4, Revelation 4:10; Revelation 5:5-Revelation 5:14; Revelation 7:11, Revelation 7:13; Revelation 11:16; Revelation 14:3; Revelation 19:4. The number twenty-four is representative of earthly conditions. The word "elder" is nowhere applied to angels. See OLD.

[ A-2,Adjective,G4850, sumpresbuteros ]
"a fellow-elder" (sun, "with"), is used in 1 Peter 5:1.

[ A-3,Adjective,G3187, meizon ]
"greater," the comparative degree of megas, "great," is used of age, and translated "elder" in Romans 9:12, with reference to Esau and Jacob. See GREATER, GREATEST, MORE.

[ B-1,Noun,G4244, presbuterion ]
"an assembly of aged men," denotes
(a) the Council or Senate among the Jews, Luke 22:66; Acts 22:5;
(b) the "elders" or bishops in a local church, 1 Timothy 4:14, "the presbytery." For their functions See A, No. 1,


Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words