Counsel of Chalcedon
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The Meaning of Eldership

Few offices have deteriorated more radically than that of the elder. Its original purpose has been obscured, its functions lost, and its purpose altered.

To understand the meaning of the office of elder, it is necessary to remember that the office was not created by the church but taken over from the practices of Israel. As Morris has written,

"The first Christians were all Jews, and it is a reasonable inference that they took over the office of elder from the Judaism with which they were familiar. It will repay us accordingly to give some attention to the Jewish elders.