Elder (older man or woman)
4245 PRESBUTEROS (66): "An adjective, the comparative degree of presbus, an older man, elder." (Vine, An Expository Dictionary of NT Words). Traditionally translated "elder;" but in God's First Century Revelation (FCR) presbuteros always means a person who is older in age. NOTHING MORE. The meaning of presbuteros never includes a function, title, responsibility or "office." But one can usually learn more about the older person from the context.
To avoid preconceived interpretations inherent in the word "elder", presbuteros would preferably be translated, "older man," or, "older woman." Note that if it is proper to translate the masculine form of presbuteros as "elder" in 1Ti.5.1, then it should also be proper to translate the feminine plural form in verse 2 as "eldresses."
The nouns "old man" (4246 presbutes) and "old woman" (4247 presbutis) should also be considered in any study of presbuteros. Comp. "servant" (1249 diakonos).
The 66 uses of presbuteros are sorted out below as to the gender of the older person and what the text reveals about his function or responsibility.
OLDER IN AGE; WITH THE NOUN SUPPLIED IN THE TEXT: older son in Lk.15.25, older brothers in Act.15.23.
A MAN WHO IS OLDER IN AGE IN COMPARISON TO A YOUNGER MAN:
A WOMAN WHO IS OLDER IN AGE IN COMPARISON TO A YOUNGER WOMAN:
OLDER MEN IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS IN THE JEWISH NATION:
THE ANCIENT FATHERS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; e.g., those men who developed the traditions of Mt.15.2 and Mk.7.3-5, and those who had obtained the trust described in Heb.11.2ff:
OLDER ONES IN HEAVEN; figuratively, senior beings in heaven.
OLDER MEN SERVING THE "CALLED-ONES" (1577 EKKLESIA) AMONG THEM:
THE ONE REMAINING USE OF PRESBUTEROS (ACT.11.30): the context does not reveal whether or not these older men were recognized as overseers. The first record of "older men" being designated as shepherds occurred a few years later in Act.14.23. It appears that in Act 11.30 mature, wiser men simply served the Christians in Judea by mutual consent. Whether these "older men" were "formally" designated or not does not alter what they did. They apparently accepted the "relief" sent by Christians in Antioch (v.29) and distributed it to satisfy the physical needs of Christians in Judea caused by the famine of v.28. Older men are not recorded here (or anywhere in the FCR) as controlling or spending funds collected in the ekklesia "among them."
4246 PRESBUTES (3): an old man.
4247 PRESBUTIS (1): an old woman.
Back to word index