Derek Prince - Don't Hastily Appoint An Elder
Now then, the next use we find in the New Testament of laying on of hands is to appoint elders. Acts 14:23, the chapter we’ve been in, says: These two apostles Barnabas and Paul appointed elders in every church. So the appointment of elders initially was from the apostles. And then writing to Timothy who was his representative in the city of Ephesus Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:17 and following He’s instructing him about the kind of person who should be an elder. He says: Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor especially those who labor in the Word and teaching.
Now, ‘double honor,’ if you analyze the New Testament, means some kind of financial remuneration. The word honor in the New Testament is not just an empty title, it means you show respect by the way you handle people’s needs. I said sometimes if you double zero you still get zero. So, there is a standard of remuneration and those who give their time fully to the Word of God have to be remunerated by the people whom they serve according to the amount of time they give. Now, Paul goes on about how to deal with elders. Verse 19: Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Please, that is very important. Do not entertain an accusation against a man who is the position of an elder unless it’s supported by at least two witnesses.
I’ve seen so many cases when men of God have been slandered and people have taken up the slander without ever demanding two or three witnesses. Never do that because one of Satan’s main ways of attacking people in the ministry is to raise false charges against them. Here’s the protection. Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it’s supported by at least two and preferably three eyewitnesses. A great many things in the church would change if we stuck to that rule. Paul goes on in the same chapter, verse 21: I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality which has no place in the kingdom of God. Then he says: Do not lay hands suddenly or hastily on anyone nor share in other people’s sins. Keep yourself pure.
Now this is in the context of dealing with elders, so when he says do not lay hands on anyone hastily means don’t hastily appoint an elder. Be very careful that you have God’s mind. Be very careful that the man has the qualifications that are required. Because I’ve said many times it’s much easier to lay hands on than to lay hands off. Once you have appointed an elder it’s an awful problem to get rid of him if you’ve made the wrong appointment. So, Paul says to Timothy be very, very careful. Don’t lay hands as an appointment of eldership on anybody until you’re absolutely sure that it’s God’s choice. And then he says do not be partaker of other men’s sins because if you appoint, if I appoint, as an elder a man who is not worthy, who maybe will exploit the congregation and the people of God, I have a share in his sins.
So, we have to be very, very careful. I will say, in our church in Fort Lauderdale, which is not always a model church but when they appoint elders, believe me, they go through it. I mean, those men - they appointed three recently - they had to answer questions for two days. Everything was taken into account. I think many problems result in the church from the hasty appointment of elders. You see how many lessons come out of all this about laying on of hands? See, it’s not a little thing.