What is the role of an elder in a local assembly?

What is the role of an elder in a local assembly?

Peter gives three responsibilities: "Feed the flock . . . taking the oversight . . . being ensamples" (1 Peter 5:1-3).

"Feeding" the flock translates the verb, to shepherd or tend. The Lord distinguishes between feeding and tending sheep in His post-resurrection interview with Peter (John 20:15-18). He gave Peter the responsibility of feeding His lambs (v 15) and His sheep (v 17). Using a different word, He also entrusted to Peter the shepherding of those sheep (v 16). Judging from Psalm 23, shepherding means providing for every (spiritual) need (v 1). The shepherd provides rest for the sheep in the "green pastures" of God’s Word (v 2, 1 Timothy 5:17b, 1 Thessalonians 5:13b). He refreshes (Psalm 23:2b, Philemon 1:7) them "by still waters." He restores and leads them in right ways (Psa 23:3), reassures them by his presence (v 4), and fosters fellowship ("a table," v 5), a refuge from their enemies. He honors each one with respect (v 5b with Luke 7:46) and the abundance of his care causes God’s people to rejoice (Psa 23:5c).

"Taking the oversight" means he "diligently looks" (same word in Hebrews 12:15) at the sheep to know their condition (Pro 27:23a), and he watches for enemies that will destroy the flock (Acts 20:29).

"Being examples" (ESV) bears a similar thought as the word "rule" (1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Th 5:12,), which means to be "set before" or leading so as to protect and care for others. So the elder is responsible to lead by example. His worthy walk will draw others to follow him and be guarded by righteousness (Proverbs 10:2b).

The elder, then, is to feed, heed, and lead the flock.

D. Oliver