What Words are NOT Used for Elders or Their Authority?
BEFORE WE CAN understand the authority of elders we must first examine what it is not.
The point of the following word list is to show that there are many Greek words in the New Testament that describe authoritarian leaders and none of these words are used for elders.
This is significant, and should lead the Bible students to recognize that kingdom authority is different.
- Archon (Ruler) – This Greek word can refer to a ruler, lord or prince. Jesus used this word to refer to the rulers of the Gentiles (cf. Mat. 20:25).
- Despotes (Master) – This is the Greek word from which we ge despot, which refers to a ruler with absolute power or authority. In the New Testament, the word is used with reference to the slave-master relationship (cf. 1 Tim. 6:1)
- Dynamis (Power) – This is a word which means power, might or force (the English word dynamite comes from this Greek word). Power is attributed to God (Rom. 1:16), the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13, 19), and Jesus (Rom. 1:4), but not to elders.
- Dynastes (Ruler) – A ruler or court official was often called a dynastes in Greek. It is used to describe the position of the Ethiopian (Acts 8:27) and other officials (Luke 1:52).
- Exousia (Authority) – This word refers to the power of authority. Jesus was often asked by what authority he did things (Mat. 21:23). It is used of the power of rulers and officials and the power of office (Luke 19:17).
- Hyperoche (Superiority) – This word may refer to a superior person or one who holds a superior position. It often refers to a high position of authority (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
- Katakurieuo (Domineer) – This verb means to exercise authority over another person. Leaders in the Lord’s church are forbidden to do this (Mat. 20:25-26).
From Elders & Deacons – A Biblical Study of Church Leadership by J.B. Myers, edited for space–mb, 134-135.