It is not at all a question of the presence in the assembly of persons having the qualifications of elders, made overseers by the Holy Spirit Acts 20:28 that such persons were in the churches of Crete is assumed; the question is altogether one of the appointment of such persons. These assemblies were not destitute of elders; but were "wanting," in that they were not duly appointed. There is a progress of doctrine in respect of the appointing of elders. Cf. Titus 1:5, note.
Elder (presbuteros) and bishop (episcopos = "overseer") designate the same office (cf Titus 1:7; Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28 the former referring to the man, the latter to a function of the office. The eldership in the apostolic local churches was always plural. There is no instance of one elder in a local church. The functions of the elders are: to rule; 1 Timothy 3:4; 1 Timothy 3:5; 1 Timothy 5:17 to guard the body of revealed truth from perversion and error Titus 1:9 to "oversee" the church as a shepherd his flock; Acts 20:28; John 21:16; Hebrews 13:17. 1 Peter 5:2. Elders are made or "set" in the churches by the Holy Spirit Acts 20:28 but great stress is laid upon their due appointment; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5. At first they were ordained (Greek - προχειροτονέω ," "to elect," "to designate with the hand,") by an apostle; e).g. Acts 14:23 but in Titus and First Timothy the qualifications of an elder become part of the Scriptures for the guidance of the churches in such appointment. 1 Timothy 3:1-7.