“Against an Elder receive not an accusation, except at the mouth of two or three witnesses.” 1 Timothy 5:19
The Apostle in this statement recognizes two principles. (1) That an Elder has already been recognized by the congregation as possessing a good and noble character, and as being specially earnest for the Truth, and devoted to God. (2) That by reason of their prominence in the Church, would be marked by the Adversary as special objects for his attacks–objects of envy, malice, hatred and strife on the part of some, even as our Lord forewarned– “Marvel not if the world hate you”; “ye know that it hated me before it hated you”; “If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household!” (Matthew 10:25, 1 John 3:13, John 15:18). These reasons should guarantee an Elder against condemnation on the word of any one person, if otherwise his life appeared consistent. As for hearsay or rumor, they were not to be considered at all; because no true yokefellow, cognizant of the Lord's rule (Matthew 18:15), would circulate rumors or have confidence in the word of those who would thus disregard the Master’s directions.
To be heard at all, the accusers must profess to have been witnesses. If one appears to be in error or in sin, his supposed wrong should be pointed out to the erring one only by the one he has injured, or by the member first discovering the wrong. If the reproved one fails to clear himself, and continues in the error or sin, then two or three brethren without previous prejudice should be asked to hear the matter and advise the disputants. If either of the original disputants still persists in the wrong course, the one who made the original charge or one of those called in committee or, preferably, all of these together, may then (but not sooner) exercise their privilege of bringing the matter before the class.
Any one person charging wrong against the Elder, should, after personal conference failing, have taken with him two or three others who would thus become witnesses to the contumacy. Then the matter, still unamended, might be brought to the class.
This matter of witnesses needs to be deeply engraved on the mind of every New Creature. What others claim to know and what they slanderously tell is not even to be heeded–not to be received. If two or three, following the Lord's directions, bring charges against anyone–not back-bitingly and slanderously but as instructed–before the Church, they are not even then to be believed; but then will be the proper time for the Church to hear the matter–hear both sides, in each other’s presence; and then give a godly decision and admonition, so phrased as to help the wrongdoer back to righteousness and not to push him off into outer darkness.