Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
This week we will look specifically at the gift of the office of “pastor’s and teacher’s” in detail and how being a pastor is like being a good shepherd that leads and takes care of his flock of sheep. Paul likened the Ekklesia and its leaders to a flock with shepherds and gave the shepherds a charge:
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
The description of the shepherd as portrayed in the Bible is a metaphor that defines the work of the local pastor. In our modern day, many of us have never been around shepherds or know that much about sheep.
In the Bible, the office of pastor is described and even defined as shepherding over sheep. The root meaning of the word for “pastor” is one who tends, or feeds his flock. The word “pastor” is one of several words used in the New Testament to designate the men that God has charged to oversee the local congregations. “Pastor” is from Latin and is a translation from the original Greek word poimen (Strong’s #4166) Its definition is: a shepherd; hence met: of the feeder, protector, and ruler of a flock of men. (Strong’s Concordance)
Pastors are called by other titles as well in the New Testament such as an elder, presbyter, bishop, or overseer. The title “elder”, or “presbyter” is from the Greek word presbuteros; (Strong’s # 4245 – elder) while the word “bishop”, or “overseer”, comes from the Greek word episkopé (Strong’s #1985 – a superintendent, overseer, bishop) (Strong’s Concordance)
In Acts 20, Luke also uses all three terms interchangeably. In verse 17, Paul sends for all the elders (presbuteros) of the church in order to give them his farewell message. In verse 28, he says, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, [episkopos] to feed [poimainō] the church of God with the meat of every Word of God , which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Paul lists the qualifications for elder/overseer in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Notice that in the 1st Timothy passage, Paul refers to them as overseers (episcopos in the Greek), and in Titus he refers to them as elders (presbuteros in Greek). From this it can be concluded that there is one office with different designations. The word “elder” refers to the life experience of the office holder, (he is not a novice – 1st Timothy 3:6) while the word “overseer” emphasizes the responsibility of the office holder to watch over his congregation and meet their spiritual needs.
The word “pastor” is found only once in the King James Bible (Ephesians 4:11); in this verse “pastor” is included in the list of offices that God has set some members in. “Pastor” is translated from the Greek word poimane. However, a verb form of the same Greek word is elsewhere translated “feed” in Acts 20:28 and in 1st Peter 5:2 which is poimaino. In these contexts, it describes a function of the eldership of that of feeding the flock.
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
To “feed” is poimaino (Strong’s #4165) to tend as a shepherd of (figuratively, superviser) — feed (cattle), rule. (Strong’s Concordance)
Another church office is that of deacon, which is described in Acts 6:1-6. Paul outlines the qualifications of deacons in 1st Timothy 3:8-13. The deacon’s responsibility is to minister to the physical needs of the congregation, freeing up the elders to concentrate on their spiritual needs. See our article on the spiritual gift of “ministering” also called “helps”. Gifts of the Spirit: Helps
Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops [episkopois] and deacons [diakonois]:
So we see that all four of these words (elder, bishop, overseer, presbyter) mean the same as the office of pastor with each of the titles simply showing different facets of the office of pastor.
Shepherds and the subject of shepherding are mentioned many times in the Old Testament and the New Testament mentions shepherds 16 times. The first group of people that were given the news that the birth of baby Jesus had taken place was to the shepherds that were watching over their flocks close by. It was these shepherds who were the first to visit Jesus at the stable where He was born and afterward they were used by God to make it known abroad to others that the Christ had been born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:8-20 ).
Many of God’s servants in the Old Testament were shepherds. The title “shepherd” is often the symbol for a nation’s king, and in this regard, we read in Scripture of the many of Israel’s kings, patriarchs, and prophets that began as shepherds. They learned leadership skills needed to be kings and prophets by first tending and nurturing sheep. We think of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Amos.
The Hebrew word for “shepherd” is roi (Strong’s # 7473) and simply means shepherd, however, the Hebrew word for shepherding is often translated, “feeding.”
Scripture paints a picture of what it means to pastor or shepherd in many passages and many verses. A shepherd’s job is to be a keeper of the sheep. The first keeper of sheep in the Bible was Adam’s son Abel (Genesis 4:2).
Shepherding was the chief occupation of the Israelites in the early days of the patriarchs such as Abraham (Genesis 12:16); Jacob (Genesis 30:31-40 ) and Moses (Exodus 3:1). The Bible speaks of some of the early matriarchs who were shepherdesses that tended to their father’s flocks as we see in the story of Rachel. As a young shepherdess, Rachel met Jacob when she came to water her sheep.
Genesis 29:9 And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them [for she was a shepherdess].
Moses’s wife Zipporah was one of seven daughters who tended their father’s sheep (Exodus 2:16-21) and some commentators speculate that Rebekah and Leah were also shepherdesses for there are hints that they, too, watered and took care of sheep. In Song of Solomon, the king refers to the Shulamite as being dark skinned from a life living outdoors, tending the vineyard and caring for her flock of goats (Song of Solomon 1:5-8). And, of course, we know that David’s first occupation in his youth was that of a humble shepherd boy. “He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:” (Psalm 78:70)
The term “shepherd” came to designate not only persons who herded and cared for sheep and other animals, but also kings were supposed to be as shepherds, as well, for they were charged within their leadership position to feed and to care for their people. Two such kings were David and Cyrus.
2 Samuel 5:2 Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the Lord said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel.
Isaiah 44:28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
Jesus Christ is called a Shepherd in His role as King over Israel and He is our Good Shepherd as the Head of His Ekklesia and as our Lord and Savior, He is the “Chief” Shepherd.
Psalm 80:1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
It is God Who Chooses Those He Wants to be Pastors
It is God who personally sets certain people into the offices of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, deacon, or teacher and they in turn are to benefit the Ekklisia. Their function is to help the whole body to grow into the image of Jesus Christ and to prepare the members of that body to become skilled and capable kings and priests to eventually serve in the Kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
When those who have these offices are fulfilling what God has called them to do, they come along side of the brethren to edify, teach, guide, guard, feed them the spiritual food that they need. In this way, the brethren are aided in their spiritual development and growth and they are further equipped to also do whatever God has called these individual members to do.
Paul goes into detail in Ephesians 4 and also 1 Corinthians 12 as to why God calls certain ones to perform these roles and how if done properly, their callings will help all the members of the Ekklesia to grow up unto Christ in all things with everyone molded and fashioned to be right where God wants each one and thereby the whole church will eventually come together as one and is greatly benefited.
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
The pastor’s role then is to HELP to perfect the saints, protect them from false teachers and false doctrine; and to help build up the saints which collectively is the Bride of Christ by fulfilling his duties of being a shepherd to them.
Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
The Characteristics of Sheep Behavior
Many times, even in the Bible, people are compared to sheep, so to know a little about sheep we can know somewhat of the traits of people and how they need to be led and supervised by experienced, wise and “older in the faith” pastors. Think of all the similarities of people in the Ekklesia when reading this description of sheep. This is from Sheep 201 – The Beginners Guide to Raising Sheep
“Behavior is defined as an animal’s response to its environment. A basic understanding of sheep behavior will make raising and handling sheep less stressful for both the sheep and shepherd. It will also dismiss the notion that sheep are a stupid animal.
Sheep are best known for their strong flocking (herding) and following instinct. They will run from what frightens them and band together in large groups for protection. This is the only protection they have from predators. There is safety in numbers. It is harder for a predator to pick a sheep out of a group than to go after a few strays. Flocking instinct varies by breed, with the fine wool breeds being the most gregarious.
Follow the leader
When one sheep moves, the rest will follow, even if it is not a good idea. The flocking and following instinct of sheep is so strong that it caused the death of 400 sheep in 2006 in eastern Turkey. The sheep plunged to their death after one of the sheep tried to cross a 15-meter deep ravine, and the rest of the flock followed.
Even from birth, lambs are taught to follow the older members of the flock. Ewes encourage their lambs to follow. The dominant members of the flock usually lead, followed by the submissive ones. If there is a ram in the flock, he usually leads.
Sheep are a social animal and flock together. In fact, ensuring that sheep always have visual contact with other sheep will prevent excess stress when moving or handling them. According to animal behaviorists, a group of five sheep is usually necessary for sheep to display their normal flocking behavior. A sheep will become highly agitated if it is separated from the rest of the flock.
In addition to serving as a protection mechanism against predators, this flocking and following instinct enables humans to care for large numbers of sheep. It makes sheep easier to move or drive and enables a guardian dog to provide protection for a large flock. Domestication and thousands of generations of human contact has further strengthened this trait in sheep.
Domestication has also favored the non-aggressive, docile nature of sheep, making it easier for people, especially women and children, to care for sheep. Sheep were one of the earliest animals to be domesticated, and they have been thoroughly domesticated. It is doubtful they could survive in the wild, if a predator risk existed.”
Leading the Sheep
The primary responsibility of a pastor is to lead and feed, to care for the sheep. As we see from this short description on the traits of sheep we learn that sheep need shepherds to lead them. If sheep are left to themselves without proper guidance and without the care and constant supervision of a shepherd, they tend to wander off and get lost. If not supervised properly, they can easily get injured, bruised or get into fights with each other. They do not like to be separated and when they are separated from the rest of the flock, they become very stressed and agitated. When they are outside of their flock and are all alone, they are vulnerable to the attacks of predators. So it is with the flock of Jesus Christ.
Numbers 27:17 Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd.
Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Feeding the Sheep
Second, the job of a shepherd is to feed the sheep and to lead them to pastures that provide the sheep with abundant wholesome food. Shepherds lead their sheep to pasture and water; a pastor feeds the sheep the pure undiluted milk of the Word. The job of a pastor is ensuring that the members are fed adequately with the whole Word of God and all of its teachings, with clear instructions on how to apply the principles found in God’s Word.
Jesus greatly emphasized the feeding of His sheep to Peter just after He had come to Peter and the other disciples when they were fishing. Jesus first asked Peter if he really did love Him and when Peter answered back that he did, Jesus three times gave the mandate to Peter to feed His lambs and His sheep.
John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Sheep must be constantly led to green pastures to feed off the land, for without food they soon grow thin, become weak, emaciated, sickly, and ultimately will die. It is of utmost importance that a pastor makes sure that the sheep under his care are fed, nourished, and nurtured by the whole counsel of the Word of God.
Just like shepherds that know their sheep, Pastors must know the members of his congregation and how much they can handle when it comes to what they are fed. The amount and the strength of the spiritual food must match the different levels the individual members are currently at. A pastor must be sensitive to the needs of new believers/spiritual babes in feeding them the elemental principles (milk) compared to the needs of those who are more mature in the faith and are in need of stronger meat. We are familiar with this concept given to us in the following verses.
1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 2:3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
A good shepherd knows how to wean the lambs from the elemental principles of milk that are given in the beginning, and he increases the diet with the spirituL meat which will cause the sheep to grow and become strong and fully spiritually equipped to live in the ways of God and to grow into what God would have them to be.
Tending the Sheep
Thirdly, a pastor’s job (just like a shepherd) is to tend or nurture the flock. When one of the sheep is wounded or becomes sick, the watchful eye of a good shepherd sees and will take that sheep under his wing and give that sheep the special attention it needs in order for it to recover and to become whole again. A good pastor is alert to the needs of his congregation and knows the sorrows, pain, and trials of each of the members. As their pastor, he strives to tend spiritually to their needs. A pastor’s job is to encourage, counsel, exhort and sometimes to correct the members to keep them firmly grounded in the faith. He so very much desires that they not regress but to go forward into growing to the fullness of the maturity of Christ and to conform to the mind and image of God. Sometimes other gifts are combined with the gift of pastor to enhance the pastor’s ability to help the individual members in their troubles, such as the gift of exhortation, wisdom, discernment, etc.
Protecting the Sheep
And fourthly, along with tending his flock, a pastor is quick to spot danger in the way of false teachers, false brethren, false teachings and false doctrines. He must steer the flock away from such people and their tainted food that will lead them astray and could even take them to their spiritual death.
Like Paul, a pastor’s concern is for the safety and purity of the sheep always.
2 Corinthians 11:1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
The pastor must guard his flock from the dangers of wolves and other predators. He does this by being skilled in the Word of God himself, therefore he is able to teach the flock the Word of Truth.
He constantly feeds his sheep with sound doctrine that they may become so familiar with the Word of God that they can instantly detect and resist heresy and false doctrine. A pastor is always on guard for false teachers and false prophets that come into contact with the sheep. Also, his job is to warn those who do stray from the truth of the consequences of going after false teachers who teach the traditions of men rather than holding firm to the traditions as taught in the Bible. (See Jude 3-4) A good pastor will teach his flock what Paul taught the brethren in Thessaloniki and he will be standing fast in the whole Word of God himself.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
A pastor must be firm and courageous when it comes to pointing out the dangers that come into their midst (2 John 7-11, 3 John 9-11, Jude 3-8) and alert the brethren of such danger. And somethings a pastor has to disfellowship those that are sinning willfully to guard the rest of the flock, but also to possibly help make the disfellowshipped member see the seriousness of his sin and to be challenged enough to see his need to repent (1st Corinthians 5). Also, it is the shepherd’s job to go looking for a lost sheep and hopefully bring him back. Remember Jesus’ parable of the one lost sheep (see Luke 15:3-6, and also Ezekiel 34:6-8).
The Office of Teacher
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.
The last two of the offices that are given in this verse are “pastors and teachers”.
The Teacher teaches but the Pastor adds to the office of teacher a greater level of caring for the flock
In teaching the brethren, the teacher is to impart the knowledge of the whole counsel of God but he must also train them how to think for themselves. The goal is never to have knowledge poured into the brain and then have the disciples parrot back what they have memorized, but a good teacher must show the disciples how to study and learn, and how to think about what they are learning on their own so that they can make godly choices when faced with various problems.
God’s people need to be capable of making decisions based on God’s commandments and principles; plus they must be encouraged to prove all things and know if something is true or not, and WHY it is true.
A good teacher encourages his sheep to think for themselves and that it is okay to ask questions; he is not afraid and does not feel threatened when the disciples ask him difficult questions. He knows by their questions that they are thinking about things that they are learning and he knows that in this way they grow by questioning everything and seeking the answers to the things that they do not understand or that are not that clear.
The teacher also trains the disciples how to master certain skills that they will need to have such as: how to discern between what is godly and what is not, how to see through false teachers, how to handle conflicts, how to answer those who ask of the hope that they have, and so forth.
There is a difference between teaching and training. Teaching involves the imparting of information from the pastor to the student (which is important) but a good pastor will not only teach, but will be actively training his students. Training requires much more hands-on participation and visually demonstrating to someone how to master particular skills.
John 13:12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13:13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 13:15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
It is not enough for a teacher to simply relay information through expounding of the scriptures, although that is very important too, but part of his job is to teach and train his congregation in the skills necessary for growth in spiritual maturity. It is the teacher’s responsibility to teach his sheep how to study on their own, how to pray, how to worship, how to meditate, how to grow in the fruit of the Spirit, how to identify and use their spiritual gifts and to encourage them to edify and help build up the body, and to get involved in ministry.
If the teacher is passionate and zealous in his work, he will infuse his enthusiasm for learning and living God’s way of life into his flock. The teacher’s willingness to mentor others, includes his own personal example, for others will see a good model of what it means to be a godly person and it will make it easier for the disciples to visualize what it means to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. In other words, the members of the congregation will see faith in action by the example of their teachers and pastors if they are setting a godly example in following in the footsteps of Christ.
In his own life and in his own practices, habits and conduct, everyone called out of this world is to mirror and reflect the ministry of Jesus Himself who is called the Good Shepherd and Bishop of our souls [lives] and who gave of Himself wholly to those given to Him by the Father.
Qualifications for Ordination
In reality we are ALL called out to become priests and kings and these things are the qualifications which we ALL must meet to be among the resurrected chosen first fruits!
To be elders it is required for all “elders” of Israel to be mature men, heads of families, capable men of strong moral character, fearing God, men of truth and integrity. The same things are required of all of us in order to be in the resurrection to spirit and enter the priesthood of Jesus Christ for all eternity.
Exodus 18:20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. 18:21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
Elders were men who were full of the Holy Spirit (Numbers 11:16-17); they were supposed to be capable men, full of wisdom, discernment, and experience; impartial and courageous men who would intercede, teach, and judge righteously and fairly.
Deuteronomy 1:13 Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. 1:14 And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. 1:15 So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. 1:16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. 1:17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
All of those characteristics were involved in the Jewish understanding of the term “elder” (presbuteros). So the concept and responsibility of being an elder was not new to the men of Judah in the early church. The use of the term “elder” to describe church leaders emphasizes that they needed to be mature men of integrity and having years of experience, shown to be strong and consistent in all moral character.
In the New Covenant, the office of elder was regarded as the highest level of local church leadership. Therefore, the office carried a great amount of sobriety and responsibility. The elders were charged with the care and feeding, as well as the spiritual guidance, of the entire congregation but it was not to be the kind of authority exercised by secular rulers.
The authority of elders over the church should never be self aggrandizing or bullying; but by setting a godly example and tirelessly teaching and exhorting of all people to live by every Word of God.
In 1 Timothy 3, and Titus 1, Paul gives a clear-cut list of the qualifications necessary for the office of pastor/bishop/elder and describes the kind of mature character and reputation that is required of a pastor in order to fill and continue to fill this office.
1 Timothy 3:1 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless [without sin], the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 3:7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
The Bible is very clear about how elders and pastors are to conduct themselves. We all need to be familiar with these Scriptures to help us to discern that those we are following are truly exemplifying what God says about the qualifications that He requires for those who hold the office of elder.
They are to be godly men of God of the highest moral integrity; those who have crucified the carnal lusts for control, power, money and pleasure; men that are not easily angered or frustrated.
In other words all candidates for ordination [and that includes all candidates for the resurrection to spirit] must be men that have proved that they can rightly rule themselves and have mastery over their human nature and inordinate emotions and that they are patient with others. That they know how to mange alcohol and are not given over to overindulgence of wine or strong drink. They are men who hold fast to the faithful Word of God and teach only sound doctrine and are able (skilled) to firmly oppose those who try to subvert them or their congregations to follow after false doctrines and heresies. They are not to be tainted by any of the Works of the Flesh; see our series on the Works of the Flesh.
They are to be above reproach in all things, also being excellent examples in their own family lives and in how they treat their women and children. An elder is to be a good husband having only one wife and having children who are obedient and not rebellious.
The qualifications of an elder, then, go far beyond good moral characteristics. An elder must be demonstrably skilled as a teacher and manager of his own life first, before he can teach and manage a congregation. His life must reflect these qualities, and, if it is otherwise, even in the handling of outside business and financial affairs, he is not qualified to be an elder.
To be ordained an elder one must not be a new convert to the faith, for it takes time for a man to grow to be spiritually grounded and also to mature and gain wisdom through the experiences of life. There also must be time for other elders to examine his life and evaluate if he does indeed have the proper qualifications.
In addition, elevating someone new to the faith to a position of leadership in the assembly could possibly make that person conceited and think of himself as more important than others.
This list of qualifications informs us that an elder, in addition to being of the highest moral character, must also have a spotless reputation with those inside and outside the congregation. His business and social activities in the community, the church, and within his family, in fact his whole life, must also be above reproach in order to qualify him to the office of elder.
Brethren, such qualifications for an office in the flesh reveal that the same high qualifications will be required to receive the gift of eternal life and an eternal priesthood [eldership]! We must all be striving to live by every Word of God and to gain a Christ like mastery over ourselves!
Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 1:8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
Another qualification for eldership at any level is that a person must love God’s flock [people], being willing to die for each one of them.
We can look at John 10 to see that a true shepherd of the sheep loves the sheep and is not like one that thinks of being a shepherd as just a job to earn a paycheck and retirement benefits. A true shepherd is willing to give up his own life for the benefit of the sheep. This can mean to die for them, but more typically it can mean that he is willing to give up his own hopes, dreams, and desires and the kind of life that others have, in order to devote his life to the care of the sheep.
John 10:12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 10:13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
From Old Testament times there were stringent instructions and guidelines beginning with Moses as to the qualifications for elders and they were carried over into the New Covenant Ekklesia and those qualifications apply right up to our modern times.
Those who are called to offices in the assemblies are placed in a position to give aid and assistance to the body of Christ; they are to lead the sheep just as Christ would lead them and they are to lead the sheep to Christ and to God the Father and not try to lead them to themselves, as we have seen happen so often with most of the COG corporate groups.
Peter also exhorted the elders in his congregations to be sure that they were living up to the very highest standards of what it meant to be a shepherd over the flock.
1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.
It is a great disservice and even dangerous when men who call themselves elders and leaders fail to do as Peter charges them and act as hirelings in the pursuit of enriching themselves at the expense of the people who look to them as their spiritual shepherds. In verse 3, Peter warns elders not to act as control freaks (lords over God’s heritage) and it is a great sin when pastors/elders do not provide godly righteous examples for those who look to them as leaders. The most important way a person can be a leader is to be an example of what he teaches to others and to be a mentor to them.
Paul is very adamant in spelling out the kind of leader that God requires in one who is called to be a guide to others; he condemns those that set themselves up to be leaders, but are hypocrites when it comes to teaching others what they themselves are unwilling to do.
Romans 2:19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, 2:20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. 2:21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 2:22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 2:23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
How can one be an effective leader if we ourselves do not live the kind of life that we preach to others?
It is very important for the sheep to be alert to the kind of men who would pastor and teach us. If we come to see that a elder, pastor of teacher is not acting like a true shepherd, that he lacks the qualifications that are required as taught in Scripture, then it is in our best interest to move on and not support those that mislead or set bad examples for us and our families.
How Are Elders to Be Ordained?
The New Testament clearly indicates that pastors/elders are to be uniquely set apart and appointed to their office. The Greek word for “appoint” is kathistémi (Strong’s # 2525) and means: to set in order, appoint, “to ordain”.
This word was used when talking about the appointment of elders in the early church to an office. Ordination simply implies official recognition and a public announcement setting men aside for special responsibilities. An example is when Timothy was ordained to his office and had hands laid on him. Here, Paul is encouraging him to give full devotion to his calling and not neglect it.
1 Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
The laying on of hands is an acknowledgment of what God has already revealed through the person’s fruits (Mat 7): acknowledging that God has already set this person apart to the work for which God has called him.
The ones laying on hands, are acknowledging and affirming that God has already officially placed the person in that office.
Paul also warned Timothy that in his job of choosing and ordaining other men to the office, to be very careful about whom he ordained. It is imperative that the leaders doing the ordaining seek God’s will and approval of each person that was ordained. And then only after that person had proved (over time, not by a quick snap decision) that he did have the calling and the qualifications to be ordained into the office of an elder.
1 Timothy 5:22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.
A believer must demonstrate over time and show that he would be capable of handling the office, that he does have the qualifications; and all the while demonstrating that he is totally loyal to the whole Word of God and living by it. Then after a period of time and it becomes clear that God is choosing him, he can be publicly acknowledged as one who is to be trusted in the service of shepherding others.
Also, the gift of pastor is a serious calling; the person must be willing to serve in this way, not because he is being compelled or pressured into it by friends and family; or because he seeks the adulation of the people, or just to earn money. He will want to do it because God has placed that desire in his heart.
1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.
Those who would be elders must desire and be willing to do whatever the calling requires to be done, to serve in this capacity because of their devotion to their LORD. That is one of the indications that God is calling them and gifting them for the position.
1 Timothy 3:1 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”
A man of God who is being called will desire the office, will sanctify himself from the ways of the world, and he will devote himself to prayer and to the Word of God. No one will have to talk him into the office; because serving God is his heart’s passion.
In truth a godly man who loves and is passionate to serve God in ANY office and would be glad to be in any position high or low just to please God; is the person who is fit for ordination to whatever office God calls him to.
Furthermore, he serves “voluntarily, according to the will of God” because in his heart he knows that God has spoken to him and he knows that he must obey the call of God upon his life no matter what anyone else wants for him.
Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
13:3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 13:4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
In Acts 13:2 the writer says that as these leaders were worshiping and fasting, the Holy Spirit distinctly instructed them to set apart Paul and Barnabas for a certain work that God had called them to perform. It was God’s choice, not the choice of the men that were present, and He made it be known to them. A call from God to do something or to fulfill a calling is very serious and is not to be taken lightly or ignored.
Unfortunately, in today’s Ekklesia there have been many who were chosen and ordained to be elders without the leaders seeking God’s will, nor did they consider all the qualifications as listed by Paul in his letters. Many were chosen who were not qualified, or the leaders chose certain men for the wrong reasons. And some were ordained before they spiritually matured and had gained enough experience in the art of living. They just did not have the experience and wisdom yet to handle the responsibilities of being a shepherd over others and the whole Ekklesia has suffered as a consequence of this.
We have a long and complex history of that in the modern day years of the COG’s, but that subject is beyond the scope of this brief article. The will of God must always be considered when choosing any person for positions in His Body. It is basically “a confirming” of what God has already decided, but the ones doing the choosing and ordaining must take all things in consideration and wholeheartedly seek God first before laying hands on anyone ordaining him to a certain office.
The ones doing the ordaining, too, must be devoted men of God who are very close to God and who can discern what His will is. When the leaders are corrupt or are lacking in godly leadership skills and lack the qualifications of an elder, it is very unlikely that they will be able to discern godly qualifications in others. They generally choose others who are more like themselves.
The the biblical way of ordaining elders is clearly spelled out in the scriptures and ideally it will work if all are going about it God’s way. Elders are to be a group of specially called and ordained men who have a heart and a great desire to serve and please God.
It will be evident by the fruits in their character and in the testimony of their lives that they are being called and gifted by the Holy Spirit. Only then are they to be appointed and ordained, and only if they show-forth evidence of being qualified through their consistent, genuine, testimony of a pure and godly life in the eyes of all that know them.
Paul and the other apostles sought God’s choice of who was to be appointed as elders in the assemblies, with prayer and fasting. It was of utmost importance to only choose deeply converted, godly, faithful men of high moral character. They sought for these positions those whom God would approve by praying and even fasting that He would guide them and help them to identify those qualified to be in the office. Only those who have given themselves completely over to God and His way of life would be serious about leading others to the righteousness of Christ and who would teach sound doctrine; only these are the kind of men who would make good elders.
Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, [in every assembly] and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
Paul’s Own Example and His Instruction for Elders
When Paul was about to depart from Miletus, he sent for the elders of the church and delivered to them a farewell message. At the same time, he wanted to impart to them a somber mandate that they follow the kind of example he had set for the brethren; he wanted them to realize that they had been called to feed, protect and cherish God’s beloved sheep that Jesus had purchased with His own blood.
He gave them warning ahead of time that there would be wolves that would come in amongst the flocks and would do much spiritual damage to the sheep, so they would need to be vigilant in watching out for them. These wolves would attempt to draw away the members of the Ekklesia to follow after themselves, teaching them perverse things. (Most of us have experienced this infiltration and apostasy from sound doctrine in our day as well and to following men and their organizations rather than putting God and His Word above all things.)
He charged them to be on guard for these kinds of people and to protect the brethren from them. This was a warning for the elders of his day, but is also a warning for us as well in the modern day Ekklesia. He gave them his own example of how he labored tirelessly to care for the flock and that they, too, should follow his example of doing so from a heart devoted to a godly love for them and not for what they could gain materially.
Paul was an apostle but he acted as a kind of pastor as well while raising up the many congregations throughout the territories he was sent to. We can see from his example that he himself was as a shepherd to the people of God for he acted in all the ways of caring, nurturing, teaching and guarding just as a shepherd does.
These people loved Paul and he loved them; we can pick up on this as we see the kind of apostle/pastor that he was from reading the following passages. Paul had the kind of love that wanted the best for the brethren and he never backed down from telling his followers when they were wrong and he could be quite harsh with them at times. But it was because he allowed no compromising and no spot and wanted them to be a part of the Firstfruits and not fall away (2nd Corinthians 11:2).
This section in Acts is very much an inspiration for all of us and instructional to all those who would be called to care and shepherd God’s people. It also provides the rest of us with a picture of the kind of pastors we in the Ekklesia should be seeking; and run from those who are not teaching and exemplifying the “whole counsel of God”, or who are more interested in the brethren’s silver, gold and apparel as mentioned toward the end of this message.
Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
20:18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
20:19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:
20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
20:22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
20:23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
20:25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
20:26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
Further preparing these elders for the work ahead, Paul addressed these elders and said that the Holy Spirit had made them overseers. He also said that their duty was to feed the church of God. Paul further gave them a charge and a warning about wolves that would try to divert the people to themselves.
20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
23:30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
20:33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.
20:34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
20:36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.
20:37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him,
20:38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more.
No matter what our calling is, or what our spiritual gifts are, all believers are to be involved in fulfilling the mission of the church. But at the same time, Scripture makes it clear that there are those appointed to be leaders to fulfill various responsibilities; whether it be an office of teacher, pastor, elder, prophet or apostle, and their primary function is to be the leaders and spiritual caregivers of the local assemblies and to preach the true Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ to all flesh.
The supreme model of this role of pastoral/shepherding ministry is seen in the work of Jesus Himself. Two of the titles that the writers of the New Testament bestow upon Him is that of the Good Shepherd and also the Great Shepherd. The analogy of the shepherd who cares and provides for his flock becomes then the analogy that defines the work of the local pastor.
Does God Appoint Woman to the Office of Pastor?
The following passage is one of several passages in the Bible that delineate the varying roles of men and women in local assemblies. Here we see qualifications listed for bishops/elders and also for deacons. These qualifications clearly restrict the office of pastor to men.
1 Timothy 3:1 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Earlier we mentioned that there were shepherdesses in the Old Testament that tended to the sheep just as the male shepherds did. But the New Testament clearly shows that the “office of pastor” is relegated to men.
While God wants women in the Ekklesia to minister and to use their spiritual gifts, He forbids women from serving as pastors/elders. The Bible reserves the role of leadership in the church (and in the home) to men. A key text in this instruction is in 1st Timothy 2:8-15.
1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 2:10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 2:13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 2:15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Paul makes a clear distinction between men and women in this passage and addresses the roles of each in God’s divine order of things.
When women are told that they must be silent in church assemblies, the understanding comes when we read the context and see just what Paul is talking about when he says that it is a shame for women to speak in the church. In verse 1st Corinthians 14:26, he says “when you come together” and from the context we can see that he is talking about formal church services. He goes on to list the proper decorum for formal services and admonishes that there must be order and proper authority exercised when we all “come together.” He then addresses the issue of women and their proper role when the members are assembled during those times.
1 Corinthians 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
Second, in 1 Timothy 2, if we back up a few verses, we read that this is also talking about when the Ekklesia came together for prayer and supplications [in formal worship services] and again Paul gives instruction for their assemblies; he first addresses the men and then he addresses the ladies. We see then that Paul is talking about how formal worship services should be conducted and how men and women should conduct themselves in public worship.
1 Timothy 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 2:13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 2:15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Just as he addressed maintaining order when church members come together in 1 Corinthians 14, here, again, he instructs the brethren about proper “authority roles” in the church when it comes to formal church services and authoritative offices that would put a women in authority over men. A woman is permitted to prophesy as per 1st Corinthians 11 and 13, but she is not to usurp authority over men (as God has decreed in other places in the Bible) when doing so. Paul is referring to the authority of a man over his wife that God has ordained when he goes on to talk about Adam and Eve and the order of things. A woman can prophesy or teach in other venues, but she is not to speak or teach as an authoritative speaker in formal church services or hold leadership positions in the Body of Christ. God is telling us in these Scriptures that it is because He has assigned the leadership role to men; to fathers and to husbands.
The words “usurp authority over” provide us the key to understanding this passage. Women should not be permitted the role of authoritative leadership in the church and this is supported by the verses that follow: “to ask their husbands” in 1st Corinthians 14 and by referencing back to Adam being formed first, and then Eve, who was created second and as a helpmate for Adam. Adam was created to be the leader of his household and the woman was created to be his helper. This is what is being referred to in verses 1st Timothy 2:11-15.
Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Women are not to hold positions of authority or become pastors or give sermons in formal church services, because God has decreed that it is the responsibility of men to exercise the leadership role and women are not to take that responsibility away from them. Paul, in all of these verses, is focusing on the fact that women are forbidden to take leadership roles in the Ekklesia over men which is very much in tune with the subject of correct church government in the home which is within a family system. Christ is the head of the man, and the man is the head of his wife, their children being subject to both their parents. It is a matter of church government within the family as designed by God.
“This issue is much misunderstood. It is all about legitimate godly family structure and is not meant as a slight against women. Women are not to preach in the church service, nor are they to become pastors because it would be unseemly for a lady to be exercising authority over the husband that she vowed before God to obey.” (For a study on this subject see: Women’s Role in the Ekklesia)
God intends, most certainly, that women are to worship Him along with the males at formal assemblies. She may sing hymns during services, and talk to others, fellowshipping before and after services; she just must not do so as one having the position of leadership in the congregation. This understanding is in complete agreement with Paul’s discussion in 1st Corinthians 11, a chapter that demonstrates that women did participate in prayer and prophecy in the early church while still being under the authority of their husbands.
We can draw obvious conclusions then from all of these Scriptures; that women can certainly teach and declare the works of God by exercising their spiritual gifts, but they are not allowed to become elders or pastors. In Titus the older women are specifically commanded to teach the younger women and the children; Paul even describes what they are to teach. The older women are to teach the younger women, among other things, the proper order of headship in the home and how to love their husbands and their children. (See Titus 2:3)
All God’s People are Called to Shepherd Each Other
Women are not called to be pastors and even among the males, only a few are called to be pastors as it says in Ephesians 4:8, 11 and 1st Corinthians 12:18 that God gives these appointments to just a few members in the Body as it pleases Him.
But that does not preclude both men and women from caring for the sheep, for caring and helping one anther in an unofficial capacity. In fact we are commanded to care for those who are weak, those in prison or who are ill, the elderly, widowed and orphans. And we are all to be teaching and exhorting each other as we have opportunity.
Jesus commissioned Peter to feed His sheep and this command was not just for the apostles and those called to serve in official capacities. Just as Jesus inquired of Peter, if we too have love for our Lord, we will love His sheep and do what we can to water and feed them as we interact and grow to know each other and what the needs of our brothers and sisters are. In many ways we can be like a shepherd to the brethren when they need a kind word or have wounds that need binding.
Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
Those who have children are to act as shepherds in caring for them, teaching, guarding them from predators, and tending to hurts, and in that way most of us can be like pastors to our children, including the moms.
Isaiah 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Helpers of Your Joy
Pastors are not to be overbearing or try to control every aspect of the brethren’s lives. They lead them to the water and then it is up to the brethren to drink. They are not to try to exalt themselves as higher than the brethren or see themselves as great ones that are more deserving than those “under them”. In the Ekklesia there are not different classes of saints such as lay people and clergy; rather we are all brethren. Jesus taught that those who are called to be leaders, including pastors, are really in effect the ones who are the servants; but we are all just brothers and sisters in the Lord and should treat each other with equal respect.
Matthew 20:24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
The elders are to be good examples of what it means to be zealous for God and for all of His ways. By exemplifying zeal to learn about God, to live for Him, to delight in Him, and to serve and obey Him, they encourage others to do so as well. They are to be helpers of our joy as the Bible says, and not our taskmasters or dictators.
2 Corinthians 1:23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. 1:24 Not for that we have dominion [not that we rule as dictators] over your faith, but are helpers of your joy [work with you to help increase your joy]: for by faith ye stand.
Matthew 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
We are to respect those who are in the office of pastor and follow and submit to their teachings and admonitions as long as they are in accordance with God’s Word and all of His commandments.
Also, they, too, are just men who need our support and encouragement, for just like other brethren, they also suffer trials and persecutions. Pastors have tremendous work loads and they sometimes can become weary from the demands placed upon them and can become overwhelmed at times. The hard working pastor who works full time and is dedicating his life to the work of ministering to God’s sheep is entitled to the tithes and offerings that God commands that we give to those who are doing His Work. They too need to eat and take care of their families; they have expenses and needs, and because they devote their time to doing this kind of work they are unable to work at secular jobs. They depend on the tithes, for all their time and energies are going into shepherding the flock rather than working in a career. In most cases, it is just not feasible for them to hold down other jobs to support themselves and it would detract from their main job of being a pastor.
We can offer to help them in other ways other than just tithes; we can come along side of them and contribute with our gifts and talents and try to ease the burden they carry in practical ways. I think of the wealthy Shunammite woman who ask her husband to set up a room for Elisha, that whenever he came through the area he would have a place to stay.
2 Kings 4:8 And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. 4:9 And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. 4:10 Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.
We all have been given certain gifts by God and we as a body should be helping each other with our gifts and talents including using them to help the pastor. One way to help our local congregation is to help our pastor in any way we can and in things that he may have need of to help him in his work.
1 Thessalonians 5: 12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 5:13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 5:18 For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
And keep the pastor in prayer every day; that is one sure way we can assist the shepherd by asking God give him strength and to empower him to be able to do all that is required of him. Also pray that God would shield him from the evil one, to give him wisdom and discernment to lead and to guide the sheep of the flock into all truth and spiritual maturity. Paul was not hesitant in asking the brethren to pray for him for he know the dangers and weaknesses that could beset him and his companions.
Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
6:19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: 3:2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
Pastors that Abuse
The Lord also has a word of warning in Jeremiah 23 and in Ezekiel 34 in regard to pastors, elders and bishops or anyone that is in an office of leadership in the Ekklesia. Both these chapters have specific warnings to all those who would abuse the office of pastor/elder/bishop for their own aggrandizement and to take advantage of God’s sheep.
Jeremiah 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. 23:2 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. 23:3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 23:4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.
Ezekiel 34:1 And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 34:2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
34:3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 34:4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.
34:5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 34:6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
34:7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; 34:8 As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; (Please see the whole chapter of Ezekiel 34)
Yes, God will hold the ministry and all those who abuse the sheep accountable, but He also expects His sheep to do their homework and check out all those who would be our leaders and our teachers and He will hold the sheep accountable as well. God provides us with much instruction and many warnings in His Word and He will hold the sheep accountable if they blindly follow those who lead them in any way contrary to the commands and sound doctrines that are contained in His Word.
Just as Paul exhorted his followers to follow him only as he followed Christ, so should we only allow ourselves to be led by those who passionately follow Christ, (See 1st Corinthians 11:1) and we are exhorted to check up on all those who are in positions of leadership and/or teachers that teach us about the things of God and His Word.
Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, [including all those in leadership positions] and are not, and hast found them liars:
This is very, very serious for those who lead have the power to influence us and as humans we have a tendency to want to please and be like those we think of as respected leaders. Leaders have the power to influence for good and help others to live righteously; or they have the power to lead a whole nation (or COG group) astray. Read and study the accounts of all the kings of Judah and Israel; the good and the bad. We see and have experienced this in our modern era; elders continue to exercise a lot of influence in the groups and congregations that are scattered abroad in these end times. But they do not have more power to influence than God and His Holy Spirit leading us if we are abiding in Christ and seeking Him on a daily basis (John 15:1-8).
Let God be our most important and influential Pastor and Shepherd and then only listen to those who are passionately following Jesus and walking in all of His ways. Watch to see what kind of fruits a leader shows forth and how he lives his life, how he talks, and how he controls his anger and emotions; if he is approachable and humble; and if he is willing to change when he discovers that he has been in error on something. Jesus tells us that by their fruits ye shall know them. Pray and ask God to show us the fruits of those who call themselves the leaders and pastors of the Ekklesia.
The Bible is to have the final say on all that we believe and if a pastor is diligently teaching and expounding upon the truths of the Bible, we still must look everything up for ourselves and come to believe because of what the Bible says, and not just because a pastor says it.
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
A true pastor must focus on Christ and never allow the focus to be on himself; his job is to point the sheep to the Father and to Jesus Christ and never seek to exalt himself.
What we have been talking about may seem difficult, and perhaps even overwhelming, but take this to heart: God does not call us to do anything that He has not empowered and enabled us to do! If we are abiding in Him and searching out His truth on a daily basis, He will lead us to know if a leader (shepherd) is leading us right or not. Pray everyday that God will lead us into all of His truth and to bring us into contact with others who love His truth just as much as we do; and to put a hedge of protection around us from false pastors and false doctrine.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 16:14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 16:15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
John 17:6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
Pastors are charged with the job feeding and watering the flock with the truth of God, teaching them to obey and to zealously and wholeheartedly keep all the commands and ways of God; they are to diligently protect the flock from false doctrine and false teachers.
In summary then, the role of a pastor is to shepherd and mentor those placed in his care. The role of pastor (shepherding) is very important as seen by the emphasis that Jesus puts on it in John 21:15-17 where Jesus charges Peter that his job is to feed and tend those Jesus considers as His sheep. A pastor protects the flock from false doctrine by teaching, feeding and watering the flock with the whole Word of God. He goes beyond protecting by also working diligently and tirelessly for the spiritual growth of the flock by helping God’s people to become complete just as Paul describes in Ephesians 4.
Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
So just as a good shepherd, one called to be a pastor must see his congregation as a flock of sheep that is entrusted to him by the Father and by the Lord Jesus Christ, and that his job is to aid the saints to become perfected and complete just as the Father and Son are perfect and complete: guiding, teaching, encouraging them to become all that the Father intends for them. A pastor does all that he can do humanly, with the Father’s help, to ensure that those who have been put into his congregation will someday be ready and qualified to enter the Family of God as capable, holy, and righteous kings and priests.