“And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers.” – Ephesians 4:11
Let’s think about the idea of today’s “pastor.” I hear a lot of people in regular conversation say, “My pastor” this or “the pastor” that. In much of Christendom today, the word “pastor” has become synonymous with “preacher.” But that’s not how the term pastor is used in the New Testament.
The word for “pastor” in its original language in the text – Greek – is poimenas. It means “a shepherd”, and is used in reference to a feeder, protector, and ruler of a flock, according to Strong’s concordance.
The same reference is made of elders and bishops. Notice 1 Peter 5:1-2:
“Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly.”
Peter encourages the other elders to “shepherd God’s flock.” So elders are shepherds, which is what pastors of the New Testament are. Peter also refers to Christ as the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (1 Pet. 2:25). And we’ve seen the qualifications of elders in The Organization Of The Church.
I submit that the words elders, pastors, and bishops are used synonymously in the New Testament. They are the same. And the “pastor” of the majority of Christendom today is not anything like the “pastors” of the New Testament.
When reviewing the qualifications of elders/bishops/pastors in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, we see that pastors must be married with children, and they must meet several other requirements. Many of the men who profess to be a pastor today would not meet the requirements of being a pastor as described by the New Testament.
Also, there is always a plurality of elders of the New Testament. That means, anytime you see the mention of pastors, elders, or bishops, it’s always plural – or more than one.
The church of the New Testament did not just have one “pastor.” There were multiple pastors/elders/bishops who oversaw the congregations of the church at one time. No one man had any special authoritative power over the rest of the church. Christ is the head of the church (Col. 1:18).
Having multiple elders, or pastors, prevents one man from getting overwrought with pride and from acting as if he owns the church. No one man should be given full authority in the church over the flock.
It’s more appropriate to refer to the one who preaches as a preacher or evangelist. The Apostle Paul told Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5). Evangelist simply means a preacher of the gospel.
Furthermore, some people refer to the preacher as a “reverend.” It ought not to be so. That term is only used to reference one somebody. Notice Psalm 111:9:
“He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.”
Now, it’s God’s name that is reverend and holy. So, why would we try to apply that title to a mere man? The Bible does not say that a man’s name is reverend. It says that God’s name is. We shouldn’t attach a religious title to a man’s name. Jesus warned of this in Matthew 23:9.
If we want to be restored to New Testament Christianity, then we must get rid of the “one pastor” system that is prevalent in much of Christendom today and appoint multiple elders/pastors in congregations – relieving one man of having way too much control over a group of people. It was never intended to be that way.
Preachers preach and pastors shepherd. Those are two very different things.
Do you want to be a New Testament Christian? Believe that Jesus is the Christ, repent of your sins, confess His sweet name, and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of salvation.
Don’t let any “pastor” tell you any differently than that, which is found in the Word of God.
Let’s be New Testament Christians.
“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” – 1 Peter 5:4
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