Is Your Pastor A Pastor In The Biblical Sense?

The word "pastor" (Latin for “shepherd”) appears in our English Bible and is from the Greek word poimen. This word occurs 18 times in the New Testament and refers to one who feeds and cares for a flock of sheep. This word is most often translated "shepherd" but it can be translated "pastor" also.

A "pastor" that is often used in the modern, denominational sense is the man in authority at a denomination. He is the chief person in power on everything that happens in that denomination.

However, the New Testament teaches that each congregation of God's people is to be governed, not by a single individual, but by a group of elderly men who are respected and experienced in leadership and meet certain qualifications. These men are the true "pastors" of God's flock. These men are the true "bishops" (Latin for “overseers”) of the congregation in that they are to have the oversight of the local church, making sure that things are running in accordance with the will of God (Philippians 1:11 Peter 5:1-4Acts 20:28). It is not to be done by a single man, but a plurality of men (as we find in every example of the New Testament, such as, Acts 14:23Titus 1:5). [NOTE: Please consult our question on “Who Are The Bishops of Philippians 1:1?” for further inquiry].

The Scriptures clearly oppose only one man ruling over a congregation. It is a sinful departure from the divine pattern for one man to be in charge of a congregation by himself.

There are scriptural reasons why God commands more than one elder for each congregation: 

  1. There is more wisdom available when there is more than one man ruling (Proverbs 11:14).

  2. There is more safety when there is a plurality of elders rather than a single pastor (Acts 20:28).

  3. Before these men can be appointed to the eldership, they must meet the qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7and Titus 1:5-9. These qualities show forth their maturity and wisdom.

  4. True pastors have authority only in the congregation where they were appointed. They cannot oversee other congregations (1 Peter 5:1-4). According to this, the elders are to shepherd only the flock "among them." That is, they take care of one flock only and only the flock over which they were ordained. Some so-called "pastors" today have oversight over several congregations. This is a clear and serious departure from the divine pattern.

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