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PASTORAL DUTIES: I

INTRODUCTION

POIMEN IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

Normally the office of "pastor" is thought of as a New Testament Office. The NT word for pastor is poimen. Poimen means literally "shepherd." The Lord Jesus is called the "Chief Shepherd" in 1 Peter 5, where the term shepherd is obviously used in a figurative sense; here the Lord Jesus holds a position towards men, not sheep; but the position is analogous to that of a shepherd over sheep.

Aside from any references to the Lord Jesus as shepherd/pastor, only one time in the New Testament could it be said that poimen is used for human beings who are not literal shepherds of sheep, but have an analogous position in the church (ordinary pastors vs. the Lord Jesus, who is the chief pastor). That one passage is in Ephesians 4, where, however, the word poimen does not occur by itself, but in the phrase "pastors-and-teachers," or "pastor-teachers." In Ephesians 4 this phrase is used to describe probably only one spiritual gift, not two gifts (that of pastor and that of teacher).

Although we have only this one place in the New Testament where ordinary pastors are mentioned, the terms "elder" and "overseer" (bishop) are found a number of times. My conclusion (having studied the scripture) is that elders are the same as overseers and that elders must be pastors -- a man could be a pastor without being an elder, however, if he lacked the qualifications for elder. For example, a disorderly pastor would not be qualified to be an elder. (See 1 Timothy and Titus for elder qualifications).

RO'EH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

In view of the fact that only once in the New Testament the term poimen is found for (ordinary) pastor, one may consider the Old Testament for more data on the pastor (spiritual shepherd). It is interesting that in the OT the term "shepherd" is found, for example in Ezekiel 34, where the Hebrew term is ro'eh (consonants: resh-ayin-he) (consonents with vowel points: resh holem ayin segol he).

Much of the teaching in the OT on the ro'eh is applicable to the NT pastor. Let us consider some points that Ezekiel makes in chapter 34, as found in the American Standard Version (1901):

CRITICISMS OF THE RO'EH IN EZEKIEL 34

1. 34:2: "FEED THEMSELVES!"

There concern was to feed themselves, which implies self-centered activities intended to do themselves good, as opposed to selfless concern for the sheep. David is an example of a shepherd who loved and cared for the sheep. When a lion or bear came to attack the sheep, he did not run, but put himself between the wild beast and the sheep. Before the beast could kill one of his sheep, the beast would have to kill David first.

2. 34:4: "THE DISEASED HAVE YE NOT STRENGTHENED, NEITHER HAVE YE HEALED THAT WHICH WAS SICK"

There are many things wrong with Christians. We put on our toothpaste smiles and say "Fine" when asked how we are. But Christians suffer much. We all have a disease called "indwelling sin" (Romans 7). And some of us are out of fellowship with God. But getting involved with the diseases of the sheep is not a fun job. It is much easier to avoid the diseased.

And it may be a bloody job to storm a satanic stronghold. But how many of our churches have satanic strongholds in them? How many of our churches have cancers growing -- growing as the church is dying.

3. 34:4: "NEITHER HAVE YE BROUGHT BACK THAT WHICH WAS DRIVEN AWAY, NEITHER . . . SOUGHT THAT WHICH WAS LOST"

Persons may fall by the wayside, stop attending services; go away hurt, get entangled in the affairs of the world. Should a pastor say to himself, "That guy was a trouble-maker; boy, I'm glad he is gone. He sinned and we excommunicated him; good ridance." But 2 Corinthians has a different theory on this.

4. 34:4: "WITH FORCE AND RIGOR HAVE YE RULED OVER THEM."

Yet our Lord Jesus taught that the leader should be a servant.

5. 34:8: NEITHER DID MY SHEPHERDS SEARCH FOR MY SHEEP

The parable of the 100 sheep comes to mind.

A POSITIVE DUTY OF THE RO'EH IN EZEKIEL 34

34:2: SHOULD NOT THE SHEPHERDS FEED THE SHEEP?

Feeding is analogous to teaching the Word of God to Christians. Somebody has to go to the store (or gather from the field) and buy food, cook it, and serve it. This takes time. Feeding the sheep requires study of the word with prayer as a preliminary. The pastor is to give diligence to show himself a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of God. Once the truth has been discovered and the applications made apparent, the spiritual food is may be ready to be served, but hopefully it will not be slung on the table with no plates and tableware. It may take time to prepare a good sermon. However, the sermon is not the only time for teaching: Teaching the word may be done in season and out of season.

CONCLUSION

Pastoral duties are vital and important to the health of individual Christians and churches. Any man who is so gifted should know that he will have to appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ and be judged for his conduct. But the great encouragement remains that there is a special gift promised for faithful elders:

1 Peter 4 KJV:

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:
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;
3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.














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