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BIBLE AND THEOLOGY FORUM
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PASTORS AND DEACONS

Pastors are commonly hired by churches today. A church will be legally without a pastor for some reason, a temporary interim pastor will be hired, and eventually a pastor will be brought in and hired. In the interim, "deacons" are likely to take the job of leading the church. In many churches hiring a pastor is consummated by a congregational vote; likewise, a pastor may be fired by a congregational vote.

Now please help me out. I have read the Bible and lost count on the times I have read it. Now I don't find the practices in paragraph 1 in the Bible anywhere.

In the early church we find that the founding missionary and apostle Paul appoints elders (who are pastors) in all the churches he founded. The elders are not brought in from somewhere else; they are church members appointed because they have the spiritual gift of pastor (or pastor-teacher) and the qualifications to be elder. There is no congregational vote to appoint an elder anywhere. And there is no grounds to dismiss an elder from his position in a church unless he should prove not to have the gift or lack qualifications.

Pastors, then, are essential to a church. The term is plural for pastor and elder in a church; but the church involved is the city church, probably including members who meet in various house churches. The various pastors have there cleros, or segment of the flock, as indicated by 1 Peter 5. Whether or not there was one pastor per house church is not stated.

Basic to the function of a pastor is feeding and leading. It appears obvious from the analogy of a shepherd and sheep, that feeding precedes leading. Although I know little about shepherding sheep, it seems apparent that the sheep will follow the one that feeds them. The pastor then needs to feed the congregation with the Word of God written and with the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, who is also called the Word of God.

The classic passage on the function of the Deacon is Acts 6; where the term "deacon" does not exactly occur, but the verb "to deac" does occur. In this passage, in contrast to those that regard pastors or elders, there is the indication of a choice by the congregation, which could have been done by a vote. However, these early deacons were not merely chosen by the congregation, they were also appointed by the apostles: 6:6 "whom they set before the apostles. And when they had prayed, they laid their hands upon them."


HERE IS THE PASSAGE IN ACTS 6

Acts 6:1 Now in these days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring of the Grecian Jews against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration [ DIAKONIA]. 2 And the twelve called the multitude of the disciples
unto them and said:

It is not fit that we should forsake the word of God
and serve [ DIAKONEIN ]tables.
3 Look you* out therefore, brothers,
from among you* seven men of good report,
full of the Spirit and of wisdom,
whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will continue stedfastly in prayer
and in the ministry of the word.

5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip and Prochorus and Nicanor and Timon and Parmenas and Nicolaus a proselyte of Antioch; 6 whom they set before the apostles. And when they had prayed, they laid their hands upon them.
-------------------------------------------------

CONSIDER ACTS 6:1-6

1. THE QUALIFICATIONS FOR DEACON IN ACTS

1) "from among you, . . . brothers" (6:3)

The men were saved members of the church.

2) "men of good report" (6:3)

3) full of the Spirit (6:3)

While the job was in a sense physical (not Bible teaching) and administrative, the men chosen were to be spiritual men.

4) full (of the Spirit and)of wisdom. (6:3)

2. THE DUTIES OF DEACONS IN ACTS 6

1) Administration in Charitable Distribution

Acts 6:1 "Now in these days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring of the Grecian Jews against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration [ DIAKONIA].

2)serve [ DIAKONEIN ]tables.

3)accept assignment to a specific task by the apostles so that the apostles could give attention to teaching the Word of God and prayer:

"whom we may appoint over this business." 6:3

"It is not fit that we should forsake the word of God
and serve [ DIAKONEIN ]tables." 6:2

"But we will continue stedfastly in prayer
and in the ministry of the word." 6:4

Now these men had a task which in a sense is physical, as opposed to teaching the Bible or praying. But their appointment to a deacon task, did not disqualify them from spiritual tasks, unrelated to them being deacons. Very soon we read about 2 of these deacons undertaking spiritual tasks, involving the Word of God.

However, one thing seems clear: These deacons did not act autonomously, but were given a specific task by the apostles. These deacons did not choose their tasks, but carried out a task given to them by the apostles. The deacons are definitely not the selectors of elders, nor given the task of providing general leadership over the congregation in Acts 6.

The general leadership is put by the New Testament into the hands of elders, who are also called overseers or bishops, and who also are clearly pastors in their functions. To be an elder a man must be apt to teach (sheep feeders; 1 Tim. 1:2. In 1 Peter 5 elders are told to "Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, . . . ." One who has the oversight of sheep is a shepherd; i.e., a pastor.