He was set apart to administer justice, settle disputes, and guide the people of his charge. In 1 Peter it refers to Christ. It suggests the pastoral work of watching over or guarding souls and implies general responsibility for the moral and spiritual welfare of a local church.
The point of the office was service rather than power. The position implied overall supervising, ordering, protecting and setting direction. Their duties included preaching and teaching the Word of God 1 Timothy and anointing the sick James In the NT leadership was the joint responsibility of elders and deacons. There were only these two offices; there is no office of pastor.
There is the work of pastoring and the gift of pastoring, but apparently there is no office as such in the NT. No person in the NT is ever referred to as the pastor of a church. The office of pastor today is not incorrect provided that the NT safeguards and precautions are observed.
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These safeguards are discussed below. A comparison with Acts 20 verse 28 with verse 17, indicates that this was the service committed to elders overseers or bishops. However, it is not certain that in the NT Church any one man had the sole responsibility over a given church. It was customary to have a group of persons in each local church who were responsible for spiritual leadership Acts The first century church was governed by a group of elders and deacons so that there was no one officer doing what a modern pastor does. Pastor was not an official title. The office of elder or bishop, and the spiritual gift of pastoring, or shepherding, are not the same thing in the NT.
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One can have the gift of pastor without being an elder; and one can hold the office of elder without having the gift of pastor. Paradoxically, the leaders or spiritual shepherds of the church including deacons, must be humble servants, not self-seeking masters, but leading the flock by examples of service to it.
The Greek words referring to this office of leadership imply humble service and loving care, not self-seeking or dictatorial power, or an overbearing arrogance.
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God is especially concerned with the character of those who lead the Church. While the NT does not have a blueprint for church government, it prescribes clear criteria for leaders of the church. Paul in writing to Timothy 1 Timothy is not concerned about their attractive image or sparkling personality or depth of knowledge. There is no place in spiritual leadership for the pride of self-glory or the abuse of power. Only those mature Christians with the highest standards should be chosen.
The Church of Jesus Christ deserves the best, not the inadequate. In the NT both elders and deacons had to prove their spiritual credentials, especially their trustworthiness. Spiritually healthy leaders grow spiritually healthy churches and the reverse is also true. Satan targets leaders and those who are unready or unfit for office are tragically vulnerable.
These elders were appointed from their own local assemblies and not from other churches. There are several advantages of group leadership:. No one individual, no matter how gifted, can cope with all the demands of ministry. Some pastors are detail men; others are big picture men.
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All believers-in-community together contribute to the way the body of Christ functions. But a church that is dominated by the personality and character flaws of one man will always be unbalanced. If more than one person leads the church, there is a better chance that the church will be balanced.
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It appears that those churches that have a pastor or bishop or superintendent as an authority above others are more likely to have a disproportionately high number of moral failures at the top level of leadership. Basic to the idea of headship is supremacy. Instead ministry belonged to the whole church.
Those with the gift of leadership are called to equip all believers for mature discipleship and service, and not impose an autocratic form of leadership. The gifts that Christ confers upon the Church are individuals who are devoted to ministry. It is likely that they were the same people. It is essential to avoid the unhealthy dominance of one or two ministries over the others, or worse the dictatorial dominance of a one-man-ministry that suppresses other ministries.
Instead a variety of spiritual gifts, exercised in love 1 Corinthians 13 , is necessary to achieve the corporate maturity that God intends. When spiritual gifts are exercised, it should be in good order and for the building up of the assembly, not for personal glory or self-advancement. Every Christian has a spiritual task and a function in the local church. Paul does not imagine that any member of the church will be a mere spectator in worship or in service.
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It is meant to be a living and vibrant faith in Christ whose life provides the dynamic for unity and mutual growth into maturity. Moreover there is an emphasis in scripture on doing the work of the ministry in company with other believers. Paul constantly surrounded himself with colleagues who shared his shepherding responsibilities.
Paul never went on a missionary journey by himself. Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, and Luke were his traveling companions. Thus NT leadership involved the collective leadership of equal partners. Paul was not a solo shepherd. Jesus sent his disciples out two-by-two. This is not to say that individuals cannot do anything by themselves. However, the ideal is ministry by community. He was influenced by the pattern of the charismatic community. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us.
Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. This lost letter probably contained instructions from John that Diotrephes ignored. Diotrephes was a man of influence and authority in the church who opposed the apostle John.
His position is not clear but it was an important one. He was more interested in advancing his own position than in furthering the work of God.
Diotrephes was motivated by pride and selfish ambition. It occurs only here in the NT.
Instead of giving the pre-eminence to the Lord Jesus Christ, he claimed it for himself. He also spread malicious gossip against John and he intolerantly rejected those who disagreed with him. Often independent Pentecostal churches suffer from this abuse of spiritual authority. All church leaders should be careful not to follow this bad example but model themselves on Christ.
The genuine spiritual leader is not a dictator but a humble servant or slave like Jesus Himself Philippians It is the responsibility of all church members to pray faithfully for their leaders and their families. Not so with you. This self-seeking request and the anger of the other ten disciples 24 , showed that the disciples were thinking in terms of an earthly kingdom. Their ideas of greatness were based on the ordinary standards of the world that are directly opposed to those of the kingdom of heaven.
Rome, for example, tyrannized and exercised arbitrary power over the Jewish people.