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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary


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Ephesians 4:8-11 states that pastors and teachers were among the risen Christ’s gifts to the church. The grammatical link between the two words in the original language indicates that they refer to the same people, pastor-teachers.

Another point that is clearer in the original language than in English is the connection between the words ‘pastor’, ‘shepherd’ and ‘flock’. All come from the same Greek root. A pastor, or shepherd, is one who leads and cares for God’s flock, the church (John 21:15-17; Acts 20:28-29; 1 Peter 5:1-4). In referring to leaders of God’s people as shepherds, the New Testament writers were following a well established Old Testament usage of the word (Numbers 27:17; Isaiah 63:11; Jeremiah 50:6; see SHEPHERD). But whereas the shepherd-leaders of Israel were often concerned only for themselves (Ezekiel 34:2-6), the Christian’s example of a shepherd-leader, Jesus Christ, gave himself for the flock (Matthew 9:36; Matthew 10:6; John 10:1-15; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

One reason why pastors must also be teachers is that their means of feeding the flock is the teaching of the Word (Acts 20:28; see TEACHER). Some may move from place to place, spending periods of varying lengths in different churches (Acts 11:25-26; Acts 20:31). Others may be settled residents of particular localities, and most likely be elders in their local churches (Acts 20:28-32; Colossians 4:12-13). Elders must have pastoring abilities (1 Peter 5:1-4) and teaching abilities (1 Timothy 3:2). Their leadership and care of the church involves feeding it on teaching that is wholesome and protecting it from teaching that is harmful (Acts 20:29; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 1 Timothy 6:3-21; Titus 1:9; see ELDER).

It is not the duty of the pastor-teachers to carry out all the service of God in the church. They must not encourage the Christians to be totally dependent on them. On the contrary they should use their God-given gifts in such a way that all the Christians are better equipped to carry out God’s service and better able to understand Christian teaching. In this way individual Christians will grow to spiritual maturity and the church as a whole will be built up (Ephesians 4:11-16; cf. Ezekiel 34:2-6).

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Pastor'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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