Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pastors in Ephesians 4:11

I want to express a different viewpoint without being judgmental. Is that possible? I think so. But if you don't think so, I'd prefer you read no further. I respect those who hold a traditional view on this, no judgmental feelings aiming your way.

Here is part 7 of a series on leaders/elders/overseers/pastors. Looking at Scripture references typically used to support the traditional models of church leadership. If you haven't read the first 6 posts in this series, here they are. I'd encourage you to first study what Jesus says on the topic of leadership before reading any of these other passages.

Previous Posts in this series:

Ephesians 4:11-16 (NIV)

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Verse 11 is the only verse in the New Testament
(in most translations), that uses the term 'Pastors'.

If you want to learn about the office of pastor, Ephesians 4:11 is the verse to look at.

I wanted to include more than verse 11 since the whole passage is a great reminder of how many members of Christ's body function together, with Christ as the head, growing together in Christ's love.

pastors - poimenas - ποιμένας
  • is related to poimenes - ποιμένες which gets translated as shepherds
  • is related to poimēn - ποιμὴν which gets translated as shepherd
  • is related to poimena - ποιμένα which gets translated as shepherd
  • is related to poimenōn - ποιμένων which gets translated as shepherds
  • a shepherd is someone who cares for and feeds a flock

A few initial thoughts:

  • Why don't we translate poimenas in Ephesians 4:11 as shepherd?
  • Jesus is frequently refereed to as the good shepherd and chief shepherd.
  • There is no record of anybody going by the title of pastor or lead pastor until the days of John Calvin in the 1500's.
  • I wonder if Jesus would have added 'Pastor' to his list in Matt 23:8-12 of titles he didn't want his followers using?

Is this passage talking about 5 offices that Christ gave to a select few to build up the body?

Or is it talking about 5 characteristics or gifts that most believers should have in varying degrees?


What if we translated a few more terms into common English:
  • apostles - messengers who are sent out, ambassador
  • prophets - those who speak a message of God
  • evangelists - those who shares the good news
  • pastors/shepherds - those who care for other believers
  • teachers - already translated into common English

Could it be that this is talking about the whole body of Christ? Shouldn't most Christ followers be actively participating in a few of these areas?
Some will be more gifted in some areas than others, and should lead by example so others can grow in that area as well.


The whole passage could be read something like this:

So Christ himself gave some messengers who are sent out, some who speak a message of God, some who share the good news, some who care for other believers, and some who teach, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and...

This passage is about Christ being the head of the body. Many members of the body have different roles to play so that we all Grow up in God's love.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Next post: What titles did leaders in the early church use?

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