Pastoral Theology 6303
January 28, 2011
Shepherding, A Term for Pastoral Office
The five distinct terms used for the pastoral office by John Macarthur are elder (presbyteros), bishop or overseer (episkopos), shepherd or pastor (poimen), preacher (kerux), and teacher (didaskalos). My favorite term among these five is the shepherd or pastor. Macarthur shares that shepherding or pastor (poimen) is a position that denotes leadership and authority (Acts 20:28-31; Eph. 4:11) as well as guidance and provision (1 Pet. 2:25; 5:2-3). "A pastor is one who tends or herds flocks; feeding, guiding, and superintending them. A pastor exercises oversight of the flock of God, the believers. A pastor is a shepherd." My reasons for choosing pastor or shepherd among the others are discussed below.
Jesus, the God incarnate, is the good shepherd. Jesus says in the gospel of John, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.... I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd" (John 10:11, 14-16).
The pastor as a shepherd realizes that he is called to provide for those who are already in the fold (believers) and to go and bring those who are not in the fold through evangelism. Sheep have poor sense of direction (Jer. 50:6), and need to be sought after diligently (Eze. 34:12).
The pastor is called to the office not to seek for himself but to serve the saints of the Kingdom of God. He serves the people through the ministry of comfort, encouragement, joy (Rom. 12:15), feeding, nurturing, and maturing the members of his flock (Matt. 18:2-6, 11; John 21:15-18).
The Importance of Understanding the Identity and Office of the Pastor
The pastoral office was created by Jesus Christ for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12). "The pastoral office is to provide guidance, care, and oversight for the church so that it fulfills its Christ-ordained mandate of evangelizing the entire world, growing into the likeness of Christ, and existing for the exaltation and worship of God." Understanding the identity and office of the pastor will enable the pastor or those who have sensed the call of God on their lives to pastor to know what is required o f them. This will assist the pastor to bring to pass the church's purpose.