Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Are Pastor and Elder the same man

The word “poimen” translated as Shepherd or pastor is attributed to only one man in scripture, the Elder. It conveys the idea of tending the flock and not merely feeding them. Metaphorically feeding is done by preaching and teaching the word accurately. Supplying a steady diet of good and truthful nourishment for the strengthening of the flock. But tending implies far more than that.

In John 21:15 during Jesus’ restoring of Peter, Jesus asks three times if Peter loves Him. After each response Jesus tells Peter to do something and in verse 15 it is to ‘TEND MY LAMBS”. The word the holy Spirit used is “bosko” and means literally to feed. The word He uses for lamb is “arnion” and depicts little or young sheep.

In verse 16 Jesus repeats the question and upon Peters answer says “SHEPHERD MY SHEEP”. Curiously here different words are used. Here Jesus uses “poimaino” a verb meaning to care for, rule, shepherd or tend. The sheep also have changed. Here “probation” means a very young and defenseless animal or in this case a very young and defenseless lamb.

In verse 17 Jesus again asks the question and upon Peter’s answer says “TEND MY SHEEP”. What Jesus does here is interesting. He mixes the previous two commands. He uses “bosko” implying a feeding but this time with “probation” the very young defenseless lambs.

What we see is the fuller picture of the same man and his ministry. He is to feed the young sheep his care, he is to oversee or rule those too weak to do so for themselves and then he is to feed them as well. There is no distinction between feeding (preaching and teaching) and overseeing (ruling or leading). Rather they are to be done by the same shepherd as two different parts of the same ministry.

This same Peter many years later tells us this: 1 Peter 5:1-4 (NASB) 1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Notice Peter first exhorts them as elder (presbyters) and then exhorts them to both shepherd (poimaino) and to exercise oversight (episkopeo) over the flock. In doing so with a kind and gentile spirit they will receive the crown of Glory from the archipoimen or chief shepherd. So here we have elders, who are to shepherd and oversee. Paul said the exact same thing
Acts 20:17-18 (NASB) 17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.18 And when they had come to him, he said to them… just to be clear, Paul is returning to Jerusalem from where he has been told bonds await him. He calls the Ephesian elders for some final instructions

Acts 20:27-32 (NASB) 27 "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.28 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers , to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.29 "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.31 "Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.32
Paul calls the elders and gives the commands to be on guard for yourselves and the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (episkopos) to shepherd (poimaino) the church of God…

Again we have all three titles for the same man. Elders, who oversee and shepherd. This is just what Jesus told Peter to do and what Peter later told other elders like himself to do. This is an awesome responsibility and only falls to one man in scripture under the leadership of the Lord and chief shepherd, and that is the Elder/Pastor



  1. John,

    I enjoyed both posts. The only thing I eould add is I see the need for someone to be the "preacher". One person who needs to be there giving the word of God who all know and say this man has a vision and knows how to tell the word to others. I feel the best scenario is that this person come from the eldership. But if it doesn't then the one that the local congregation gets is not necessarily part of the ruling eldership but still has a "flock" to watch over- hence pastor. I feel there are two types of pastoring. One for the word and one for the authority. If they are both in the same then that is best.

    Good poll by the way. Suggestion is ask it agian but this time give it a few weeks if not a month to get more responses.

    Listen to this man, people, his age enough alone is worth millions. (that was was for the youth comment)

  2. I have some real difficulty with someone not the elder, someone who is not qualified according to scripture, "watching over the flock" as you suggest. if he does not meet the qualification he should not have this awesome responsibility and if he does set him apart from the work

    why an elder does not or cannot preach or teach is to be challenged. if he needs some training let him get it. If he simply does not want to would challenge him as to why.

    preaching and teaching is the purest form of feeding a flock and nurturing their strength. just wanting to rule shows a weakness in his character