During the five years I preached in Springhill, Louisiana, the nine years I preached in La Porte, Texas, and the seven years I preached in Exton, Pennsylvania, I had my study in the church building. It was not unusual for someone to call me on the phone, -- a salesman, or promoter of some kind, or occasionally someone seeking counsel or advice -- and almost inevitably, they would begin by asking, "Are you the pastor?" I try to be nice about it, and don't want to knit-pick, but really, I'm not a pastor.

The King James Version of the Scripture uses the word "pastor" only once in the New Testament, Eph. 4:11. It comes from a Greek word usually translated "shepherd." When God's people are viewed as a flock, their overseers who feed and protect them are called shepherds or pastors. According to the pattern set by New Testament congregations, each local church had a plurality of such overseers, usually referred to as bishops or elders. A careful study will show that the terms bishop, overseer, elder, and pastor, are four different terms used to describe the same individuals, Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Pet. 5:1-4.

The qualifications a man must meet before he can be appointed as a pastor, bishop or elder in the Lord's church are listed in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. An unmarried man may be a gospel preacher, but he cannot be a pastor in a church which follows the New Testament pattern. A man may move into a new community where no one knows him and do an excellent job as local preacher, but a newcomer cannot adequately serve as an overseer where he knows neither the flock nor the community.

We'll grant that it is most likely that there were men already doing some of the work a shepherd must do, even before being appointed to that work, but they were not really overseers until they were appointed as such, Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5. I used to change the oil in my car, have installed a few windshield wipers, have even changed the spark plugs occasionally, but I am not a mechanic. I tried planting a garden once, but I am no farmer. I do some of the work that falls into the category of the pastor's domain, but I am not a pastor. Until the time comes that the flock of God wherever I may be concludes that I have all the qualifications, and sees fit to appoint me along with other qualified men to serve as one of the overseers, I will never be a pastor. But I hope to always be a gospel preacher.

In the New Testament, a pastor is not a clergyman as opposed to a layman. Such distinctions are unknown. Every Christian is a priest, and should minister to the extent of his or her ability and opportunity in harmony with the revealed will of God, 1 Pet. 2:5; 4:11. A pastor does not set himself apart from others by a special collar or robe. He is simply a faithful Christian, recognized by his brethren as having spiritual maturity and leadership qualities, and appointed to lead them spiritually for the good of their souls. Some preachers qualify for this work and some have been appointed to it, but most preachers are not pastors in the New Testament sense, and most pastors are not preachers in the normal sense of the word.

Unknown Author by initials of CRJ


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