Shepherds For The Flock

Introduction Mt. 9:35 – 10:4

=> 2nd year of preaching - resulted in 5,000 being fed Mk. 6:34-44

=> 3rd year of preaching - resulted in the 12 being sent out On both occasions, Jesus viewed the people alike

=> as sheep having no shepherd God always has planned everything for our spiritual welfare, future (cp. 2 Tim. 1:9)

- His purpose has always been in Christ Upon the obedience of every soul, he/she is added to the called out body planned from the beginning (Acts 2:47)

God would not, therefore, leave redeemed people as "sheep having no shepherd" Theme One of greatest spiritual blessings, and maybe one of the most taken-for-granted ones, is the purpose of God for shepherds in local congregations

- usually such lessons only dwell on Divine qualifications in the Scripture How often do we think about local shepherds in local churches in a much broader scope?

- in appreciating this grand design, do we see God’s wisdom in providing for us as sheep?



- we read of such in 1 Tim. 3:2-7 and Titus 1:6-9

- they are to be men of high moral, ethical, and spiritual standards

- they respect God’s wishes on personal conduct, marriage, and child rearing

- they will give an account (Heb. 13:17a)

- not just for their own souls, but also for those under their charge

- it is an important stewardship God has certain men in mind He wants to lead

- not every man will become an elder (1 Tim. 3:1) Therefore, His people won’t be without a shepherd

B) ELDERS’ RESPONSIBILITY TO THE FLOCK they shepherd, or feed (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2)

- elders lead their flock to where the grazing is the best for them

- coincides with qualification in being "able to teach" (1 Tim. 3:2) they watch for their souls (Heb. 13:17a)

- image of watching while the flock eats

- being aware of possible danger at any time they lead by example (1 Pet. 5:3; Heb. 13:7)

- they are not "lords" as if they were enthroned (cp. Mt. 20:20-21, 25-26)

- another form of the same verb found in Acts 19:16 "subdued" [NASV] "overpowered" [NKJV] "overcame" [KJV]

- they are out front, providing faith to be imitated they sacrifice (Jn. 10:11-15)

- at times, flocks need something for which shepherds deny themselves so that the flock is provided for

- literal shepherds might die to protect the flock from predators

- Jesus died for His sheep

- shepherds today may have to deny themselves to give time, effort, etc. they communicate (Jn. 10:1-5)

- the flock knows the voice of the shepherds

- confident trust is placed in them

=> therefore, the flock willingly follows

Some may object to using these last 2 passages with respect to elders

- I agree they are not listed in the passages - however, Jesus is the "Chief Shepherd" (1 Pet. 5:4)

- elders should pattern themselves, their oversight after the Chief Shepherd and how He treats His flock (the universal church)

C) THE FLOCK’S RESPONSIBILITY TO ELDERS they must submit (Heb. 13:17a)

- they yield to the decisions made by the shepherds

- not in the realm of doctrine

- only Christ (Chief Shepherd) has authority here (Mt. 28:18)

- no man has authority here, not even elders

- another reason why they can’t "lord over" the flock

- not every issue facing the flock is over doctrine

- when the issue is over the doctrine of Christ, all elders can do is point to Christ, the Chief Shepherd, plainly state what He has said, and inform that His will is to be followed

- in the realm of judgment, opinion

- some issues the flock faces are ones of human judgment

- it is here that sound wisdom, experience, and godly character is needed to resolve such issues

- God has provided for men with such attributes

- elders cannot be "new converts" (1 Tim. 3:6)

- when the issue is over judgment, all elders can do is give their judgment based on their experience, wisdom, and careful study of the doctrine of Christ that offers principles and guidance on such issues they must submit joyfully (Heb. 13:17b)

- the flock cannot grudgingly go along with elders’ decisions

- they are to behave in such a way that shepherds conduct their oversight "with joy and not with grief"

- because some may not like the elders’ decisions, they may become difficult to work and worship with

- such conduct would be "unprofitable" for them

- the Chief Shepherd will take notice of this

- if a member of a flock just cannot agree with such a decision, a different place to work/worship must then be sought they must support and defend (1 Tim. 5:19)

- shepherds are to have gained the confidence of the sheep (cp. Jn. 10)

- the sheep will defend their character, always believing the best unless evidence indicates otherwise (cp. 1 Cor. 13:7) they must not show partiality (1 Tim. 5:20-21)

- again, the flock’s first allegiance is to the Chief Shepherd, His doctrine

- should elders fall into transgression, duty demands that the sheep act in accordance with the will of the Chief Shepherd, showing no partiality


Meditating on these thoughts ought to cause us to thank two very important groups

1.. Deity=> for planning and devising such a scheme that produces so much comfort for our spiritual growth

2.. Elders=> for willingly taking on such a monumental task in watching for our souls, and providing such needed leadership

The scriptural portrayal of disciples as sheep paints a picture of docile, submissive animals who are always willing to follow where the shepherd leads them

- in paths of doctrinal importance, we all follow the Chief Shepherd (Jn.14:6)

- in the often "murky" paths of judgment, we should follow elders who have already exhibited a lifetime of following Christ, and whose wisdom & experience will make the journey for younger saints much easier

Can we not see Divine wisdom in such an arrangement?

Many churches have them=> it is a blessing

Some churches need them=> the work will progress much smoother once they are appointed.

By Jeff Smith

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