Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Shepherd

Ephesians 4:11-16 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, (14) so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (15) Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (16) from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

The church offices listed in Ephesians 4:11 vary widely in the scope of their ministry. The prophet & evangelist are narrow in scope; the former is charged only with being a direct conduit for the heart, will, & word of God to man, while the latter seems even more purposed in his mission of simply teaching & exhorting men towards embracing the good news of Jesus Christ’s salvation.

Contrastingly, as we found in the teaching weeks prior, the apostle has the widest scope of any in his course of ministry:

Quite simply an apostle is nothing less than one who possesses, by the appointment (1Tim. 2:7) of God, all the titles & gifts of God in his person. He shepherds, preaches, teaches, prophesies, evangelizes, works miracles, & has complete authority over comparatively large portions of Christ’s church body. All gifts of God are potentially actionable through the office of apostle.”

The shepherd- or pastor as some versions choose to translate the Greek “poimēn” (Strong‘s #4166)- is another who is wide in the scope of his ministry. Similar to how the apostle is the highest calling & authority to the church at large, the pastor is as such in the local assembly. Though the modern parlance has us calling them “pastor”, the Greek “poimēn” is translated as such only in Ephesians 4:11 (in most good English Bibles). The 17 other instances of “poimēn” are translated “shepherd”; this is important because the position of pastor is much better understood when we picture the work of a shepherd.

In pretentious piousness, some claim Christ as their only shepherd, but this is unbiblical; for Christ’s office of “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4) has its own distinct Greek term- “archipoimēn”. The prefix “archē ” (Strong’s #746) means “a commencement, or (concrete) chief (in various applications of order, time, place or rank), beginning, corner, the first estate…” (Strong’s). Therefore Christ is rightly & distinctly set apart from the common “shepherd”, but this does not of necessity dispense with the pastor’s lower authority. No, very much to the contrary, “arche’s” definition as “a commencement” indicates a new order of “shepherds” following in the way of the “Chief Shepherd” to help lead God’s people in the day of God’s new covenant (Jer. 31:31 & Hebrews 8:8 et seq.). Peter’s usage of the term “archipoimēn” itself demands that such as “poimēn” must be ordained of God “for building up the body of Christ”; men that declare otherwise are arrogantly foolish to think that they need not to learn submission as even Christ Himself did. They should check their hearts for the main enemy of God’s elect- fallacious, stubborn, deceiving pride. This comes from the old man that still lurks within; he tells us we are good enough, strong enough, wise enough to do it on our own. He lies.

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