Is the modern pastorate Biblical?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Link, Jun 3, 2004.

  1. Link

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    I posted the following on a worship leader thread, and decided to post the topic here, so as not to hijack the worship leader thread anymore.

    See quoted material below.

    The modern pastor role as a leader of the people, overseer of the church, and preacher of God's word is the NT model. The music leader or worship leader fits a NT church necessity. It is not a special office, since there are only two NT church offices (pastor and deacon). It is a role in the church that is necessary to be filled.**


    I suppose this depends on what you mean by 'office.' There are three (possibly four) ministries in the New Testament associated with the laying on of hands: apostle (possibly evangelist), elder/overseer, and deacon.

    Of those, the modern 'pastor' is most closely related historically to the elder/overseer. For most of history, the clergyman was called an 'elder' or a derivative thereof. The English word 'priest' comes from the Greek for 'elder' but got corrupted by being used to refer to OT Aaronic descendants and took on the connotation of referring to mediators between God and men. New Testament elders correspond with Old Testmaent elders, rather than with the Aaronic priesthood.

    The elders of the church were appointed to care for the flock. They were charged to pastor the flock of God and were called bishops or overseers.

    Modern concepts of 'pastor' often differ from the Biblical concept of elders. Here are some ways they differ:

    1. Elders in the New Testament were generally raised up from within the congregation. Modern pastors are often career clergymen who may move to another congregation if they get a better offer-- not always, but it happens.

    2. Biblical elders are forbidden from pastoring 'for filthy lucre. The church has a duty to provide for those elders who labor in the body of Christ, but Paul also exhorted elders to follow his example of supporting himself. This is very different from the salaried pastor. the mdoern system is open to abuse by hirelings.

    3. Many modern pastors are not Biblically qualified, or aren't really examined as to whether they live up to the requirements for overseers (e.g. rule one's house well.) Instead, they can claim a 'call to preach' or else show seminary degrees and get a job that way. Not everyone seminary educated or caled to preach is Biblically qualified to be an overseer.

    4. 'Elder' means older man. I Peter 5 and I Timothy 5:1 imply that elders are older men.

    5. Overseers are to be apt to teach, but that doesn't mean they should be the only teachers. The Bible teaches us to have meetings in which regular believers take turns using their gifts in the same meeting. We see this in I Corinthians 14:26, and in that one single verse in scripture used to tell people to goto church--Hebrews 10:25 (see also v. 10:24.)


    I can understand wy some would see the Ephesians 4:11 pastor and teacher role to be the same as a church overseer, but I don't see this as conclusive. There may be some who are _gifted_ pastor adn teach who aren't qualified to be overseers-- for example the young novice in the faith who is pastorally gifted who starts discipling others, but who is not biblically qualified due to lack of experience running a household and due to being a novice.

    Ephesians 4:11 lists no duties or responsiblities for a 'pastor.' It doesn't say that this is an 'office' in any way other than the way prophet or evangelist is an office.
     
  2. Link

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    "Pastor Larry" responded to my previous post on another thread:
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    New Testament elders correspond with Old Testmaent elders, rather than with the Aaronic priesthood.
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    I think the NT elder is completely and wholly different than anything in teh NT. The church is a completely different organism.


    quote:
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    1. Elders in the New Testament were generally raised up from within the congregation. Modern pastors are often career clergymen who may move to another congregation if they get a better offer-- not always, but it happens.
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    This is true. It is somewhat problemmatic, but not necessarily unbiblical. The NT were completely different and we can't help but wonder how much of that was cultural.


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    2. Biblical elders are forbidden from pastoring 'for filthy lucre. The church has a duty to provide for those elders who labor in the body of Christ, but Paul also exhorted elders to follow his example of supporting himself. This is very different from the salaried pastor. the mdoern system is open to abuse by hirelings.
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    I don't think it is that different than a salaried pastor. Paul make it very clear that those who preach of hte gospel are to live of the gospel. Therefore, there is a clear NT mandate for "salaried pastors." There is the possibility for abuse, but in that case, we need to deal with teh abuse, not the biblical teaching.


    quote:
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    3. Many modern pastors are not Biblically qualified, or aren't really examined as to whether they live up to the requirements for overseers (e.g. rule one's house well.) Instead, they can claim a 'call to preach' or else show seminary degrees and get a job that way. Not everyone seminary educated or caled to preach is Biblically qualified to be an overseer.
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    Problemmatic for sure ... but again, not a reason to deny the biblical role of an elder.


    quote:
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    4. 'Elder' means older man. I Peter 5 and I Timothy 5:1 imply that elders are older men.
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    The idea in "elder" is not solely age. It is maturity. That is why Timothy is told to not let people despise his youth. He was qualified to be an elder, even though in his culture, he was considered "young."


    quote:
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    5. Overseers are to be apt to teach, but that doesn't mean they should be the only teachers. The Bible teaches us to have meetings in which regular believers take turns using their gifts in the same meeting. We see this in I Corinthians 14:26, and in that one single verse in scripture used to tell people to goto church--Hebrews 10:25 (see also v. 10:24.)
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    It is true that there are many teachers. To say that the biblical pattern is that they take turns in the same meeting is stretching the point. We often have three or four people teaching all at the same time. We just do it in different rooms. But again, the fact that many should be teachers does not mean that we should change the biblical idea of "elder" to fit something else.

    I think everything you have said is true to some degree, but I don't think it compromises what I have about pastoring.

    Nor does it have much to do with worship leaders so perhaps we should get back to that topic because we get run off this board for hijacking ....
     
  3. Link

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    Brother Larry,

    I dont' believe Timothy was an elder or a 'local pastor' in the modern sense. He was an apostle and evangelist, but he was a younger man. He was an itinerant minister who was to _appoint_ the local elders who would oversee the flock.

    After addressing the elders who pastor the flock, Peter says, "Likewise ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder."

    I Timothy 3:1 tells Timothy not to rebuke an _elder_ but to entreat him as a father. Then Paul tells him how to treat _older_ women and _younger_ woman. The same chapter talks about the elders who rule well.

    The word 'presbuteros' implies that the elders are elder.


    Another major point I left out of the first postof this thread is that in the Bible, we don't see a one-man pastorate. The elders of the church are seen in the plural, fucntioning together. There is no talk of a 'senior pastor.' The Lord is referred to as the 'Chief Pastor', though. Pastoring in the New Testmaent is a team effort, nto a one-man show.


    I Corinthians 14 shows that more than one believer was to speak in a meeting. It goes into some detail on how more than one person was to give a some of the kinds of utterances that could be spoken.

    The modern concept of 'the pastor' is that guy who stands up nearly every week and gives the weekly religious speech. But the Bible shows that even this ministry of speaking is to be shared by the gifted brethren, not dominated by one mortal pastor.


    Some pastors are Biblically qualified. But the job description and the system of the typical modern pastorate isn't exactly Biblical. It is also possible for Biblically unqualified people to be recieved as overseers because they claim to be called and speak well, or because they have seminary degrees.
     
  4. Pastor Larry

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  5. Link

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    Brother Larry,

    On the age of elders: You start reasoning from the assummption that 'elders' means what people generally assume it means. I guess it is natural to start reasoning from where you are. But what if we take a nuetral approach, and don't assume that 'elders' are just church officials, no matter what their age? Where does the evidence of the New Testament lead us if we don't add our own church tradition into the mix?

    I started out thinking of 'elder' as a position. But after meditatiing on the scriptures my views began to change. This is one of the passages that causes me to believe that 'elders' does not loose it's basic meaning of 'older man' when it refers to church elders:


    From I Peter 5:1-5 addresses elders and tells them to pastor the flock of God, to 'oversee' it ('bishop' it) not to lord over it, etc. It is clear that Peter is talking to men that he expects to pastor the flock. But notice what happens when he addresses an audience.

    4. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
    5. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

    In verse 4, Peter is still talking to the __ elders __.But then he says "Likewise, ye younger...." Notice the contrast. First, he is talking to the elder, and then to the younger. First to the elders of the church, and then to the younger people. The implication is that there is a age difference between the elders and the younger people. So apparently, Peter is talking about older people when he addresses the 'elders.' But wait a minute- this is also a church government passage! He tells those older people to pastor the flock of God and serve as overseers. So the implication is that that pastoral elders he addresses are older people.

    Are New Testament elders related to the Old Testament elders? I believe so. In the Old testament, tribes and clans had elders. In an extended family in a patriarchical society who have a tribal system, the older men of a family, fathers, grandpa's, great uncles, may make decisions together. Many interrelated families make up a clan. Thost clans may have elders- older men from among the clan. The clans make up a tribe which may also have elders. Israel had 12 tribes with elders when Moses brought them out of Egypt. These elders were 'older men.' The Hebrew word actually refers to 'bearded ones.' When Israel inhabited the cities, there were older men who sat at the gates of the city, judging cases, possibly deciding who came in the city and who didn't, and performing other duties.

    Israel called 70 elders from among the Israelites and God put the Spirit that was upon Moses on them. In Jesus' day, cities had elders through the synagogue system. A local synagogue would have elders. The nation also had elders in their council of 70, the Sanhedrin, who governed the nation together with the High Priest, within the restrictions Rome had placed on them. The Jews saw this council of 70 as having it's roots in the 70 elders that Moses chose. They probably called them 'zaqen'- 'bearded ones' if they spoke Hebrew, and 'presbuteros' if they called them elders in Greek.

    The New Testament uses the word 'presbuteros' to refer to these elders of the Jewish people. And it also uses the same word to describe the elders of the church. We shouldn't consider the elders of the church without also considering the historical background of the word 'presbuteros' in relation to the Old Tesament.


    One other point I wanted to mention earlier:
    Paul wrote about elders who rule well recieving double honor. Apparently, the 'honor' an elder recieves should be in relation to how hard he works. This is not the case with a salaried pastor, for the most part. If a professional pastor sleeps in at home and doesn't visit the sick, and his sermons are lousy, then he can still get the same wage (until he gets voted out or people leave) as if he works hard. It is a different system. Also, we need to consider Paul's encouragement to elders to follow his example of working to support themselves in Acts 20.

    The elders Paul said were worthy of double honor probably already had jobs, or some kind of estate or family business to support themselves before they became elders. It is unlikely that any of them were professional religius holy men all their lives, unless they were Jewish teachers of the law or pagan priests in their past. Paul wanted the overseers of the church to be men who ruled their houses well. To do that, they had to figure out a way to feed their families by working _ before _ they were appointed eldeers of the church. These elders were not professional religious men who started out being pastors for a living when they finished a Bible college at 22 years old. First they matured into elders and demonstrated their pastoral skills through pastoring their families, and _ then _ they were entrusted to pastor the flock of God. They grew up spiritually within a local church, where they were fed the word of God by the traveling ministers who planted the church and watered it, and by other members of the local congregation in church meetings.


    Another point:

    You said you did the lion's share of the teaching to guard against false doctrine. A lot of church leaders have this concept in their paradigm of church- that it is the preacher's job to do most of the teaching. was definitely to preach and teach. But does the Bible teach that the way he preserved true doctrine was by doing most of the teaching? II Timothy 2:2 tells Timothy to commit what he had been taught to faithful men, who would be able to teach others also. One of Timothy's duties was to train up new teachers who would be able to teach true doctrine to the church. Timothy was the type of minister who helped plant or encouraged a church, and then moved on. He trained and appointed local leaders before leaving, like Paul did.

    We need to see the role of the apostles and the other leaders against the backdrop fo the Biblical meeting. The commandments of the Lord Paul gave to the Corinthian church assume that there will be many speakers in a church meeting. There is supposed to be turn-taking. The command of scripture for when we assemble is to 'exhort one another' and NOT 'sit down, shut up, listen to the preacher, and be exhorted.' Timothy, in a church that met this way, would need to be particularly concerned with teaching the teachers who spoke up in the church meetings to be able to teach sound doctrine. He also had to contribute himself, especially since he was one of the ones they had originally gotten the Gospel message from in the first place.
     
  6. Pastor Larry

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    The evidence of the NT indicates that "elder" is a term of maturity. It is a term of rank or office. I think the problem is the idea of "elder" itself, the translation, rather than the meaning of Presbuteros. Presbuteros can mean older in terms of age, but it does not always. You have read that in. I think here you have let your mind be driven by something other than what Scripture actually says. When you study the word presbuteros, you see that it sometimes does refer to age, but it also refers to a position or rank in a group of people. In teh church, "elder" is the latter.

    The double honor does refer to payment for services. The pastor deserves to be paid; those who work hard are worthy of being treated accordingly. They are not to do it for money. But they are to be accorded proper pay as well as other honor.

    As for doctrine, I do teach others. The pastor was given the role of teaching in teh church. It is one of the two skill requirements given in 1 Tim 3 (able to teach and able to manage). As I have said, there are other men who teach in our church, as well as some ladies. We have a number of Bible study classes where these people are involved. As a pastor of the church, it is my job to teach and pastor. So I take that very seriously. The NT church is not an open forum. Those with gifts of teaching are to teach. They can do it in the same service is appropriate; they can do it in different services. But that is really a non-issue here. It is clear from Scripture that the main job of the pastor is the teaching of the word, followed closely by the management of the church.
     
  7. Dr. Bob

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    What happened to my post? I commented a few days back and now it is gone.

    Obviously somebody didn't agree with my position. :rolleyes:
     

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