The Doctrine of the Church–(The Office of Pastor)

I appeal to our church documents once again and that beautiful purpose statement which says:

In article 2—Purpose of the constitution of this church it states: The purpose of this church is for public worship of Almighty God; to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to the end that the unsaved might be saved; to promote spiritual growth and fellowship among its members, to educate in the Holy Bible, to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of one another and to humanity and to carry out Jesus Christ’s Commission to spread the Gospel to all the world, and to evangelize the lost and disciple the saved in our community, our county, our state, our nation, and the world till Christ returns.

Again, let us be reminded of our confession of faith.

VI. The Church

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

Tonight, I will focus on the office of pastor.

Our by-laws state the duties of a pastor are this: The pastor shall proclaim the gospel to believers and unbelievers; lead the church to engage in fellowship of worship, witness, education and ministry; administer the ordinances and exercised general guidance and watch care over the spiritual as well as the physical welfare of the church.

In the portion on calling a pastor, the committee is to call a pastor “that meets the qualifications of our Baptist faith and New Testament Doctrine as cited in 1 Timothy 3:1-7.”

Let me cite the passage:

(1 Tim. 3:1-7) “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.

 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,

 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.

 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”

So, let me first point out that our by-laws refer to this passage for calling a pastor but the passage in question calls the office an overseer. What are we to make of this?

Let’s look at an older translation to see how it was translated.

(1 Tim. 3:1-2 KGV) “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be….

The King James Version translates overseer as bishop not pastor. That still doesn’t answer our question. I will say the newer translations translate bishop as overseer because that is what the word bishop means. —2. position or office as an overseer Ac 1:20; office of a supervisor 1 Ti 3:1.* [episcopate]

Again, our by-laws and confession do not address why we look to 1 Tim. 3 for instructions on the office of pastor when it talks about the office of overseer or bishop. Let’s push on.

Isn’t there another passage about the pastor’s qualifications in Titus? Yep. Let’s see what it says.

(Tit. 1:6-9) “6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.

 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,

 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

Paul uses overseer or bishop again. And yes, the KJV uses bishop here as well. but this letter to Titus complicates this even more. Let me back up and quote verse (Tit. 1:4-5) ” 4 ¶ To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

 5 ¶ This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you–”

Let me point out what Paul did here. He tell Titus to put what remained into order by appointing elders in every town. Then in verse 7 Paul gives the “as I directed” part. But, Paul tells Titus to appoint elders then calls then overseers.

Let me give you the definition of elder: [GING] πρεσβύτερος πρεσβύτερος, α, ον1. of age older, often subst. olde*r) person Lk 15:25; J 8:9; Ac 2:17; 1 Ti 5:1f. Of a period of time οἱ π. the men of old, our ancestors Mt 15:2; Mk 7:3, 5; Hb 11:2.—2. as a designation of an official elder, presbytera. among the Jews Mt 16:21; 27:41; Mk 14:43, 53; Lk 7:3; 9:22; Ac 4:23; 6:12.—b. among the Christians Ac 11:30; 14:23; 1 Ti 5:17, 19; Tit 1:5; Js 5:14; 1 Pt 5:1; 5:5; 2 J 1; 3 J 1; Rv 4:4; 7:11.

We now have two terms being used for what we call pastor. You should notice that the Greek word for bishop sounds a like Episcopalian and the Greek word for elder sounds like Presbyterian. Many denominations were divided based on how they understood church government. Episcopalians have a polity that looks much like the Catholic Church. They govern themselves with a bishop as head of all the Episcopal churches. The leading bishop (or archbishop) is Michael Bruce Curry. Their organization would then follow lower ranking bishops. The Presbyterian Church is ruled by a group of appointed elders (or the General Assembly), not just one man. They have authority over all the Presbyterian churches in a particular country or region.

Baptist are local and autonomous. There are numerous structures within this group. We will look at them maybe next time.

Let me get back to the text. We have yet to see the word pastor in anything we have looked at. The truth is there is only one place in the NT that uses the word Pastor, which is also translated shepherd. The text is in Ephesians.

(Eph. 4:11-12) “11 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,”

Is this confusing yet? It was for me too. That’s why I am teaching you what I have been taught. But you needed to see the work of how we have decided to call bishops and elders, pastors. Let me now say that we understand all three terms to be synonymous. The three different terms describe the same office. Each word describes the function of the one office. A pastor/shepherd is an overseer and an elder. Elder in its technical use in the Titus passage means office of the overseer. He is to be like the elders of Israel who were older men full of wisdom and truth. We understand the pastor/elder to be mature in the faith. Mature in his character. And mature in teaching the bible.

Let me see if I can prove to you that pastor/bishop (overseer)/elder are all the same office. In 1 Peter 5, all three terms are used to speak of the one office. Though some are the verb form of the word, it is easy to pick up on the interchange.

(1 Pet. 5:1-4) “So I [Peter] exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd

the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight

, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

In other words, the elders of the church were to shepherd the flock by exercising oversight of the sheep. Peter tells them how to handle their authority in the church. The chief Shepherd is over the shepherds and the sheep. As I stated before, Jesus is the Head of his church. He has given the church gifts of pastors and teachers to equip the body for the work of the ministry. Jesus has charged the pastors/elders/overseers to have oversight. They are to lead the church in righteousness according to the word of God. The members are to submit to that righteous leadership unless it is unbiblical, as would a wife who was being led by her husband to violate God’s word. However, although the wife should resist her husband’s unrighteous ways, she is to have a disposition towards him to lead her according to God’s word and when he does to submit and follow his leadership. The same is true of the church.

I suspect there’s some pushback in your minds about this. Let me start with the Trinity. First, let me define Trinity. God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, yet he is one God.

God the Father is full God and God the Son is fully God. Equal in nature in every respect but the Son submits to the Father as a father. The same is true of the Spirit who is fully God. Yet, the Spirit submits to the Father and the Son.

The truth of submission has nothing to do with the lesser. A wife is not less than her husband like the Son is not less than the Father. Children are to obey their father and mother not because they are shorter and smaller—they are human too. Rather, they submit because God designed the world like this. He made us in his likeness. So, when we submit rightly in these relationships, we honor and image God in the world.

Some disobey God’s word because they do not even see that they are to submit to God. I do not understand why someone would call himself or herself a Christian yet would not obey the Lord. To love the Lord is to obey him gladly and eagerly. On the authority of Scripture, I can affirm to disobey the Lord gladly means you are not a Christian. I do not imply that we do that perfectly but we desire to by God’s grace. And we are ever increasing in our likeness to Christ who fully obeyed the Father.

Now, back to this notion that the church is to submit to the pastors’ leadership. It say in (Heb. 13:17) ” 17 ¶ Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Let me clarify. Leadership does not imply ultimate authority. We understand the Bible to teach that we are a local autonomous (self-governed) church with congregational rule. Our government works in a very similar way. The power lies in the voters to elect its leaders to whom they will submit to by law.

There’s much more to be said about the office of pastor in the coming weeks as well as the office of deacon. I think we can conclude that bishop, elder, and pastor all speak of the one office. this man who is an elder which is mature in character, mature in wisdom, mature in the faith, and mature in his understanding of doctrine is to shepherd to flock and exercise oversight according to God’s word.

If he doesn’t do that, then the bible has an answer for that. (1 Tim. 5:17-20) “17 ¶ Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”

As a church of Jesus Christ, we are not our own. Like a marriage where the husband’s body is not his own and the wife’s body is not her own so too we are not our own.

Notice. (Eph. 5:21-33) “21 ¶ submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

If the president of the United States joined our congregation, the most powerful person in this country would be expected to submit to the leaders and the congregation as a member because that is God’s design. He could certainly refuse but the office of president does not change what the Bible commands.

WE are seeking to know God and his ways. I believe the healthiest church is one that follows God’s design. May God’s word speak clearly and may we gladly follow for his glory.

About Jason and Kimberly

Jason is the pastor of Union Hill Baptist Church in Goodlettsville, TN. Kimberly homeschools our three awesome kids. We enjoy being together as a family in wherever so long as we are together! Grace and peace to you in the Lord Jesus Christ! If you have any questions or would like to chat you can contact me at View all posts by Jason and Kimberly

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