Sunday, August 23, 2009

What About the "Office" of "Pastor", Part II

For the most part, this blog is for the purpose of providing Christians with the tools to defend the faith when speaking to non-Christians. In this particular case, however, I am going to deviate a little in order to feed you some information you need to defend the faith from within Christianity, as there are some rather "unusual" ideas out there about how to "do church".

I recently read a claim that the word "pastor" only occurs in the Bible once, in Ephesians 4:11. This is a rather ingenious misapplication of research and language. This statement is true in that, in the English Bible, "pastor" only occurs once. However, the Bible wasn't written in English. The Bible was written primarily in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament), with some bits of Aramaic thrown in here and there.

The Greek word "poimēn", translated into English as "shepherd" (16 times) or "pastor" (once), is scattered throughout the New Testament. It is found in all four Gospels, the letter to the Ephesians, the letter to the Hebrews, and Peter's first letter. (You can see for yourself. Go to Search "Eph 4:11". Click on the "C" to get the Greek lexicon. Click on the Strong's number G4166. [Yes, I could have just given you the direct link, but I want you to see how to do it for yourself - God's Word is for all, not just the elect])

Now, the argument being made is that the "office of pastor" is unbiblical because the word "pastor" only occurs the one time in a context explaining a calling (as if God has to repeat Himself over and over for us to take it as His Word). This is also rather presumptuous. Jesus Himself created the first "pastor" when he directed Peter to feed His lambs and take care of His sheep (John 21:15-19). Later, in Acts 20:28, Paul tells the elders in Ephesus to "shepherd" (verb poimainō) the church. Peter also exhorts the elders of churches at large to shepherd (poimainō again) the flock of God.

I pray this helps explain this troublesome situation. I found all of this information using a hardcopy "Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible", a "Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words", and Blue Letter Bible. These tools are available to the public at large, and are not written at the Ph.D. level for scholars alone. I encourage you all to "test the spirits" (I John 4:1) by going straight to the Word of God. Use whatever reference material available to get there, but don't simply trust a commentary. Reading books about the Bible is great, as is reading books about Christian living, but it is no substitute for standing on the Word.


  1. Well written and investigated. Have also looked at various verses in their root room (Hebrew and Greek). I use a free program called e-Sword where you can download various commentaries and versions of the Bible (some you have to pay for which was unnecessary since so many others were available for free) and one includes references in native language and the meanings behind them. Did quite an exhaustive study of Acts since I wanted to understand the instructions to the church. And right, anyone can do this without a lot of training and you get to enjoy the richness of scripture. Jackye

  2. Thank you, Jackye, for your comments. I've heard of e-Sword but not yet investigated it. I'll give it a look-see. I am usually skeptical of the quality of "free", but I'm finding that in the world of Bible research, dedicated Saints are giving away their work to help reach more people.

    For "big" research, I use Logos software that I got with my "Christmas money". Since this fallacy was really, really easy to put down, I used public resources. Part of my mission here is to give people tools to learn for themselves, and not everybody has e-Sword or Logos, or knows how to effectively use them.

  3. I, too, am skeptical of "free" but checked them out and e-Sword was highly recommended. I especially like the feature to add notes and highlight verses just like you would in your Bible hardcopy. Also you and others might want to check out A very extensive site with in-depthh articles, sermon notes and audio, term papers from seminary students, an on-line Bible with several variations, studies, etc., etc., etc. You can spent days on this site.