THE MINISTRY OF THE PASTOR
BY KEVIN J. CONNER
“And He gave some . . . Pastors . . .” (Ephesians 4:11).
The ministry of the Pastor is also one of the fivefold ascension-gift ministries of Christ given to and for the Body of Christ.
In contrast to the ministries of the Apostle and Prophet, which have generally been rejected by the Church, the pastoral ministry has been accepted over the centuries. However, there has been and still is much misunderstanding and confusion as a result, concerning the pastoral ministry.
Most of the textbooks dealing with the ministry of the Pastor lay upon one man a burden that is impossible to bear. This comes because there is not a recognition of the fivefold ministry, and a plurality of eldership in the local Church.
The “Pastor” is expected to be an all-round “one-man-ministry” and relate to every-one on every level, and every leader in every department of the Church.
The result is that numerous pastors, under such pressure break down, either mentally, emotionally, morally or spiritually. God never intended this to be.
The general denominational concept of the “pastor” is that he is responsible for the total flock under his care. Also, he may call in a teacher or an evangelist for any special occasions as the need arises. But the burden of the Church is on his shoulders.
But God’s pattern is that the pastor is simply one of the fivefold ministries and has other co-equal elders working together and sharing the burden with him.
The word “pastor” may be used in a very broad sense and yet it may also be seen in its stricter sense as applicable to those gift ministries who distinctly have the ascension-gift ministry of a Pastor. Nothing can change the fact that Pastors are ministry gifts. It is one of the fivefold ascension-gift ministries given by Christ to the Church.
Christ is THE Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher! All offices and ministries are in Him. Yet He has but one heart pulsating in all—that is, a shepherd’s heart!
Therefore, all ministries, regardless of calling and placement in the Body should have and should be motivated by the heart of a shepherd. In this sense we may say that all fivefold ministries are “shepherding ministries”. They together care for the flock of God.
However, Christ, when He ascended on high, gave gifts to men “and He gave some . . . pastors. ”
All pastors are not apostles, prophets, evangelists or teachers. There are some persons who have a distinct pastoral call different from yet related to the other four of the fivefold ministries. This will be seen in the course of this chapter. Christ continues His pastoral ministry in some persons distinctly called pastors.
A. Definition of Word
We consider certain words from both Hebrew and Greek which help us to understand the ministry of the pastor.
1. Old Testament Hebrew
“Ra’ah” (SC 7462) = “to tend a flock; i.e., to pasture it; to graze (lit. or fig.); generally, to rule.”
It is translated:
a. Pastor–peculiar to Jeremiah in King James Version (Jeremiah 2:8; 3:15; 10:21; 12:10; 17:16; 22:22; 23:1, 2).
b. Shepherd–Genesis 46:32, 34; 47:3; 49.24; Exodus 2:17, 19; I Kings 22:17; Psalms 23:1; 80:1; Isaiah 44:28; Jeremiah 6:3; 23:4; Ezekiel 34:2-23; 37:24.
c. Herdsmen–Genesis 13:7, 8; 26:20; I Samuel 21:7.
d. Keeper–Genesis 4:2; 29:9; Exodus 3:1; I Samuel 16:11.
e. Feed–I Samuel 17:15; I Chronicles 17:6; Psalms 68:71; Ezekiel 34:10; Zechariah 11:4, 7; Isaiah 40:11.
Together then this Hebrew word means one who tends a flock, pastures, grazes, feed, keeps, herds, rules and shepherds sheep. This is the pastoral ministry.
2. New Testament Greek
“Poimen” (SC4166) = “A shepherd” (lit. or fig.).
It is translated “shepherd” 17 times, and “pastor” once.
Matthew 9:36; 25:32; 26:31; Mark 6:34; 14:27; Luke 2:8, 15, 18, 20; I Peter 2:25; Hebrews 13:20; John 10:2, 11-16 and Ephesians 4:11.
“Poimaino” (SC 4165) = “to tend as a shepherd, or shepherdize” (or fig. supervisor).
It is translated “feed, rule”.
Matthew 2:6; Luke 17:7; John 21:16; Acts 20:28; I Corinthians 9:7; I Peter 5:2; Jude 12; Revelation 2:27; 7:17; 12:5; 19:15.
“Poimne” (SC 4167), contracted from SC 4165; = “a flock” (lit. or fig.). It is translated “flock, fold”.
Matthew 26:31; Luke 2:8; John 10:16; I Corinthians 9:7.
“Poimnion” (SC 4168), derivative of SC 4167; = “a flock”, i.e., (fig.) group of believers.
It is translated “flock”.
Luke 12:32; Acts 20:28, 29; I Peter 5:2, 3.
“Bosko” (SC 1006) = “to feed, pasture; to fodder, to grazes’ It is translated “feed, keep”.
Luke 15:15; Matthew 8:30, 33.
Together these words show that a pastor is one who tends or herds flocks; feeding, guiding, and superintending them. A pastor exercises oversight of the flock of God, the believers. A pastor is a shepherd. The concept of shepherd is one of the oldest in the Bible. It is evidenced throughout the Scriptures, especially in Hebrew history. The shepherding ministry was “an abomination” to the Egyptians (Genesis 46:34). So is the pastoral ministry today to a godless world.
B. Christ, THE Pastor
As with all ministries, Christ is indeed THE PASTOR; He is THE SHEPHERD of God’s
sheep. Many Scriptures attest to this fact as noted in the following list.
1. The Lord God is our Shepherd (Isaiah 40:9-11; Psalms 23:1; 68:7; Zechariah 13:7). It reveals His Divinity.
2. The MAN that is My Shepherd (Zechariah 13:7). This reveals the Humanity of Christ by virtue of the incarnation.
3. The Shepherd of Israel dwelling between the Cherubims (Psalms 80:1; 99:1).
4. The Shepherd-Stone of Israel (Genesis 49:24).
5. The Shepherd (Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 34:23).
6. The One Shepherd (Ecclesiastes 12:11; Ezekiel 34:23).
7. The Good Shepherd (John 10:10).
8. The Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20).
9. The Chief Shepherd (I Peter 5:4).
10. The Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (I Peter 2:25).
The Lord Jesus Christ is our Pastor, our Shepherd, our Feeder. He is Jehovah-Raah (Psalms 23:1). “The LORD is my Shepherd.” He became the pattern shepherd to all who are called to this ministry. It is His redemptive ministry to and for the sheep of His pasture.
C. Christ, The Pattern Shepherd
In John 10 Christ is set forth as the pattern shepherd. The chapter may be outlined in this manner.
Verses 1-5. The Parable. Not as “parable, similitude” of Matthew 13 but (Greek), “Paroimia”, or “Adage, Dark Saying” as of Psalms 78:1-2.
Verse 6. Lack of understanding.
Verse 7-18. The Dark Saying Interpreted to those who could hear.
The previous chapter revealed how Christ had healed a blind man in the Feast of Lights (John 9). Because of his testimony concerning Christ he had been excommunicated, cast out of the Judaistic “sheepfold” by false shepherds. Now Christ, the Good Shepherd, comes and cares for this sheep and brings Him into His fold. John 10 arises out this background.
1. The Shepherd vs 11, 14, 16; Ezekiel 37:24; Psalms 23:1.
Jesus, Jehovah Raah incarnate is the Good Shepherd. He gives His life for the sheep. Moses, Joshua, the Priests and Prophets in the Old Testament were but “under-shepherds”. They did not give their life in a sin-sacrifice for the sheep. They lived and died for them but could not redeem them from sin. But all pointed to THE Shepherd, Christ.
2. The Father of the Shepherd–vs 15, 17, 18, 29.
God the Father is the owner of the sheep. He gave His sheep to His Shepherd, Christ (John 17:6, 9, 15).
3. The Sheep
The true Israelites, the children of God are God’s sheep. Not the seed after the flesh, but the seed after the Spirit (Romans 9:1-9; John 8). All other Israelites are but “goats”, clean nations, yet not real “sheep” before God. There is a natural and a spiritual Israel (Psalms 79:13; 95:7; 100:3; Jeremiah 50:6, 17; John 10:26, 27; Matthew 10:6). Israel–the sheep of His pasture.
4. The Other Sheep–vs 16.
The Gentiles would also come into the fold (Acts 28:28; Acts 10-11, 15; Romans 11). These would be the “other sheep” not of this fold, yet it would be onefold with Jew and Gentile.
5. The Sheepfold–vs 16.
Greek = “Poimne”, translated “one flock”. John 17:11, 21-23; Ephesians 4:4-6. Thus one body, one Church, one flock, one fold. The unity of the sheepfold is revealed.
The Eastern custom shows that there was but ONE Flock, many under-shepherds, each caring for part of the whole.
6. The Door of the Sheepfold–vs 7, 9.
The Lord Jesus Himself is THE DOOR. It speaks of His own body and blood. He is the only entrance to the fold of God (John 14:1, 6; Hebrews 7:25-27).
Noah’s Ark had one door. There was the door of the Passover Lamb. There is the
door of the sheepfold. It is one way, one door, one Saviour.
7. The Porter–vs 3.
a. An Eastern custom refers to (Greek) “Thuroros”, the door or gate-keeper. The door-keeper of the fold would open to true shepherds and allow them to get their flocks out to pasture in the morning, and then receive them into the fold at night. In this type, the Holy Spirit could be viewed as the Porter. He knows the true shepherds and opens to them.
There were porters at the gates in the Temple of Solomon, the City of Jerusalem and the Tabernacle of David.
b. Another custom is seen in this. Sometimes the folds were small enclosures to protect the flocks at night from wild animals; or a low building which opened into a courtyard. There was one entrance. The shepherd then would sit himself in that entrance, thus being both “the shepherd” and “the door”. The sheep would have to get out over his body. Thus Jesus Himself said that He was both “the shepherd” and “the door” (verses 7, 9, 11, 14).
8. Enemies of the Sheep
There are a number of enemies of the sheep which Jesus mentioned in this chapter.
a. The Stranger-vs 5.
The sheep hear the voice, but there is no witness within, but restlessness, caution, and eventually they wander away (Revelation 13:11).
We are to know those that labour among us (I Thessalonians 5:12).
b. The Thief–1, 9, I0.
The thief is one who steals by craftiness, by subtlety. His only purpose is to steal from the flock their wool.
c. The Robber–vs 1, 9, 10.
The robber is one who takes away violently, he takes by force. All who came before Jesus were thieves and robbers. That is, false Messiahs and religious leaders. NOT Moses, Joshua or true Old Testament ministries. True ministries recognized they were but “under-shepherds” and pointed to the shepherd, Messiah Jesus. They had a heart for the sheep. False ministries “fleeced” the sheep for what they could get out of them.
d. The Hireling–vs 12, 13.
A hireling is one who is paid to do a job. He has no real heart or call for the sheep. It is but a job to him; he gets paid for it. He will flee when the wolf comes. He will desert the sheep and the wolf will catch, scatter or devour them.
This trio of false ministries are all characterized by their love of money (I Timothy 6) which drown men in destruction and perdition. You shall know them by their love of money.
e. The Wolf–vs 12, 13.
The wolf is applied to various ones who are the enemies of the flock of God. The Devil is a wolf; false prophets or other false ministries are wolves also. Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29; II Peter 2:1; Jude 1-5; Revelation 13:11. The inner nature manifests itself even though they come in sheep’s clothing.
D. The Chief Shepherd and Under-shepherds
It is important to understand the concept of the “pastoral” ministry in the Scriptures for it illustrates what God intended to be manifest in the Church.
1. Eastern Custom
In the East there was the custom of shepherds having large establishments, and there being over the total flock a Chief Shepherd. Then he would have under him many “under shepherds”. These would be given as many sheep as they could handle, thus being responsible for these sheep and accountable to the Chief Shepherd.
These Scriptures speak of “the Principal of the flock” and “the Shepherds” (Jeremiah 25:34-36; Genesis 47:6).
The New Testament speaks of “the Chief Shepherd” and then “the elders” who are “under-shepherds” of the flock of God (I Peter 5:1-5; 2:25).
The truth of this may be applicable on a universal and local scale. Christ is THE CHIEF SHEPHERD. He is THE PRINCIPAL of the Flock of God. Then He has many, many “under-shepherds” throughout the world in His Church, both universally and locally.
There is but ONE CHURCH, ONE FOLD, but many local “flocks” of sheep. The shepherds were watching over ”their flocks” in the field at night (Luke 2:8, 9, 15-20).
Christ gives as many sheep as we can handle. Thus around the world there are “flocks” of many thousands of people, to hundreds, to fifties, to tens. All ministries, in this sense, are but “under-shepherds”, responsible for the flock of God and accountable to the Chief Shepherd. They are HIS sheep.
2. Jethro Principle–Exodus 18:13-26; Acts 7:38; Numbers 11:24, 25.
The Jethro principle illustrates this truth. Moses was “the chief shepherd”; He was “the principal of God’s flock, the nation of Israel”. He could not care for them himself. The burden was too heavy. By a word of wisdom from Jethro Moses chose qualified men to share the burden with him.
As already noted, we have Moses as “first among equals”, and then other “elders” who shared the burden with him. They were given rule over thousands, hundreds, fifties, tens, etc. All were responsible and accountable to Moses for people.
3. New Testament Church Application
So Christ is THE Chief Shepherd, THE Principal of the flock. They are His sheep. He entrusts His people to shepherding ministries. These in turn are responsible and accountable to Him for as many sheep as He gives them to handle (Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24).
E. Old Testament and New Testament Shepherds
1. Old Testament Shepherds
Various men in the Old Testament were called shepherds. It will be noted that these men were saints, prophets, kings, princes and other rulers over people. For this reason we may speak of any of the ministries as “shepherding ministries” even though there is that distinctive “pastoral” ministry given to some.
a. Abel was the first shepherd and first martyr (Genesis 4).
b. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were shepherds.
c. Moses was a Shepherd-Prophet (Exodus 3:1), then a King and Mediator.
d. Joshua was a Shepherd-Captain over God’s people (Numbers 27:15-25).
e. David was a Shepherd-King-Prophet in his ministry over the people of God.
f. Jeremiah was a Pastor-Prophet of God’s sheep (Jeremiah 17:16).
g. Cyrus, a Gentile King was called “My Shepherd” because of what he would do for the flock of Judah (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1).
h. Kings, Princes, Priests, Prophets and Elders in Israel were generally called “shepherds” in Old Testament times (Ezekiel 34:1-10; 22:23-31; Zechariah 11:3, 4, 8, 15-17; Nahum 3:18).
i. There were also women who were “shepherdesses” and cared for their father’s sheep.
Rachel was a shepherdess (Genesis 29:1-9).
The seven daughters of Midiam were shepherding also for their father (Exodus 2:16).
The Shulamite also was a shepherdess (Song 1:7, 8). She typifies the Church in shepherding ministry.
2. New Testament Shepherds
As in Old Testament times leaders and rulers of God’s people were “shepherds”, so the thought carries over into the New Testament. As noted, all fivefold ministries should have the heart of a shepherd, yet there are those who do have that distinctive pastoral call. A study of the New Testament shows also an “over-lapping” of ministries as under the Old Testament.
a. Jesus Christ is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, caring for sheep which have been led astray (I Peter 2:25).
b. All New Testament Elders are Bishops and therefore responsible to shepherd the flock of God (Acts 20:17, 28; I Peter 5:1-5).
c. It seems Peter was a Pastor-Apostle by the Lord’s commission to him in John 21:15-19. The Lord told him to “feed” (i.e., pastor, shepherd, feed) His sheep and lambs. “Feed My sheep”, 3 times. Yet we see Peter in apostolic travelling ministry (Acts 9:31, 32). His Epistles have a “pastoral” note in them.
d. James seemed to become the Pastor-Apostle of Jerusalem after Peter had departed (Acts 21:18; Galatians 1:19; 2:9).
e. Paul certainly evidenced Pastoral ministry and gave us, what are commonly called “The Pastoral Epistles” of I & II Timothy and Titus, yet he himself was more especially a Teacher-Apostle.
f. Christ has set in the Church those who are Pastors as one of the fivefold ministries. It is a distinct ministry besides the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist and Teacher (Ephesians 4:11).
The Pastor is also given FOR the perfecting and maturing of the saints, and FOR bringing the saints into the work of their ministry, and FOR the building up of the Body of Christ.
It is worthy to note that, as the ascension-gift ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers, so with the pastors–all are referred to in plural sense. There are many apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and there are many pastors also.
When it comes to the ministry of pastors there needs a point of clarification. “Pastors” designate those who “shepherd” the congregation of the Lord (Ephesians 4:11). Then in Acts 20:17, 28 and I Peter 5:1-5 Elders are told to perform the work of Pastors. Elders are carried over from the order of the Synagogue into the New Testament local Church.
Then Elders are also Bishops and have the oversight of the congregation. These Scriptures confirm this fact (Acts 20:17, 28; I Peter 5:1-5; Titus 1:5, 7).
Alex Rattray Hay, in The New Testament Order For Church and Missionary (pp. 23:32-35) quotes Neanders Church History (Vol. I, pp. 255-256) saying:
“The guidance of the communities was therefore most probably entrusted everywhere to a council of elders . . . Besides the usual name, ‘presbuteroi’, given to the heads of the Church, there were also many others, denoting their appropriate share of action, as shepherds (pastors) . . . That the name ‘episcopi’ or bishops was altogether synonymous with that of presbyters, is clearly evident from those passages of Scripture where both titles are used interchangeably (Acts 20; Compare v. 17 with v. 28; Titus 1:5 with 1:7), and from those where the office of Deacon is named immediately after that of Bishop, so that between these two offices no third one could possibly intervene. This interchange of the two appellations shows that originally they were perfectly identical.”
And then again, from “The Christian Ministry” (p. 97.) says:
“It is a fact now generally recognized by theologians of all shades of opinions that in the language of the New Testament the same officer is called indifferently ‘bishop’ or ‘elder’ or ‘presbyter'”.
Thus there is general acknowledgement that in the Early Church the three titles, Presbyter (Elder), Pastor and Bishop, all referred to the ministry of one and the same person.
However, the three terms are not synonymous though referring to one and the same person.
As Elder or Presbyter it speaks of a man holding office in the Church. As Bishop it refers to that person presiding and overseeing the congregation. As Pastor it refers to the man shepherding the flock of God. Or, as noted previously . . . The Elder refers to the person, the man. The Bishop refers to the office. The Pastor refers to the work, the function, shepherding.
Thus in a reasonably sized local Church there will be a group, a plurality of Elders. These Elders “pastor” or “shepherd” the flock of God.
Thus we have Apostle/Elders, Prophet/Elders, Teacher/Elders, Evangelist/Elders and Pastor/Elders, yet together they constitute a New Testament Eldership.
However, amongst this Eldership, these “shepherds”, there must be a “Chief Shepherd” or “Senior Elder” as “first among equals”.
E. Calling, Qualifications, Ministry and Recognition of the Pastor
As with all ministries, so with the Pastor. There must be the distinct call to shepherd God’s people. All in Old Testament and New Testament times knew that deep call of the Lord to care for the flock of God. Without this inner conviction of the call of God no person could really handle the pastoral ministry.
a. The Pastor must be one who has entered into the sheepfold by THE Door, Jesus Christ (John 10:1, 9). The Pastor himself must come in by THE Way (John 14:6). If he has not lawfully entered the fold he is a false shepherd, a hireling or other.
b. The Pastor must have the heart of a shepherd. He is not self-called or self-employed. Moses (Numbers 27:15-17), Ezekiel (34:4, 5), Micah (I Kings 22:17; II Chronicles 18:16); Jeremiah (50:6) end Jesus (Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34) all saw God’s people as sheep without a shepherd and cared for them.
The Priests, Pharisees and Scribes were supposed to be “the shepherds” of the flock of God, but, as a whole, had no heart for the people.
c. The Pastor will be one to whom the Porter (i.e., The Holy Spirit) will open (John 10:3).
d. The Pastor will recognize that he is both shepherd and sheep (as Jesus was!)
e. The Pastor will know he is not called as a hireling and will not serve for filthy lucre (I Peter 5:2; I Timothy 3:3).
The Pastor is also a Bishop and Elder. As such he must have the qualifications of an elder as laid down in the Word of God. Without such he is disqualified from shepherding the people of God (I Timothy 3; Titus 1). He must have character, domestic and spiritual qualifications.
He must not neglect his own spiritual life and relationship with the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, if he himself is to be a good shepherd (Jeremiah 2:8; Acts 6:2-4; 20:28; I Timothy 4:12-16).
Most of the things mentioned here are applicable, in general, to all shepherding ministries, but they are especially characteristics of pastoral ministry.
a. A Pastor will be one whose voice the sheep recognize. There will be that inner sense that he has the voice of the Spirit in him (John 10:3).
b. A Pastor will be sensitive to the sheep. He will “sit where they sit” and identify with them (Ezekiel 3:15; Job 2:13).
c. A Pastor will call his sheep by name. Personal contact is his delight (John 10:3).
d. A Pastor will lead the sheep into fresh pastures of the Word which he is always searching out (John 10:3; Psalms 23).
d. A Pastor will go before his sheep as a leader and the sheep are happy to follow him, knowing that he will not lead them astray (I Corinthians 11:1; John 10:4). He leads by his example in attitude, word and lifestyle (I Peter 5:3).
e. A Pastor will have love and compassion for the sheep. He will love them and they will love him. Love will not be legislated but generated. It will be reciprocal (Matthew 9:36-38; Mark 6:34).
f. A Pastor will be willing to lay down his life for the protection of the sheep (John 10:11, 15-18; I John 3:16; John 18:8).
h. A Pastor will be willing to stay with the sheep when he sees the wolf coming. He will not flee and forsake them (John 10:12).
i. A Pastor will constantly care for the sheep (John 10:13).
j. A Pastor will always be on the alert for “other sheep” to bring them into God’s fold (John 10:16).
k. A Pastor will recognize the unity of the flock of God, and that there is only “one fold” and he has been entrusted with some of God’s sheep (John 10:16).
1. A Pastor will recognize that he is an under-shepherd, responsible and accountable to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. The sheep are not his but the Lord’s. (John 10:16; I Peter 5:1-5; Hebrews 13:7, 17; Ezekiel 34:10).
m. A Pastor will know his sheep and be able to distinguish between bleating and murmuring (John 10:27).
n. A Pastor will feed the flock of God. He will supply fresh waters (I Peter 5: 1-5; Ezekiel 34:13; Jeremiah 3:15; Acts 20:17, 28-32; Genesis 29:7; 30:38; Exodus 2:16; Psalms 23:2).
o. A Pastor will minister healing to the flock. He will seek the lost, bring back that which is driven away, bind up the broken, heal the sick and strengthen the diseased. He will visit the flock (Ezekiel 34:4, 11-16; James 5:14; Luke 15:4; Jeremiah 23:1-5).
p. A Pastor will not be lord over God’s flock or rule them with force or cruel hand, but will rule with love (Ezekiel 34:4; Acts 20: 17, 28-31; I Peter 5:3).
q. A Pastor will exercise governmental ministry (Isaiah 40:10, 11; Matthew 2:6). He will oversee the flock of God, watching their needs (I Peter 5:2; Acts 20:28-31; Hebrews 13:7, 17;Luke 2:18).
r. A Pastor will not drive the sheep or overdrive them. He will lead them. (Genesis 33:13).
s. A Pastor will carry the lambs when needed (Isaiah 40: 11,29; John 16: 12; Mark 4:33).
t. A Pastor will be a porter also so that the sheep do not get over His body to be devoured of wolves or wild animals (John 10:3).
u. A Pastor will use the measuring rod in love on his sheep (Leviticus 27:32; Jeremiah 33:13; Ezekiel 20:37; I Corinthians 4:21).
v. A Pastor will seek God for fruitfulness and increase. Sheep beget sheep (Genesis 30:25-43; 31:1-16).
w. A Pastor will watch against all forms of attack. The enemy will seek to smite the shepherd in order to scatter the sheep. He is a Watchman (Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31).
x. A Pastor will be the gatherer of God’s people and not say, do or allow things that scatter the sheep (Isaiah 40:11; Luke 11:23; Matthew 12:30).
y. A Pastor will protect the sheep from their enemies and will warn the sheep of such (Amos 3:12; I Samuel 17:34, 35; John 10:11-13; Isaiah 31:4; 56:11). He will not be a dumb shepherd.
z. A Pastor will be well equipped with shepherd’s equipment for the flock under his care.
C. W. Slemming in his book “He Leadeth Me” deals with the Eastern shepherd’s equipment.
1) Fleece sheepskin coat for warmth for himself and lambkins (Jeremiah 43:13). 2) A wallet for carrying food (I Samuel 17:40).
3) A sling and staff for beastly enemy attacks (Psalms 23:4).
4) An oil bottle, protection against vipers, parasites on the sheep.
5) A reed flute for music, song, that the sheep enjoy.
6) A lamp for his feet in the darkness of the night.
A Pastor will be recognized by having upon him a distinct “pastoral charisma”. He is a feeder, a gatherer, a leader, a carrier of the lambs and a ruler (Isaiah 40:10, 11).
Great Churches are noted for the ministry or ministries that have that distinct “pastoral charisma” in them, besides the other of the fivefold ascension-gift ministries and plurality of eldership.
As with all ministries, so the Pastor must be received in order to release the reward of his ministry (Matthew 10:41, 42).
F. Judgment on the Shepherds
All ministries are accountable to the Lord. All have to come for judgment before Him. All have to appear before the Lord and give an account of the responsibilities laid upon them.
Just as there are true and false Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Teachers, so there are true and false Pastor/Shepherds.
Tremendous warnings of judgment are laid on such (Ezekiel 34).
1. False Shepherds
Characteristics of false or poor shepherds are seen in Ezekiel 34. The chapter may be sectionized as follows:
Verses 1-10. Judgments on the Under-shepherds.
Verses 11-16. The Lord, the Chief and True Shepherd.
Verses 17-31. Responsibilities and Judgments on the Sheep.
Ezekiel, as “the son of man” points to Messiah’s Sonship. He is a Priest, Prophet, Watchman and Shepherd of God’s people–vs 1.
a. The word is against (not for) the shepherds (vs 2, 10).
b. Woe is pronounced on them (vs 2).
c. They feed themselves and not the flock (vs 2, 3).
d. They eat the fat, take the wool, kill the sheep instead of feeding (vs 3).
e. They did not care for the sick, the diseased, broken, lost and driven away sheep (vs 4).
f. They ruled with force and cruelty as lords and dictators (vs 4).
g. The sheep were scattered as having no shepherd (vs 5).
h. The beasts devoured them (vs 5).
i. The sheep became wandering sheep and none sought for them (vs 6).
j. God will require His sheep at our hands (vs 10).
k. He will also cause some shepherds to cease from feeding His flock anymore. The flock will be taken out of their hands (vs 10).
l. The howling of the voice of shepherds is heard when this happens (Zechariah 11:3-9, 11-17; Jeremiah 25:34-38; 50:43, 44).
m. God’s anger is kindled against these shepherds (Zechariah 10:3).
n. He will judge them by the sword (Jeremiah 12:10-13; 50:6, 7, 43, 44; Zechariah 11:7, 8).
o. The Pastors transgressed against the Lord (Jeremiah 2:8). Note–Priests, Pastors, Prophets here.
The Pastors become brutish and did not seek the Lord (Jeremiah 10:21). He would scatter their flocks.
Many Pastors destroyed His vineyard (Jeremiah 12:10). Wind shall eat them up (Jeremiah 22:22).
Woe to the Pastors for destroying and scattering God’s flock (Jeremiah 23: 1, 2). God is against them.
Thus God says that they are HIS sheep and He will judge these shepherds by taking their flock from them and causing them to cease from being shepherds. Such has happened, and is happening today.
Judgment will come upon all false shepherds. God loves His sheep very dearly.
2. True Shepherds
God’s purpose is clear. He will raise up true shepherd ministries. There are distinct prophecies where the Lord said He would raise up Pastors according to His own heart (Ezekiel 34:11-16). The Lord is THE Shepherd. Note the “I will’s” in this section of Ezekiel.
a. He will search and seek out His sheep as a shepherd his lost flock (vs 1, 2).
b. He will deliver them in the cloudy and dark day.
c. He will bring them to their own land, to feed and pasture them. They will lay down in a good fold.
d. He will bring back the lost, heal the sick, restore the diseased, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick.
e. He will also judge the fat and the strong sheep who hurt each other.
f. He will bring them into folds (i.e., Local Churches). Jeremiah 23:3, 4.
g. He will set up Pastors over them according to His own heart who will feed them with knowledge. The sheep will not be dismayed or fear. Jeremiah 3:15; 17:16; 6:2, 3; Ezekiel 34:23, 24.
There has always true and false shepherds and always conflict over the sheep. Jeremiah had conflict with the Priests, Princes, Prophets and Rulers. Ezekiel also had the same conflict with the same rulers of God’s people. Moses had to drive away the shepherds who over-powered the daughters of Midaim when they came to water their flocks (Exodus 3:16-19).
Jesus had to deal with the religious leaders in His day also; the Priests, Scribes, Pharisees and Elders of the nation.
Peter, Paul and the Apostles and the Early Church had the same conflict. All true shepherds will be opposed by false shepherds and the sheep will have to use their ears to discern that which is true and false.
G. The Marks and Responsibilities of God’s Sheep
The sheep have their responsibility and accountability also under God and Christ the Chief Shepherd. They also will be judged by Him in that day (Ezekiel 34:17-21)
1. Must recognize that they are God’s sheep (Isaiah 40:11; I Peter 5:2; 1:25; Isaiah 53).
2. Must recognize their need of a shepherd who is God-appointed and anointed (Zechariah 13:7; Numbers 27:16, 17).
3. Must realize that without a shepherd they will wander, go astray, as is the nature of sheep (Jeremiah 50:6; Isaiah 53:6). Dogs, cats, horses, can find their way back home but not sheep. Too stupid to return.
4. Must recognize that they are helpless and defenceless without a shepherd. Not like other animals.
5. Must realize they need cleansing by dipping as they cannot cleanse themselves.
6. Must realize they have to be led (Isaiah 40:11). Cannot lead themselves.
7. Must realize the shepherd puts a “sheep-dog” on to them to growl and bark at them to keep them in the flock, but not to hurt them. Independence not to be found in the sheep. Cannot go it alone. Gregarious nature. Safety in fold.
8. Must know their need of a sheep-fold. i.e., Local Church. There are different words translated “fold” in Scripture, each having a thought appropriate to the Local Church.
a. Hebrew “Gedarah” = “Hedged or fenced place” (Numbers 32:16, 24, 36).
b. Hebrew “Dober” = “Pasture land, or fold” (Micah 2:12).
c. Hebrew “Naveh” = “Home, Cool place” (Jeremiah 23:3; Ezekiel 34:14).
d. Hebrew “Miklan” = “Restrained Place, Fold” (Psalms 79:70).
e. Greek “Aule” = “Court Yard” (John 10:16).
The Local Church is all this to the flock of God. It is safety from the wolves and wild animals and the place of pasture and security.
9. Must recognize and come under the rod of the shepherd (Numbers 27:32; Ezekiel 20:27). Loving care and discipline for them.
10. Must learn to obey the shepherd’s voice (John 10:26, 27). Learn to respond to it. Have ears to hear. Learn to discern “strange voices” and flee from those who are unproven and unknown ministries (John 10:5, 8). Lambs learn the voice of the shepherd if they stay with the sheep.
11. Must love and trust their shepherd who is the only friend of the sheep, otherwise they had better leave and go to someone they can love and trust.
12. Must be willing to follow their shepherd as the shepherd follows Christ (I Corinthians 11:1).
13. Must kneel to find rest with their padded knees (Ezekiel 34:15).
14. Must realize they need to give their wool while alive. No good after they are dead, “dead wool”. Wool-blindness has to be removed or die otherwise.
15. Must recognize that part of the purpose of their existence is to reproduce themselves. Sheep beget sheep, not the shepherd.
16. Must learn to graize with the flock of God end move together as their shepherd leads them in green pastures and still waters.
17. Must stay with the shepherd and the fold to receive healing, binding up of wounds, restoration, etc., as needed (Ezekiel 34:4, 16; Psalms 23:3).
18. Must allow the shepherd to deal with “parasites” that cause problems in sheep, in their ears, eyes, heads, nasal and body parts.
19. Must realize that they, along with the shepherds, will be judged by THE LAMB of God and THE CHIEF SHEPHERD, Jesus Christ (Ezekiel 34:17-21).
They must watch that they do not foul the sweet waters of God for other sheep who follow to drink after them.
At the coming of Christ as Shepherd-King, all nations will be gathered before Him.
He will divide them as a shepherd does his sheep and goats.
The Goats = The religious, the unredeemed, the unsaved sinners and unGodly who are placed on His left hand for judgment.
The Sheep = The rightous in Christ, the redeemed sinners, the Godly, and these are placed on His right hand. They enter into the Kingdom as “One Fold” under “One Shepherd” and all under-shepherds and sheep are blessed together.
The Goats depart into everlasting fire and punishment.
All peoples in all nations are either “Goats” or “Sheep” according to their acceptance or rejection of Christ, the Chief Shepherd and Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36). The most blessed local Churches are those who know the shepherd-sheep relationship between leaders and people (Ecclesiastes 12:11, Amp. O.T.).
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM THE CHURCH IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AND PUBLISHED BY BT PUBLISHING, 1982, PAGES 175-186. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.