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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Various Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part Two)

Don Stewart :: What Is the Pastoral Gift?

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What Is the Pastoral Gift?

The Various Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part Two) – Question 1

Christians need God-given leadership. Scripture says that a special gift is given to lead the local church. This is the gift, or office, of being a pastor. According to the Bible, the abilities of a pastor are God-given. Paul wrote.

And He gave some,..as pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11 NASB).

It is interesting to note that this is the only place where the gift of pastor is mentioned among the spiritual gifts or offices of the church. There are a number of observations that we can make.

Pastors Are to Oversee a Group of Believers

A pastor is supernaturally called by God to oversee a group of believers. The pastor is to be the teaching elder. In the New Testament he is also called “shepherd,” or “bishop.” In fact, the word translated pastor in Ephesians 4:11 comes from a word that means, “to shepherd.” Shepherding refers to what one does while overseeing concerns how the pastor does it.

In the Book of Acts we read.

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28 NKJV).

The pastor is an overseer of God’s flock.

The Pastor Is to Teach the Congregation

Those who occupy the position of “pastor” are to teach and guide the local congregation. The pastor is to equip and enable the believers to do the work of the ministry. Jesus said to his disciples, “Feed My lambs” (John 21:15).

There are a number of areas where the physical shepherd and the spiritual shepherd perform similar tasks. Just as a physical shepherd must feed the sheep so they do not starve, a pastor must feed the people in the spiritual realm so they can grow.

Pastors Are to Be Examples

Peter made the point that pastors are to be examples to the people. He wrote the following words to the believers.

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers— not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:2, 3 NIV).

The pastor is to set an example to others in his behavior as well as in his beliefs.

The Pastor Is to Be a Servant Not a Dictator

The pastor is to shepherd the congregation. He is not to be a tyrant or dictator but rather an example to the congregation. The pastor is to provide spiritual leadership. He is to serve the people, not to be served by them. He should follow the example of Jesus who came to serve, not to be served. Matthew writes of the purpose of the coming of the Lord into the world.

Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28 ESV).

Jesus came into the world to serve. The idea behind the pastoral gift is also to serve.

The Qualifications of a Pastor Are Listed

The Apostle Paul wrote some of the qualifications of the teaching elder or the pastor. He stated them as follows.

For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain; but he must be hospitable, a lover of goodness, prudent, upright, devout, and self-controlled. He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it (Titus 1:7-9 NRSV).

The pastor must be able to teach God’s Word and hold fast to sound teaching. He must also have a life to back up the things that he is teaching. Simply put, a pastor is to minister to the needs of a group of believers.

It Is a Calling Not a Profession

The gift of pastor is a calling, not a profession. It is not an appointment by any human being but rather an appointment by God. If God has called a person to be the pastor of a local church that calling will be recognized.

Is it a Spiritual Gift or an Office?

While many Christians assume there is the office of pastor, as well as the gift of pastor there is another perspective concerning this issue. There is the argument that the gift of pastor is not the same as the office of pastor. In fact, it is claimed that the Bible knows nothing of the office of a pastor. The only offices for the local church that the New Testament recognizes are those of elder and deacon – there is no pastoral office. This can be seen as follows.

Christ Is the Head of the Church

Jesus Christ is the head of the church. The Apostle Paul made this clear when he wrote to the Colossians.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent (Colossians 1:18 ESV).

It is His church, it is not ours. Each of us serves Him.

All Believers Are Priests

Every believer is a priest. Peter wrote.

And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ. As the Scriptures express it, “I am placing a stone in Jerusalem, a chosen cornerstone, and anyone who believes in him will never be disappointed.” Yes, he is very precious to you who believe. But for those who reject him, “The stone that was rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone.” And the Scriptures also say, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that will make them fall.” They stumble because they do not listen to God’s word or obey it, and so they meet the fate that has been planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:5-9 NLT).

We are part of His building.

Leadership Is Made up of Elders and Deacons

In addition, we discover that the leadership of the church is made up of elders and deacons. Yet we find no example of one person occupying the office of pastor at a local assembly of believers. When the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the believers at a particular church, he never singled out one man who was the pastor, or leader, of the church.

For example, he addressed the church at Philippi in this manner.

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons (Philippians 1:1 KJV).

There is no greeting to the pastor. However there is the greeting to the overseers and deacons. This does not mean that no one in Philippi had the gift of pastor. It most likely meant that a number of people at that church had the gift of teaching the congregation. They functioned with their pastoral gift without having any particular title or office.

There Is No Biblical Basis for the Title Pastor

Therefore, it is contended, that we find no biblical basis for making the title of pastor, or addressing someone as the pastor of a church. Jesus Christ is the Chief Shepherd. Everyone else is merely an undershepherd.

Ephesians Lists the Offices Not the Spiritual Gifts

There is something else that needs to be considered. Technically speaking, Ephesians chapter 4 does not list gifts of the Holy Spirit, but rather offices in the church. It is individuals who are listed, not the spiritual gift. There is no gift of pastor listed but rather the pastor is the gifted individual whom God has given to the church.

Whatever the case may be, we know that the Lord has indeed gifted certain individuals to shepherd congregations. They are not only to teach the people the Word of God they are to lead by example. Thankfully, there are countless faithful individuals around the world who are presently performing this task.

Summary – Question 1
What Is the Pastoral Gift?

The pastor is the teaching elder. It is the person who shepherds and oversees a local congregation of believers in Jesus Christ. The gift of pastor is a supernatural calling by the Lord. Humans only recognized what God has done. Hence, the gift is a calling rather than a profession. Scripture lists a number of qualifications for those who would be pastor. The pastor is not only to teach the congregation the truths of God’s Word, he is to be a servant, not a dictator. Like Jesus, the pastor is to serve others rather than lording over them. Those who would be pastors should study carefully the biblical qualifications.

While God has given the gift or office of pastor to the church at large there is a difference of opinion as to whether there is such a position as “the pastor” of a local church. It is contended that a number of people in the local assembly have the pastoral gift.

Thus, the position of a “senior pastor” is not something we find in the New Testament. However, whether or not we use this title, it is evident that God has gifted certain individuals to teach and shepherd local congregations of believers.

Were the Various Details of a Prophecy to Be Judged or the Prophecy Itself? ← Prior Section
Can Women Have the Gift of Pastor? Next Section →
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