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touching people on the forehead and they respond with erratic convulsions and passing out? If that is not a pastor, then maybe he is the one that landed the sweet deal of only having to work one day and always badgers people to give a tithe which all know is just a ruse to up his salary. The world sees a pastor not as a refined instrument for God’s glory but rather as a story teller and entertainer that works for the congregation rather than God. About a year ago, an internet blog posted the topic, “thoughts that make a good pastor” and the responses were broad and erratic and all pointed in the same worldly direction. The blog turned up 4 posts with characteristics such as entertaining, able to grab church goers’ attention, open minded, and non-judgmental. All throughout Christendom, God has used the likes of men to serve His purpose and achieve His goals but these men were men after God’s own heart and desired to see and do God’s work. But the writer of this paper believes this desire is fading. The desire to be a servant of God that is responsible for the well being of his following is being replaced with high tech audio visuals, live internet and television
2 feeds, motivational speaking, mass counseling sessions and a complete lack of reverence for God’s Word. The question asked “what is a pastor” if left up to the world would be just like those internet responses, erratic broad and worldly but most of all it would not be biblical. Rather, the question needs to be “what makes a BIBLICAL Pastor?” allowing God’s inspired Word to be the deciding judge. But how does one achieve this? What path needs to be taken and what actions need to be made in order to become a biblical pastor that achieves God’s goals? If “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”1 and start at the same state of unrighteousness, how does one grow in the faith to become a pastor? What is the process, in terms of biblical imagery, that turns a sheep into a shepherd? The purpose of this paper is to shine light on these pertinent questions. Rather than viewing the role of pastor through the eyes of the world, God’s Word will be consulted by looking at key passages and demonstrate how a believer moves from being a follower of God to becoming a leader for God. This paper will flow from one passage to the next with each passage acting as a prerequisite to the next. The road to becoming a pastor is a process that has a starting place and an ending. This paper will show the flow of what needs to occur in the life of a believer to result
3 in being a refined instrument used by God to achieve His purpose. But before the first key passage, and seeing the process to becoming a pastor, all pastors and leaders must come first to James 3:1 James 3:1 is a humbling verse that all pastors must come to grips with in order to confirm that God has truly called them to becoming a pastor. This mandate reveals God’s heart for pastors. James is speaking to believers and tells them that “not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment”2 and this is the start to “A Road Less Traveled” from believer to Pastor. Believers (James 1:1) In James 1:1 the author is addressing believers by way of 12 Tribes in Dispersion (Diaspora) lit. “sow, scatter”3 which are scattered abroad all across the world. During this time of writing and given the author’s knowledge of Jewish customs, the great cities of the Roman Empire had Jewish communities, but this phrase probably did not refer to Jews only. It had an even broader purpose. According to Sidebottom, “the phrase was probably used of the members
Kurt Richardson, James, The New American Commentary Vol. 36 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 54
4 of the Christian Church, the new Israel”4 for this was a greeting that extended “to apply to all the people of God in Christ”5 James was not writing to a specific ethnic group but was writing to Christians. This is important to note for it is the ethical teachings in James that guides one to becoming a pastor. Without this foundational step, one would not even want to become a pastor. James says that “every good gift comes from above” and this gift is the gift of salvation and the change of heart to do the Lord’s work. Paul writes that it is “Christ that completes us”6 and without the gift of grace to become a believer in Christ, eternally changed and dedicated to His service then we are “dead in our trespasses and sin”7 To become a follower of Christ is God’s desire for all the world and is fundamental to becoming a pastor and prerequisite for receiving wisdom and the Holy Spirit.
E.M. Sidebottom, James, Jude, 2 Peter. New Century Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1982), 26 Kurt Richardson, James, The New American Commentary Vol. 36 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 54
Colossians 2:10 Ephesians 2:1
5 Asking For Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:7-11) In Ephesians 4:7, the word grace (charis) carries significant weight and serves a different function that what many may think. Because of the translation from Greek to English, sometimes meanings to words get lost because English does not have the words to accommodate for the true meaning in Greek. Such a thing is true in Ephesians 4:7 with the word grace. In the context, until this verse Paul had been speaking about the church as a totality, but here starting in verse 7 Paul focuses on the individual “each one of us”8. The grace that is found in this verse is “equipping grace rather than saving grace.”9 Instead of the saved by grace in Ephesians 2, here God bestows equipping grace for the individual to use for His purpose. Also in this section, a word that applies to the goal of this paper is Paul’s use of the word pastor (poimen). After listing several itinerate positions for the church, Paul moves to the local church and groups together pastors and teachers. The way that these two positions are grouped together may “indicate that they are not two positions but rather are complementary roles and are often
A. Skevington Wood, Ephesians, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 57
6 coordinated in the same person.”10 Pastors, “lit. shepherds, probably included presbyters and bishops; were entrusted with the nurture, protection, and supervision of the flock.”11 In Ephesians 4:7-11, Paul is laying out God’s plan for His people and explaining that He has given some to perform certain functions and some other functions showing that God is in control. The text says that God “personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers” indicating God has equipped men with what is needed to be a pastor. The Holy Spirit is the great helper according to John 16 and is a gift from God that one individually asks for. Luke says that “God will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.”12 It is through the Holy Spirit that believers are empowered and embodied by the third member of the trinity and are able to do great things for God. God the Father sent the Holy Spirit to be God’s presence here on Earth after Jesus’ ascension. The Holy Spirit is available to all people for “God says in the last days I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity;”13 all they have to do is ask for it and receive it. A. Skevington Wood, Ephesians, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 58 Francis Foulkes, Ephesians, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries 2md Ed (Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s Publishing, 1989), 127
12 13 11 10
Luke 11:13 Acts 2:17
7 Before this step was the requirement of being a believer and now, a pastor must be embodied by the Holy Spirit or his preaching will lack power and authority. The Holy Spirit is something that believers ask for and God gives it graciously. Without the “great helper” a Pastor will be ineffective and unproductive in his work for God. The Holy Spirit is given to those who ask for it, and the same is true for divine wisdom. Asking for Wisdom (James 1:5) James 1:5 reveals another key in this process to being a pastor. This key is wisdom (sophia). Contrary to the historical setting of science and philosophy, James is referring to divine wisdom. Ropes says that “wisdom is the supreme and divine quality of the soul whereby man knows and practices righteousness.”14 In the context, James sees the possibility that his readers are lacking something that keeps them from being “mature and complete, lacking nothing.”15 James addresses their lack of wisdom. James is saying that his readers are possibly
James Ropes, Epistle of St. James, International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark, 1954), 139 15 James 1:4
8 lacking “the gift of God which enables one to be perfect or, in James’ conception, to stand the test.”16 Wisdom is imperative if a pastor is to function as God wishes, for wisdom is the gift “that is necessary to endure the testing of faith,”17 and yet again is something that one can and must ask for. James says if one is lacking then just ask God for wisdom and it will be given to him generously. Wisdom is always God’s gift to those who ask for it and “to request wisdom in the midst of trial is precisely what God intends for His people.”18 Wisdom is one of the great terms of practical religion for even in Old Testament the question “’Where shall wisdom be found?’ (Job 28:12) is answered by the sages of Israel in Proverbs 1:7: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.’”19 Pastors need this trait for when the time comes to settle disputes in the church, the pastor must act as Solomon and rely on God’s wisdom to solve problems correctly. This divine trait is needed in a pastor’s life so that he can see trials in true light and Peter Davids, The Epistle of James, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1982), 71 Kurt Richardson, James, The New American Commentary Vol. 36 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 64
18 17 16
Ralph Martin, James, Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 48 (Waco: Word Books Publisher, 1988), 17
9 make proper use of them. Wisdom is critical in the life of a Pastor and yet again, along with the Holy Spirit are things that believers ask for. From this point on, each step in the process of becoming a pastor involves these two gifts of the Holy Spirit and divine wisdom. With Holy Spirit and Wisdom…A Decisive Man is Stable in All His Ways (James 1:8) In absence of the Holy Spirit, a decisive man becomes indecisive (dipsuchos) and a stable man becomes unstable (akatastatos). An indecisive man is someone who is “’doubleminded’ for the Greek word literally means ‘double-souled’ indicating a man of divided loyalty”20 and unstable can be translated as “restless.”21 What James is trying to relay to his readers is that true faith in God is with the whole heart, mind, and soul and to lack even partially in any one of those categories is to fall short of what God expects of His followers. The man who is double-minded “attempts to live with a contradictory blend of desires from two worlds: both pleasure and virtue. But one cannot serve both God and self, the spirit and the flesh, the law of life and the law of death, the wisdom from above and the wisdom from below.”22 John Phillips, Exploring the Epistle of James: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Grand Rapdis: Kregel Publications, 2004), 36 Ibid., Kurt Richardson, James, The New American Commentary Vol. 36 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 69
22 21 20
10 To be indecisive is to be pulled in separate directions, to have a sense for what is right, and a love for what is wrong. This is contradictory and unacceptable to God. The man of God is one who follows after Christ with all of his mind, heart, and soul and is fully committed to the work that God has called him to do. To have a faith in God that is not authentic and at the same time desire a position of leadership for God to use should not happen. To be a pastor is to be holy and set apart from the things of this world and to teach these principles to their following. In modern day, the church is filled with stories and entertaining videos, and counseling, but that is not what God desires for His church. God desires something set apart from the culture. God desires a man of God to not be fickle in the things he teaches and does. He desires a man of God to show, lead, and guide his following into a healthy relationship with God. James’ “intent for this verse was to point out that doubting believers constantly manifest an ineffectiveness of faith that suggests the no authenticity of belief”23 because they did not ask for the Holy Spirit and divine wisdom. Up to this point believers who ask of the Holy Spirit and divine wisdom are able to be decisive and stable in all of their ways and obedient to God but the next step in the process is to put that obedience into practice.
Kurt Richardson, James, The New American Commentary Vol. 36 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 69
11 Be Doers Not Hearers of the Word (James 1:22) In this verse, James is informing his readers that in order to be a true follower of Christ and not a fake, you must be a doer (poietes) of God’s Word. The term doer carries the images of being a performer on a stage or a poet that performs for people to see. This work occurs 3 times in the book of James and all within the first chapter. A proper theme of the book of James would be “a faith that behaves” calling in James’ teachings on works and being a doer of what God’s Word says. James is telling these possibly wavering Christians “do not fool yourselves by just listening to his Word. Instead, put it into practice.”24 If they settled just to hear the Word, they would be deceiving (paralogizomai) themselves. James’ readers were in the custom of listening to Jewish law believing mere listening was sufficient, but now something new and better had come and listening was no longer adequate. James explains that fruit must be produced and “is not a question of acting quickly or slowly but [for James telling these people] acting at all would suffice.”25 Faith must be demonstrated or it serves no purpose.
Curtis Vaughan, James, Bible Study Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969),
39 Kurt Richardson, James, The New American Commentary Vol. 36 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 95
12 To pastors, this verse is key. Up until now traveling from believer to pastor, one needs to be a believer, then they can ask and accept the Holy Spirit and divine wisdom, then with those gifts they can be decisive and stable, but if their faith is not put into practice, then it is worthless. Pastors are called to lead and provide for the church, and what better way is there to provide than to set the example and “practice what you preach.” No pastor who has called upon God for wisdom and Holy Spirit can or should think that undemonstrated faith is true. A pastor should be the first one being a “doer of God’s word” and setting the example for the rest and teaching his following that “failing to see the positive application of a religious attitude which is merely professed leads only to a person’s being self-deceived.”26 Desires a Noble Work…Aspire to Overseer (1 Timothy 3:1) In 1 Timothy 3:1, the word aspires is very significant to what this paper is trying to accomplish. Here in 1 Timothy 3, the office of pastor is something for which the individual longs for and desires. But the question is, does he have the right motive? The term aspires can be translated “set his heart on and can refer to a desire coming from self-centered ambition, but it
Ralph Martin, James, Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 48 (Waco: Word Books Publisher, 1988), 49
13 may also be a desire that springs from genuine love and commitment.”27 The office of pastor can be very enticing because of the status that it brings, and it could be this that causes many to aspire, but those that aspire to be a pastor for the right reasons, desire a noble work. Here the term desire “signifies to stretch oneself out.”28 Aspiring and desiring to become a pastor is very significant, so much so that Paul did not suggest that longing for the office was blameworthy in itself. In fact, he suggested it is a fine work if one desires it, but “one might add, also that it is a place of heavy responsibility.”29 Bearing the weight of a following is no easy task and to desire for the wrong reason would be shameful. One needs “to be sure that such a desire is not an expression of carnal pride, but rather it reflects deep consecration to the work of the church.”30 Surely it is acceptable for individuals to long and desire to be a pastor and not just expect it to happen without working and aiming towards that goal, but can one know for sure that their motives are true? How does one really know if they desire to be a pastor for the right
Thomas Lea and Hayne Griffin Jr., 1,2 Timothy Titus, New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 107
Ralph Earle, 1 & 2 Timothy, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 363
14 reason? Only if he has truly examined his goals and purpose and if he has adhered to the prerequisites of this paper and followed the process from being a believer to a pastor. It would be impossible for a believer to accept the Holy Spirit and divine wisdom and through them become a decisive and stable man, which allows him to put his stable faith into practice and desire the office of pastor for the wrong reason. Following the previous steps are critical to knowing if one’s desires are pure or carnal. Next, if his desires are true, He must meet Scriptures qualifications for an office of leadership. Believer That Meets Qualification for Overseer or Leader (1 Timothy 3:2-7) These verses follow those discussed in the previous step. After a pure desire and longing to serve, one must meet certain qualifications that are given by God for men to pastor His people. Above Reproach (anepileptos) means “not only of good report but deservedly so.”31 Pastors are not only to appear to be good but be truly and honestly good, for this man will serve as a example for the rest of the church to follow. Scripture demands that the overseer or pastor be a man of blameless character and may serve as a general term for the following list of virtues. Husband of One Wife- This qualification has stirred lots of debate and overtime
Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1992), 92
15 several views have been presented. The literal Greek translation is “one-woman man” but the question is what does that mean? Does that refer to one wife ever, one wife at a time, or having a wife after divorce? The views on the qualification are vast but must be considered with marriage passages in the Gospels and in 1 Corinthians. The Overseer must be hospitable (philoxenos) and this literally means “loving strangers”32. When this was written, hospitality would have been crucial and necessary. Hospitality would have been a “particular point in the early church, since without the willing hospitality of Christian people, expansion would have been seriously retarded.”33 Christians traveling in the first century avoided the public inns with their pagan atmosphere and food that had already been offered to idols, so they would seek out Christian homes to stop for the night and stay. Finally, an overseer must be able to teach (didaktikos). Only here and in 2 Timothy is this word found. The concept of this qualification “is not just a mere readiness to teach, but the spiritual power to do so as the outcome of prayerful meditation in the Word of God and the practical application of its truth to oneself.”34 Ralph Earle, 1 & 2 Timothy, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 364 Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1992), 92 Ralph Earle, 1 & 2 Timothy, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 365
34 33 32
16 Looking at these verses it is almost as if Paul was writing an instruction manual for future pastors, where he includes a vast list of qualifications that are very helpful for modern day. In Greek circles “parallel lists were current for various occupations, such as kings, generals, midwives. The qualities required for Christian administrators are strikingly similar”35 and speaks of their status and importance. Pastors are called to the same behavior as kings and are called to adhere to the list of qualifications that Scripture has left, but many disregard those rules. In result, worldly pastors fill the pulpits with total disregard for God’s standards. According to the list of qualification, a pastor is to be blameless in character, live an orderly life, hospitable, and must be able to teach God’s Word. But what if these qualifications are not met? The process that has been discussed all throughout this paper reveals that man has a part in being a pastor but so does God. God longs for good, solid, and biblical pastors to serve in His churches and if the prerequisites discussed have been fulfilled then God will do the rest. But in the end, why so much caution? Why is the emphasis of this paper not on making it easier for everyone to be a pastor? It is because of the final requirement.
Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1992), 91
17 Believer that Realizes the Seriousness of Such a Position (James 3:1) Teacher (didaskalos) in the New Testament offered a respect, prominence, and an authority which made some men long for it. This Greek word “teacher which was not used fewer than 58 times reveals that teachers, as a distinct group, played a prominent role in the leadership of the apostolic churches.”36 James tries to relay to potential pastors that they should “think not so much of its outward privileges as of its immense responsibilities under God.”37 Judgment (krima) is what will happen to the teachers. To impress upon James’ readers this sense of responsibility James adds: knowing that we shall receive the great judgment. The principle trying to be taught here is that teachers whose privileges are greater will be judged with special strictness. In all seriousness, James is telling his readers to “avoid entering the teaching ministry for the standard of righteousness required for teachers is one that few can hope to approach, and none can hope to reach.”38
Curtis Vaughan, James, Bible Study Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969) Ibid.,
Ralph Martin, James, Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 48 (Waco: Word Books Publisher, 1988), 109
18 To become a pastor is honoring, but few think about what this verse is trying to say. This verse is trying to get across that there are many pastors that should not be and because of that, they will be punished. The responsibilities and hardships far outweigh the privileges so it is imperative that one takes on this role for the right reasons. The life and expectations for pastors are so expansive that they go beyond this world, for pastors are the ones that will give an account for the ones they led. The author of Hebrews writes that man should “obey their leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account.”39 The verb “’keep watch’ is infrequent in the LXX. In 1 Esdr 8:59 it refers to guarding the sacred vessels for the temple until they can be given over to the priests and Levites, the clearest instance in which the notion of safekeeping occurs. The leaders will have to account for the safekeeping of the souls entrusted to them.”40 Pastors will be the ones held responsible, both giving an account for others than themselves and receiving a stricter judgment.
Alan Mitchell, Hebrews, Sacra Pagina Series Vol. 13 (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1989), 301
19 Conclusion The world is full of people who are serving in leadership positions for which they are not qualified. Scripture has made it very clear that what it takes to be a pastor that is honoring to God, and what many see on TV and hear on the air waves do not match up and are not one and the same. A pastor is someone who loves, cares, and provides for his flock because they have been entrusted to him by God the Father and they are his responsibility. Being a pastor is not just working one day a week, but rather is ongoing. No matter the circumstance the pastor is reliable and should be there. The purpose of this paper was to visit key passages in Scripture, and find a biblical model that connects and grows obedient sheep in the church to the leading shepherd of the church that would produce a pastor who is a refined tool for God to use as He wishes. All throughout history God has used men to do great things and that can still happen today, but pastors must first realize the importance and significance of their calling and strive to be approved by God and not this world. A lot of work still needs to be done, but with a few good pastors, God can do a lot.
Bibliography Davids, Peter H. The Epistle of James. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1982 Earle, Ralph. 1 & 2 Timothy. Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 11 Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981 Foulkes, Francis. Ephesians. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries 2nd Ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1989 Guthrie, Donald. The Pastoral Epistles. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries 2md Ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1992 Lea, Thomas and Hayne Griffin Jr. 1, 2 Timothy Titus New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992 Martin, Ralph P. James. Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 48 Waco: Word Books Publisher, 1988 Mitchell, Alan. Sacra Pagina Series. Vol. 3, Hebrews. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1989 Phillips, John. Exploring The Epistle of James: An Expository Commentary. The John Phillips Commentary Series. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2004 Richardson, Kurt A. James. The New American Commentary Vol. 36. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997
21 Ropes, James. Epistle of St. James. International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark, 1954 Sidebottom, E.M. James, Jude, 2 Peter. New Century Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1982 Vaughn, Curtis. James. Bible Study Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969 Wood, Skevington A. Ephesians. Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 11 Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981
A Road to Be Less Traveled From Believer to Pastor
A Term Paper Presented to Dr. David Beck in partial fulfillment of the requirements for New Testament Themes: Pastoral Ministry
John Marks Sanders Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary May 22, 2009f
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