The Office of Pastor

Dr. Steve Viars February 29, 1992

- we've been studying the local church the last several weeks
- we've just concluded a pretty extensive study of the
   purposes of the local church
- now we want to turn our attention to what God's Word says
   about the leaders of the local church
- Lord willing, today we'll discuss the office of pastor, and
  next week we'll talk about the office of deacon

- I think it might be wise to mention here that there is a
  difference between talking about church leadership and
  church government
- the difficulty is that in many businesses and
  organizations, the ideas of leadership and government are
  basically synonymous
   - i.e. the president of the company makes the decisions

- there's nothing necessarily wrong with that in business,
  but we need to point out that, while there's obvious
  overlap in the concepts of leadership and government in a
  church--the terms are not synonymous

- in a few weeks we'll study church government more fully
- I'd just like to mention here, for those who might not
  know, that our church believes in congregational government
   - that means that every church member, under the authority
     of God and His Word, has a vote in what goes on in the

- that’s congregational government--we'll study that more
   fully in a couple of weeks

- when it comes to the issue of leadership--we're talking
  about those that the congregation calls/elects to be their
  pastors and deacons...SO:
   1) Jesus Christ is the HEAD of the church, and He has
      provided direction for us through His Word.
   2) The church body, in submission to Him, selects men to
      be their pastors and deacons.
   3) The church leaders are responsible to lead in a way
      that is consistent with what the Bible says about their
      life and office.
   4) The church members are responsible to respond to that
      leadership in a way that is consistent with what the
      Bible teaches.

- I say that to emphasize this point - the way
   labor/management relations are often viewed in the world
   have no place in God's church.
- we could think of literally dozens of ways that that’s true
   - but my primary concern is that we don't bring the
     "world's freight" into this discussion and miss all that
      the Lord has for us.

- so today and next week we're talking about the leaders the
  church body selects -- later in the study we'll deal more
  with the issue of government

INPUT - there's an important question I'd like us to "bat
        around" for a minute and that is - "What is the
        world's view of a pastor/preacher today?"

INPUT - why is it important that we understand what God's
        Word has to say on this subject?

- point - a lot of different ideas out there
   - let's study what God's Word has to say

- there's different ways to "divide up" this material
- what I'd like to present to you is that there are four
   primary biblical sources to learn what God says about the

   1) the terms used to describe the man and his office
   2) the qualifications given for the pastoral office
   3) verses that tell us the pastor's responsibility to the
   4) verses that tell us the church's responsibility to the

I. The Terms Used To Describe The Pastor and His Office

    - its important to know that the Bible gives several
      different terms to describe the pastor.
    - we need to know what those terms are, and how they are
      related to one another.

    A. What they are

        - let me just mention them here - we'll look at some
          of these verses in more detail in a few minutes

        1. elder - Acts 20:17 - "And from Miletus he sent to
                Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

        2.  bishop - Titus 1:7 - "And a bishop must be ..."

        3.  shepherd (pastor/teacher) - Eph.  4:11  - "And he
              gave some...pastor/teachers."

        4.  minister - Rom. 15:25 - "But now I go to
              Jerusalem to minister..."

         - now, one question that might come up is - "wait a
           minute - How come we don't have any bishops? any
         - we need to get some...Bishop Purcell...Elder Doerr

    B. How these terms are related

        1. They are synonymous in that they refer to the same

           - very important point - a careful study of the
              passages that use these terms shows that the
              Bible uses these terms interchangeably.

- I'd like to give a chart that compares the uses of these
- a couple of things we need to say about the chart:
    1) the idea of pastor/teacher is connected in some
       passages and separated in others.  We will separate it
       on the chart.
    2) the fourth term, "minister", is not on the chart
       because the uses of that term are isolated from the
       others and are usually verbs.  We'll talk about that
       term more later on.

Passage        Elder     Bishop     Pastor     Teacher

Acts 20:17-28    x         x          x

Titus 1:5-9      x         x                      x

I Peter 5:1-2    x         x          x

I Timothy. 5:17  x                                x

Eph. 4:11                             x           x

I Tim. 3:1-2               x

point - the Bible uses these terms interchangeably

    - Question - does our church have a bishop(s)?
        (yes - in that the pastoral office could be described
          in its fullest biblical sense as a
          "elder/bishop/pastor-teacher minister"

    - Why don't we use all those terms? (won't fit on the

        2. Different terms are used to describe different
           facets of the role.

           - that’s true of most of us.  It would be difficult
             to have one term that describes what you do at
               - take examples

           - because this issue is so important to the way
             the church functions - the Lord has given us
             several terms to describe the same office.

           - one person has said:

               bishop - office
               pastor - function
               minister - attitude
               elder - man

    C. What these terms emphasize

        A. Bishop (I Tim. 3:1,2; Phil. 1:1)

            1. term means "one who oversees." - Literally, he
                "watches over your shoulder."

            2. term also means "one who superintends."
              - a pastor must be someone who is concerned
                about the spiritual well-being of the people
                in the church.
              - he must encourage, correct, and counsel to
                help folks in the church grow.

    B. Elder (Acts 20:17; I Peter 5:1)

        - emphasizes spiritual maturity
        - pastor can't be a novice or a newcomer

    C. Shepherd

        - Acts 20:28, I Peter 5:2, Eph. 4:11

        - emphasis is on feeding and guiding

    D. Minister

        - Rom. 15:25, II Cor. 4:1, Col. 4:17, I Tim. 1:12

- we'll talk more about these verses and concepts in a minute
  when we talk about the pastor's responsibility and the
  church's responsibility
- but there are a couple of questions that "flow out of" what
  we've talked about so far:

   - here's one that pastors ought to focus on after looking
     at these concepts:

      1) Are you willing to fulfill these various aspects of
         your pastoral role?
          - are you willing to oversee? (can't be an
            "approval junkie" - can't be afraid of what
             others think – that’s why Peter told pastors to
             "take the oversight willingly" (I Peter 5:2)
          - are you working at spiritual maturity? - at being
            and becoming more of an "elder."
          - are you willing to shepherd? Do you like studying
            and preparing and teaching/preaching?
               - are you committed to feeding and caring for
                 God's flock just like a shepherd would care
                 for a flock?
          - are you a servant? - are you going to have time
              for people or are you going to give the
              impression that you're too busy or important
              for them?
          - repeat question

- INPUT - from this study so far, what questions should a
          church member ask him/herself?

          2) Do you want a biblical pastor - and what
             evidence can you give that demonstrates your
             openness for, and appreciation of the

II. Qualifications

    - we studied the qualifications a few months ago when we
      studied the pastoral epistles so I'm going to say
      anything else about them here.
    - my purpose in putting them in the notes is so that if
      you pull these out of the file, you'll tell yourself to
      go back and also study the pastoral epistles notes.

III. A Pastor's Responsibility To The Church

    - we've hinted at some of these things as they've come up
      in the passages.  Let's study some of them in more

    A. Take heed - Acts 20:28

       INPUT - who is the pastor to heed?

        1) himself
        2) those in the flock

            - INPUT - if there was something in your life
               that was not pleasing to God and it somehow
               came to my attention (or one of the other
               pastors), what would you want us to do?
               (perhaps better worded - what would God want
                us to do?)

    B. Feed - Acts 20:28

        - dev. - how Bible college/seminary education works
               - develop impact on "home Bible studies"

        - hit issue of - no excuse for not being prepared

    C. Warn - Acts 20:31

        - INPUT - in this context - what does the warning
                   especially have to do with?

    D. Pray - Acts 6:4

    E. Provide leadership

        cf. uses of "rule"

        Titus 1:5 - "set in order"

IV. A Church's Responsibility To The Pastor

    A. Obey - Heb. 13:7, 17, 24

        INPUT - how can we develop this characteristic in the
                lives of our children?

    B. Honor - I Tim. 5:17

    C. Meet needs - I Tim. 5:18, I Cor. 9:4-14

    D. Don't accept accusations without witnesses - I Tim.

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video