watch the video of this sermon here.
Last week we
looked at the important role of the evangelist. The three things we really
focused on last week was first that we need to get the evangelist role right.
Evangelists are not pastors and they are not teachers, even though they may be
good at preaching and teaching they are not pastors or teachers. Second, their
heart is to find every opportunity to reach people. They have an exceeding
desire to reach people that inspires others around them. Third, we also saw that
we should not leave all of the evangelizing to the evangelists. In fact, if you
know an evangelist I encourage you to take the opportunity to go out
evangelizing with them, you will be blessed.
Out of all
of these points the one which we spent the most time on is the first one,
getting the evangelist role right. This is vitally important. A lot of Churches
don’t know what to do with the evangelist. This is a role that is not very well
understood. This has happened partially because the church places a lot of
emphasis on another role, the pastor/teacher role. But does the Church get this
as right as it thinks? Well today we will see.
the Bible say about the Pastor teacher role? Is the pastor and the teacher the
same role, or two different roles? Do Christians understand what the Shepherd’s
role is? Let’s examine this biblically. There is so much that we could say on
these two gifts, but we are going to examine them together, because the Church
often places them together. Let’s see what the Bible says.
the same role? Pastors
and teachers have become pretty much synonymous in the Church over the years,
and this tradition goes back into the ancient early Church. Some would argue
that Apostles and prophets have ceased, and evangelists, pastors and teachers
are the remaining offices of leadership for the church. We don’t see it that
way, but still most of the Church would just call their leaders pastors, and
those pastors are expected to teach. So, what is the Biblical understanding?
4:11-12 says this, “11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the
evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of
ministry, for building up the body of Christ,…” Many people observe that
in both English and Greek the words “shepherd and teacher” are
linked together by the word “and” (Greek kai), whereas the other roles,
Apostles, prophets, and evangelists are all separate.
I am not
going to go into any technical Greek examination of this position from this
perspective, because I don’t want to bore you to tears. Though if you are
struggling to sleep you can look it up later in a technical commentary.
I will say
this, this is a weak foundation to stand on to make any conclusion, so what
does the rest of the Bible say?
What is a
Shepherd? I think
the answer to the question “are they the same role” is found in answering this
question: what is a shepherd? We translate the word ‘poiemas’ often as pastor
and use the word pastor. Pastor is just a Latin word for ‘shepherd’. And when
you ask what does the Bible say about shepherds, then a whole bunch of biblical
imagery and thinking comes to your mind.
is our Shepherd -
(Psalm 23), he gathers his flocks, Psalm 23:1-3 – “1 The Lord is my
shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads
me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of
righteousness for his name's sake.”
lead God’s people - David,
the shepherd was a man after God’s own heart, and his role was to lead God’s
people, “14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought
out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over
his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (1
Them To Account - God
continually counted the leaders of Israel, their priests, their kings and
prophets and other leaders as shepherds of Israel, and he judged them according
to the standards that any chief shepherd should judge his shepherds,
“1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man,
prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to
the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been
feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?” (Ezekiel 34:1-2).
of the shepherd is deep and strong in the Bible, and it is continually applied
to the leaders of the people of God, the priests, kings, prophets and more. So,
we can say for certain that those who lead the people of God should be called
shepherds. But what about the idea of teaching how does this interact with the
us here, because Jesus told him this, John 21:15-19 –
“15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to
Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to
him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16
He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to
him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was
grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to
him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him,
“Feed my sheep.”
Here we get
to the heart of what the shepherd’s role is: the role of the shepherd is to love
the Lord and feed the sheep, to lead the sheep to greener pastures, to nourish
the sheep, to tend to the sheep.
What is this
food that the shepherd is to feed to the sheep? The knowledge of God, the word
of God, the commands of God. As we read in Psalm 19:7-11 –
“7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of
the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the
rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are
they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of
the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them
there is great reward.”
need the word of the Lord to flourish. Jesus is asking Peter to feed his sheep
the word of God, the wisdom of the Lord, which is why Peter later says in 1 Peter
2:2-3 – “2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that
by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord
spiritual milk we need is the law and teachings of God, otherwise we cannot
grow as the people of the Lord.
So, we see
that a shepherd leads God’s people, he leads them to where the green pastures
are, he cares for the flock like the Lords himself does, he is to even be
willing to lay down his life for the flock to face down a bear, a wolf, or
persecution of some kind, and he is to feed the sheep the word of God. Which
means a pastor has to be a teacher, in some capacity at least.
role then overlaps with the teaching role, we don’t just rely on a technicality
in Ephesians 4:11 to support this position, there is a rich and deep theology
of pastors leading God’s people to his word.
role – The
teaching role is so important in the bible we see it emphasized again and
again, 1 Corinthians 12:28, “And God has appointed in the church first
apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of
healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” In
Corinthians Paul lists it as the third most important gift, in Ephesians he
lists it as 5th, but pastors, and evangelists all teach in their own
way. And pastors really are the teachers of the church. Again and again the
importance of this gift is emphasized.
should teach, Romans 12.6-7 – “6 Having gifts that differ according to
the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our
faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;”
should be honoured, Galatians 6:6 – “6 Let the one who is taught the word
share all good things with the one who teaches.”
needs to be part of the honoured life-blood of the church and regular and
consistent, 2 Timothy 4:1-4 –
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ
Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his
kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove,
rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is
coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they
will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will
turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
to be a sense of urgency to preach the word of God, whether it is wanted or
not, because the judge is one day coming.
You can see
a direct correlation between the state of teaching in the church today and the
level of apostasy. The church decided people did not need teaching, they just
needed an inspiring pick me up devotion, and now people are starving for the
So, we can
now answer our question: are shepherds and teachers the same role, should they
be brought together? Absolutely, there may be pastors who lean more towards
gathering people and pastoral care, and there may be pastors who are keener on
doctrine and teaching. But pastoral care must have a teaching and exhortation
element, and teaching must be done with a pastoral heart.
not just about leading people where you want. It is about leading them where
the Lord wants, to greener pastures of his word.
not just about conveying information. It is about feeding the flock of God the
spiritual food they need to grow. It is about taking the word of God and
helping people apply it to their lives.
There is so
much we can look at regarding pastor teachers in the Bible, but I want to focus
on two main passages, one that reflects the shepherd’s heart, and the other that
emphasizes the teachers responsibility.
The Chief Shepherd (1
Peter 5:1-5) – Peter, the rock, gives some important advice to shepherds,
“1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder
and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory
that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you,
exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have
you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your
charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger,
be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward
one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
We can draw
a few practical principles from this passage:
oversight” - The
shepherd needs to exercise oversight. Look out among the flock and observe
issues that may need dealing with. The shepherd who watches the sheep on a hill
needs to be watching, looking for wolves, bears and threats internal and
external to the flock.
He does not
need to be an investigator, or nosey, just watchful and observant.
under compulsion” –
This needs to be a willing role. Something that you want to do. There is no use
pushing people into this role who don’t want to be there. If someone does not
desire to be a shepherd that is fine.
means that if it is not done “under compulsion” it is a from a free choice,
which means it is ok to desire the role “he who desires to be an overseer,
desires a noble task.”
shameful gain” – You
cannot be in it for personal profit. Pastors get paid a decent wage, and they
should, those who teach well are worthy of double honour. But if you are
abusing the generosity of the church to live like a king you are living in a
shameful way. There is too much of that in the modern church. It is despicable.
for shameful gain” should be contrasted with “honourable gain”. If it
is shameful for a pastor to gain too much, it is shameful for a church to allow
their pastor to struggle.
domineering over the flock” - The pastor is not to bully or push people in the way that they want
them to go, he needs to lead with a gentle and kind touch, and lead more by
example than command.
bully. They bully those close to them, or their staff, or use spiritual guilt
to shame people into obedience, this is wrong. This is not pastoring it is
manipulation, and it is shameful.
do this from bad motives, but also from a sense of thinking they are more
responsible than they are. Pastors should not forget that we are not
responsible for people’s actions if we have taught the whole counsel of God. If
we have told people the truth, that’s where the pastors responsibility begins
and ends. The rest is on you.
notice that I will preach a hard word about gender roles, or this or that or
the other thing, but when I talk to you in person I don’t hassle you about it.
Because it’s not a pastor’s job to corral people, it is our job to light the
way, and let you make your own choices.
We all see
as though through a mirror darkly anyway. So, charity with each other is a
us to see some important aspects of the heart that should guide pastoral
ministry, but I want us to look at what James says to round this all off.
of you should be teachers James 3:1-5 – We cannot talk about the gift of teaching, without
addressing what James says,
“3 Not many of you should become teachers, my
brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater
strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble
in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If
we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their
whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and
are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the
will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it
boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!”
This is a
powerful passage, and it has a word of warning for all of us. It teaches some
of you should be teachers – Just because you are out-going, extroverted, verbal, moderately
intelligent, and like to teach does not mean that you should become a teacher in
the Church. It’s not just about talent or ability, but gifting, responsibility
and diligence. One of my pet bug bears as a pastor is seeing how many guys I
know in this role, who are quite verbally capable, that they think they are
smarter and wiser than they actually are. But having the gift of the gab does
not equal wisdom and being a gifted teacher, it can actually be the sign of the
opposite in many people. It’s more important to be able to control your tongue
than being able to use it. Being able to respond quickly does not equal wisdom.
more strictly - this
is especially true as those “who teach will be judged with greater
strictness.” There is no disputing this verse, and no one should
dispute it, if you wish to teach read this passage with fear and trembling and
with a humble heart. But we should also ask this: who is doing the judging
here? People or God?
common way I hear this passage used is to say that we should hold those who
teach to a higher judgement. Now, I think there are passages which teach this. For
example, judge a prophet aka teacher by their fruit not just their words, etc, so
that principle is not at dispute, the question is does this passage teach this?
Maybe, but I
don’t think so, and here is why. Let’s examine how James uses this word in his
argument in this letter.
the book of James, James is challenging the Christians he is writing to about
how they judge others. They have become evil judges that judge according to
wealth (2:4), then in 2:12-13 he warns them that they need to be careful in
judging, because mercy will not be given to those who are not merciful, “12
So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13
For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs
So, there is
a clear theme in James of him warning these people about being judgemental, and
then in chapter 3:1 he warns them they will too be judged.
chapter 4 he reminds them about this,
“11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a
brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law.
But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There
is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who
are you to judge your neighbour?”
Just like in
chapter 2 James is again warning them that they will face The Judge, the Lord
Jesus Christ. He does this consistently in this little letter.
Then his final
use of the word is this, James 5:8-9, “8 You also, be patient. Establish
your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one
another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing
at the door.”
very clearly and consistently warning us that we will face THE Judge, the Lord,
and therefore, we need to be fearful and be merciful. Therefore, in James 3 he
is warning people that they will face the judge of judges, the Lord Jesus
Christ, so be prepared for this.
mean that people won’t judge you more strictly if you seek to teach? Of course
they will. It is unavoidable. A poll was taken many years ago, and it found
that people’s greatest fear was public speaking, and their second greatest fear
was dying. This means, that at their funeral most people would rather be in the
casket than doing the eulogy.
Yes, that is
a Jerry Seinfeld joke, one of his best. But it based on a reality that people
fear the judgement of others above many things. Because they know that anyone
who stands before others will experience this judgement.
mean that we should not judge one another? Of course we should, in certain
contexts and we should make sure we are careful and use a lot of grace and
mercy, because with the measure we use, so will it be measured to us. But we
cannot escape having to make judgements.
James is doing here is similar to what Paul is saying in Galatians 1:10, “10
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please
man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
both Paul and James are warning teachers to take into account the highest
judge, because he stands at the door.
you fear more, man or God? God is the ultimate judge so fear him more. Let this
settle into your heart if you want to be a teacher really at any level, but
especially a pastor. The tongue is a raging fire, which can cause great damage,
especially if you deliberately deceive people with your words.
this, if you hold others to a very high standard God and others will apply that
same standard to you. Everyone, especially teachers needs to remember this.
– So How Should We
Apply This? I think we need to consider a few things while applying this
everyone should aspire to be a pastor or teacher. Modern egalitarians complain
that its unfair that women cannot be pastors and men can be, but the truth is
only a very few select man can be anyway.
is a high calling and a serious calling. You will face God for what you teach
and how you conduct yourself, don’t forget it.
all pastors and teachers will be the same. Some will be more gifted towards
pastoral care, others towards teaching, but being able to teach and care for
people is a part of the role for all shepherds.
if you believe this is an area where you would like to explore, maybe by going
to Bible college, or exploring your pastoral gifting in the church, come and
talk to me.
try to win any popularity contests in this role (2 Tim. 4:2- “2 preach the word; be ready in season
and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and
– The Church needs
shepherds, this is part of how God has made his church. Pray that God will
raise up more shepherds like himself. Let’s pray.