The word pastor is translated from the Greek word poimen, meaning a shepherd. This is the Greek word, for instance, in Luke 2:8: "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night." Poimen occurs 18 times in the New Testament, (Matthew 9:36, Matthew 25:32, Matthew 26:31, Mark 6:34, Mark 14:27, Luke 2:8, Luke 2:15, Luke 2:18, Luke 2:20, John 10:2, John 10:11, John 10:12, John 10:14, John 10:16, Ephesians 4:11, Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 2:25) plus one more time (1 Peter 5:4) as part of a combined word. It is translated shepherd in each of these places except in the list of gifts in Ephesians 4:11. Its verb form is poimaino, meaning to shepherd. This form of the word occurs 11 times in the New Testament. (Matthew 2:6, Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2, Revelation 7:17, Luke 17:7, John 21:16,1 Corinthians 9:7, Jude 1:12, Revelation 2:27, Revelation 12:5, Revelation 19:15) In the first four of these places it is translated shepherd; in the next three it is translated tending sheep, tend my flock, and tends a flock. In the eighth place it is translated serving, and in the last three places it is translated rule. We understand this when we remember that even in our language, rulers are occasionally called shepherds. We have made this detailed examination to clearly understand that the word pastor simply means shepherd.

A pastor, then, is one who cares for the sheep, that is, the saints of God, the body of Christ. He teaches the word of God; for in Jeremiah 3:15 the LORD says, "I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding." But he is far more than just a teacher. The word implies a deep personal concern for the sheep, as we see in Luke 15:4-6:

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

In John 10:11-15 we see that the word also implies sacrificial commitment:

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep."

While the direct application of these Scriptures is to our Lord Himself, we learn from them that a pastor, that is, a shepherd, is one who truly cares for the sheep. He is deeply distressed if one is lost, and will work tirelessly to bring it back. He is filled with joy when this is accomplished. He loves the sheep so much that he would even sacrifice his life for them. This kind of love and concern for the people of God is not something that can be learned in a school. It is a spiritual gift. A man who does not have this gift is not a pastor in the scriptural sense of the word.

It is important to realize that in this scriptural sense, the word pastor refers to this gift. It does not refer to supervisory leadership. That, as we have seen, is the function of an elder. This gift is required to do an elder's work, for in Acts 20:28 the elders are exhorted to "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." Again, in 1 Peter 5:2, the elders are instructed to "Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly." But being gifted as a pastor does not make someone an elder. A man may be a skillful teacher. He may truly care for other Christians. He may even be ready to lay down his life for their sake. Such a man is a true pastor, but he cannot scripturally be considered an elder, that is, a bishop, if he lacks the qualifications laid down in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

Some teach a clever analysis of Ephesians 4:11: "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers." They claim that in this passage, the words pastors and teachers refer to the same persons. From this, they have invented a church office called "pastor-teacher." This cannot be correct; for we have seen that the original Greek of the New Testament did not include the concept of "offices" in the church. But how did they come up with such an idea? They get it from a widely accepted rule of Greek grammar called the Granville Sharp rule. A simplified statement of this rule is that when two nouns are connected by the word kai and there is an article before the first noun, but not the second, the two nouns refer to the same thing. Greek scholars call this construction TSKS, an abbreviation meaning article - substantive - kai - substantive.*9

In Ephesians 4:11, each of the Greek words translated some is an article. The Greek word translated and is kai. And the words translated pastors and teachers are nouns. This seems to conclusively prove the point, but it fails to address one critical point. Mr. Granville Sharp, who discovered this rule, found that it only applies within certain limits.*10

These limits are
Neither of the nouns is impersonal,
neither of them is plural,
and neither of them is a proper name.

When these limits are applied to Ephesians 4:11, the error becomes obvious. The words translated pastors and teachers are both plural. Thus, the Granville Sharp rule does not apply to this passage.

Here are a few examples of the TSKS construction with plural nouns:

"the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matthew 3:7)
"the elders and chief priests and scribes" (Matthew 16:21)
"the Greeks, prominent women as well as men" (Acts 17:12)

In each of these cases, it could not be more plain that the two nouns (three in Matthew 16:21) do not refer to the same persons. Thus we see that there is no basis for claiming that the words pastors and teachers in Ephesians 4:11 refer to the same persons. So there is no scriptural basis for the concept of a church office called "pastor-teacher."

*9 A noun is a substantive. Return

*10 This rule was not recorded in any ancient document known to present day scholars. So it was unknown to the modern world until Mr. Sharp discovered it in 1798. Since that time, scholars have checked it in every place where the TSKS construction occurs in the New Testament and in many other ancient Greek documents. The rule has passed all these tests, but only when these limits are strictly applied. Return

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