Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Is the office of Protestant Pastor Biblical? Part 1

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, Ephesians 4:11-12

The above verse is the only time the word Pastor appears in the Bible.  The Greek translation of this word means shepherd. Like the other functions listed, apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers, a pastor is not an office or a title but rather it describes a particular function within the church. That of a shepherd. And what do shepherds do? They nurture and care for God's sheep.

If we study the early church in the New Testament, we can find no one person who was in charge of each church, who gave a weekly sermon, who counseled people, who married people, officiated at funerals, managed the money, etc. Rather everyone in the church had a part, a function to perform. There were leaders or elders, of course, but there was no hierarchy among them, no pyramidal structure.  So where did the idea of a pastor come from?

It all began once again when the church moved from homes into formal buildings. Now, we needed someone in charge to take care of the building or "church". Ignatius of Antioch in 107 AD was the first man to institute the office of bishop. His views on the bishop were astounding for being so close to Jesus's life. Ignatius said ". . .we ought to regard the bishop as the Lord himself"  Consequently, the bishop took over every ceremony and every aspect of the church.

It was all downhill from there. Clement of Rome (100AD) was the first Christian writer to make a distinction in status between Christian leaders and nonleaders, introducing such terms as "laity" and "clergy", which is a clear break from New Testament mind-set that all believers were equal. Soon the idea of a special priest was instituted (Council of Nicaea 325) and bishops themselves were believed to have the power to forgive sins!  Hence the idea that there must be a person who mediates between God and man. Gradually priests began to gain control over bishops and take over churches and the Catholic church was born.

By the 4th century, human hierarchy and the "official" ministry institutionalized the church of Jesus Christ, destroying the once living, breathing, Spirit-led, organic, functional meetings of all believers. By the 5th century the concept of the priesthood of all believes had completely disappeared. Now we had a special class of people, specially trained and "ordained" to be above the rest of the people. These leaders were powerful, charismatic, chosen, and looked up to as a spiritually elite group of Holy men. Thus the clergy/laity gap had widened to the point of no return. Clergymen were trained leaders of the church, the guardians of orthodoxy, the rulers and teachers of the people. They possessed gifts and graces not available to lesser mortals.

Okay, so that's the Catholics, right? What about Protestants?  Tune in next week to find out how priests became pastors! 

(Taken from Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna)


  1. Tues June 26th,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Thanks again, for the information ... interesting and thought-provoking, to see/hear/learn how things all came about. I appreciate the insight.
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. Thanks again MaryLu! Very interesting again ...
    How dangerous it can be to elevate a human to such a high place where they are regarded as being "the Lord Himself", or even above the other believers as if they are closer and more intimate with God. Unreal. So sad to see this in the church today still. I'm not saying all leaders are like this, but in our experience, we've met and sat 'under' enough. Bring back the New testament church, I say! :)
    Looking forward to the next post ...
    Definately something to think about and examine...

  3. You're most welcome, Ladies!! After I read this chapter about Pastors, I actually felt sorry for them. They have so much stress and pressure, it's incredible! They have to run the church, deal with everyone's emotional problems in counseling, prepare a riveting sermon each seek, handle the staff, balance the budget, and all the while appear to be perfect!! Who can do that? That's not what God wanted.

  4. That's why the Apostle John in the 90's AD warned the church of Ephesus about the dangers of the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2). Nico + laitanas = "victory" over the "laity."