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.
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)