A GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THIS UNIT
First, in what I regard as a classic exposition of 1 Peter, John Brown, in his preliminary remarks to his exposition of chapter 5:1-4, asserts that the whole work of the eldership can be subsumed under two major categories: namely, teaching and ruling, or instructing and superintending.
Second, in a similar way, (and perhaps John Brown was influenced by him), John Owen asserts that pastoral feeding of the flock of God involves “teaching or instruction and rule or discipline.” He then goes on to assert that under these two categories, all of the activities and duties of a shepherd to his flock are to be administered.
Third, having spent three units focusing upon the public preaching and teaching of the Man of God, our attention now will be placed upon the second major category of the God assigned tasks of new covenant shepherds.
John Owen, The Works of John Owen, vol. 16, (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968), p. 48.
I. In its Essence
The importance of this starting point
1. To impart a positive, exegetically based standard to which you may aspire or by which to evaluate your present labors as a pastor.
2. To challenge and expose any false notions concerning this task which you may have imbibed along the way.
3. To equip you with a working acquaintance of those pivotal texts and concepts whichyou ought in turn to convey to the congregation you serve.
In addressing the “Essence of the Task” we will first of all examine the major verbs and nouns by which the task is set before us in the New Testament
A. Shepherding/shepherd (ποιμαινω) (ποιμην)
1. Acts 20:28
In verses 18-27, Paul reviews for the Ephesian elders the nature and substance of his years of labor among them. In verse 28, he then charges the Ephesian elders with their task in relationship to the church at Ephesus. A paraphrase of that charge is as follows:
“Pay close and constant attention to yourselves and to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers with a view to shepherding the church of God which he purchased with his own blood.”
In this text the people of God are designated as a flock of sheep. The essence of the task of elders is to fulfill the role that a shepherd fills in connection with the sheep committed to his care.
Hence, the rendering of the verb as “feed” is both inaccurate and too restrictive. Passages such as Psalm 23, Ezekiel 34 and John 10 clearly indicate that the task of a shepherd goes far beyond merely leading the sheep into green pastures in order to nourish themselves.
Furthermore, according to this text, the work of shepherding is not performed from the position of an ordinary Christian, but from the position of the authority of office. Paul clearly indicates that the Holy Spirit has constituted
these elders as “overseers.”
Summary: When we put these lines of thought together, what do we have? A charge which says that the task of a pastor is that of paying close and constant attention to all the people of God under His care, with a view to fulfilling the functions of a shepherd to them in the consciousness of his appointment to this task by the gracious and sovereign activity of the Holy Spirit.
2. 1 Pet. 5:1, 2
B. Overseeing (επισκοπεω) (επισκοπος)
1. 1 Pet. 5:1, 2
Richard C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966), p. 218.
2. The verb means to “look over” and is found in its verbal form in connection with pastoral labors only here in 1 Peter 5:2.
3. However, the noun form is used repeatedly as a designation of one occupying the pastoral office. It is evident that it is used interchangeably with the word “elder”.
See Acts 20:28 with Acts 20:17; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:5 and Tit. 1:7.
C. Caring For or Taking Care of (επιμελεομαι)
1. 1 Tim. 3:5
2. See the only other use of this verb in Lk. 10:34-35. It is a wonderful commentary on precisely what it means to “take care of the church of God.”
D. Ruling or Presiding (προιστημι)
1. Rienecker and Rogers suggest that this word has two possible meanings-either “to preside, to lead, to direct”; or “to protect, to care for.” (p. 602)
2. This word is used in the following passages: 1 Thess. 5:12; 1Tim. 5:17; Rom. 12:8; and 1 Tim. 3:4-5
3. Since the word is used with respect to family government, it obviously involves such things as:
a. Awareness of the wide spectrum of needs
b. Discernment regarding how best to meet needs scripturally
c. Specific steps to implement these means
d. Providing stability in crisis situations
e. Anticipation of future needs
f. Definite goals for the household
g. Biblical means to attain those goals.
E. Governing (ηγεομαι)
1. Heb. 13:7
The means for this governing is the Word of God.
The attendant is the godly life of the leader
2. Heb. 13:24
The assumed context of this governing is mutual good will.
3. Heb. 13:17
The nature and ultimate issue of this governing is:
– Watching for the souls of those governed.
– Watching with a profound sense of our accountability to God.
F. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION:
1. An unprejudiced consideration of these five word groups forces us to acknowledge that our task as pastors is not exhausted by our public preaching and teaching ministry.
2. As we move on to consider the manifold spiritual disposition which ought to characterize the manner in which we fulfill this task, nothing in that disposition is to mitigate against or dilute the breadth and vigor with which these five word groups set before us the essence of our task.