Pastors’ Corner (Definition, Qualifications & Duties)
A pastor is a minister or priest of a Christian church. The word itself is derived from the Latin word pastōr which means shepherd.
An assistant pastor is a person who or that helps the head pastor, male or female, relied heavily on the head pastor in performing a task. Acts as an advisor to the sitting head pastor. The associate is a term used by some companies or associations instead of employees/co-workers.
Bishop is an ordained member of the Christian clergy who, in the majority of Christian churches, holds a position of authority. Their roles can differ significantly in the various denominations. It can be generally translated to, overseer, superintendent, supervisor, the first, leader or foreman.
Apostolicity as doctrinal continuity ( Succession )
Most Protestant churches would deny that the apostolicity of the Church rests on an unbroken episcopacy. They generally hold that one important qualification of the apostles was that they were chosen directly by Jesus and that they witnessed the resurrected Christ.
According to this understanding, the work of these twelve (and the Apostle Paul), together with the prophets of the twelve tribes of Israel, provides the doctrinal foundation for the whole church of subsequent history through the Scriptures of the Bible.
To share with the apostles the same faith, to believe their word as found in the Scriptures, to receive the same Holy Spirit, is the only sense in which apostolic succession is meaningful because it is in this sense only that men have fellowship with God in the truth (an extension of the Reformation doctrines of sola fide and sola scriptura).
The most meaningful apostolic succession for most Protestants, then, is the faithful successor of apostolic teaching. There is, of course, much disagreement among various Protestant churches about the exact content of apostolic teaching
It is worth noting, however, that some Protestant charismatic churches include “apostles” among the offices that should be evident into modern times in a true church, though they never trace a historical line of succession.
Those who hold to the importance of episcopal apostolic succession would counter the above by appealing to the New Testament, which, they say, implies a personal apostolic succession (from Paul to Timothy and Titus, for example) and which states that Jesus gave the Apostles a “blank cheque” to lead the Church as they saw fit under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
They appeal as well to other documents of the very early Church, especially the Epistle of St. Clement to the Church at Corinth, written around 96 AD. In it, Clement defends the authority and prerogatives of a group of “elders” or “bishops” in the Corinthian Church which had, apparently, been deposed and replaced by the congregation on its own initiative.
In this context, Clement explicitly states that the apostles both appointed bishops as successors and had directed that these bishops should in turn appoint their own successors; given this, such leaders of the Church were not to be removed without cause and not in this way.
Further, proponents of the necessity of the personal apostolic succession of bishops within the Church point to the universal practice of the undivided early Church (up to 431 AD), from which, as organizations, the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox (at that point in time one Church until 1054, see Great Schism), as well Oriental Orthodox and the Assyrian Churches have all directly descended.
At the same time, no defender of the personal apostolic succession of bishops would deny the importance of doctrinal continuity in the Church. As stated above, Irenaeus explicitly ties the two together.
Together, the New Testament writers mention elders, overseers, and shepherds in reference to church leadership more than twenty-five times in the Gospels and the Epistles. The basis, selection, office, character, functions, attitude, and qualifications of elders are laid out and the pattern established early and often.
Strauch writes, “In fact, the New Testament offers more instruction regarding elders than on any other important church subjects such as the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s Day, baptism or spiritual gifts.”
Acts 11:30; 15:2, 4, 6, 22-23; 16:4; and 21:18 demonstrate that elders had a significant role in the Jerusalem church and the Jerusalem council. In reference to churches in Antioch, Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, Acts 14:23 demonstrates Paul’s pattern of appointing elders as a key step in organizing a new church.
Paul spoke directly to the elders in Acts 20:17 and warned them in 20:28 to “(b)e on guard for (them)selves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made (them) overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
Each of these passages points to an early understanding that God’s intent for church leadership was by a plurality of elders. Instruction about elders is given to the churches in I Thessalonians 5:12-13; I Timothy 3:1-7, 10 and 5:17-22, 24-25; Titus 1:5-9; Hebrews 13:17; James 5:14; and I Peter 5:5. Instruction is given to elders about churches in I Thessalonians 5:13; James 5:14; and I Peter 5:1-5.
In the majority of the references, the word for elders is plural and word for church is singular, indicating a very clear directive that the church should be governed by a plurality of elders.
- Husband of one wife; a one-woman man (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6)
- Temperate, sober, vigilant (1 Timothy 3:2)
- Sober-minded, prudent (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8)
- Of good behavior; orderly, respectable (1 Timothy 3:2)
- Given to hospitality (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8)
- Apt to teach; able to teach; he can exhort believers and refute false teaching (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9)
- Not given to wine (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7)
- Not violent, not pugnacious (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7)
- Patient, moderate, forbearing, gentle (1 Timothy 3:3)
- Not a brawler; uncontentious; not soon angry or quick tempered (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7)
- Not covetous; not a lover of money; not greedy of base gain (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7)
- Rules well his own house; his children are faithful, not accused of rebellion to God (1 Timothy 3:4, Titus 1:7)
- Not a novice; not a new convert (1 Timothy 3:6)
- Not self-willed (Titus 1:7)
- A lover of what is good (Titus 1:7)
- Just, fair (Titus 1:8)
- Holy, devout (Titus 1:8)
- Self-Controlled (Titus 1:8)
- Shepherd the flock, setting an example for all (1 Peter 5:1-3)
- Feed and care for the church (Acts 20:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:12)
- Teach and preach sound doctrine (1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:9)
- Rule and lead (I Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 3:2,4)
- Train and ordain others (Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 4:14; 5:22; Titus 1:5)
- Refute and rebuke the insubordinate (Titus 1:9, 13)
- Keep watch over and give account to God for the spiritual well-being of the church (Hebrews 13:17)
- Serve clothed in Christ-like humility (1 Peter 5:3-5)
Presbyter in the New Testament refers to a leader in local Christian congregations, Such us Bishop, Pastor, Assistant Pastor, Elders/dress, Deacon/ness. A synonym of episkopos (which has now come to mean bishop). In modern usage, it is distinct from the bishop and synonymous with the priest, pastor, elder, or minister in various Christian denominations. Its literal meaning in Greek (presbyteros) is “elder.”
The earliest organization of the Christian Churches in Judea was similar to that of Jewish synagogues, who were governed by a council of elders (presbyteroi). In Acts 11:30 and 15:22, we see this collegiate system of government in Jerusalem, and in Acts 14:23, the Apostle Paul ordains elders in the churches he founded.
Some modern commentators believe that these presbyters may have been identical to the overseers (episkopoi, i.e., bishops) and cite such passages as Acts 20:17, Titus 1:5,7 and 1 Peter 5:1 to support this claim.
The earliest post-apostolic writings, the Didache and Clement for example, show the church recognized two local church offices—elders (interchangeable term with overseer) and deacon. The beginnings of a single ruling bishop can perhaps be traced to the offices occupied by Timothy and Titus in the New Testament.
We are told that Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus and Titus in Crete to oversee the local church (1 Tim. 1:3 and Titus 1:5). Paul commands them to ordain presybters/bishops and to exercise general oversight, telling Titus to “rebuke with all authority” (Titus 2:15).
It is certain that the office of bishop and presbyter were clearly distinguished by the second century, as the church was facing the dual pressures of persecution and internal schism, resulting in three distinct local offices: bishop, elder (presbyter) and deacon.
This is best seen in the 2nd-century writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
The bishop was understood mainly as the president of the council of presbyters/leaders, and so the bishop came to be distinguished both in honor and in prerogative from the presbyters, who were seen as deriving their authority by means of delegation from the bishop. Each church had its own bishop and his presence was necessary to consecrate any gathering of the church.
Eventually, as the Church grew, individual congregations no longer were served directly by a bishop. The bishop in a large city would appoint a head to pastor the flock in each congregation, acting as his delegate
The Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, the Anglican/Episcopal Communion, and other groups often refer to presbyters in English as priests (priest is etymologically derived from the Greek presbyteros via the Latin presbyter).
This usage is seen by some Protestant Christians as stripping the laity of its rightful priestly status, while those who use the term defend its usage by saying that, while they do believe in the priesthood of all believers, they do not believe in the eldership of all believers. This is generally true of United Methodists, who ordain elders as clergy (pastors) while affirming the priesthood of all believers.
The term father for presbyters is generally restricted to Catholic and Orthodox usage, though many Anglicans and even some Lutherans will use the term, as well. It is not generally thought of as a title, however, but simply as an affectionate term of address for the presbyter, same as a reverend, some congregation is not using this word for they use this only to address to the one and only Supreme Being.