1. Is it in the Bible?
1Pe 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
2. What do we believe it means?
Jesus rules as a shepherd (pastor). Since His is referred to as the "chief shepherd" the correct government of the Christian church is thru "undershepherds the "pastors" who have authority over the local congregation.
3. What does it really mean?
Once again we see how we read our already well established tradition into the Bible. this definition of pastor is no different than the catholic definition of priest. The small word "chief" used to establish the notion that God has placed "ministerial hierarchy" in the church.
First we should note that Christ is the only One referred to as "chief". The new testament is very consistent in the fact that Christ is the Head of all believers (His Church) and the "only Potentate"--the only One who has the right to have authority over the church...
1Ti 6:15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
The term "chief shepherd" is serving to re-enforce the idea that Christ is the Head and only authority of the Church.
Let's study he context of this statement..
1 ¶ The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also
an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also
a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
5 ¶ Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1Peter 4:1-7)
this are of scripture is often used to re-enforce "pastoral authority". Our experience makes us believe it says that it is speaking all about the church as we know it and see it. It is not. We must read these verses through the eyes and experience of the 1st century church. In the churhc in the Bible, "elders/bishops" were people whose had homes were used for the meetings of believers. There were many elders and bishops (note how the word is always a plural--not a singular "ruler" or someone with authority over others in the church).
Certain words throw us off. For example, "oversight"--reads like an "authority word" but it is a Greek word which means to watch over others and encourage (again the KJV translators could have used one ofthese words--but they didn't!). AS we have said in other studies "submit" should read "cooperate". And in our never-ending quest to reaffirm church authority, we overlook the fact that the One we are supposed to be "under" is God...
"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God..."
This is the real message--let God lead you, by being humble and cooperating with one another.