1. Is it in the Bible?
2. What do we believe it means?
A "sheep" is someone in the church who is not a minister. The "sheep" are the group of people who are "under the authority" oc the pastor. they are meant to be submissive tot he pastor. They are unlearned and have the need of the leadership and authority of the pastor. In the book of John, Jesus says to Peter "feed my sheep". this is one of the biggest buzzwords in operating the church. Catholics believe Jesus here ordains Peter as the first pope. Protestants believe this is the ordination of the pastor's authority over the church
3. What does it really mean?
In the Bible, a sheep can be one of 2 things:
1--a small 4-legged animal--or--
2--A parable reference.
The Bible uses this term on some occasions to refer to groups of people
The concept of "sheep" is part of the pastoral myth....
Jesus does refer to His followers as sheep, but only in a specific sense with regard to a specific parable teaching He gave.....
1 ¶ Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth
not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other
way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10: 1-18)
If we study John chapters 9-10 we will see what Jesus is referring to in this teaching. In John 9, He took a blind man and released him to do ministry. In the parable, jesus refers to this action as "feeding sheep". His reference makes sense. Sheep are fed by opening a gate and releasing them to find their food. "Feeding sheep" is an action of freedom and release--the exact opposite of holding others under authority or ruling them.
In this same book of John, Jesus makes this same reference
to Peter, to "feed my sheep". he is telling Peter that
as a leader, he must release people to serve God (as Jesus had
given Peter and the other apostles example earlier). Tradition
takes the word "sheep" our of it's Biblical context
and fits it into he authoritarian format of the church.