x263......Pastoral Authority--An Imbalanced Teaching

17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17, KJV).

This scripture in the Bible is, of course, absolutely correct and is the word of God.

Unfortunately, this verse in the Bible has been taught without the balance, or definition of the terms used, to people, for generations.

We have heard many many Christians say it this way--"the Bible says for us to submit to our spiritual authority"---or---"we have to submit to pastoral authority"

Now it is obvious that there is a change in the words used---seemingly subtle. After all, the verse does say for us to "obey them that have the rule over you--submit yourselves" The common logic--the common way of interpreting this verse is to then relate the concept of "rule" with "authority".

The common belief is stated somewhat in this way--"the Bible clearly tells us that there is someone within the church who "has the rule" over others---this means that there are some Christians who have "authority" over others--that there are some Christians who are meant to "rule"--which of course means that they have the God-given right to make decisions within the church--the God given right to "do the ministry" the God given right to "make the rules" within a church.

This is where we have a problem. We have taken the worldly view of what "rule" is over the Bible definition.

The teaching of "pastoral authority"--or "submission to elders"--submission to the "ruling authority" within the church is an imbalanced teaching.

This verse needs the defining of what "rule" and "authority" are within the church. It absolutely needs the balancing scriptures that deal with the type of government that Jesus describes in the following areas of scripture--

25* But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26* But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27* And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28* Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:25-28)


42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. 43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. 45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:42-45)


25* And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26* But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. 28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29* And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; (Luke 22:25-29)

As we can see, especially in the quotation from the book of Luke, the concept of a person "exercising authority" upon others--and the belief that this "benefits"--is described as the "kingdom of the Gentiles"--it is described as the worldly way of doing things.

Jesus clearly describes what "rule" is amongst Christians. "Rule" within Christianity ought to be service rather than authority over others.

Jesus demonstrated this in His ministry and reiterated this many many times.. ..

12* So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13* Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14* If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16* Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17* If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:12-17)

Jesus demonstrates His Lordship and rulership by washing the feet of the apostles.

11* But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Matthew 23:11)

Joh 12:26* If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

43* But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 45* Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46* Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47* Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48* But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50* The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51* And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:43-51)

Christian ministry is service---NOT---authority over others.