x471.......Operating the Church on a Parable!!
The basis of our concepts of "pastoral authority" largely comes from parables in the Bible--NOT from doctrinal teaching or real example in the Bible.
The Bible relates the concept of a shepherd and sheep as a parable--or a wayside saying (as in the book of John). These parables of sheep and shepherd are not real examples in the Bible--nor are they real doctrinal teaching.
In other words instead of going to Ephesians 4--or 1 Corinthans 12-14--or other real doctrinal places in the Bible which teach new covenant ministry and church operation. Rather than looking at the book of Acts as our example--we are operating the church on something which is really a parable in the Bible.
Why don't we base church operation on another of Jesus' parables? For example He told the parable of the lampstands--how that we ought to "shine our light before men". Now, certainly His parable is great advice--and we ought to listen to Jesus--this parable is saying to us that we ought to minister our gifts to others and in fact is yet another Biblical teaching which tells us that ministry is for every one o f us. However--should we take this parable and act it out literally? Perhaps we ought to carry flashlights and shine them on the lost?! Of course not--we are not meant to carry out a parable--which is defined as a story which relates earthly events to spiritual reality--and operate the church by it!
Yet this is just what we are doing with our misconceptions about shepherds and sheep. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that "God has appointed certain members of the body of Christ which rule with authority over the rest--these are the pastors of the Church and we ought to submit to their rule". No where does it say to operate the church as a place of submission to the authority of shepherds. In the Bible people are described as being "like sheep" when we have gone astray---not after we are saved. There is one reference to the "flock" which the elders where said to have been made "overseers".
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the
which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God,
which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28, KJV).
Problems with our understanding of this verse--
The word which was translated by king James translators as "overseer" is in reality the word which is always elsewhere translated as "bishop". A careful study of this word in the Bible shows us that an "episkope" was simply a person who was a leader--someone who organized the members of the church in their own ministries. Certainy a servant and NOT a ruler--since this job is just as much a ministry (service) as any other. If we properly translate 1Timothy chapter 3 we will find that there is NOT the word office used with regard to the minstry of an episkope or a deacon. The word "office" was added in the King James Bible to fit the experience of the translators. The bishop of the Roman church having been a very important and powerful worldly ruling position for over 1,000 years in Europe. The concept of a bishop carried into the protestant churches of that day also--and fit in with the concept of the absolute authority (God-given authority) which the kings were thought to possess. Words which come down to us from the King James day--such as "submit", "rule", "subject" etc. were penned into the Bible to verify King James' supposed God-given right to absolute power and decision making--literally a life-and-death prospect in those days. When the church broke away from the Roman papal rule, the kings of Europe simply took on the position that the pope had claimed--and the structure and weekly operation of the protestant churches was nearly identical to the Roman church which preceded it. The pope becae the king, the bishops were still rulers and political positions, and the priest of the local church renamed themsleves pastors.The position of the pastor is a "deacon" ministry (the words "office of a deacon" in 1Timothy 3 is simply one Greek word "diakonos"--which includes all the ministries listed in Ephesians 4:1--apostle-prophet-evangelist-pastor-teacher. A "bishop" in pure Bible language, was someone who organized the rest of the people, who could then operate in their anointings (apostle-prophet-evangelist-pastor-teacher).
The word "flock" here is not to be taken literally. When we read all the Bible in context we understand the elders or bishops were in fact the organizers of the "deacons"--ministers--the 5-fold people--which clearly includes the gifts of "pastor". So the truth is that the elder is to guide and help a flock of ministers--NOT a group of aimless--half-wicked--unrepentant people who are totally under the control and authority of their leadership. We have taken some verses in the Bible which are meant to give us a parable-like picture and teach us a spiritual lesson--and operated the church of Christ by this word picture--taking it to be reality rather than a parable.
Shepherds and sheep in the Bible are not an operational principle or a operational doctrine--they are a common reference of the day--In Israel at the time the Bible was written there were many shepherds and lots of sheep--it was a very common occupation--and Christ used it as an earthly representation of spiritual principals--and very much NOT as operational doctrine for the New Covenant Church. Yes, Jesus called Himself a shepherd (pastor)--but He called Himself an apostle many many more times--and He operated his ministry by apostles whom he released to do sheperding work (see Matthew 9 and John 9 and 10)--which was to lead people into the kingdom of God and set them free to serve God and become apostles themselves!