We know from scripture that the terms "elder," "overseer," and "pastor" are used somewhat interchangeably to refer to a specific leadership role in the church. Even as I write that, I hesitate to use the term "leadership" because we almost immediately place our traditional and/or modern ideas of leadership onto what the bible is saying. Part of what I want to analyze is what type of leadership we are talking about. We've probably all seen some pastors lead from a sort of C.E.O. role. That clearly isn't biblical. So what is biblical? Who are elders/overseers/pastors? What do they do? How are they different from others in the church family? Why are they important?
These are the types of questions I hope to both ask and answer (with your help) over the next few weeks in a series of posts.
We are obviously going to be looking in scripture for our information. As much as I can, I hope to avoid cultural, traditional, and corporate influence upon this discussion of who elders/overseers/pastors are and what they do.
The method I'm going to follow is to look at specific verses/passages one-by-one to see what they say. I'm going to do this rather than ask a specific question and then find all the passages that deal with that question. The reason for this is that I want to avoid proof-texting as much as possible. Therefore, the method will be to look at one passage at a time until we've dealt with all important passages.
I plan to deal with passages that focus specifically on elders/overseers/pastors. Each verse or passage will contain the Greek word for elder (πρεσβυτερος), overseer (επισκοπoς), or pastor (ποιμενας).
I'm leaving out passages that do not specifically mention this role. Therefore, I may disregard some passages that some folks think are important. For example, I'm not going to address Hebrews 13:7 and 13:17. The reason is simple: elders/overseers/pastors are not mentioned. We read in those verses of "leaders," but we do not know that this is referring to elders/overseers/pastors. Another verse I'm ignoring is I Corinthians 9:14 because it does not apply to elders/overseers/pastors (only to traveling apostles and evangelists).
The first thing I want to do is put together a list of the verses/passages I'll be looking at. I've decided to blog about them in a somewhat subjective order. Instead of going in order according to the canon, I'm going to go through them so that those of most importance come first. In this way, a key passage like I Peter 5:1-6 will come toward the beginning instead of the end.
This is where I need your help! Below are the passages I'll be looking at. I'm sure that I have left out some important ones. Please comment by telling me of other passages that are important and need to be addressed. Thanks.
This is the list so far (this is not the order I will address the passages in; rather, this is simply my working list thus far in scriptural order):
What have I left out? I want to be thorough is this discussion. Thanks for the help.