Tuesday, June 12, 2007

1 Thess 5:12-13 on Pastoral Ministry

This passage is an important one for understanding pastoral ministry biblically. It is addressed to the congregation and calls for them to respect and ‘esteem highly in love’ their pastors. These pastors in turn are expected to do three things:

- labor among them- work hard in their midst
- to ‘be over them in the Lord’- the idea here is to exercise authority over the flock, to lead them appropriately
- to admonish, or teach them
The idea of authority is sometimes difficult to understand in our setting. It is not to be domineering (1 Pet 5:3), but it is to involve authority (cf. Heb 13:17). Much could be said here, be let me provide a paragraph from a great commentary on this passage:

One of the reasons for this predicament is that we too often view church leaders as CEOs of the church “corporation,” whose purpose is to meet our needs. If the church does not meet our needs in the way we think it should, we find another “church store” to attend. Another reason for this situation is that the American church has been so permeated with democracy and individualism that these two great American ideals have been taken to an extreme. Too often churches proclaim that their goal is that every believer become a “minister.” The implication is that every believer is to be equal with every other believer and that, ideally, there should be no one in an authoritative position over anyone else. Of course, it is true that everyone in the church is equal in the sense of being in the image of God. Accordingly, all should grow in their recognition and exercise of the diverse gifts that they have received from God. But Christians are not equal in the sense that they have functional equality in the church. Rather, they have different gifts that entail different kinds of functions. Leadership is among these gifts (Eph 4:11).
We need to be instructed about the important role leaders play in the church and how others who have not been called to be leaders should look upon those in authority over them. (158-159)

Beale, G.K. 1-2 Thessalonians The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2003

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