The Christian Ministry

Philosophy and Identity from the Word of God

By Daniel Thompson

1. A Statement of Ministerial Philosophy from Scripture

He (Christ) gave.., pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11,12

The primary duty of the pastor/teacher is to equip the saints by instruction and guidance so that they might edify each other unto maturity in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. 1 Timothy 5:17

The pastor is one of many elders, equal in every respect, and together they give themselves to laboring in the Word and prayer so as to equip the saints for every good work, cf. 2 Timothy 3:17.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever! Have commanded you. Matthew 28:19,20

He, with the other elders, are to fulfill the great commission, making disciples of all men, and instructing them in the commandments of God that christians might grow in faith that works by love, cf. Galatians 5:6.

But we were gentle among you, as a nurse cherishes her children. 1 Thessalonians 2:7

Just as the apostle Paul says that a nurse who cares for another mother’s child loves her own child, so a pastor is to travail in tender love and fervent labor for the people of God as an under-shepherd, until Christ is formed in them, cf. Galatians 4:19.

Take heed to yourself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall save both yourself and those that hear you. 1 Timothy 4:16

A pastor is to be mindful of his own life, using in particular the exhortations of his fellow elders, so that he continues in a closer walk with Christ. The primary means used by the Holy Spirit to bless both the pastor and congregation is the Word of God, cf. 1 Tim 4:6.

But having renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of truth, commending ourselves to every man ‘s conscience in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 4:2

In dealing with eternal souls and God’s eternal and holy truth, a pastor is to conduct himself with sincerity, gravity, and affection in the sight of both God and man. His great desire is that men might be saved, and come to the knowledge of truth, cf. Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:4.

Preach the word; be instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. 2 Timothy 4:2

A pastor/elder is to labor and persevere in service to God’s people. His rule of service is to be; "And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved" - 2 Corinthians 12:15.

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and everyone members one of another. Romans 12:4-5

The pastor is to lead the congregation in the use and growth of their personal gifts which God the Holy Spirit has given them unto edification. Such leadership must pro mote unity of heart and soul among the saints as prayed for by our Lord and spoken of by the apostle Paul, cf. John 17:20-22; Philippians 1:27.

My brethren, be not many masters (greek, “teachers”), knowing that we shall receive greater condemnation. James 3:2

A pastor is always to serve in light of the judgment of God, handling the Word with fear and humility, cf. Isaiah 66:2.

For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

The pastor’s passion is to be Jesus Christ, who loved and gave Himself for sinners, cf. Galatians 2:20.

2. The Plurality Of Elders In The New Testament

The Biblical Pattern of Plurality

Acts 11:30; 14:23; 15:2,4,6,22,23; 16:4; 20:17,28; 21:18
Ephesians 4:11
1 Thessalonians 5:12
1 Timothy 5:17
Titus 1:5
Hebrews 13:7,17,24
James 5:14
1 Peter 5:1,5

Why this Biblical Pattern: The Nature and Offices of the Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus is our overseer, 1 Peter 2:25
Jesus is the Head of the Church, Colossians 1:18
Jesus is the Great Apostle, Hebrews 3:1
Jesus is the Final Prophet, Hebrews 1:1,2
Jesus is our Teacher, John 13:13,14 (greek, didaskilos)

Application / Comment

Old Testament leaders are not to be the pattern for New Testament Church order (i.e. Singular elder/ruler/leader). Rule in the New Testament is by the Spirit of Christ through men, Acts 13:1,2.

The problem of “contradiction” in teaching (one elder teaching one view of a nonessential doctrine while a second elder expounds a different view) is not to be solved by limiting the eldership to one man/pastor, but by teaching the congregation to fulfill their duty to prove all teaching and hold fast to what is good, recognizing that growth is a part of the christian life, cf 1 Corinthians 14:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21.

The problem of “contradiction” within eldership is not solved by limiting the eldership to one elder/pastor, but by following the New Testament commands in Matthew 23:8 and Philippians 1:27 to be of “one mind” in the love of Christ.

3. Qualifications of an Elder, 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9

Attribute Command to Every Christian Why an Elder?1
1 Tim 3:2
1 Peter 5:8 An elder must watch for us,
Heb 13:17
Sound mind
1 Tim 3:2
Romans 12:3 An elder feeds us with truth,
Eph 4:8ff
Good behavior
1 Tim 3:2
Titus 2:10 An elder is an example,
1 Tim 4:12
1 Tim 3:2
1 Peter 4:9 An elder serves,
2 Cor 4:5
Not given to wine
1 Tim 3:3
Ephesians 5:18 An elder must be discerning,
Eph 4:14
Not quick tempered
1 Tim 3:3
James 1:19ff An elder must entreat, 2 Tim 2:24ff
1 Tim 3:3
James 3:17 An elder cares for us,
2 Cor 11:28
No lover of gain
1 Tim 3:3
1 Timothy 6:5,17 An elder must grow personally,
Phil 4:10ff
Not self-willed
Titus 1:7
Philippians 2:4 Serves as unto God,
2 Cor 2:17
Titus 1:8
Philippians 4:8 An elder walks in truth,
2 Cor 13:8
Titus 1:8
Philippians 4:8 The sum of all ministry,
Acts 20:26ff

1 He must have these qualities in mature and tested form.

The attributes of an elder are to be found in every christian according to scripture. An elder, because of his responsibilities, is to have these attributes in mature form for the reasons listed in Ephesians 4:8-16.

4. Eldership and Teaching/Doctrine

The Preeminence of teaching doctrine in the Pastoral Epistles

1 Timothy 1:10; 4:6,13,16; 5:17
2 Timothy 3:16
Titus 1:9

Doctrinal areas of knowledge needed to preach

Systematic theology (Doctrines of Scripture)
Biblical Theology (Doctrines as they unfold historically from Old Testament to New Testament)
Historical Theology (Doctrines as they have been understood by the church and attacked by heretics and unbelievers)
Experimental Theology (the application of doctrine to the human heart)

The communication of Doctrine to the people of God

Ability, 1 Timothy 3:2
In the sight of God, 2 Corinthians 2:17
With gravity, 1 Corinthians 2:lff
With plainness, 2 Corinthians 3:12
Prayerfully, Ephesians 6:18,19
With a selfless motive, 2 Corinthians 4:5
In all things laboring, 1 Timothy 5:17
The goal, the blessing of men, 1 Corinthians 9:19
In due season or timely, Luke 12:42

How important Is It to be doctrinally accurate/right?

The absolute need to be correct with respect to God and grace/justification.
The need to be flexible with respect to doctrines as John Bunyan calls them - “in dispute” among sincere/godly saints.
The importance of having conviction in preaching (that is, the Lord teaching us before we teach other).
The need of having conviction in such a way as not to cloud what truth is essential and what is not.

5. Eldership and Ruling/Ordering the Lord’s People

The truth that elders rule/order God’s people

Luke 12:42
Romans 12:8
1 Thessalonians 5:12,13
1 Timothy 3:5; 5:17
Hebrews 13:7,17,24

The crucible/testing ground of ruling ability is in the home

1 Timothy 3:4-5
Titus 1:6

Ruling/ordering in the home is essentially CARE of the home

The test of true care, is:

loving care
selfless care
with a servants heart
orderly care
instructional care
disciplined care
patient care

The single greatest attribute of ruling/ordering is DILIGENCE, Romans 12:8

Diligence in watching for the souls of God’s people, Hebrews 13:17
Diligence in discipline with respect to sin, Matthew 18:15-18; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5
Diligence in patience, 2 Timothy 2:24if
Diligence in Labor, 1 Thessalonians 4:12
Diligence in prayer, Philippians 1:3 if
Diligence in personal holiness, 1 Corinthians 9:25 if

The single greatest responsibility !n ruling/ordering Elders shall give an account to God

Hebrews 13:17; James 3:2; therefore:

They watch for the souls of men, Hebrews 13:17
They always minister that which is of value, 1 Corinthians 3:5-15
They look to God, not man, Galatians 1:10