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All Elders are Overseers and Pastors

October 4, 2007

The biblical terminology dealing with the roles and titles of church leaders:

 

The term ELDER

πρεσβύτερος, συμπρεσβύτερος, πρεσβυτέριον

This Greek word is always used as a noun when it references church leadership and it always describes a person – an elder.  There are elders, but no one is ever said to be ‘eldering’ in the church.

 

The term OVERSEER/BISHOP/EXERCISE OVERSIGHT

This Greek word is used as a noun and a verb in relation to church leadership.

Noun – (used as a person and a thing) ἐπίσκοπον, ἐπισκοπῆς.  Verb – (an action) ἐπισκοποῦντες.

When used as a noun in relation to church leadership this Greek word refers to both a person in church and to a thing.  The person is a church leader and the thing is an office in the church.

When used as a verb in relation to church leadership this Greek word refers to an activity – overseeing.

There are overseers who are overseeing/exercising oversight in the church.

 

The term SHEPHERD/PASTOR

This Greek word is used as a noun and a verb in relation to church leadership.

Noun – (a person) ποιμένας.  Verb – (an action) ποιμάνατε, ποιμαίνειν.

When used as a noun in relation to church leadership this Greek word refers to a person who is a church leader.

When used as a verb in relation to church leadership this Greek word refers to an activity – shepherding/pastoring.

There are shepherds who are shepherding, or, pastors who are pastoring.

 

SUMMARY OF THE BIBLICAL DATA

The term ELDER

When used in relation to church leadership the Greek term for Elder (πρεσβύτερος, συμπρεσβύτερος, πρεσβυτέριον) is always used as a noun that designates a person.

The man in the office is an Elder.

 

The term OVERSEER/BISHOP/EXERCISE OVERSIGHT

The English terms Overseer/Bishop are synonymous translations of the same Greek word.

The term is used as a noun (ἐπίσκοπον, ἐπισκοπῆς) and a verb (ἐπισκοποῦντες) in relation to church leadership.

When the term is used as a noun it is used in two ways: It refers to a person (an overseer), and it refers to a position, an office (the office of overseer).

When used as a noun in reference to a person the term Overseer is synonymous with the term Elder.

The man in the office is called an Overseer.

When used as a noun in reference to a position/office it refers to the position/office that the Elder/Overseer occupies.

The office is the office of Overseer.

When the term is used as a verb it broadly describes the type of ministry (overseeing/exercising oversight) that Elder/Overseers are to be engaged in.

 

The term PASTOR/SHEPHERD

The English terms Pastor/Shepherd are synonymous translations of the same Greek word.

This term is used as a noun (ποιμένας) and a verb (ποιμάνατε, ποιμαίνειν) in relation to church leadership.

As a noun, this term is used to describe a person (pastor/shepherd) within the church.

The man in the office is called a Pastor or Shepherd.

As a verb, this term is used, along with the term oversee, to describe the type of ministry (shepherd the flock of God) that Elder/Overseers/Pastors are to be engaged in.

 

SUMMARY

1)  The office is properly called the Office of Overseer.

2)  The person is properly called Elder or Overseer or Pastor.

3)  The duties of the person in the office are Overseeing and Shepherding/Pastoring.

 

All men in the office of overseer are Elders/Overseers/Pastors who are to oversee and pastor/shepherd the church.

That is to say, there is no such thing as an administrative elder or shepherding elder.  Each elder/overseer/pastor is to oversee and shepherd.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 22, 2007 10:57 pm

    I like this. Well done.

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