Saturday, January 07, 2012

quiz: how many times is 'pastor' mentioned in the NT?

I love reminding peope of the community/communitas nature of the church by saying something like "Guess how many times the word 'pastor' shows up in the New Testament?  Only once, and in passing: Ephesians 4, where is it mentioned only as part of the shared leadership the church is called to have."

BUT I was wrong!  Thanks to Gary Amirault for straightening out my math and theology:

The word “pastor” doesn’t occur in the New Testament (KJV, NIV, NASK, NRSB) at all. Shocked? I was. The word “pastors” occurs ONCE in the N.T. in Ephesians 4:11 and NOT as a title.  Gary Amirault 

Okay, that may evoke a groan, and seem like only a technicality to you.

BUT, remember in  a parallel way, "saint" also appears a total of ZERO times in the Bible.

It also only shows up in the plural.
And quite a few more times than "pastors."

It would seem the early church expectation was multiple saints with the gift of pastor are inevitably embedded in the local body.  And this likely has nothing to do with multiple pastoral staff.  It  has to do with many "laypeople" (a word that shows up nowhere is scripture, singular OR glad Moltmann highlights this, "The Source," p. 95) walking in their gifts..
whether in the gathering, or (more importantly) in the "world" (I remember commissioning Regean as the "pastor to Jiffy Lube").

I realize one might count "shepherd" as the same biblical term as pastor, which opens up other references..but this gets just as subversive, if as in John 10, a "shepherd/pastor is to know all her/his sheep BY NAME."
All this might entail blowing up the 22nd row of pews  (better yet all that word in the Book?).
More? Chain saw the pulpit..


Related..I often say this, too.  Will I have to append or amend it?

"All American pastors know that  the Bible knows nothing of a weekly meeting where a pastor preaches a sermon.


  1. Are you offended or seeking to help or both. I see the offense, but where is the help?

  2. Hi Anonymous.

    assuming you are not Steve Porter..

    I am do glad you posted.
    I mean no offense. I am a pastor myself. I can think of nothing more helpful on earth than calling attention to what the Bible has to say, rather than what we have always heard, or assume in the West. This can offend or mess up our way of doing church..but how huge and helpful is it, if we are just seeking to obey Scripture.



Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!