Elders, pastors, paid or unpaid professionals

Marc Minter who has been the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Diana, TX since 2014, wrote in  October 23, 2019 on the church and its elders and/or pastors.

From previous postings, you could already see that normally in biblical terms there is no difference between pastors and elders, presbyters, presbuteroi and  even not really bishops, episcopos, episcopoi or overseers.

The above mentioned writer who has a passionate love for the local church and a love for Gospel-centered Community wrote:

In the New Testament, the most common title or label for the leading, teaching, and shepherding office of the church is “elder” (πρεσβυτερος), appearing directly at least thirteen times in the New Testament. The word “overseer” (επισκοπος) is the second most common title for the office, and it shows up at least six times. {What’s the difference between “Pastors” and “Elders”?}

In the Scriptures, we find several references to sheep and shepherds and can see it is not only about the Great Good Shepherd Jesus. Jesus also mentions a flock who needs a shepherd, and it is in that way we look at the one who shall be willing to help people to find the right track and to stay in the good den or sheepfold. Though we should always be aware that in our community it should always be the Good Shepherd Jesus who guides us and who is there to feed and to shield us. Persons here on earth are only work instruments of that shepherd also working, like Jesus did, for Jesus his heavenly Father, the Only One True God. The person wanting to take charge of the ecclesia must be someone who is prepared to be a shepherd who feeds, guides and protects the flock, the members of the ecclesia.

In several communities, one hears that there is spoken over the pastor leading the church.

The label “shepherd” or “pastor” (ποιμην) is used only once as a label for the New Testament teaching and leading office of the local church. Most often (fifteen times), this word appears in the Gospels, and it refers to actual shepherds (tenders of sheep) or to Jesus as the metaphorical shepherd of His people.

Almost every time the label “shepherd” or “pastor” is used in the other New Testament books (besides the Gospels), it shows up in its verbal form (ποιμαινω). In other words, in the Bible, “shepherd” or “pastor” is usually what church leaders do… it’s not what church leaders are. {What’s the difference between “Pastors” and “Elders”?}

The shepherd is the one who herds, guards, and tends sheep or a group of people, like the ones of a religious community. He can be the one who guides or lead on a course, like a Bible study, or who directs or instruct in a certain manner, like giving an exhortation in the church service.

If you are shepherded somewhere, someone takes you there to make sure that you arrive at the right place safely. {Collins dictionary}

It is expected in an ecclesia that the shepherd or pastor will be the elder who tries to keep all people of the community on the track to find the right way to God. When people hear the word pastor they think of the women in the Roman Catholic Church who have taken on similar functions of the Catholic priest, or they think of a member of the Christian clergy in some Protestant churches. The pastor can be an ordained clergy member or a layperson who acts as a Christian minister or priest having spiritual charge over a congregation or other group.

For hundreds of years the term pastor has been used. By the non-trinitarian as well as the trinitarian Baptists in our regions it was and is the name used for the head-leader or presiding elder. In the Anglo-Saxon countries, Baptists have been especially fond of the word “pastor” because it distinguishes Baptist church leaders from those of Presbyterian or Anglican churches. For the non-trinitarian Baptists each member of the community had to take on the role of “pastor” or guide to others for bringing them to the Truth. The Baptists consider their members as members or partakers of the Body of Christ, belonging to the chosen race, and as such chosen for the high calling of priestly work. Like it is in our brotherhood that each believer in Christ is chosen to be a set-apart people, that has to proclaim the coming Kingdom of God. Each of us has to be an instrument in God’s Hand to do His and His son’s work and speak out for Him and His son, to tell others of the night-and-day difference they made for us.

“ But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” (1Pe 2:9 ASV)

Because in Belgium all recognised religions receiving money from the government, most people believe all priests, pastors or clergy are paid, though for many divisions of Islam and protestant groups this is not so.

Marc Winter remarks:

since many wrongly assume pastors must be paid professionals, I believe it is probably helpful for Evangelicals (especially Baptists) to recover the use of the term “elder” for the pastoral office. {What’s the difference between “Pastors” and “Elders”?}

We can say this would be so for all those people working for their church, who do not belong to a by the government recognised religious group and do not receive money from the government or from a church group. The many people who give their service voluntarily to such a church are better called elder, pastor and/or preacher, overseer instead of priest, deacon, bishop or other title used in the main churches.

Mr. Winter writes:

The two offices of the New Testament are elders and deacons. The former is an office of servant-leadership and loving instruction, and the latter is an office of selfless service. In the Bible, church leaders are always elders, and deacons always serve both the elders and the church body.

In short, elders are qualified, recognized, and committed men who do the work of shepherding among a particular local church (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9). {What’s the difference between “Pastors” and “Elders”?}

We should know that when we want to be a follower of Christ, we have to become partakers of the Body of Christ, taking on a role as an active person, being a steward, teacher, evangelist, pastor, or to take on some other duty, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ:

“11 And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: 13 till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; 15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ; 16 from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love.” (Eph 4:11-16 ASV)

“1  Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 no brawler, no striker; but gentle, not contentious, no lover of money; 4 one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1Ti 3:1-7 ASV)

“6  if any man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children that believe, who are not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For the bishop must be blameless, as God’s steward; not self-willed, not soon angry, no brawler, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; 8 but given to hospitality, a lover of good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled; 9 holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers.” (Tit 1:6-9 ASV)

The senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Diana, TX. gives further a list of the various ways in which the Bible describes and/or prescribes the function and responsibilities of those who serve in the office of elder.

Elders (πρεσβυτερος)
    • Acts 11:30 – Elders (πρεσβυτερους) received material gifts from other churches in order to distribute them to the needy among their own congregation.
    • Acts 14:23 – Multiple elders (πρεσβυτερους) were “appointed” by Paul and Barnabas in “every church” in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch.
    • Acts 15:1-29 – Elders (πρεσβυτερους) are listed beside the Apostles as leaders of the church in Jerusalem.
    • Acts 16:4 – Elders (πρεσβυτερων) are listed beside the Apostles as having made an authoritative decision regarding the clarity and extent of the gospel.
    • Acts 20:17-38 – Paul addressed the elders (πρεσβυτερους) in Ephesus, calling them to “overseers” (’επισκοπους) of God’s “church” (’εκκλησιαν).
    • Acts 21:17-26 – “All the elders” (πρεσβυτεροι) were gathered in Jerusalem to listen to Paul’s account of God’s work through his ministry, and Paul submitted to their counsel regarding his actions in their Jewish community.
    • 1 Timothy 4:14 – A “council of elders” (πρεσβυτεριου) commissioned Timothy for the task of ministry.
    • 1 Timothy 5:17 – Elders (πρεσβυτεροι) are those who “rule” or “manage” (προεστωτες [literally ‘stand over’]), and some elders make their living by “preaching and teaching” (λογω [literally ‘word’] and διδασκαλια).
    • 1 Timothy 5:19 – Christians are to be alert to the possibility of slanderous accusations against an elder (πρεσβυτερου).
    • Titus 1:5-6 – Elders (πρεσβυτερους) were appointed to churches in every town, and such appointments were necessary to put things in their appropriate order.
    • James 5:14 – The elders (πρεσβυτερους) of the church (’εκκλησιας) are to pray for ill church members.
    • 1 Peter 5:1-3 – The Apostle Peter wrote to the elders (πρεσβυτερους) among the dispersed Christians as a “fellow elder” (συμπρεσβυτερος), calling them to “exercise oversight” or “oversee” (’επισκοπουντες) the affairs of their respective congregations.
Overseer (’επισκοπος)
    • Acts 20:17-38 – Paul says that the elders in Ephesus have been made “overseers” (’επισκοπους) in the “church” (’εκκλησιαν) by God Himself.
    • Philippians 1:1 – Paul addressed his letter to the “saints” (‘αγιοις) and the “overseers” (’επισκοποις) and the “deacons” (διακονοις) in Philippi.
    • 1 Timothy 3:1 – Paul labels the teaching and managing office in the church that of an “overseer” (’επισκοπης).
    • 1 Timothy 3:2-7 – Paul describes the qualifications for anyone who aspires to the office of “overseer” (’επισκοπον).
    • Titus 1:17 – Paul again describes the teaching and stewarding office in the church as that of an “overseer” (’επισκοπον).
Pastor (ποιμην)
    • Ephesians 4:10-14 – Paul says that “shepherds” (ποιμενας) are gifts from Christ to the local church.
    • 1 Peter 5:1-3 – Peter exhorted “elders” (πρεσβυτερους) to “shepherd” (ποιμενατε) the “flock of God among them.”
      {What’s the difference between “Pastors” and “Elders”?}

Minter ends his article with writing:

If one were to simply read the New Testament, without observing the use of various terms among modern Evangelicals, he or she would inevitably conclude that the leading and teaching and shepherding office of a New Testament local church is that of elder. Furthermore, he or she would also conclude that the office must be occupied by faithful and exemplary men, who would voluntarily take on the weighty task of caring for souls among a particular local church. {What’s the difference between “Pastors” and “Elders”?}



Those Belonging to the called ones coming together

How to Form an Ecclesia

Having a small church mentality

A breathing ecclesia

Christadelphian Halls

Ecclesia – Church – Minding your reference

Need of elders

Qualifications of a Presiding Brother

Today’s thought “Who gave you this authority?” (February 15)

How should we worship God? #5 Congregational Worship


Additional reading

  1. Parish, local church community – Parochie, plaatselijke kerkgemeenschap
  2. Congregation
  3. To find ways of Godly understanding
  4. On the Affirmation of Scripture
  5. God’s forgotten Word 5 Lost Lawbook 4 The ‘Catholic’ church
  6. The Reformation shows us why we need expository preaching
  7. Good or bad preacher



  1. The Ministry of the Shepherd
  2. What makes a shepherd?
  3. On Church Elders
  4. Elders in the church
  5. The Pastor as Hourly Employee?
  6. Leader Do’s and Don’ts: Titus 1
  7. Church Elders | Titus 1:5

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