Sunday, February 20, 2011

Love One Another by Michael Reyes

The Greek word for "one another" or "each other" is "allelon." It indicates that action is given and received by each person involved. For example, I encourage you and you encourage me. If there are three people involved the command to pray for one another would mean the following in practice:  I pray for you. I pray for her. You pray for me. You pray for her. She prays for you. She prays for me. All of us have been prayed for and all of us have prayed for everyone involved. That is what God has in mind when the term "one another" is used in scripture.

The following lists most of the “One Anothers” in the New Testament. It gives us a clear picture of what a Christian community should be like and how the children of God should relate with one another.

Love One Another

Joh 13:34 I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Joh 13:35 Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.
Joh 15:12 My commandment is this – to love one another just as I have loved you.
Joh 15:17 This I command you – to love one another.
Rom 12:10 Be devoted to one another with mutual/brotherly love, showing eagerness in honoring one another.
Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
Gal 5:13 For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another.
Eph 4:2 Show tolerance for one another in love
1Th 3:12 May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all
1Th 4:9 Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.
Heb 10:24 Let us take thought of how to motivate one another to love and good works
1Pe 1:22 You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love. So love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
1Jo 3:11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
1Jo 3:23 This is His commandment, that we trust in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.
1Jo 4:7 Let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God.
1Jo 4:11 Since God so loved us, then we also ought to love one another.
1Jo 4:12 If we love one another, God resides in us, and his love is perfected in us.
2Jo 1:5 I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.

One Another Commands
Mar 9:50 Be at peace with one other.
Joh 13:14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
Rom 12:10 Be devoted to one another with brotherly love, showing eagerness in honoring one another.
Rom 12:16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly.
Rom 14:19 Let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another.
Rom 15:7 Accept one another just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
1Co 11:33 When you come together to eat, wait for one another.
Gal 5:13 For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another.
Gal 6:2 Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Eph 4:2-3 Bear with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Eph 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Eph 5:21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Phi 2:3 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.
Col 3:13 Bear with one another and forgive one another ... Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others
1Th 5:11 Encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing.
1Th 5:15 Always pursue what is good for one another and for all.
Heb 10:24-25 Let us take thought of how to motivate one another to love and good works .. encourage one another
Jam 5:16 Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.
1Pe 4:9 Show hospitality to one another without complaining.
1Pe 5:5 Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

One Another Truths
Rom 12:5 We who are many are one body in Christ, and we are members who belong to one another.
1Co 12:25-24 God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the members that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
Eph 4:25 Having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
1Jo 1:7 If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
1Th 4:14-18 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

"Do not" One Another Commands
Rom 14:13 We must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister.
Gal 5:15 If you keep on biting and devouring one another, watch out or you will be destroyed by one another.
Gal 5:26 Let us not become boastful, provoking one another, being envious of one another.
Col 3:9 Do not lie to one another
Jam 4:11 Do not speak evil against one another
Jam 5:9 Do not grumble against one another

Rom 15:5 May the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Th 3:12 May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all

One Another Fulfilled
Rom 1:12 For I long to see you, so that I may use my spiritual gift to strengthen you, so that we may be mutually encouraged by one another’s trust/faith, both yours and mine.
Rom 15:14 I myself am fully convinced about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct/admonish one another.
1Th 4:9 Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.
1Th 5:11 Encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are in fact doing.
2Th 1:3 We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your trust is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater
1Pe 1:22 You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love. So love one another earnestly from a pure heart.

By Your Love for One Another...
Jesus said in John 13:35, "By your love for one another all people will know that you are My disciples." To show the importance of love as a witness to mankind please note what Jesus did not say.

  • He did not say that by your preaching all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your teaching all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by the doctrines you hold as true all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your attendance to a church every week all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your singing praise to me all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your education all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your leadership all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your smile and friendly greeting all people will know that you are My disciples.
  • He did not say that by your public prayers all people will know that you are My disciples.
Jesus said that by your love for one another all people will know that you are My disciples. Some of the things above are good but they are nothing without love (see 1 Corinthians 13:2).  We need to ask ourselves this question. Does what we do when we come together as followers of Christ allow and promote love for one another? One another meaning each and every person involved has the opportunity and encouragement to love. To love both because they both are free to love and are being loved.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


The following is excerpted from Chapter 4 of Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. Bold emphasis is mine.

"Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it."

"And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."

WE NOW COME to one of the most sacrosanct church practices of all: the sermon. Remove the sermon and the Protestant order of worship becomes in large part a songfest. Remove the sermon and attendance at the Sunday morning service is doomed to drop.

The sermon is the bedrock of the Protestant liturgy. For five hundred years, it has functioned like clock-work. Every Sunday morning, the pastor steps up to his pulpit and delivers an inspirational oration to a passive, pew-warming audience.' So central is the sermon that it is the very reason many Christians go to church. In fact, the entire service is often judged by the quality of the sermon. Ask a person how church was last Sunday and you will most likely get a description of the message. In short, the contemporary Christian mindset often equates the sermon with Sunday morning worship.' But it does not end there.

Remove the sermon and you have eliminated the most important source of spiritual nourishment for countless numbers of believers (so it is thought). Yet the stunning reality is that today's sermon has no root in Scripture. Rather, it was borrowed from pagan culture, nursed and adopted into the Christian faith. That's a startling statement, is it not? But there is more.

The sermon actually detracts from the very purpose for which God designed the church gathering. And it has very little to do with genuine spiritual growth. Don't faint dead away . . . we will prove these words in the following pages.

Doubtlessly, someone reading the previous few paragraphs will retort: "People preached all throughout the Bible. Of course the sermon is scriptural!"

Granted, the Scriptures do record men and women preaching. However, there is a world of difference between the Spirit-inspired preaching and teaching described in the Bible and the contemporary sermon. This difference is virtually always overlooked because we have been unwittingly conditioned to read our modern-day practices back into the Scripture. So we mistakenly embrace today's pulpiteerism as being biblical. Let's unfold that a bit. The present-day Christian sermon has the following features:

> It is a regular occurrence—delivered faithfully from the pulpit at least once a week.
> It is delivered by the same person—most typically the pastor or an ordained guest speaker.
> It is delivered to a passive audience—essentially it is a monologue.
> It is a cultivated form of speech—possessing a specific structure.
> It typically contains an introduction, three to five points, and a conclusion.

Contrast this with the kind of preaching mentioned in the Bible. In the Old Testament, men of God preached and taught. But their speaking did not map to the contemporary sermon. Here are the features of Old Testament preaching and teaching:

> Active participation and interruptions by the audience were common.
> Prophets and priests spoke extemporaneously and out of a present burden, rather than from a set script.
> There is no indication that Old Testament prophets or priests gave regular speeches to God's people. Instead, the nature of Old Testament preaching was sporadic, fluid, and open for audience participation. Preaching in the ancient synagogue followed a similar pattern.

Come now to the New Testament. The Lord Jesus did not preach a regular sermon to the same audience. His preaching and teaching took many different forms. And He delivered His messages to many different audiences. (Of course, He concentrated most of His teaching on His disciples. Yet the messages He brought to them were consistently spontaneous and informal.)
Following the same pattern, the apostolic preaching recorded in Acts possessed the following features:

> It was sporadic.
> It was delivered on special occasions in order to deal with specific problems.
> It was extemporaneous and without rhetorical structure.
> It was most often dialogical (meaning it included feedback and interruptions from the audience) rather than monological (a one-way discourse).

In like manner, the New Testament letters show that the ministry of God's Word came from the entire church in their regular gatherings." From Romans 12:6-8, 15:14, 1 Corinthians 14:26, and Colossians 3:16, we see that it included teaching, exhortation, prophecy, singing, and admonishment. This "every-member" functioning was also conversational (1 Corinthians 14:29) and marked by interruptions (1 Corinthians 14:30).

In short, the contemporary sermon delivered for Christian consumption is foreign to both Old and New Testaments. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate its existence in the early Christian gatherings.

(Get the book for the in-depth historical detail of where the sermon came from. Listed next is the summary offered at the end of the book).
The Contemporary Sermon—Borrowed from the Greek sophists, who were masters at oratory and rhetoric. John Chrysostom and Augustine popularized the Greco-Roman homily (sermon) and made it a central part of the Christian faith.
The One-Hour Sermon, Sermon Crib Notes, and the Four-Part Sermon Outline—Seventeenth-century Puritans.

Though revered for five centuries, the conventional sermon has negatively impacted the church in a number of ways.

First, the sermon makes the preacher the virtuoso performer of the regular church gathering. As a result, congregational participation is hampered at best and precluded at worst. The sermon turns the church into a preaching station. The congregation degenerates into a group of muted spectators who watch a performance. There is no room for interrupting or questioning the preacher while he is delivering his discourse. The sermon freezes and imprisons the functioning of the body of Christ. It fosters a docile priesthood by allowing pulpiteers to dominate the church gathering week after week.

Second, the sermon often stalemates spiritual growth. Because it is a one-way affair, it encourages passivity. The sermon prevents the church from functioning as intended. It suffocates mutual ministry.It smothers open participation. This causes the spiritual growth of God's people to take a nosedive.

As Christians, we must function if we are to mature (see Mark 4:24-25 and Hebrews 10:24-25). We do not grow by passive listening week after week. In fact, one of the goals of New Testament—styled preaching and teaching is to get each of us to function (Ephesians4:11-16) It is to encourage us to open our mouths in the church meeting (1 Corinthians 12-14). The conventional sermon hinders this very process.

Third, the sermon preserves the unbiblical clergy mentality. It creates an excessive and pathological dependence on the clergy. The sermon makes the preacher the religious specialist—the only one having anything worthy to say. Everyone else is treated as a second-class Christian—a silent pew warmer. (While this is not usually voiced, it is the unspoken reality)

How can the pastor learn from the other members of the body of Christ when they are muted? How can the church learn from the pastor when its members cannot ask him questions during his oration? How can the brothers and sisters learn from one another if they are prevented from speaking in the meetings?

The sermon makes "church" both distant and impersonal." It deprives the pastor of receiving spiritual sustenance from the church. And it deprives the church of receiving spiritual nourishment from one another. For these reasons, the sermon is one of the biggest road-blocks to a functioning priesthood!

Fourth, rather than equipping the saints, the sermon de-skills them. It matters not how loudly ministers drone on about "equipping the saints for the work of the ministry," the truth is that the contemporary sermon preached every week has little power to equip God's people for spiritual service and functioning." Unfortunately, how-ever, many of God's people are just as addicted to hearing sermons as many preachers are addicted to preaching them. By contrast, New Testament–styled preaching and teaching equips the church so that it can function without the presence of a clergyman.

For instance, I (Frank) recently attended a conference where a contemporary church planter spent an entire weekend with a network of house churches. Each day, the church planter submerged the churches in a revelation of Jesus Christ. But he also gave them very practical instruction on how to experience what he preached. He then left them on their own, and he probably will not return for months. The churches, having been equipped that weekend, have been having their own meetings where every member has contributed something of Christ in the gathering through exhortations, encouragements, teachings, testimonies, writing new songs, poems, etc. This is essentially New Testament apostolic ministry.

Fifth, today's sermon is often impractical. Countless preachers speak as experts on that which they have never experienced. Whether it be abstract/theoretical, devotional/inspirational, demanding/compelling, or entertaining/amusing, the sermon fails to put the hearers into a direct, practical experience of what has been preached. Thus the typical sermon is a swimming lesson on dry land! It lacks any practical value. Much is preached, but little ever lands. Most of it is aimed at the frontal lobe. Contemporary pulpiteerism generally fails to get beyond disseminating information and on to equipping believers to experience and use that which they have heard.

In this regard, the sermon mirrors its true father—Greco-Roman rhetoric. Greco-Roman rhetoric was bathed in abstraction. It involved forms designed to entertain and display genius rather than instruct or develop talents in others. The contemporary polished sermon can warm the heart, inspire the will, and stimulate the mind. But it rarely if ever shows the team how to leave the huddle. In all of these ways, the contemporary sermon fails to meet its billing at promoting the kind of spiritual growth it promises. In the end, it actually intensifies the impoverishment of the church. The sermon acts like a momentary stimulant. Its effects are often short-lived.

Let's be honest. There are scores of Christians who have been sermonized for decades, and they are still babes in Christ. We Christians are not transformed simply by hearing sermons week after week. We are transformed by regular encounters with the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who minister, therefore, are called to preach Christ and not information about Him. They are also called to make their ministry intensely practical. They are called not only to reveal Christ by the spoken word, but to show their hearers how to experience, know, follow, and serve Him. The contemporary sermon too often lacks these all-important elements.

If a preacher cannot bring his hearers into a living spiritual experience of that which he is ministering, the results of his message will be short-lived. Therefore, the church needs fewer pulpiteers any more spiritual facilitators. It is in dire need of those who can proclaim Christ and know how to deploy God's people to experience Him who has been preached. And on top of that, Christians need instruction on how to share this living Christ with the rest of the church for their mutual edification.

Consequently, the Christian family needs a restoration of the first-century practice of mutual exhortation and mutual ministry. "For the New Testament hinges spiritual transformation upon these two things." Granted, the gift of teaching is present in the church. But teaching is to come from all the believers (1 Corinthians 14:26,31) as well as from those who are specially gifted to teach (Ephesians 4:11, James 3:1). We move far outside of biblical bounds when we allow teaching to take the form of a conventional sermon and relegate it to a class of professional orators.

Is preaching and teaching the Word of God scriptural? Yes, absolutely. But the contemporary pulpit sermon is not the equivalent of the preaching and teaching that is found in the Scriptures. It cannot be found in the Judaism of the Old Testament, the ministry of Jesus, or the life of the primitive church. -What is more, Paul told his Greek converts that he refused to be influenced by the communication patterns of his pagan contemporaries (1 Corinthians 1:17,22; 2:1-5).

But what about 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (NLT), where Paul says, "I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some"? We would argue that this would not include making a weekly sermon the focus of all worship gatherings, which would have stifled the believers' transformation and mutual edification.

The sermon was conceived in the womb of Greek rhetoric. It was born into the Christian community when pagans-turned-Christians began to bring their oratorical styles of speaking into the church. By the third century, it became common for Christian leaders to deliver a sermon. By the fourth century it became the norm.

Christianity has absorbed its surrounding culture. When your pastor mounts his pulpit wearing his clerical robes to deliver his sacred sermon, he is unknowingly playing out the role of the ancient Greek orator.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that the contemporary sermon does not have a shred of biblical merit to support its existence, it continues to be uncritically admired in the eyes of most present-day Christians. It has become so entrenched in the Christian mind that most Bible-believing pastors and laymen fail to see that they are affirming and perpetuating an unscriptural practice out of sheer tradition. The sermon has become permanently embedded in a complex organizational structure that is far removed from first-century church life.

In view of all that we have discovered about the contemporary sermon, consider these questions:

How can a man preach a sermon on being faithful to the Word of God while he is preaching a sermon? And how can a Christian passively sit in a pew and affirm the priesthood of all believers when he is passively sitting in a pew? To put a finer point on it, how can you claim to uphold the Protestant doctrine of sola scripture ("by the Scripture only") and still support the pulpit sermon?

As one author so eloquently put it, "The sermon is, in practice, beyond criticism. It has become an end in itself, sacred—the product of a distorted reverence for 'the tradition of the elders' . . . it seems strangely inconsistent that those who are most disposed to claim that the Bible is the Word of God, the 'supreme guide in all matters of faith and practice' are amongst the first to reject biblical methods in favor of the 'broken cisterns' of their fathers ( Jeremiah 2:13).

In light of what you have read in this chapter, is there really any room in the church's corral for sacred cows like the sermon?

You take issue with making the proclamation of the Word the center of the church meeting. However, Paul seems to emphasize preaching when instructing Timothy. In 2 Timothy 4:2, he tells him: "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction" (NIV).
Timothy was an apostolic worker. His role was to equip God's people to function and to know the Lord. It was also to win lost souls with a view to building the church. (In 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul tells Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist.")
Therefore, preaching the Word of God is part of the apostolic call. Timothy certainly did this, just as Paul did when he preached in the marketplace in Athens and in the hall of Tyrannus in Ephesus. Those were apostolic meetings designed for equipping the church and for building the community by converting people to Christ.
By contrast, the normative church meeting is when every member of the church comes together to share his or her portion of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:26). All are free to teach, preach, testify, prophesy, pray, and lead a song.

When you describe the work of a church planter, you say he "submerged the churches in a revelation of Jesus Christ." What exactly does that mean, and how do you think this experience affects how a church body assembles together?
The first-century church planters had a deep and profound revelation (or insight) of Jesus Christ. They knew Him, and they knew Him well. He was their life, their breath, and their reason for living. They, in turn, imparted that same revelation to the churches they planted. John 1:1-3 is a good example of this dynamic.
Paul of Tarsus preached a message of Christ that was so profound that it caused immoral, blood-drinking pagans to become full-fledged Christians in love with Jesus Christ in just a few short months. (These new believers made up the churches of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea [Acts13-17].) Paul shared the depths of Christ with them in such a way that they knew that they were holy in His eyes and that they could know Him internally, for Christ indwelt them. This profound, personal understanding of the indwelling Christ affected how they gathered together and what they did in those gatherings.
Furthermore, Paul typically spent several months with these new converts and then left them on their own for long periods of time, sometimes years. And when he returned, they were still gathering together, still loving one another, and still following their Lord.
What kind of gospel did he preach to cause this kind of remarkable effect? He called it "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8, NIV). To put it another way, he submerged them in a revelation of Jesus Christ.

  • Whether one is preaching (kerygma) to unbelievers or teaching (didache) believers, the message to both believer and unbeliever alike is Jesus Christ.
  • Speaking of the early church, Michael Green writes, "They preached a person. Their message was frankly Christocentric. Indeed, the gospel is referred to simply as Jesus or Christ: 'He preached Jesus to him ... Jesus the man, Jesus crucified, Jesus risen, Jesus exalted to the place of power in the universe ... Jesus who meantime was present among His people in the Spirit.... The risen Christ was unambiguously central in their message."
  • While many pastors talk about "equipping the saints" and "liberating the laity," promises to free the flaccid laity and equip the church for ministry virtually always prove to be empty. So long as the pastor is still dominating the church service by his sermonics, God's people are not free to function in the gathering. Therefore, "equipping the saints" is typically empty rhetoric.
  • The sermon sells itself as the major facilitator of Christian growth. But this idea is both misleading and misdirected.
  • The Greek word often used to described first-century preaching and teaching is dialegomai (Acts 17:2, 17; 18:4, 19; 19:8-9; 20:7, 9; 24:25). This word means a two-way form of communication. Our English word dialogue is derived from it. In short, apostolic ministry was more dialoguethan it was monological sermonics.
  • The Old Testament prophets spoke in response to specific events (Deuteronomy 1:1, 5:1, 271, 9; Joshua 211-24:15; Isaiah; Jeremiah; Ezekiel;Daniel; Amos; Haggai; Zechariah; etc.). The only difference in synagogue preaching is that a message delivered on a biblical text was a regular occurrence. Even so, most synagogues allowed for any member to preach to the people who wished to do so. This, of course, is in direct contradiction to the modern sermon where only religious "specialists" are allowed to address the congregation.
  • Augustine was the first to title Matthew 5-7 in his book The Lord's Sermon on the Mount (written between 392 and 396). But the passage was not generally referred to as the Sermon on the Mount until the sixteenth century. Despite its name, the Sermon on the Mount is quite different from the modern sermon in both style and rhetoric.
  • Nothing is more characteristic of Protestantism than the importance it attaches to preaching.
  • In France, the Protestant church service is called aller a sermon ("go to a sermon").
  • The sermon originated from Greco-Roman paganism rather than from Jesus or the apostles. It is for the reader to decide whether or not the Greco-Roman sermon is wrong or right—an improved development to apostolic preaching or a departure from it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


The following is excerpted from Chapter 5 of Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. Bold emphasis is mine.

"It is a universal tendency in the Christian religion, as in many other religions, to give a theological interpretation to institutions which have developed gradually through a period of time for the sake of practical usefulness, and then read that interpretation back into the earliest periods and infancy of these institutions, attaching them to an age when in fact nobody imagined that they had such a meaning."

THE PASTOR. He is the fundamental figure of the Protestant faith. So prevailing is the pastor in the minds of most Christians that he is often better known, more highly praised, and more heavily relied upon than Jesus Christ Himself!

Remove the pastor and most Protestant churches would be thrown into a panic. Remove the pastor, and Protestantism as we know it would die. The pastor is the dominating focal point, mainstay, and centerpiece of the contemporary church. He is the embodiment of Protestant Christianity.

But here is the profound irony. There is not a single verse in the entire New Testament that supports the existence of the modern-day pastor! He simply did not exist in the early church.
Note that we are using the term pastor throughout this chapter to depict the contemporary pastoral office and role, not the specific individual who fills this role. By and large, those who serve in the office of pastor are wonderful people. They are honorable, decent, and very often gifted Christians who love God and have a zeal to serve His people. But it is the role they fill that both Scripture and church history are opposed to.

The word pastors does appear in the New Testament:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers. (EPHESIANS 4:11, NASB)

The following observations are to be made about this text.
> This is the only verse in the entire New Testament where the word pastor is used. One solitary verse is a mighty scanty piece of evidence on which to hang the Protestant faith! In this regard, there seems to be more biblical authority for snake handling (see Mark 16:18 and Acts 28:3-6) than there is for the present-day pastor. Roman Catholics have made the same error with the word priest. You can find the word priest used in the New Testament three times. In every case, it refers to all Christians.'
> The word is used in the plural. It is pastors. This is significant. For whoever these "pastors" are, they are plural in the church, not singular. Consequently, there is no biblical support for the practice of sofa pastora (single pastor).
> The Greek word translated pastors is poimen. It means shepherds. (Pastor is the Latin word for shepherd.) Pastor, then, is a metaphor to describe a particular function in the church. It is not an office or a title.' A first-century shepherd had nothing to do with the specialized and professional sense it has come to have in contemporary Christianity. Therefore, Ephesians 4:11 does not envision a pastoral office, but merely one of many functions in the church. Shepherds are those who naturally provide nurture and care for God's sheep. It is a profound error, therefore, to confuse shepherds with an office or title as is commonly conceived today.'
> At best, Ephesians 4:11 is oblique. It offers absolutely no definition or description of who pastors are. It simply mentions them. Regrettably, we have filled this word with our own Western concept of what a pastor is. We have read our idea of the contemporary pastor back into the New Testament. Never would any first-century Christian have conceived of the contemporary pastoral office!
Richard Hanson observes, "For us the words bishops, presbyters, and deacons are stored with the associations of nearly two thousand years. For the people who first used them, the titles of these offices can have meant little more than inspectors, older men and helpers. It was when unsuitable theological significance began to be attached to them that the distortion of the concept of Christian ministry began."'

First-century shepherds were the local elders (presbyters) and overseers of the church. Their function was at odds with the contemporary pastoral role.

If contemporary pastors were absent from the early church, where did they come from? And how did they rise to such a prominent position in the Christian faith? The roots of this tale are tangled and complex, and they reach as far back as the fall of man.

With the Fall came an implicit desire in people to have a physical leader to bring them to God. For this reason, human societies throughout history have consistently created a special caste of revered religious leaders. The medicine man, the shaman, the rhapsodist, the miracle worker, the witch doctor, the soothsayer, the wise man, and the priest have all been with us since Adam's blunder." And this person is always marked by special training, special garb, a special vocabulary, and a special way of life."

We can see this instinct rear its ugly head in the history of ancient Israel. It made its first appearance during the time of Moses. Two servants of the Lord, Eldad and Medad, received God's Spirit and began to prophesy. In hasty response, a young zealot urged Moses to "restrain them" (Numbers 11:26-28, NASB). Moses reproved the young suppressor saying he wished all of God's people could prophesy. Moses had set himself against a clerical spirit that had tried to control God's people.

We see it again when Moses ascended Mount Horeb. The people wanted Moses to be a physical mediator between them and God because they feared a personal relationship with the Almighty (Exodus 20:19).

This fallen instinct made another appearance during the time of Samuel. God wanted His people to live under His direct headship. But Israel clamored for a human king instead (1 Samuel 8:19).
The seeds of the contemporary pastor can even be detected in the New Testament era. Diotrephes, who "love[d] to have the preeminence" in the church, illegitimately took control of its affairs (3 John9-10). In addition, some scholars have suggested that the doctrine of the Nicolaitans that Jesus condemns in Revelation 2:6 is a reference to the rise of an early clergy.'

Alongside humanity's fallen quest for a human spiritual mediator is the obsession with the hierarchical form of leadership. All ancient cultures were hierarchical in their social structures to one degree or another. Regrettably, the post apostolic Christians adopted and adapted these structures into their church life.

(Click here for the in-depth historical detail of where the pastor came from. Listed next is the summary offered at the end of the book).
The Single Bishop (predecessor of the contemporary pastor.)—Ignatius of Antioch in early second century. Ignatius's model of one-bishop rule did not prevail in the churches until the third century.
The "Covering" Doctrine—Cyprian of Carthage, a former pagan orator. Revived under Juan Carlos Ortiz from Argentina and the "Fort Lauderdale Five" from the United States, creating the so-called "Shepherding-Discipleship Movement" in the 1970s.
Hierarchical Leadership—Brought into the church by Constantine in the fourth century. This was the leadership style of the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans.
Clergy and Laity—The word laity first appears in the writings of Clement of Rome (d.100). Clergy first appears in Tertullian. By the third century, Christian leaders were universally called clergy.
Contemporary Ordination—Evolved from the second century to the fourth. It was taken from the Roman custom of appointing men to civil office. The idea of the ordained minister as the "holy man of God" can be traced to Augustine, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Chrysostom.
The Title "Pastor"—Catholic priests who became Protestant ministers were not universally called pastors until the eighteenth century under the influence of Lutheran Pietists.

Let's shift our attention to the practical effects that a pastor has on the people of God.

Tremendous psychological factors make laypeople feel that ministry is the responsibility of the pastor. It's his job. He's the expert is often their thinking. The New Testament word for minister is diakonos. It means "servant." But this word has been distorted because men have professionalized the ministry. We have taken the word minister and equated it with the pastor, with no scriptural justification whatsoever. In like manner, we have mistakenly equated preaching and ministry with the pulpit sermon, again without biblical justification.

The unscriptural clergy/laity distinction has done untold harm to the body of Christ. It has divided the believing community into first-and second-class Christians. The clergy/laity dichotomy perpetuates an awful falsehood—namely, that some Christians are more privileged than others to serve the Lord.

The one-man ministry is entirely foreign to the New Testament, yet we embrace it while it suffocates our functioning. We are living stones, not dead ones. However, the pastoral office has transformed us into stones that do not breathe.

Permit us to get personal. We believe the pastoral office has stolen your right to function as a full member of Christ's body. It has distorted the reality of the body, making the pastor a giant mouth and transforming you into a tiny ear. It has rendered you a mute spectator who is proficient at taking sermon notes and passing an offering plate. To put this tragedy in the form of a biblical question, "And if they were all one member, where would the body be?" (1 Corinthians 12:19, NKJV).

But that is not all. The modern-day pastoral office has over-thrown the main thrust of the letter to the Hebrews—the ending of the old priesthood. It has made ineffectual the teaching of 1 Corinthians 12-14, that every member has both the right and the privilege to minister in a church meeting. It has voided the message of 1 Peter 2 that every brother and sister is a functioning priest.

Being a functioning priest does not mean that you may only perform highly restrictive forms of ministry like singing songs in your pew, raising your hands during worship, setting up the PowerPoint presentation, or teaching a Sunday school class. That is not the New Testament idea of ministry! These are mere aids for the pastor's ministry. As one scholar put it, "Much Protestant worship, up to the present day, has also been infected by an overwhelming tendency to regard worship as the work of the pastor (and perhaps the choir) with the majority of the laity having very little to do but sing a few hymn sand listen in a prayerful and attentive way."'"

We expect doctors and lawyers to serve us, not to train us to serve others. And why? Because they are the experts. They are trained professionals. Unfortunately, we look upon the pastor in the same way. All of this does violence to the fact that every believer is a priest. Not only before God, but to one another.

But there is something more. The contemporary pastorate rivals the functional headship of Christ in His church. It illegitimately holds the unique place of centrality and headship among God's people, a place that is reserved for only one Person--the Lord Jesus. Jesus Christ is the only head over a church and the final word to it.'" By his office, the pastor displaces and supplants Christ's headship by setting himself up as the church's human head.

For this reason, nothing so hinders the fulfillment of God's eternal purpose as does the present-day pastoral role. Why? Because that purpose is centered on making Christ's headship visibly manifested in the church through the free, open, mutually participatory, every-member functioning of the body. As long as the pastoral office is present in a particular church, that church will have a slim chance of witnessing such a glorious thing.

The contemporary pastor not only does damage to God's people, he does damage to himself. The pastoral office has a way of chewing up many who come within its parameters. Depression, burnout, stress, and emotional breakdown occur at abnormally high rates among pastors. At the time of this writing, there are reportedly more than 500,000 paid pastors serving churches in the United States.'" Among this massive number of religious professionals, consider the following statistics that testify to the lethal danger of the pastoral office:

> 94 percent feel pressured to have an ideal family.
> 90 percent work more than forty-six hours a week.
> 81 percent say they have insufficient time with their spouses.
> 80 percent believe that pastoral ministry affects their family negatively.
> 70 percent do not have someone they consider a close friend.
> 70 percent have lower self-esteem than when they entered the ministry.
> 50 percent feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
> 80 percent are discouraged or deal with depression.
> More than 40 percent report that they are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and unrealistic expectations.
> 33 percent consider pastoral ministry an outright hazard to the family.
> 33 percent have seriously considered leaving their position in the past year.
> 40 percent of pastoral resignations are due to burnout.

Most pastors are expected to juggle sixteen major tasks at once. And many crumble under the pressure. For this reason, 1,400 ministers in all denominations across the United States are fired or forced to resign each month. Over the past twenty years, the average length of a pastorate has declined from seven years to just over four years!

Unfortunately, few pastors have connected the dots to discover that it is their office that causes this underlying turbulence. Simply put: Jesus Christ never intended any person to sport all the hats a present-day pastor is expected to wear. He never intended anyone person to bear such a load.

The demands of the pastorate are crushing; they will drain any mortal dry. Imagine for a moment that you were working for a company that paid you on the basis of how good you made your people feel. What if your pay depended on how entertaining you were, how friendly you were, how popular your wife and children were, how well-dressed you were, and how perfect your behavior was?

Can you imagine the unmitigated stress this would cause you? Can you see how such pressure would force you into playing a pretentious role—all to keep your authority, your prestige, and your job security? (For this reason, many pastors are resistant to receiving any kind of help.)

The pastoral profession dictates standards of conduct like any other profession, whether it be teacher, doctor, or lawyer. The profession dictates how pastors are to dress, speak, and act. This is one of the major reasons why many pastors live very artificial lives.

In this regard, the pastoral role fosters dishonesty. Congregants expect their pastor to always be cheerful, completely spiritual, and available at a moment's call. They also expect that he will have a perfectly disciplined family. Furthermore, he should never appear resentful or bitter. Many pastors take to this role like actors in a Greek drama.

Based on the scores of personal testimonies we have heard from erstwhile pastors, many—if not most—pastors cannot stay in their office without being corrupted on some level. The power-politics endemic to the office is a huge problem that isolates many of them and poisons their relationship with others.

In an insightful article to pastors entitled "Preventing clergy burnout," the author suggests something startling. His advice to pastors gives us a clear peek into the power-politics that goes with the pastorate. He implores pastors to "fellowship with clergy of other denominations. These persons cannot harm you ecclesiastically, because they are not of your official circle. There is no political string they can pull to undo you."

Professional loneliness is another virus that runs high among pastors. The lone-ranger plague drives some ministers into other careers. It drives others into crueler fates.

All of these pathologies find their root in the history of the pastorate. It is "lonely at the top" because God never intended for anyone to be at the top—except His Son! In effect, the present-day pastor tries to shoulder the fifty-eight New Testament "one another" exhortations all by himself. It is no wonder that many of them get crushed under the weight.

The contemporary pastor is the most unquestioned fixture in twenty-first-century Christianity. Yet not a strand of Scripture supports the existence of this office.

Rather, the present-day pastor was born out of the single-bishop rule first spawned by Ignatius and Cyprian. The bishop evolved into the local presbyter. In the Middle Ages, the presbyter grew into the Catholic priest. During the Reformation, he was transformed into the "preacher," "the minister," and finally "the pastor"—the person upon whom all of Protestantism hangs. To boil it down to one sentence: The Protestant pastor is nothing more than a slightly reformed Catholic priest. (Again, we are speaking of the office and not the individual.)

Catholic priests had seven duties at the time of the Reformation: preaching; the sacraments; prayers for the flock; a disciplined, godly life; church rites; supporting the poor; and visiting the sick.'" the protestant pastor takes upon himself all of these responsibilities—plus he sometimes blesses civic events.

The famed poet John Milton put it best when he said, "New presbyter is but old priest writ large!"' In other words, the contemporary pastor is but an old priest written in larger letters!

  • Today those who feel called to the ministry of the local church generally believe their options are limited to serving as a pastor or worship leader. While being called to the Lord's work is definitely a real experience, these positions did not exist in the first century. Nevertheless, though their office is without scriptural basis, pastors often do help people. But they help people despite their office, not because of it.
  • The New Testament never uses the secular Greek words for civil and religious authorities to depict ministers in the church. Further, even though most New Testament authors were steeped in the Jewish priestly system of the Old Testament, they never use hiereus (priest) to refer to Christian ministry. Ordination to office presupposes a static and definable church leadership role that did not exist in the apostolic churches.
  • "Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man" (Job 32:21).
  • Jesus Christ is the only Head over a church and the final word to it. In this regard (and contrary to popular opinion), the pastor is not "the cerebellum, the center for communicating messages, coordinating functions, and conducting responses between the Head and the Body." He is not called to give "authoritative communication of the truth from the Head to the Body." And he is not the "accurate communicator of the needs from the Body to the Head."
  • Since pastors today are generally expected to take on so many roles, they often must operate outside their giftedness. That is unfair, both to them and to those within the body who possess these very gifts and are not permitted to use them.
  • The real question is, should we support an office and a role that has no basis in the New Testament? If the modern pastoral office and role is a God-inspired development, then we should support it. But if it is not, we should not be surprised to learn it has harmful effects on those who fill the role.