What Does The Bible Say About The Duties Of A Pastor?

by Dr. Michael L. Williams · Print Print · Email Email

If you ask church members to describe the duties of a pastor, be prepared to get a variety of answers. Sure, many people will say that the duty of a Pastor is to conduct the services and be there when we need them. Likewise, others will say that they do not know what the duties are other than what they do on Sundays. Because of these varied opinions, we often see the duties of a pastor vary based on the opinions of the church. In order to separate fact from fiction, it is important to know what does the Bible say about the duties of a Pastor?

What is a pastor?

In order to understand the duties of a pastor, we should first ask, what is a pastor? However, don’t be surprised by the answers you hear to this question either as some people are confused about what is a pastor. Some churches have no pastor at all. Instead, they may have individuals in the congregation perform the duties. Many people are confused about who even qualifies to be a pastor according to the Bible. Often churches will have an elder or a bishop that fills the role of a pastor and use these titles in the same way as they would a pastor (1 Timothy 3: 1-7; Titus 1:6-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

The title of pastor has a slightly different meaning than elder or bishop (1). The Hebrew word for pastor in the Bible literally means to tend a flock, pasture it, or graze it. It is often translated into the English words “feed” or “shepherd.” It is also translated as pastor or herdsman. Likewise, the Greek word for pastor found in the New Testament is most often translated as shepherd or Shepherd. But, it is translated only once as pastor in Ephesians 4:11.

What Does The Bible Say About The Duties Of A Pastor

What are the duties of a pastor?

To answer that question, we must first look at what God does not want pastors to do. The first place the word pastor is found in the Bible is in Jeremiah 2:8. The Lord told Jeremiah to go and rebuke the Israelite people. Their priests, scribes, pastors, and prophets were practicing idolatry and following heathen gods. More specifically, pastors were admonished because they were not fulfilling their duties that God had given them to do (Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 12:10-13; Jeremiah 23:1-2). This tells us that the first duty of a pastor is to live their life as a Godly man.

God also said to rebuke the people who were following and participating in practices of these pastors. God challenged the people to repent of their sins and turn back to God and that He would bless them with new pastors (Jeremiah 3:12-15; Jeremiah 23:3-5). This tells us that the duties of a pastor include being a godly leader.

We can learn more about the duties of a pastor based on the qualifications of a bishop (1 Timothy 3:1-7). Pastors are described as men who are devoted to their wives, always watching, sober, of good behavior, hospitable, a teacher, not a drinker, not an abuser or a fighter, and not in the position for personal gain. More personally, he is patient, and can rule his own home. He is a mature Christian, selfless, devoted, and has a good reputation in the community.

Based on these qualifications, a pastor will have the heart of the Lord and will feed the flock with knowledge and understanding. He will feed and care for the flock so that they will be fruitful and increase. Because of the loving care of their pastor, they will not be afraid, nor dismayed, and they will have all that they need to be spiritually mature (Jeremiah 23:2-4; Ephesians 4:11-14). Paul reinforced this to the church in Ephesus in Acts 20:17-32 when he challenged them to continue the work they had done. More specifically, he detailed to the elders to perform the following duties (2):

  • He challenged them to preach all of the Word of God without holding back. Therefore, the duty of a pastor is to preach
  • He challenged them to watch over their own lives as well as the lives of the flock. Therefore, the duty of a pastor is to be an example to the church
  • He challenged them to oversee the flock by relying upon the gifting and power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the duty of a pastor is to be a shepherd to the congregation
  • He challenged them to feed the church of God by providing discipleship using the Word and teaching them to live like Christ. Therefore, the duty of a pastor is to be a teacher
  • He challenged them to remember that they were purchased with the blood of Christ. Therefore, the duty of a pastor is to be a theologian
  • He challenged them to watch out for those who would come into the flock like wolves and teach perversion in an effort to get people to follow them. Therefore, the duty of a pastor is to protect the flock
  • He challenged them to become emotionally invested and dedicated to pray and warn everyone with tears. Therefore, the duty of a pastor is to be a loving friend

We can see that the duties of a Pastor are perfectly demonstrated in the life of Jesus Christ. As an under-shepherd to Jesus, Psalm 23 is a good example for pastors to model based on Christ as the Chief Shepherd (See also Isaiah 40:9-11; Ezekiel 34; John 10:1-18; Hebrews 13:7-21; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 1 Peter 5:1-4). He is to also model Christ in his love for the church so that the church is inspired to follow his leadership and be like Christ (1 John 4:19). Simply stated, the role of a pastor is to be like Christ in His love while inspiring the flock to love Christ and one another.What is the role model of a pastor?

Conclusion

Since many people have many different ideas about the duties of the pastor, we often see varying duties for the pastor in different churches. Sometimes a church has no pastor at all and instead elders or bishops and used to fill the duties of the pastor. According to the Bible the title of pastor is slightly different than that of an elder or bishop. A good word often used in the New Testament to describe a pastor is “shepherd”. The best way to define the duties of a pastor is to see what God says a pastor should not do (Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 12:10-13; Jeremiah 23:1-2). The Bible also gives great details of the pastor’s duties as outlined in Acts 20:17-32, where Paul was addressing the church at Ephesus.  But most importantly we can see that the duties of a Pastor are perfectly demonstrated in the life of Jesus Christ. The role of a pastor is to be like Christ in His love while inspiring the flock to love Christ and one another.

Related reading: Qualifications of a Pastor

Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1) Strong, James. Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary. Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007. (2) Williams, Michael L. (2013). “Something to consider about the purpose of a pastor”. Retrieved from Wisdom4Today, http://wisdom4today.org/something-to-consider-about-the-purpose-of-a-pastor/

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

gord January 5, 2016 at 11:18 am

It is a good standard article on the subject. The problem is that todays church, even the evangelical church does not reflect what the church was meant to be.
The church (or pastor) doesn’t practice discipleship, people come and go, maybe we get to know them some, maybe not, certainly not the example set by Jesus with his disciples.
The pastor has to be a professional, and university trained, I guess the uneducated don’t have anything valuable to share.
The assembly was meant for believers now it is open season whoever wants to come! Want your kids babysat for free for an hour come to church! Don’t believe? Well we didn’t ask! So now we expect the pastor to preach the gospel every service and the rest of actual believers never grow because they are never taught more than the basics.
I could go on but why bring people down. I am just one of the growing number of believers who stay at home on Sunday and practice my faith in the world as best I can.

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Jack Wellman January 5, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Yes, Gord, that is a problem with the church today but not all churches are like this. We had to have a lady who was gossiping and slandering others removed (disfellowshiped) from the church because of this. We allow others in the church to add what they know. Seminary doesn’t mean a pastor knows everything but that he at least knows enough to teach the church. I know of no lone ranger Christians anywhere in the New Testament church. They always met together, broke bread, and fellowshipped. Acts 2:42 says “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” so how can you be devoted to the apostles teachings without assembling together and hearing teachings behind the pulpit, in Sunday school, or at a Sunday or Wednesday night Bible study? The words “one another” show up dozens and dozens of times in the New Testament and it was always in the context of the Body of Christ, the church. No, church doesn’t save you but a saved person should desire the fellowship of the saints as iron sharpens iron (Prov 27:17).

The Bible teaches that we should not be “neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”(Heb 10:25) and that day is apparently swiftly approaching and we need one another all the more to “encourage one another” (Heb 3:13). Do you have a pastor, teacher, or other members of the Body of Christ in your home with you? Are you telling Jesus Who built HIS church that the gates of hell would not prevail against it is not necessary any more? You cannot judge all churches by what you’ve experienced. We are reaching prisoners who are set free and join us. we are growing thanks to evangelism and a nursing home and prison ministry. We have an outreach where we witness to the lost in the community. You can do this from your home on Sunday? In your own words “don’t believe it.” Paul wrote that “And He Himself (Jesus) gave pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12) because Jesus is the Head of the Church so we don’t need the church is like saying we don’t need the Head of the Church.

Jesus said “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). He didn’t say “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” unless someone believes they don’t need it or “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” but won’t be necessary in the 21st century. The Bible never suggests that Christians together as a church, as the body of Christ, to partake of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him if you feel like it (1st Cor. 11:17).

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Bill Davis May 17, 2018 at 4:05 pm

Thank you for the fact based perspective, thank you for being a warrior in Christ, God bless

Reply

Jack Wellman May 17, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Thank you Mr. Davis. Only the Bible has the truth about this, so all glory to Him sir (Psalm 115:1).

Reply

mary January 8, 2016 at 4:45 am

thanks for the beautiful articles. Please subscribe me to your articles

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