The Under-Shepherd

The Under-Shepherd

Pastor Don Carpenter / General

Not From Around Here: The Strange and Complicated Life of a Sojourner / Pastor; Leadership / 1 Peter 5:1–4

The story is told of an outstanding actor who was asked to entertain one evening at an immense dinner party. As the great actor arose to speak the room was filled with excitement as the eager guests anticipated his message.

The star of the day said that he was going to recite the Twenty-third Psalm. This he did in a dramatic and eloquent manner. As soon as he had finished the chamber roared with applause as the audience arose in a standing ovation.

The next speaker of the evening was an elderly white-haired man who was bowed and feeble, worn by many long years of steadfast, patient labor as a missionary. A hush fell over the audience as he arose. After a moment’s silence he said humbly, “I, too, would like to recite the Shepherd’s Psalm.”

Then, lifting his face slightly toward Heaven he closed his eyes and began:

  “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

  I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

When the servant of the Lord finished, a pin could have been heard if one had dropped on the floor. This time there was no applause. There was standing ovation. Not a sound was heard. Yet, throughout the room there was not a dry eye. Tears were flowing freely.

Shortly afterward, a man approached the outstanding actor and said, “I don’t understand. You both said the same thing. Your presentation was perfect in every way. Yet, when he spoke in his halting, imperfect manner, people were moved too deeply for words. What made the difference?”

The actor hesitated and then replied, “The answer is simple. I knew the Twenty-third Psalm and I knew it well, but he knows the Shepherd!”

Billy Apostolon, Fifty-Two Invitation Illustrations, Preaching Helps Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1972), 11–12.

Tonight we are going to study the office of Pastor. The word pastor is the Greek word for Shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He has called pastors to serve as under shepherds leading and protecting His sheep until the Great Shepherd returns.

As we continue to study the First Epistle of Peter, a letter written to the saints who have been displaced due to religious persecution, we come to an exhortation given to those folks among the dispersed who have been called to the office of Pastor. There is much to learn in these 4 verses. It is important for all believers to know these things. You need to know how to pray for your pastor. You need to know how to encourage your pastor. You need to know what to look for when it comes time to fill the office of Pastor.

The Office of Pastor

1 Peter 5:1 KJV

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

Three Terms – One Office

Lexham Theological Wordbook ???????????

??????????? (presbyteros). adj. older, elder, presbyter. In general, a leader whose authority comes, in principle, from the wisdom associated with age; in the church, a particular kind of leader whose responsibilities included directing churches.

1 Peter 5:2 KJV

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

Lexham Theological Wordbook ????????

???????? (poimain?). vb. to shepherd, tend, pasture; figuratively, to lead, guide, rule. To care for sheep.

This word is related to ?????? (poim?n, “shepherd”) and is the other major Septuagint translation of ????? (r??â, “to shepherd”).

Lexham Theological Wordbook ?????????

????????? (episkope?). vb. to oversee, care. The act of overseeing another person.

This verb is used twice in the NT. The understanding is that a person or group of people are to oversee the spiritual state of others.

Acts 20:17 KJV

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

Acts 20:28 KJV

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

The Job of the Pastor

1 Peter 5:2–3 KJV

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 

Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

Shepherd the Flock

Feed (?????????). Better, Rev., tend, since the verb denotes all that is included in the office of a shepherd—guiding, guarding, folding, no less than feeding, which latter is expressed by ?????. There is, doubtless, a reminiscence in the word of Christ’s charge to Peter (John 21:15–17). Both words are used there: “Feed (?????) my lambs” (ver. 15); “tend (????????) my sheep” (ver. 16); “feed (?????) my sheep” (ver. 17). The A. V. obliterates the distinction by rendering all three feed. Bengel rightly remarks, “Feeding is part of tending.” See on Matt. 2:6.1

1 Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 665.

John 21:15–17 KJV

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

In a recent issue of glass Window, a contributor recalls that several years ago, The British Weekly published this provocative letter:

Dear Sir:

It seems ministers feel their sermons are very important and spend a great deal of time preparing them. I have been attending church quite regularly for thirty years, and I have probably heard 3,000 of them. To my consternation, I discovered I cannot remember a single sermon. I wonder if a minister’s time might be more profitably spent on something else?

For weeks a storm of editorial responses ensued … finally ended by this letter:

Dear Sir:

I have been married for thirty years. During that time I have eaten 32,850 meals—mostly my wife’s cooking. Suddenly I have discovered I cannot remember the menu of a single meal. And yet … I have the distinct impression that without them, I would have starved to death long ago.  

Take Oversight

Philippians 1:1 KJV

PAUL and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

The word “oversight” is the translation of the same Greek word in another form which is other places is rendered by the words “overseer,” or “bishop,” referring to the spiritual care of the flock. The words “filthy lucre” are literally in the Greek text “base or dishonorable gain.” The pastor is not to commercialize his ministry.1

1 Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 124–125.

Do So Willingly As a Calling Not a Job

Ezekiel 34:2–3 KJV

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 

Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.

Ephesians 4:11 KJV

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Be An Example Not A Dictator

The words “being lords over” in the Greek text speak of a high-handed autocratic rule over the flock, which is forbidden a true shepherd. One could translate, “lording it over.” However, this does not do away with a God-ordained, properly exercised authority which should be administered in the local church by the pastor and the elders. Paul speaks of this in I Thessalonians 5:12 and I Timothy 5:17, using another Greek word.1

1 Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 125.

1 Thessalonians 5:12 KJV

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

1 Timothy 5:17 KJV

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

Instead of lording it over those portions of God’s flock assigned to them, these local pastors are exhorted to be an ensample to the entire flock. The word translated “ensample” means “a print left as an impression after a blow has been struck, a pattern or model of something else.” Under-shepherds should be living patterns or models of the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus.1

1 Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 125.


In his book, Leading at the Edge, Dennis Perkins contrasts the leadership values of two different explorers: Earnest Shackleton and Vilhjalmur Stefansson. In 1914, Shackleton led a daring expedition to reach Antarctica in the South. A year earlier, Stefansson led an expedition headed in the other direction to explore the North Pole. Both ships, the Karluk in the north and the Endurance in the south, found themselves trapped by solid ice packs. Each crew was faced with a fight for survival. But the outcomes of the two expeditions couldn’t have been more different.

In the north, the crew members from the Karluk, led by Stefansson, degenerated into a band of selfish, mean-spirited, cut-throat individualists, ending in the death of all 11 crew members. In the south, Shackleton’s crew faced the same problems–cold, food shortages, stress, and anxiety–but his crew responded with teamwork, self-sacrifice, and astonishing good cheer.

In the end, each leader stayed true to his core leadership values. Stefansson valued success above caring for people. He consistently communicated his ultimate objective: getting to the North Pole. In Stefansson’s words this meant “that even the lives of the [crew] are secondary to the accomplishment of the work!” To the very end, Stefansson denied that his drive for success led to a tragedy–for himself and his crew.

In sharp contrast, Shackleton’s leadership focused on the value and dignity of his teammates. At one of the lowest points of his trip, Shackleton wrote, “The task was now to secure the safety of the party.” The well-being of his team drove him to put others first. Shackleton even gave away his mittens and boots and volunteered for the longest night watches. By valuing each person, Shackleton forged a team that was willing to share their rations with each other, even on the brink of starvation. Through his example of sacrificial leadership, Shackleton was able to accomplish his ultimate objective: saving the lives of his crew members.

(Dennis N. T. Perkins, Leading at the Edge, AMACOM, 2000, pp. xiii-xiv. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Leading Under Fire, 8/5/2011)

The Accountability of a Pastor

1 Peter 5:4 KJV

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Hebrews 13:17 KJV

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Understanding the God given role of the pastor is vital for a healthy church. Remember, there are three terms that refer to the same office: Elder, Bishop or Overseer, and Pastor or Shepherd. The Pastor’s Job is to tend to the sheep… to feed, guide and protect them. He is also the overseer of the church/ the flock. He directs the progress and programs of the local church. While the deacons are under his leadership, he is accountable directly to Jesus, the Chief Shepherd. I count it an extreme privilege to serve God here at Evangelical Baptist Church for 19 years and counting as God’s Under- Shepherd.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 6:31 PM November 11, 2020.

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