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The Pastor and Church of the Bible

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  • The Pastor and Church of the Bible

    This 3 part examination of the biblical figurative language used for the pastor relationship to the congregation.

    One of the common Greek words used in the Bible to describe the function of the persons caring for those whom God called out from the world to enter the Kingdom of God is translated into English as “shepherd.” Only one time is this same word translated by the AV and the KJV as “pastors.” This is in Ephesians 4:11.

    Likewise, the structure where the shepherd protected and examined the sheep is translated as “sheepfold” which is an addition to the literal meaning of the Greek word. The English versions indicate in the translations as a “sheepfold” which applies a specific function to the structures. Forms of the same word may be translated as the courtyard of a palace, mansion, or house.

    This courtyard attach to a dwelling place. In John 14:2 and 14:23 where the modern English versions translate as “dwelling place” the AV and KJV translate as mansion since where the Lord dwells must be not just a house but a mansion or palace.

    The English “sheepfold” when translated literally from the Greek word aule is simply “fold.” However, when connected to the activity of the herdsman of the sheep or shepherd the Greek aule certainly describes the ancient Judean word for the English “sheepfold”.

    This sketch contains a colored illustration of a sheepfold in ancient Israel. This illustration is not the courtyard sheepfold but one constructed in pasture where the sheep grazed. This illustration of the sheepfold shows a rock wall enclosure of loosely stacked stones, and this provided protection against "thieves and robbers" (John 10).
    The enclosure also provided protection from wolves and other animals of prey. The enclosure also contained the door of the sheepfold, an opening for the sheep to come in and go out. It was at this opening at the Shepherd would lie, in order for a thief or Wolf to come in he would have to climb over the Shepherd at the door. The Shepherd would also inspect each of a sheep as it passed under the rod at the door of the sheepfold. In the morning the shepherd would call his sheep and they would exit the fold because they knew his voice.
    John 10:1 - “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. . . .”
    In such a fold there is shelter for the sheep at night, and be safe from the attacks of wild beasts. The modern sheep-folds of Syria, which no doubt resemble those of ancient times, are low, flat opening into a court, which is surrounded by a stone wall, protected on the top by a layer of thorns. A door way carefully guarded forms the entrance. Sheep- folds are referred to in a number of passages.
    See Numbers 32:16, 24, 36; Judges 5:16; 1 Samuel 24:3; 2 Samuel 7:8; 2 Chronicles 32:28; Psalm 68:13; 78:70; Isaiah 17:2; 13:20;Ezekiel 25: 5; 34:14; Zephaniah 2:6; John 10:1.
    The simple improvised sheepfold is sometimes made by the shepherd when he is a distance from his home, or especially when he may be in the territory of mountains. A fence is built of tangled thorn bushes or rude bowers. This is all the protection that is needed, as the shepherds often sleep with their flocks. Ezekiel mentions such a sheepfold when he predicts the future of Israel: "I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be" (Ezekiel 34:14).
    The shepherd is deeply interested in every single one of his flock. Some of them may be given pet names because of incidents connected with them. They are usually counted each evening as they enter the fold, but sometimes the shepherd dispenses with the counting, for he is able to feel the absence of anyone of his sheep. With one sheep gone, something is felt to be missing from the appearance of the entire flock. One shepherd in the Lebanon district was asked if he always counted his sheep each evening. He replied in the negative, and then was asked how then he knew if all his sheep were present. This was his reply: "Master, if you were to put a cloth over my eyes, and bring me any sheep and only let me put hands on its face, I could tell in a moment if it was mine or not." When H. R. P. Dickson visited the desert Arabs, he witnessed an event that revealed the amazing knowledge which some of them have of their sheep. One evening, shortly after dark, an Arab shepherd began to call out one by one the names of his fifty-one mother sheep, and was able to pick out each one's lamb, and restore it to its mother to suckle. To do this in the light would be a feat for many shepherds, but this was done in complete darkness, and in the midst of the noise coming from the ewes crying for their lambs, and the lambs crying for their mothers. But no Oriental shepherd ever had a more intimate knowledge of his sheep than JESUS our great Shepherd has of those who belong to His flock. He once said of Himself: "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep" (John 10:14). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
    The wild animals of Israel today include wolves, panthers, hyenas, and jackals. The lion has not lived in the land since the days of the Crusaders. The last bear was killed over half a century ago. David as a shepherd lad experienced the coming of a lion and of a bear against his flock, and by the LORD's help, he was able to slay both of them (I Samuel 17:3437). Amos tells of a shepherd attempting to rescue one of the flock from the lion's mouth: "As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear" (Amos 3:12). One experienced Syrian shepherd is reported to have followed a hyena to his lair and compelled the animal to give up his prey. He won his victory over the wild beast by himself howling in characteristic fashion, striking on rocks with his heavy staff, and flinging deadly stones with his slingshot. The sheep was then carried in his arms back to the fold. The faithful shepherd must be willing to risk his life for the sake of the flock, and perhaps give his life for them. As our Good Shepherd JESUS . . . gave Himself on our behalf. He said: "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
    When it becomes necessary to separate several flocks of sheep, one shepherd after another will stand up and call out: "Tahhoo! Tahhoo!" or a similar call of his own choosing. The sheep lift up their heads, and after a general scramble, begin following . . . his own shepherd. They are thoroughly familiar with their own shepherd's tone of voice. Strangers have often used the same call, but their attempts to get the sheep to follow them always fail. The words of JESUS are indeed true to Eastern shepherd life when he said: "The sheep follow him, for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers" (John 10:4,5). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
    At certain times it becomes necessary to separate the goats from the sheep, although they may be cared for by the same shepherd that cares for the sheep. They do not graze well together, and so it frequently becomes necessary to keep them apart from the sheep while they are grazing. Dr. John A. Broadus, when visiting Israel, reported seeing a shepherd leading his flock of white sheep and black goats all mingled together. When he turned into a valley, having led them across the Plain of Sharon, he turned around and faced his flock: "When a sheep came up, he tapped it with his long staff on the right side of the head, and it quickly moved off to his right; a goat he tapped on the other side, and it went to his left." This is the picture the Saviour had in mind when he spoke the solemn words: "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left" (Matthew 25:32-33). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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  • #2

    The breed of Sheep in Ancient Israel is the fat tail.
    Photos are available on line.
    There is some significance in how Old Testament scripture refers to the use of the tail.


    • #3
      There might be a better understanding of the Lord Jesus as the Good Shepherd of John 10 (ESV) once having read the background. I Am the Good Shepherd

      10 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
      7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
      As disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus modern pastors ought to use the “Good Shepherd” passage as their model for caring for the congregation.


      • #4
        The Apostle Paul addresses Philippians to:
        All the saints
        The Apostle Paul does not include pastor(s).

        Philippians 1:1 NASB
        Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus,
        To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:

        The other Pauline epistles are not sent to overseers and deacons or any other positions of leadership within the churches. Philippians is the only one to do so. It is of interests to note that neither elders nor pastors are named.