Summary: Part 7f of this series of sermons addresses the function of leadership and overseeing the church as shown in the New Testament by various names - elders, pastors, bishops, overseers, presbyters, and shepherds.

This 13-part series of classes has been many years in the making. About 25 years ago I began in earnest to examine the features, character and characteristics of the church as it existed in its earliest years. As I sometimes do, I kept my notes all along the way, and this series of classes is to a large extent the product of those years of on-and-off studying the subject. Several things in my experience contributed to my interest in making this 25-year study which I will mention along the way, and those go much further back.

There may be some difficulty in using the individual parts of this series separately, although viewer are free to do so if it serves their purposes. But to those whose interest is in knowing what the church was like in its earliest years, I recommend starting with Part 1 - Introduction to the Church of the New Testament and proceeding through the parts consecutively.

I have prepared some slides that I used in presenting the series in a classroom setting before adapting it to use as sermons. I have left my cues to advance slides or activate animations in the notes as posted on Sermon Central. If anyone is interested in having the PowerPoint files with the slides, I will be happy to send them. Send me an Email at and specify what part(s) you are requesting. Be sure that the word “slide” appears in the subject line. It may take me several days to respond, but I will respond to all requests.



I. Introduction

II. The Origin of the Church

III. What is the church?

IV. The First Christians

V. Authority in the First Century Church

VI. Problems in the New Testament Church

VII. How the Church Functioned

A. Introduction to Functions

B. Apostles, Prophets, and Teachers

C. False Apostles, Prophets, and Teachers & Various Gifts and Functions

D. More Gifts and Functions

E. Evangelists, Preachers, and Ministers, Servants and Deacons

F. Pastors, Elders, Bishops, etc.

VIII. How the Church Worshiped



Eph 4:11-13 (NASB) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

*Advance to 1st Pastor slide

The word “pastors,” used in verse 11, is from the Greek poimen (poy-mane). A poimen is a shepherd—one who cares for herds and flocks. Poimen is sometimes translated “shepherd” in the New Testament meaning literally, shepherds, as well as - in this study - metaphorically.

*Advance to 2nd Pastor

According to Vines Expository Dictionary, “elders” and “presbytery” in the New Testament are both translated from the Greek word presbuteros, which means older, advanced in life, or senior; the presbytery of a local church.

*Advance to 3rd Pastor

“Bishop” is from eposkopos, an overseer, which Vines says is a synonym with presbuteros, denoting the presbytery of a local church.

Christ called himself a shepherd (poimen literally meaning one who cares for sheep) and bishop (KJV) (episkopos meaning guardian or overseer).

1 Peter 2:25 NASB “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

1 Peter 2:25 ESV “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

These words describe a function for qualified men. We learn of its existence through numerous references in Acts, and the qualifications of men who are to perform it are given in 1 Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:5-9. I believe these various words (pastor, elder, overseer, bishop, and presbyter to be synonymous, they appear to be used interchangeably and as far as I can see, all of those words describe the same work.

As has been shown, "Pastor" means "shepherd." Correlation of this word with Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:2, where elders were instructed to shepherd the church, shows that the shepherding of the flock is the work of pastors, the meaning being synonymous with shepherd.

Peter was an elder in the Jerusalem church (1 Peter 5:1). I believe he was appointed by Jesus, who told him, "Feed my sheep," which can just as accurately be translated, "Shepherd the flock." Collateral with being an apostle, John was an elder, as shown by his salutations in 1 John and 2 John: "The elder to the chosen lady..." and "The elder to the beloved Gaius..."

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