Desiring to exhort the brethren, but unwilling to deviate from his travel plans, Paul called for the elders of the church at Ephesus to meet him at Miletus (v 17). Near the end of his exhortation, Paul commanded these men to “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood” (v 28 NKJV).
The word here rendered as “shepherd” is the verb form of the Greek poimen, a word that appears eighteen times in the New Testament. This word appears seventeen times in the King James version as “shepherd.” The sole exception being found in Ephesians 4:11, where it inexplicably appears as “pastors.”
From this singular appearance, the religious world has created an office that God never intended. Nowhere in the pages of the New Testament do we ever find a single man, much less a woman, ruling over or taking the lead in the local church. Moreover, never do we see the work of a preacher being equated with the office of the shepherd/pastor. Yet, nearly every religious body in our communities have a singular figure identified as the “pastor.”
Truth be told, the word “pastor” should have never appeared anywhere in our English translations of the Bible. The word so translated “pastor” in Ephesians 4:11 should have been rendered “shepherd” as it was in every other New Testament appearance.
Think for a moment. When Paul penned his letter to the Ephesian church, when they read what we know as Ephesians 4:11, who or whom came to mind? Was it the preacher? Since we have no record anywhere of the work of a preacher equated with the work and office of an elder, that doesn’t seem possible.
When they read Paul’s letter, they immediately knew that these “pastors” were the elders of the local church. These elders were a group of men who, (meeting the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1), were given charge of overseeing the local flock (church) and making sure their spiritual needs were met, just like Paul commanded in Acts 20:28 (cf Acts 14:23).
God never intended one-man rule or care over the local church (cf 1 Peter 5:1-4).