Lesson 20 - The Church Which is His Body cont.

In our last lesson we were considering the revealed purpose of God for the leadership in the local church. We found that our risen Head has given and gifted certain men to be "shepherds" of the "flock." We closed the lesson by dealing with "The qualifications of the 'overseer'." We pursue this further as we look at


1) "Feed"

Acts 20:28 - "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the FLOCK, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you OVERSEERS, to FEED (shepherd, that is, tend and feed and guide - Amp,) the church of God .... "

1 Pet. 5:2 - "FEED THE FLOCK of God which is among you, taking the OVERSIGHT thereof .... "

JBP - "I urge you then to see that your "FLOCK OF GOD" is properly FED and cared for."

The word translated "feed" is the verb form of the word translated "shepherd" and beside feeding includes "protection, regulation, and the whole care of a shepherd for his flock."

Amp. - "Tend - nurture, guard, guide and fold - the flock of God that is (your responsibility)."
Isaiah in speaking of the coming and ministry of the Lord Jesus, gives a beautiful picture of the blessed "Pattern Pastor."

Isa. 40:11 — "He shall FEED HIS FLDCK like a SHEPHERD: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."

The prophets on several occasions referred to God's people as "a flock." Our Lord in the days of His earth ministry spoke of Himself as a Shepherd and of His disciples as a "flock."

Luke 12:32 - "Fear not, LITTLE FLOCK; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

John 1O:14 - "I am the GOOD SHEPHERD, and know MY SHEEP, and am known of mine."

The responsibility of the "OVERSEER SHEPHERD" is a great one. He must not only "shepherd" EACH sheep, but also tend the WHOLE FLOCK. Probably all that we are going to consider in the seven-fold work of the "overseer" is comprehended in this word "shepherd."

In the matter of "feeding the flock" great care must be taken in providing the proper food. “The sincere milk of the Word" must be given the "newborn babes" (1 Pet. 2:2), while "strong meat" must be served "to them that are of full age (full-grown men)" (Heb. 5:14). It is to be remembered that an elder must be "apt to teach" (1 Tim. 352). They are to labour in the Word and Doctrine" (1 Tim. 5:17).

2) "Lead"

Heb. 13:7, 17, 24 (Amp.) — "Never forget your LEADERS, who first spoke to you the Word of God. Remember, how they lived, and imitate their faith. Obey your RULERS and recognize THEIR AUTHORITY. They are like men standing guard over your spiritual good, and they have great responsibility. Try to make their work a pleasure and not a burden - by so doing you will help not only them but yourselves. Greetings to all your LEADERS and all your church members."

Amp. - (vs. 17) - "OBEY YOUR SPIRITUAL LERDERS and submit to them - continually recognizing their authority over you; for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account (of their trust). (Do your part to) let them do this with gladness, and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you (either)."

The word translated "rule" means "to lead, i.e. command (with official authority). The Hebrews are urged not to forget their former leaders and to rememher how they taught, lived, and triumhantly died. These memories are to be spurs to their dedication and perseverance. They are urged also to give due recognition and obedience to the God ordained leadership which has been given them by the Lord at the time of this writing. God has ordained that the church should be led by "shepherds," such leadership to he responsibly assumed by the ”shepherd” and responsibly recognized by "the flock."

Such leadere are -

i Those who "speak to you the Word of God"

ii "Live their faith"

iii "Stand guard over your Spiritual good"

iv  "Have great responsibility"

v "Are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare"

vi "Will have to render an account (of their trust)"

The flock should

i "Obey your spiritual leaders"

ii "Submit to them"

iii "Recognise their authority over you"

iv "Try to make thelr work a pleasure and not a burden"

3) "Rule"

The word translated "rule" in the following passages means "to stand before i.e. (in rank) to preside; maintain, be over, rule."

1 Tim. 5:17 - "Let the elders that RULE well he counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine."

1 Thess. 5:12-13 (Amp.) - "Now also we beseech you brethren, get to know those who labour among you - recognize them for what they are, acknowledge and appreciate and respect them all - your leaders who are OVER (same word as "rule" in 1 Tim. 5:17) you in the Lord, and those who warn and kindly reprove and exhort you. And hold them in very high and most affectionate esteem in (intelligent and sympathetic) appreciation of their work."

Rom. 12:8 - "He that RULETH, with diligence."

JBP — "Let the man who wields authority think of his responsibility."

4) "Be Examples"

1 Pet. 5:3 - "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ENSAMPLES to the flock."

Amp. - "Not (as arrogant, dictatorial and overbearing persons) domineering over those in your charge, but BEING EXAMPLES ~ patterns and models of Christian living - to the flock."

It is instructive to note how the Word of God maintains the balance of truth. In our last point we saw the elders "ruling." Taken by itself, this might encourage "arrogant dictatorial and overbearing persons." Our present scripture, however, forbids this sort of thing. There must be authority, but it must be exercised properly.

5) "Care"  

1 Tim. 3:5 - "If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he TAKE CARE of the church of God?"

The meaning of such "care" is inferred in the preceding verse. The elder "must have proper authority in his own household, and be able to control and command the respect of his children" (JBP). What he is required to do on the domestic level he must be able to do on the church level. A responsible father is concerned with the over-order, atmosphere, health, and general well-being of his family. So the elder is to have the same kind of concern for the church over which he shares the oversight.

6) "Admonish"

1 Thess. 5:12 - "Know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and ADMONISH you."

Amp. — "...those who warn and kindly reprove and exhort you."

The word translated "admonish" means "to put in mind; call attention to, i.e., (by implication) to caution or reprove gently, warn." Paul is the only one to use the word in the New Testament. It is used for

a) Christians admonishing one another (Col. 3:16; Rom. 15:14)

b) Elders generally admonishing the church (Acts 20:31; 1 Cor. 4:14; Col. 1:28)

c) Elders specifically admonishing those who are sinning (1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:14,15)

We will more fully consider point (c) when we deal with "Church Discipline."

7) "Pray For The Sick"

James 5;14,15 (Amp.) - "Is any among you sick? He should call in the church elders - the spiritual guides. And THEY SHOULD PRAY OVER HIM, anointing him with oil in the Lord's name. And the prayer (that is) of faith will save him that is sick, and the Lord will restore him; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven."

Here we are considering a body of people called "the church" with properly qualified "elders." The one who is requesting prayer is of the church being referred to as "one among you." This is physical healing ministered by God through elders as they obey "the apostles' doctrine" on the matter.


1 Tim. 5:17,18 (Amp.) - "Let the elders who perform the duties of their office well be considered doubly worthy of honor (and of ADEQUATE FINANCIAL SUPPORT), especially those who labor faithfully in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain, and again, the laborer is worthy of his hire."

JBP - "Elders with a gift of leadership should be considered worthy of respect, and of ADEQUATE SALARY, particularly if they work hard at their preaching and teaching."

MOFF. - "presbyters who are efficient presidents are to be considered worthy of AMPLE REMUNERATION .... "

The shepherd or shepherds who give themselves wholly to the care and oversight of the flock should be "amply remunerated."


1) Protecting the "Overseer"

1 Tim. 5:19 (JBP) — "TAKE NO NOTICE of charges brought against an elder unless they can BE SUBSTANTIATED BY PROPER WITNESSES."

Wey. - "NEVER ENTERTAIN an accusation against an Elder except on the EVIDENCE OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES."

"Elders are safeguarded even against having to ANSWER A CHARGE, unless it be at once supported by two or three witnesses. Lacking such support, THE ACCUSATION MUST NOT EVEN BE TAKEN UP OR ENTERTAINED. The reputation of the elder must not be unnecessarily damaged, and his work must not suffer unnecessary interruption."

2) Punishing the "Overseer"

1 Tim. 5:2O (JBP) — "If sin is ACTUALLY PROVED, then the offenders should be PUBLICLY REBUKED as a salutary warning to others."

Amp. — "As for those who are guilty and PERSIST IN SIN, rebuke and admonish them in the presence of all, so that the rest may be warned and stand in wholesome fear and awe."

"Elders who walk in sinful ways must not be spared. In fact, their sin must be punished even more severely than that of others. The law made the same distinction (Lev. 4:22,27). Timothy must not only bring their sin home to their conscience, but in their case he must do this not privately or in the presence of just a few, but publicly."


  1. Is the shepherd responsible to feed the flock and if so, give Scriptures which so state.
  2. What are the mutual responsibilities of the shepherds and the sheep?
  3. What is the meaning of "rule"?
  4. How should the shepherds conduct themselves?
  5. What is the meaning of admonish?
  6. Do the shepherds have any responsibility when the sheep are physically ill?
  7. How is a shepherd remunerated?
  8. Do shepherds ever need to be disciplined?
  9. Are shepherds specially protected against unjust accusations?
  10. How must a shepherd be punished?