Pastors are not a high priest among other priests, but they are given oversight and responsibility to lead the congregation. When instructing Titus in Titus 2:15, Paul says to encourage and rebuke with all authority, and do not let anyone despise or disregard you, referring to the role of the elder or pastor of a church. But he isn’t talking about authority over minutia and administrative matters. Paul is talking about the authority given by the gospel to teach others truth and to turn away from sin.
The authority of a pastor does not extend to creating divisive controversies and being divisive among the people. A pastor reminds and teaches the people how they are to live and behave according to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Notice, though, that standing on correct doctrine and protecting orthodox belief is not considered divisive even if it it steps on people’s toes and makes them upset. Standing on correct doctrine is to unite the church under the head that is Christ. Paul write’s letters telling people to be obedient and follow God’s Word, not because they already do it, but because they need to start doing it. Paul writes to encourage people to do the right thing, to correct their Christian walk. That is not divisive even if people don’t want to hear what you have to say, but is uniting Christians together under our one Lord and the one Holy Spirit. It is sin and turning away from the true meaning of God’s word that creates the division.
Hebrews 13 tells church members to remember their leaders and submit to their authority. The obvious question is then, “What is the authority of the leaders?” Given the content of Hebrews, the authority of the leaders is the authority of the gospel that commands people to turn away from evil and sin and commands people to be obedient to God and His word. The authority of a pastor comes from the gospel, which makes men humble. It is not authority over every administrative task and every dollar of the budget. The authority of a pastor comes from his given responsibility to faithfully teach scripture and instruct church members how they should live according to that scripture.
Consider the calling of a pastor and requirements for being an elder or overseer. No person can look at all of those requirements and boast that they are perfect in every aspect. Therefore, no pastor can set himself up as some type of king. A pastor is instructed in 1 Timothy 6, 2 Timothy 2, 1 Timothy 3, and Titus 1 to lead with gentleness and respect for those he is sent to care for and teach. In that way, a pastor is able to have true joy as he brings people along side Christ, and watches them walk in truth and grow in grace.
This is the last installment in a four part series on the Priesthood of All Believers. The first installment was an introduction to why this is an important topic to discuss and makes the distinction between a prophet, who brings God’s word to us, and a priest, who brings our words to God. The second installment looked at how the priesthood developed and both the responsibilities and limitations of a priest which define the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. The third installment clarifies the ministry of a pastor, and this final installment walked through the authority of the pastor as leader of the congregation.