SPIRITUAL GIFTS SERIES

The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds

Class of Gift: Speaking 

“Some as Shepherds

Ephesians 4:11

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Section One

Introduction

1.1 Every Born-Again Christian Has at Least One Spiritual Gift.  Every born-again believer in Jesus Christ has received a spiritual gift from the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Please recall also that one spiritual gift may have a variety of ministries (“διακονιῶν”), with a variety of spiritual effects (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). Therefore, if you have The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds, that single gift may result in a variety of ministries and spiritual effects.

1.2 Meaning of the Term “Shepherd.” Paul mentioned The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds in Ephesians 4:11. I prefer the term “shepherd” over “pastor” to describe the spiritual gift because of the other uses of the term “shepherd” as a noun and a related verb. The term “pastor” today has a very negative meaning in the context of the Pastoral Heresy. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds performs specific services to the church. This spiritual gift received much attention in the New Testament, and we have a collection of Pauline works described as the Shepherd Epistles: 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. Many passages in the New Testament describe the work of shepherds. We will focus primarily upon the use of The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds.

1.3 Deacony and the Spiritual Gifts. All believers must know and use their spiritual gifts. All believers, not just the shepherds and church leaders, perform the work of deacony (“διακονίας”). That “deacony” must continue until all the saints attain the unity of the faith and achieve spiritual maturity. That “deacony” also protects believers from being tossed about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, and the craftiness of deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:12-13). While all believers must perform the work of speaking, only some believers have The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds, bestowed by the Holy Spirit upon some, but not all, believers as a gift of grace which works according to His power (Ephesians 3:7).

1.4 The New Testament Diversity of the Term “Shepherd.” The Greek term translated in Ephesians 4:11 as “shepherd” has diverse applications in the New Testament.  As you read through these varying uses of the term “shepherd” and related words, please keep in mind that I interpret these passages below as examples, on the one hand, of spiritual activities all believers will do at times; but, on the other hand, the person with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds in the forms described below will have a special gift from God to edify believers and build up unity in their ministry as shepherd.  Let us explore some of those uses to gain insight into the different ways God gifts people to serve in His name and in His ministry to the Body of Christ. We will see below that The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds involves different major areas of ministry. We will look at them one at a time.

1.5 The Pastoral Heresy. Many people believe that the they are in command of their local assembly. They think they alone perform the ministry, they have a special “anointing” from God, or they are the CEO. They love titles like “Pastor” and “Reverend” and “Doctor” and “Father.” Those people have fallen into the Pastoral HeresyBeware of such people.

1.6 Jesus the Great Shepherd. The God of Peace brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord (Hebrews 13:20). Jesus called Himself the Shepherd of His people. When their Shepherd was struck down, the sheep would be scattered (Matthew 19:31; Mark 14:27). Yet, Jesus would rise from the dead and continue His ministry as Shepherd.

1.6.1 Jesus the Ruler. Jesus came as a leader of Judah, a Leader Who will shepherd Israel, the people of God (Matthew 2:6). In the future, Jesus will “shepherd” (“ποιμαίνειν”) the nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 12:5; Revelation 2:27; Revelation 19:15; see also Psalm 2:9-10 Jesus will “break” (“תְּרֹעֵם”) the nations with a rod of iron; Jesus will “shatter” (“תְּנַפְּצֵם”) the nations like earthenware.) Therefore, we must keep in mind that shepherding the flock includes the concept of Jesus leading the flock.

1.6.2 Jesus the Guide. Jesus will appear in the center of the throne as the Lamb of God in heaven (Revelation 7:17). Then He will lead the innumerable multitude of saints from the Tribulation who serve God day and night in His heavenly temple (Revelation 7:9-15). Jesus will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Revelation 7:17). 

1.6.3 Jesus the Compassionate Shepherd. As Jesus traveled through the cities and villages of Israel, He felt compassion for the people, because they were distressed and dispirited, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36; see also 1 Peter 2:25–sheep continually straying, but now returned to their Shepherd). Jesus then directed His disciples to beseech the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into His harvest, because the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37-38; see also Mark 6:34).

Section Two

The Ministry of Shepherds: Foundations

2.1 Shepherd: Basic Meaning.  The term shepherd has a broad range of meaning in the New Testament. It includes a person who serves as a guardian, leader, and servant. In all the ministries described below, please keep in mind that the ministries in the church often apply to every saint and are performed by every saint. Some saints have special abilities and responsibilities. Therefore, the ministries described below are rarely exclusive to saints holding The Spiritual Gift of the Shepherds. The Church Officers, elders and saints will often perform the same ministries associated with The Spiritual Gift of the Shepherds.

2.2 The Office of Overseer and The Spiritual Gift of The ShepherdsMany believers mistakenly assume that the terms “overseer, “shepherd” and “elder” mean the same thing. In some cases, shepherds promote themselves as the only “Elder” within a local assembly. Many people fail to understand the proper roles of “shepherds” and “elders” and “overseers.” We must study the word of God to distinguish the Church Office of Overseer from The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds and from the elders of the congregation.

2.3 The New Testament Church Offices. In The New Testament, God revealed three church offices: Apostle, Overseer and Deacons (one may argue about the offices of prophet and high priest) and maybe more. The Spiritual Gift of the Apostles remains active in some ministries, but the Office of Apostle has passed away because no one living today can meet the requirements to fill  the Office of Apostle (Acts 1:21-22), except Jesus who remains the Apostle and High Priest of our confession (Hebrews 3:1).  Shepherd is not an office in the church, and not all people holding the Church Office of Overseer have The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds. Some elders possess different spiritual gifts, such as The Spiritual Gift of the Teachers or The Spiritual Gift of Exhortation. Only males may hold church offices.

2.4 The Church Office of Deacons. Although all believers must deacon other believers and God, God sets some male saints into the Church Office of Deacons. They must meet spiritual qualifications to be set down in a spiritual ministry. Please keep in mind that the seven men in Acts 6:5,   were men full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit. They were set sown  in a spiritual ministry to the Hellenistic Jews and Hellenistic widows were served food properly. Notice that we see no indication that any of those seven men ever served a single table. Instead, we do see that Stephen had a vital preaching ministry, which resulted in his martyrdom (Acts 7:1-60) and Philip (assuming it was the same man as in Acts 6:5) preached in Samaria (Acts 8:4-40; he was later known as Philip the Evangelist, (Acts 21:8-9). So often today people have no idea what a deacon did in the New Testament. Among other spiritual activities, they were known as preachers and evangelists.

2.5 The Church Office of Overseer. In Acts 20:28, Paul addressed a group of men from Ephesus as part of his farewell tour before leaving for Jerusalem. Paul knew that they would no longer see his face (Acts 20:25). Paul called the elders of the church at Ephesus and referred to that particular group of elders as Church Overseers. Those Church Overseers were men looking over the church. Paul directed Titus to set down elders in every city in Crete, as Paul directed him (Titus 1:5). Some, not all, elders were set down into the Church Office of Overseer.  Please take note that the term “elders” in the New Testament may refer to old men, forefathers, members of the Sanhedrin, and other uses.  If you compare the term “overseer” in Titus 1:7 with the term “elder” in Titus 1:5, you may understand that some elders were set into the church to occupy the Church Office of Overseer. Not all elders occupy the Church Office of Overseer. Furthermore, the qualifications of the “overseer” in Titus 1:7-9 seem to be virtually identical to qualities of an “overseer” in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, especially when compared to the Church Office of Deacons, with its qualifications, listed in 1 Timothy 3:8-12. Therefore, we see that  God sets some elders into the church as Church Overseers to shepherd the church. Overseers perform the work of shepherding, but they do not necessarily have the The Spiritual Gift of Shepherding. As we saw in Acts 20:28, the work of overseers included acting as a shepherd to the church. Notice that shepherd is not an office, but male saints holding the Church Office of Overseer do the work of shepherding, along with others in the church.

2.6 The Duties of Church Overseers.  God set down some elders into the Church Office of Overseer, but not all elders hold the Church Office of Overseer. The Church Overseer has specific functions. First, the Church Overseer had to “be on guard” (“προσέχετε”) for (a) themselves and (b) for all the church of God (Acts 20:28). They had to be vigilant, watchful, careful. It conveys the sense of spiritual acuity in spiritual perception.  Second, they must shepherd the church. Likewise, because all Church Overseers are elders, we should remember that Jesus instructed elders to shepherd the flock with eagerness, providing examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:1-4). The elders of the church perform the work of shepherding the church, but not all elders hold the Church Office of Overseer and not all elders have The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds. Likewise, not every saint with The Spiritual Gift of Shepherd serves as an elder or holds the Church Office of Overseer. Timothy, for example, was never called an elder. Notice in Acts 20:28 that “shepherd” is not an office, but the Church Overseers perform the work shepherding the church. Therefore, the terms Church Overseer, elder, shepherd and the like should not be considered interchangeably because the Bible gave different meanings to those terms. See below for a fuller discussion of the duties of Church Overseers.

2.7 The Plurality of Elders.  The local church in the New Testament had a group of elders, not just one elder. For example, in 1 Timothy 5:17,  we read about the elders who lead (not rule)  well. 1See Appendix A attached to this study to understand that elders do not serve as rulers in the New Testament. Those elders who lead well should be given double honor. Notice that the term “elders” (“πρεσβύτεροι “) is plural and so indicates that each local assembly of believers should have a number of elders, not just one. Likewise, we see the plural of Church Overseers and Church Deacons in Philippians 1:1. Furthermore, we learn from 1 Timothy 5:17 that not all leading elders work hard at teaching and preaching. Remember not to equate the Church Office of Overseer with elder or The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds. The term elder referred to a broad group of males in the church performing many spiritual functions. The New Testament knows nothing of any office of elder. We know that one qualification for holding the Church Office of Overseer is that the man must be able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2). When we combine 1 Timothy 5:17  with 1 Timothy 3:2,  we see that although every Church Overseer must able to teach, not every Church Overseer will work hard at teaching and preaching. Likewise, some elders lead and teach, but not all elders lead and teach. Consider The Spiritual Gift of the Leaders for a moment. In Romans 12:8,  we read that “he who leads, with diligence.” We see that “leaders” is a distinct spiritual gift. Hopefully, every group of elders at a local church has someone who has The Spiritual Gift of the Leader to provide guidance and vision for the future of the various ministries. Notice that “leadership” is a distinct gift in the list of spiritual gifts (see the study of The Spiritual Gift of The Leader). In contrast to the one-man style of leadership prominent in many churches today, Jesus taught that the local assembly should have a plurality of preachers and teachers. The leadership of the church comes from a plurality of sources, including elders, church offices and men with specific spiritual gifts, all working in harmony. This plurality of leadership in the New Testament will safeguard against The Pastoral Heresy by limiting the desire to be the greatest among the flock. The Pastor will no longer be the sole focus of attention, and he may not be the only preacher in the local assembly. In fact, all the saints ideally will be known for their strong work of serving the local saints, and some of the elders will work hard at preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17).

2.8 The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds Distinguished. In Ephesians 4:11,  we read about the distinct spiritual gifts of “shepherds” (“ποιμένας“) and “teachers” (“διδασκάλους”). Some people may argue that the terms “shepherds” and “teachers” refer to the same individual. In support, they often cite the Granville Sharp rule of New Testament Greek grammar holding that two nouns connected by “and” (“καί”) refer to the same thing. The problem with this approach is that Granville Sharp limited his rule to singular nouns, not plural nouns as found here in Ephesians 4:11. Therefore, the Granville Sharp rule does not support equating “shepherds” with “teachers.” So, not all shepherds are necessarily teachers. The Spiritual Gift of the Shepherds differs from The Spiritual Gift of The Teachers.  Therefore, we may understand that not all shepherds are teachers. Yet, all Church Overseers should be able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2), but this requirement does not mean that the every Church Overseer has to have The Spiritual Gift of the Teachers. These distinct spiritual gifts help us understand the work of “shepherds,” and why not all shepherds hold the Church Office of Overseer. We should be careful to remember that every elder must perform the work of a shepherd regarding the care of the flock, but not every elder has The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds, just like every elder does not have The Spiritual Gift of The Teachers. Please recall, however, that the local assembly of all believers must carry out the work of ministry, using their spiritual gifts, and neither a single shepherd nor the elders perform all the work of ministry. Consider for a moment 1 Thessalonians 5:14. In that verse, Paul commanded the entire congregation of believers at Thessalonica to perform three ministries to the other saints: (1) admonish the unruly; and (2) encourage the fainthearted; and (3) help the weak. In addition, all the saints must be patient with one another, especially when performing their ministries. Therefore, the saints use their spiritual gifts to perform specialized and diverse ministries within the church. The shepherds and teachers equip the saints for the work of performing their individual ministries.

2.9 The Leadership of the Local Church. God described The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders (προϊστάμενος–present middle participle). 2The usage of the term “leaders” (προϊστάμενος) helps us understand The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders, as described in this e-book. In 1 Timothy 5:17, we read that the elders who lead (προεστῶτες–perfect active participle, nominative masculine plural) well (καλῶς) are worthy of double honor. In Timothy 3:4 the Church Overseer must lead (προϊστάμενον–present middle participle, accusative masculine singular) well ( καλῶς) his own children.  In 1 Timothy 3:5 Paul warned that if a man does not how to lead (προστῆναι–aorist active infinitive) his own household then he will not care for the church. In 1 Timothy 3:12, Church Deacons must be good (καλῶς) leaders (προϊστάμενοι–present middle participle, nominative masculine plural) of their children. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12, Paul admonished the Thessalonians to the ones laboring in them and leading (προϊσταμένους–present middle participle, accusative masculine plural) them in the Lord and admonishing them.  In Titus 3:8 Paul urged Titus to speak confidently to believers who will be leaders (προΐστασθαι–present middle infinitive) in good works. The term “esteemed ones”  (“ἡγουμένοις”) of the flock deserve the obedience of the flock, because those esteemed ones keep watch over the souls of the flock, and the leaders will give an account (Hebrews 13:17) (see Appendix A below to understand the translation (esteemed ones).

2.10 Male and Female. God commands females to be silent in the churches; they are not permitted to speak (1 Corinthians 14:34). God based that command upon the creation of males and females. God created man first (1 Timothy 2:12), and man is the head of the woman (1 Corinthians 11:3). Furthermore, the woman was deceived about sin by the devil, and so fell into transgression; the man was not deceived by sin (1 Timothy 2:14). Therefore, God does not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet (1 Timothy 2:12). God did not limit these commands in 1 Timothy to husbands and wives, but rather to all women who make a claim to Godliness, who must receive instruction with entire submissiveness (compare 1 Corinthians 14:35-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11). Females may still serve as shepherds to women only, but females should never speak and must remain silent in the local church when adult males are present.

Section Three

The Ministry of Shepherd My Sheep

3.1 The Shepherd. Jesus commanded Peter: “Shepherd My sheep” (John 21:16). The background to that command makes a difference. Peter had said he would never forsake Jesus, but Jesus replied that Peter would deny Him three times that very night. Peter not only denied Christ, but he did so with curses (Matthew 26:74). Satan had sifted Peter like wheat (Luke 22:31). Jesus had also told Peter that when Peter was restored, he should strengthen the brethren (Luke 22:32). Jesus still considered Peter useful for shepherd service, even after Peter denied Christ with swearing and cursing. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds may have a sinful history,  but a believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds will always shepherd the sheep.

3.2 The Slave Shepherd. Jesus taught His disciples that basic forgiveness may be compared to a slave coming in from tending the sheep (Luke 17:7). The slave must first feed the master and tend to his needs, before the slave eats and relaxes from working all day. In contrast to the slave shepherd, the false shepherd cares (“ποιμαίνοντες”) only for himself, and takes improper advantage of the sheep (Jude 1:12). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds must always view themselves as a slave of Jesus, gifted to serve the flock.

Section Four

The Ministry as Overseer

4.1 The Ministry of Oversight. Every elder should carry out the ministry of overseer, even if they do not hold the Church Office of Overseer. Likewise, every believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds should carry out the work of an overseer of the flock, even if they do not hold the Church Office of Overseer. The Church Overseers look over the flock of believers. The work includes protecting (1) the flock from wolves outside the flock; and (2) perverted men within the flock. 

4.2 The Savage Wolves. The Church Overseer must be on guard against savage wolves, who come into the flock, and do not spare the flock (Acts 20:29). The Church Overseer must keep the savage wolves out and protect the flock. Jesus described His own work as the Good Shepherd. The saint with The Spiritual Gift of the Shepherds will perform the same kind of work as the Church Overseer and beyond. The saint with the The Spiritual Gift of Shepherd should never flee from the wolf, but should lay down His life to save His sheep (John 10:11). 

4.3 The Perverted Men. The Church Overseer must guard the flock from perverted (“διεστραμμένα”) men arising within the flock of believers, for the purpose of drawing disciples after themselves (Acts 20:30). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds includes wise opposition to perverted men within the flock of believers and silencing those perverted men before they can draw disciples away to follow them (Titus 1:10-11).

Section Five

The Ministry of Guarding

5.1 The Overseer. All saints, including elders, Church Officers, and saints holding The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds, must perform the work of overseeing the flock. That ministry includes the work of guarding the flock from wolves outside the flock and from perverse men arising within the flock (see Section Four above). As noted above, not all believers with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds are elders or Church Overseers, but the work of a shepherd includes the ministry of oversight, which includes guarding the flock.

5.2 Be on Guard. Jesus commanded that everyone be on guard (“Προσέχετε”) that their hearts would not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, so that the day of the Son of Man will come upon them as a trap (Luke 21:34). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds may help people weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the  worries of life to be ready to meet Jesus when He shouts His appearance.

5.3 Guarding the Treasure. Paul commanded Timothy that Timothy must guard (“φύλαξον”) the spiritual treasure entrusted to him (2 Timothy 1:14; 1 Timothy 6:20). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds may have the ministry of guarding himself first, and then the members of the flock, from losing the treasure entrusted to them by God.

5.4 Guarding against Opponents. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Timothy must also guard (“φυλάσσου“) against people who oppose the work of Christ (2 Timothy 4:15). Likewise, Peter warned that believers must guard (“φυλάσσεσθε”) against the error of unprincipled men, causing believers to fall from their own steadfastness (2 Peter 3:17). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds may oppose the opponents of Christ and guard the flock from those evil people.

Section Six

The Ministry of Guidance

6.1 The Way of Peace. Jesus shines as  the Light upon the Gentiles, as they sit in darkness and the shadow of death. The Light serves to guide (“κατευθῦναι”) the feet of unbelievers into the way of peace (Luke 1:79). Unbelievers need believers to guide them to faith in Christ. Consider the Ethiopian eunuch. He read the prophet Isaiah about the crucifixion of Messiah, but needed Philip to guide him into faith. Philip, an evangelist, preached Jesus to the eunuch, beginning from that Scripture (Acts 8:25-38). When unsaved blind men guide blind unbelievers, they both fall into a pit (Luke 6:39; see also Romans 2:19). While primarily the work of believers with The Spiritual Gift of The Evangelist, other believers with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds may also perform this ministry of guidance (2 Timothy 4:5).

6.2 All Truth. The Holy Spirit performs the ministry of guiding believers into all truth (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit performs this ministry by speaking what He hears from God. He discloses the things of Jesus and the Father; because the Holy Spirit is God, and God always speaks the truth. The Holy Spirit, as an anointing from God, teaches believers directly about all things (1 John 2:27). Believers with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds may also have the ministry of allowing the Holy Spirit to use them to guide others into all truth, primarily through the Scriptures.

6.3 Springs of Water of Life. Jesus is the Lamb, and He will be the Shepherd in heaven Who guides (“ὁδηγήσει“) His flock to the water of life, where God will wipe away ever tear from their eyes (Revelation 7:17). Today, believers with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds may help believers look forward to the shepherding ministry of Jesus in heaven when He leads all His flock to the springs of the water of life, and find hope, comfort and courage to live on earth today.

Section Seven

The Ministry of Equipping

7.1 The Church. In the Book of Ephesians, Paul explained the church. He showed that the term “church” referred to born-again believers (“saints”), and not physical buildings (Ephesians 1:1). Jesus blessed the church with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

7.2 The Spiritual Gifts for the Church. The church is a holy temple in the Lord, a dwelling of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). God builds the church, and it is constantly under construction. Paul described five particular spiritual gifts in Ephesians 4:11: The Apostles, The Prophets, The Evangelists, The Shepherds, and The Teachers. God had a special purpose in giving those spiritual gifts to the believers.

7.3 Equipping the Saints. God intended for all the saints to use their diverse spiritual gifts to bring maturity to each believer in the church, which is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds has the ability and duty to equip the saints for the work of ministry. As the believers use their individual spiritual gifts, many good things happen. First, the body of Christ builds itself up (Ephesians 4:12). Second, all believers grow in the unity of faith. Third, the believers’ knowledge of the Son of God increases. Fourth, the body of believers grow into a mature man, to the measure of the stature belonging to the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13).

7.4 No Longer Children. As the gifted believers exercise their spiritual gifts, then the body of Christ matures, particularly in the local assembly where the spiritual gifts promote ministry from Christ among the saints. As a result of that ministry of all the spiritual gifts, the spiritual children grow up to mature men, so that they are no longer tossed about by waves and carried along by every wind of doctrine. They are no longer subject to the trickery of men, and the craftiness of deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds may be careful to equip the saints so that the saints are no longer children, carried about by every wind of doctrine, and falling for every deceitful scheme and the trickery of men.

Section Eight

The Ministry of Separation

8.1 The Sheep and The Goats. One day, Jesus will establish His kingdom on earth. He will come in glory and all the angels will accompany Him as He takes His seat on His glorious throne. The nations will be gathered before Him. As a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, He will separate the sheep (the believers) from the goats (the unbelievers). The believers will reign with Him for a thousand years, and the unbelievers will go to eternal punishment (Matthew 25:31-46).

8.2 Distinguishing Believers from Unbelievers. Today, many people think they are born-again believers, but they delude themselves because they were never saved. They may hold a church office or have a teaching or staff position in the local assembly. All unsaved people need to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed to them, so that they may have eternal life and not perish. It may not always be easy to distinguish the unbeliever from the believer, but all believers will always examine the works of the other people to see if they have a profession of faith and a life worthy of Christ Jesus.  God the Father happily chose to give the kingdom of God to the little flock (Luke 12:32). The unbelievers need the Gospel of Jesus Christ and salvation. Nothing else will make any spiritual sense to them, for all spiritual things appear to be foolishness to them. The believers need to mature in Christ, and grow up to the full measure of Christ. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds will perform the ministry of distinguishing believers from unbelievers, keenly examining each life for evidence of salvation.

Section Nine

The Ministry of Keeping Watch

9.1 The Watchkeepers. The shepherds of the New Testament knew about spending the night in the field among the flocks (Luke 2:8). Today, shepherds will spend time at hospitals, nursing homes, and many other places at night ministering to believers in need, and guarding the flock from savage wolves, and comforting the believers. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds will be keeping watch over the flock, especially during dark times.

9.2 The Shepherd Messengers. Angels announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at night (Luke 2:8). Those same shepherds became part of the vanguard of messengers and eye witnesses proclaiming the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (Luke 2:16-20). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds will also serve as a messenger of the great works God does among His flock.

Section Ten

The Ministry of Personal Relationships

10.1 The Correct Entry.   Jesus described Himself as the Shepherd that entered by the door of the sheep fold (John 10:1). Robbers and thieves climbed into the fold using some other way of entry. Even so, the sheep followed only the shepherd of the sheep. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds starts and maintains the relationship with a sheep (another believer under the shepherd’s care) in the correct way, and not by means of trickery or deceit. He comes with pure motives, to care for the sheep and keep them well-nourished and safe from wolves, thieves and robbers.

10.2 The Personal Shepherd. The doorkeeper opens the door for the shepherd, the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own by name. The shepherd leads the sheep out and calls them by name. The shepherd goes before them, he leads them out, and they follow him, because they know his voice. The sheep will not follow a stranger, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers (John 10:1-4). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds helps sheep to hear Jesus calling them by name and leading them out. The sheep know the voice of Jesus. The shepherd never gets confused about the sheep listening to his voice, because the shepherd always ensures that the sheep listen only to the voice of Jesus calling them and leading them. Shepherds serve as under-shepherds of Jesus. Every shepherd must first and always be a sheep of Jesus, and never lose sight that the flock has only one Shepherd.

10.3  The Door of the Sheep. Jesus also said that He was the door of the sheep. All who came before Him were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. Anyone who enters through Jesus will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief came to kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give sheep abundant life (John 10:7-11). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds will build a relationship with a sheep (another believer under the shepherd’s care) that starts with salvation through Jesus Christ. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds builds the relationship upon Jesus, so that the believer enjoys the pastures of Jesus, and lives an abundant life in Christ.

10.4 The Good Shepherd. Jesus declared that He was the Good Shepherd (John 10:11; see also Matthew 19:17–only One good). The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. The hired hand sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep and flees. The wolf then snatches the sheep and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep (John 10:12-13).

10.4.1 Lays Soul Down. Jesus laid down His soul for the sheep. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds will focus upon Jesus laying down His soul for the sheep, and then taking it again. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds will likewise lay down his soul for the sheep (see 1 Thessalonians 2:8). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds must never act like a hired hand.

10.4.2 The Hired Hand. Jesus warned about the hired hand.  The hired hand flees from the wolf, and then the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds must never act like a hired hand, but always stay with Jesus, Who always stays with the sheep. Jesus overcomes every wolf.

10.5 My Own Know Me. Jesus explained that He knows His sheep, and  they know Him. Notice the two-way knowledge. As born-again believers, we know Jesus and He knows us. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds emphasizes that believers know Jesus and Jesus knows them. He knows each of us individually, by name, and cares for each of us (Luke 15:4-7).

10.6 Other Sheep. Jesus calls sheep from outside the fold. He calls to them and they hear His voice. All of the sheep of Jesus form one flock with One Shepherd, Jesus (John 10:16). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds brings all sheep, no matter where they are from, to Jesus, so that Jesus may shepherd them all as one flock. Jesus draws no distinctions among sheep and His under-shepherds must do likewise.

10.7 The Love of God. God the Father loves Jesus because Jesus laid down His soul for the sheep. Jesus laid down His soul because both He and the Father love all the sheep. Jesus laid down His own soul, on His own initiative. No one took His soul from Him. He had authority to lay it down, and to take it up again. Jesus received that commandment from His Father (John 10:17-18). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds loves the sheep and conveys the love of God to the sheep.  We love because God first loved us. The only people who truly love people are people who know God and have been born of God (1 John 4:7).

Section Eleven

The Ministry of Compassion

11.1 The Compassion Motive. Jesus frequently felt compassion (“ἐσπλαγχνίσθη”) for people and then took action based upon His compassion. For example, Jesus saw a large crowd, felt compassion for them, and healed their sick (Matthew 14:14). Likewise, Jesus felt compassion for the multitude because they had been with Him three days and had nothing to eat, so He fed them (Matthew 15:32). Jesus moved with compassion, touched the eyes of two blind men and they regained their sight (Matthew 20:34; see also Mark 1:40; Mark 7:30). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds may be motivated by compassion for the flock to minister to their physical and spiritual needs.

11.2 The Distressed and Dispirited. Jesus described some people as “distressed” (“ἐσκυλμένοι“) and “dispirited” (“ἐρριμμένο”), because they had no shepherd to lead them (Mathew 9:36).  The term “distressed” means in this context to be the recipient of harassment, conveying the idea of being thrown down (see also Mark 5:35–why “trouble” Jesus about the dead daughter; Luke 7:6–do not trouble yourself, Jesus). The term “dispirited” in this context means to be put down by disease, like you may toss weight out of a sinking ship (Acts 27:19). Some of those people suffered from diseases and sicknesses (Matthew 9:35). The people need to hear and accept the Gospel of the Kingdom, proclaimed by Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:35-38). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds may have a ministry to the sick, who have been distressed and dispirited by their illness, to comfort them with the compassion of God.

Section Twelve

The Ministry of Truth

12.1 Truth and Freedom. The truth sets men free, as they abide in the teachings of Christ (John 8:31-32). Jesus declared Himself to be the truth, and the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Believers no longer live in slavery to sin, but now they know the truth, and they experienced the life-changing freedom of Jesus. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds may have the ministry of speaking the truth in love, helping the saints to grow up in all aspects into Christ, the head of the church (Ephesians 4:15).

12.2 Enemies of the Truth. False teachers had spread their heresies among the Galatian churches, including a false gospel imposing obedience to the Law as a condition of salvation (Galatians 1:6-10; Galatians 2:16-21). Paul reminded the Galatians of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, centering upon salvation by faith apart from the works of the Law. Paul described the Galatians as bewitched by the false teachers, with their insistence upon keeping the Law as part of salvation. Paul wrote: “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds must tell the truth, and teach the truth diligently, even if it means becoming the enemy of your bewitched friends.

Hallmarks of The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds

 

Shepherd: Understanding the Spiritual Gift. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds shepherds the flock of God. As above, the ministry of the shepherd may take many forms, and produce a variety of effects. I have listed a few of those hallmarks below.

Please review this entire article to understand The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds and to see if you may have that spiritual gift.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers must avoid falling into The Pastoral Heresy.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers must understand the difference between the Church Office of Overseer, elders and The Spiritual Gift of The Shepherds.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers perform the work of shepherding the sheep of Jesus.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers oversee the welfare of the flock of believers.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers guard the flock from savage wolves coming into the flock.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers guard the flock from perverse men arising within the flock to draw believers away from the flock.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers guide the flock by explaining and applying the Scriptures.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers equip believers for the work of ministry.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers distinguish the believers from the unbelievers. Only believers are part of the body of Christ, the church.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers keep watch over the flock.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers lay down their souls for the flock.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers have great compassion for the flock.

♦ Shepherd-gifted believers speak the truth in love.

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