II. The Commitment to one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
This morning we will look at Paul’s admonition in respect of the leadership of the church. A church has two offices: That of the pastor and of the deacon. The pastor is called of God and the deacon is called by the church. Paul is speaking particularly of the office of pastor and we will focus on this office today.
We must address first the common misunderstanding among Christians as to the office. A common definition is seen in denominations – an international governing body developed by man creating a hierarchy based on Biblical terms. This plan is opposed to a Scripturally planned autonomous community of believers with God called and placed leadership. The terms used are the same, but the functions are polar opposites. The government developed by man consist of offices of authority designated bishop, elder, and pastor, one having authority over the other.
The government developed by God consist of one office with three functions: bishop, elder, and pastor.
This plan is noted in Luke’s writings in Acts 20:17,28.
It is important for us to understand that no leader of a church has any authority over a leader of another church, no matter what he may be called, bishop, elder, or pastor! No church has authority over another church! Churches may fellowship together as they choose and they may assist one another as they choose, but they are never required to submit to the rule of another church! The church in Jerusalem, when asked their opinion, as noted in Acts 15, to settle an issue caused by their members, responded with, not a command to them, but a recommendation letter to churches to help them in the ministry of the gospel in communities where Jews and Gentiles were being saved and coming together in church.
When the church in Thessalonica was established, Paul taught them of God’s plan for leadership and appointed leaders from among them. In this letter, he is exhorting them to respect the leaders and in doing so, reminded the church of –
A. The Responsibilities of the membership. 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13
1. The pastor to the people. 1 Thessalonians 5:12
a. Paul set forth the offices by describing the ministry of each –
1). The Pastor. 1 Thessalonians 5:12a “…them which labour among you…”
2). The Bishop. 1 Thessalonians 5:12b “…and are over you…”
3). The Elder. 1 Thessalonians 5:12c “…and admonish you…”
A. T. Robertson stated that the word ‘admonish’ is an “Old verb from nouthetês and this from nous (mind) and tithêmi, to put. Putting sense into the heads of people.”
God set forth the manner of counselling a pastor is to give to the people. He is to tell them “Thus saith the Lord” and expect them to submit to the truth of the Word of God. We find here the great gulf fixed between the popular psychology of today and the practical unchanging psychology of God. God expects us as individuals to take responsibility for our actions. While we may provide reasons, there are no excuses – we make our own decisions and will stand before the Lord to give account of them.
b. Peter declared the ministry of the pastor –
1). The Elder. He is to have wisdom and understanding of the will of God –
1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed
2). The Pastor He is to have practical knowledge of the Word of God and present it to the people. He is to know them and nourish them.
1 Peter 5:2 … Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3). The Bishop. He is to oversee them and lead them to accomplish the purpose of God for the church.
1 Peter 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
Having instructed the people in the ministry of the pastor to the people, Paul turned to the responsibilities of –
2. The people to the pastor. 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13
a. To know them. 5:12
Members are told that they should know their pastor. They should be familiar with him and the work that he does in the ministry of the Lord. Paul states that members should appreciate all that the pastor is and does – to “know him” or them. I am afraid that the professional aspect of the pastorate has created a gulf between the pastorate and the people, developing what is considered to be spiritual leadership – the pastor, and the laity – the church member. We must remember that we are all in this together, not separated by an artificial spiritual wall! Remember that every believer is a priest, a spiritual representative of the Lord on earth.
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
It is not him and us, we are all in this together. The pastor leads us in laboring with him in the ministry of the Lord.
Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
And Paul declares that the brethren are to –
b. To esteem them. 5:13a Which means we are –
1). To pray for them
2). To participate with them.
3). To provide for them.
We are –
c. To be united behind them. 5:13b “…and be at peace among yourselves.”
It is sad to say, but many churches are hindered in their ministry unto the Lord because they are divided about the leadership. This is due to comparisons made with past leaders or preference shown among the congregation when more than one pastor is serving in the church. Paul confronted the church in Corinth over this issue –
1 Corinthians 3:2-6 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
We have a responsibility given to us by God. Have you accepted this responsibility and are you doing what is necessary to fulfill it?
Will we hear these wonderful words from the Lord as we stand before Him –
2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
To hear the words of Jesus “Well done, thou good and faithful servant..”
Are you saved? Are you His child, born into His family?
Are you standing in the place of righteousness today – all is right between you and the Lord?