The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Acts 14:19-28 shows Paul being dragged out of the city and stoned. Left for dead, the other Christians gather around Paul. We may safely assume that they were traumatized and that they prayed that he might live. The Bible doesn’t say so specifically, but it would be a perfectly normal assumption.
What does Paul do? He stands up and, with Barnabas, walks back into town to rest until the next day, when he leaves town. In subsequent locations, Paul’s testimony is that Christians must endure suffering. Yes, he knew suffering for the sake of Christ.
Along with Paul’s work of strengthening the Christians and encouraging them to hold fast to their faith, he lays hands on some, appointing them as elders. The work of an elder, in the New Testament, is that of a pastor. Paul and Baranabas, then, not numbered among the original apostles, are God’s servants to appoint believers to the pastoral office. They give the gifts of the Holy Spirit by laying their hands on people. As time went on, the custom remained. Those who have been appointed as pastors are the servants of Christ tasked with examining and appointing future pastors. In this way, Christianity passes from generation to generation.
The pastors are not appointed without due examination. The leaders visit with them. They consider how the body of Christ will best be helped. Are these future pastors ready to proclaim Jesus regardless of the cost to themselves? Are they ready to guard doctrine? Do they know how to explain the Christian faith to others? Are they going to keep it pure? Are they going to receive correction from their fellow pastors?
The pastoral office is the one ministry post without which the local congregation doesn’t exist. It is essential to the life and continuation of Christianity. It is right to guard it carefully. Remembering that our pastors are willing to suffer for the sake of Christ, we care for them and nurture them even as they care for us. Thanks be to God for raising up pastors.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.