The Duty of an Overseer.

220px-Rumunia_5806“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”   Acts 20:28-30

The word overseer is only used one time in the New Testament. It is from the Greek word “Episkopos” which is translated bishop six times in our King James Bible according to Strong’s Concordance.

Also according to Strong’s the New Testament uses the terms  bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably. I wouldn’t begin to try to sort all that out in this brief article. But from the above passage I believe it is clear that Paul is speaking to the elders {plural… chew on that a minute} of the church at Ephesus and that he calls them the overseers of the flock. He tells them what they are supposed to do. Their duty if you will.

First, he says to make sure or take heed to feed themselves and the church. That is what an overseer is to do. Feed the flock or the church to which you have been appointed. Paul puts emphasis on the fact that Jesus Christ hath purchased the church of God with His own blood. An overseer has the great responsibility of feeding the blood bought church of God. In other words, if I understand this correctly, Paul is saying, “make sure everyone gets fed”.

Secondly, he warns against wolves entering into the church and destroying the flock. The wolves here described are very destructive. The apostle calls them “grievous” wolves meaning they are “violent, cruel, and unsparing”. He also says that there would be men {some who may have been standing right in front of him} who would pervert the Bible and try to cause the church to split.

Things have not changed in two thousand years. Churches still need overseers or elders to protect them from the wolves and false teaching. I think Paul gives the strategy for battling wolves and false teaching in his warning to the Ephesians elders… feed the church. Churches need the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. That is what the Apostle is talking about when he says,  “feed the church of God”  Every church needs an overseer {overseers?} to feed it. That is the New Testament pattern. A church without an overseer or that has an unworthy overseer is probably a half-starved church and is doubtless at risk to eat some bad spiritual food and there is a lot of unhealthy food out there. A church without an overseer is also fair game for wolves both from without and from within.

Shawn

Recommended: Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?

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