Elder as Shepherd: Implicit Use of the Shepherd Metaphor by the Apostle Paul by Josh Branum

April 2, 2018

Elder as Shepherd: Implicit Use of the Shepherd Metaphor

by the Apostle Paul

Josh Branum

Josh Branum (PhD in Applied Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the Family Pastor at Faithbridge Church in Jacksonville, FL.

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Abstract: This paper analyzes the Pauline qualifications for eldership considering the shepherd metaphor. In this analysis, the author argues that Paul presents qualified elders as “good shepherds,” those of the utmost integrity, who are able to manage the flock of God well. The shepherd metaphor is utilized throughout both the Old and New Testaments, by various authors, and in a variety of contexts. From a New Testament perspective, the shepherd metaphor is used most frequently in reference to Jesus, but is later applied to elders. While one might expect the Apostle Paul, the author of the so-called “Pastoral Epistles,” to make much use of
this metaphor, he only explicitly uses the shepherd metaphor on two occasions. This seeming omission has led some to dismiss it as a central aspect of his teaching. However, Paul demonstrates a heavy reliance on the shepherd metaphor implicitly, particularly in the qualifications for eldership in the books of 1 Timothy and Titus.

Key Words: eldership, shepherding, leadership, ministry

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