Do the Old Testament Descriptions of Pastors Apply in the New Testament Era?


There are those that believe that the manner in which Old Testament saints gathered should not be used a model for New Testament congregations.  Church = Temple, Priest = Pastor and so on… 

Should these Old Testament descriptions of a Pastor, found in the book of Jeremiah, apply to the new covenant pastor? 

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.  Jeremiah 3:15

Pastors are given by God, according to His heart, and they have the task of feeding others with knowledge and understanding.

For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.  Jeremiah 10:21

Pastors are not to be “brutish,” which means senseless or stupid.  If they are, they will not prosper as a pastor and will become flockless. 

Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.  Jeremiah 12:10 

Pastors are not to be destructive of the work place (vineyard).  They are step gingerly around the field and not damage young or new growth.  They have the ability to turn an organic thriving Kingdom populace into a dry wilderness. 

As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee.  Jeremiah 17:16

Pastors are not to hasten to be Pastors nor make light of oaths to shepherd others. 

The priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.  Jeremiah 2:8

Pastors are distinct from Priests, Prophets, and maybe even Preachers

The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness.  Jeremiah 22:22

Pastors are first in line to be destroyed, consumed, and imprisoned.

Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.  Jeremiah 23:2

Pastors will be recompensed according to their deeds.

Compare these multiple references from Jeremiah to the singular  NT mention of the word  “Pastor” in Ephesians 4:11

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” 

Pastors are just one of many God gives to mature the church and unify it.


Do all of these descriptions of a Pastor in the Old Testament apply to Pastors today?

If not, which do not? If so, what are the implications? 

and the most provoking question:

What’s the biblical difference between a Pastor and a Preacher? 

0 thoughts on “Do the Old Testament Descriptions of Pastors Apply in the New Testament Era?

  1. Jonathan says:

    In brief: yes.

    Explanation: the words “pastor” and “shepherd” are interchangeable. The description (prescription?) in Jeremiah for pastor/shepherd was not changed throughout the rest of Scripture (or in the centuries between the first century and today).

  2. Miguel says:

    So Jonathan,

    Do you think arguments that center around only one mention of the word “pastor” in the New Testament are irrelevant because we have ample descriptions elsewhere? Just curious.

    • Jonathan says:

      Isn’t it true that the noun ποιμήν (poimēn) and verb ποιμαίνω (poimaino) appear multiple times in the NT? If so, I would not be swayed by a the fact that a single instance of the noun is translated “pastor” rather than “shepherd” and I definitely wouldn’t agree with an argument built on the idea of a single mention.

      I approach this in the same way that I do for the words in our English Bibles that are translated “deacon” and “baptize”.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Hit publish too soon… 🙂

    The implication for today concerns the mission creep that the church, especially in the West, has experienced, with few exceptions, where there has been a consolidation of authority such that it has been commonly accepted to have a single man occupy an office of pastor/elder/bishop/lead preacher. While this fits our current CEO/CotB mashup model in corporate life, it is a situation that would have been incomprehensible in either Jeremiah’s or Paul’s time.

  4. Jenny says:

    I think there’s a strong case for applying Jeremiah’s words about pastors to Christians ones today. One reason is that there are a lot of parallels between the Book of Jeremiah and Paul’s Epistles, as if the latter were citing the former.

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