This article appears in the April edition of Tabletalk magazine.
The primary aim in shepherding the people of God is clear in Scripture. The risen Lord of the church thrice commanded Peter to feed His sheep (John 21:16). Peter, in turn, told his fellow elders to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you” (1 Peter 5:2). Likewise, Paul instructed the Ephesian elders to “care for the church of God” (Acts 20:28).
In each instance, these directives use the word poimain. When used of Christ, this word is translated “rule.” The elders of the church feed the sheep by teaching them Christ’s rule as described in the Word of God. Paul’s description of his work in feeding God’s sheep at Ephesus to follow Christ reveals its qualities.
Doctrinal, not innovative. Paul warned against wolves who twist the Scriptures by leaving sections of it out while emphasizing other parts to their own advantage (Acts 20:30). In contrast, Paul told the elders that he taught the church “the whole counsel of God” (v. 27). With this expression, Paul meant that he taught both the scope of Genesis to Revelation and also all the theology the Bible includes. The true teaching of God’s Word harmonizes biblical and systematic theology.