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Is a pastor a watchman?

Submitted: 1/6/2010
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Question: I've noticed a lot of apostolic pastors quote Ezekiel 3:17, which says, 'Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.' These pastors claim that 'they' are the watchman over their congregations. I believe this is an error in understanding the Scriptures. Where did this come from?

Answer: The word translated 'watchman' is the Hebrew word 'shomer.' This word means a guardian or protector. This is certainly one of the central roles of a pastor. Just as a shepherd must watch over and protect his sheep from dangers, so a spiritual shepherd must watch over and protect God's people from spiritual dangers. Pastors are like David. They don't watch over their own sheep, they watch over their Father's sheep.

Speaking to the elders (pastors) of the church in Ephesus, Paul said, 'Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock' (Acts 20:28-29). Clearly he expected them to watch over the flock and to do their best to protect them from all threats to their spiritual lives.