Preacher, Reverend, Pastor, or ?

Question: Why do churches of Christ not call their preachers Reverends or Pastors like most of the denominations do?

Answer: Because both would be unbiblical at the very least, and perhaps blasphemous at the very worst, at least in one case. Consider; the title “Father,” when applied to religious leaders is strictly condemned by Christ Himself, “for you have one Father, who is in Heaven” (See Matthew 23:1-12 for comment and context).

Likewise, the term “reverend” is found only once in the Scriptures and that is in the great Psalm 111, verse 9 (KJV) where it says, speaking specifically of God alone, “Holy and reverend is His Name” (Emphasis mine – DED). Only Jesus is equal with God; certainly no mere mortal ever was, is, or ever shall be. Not even the miracle-working apostles ever dared lay claim to equality with God. And yet, unlike the Catholic religious leaders who, despite Jesus’ outright condemnation of such, continue to insist upon being called by the name reserved for God in Heaven alone and thereby presumptuously put themselves on His level, we believe that the term “Reverend,” which no human being in the Bible was ever referred to by, and a term which was Biblically said to be exclusively His Name, should certainly never be used to address or title any human being, as that would also presumptuously put them on His level as well, wouldn’t it? It would be like calling some mere mortal sinner “the Savior (of mankind),” “the Alpha and the Omega,” or, “the Head of the church;” descriptive terms respectfully and Biblically given only and exclusively to Christ Himself (1 John 4:4; Jude 25; Revelation 22:13; and Ephesians 1:15-23). Actually, I suppose that the  Protestant Denominations commit a similar atrocity when they remove the name that is above all names from their church and refer to themselves by Luther’s, the Baptist’s, or some other man-honoring name in which there is no salvation, instead of the name of Christ (Acts 4:12).

Speaking of Protestant Denominations and some of their man-made teachings, perhaps no other term of description for specific servants and their service in the church is as misused in the denominational world around us today as is the word “pastor.”

“ Pastor ” is from the Greek word “poimen,” which means “shepherd.” This is apparent from several passages in which Jesus Himself used the term to refer to Himself as “the good shepherd” in John, chapter 10 (verses 2, 11, 12, 14, and 16). In fact, in the 18 occurrences of this word “poimen” in the entire Greek N. T. text (Matthew 9:36, 25:32, 26:31; Mark 6:34, 14:27; Luke 2:8, 15, 18, 20; John  10:2, 11, 12, 14, 16; Ephesians 4:11; Hebrews 13:20; and I Peter 2:25) it is always translated as “shepherd” – except for the one verse in Ephesians 4:11 where it is translated “pastor.”

Pastor ” actually denotes one who is a shepherd of God’s flock. In the Bible, these very same shepherds are also known as: “elders,” and “overseers” or “bishops.” All four of these terms in Scripture are describing the same exact individual (Compare different translations on the following passages: Acts 20:17-30; Philippians 1:1; I Peter 2:25 and 5:1-4). But the Bible is crystal clear that these “poimen”/pastors, elders, overseers, bishops MUST possess certain qualities  without compromise; and these are the God-given “musts” of I Timothy 3:1-7, and Titus 1:5-9 (i.e., must be male, the husband of one wife, having believing children, etc). If one does not possess each and every one of these God-required qualities and qualifications, he simply is not a pastor/elder/overseer/shepherd according to God’s eternal standard. (Note: a very concise and in-depth study of this very topic can be found and downloaded completely free of charge from

So, how do we refer to our religious leaders in congregations of the churches of Christ? Well, biblically of course! (Whatever was good enough for God’s first-century church is good enough for God’s 21st or any other century church.) They are biblically, correctly, and therefore congregationally referred to as an “evangelist” (See Acts 21:8; Ephesians 4:11; II Timothy 4:5), a “minister” (See Luke 1:2; I Corinthians 3:5; II Corinthians 3:6, 6:4), and/or a “preacher” (See Romans 10:14; I Timothy 2:7; II Timothy 1:111; and II Peter 2:5).

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