The Pastor is Called to Feed

The Pastor Must Preach and Teach

As seen in the last weekly, Ephesians 4:11 teaches us that the term “pastor” (poimen, ποιμην) is
connected to the term “teacher” (διδασκαλος). The primary duty of the “pastor-teacher” is thus to
feed the church of God by preaching and teaching the Word of God.

The pastor’s highest duty is set forth by Paul in his charge to young Timothy, “I charge thee
therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his
appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke,
exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound
doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And
they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim. 4:1-4).

The pastor’s call to preach puts him in the privileged tradition of some of the saints of old. Noah
was described in 2 Peter 2:5 to be “a preacher of righteousness”. So too was Enoch who
prophesied of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with ten thousands of His saints to
execute judgement upon the world (Jude 4). There were also the prophets of the Old Testament
who rebuked and exhorted the people with God’s Word. In the New Testament, we see the
Apostles such as Peter and Paul who were engaged in fervent preaching. Some of their sermons
are recorded in the Book of Acts. Lastly, we have the supreme example of the Lord Jesus Christ
who as the Chief Pastor, preached and instructed the people extensively during His earthly

Furthermore, the pastor must take care of the content of his preaching. He is not to preach his own
opinions and imaginations, nor that of other men. Rather, his discourse is to be founded on and
saturated with the Word of God. His call is to be like Samuel who told every whit of God’s
message to Eli. When a pastor walks closely with the Lord and preaches faithfully with the
authority of God’s Word, God will not let any of the preached words fall to the ground (1 Sam.

The nobility and sacredness of the call to preaching is emphasised when one considers how the
preached Word is God’s ordained means to convert souls and edify the saints. Romans 10:17 says,
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” John 17:17 adds, “Sanctify
them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Any discourse other than that which is of the Holy
Scriptures cannot be accounted as true preaching

2 Timothy 4:1-4 presents the three thrusts of the preaching ministry of the pastor. Firstly, there is
the need to “reprove”. This refers to the ministry of instructing men in God’s Word and exposing
error and falsehood. Satan is a “roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8) and is on a
constant prowl to introduce all manner of false teaching, false doctrines and heresies. There is
therefore the need for the pastor to protect the flock by shining the light of God’s Word on such

Secondly, there must be “rebuke”, as the pastor seeks to warn against sin and worldliness. Such
preaching will inevitably offend as it is going on the offensive against all that is evil and wicked.
Nevertheless, the pastor must seek to please only God and glorify Him. His duty is to preach with
the authority of God’s Word, “warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we
may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Col. 1:28)

Thirdly, the pastor must seek to “exhort” in his preaching. This term has much to do with
instruction and encouragement. While warning is given, there must also be encouragement to walk
in righteousness. As the saints seek to walk faithfully in the Lord, they will face much opposition
and discouragement from the various adversities that they face, The pastor must thus seek to
comfort and encourage the saints in the Lord, that God’s people may continue to press on in the
sojourn on this earth.

When the pastor preaches, he must do so with all, “longsuffering and doctrine”. Longsuffering
anticipates the times when the preaching of God’s Word will be rejected and even mocked. In
such times, the pastor has to persevere in preaching the truth. He does so with much patience
and compassion, praying that the Lord will turn around the hearers to the truth in His good
time. On the other hand, he must make sure his preaching is saturated with “doctrine”. This
doctrine must of course be sound doctrine from God’s Word. As stated before, the pastor’s
preaching must not be based on his own opinions, but what is taught in God’s precious Word.

Alas, Paul sounds a warning to Timothy, that the time will come when people will no longer
endure sound doctrine but will rather have “itching ears”. They will want the pastor to preach
what they want to hear. “Do not say I am not well, even when I am well. Do not say that I am
unclean, even when I am steeped in sin.” The pastor must not conform to the pressure of being
a parrot or “yes-man”, but seek only to preach the whole counsel of God. A hireling will speak
words which others want to hear because his chief concern is his pay pocket, but an under-
shepherd who is called of God must seek only the Lord’s approval in all matters, and most
importantly, his preaching.

A pastor’s duty is not just calling upon members. Neither does ascending the pulpit make one
a pastor. He must be one who faithfully and zealously preaches the Word of everlasting life to
the benefit of all who hear.

The Pastor Must Study God’s Word

Since the pastor is called to teach, he must make sure that he is well-grounded in God’s Word.
This can only come with a committed, consistent, diligent, humble and faithful study of the
Holy Scriptures. Otherwise, the pastor will only be offering chaff to the congregation, and
God’s people will soon be spiritually malnourished.

The need for the pastor to be diligent in the study of the truth can be seen in 1 Timothy 4:13-
15. “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift
that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the
presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may
appear to all.” (1 Tim. 4:13-15) Countless hours are spent soaking oneself in God’s Word in
humble devotion and adoration. Time must also be spent re-learning and re-dedicating oneself
to the teachings of Scripture. “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and
hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them” (2 Tim. 3:14).

Much of the pastor’s time is thus spent on the study of the Scriptures, and pouring over
Christian literature and sermons which have been preached. He is focused on firstly feeding
himself and then others. Preparation for sermons and messages can be intense and time-
consuming, but also very fulfilling as one rejoices in the truth which he has learnt. Much time
is spent especially on the content and structure of the sermon. All these things must be done
before the title of the message is confirmed, for the title must encapsulate the thrust of the
sermon. It must be sharp and accurate, like a sniper’s shot, and not like a shotgun spraying the
pellets everywhere. The pastor on the other hand, must also ensure that the sermon is truly the
exposition of the Scripture passage, where the meaning is drawn out from the Scriptures. He
must rightly divide the truth (2 Tim. 2:15), for every error can mislead God’s people to do that
which is displeasing to God. It must also never be the other way round where the pastor (or
preacher) imposes his own pre-conceived notions on the passage and twists the Scripture to
say what he wants. That will be eisegesis and not exegesis, and ultimately dangerous to both
the pastor and the congregation of God, for the sermon will be about the pastor’s word and not
the Word of God. Therefore, to preach faithfully, the pastor must do his utmost in his study.
No study, no sermon!

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew