Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 9 September 2014
Page 12

Questions and Answers

Send your religious questions to editor@gospelgazette.com

When and Where Was the
Pastorate Form Conceived?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis RushmoreSomeone muses, “When and where was the pastorate form conceived?” The word “pastorate” relates to the denominational designation of “pastor” for a congregation’s minister or religious leader. “Pastorate” came into use in the English language between 1785 and 1795, according to various dictionaries.

The word “pastor” is used in the New Testament as a synonym for the term “elder” (Ephesians 4:11). The Catholic Church redefined its use in the 14th century to apply instead to a minister or priest, according to a number of dictionaries. That is, the word “pastor” came to be applied to a minister before the rise of the first denomination breaking away from the Catholic Church. Subsequently, denominations have continued to apply the word “pastor” to their ministers or religious leaders, but from the beginning of Christianity it was not so.

The New Testament uses the terms “elder” (Titus 1:5; James 5:14), “bishops” (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), “presbytery” (1 Timothy 4:14) and “pastors” (Ephesians 4:11) interchangeably to refer to the plurality of men who meet biblical qualifications and have been appointed to lead a local congregation. There is no biblical basis for using the words “pastor” or “pastorate” to refer to a minister or his work. Anyone interested in doing Bible things in Bible ways and using Bible words in Bible ways will take note and not use the terms “pastor” and “pastorate” in unscriptural ways.

Did the Ethiopian Eunuch
Receive the Holy Spirit?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Someone inquired, “Did the eunuch from Ethiopia receive the Holy Spirit?” The account of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch appears in Acts 8:26-40. The Holy Spirit advised the evangelist Philip to speak to the Ethiopian (v. 29), and later after his conversion, the Spirit somehow whisked Philip away from the presence of the new convert (v. 39).

The context in which we read of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch does not specify whether he received the Holy Spirit. Other passages indicated that the Holy Spirit in some manner dwells within the Christian (Romans 8:9-16; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 1 John 4:13). However, there is widespread confusion as to what it means that the Holy Spirit dwells in one or how that indwelling occurs.

Miracles had as their purpose the validation of new revelation from God – the New Testament (Mark 16:20), and the reception of new revelation and validation of it is complete. Therefore, miracles no longer occur today (1 Corinthians 13:8-13). In addition, Christians differ in their understanding as to how the Holy Spirit dwells in them – literally and bodily or through the Word of God. Not at issue is the biblical fact that the Holy Spirit indwells Christians, which would include the Ethiopian eunuch.

What Is the Tree of Life?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

“What is the tree of life?” a reader inquired. The Tree of Life is introduced to us first in Genesis 2:9. It was placed in the midst of the Garden of Eden so that the first pair would have perpetual life (Genesis 3:22); it was the “antidote of disease or decay of the body” (McClintock and Strong). However, following the fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, cherubim prevented our first parents from reentering the Garden and gaining access to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24). God has since removed the Tree of Life to heaven’s paradise (Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14).

Works Cited

McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.

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