Today we remember first-century pastor Clement of Rome, who taught how the role of the twelve apostles differs from that of all other pastors. Our devotional reading is about this topic and comes from Pastoral Theology.
Many people use the term minister to refer to the person occupying the office of the public ministry. Though used in common parlance, care must be taken to differentiate between the office of holy ministry and the general ministry of all believers. The term in vogue matters little. The importance lies in the fact that the pastor publicly administers the Gospel through the means of grace.
Lest this “specialness” of the public ministry be taken to an extreme, note that the office is not synonymous with the office which the disciples/apostles (including Paul) held.
Jesus himself personally and immediately called the apostles to their special position. As Paul repeats in Eph. 4:11, they were gifts of the ascended Lord to the church. In Eph. 2:20 he combines the apostles with the prophets as “the foundation” of the church, together with “Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.” And in Rev. 21:14, John describes the heavenly Jerusalem as built on twelve foundations with “the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” written on them.
As personal representatives of the Lord, the Twelve had a special, once-in-history duty: to deliver the revelation that they had received. They were the ones God himself had chosen to witness personally that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah who had died for our sins and had risen from the dead. This fact they were to transmit without alteration (1 Tim. 6:14); and what they transmitted was to continue to be transmitted by their successors without alteration (2 Tim. 2:2).
Clearly, the apostles occupied a unique office, directly commissioned by the Lord, entrusted with the revelation of the mystery of Christ. As his representatives, the apostles are the teachers of the church for all time (John 17:6, 8, 20–26).
Following the apostles, calls to the public ministry have been through the mediation of others, though the calls are still from God. So, for example, Paul reminds Titus to appoint elders (pastors) of the congregations on Crete (Titus 1:5). Because the church alone has been given the power of the Keys (cf. above), God calls men to the office of the public ministry only through the mediacy of the church.
Devotional reading is adapted from Pastoral Theology, pages 22–23 © 1990 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
Almighty God, Your servant Clement of Rome called the Church in Corinth to repentance and faith to unite them in Christian love. Grant that Your Church may be anchored in Your truth by the presence of the Holy Spirit and kept blameless in Your service until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer is from Treasury of Daily Prayer, page 944 © 2008 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.