the weblog of Alan Knox

Keeping watch over your souls

Posted by on Feb 18, 2010 in blog links, elders | 3 comments

I like this passage from Matthew McDill’s dissertation “The Authority of Church Elders in this New Testament” where he discusses the meaning of the phrase “keeping watch over your souls” from Hebrews 13:17:

Not only is this the reason given for the believers to submit to them, it describes the sphere in which they provided leadership (cf. 1 Thess 5:12, “those who lead you in the Lord”). Several helpful parallels may be observed in Acts 20:28–32 and 1 Pet 5:1–4. The elders in Acts and 1 Peter are responsible for caring for (ποιμαίνω) and watching over (ἐπίσκοπος, ἐπισκοπέω) God’s people. Jesus is the shepherd (ποιμήν) and overseer (ἐπίσκοπος) “of your souls” (τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμῶν) (1 Pet 2:25) and is the chief shepherd who will appear and reward the elders for their shepherding (1 Pet 5:4). Believers were entrusted into the care (κλῆρος) of the elders (1 Pet 5:3). Caring for the church is not merely a charismatic function but is the specific responsibility and purpose of the Spirit’s appointment (Acts 20:28). That this is an assigned responsibility is also confirmed by the requirement to give an account (Heb 13:17; 1 Pet 5:4).

So, if I understand Matthew, then he is saying that the phrase “keeping watch over your souls” is simply another way of saying “shepherding” or “caring for.”

It’s interesting that the author of Hebrews doesn’t mention “elders.” Perhaps all leaders, and even all believers, were to care for one another?


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  1. 2-18-2010

    True,,, and all of the quote, unquote “Leaders” should simply be example setters in truly caring for all believers.

  2. 2-18-2010


    Thank you for your example!


  3. 2-19-2010


    “simply be” – elaborate please!