(4.) On Christ as The Bishop

(4.) On Christ as The Bishop

(4.) On Christ as The Bishop.

“For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”¬†(1 Peter 2:25).

In 1st century Christianity, the bishop was the presiding elder in a church body. The Greek word for bishop is “episcopos“, and it literally means overseer, supervisor, guardian, ruling elder, the lead pastor. The bishop was the head of the local church.

Calling Jesus our Bishop means:

  1. Jesus is the presiding Elder of the universal Church;
  2. He oversees our souls as He guides and nurtures God’s flock;
  3. Jesus is not limited to being our Savior. He is our Pastor, keeping watch over our souls;
  4. He exercises oversight as to the status of our souls and the Church;
  5. Jesus has special interest in our souls, is responsible to be especially diligent in guarding and caring for our souls. To Jesus, our souls have the highest value;
  6. As the Head of the Church (Col. 1:18), Jesus is the Superintendent of His Body, looking after our spiritual health and development;
  7. Through His Holy Spirit, Jesus remains intimately invested in the life and welfare of the Church and our souls;
  8. Since Jesus is the presiding Elder, our role is to trust His leadership and submit to His care.

In 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, St. Paul lays out the qualifications of a bishop, the “episcopos,”¬† in the local church. The qualities highlighted by Paul have more to do with character than practically anything else. Above all, the bishop was to be “blameless,” and his life was to be above reproach, with impeccable character. In regards to the bishop’s qualifications, St. John Chrysostom commented about a bishop’s blameless character: “Every virtue is implied in this word. The bishop’s life should be unspotted so that all should look up to him, and make his life the model of their own.”

Here are Paul’s qualities of a good bishop:

  1. has good self-control and is not quick-tempered;
  2. is peaceable and not quarrelsome or violent;
  3. is just, sensible and lives wisely;
  4. is a lover of strangers and given to hospitality;
  5. has a good reputation with believers as well as outsiders;
  6. is able to teach effectively, encouraging believers with sound doctrine as well as convicting those who contradict the teaching;
  7. is not greedy or dishonest with money;
  8. is a lover of goodness and truth;
  9. is known for being devout and disciplined.

The Jesus of the Gospels provides the perfect example of a well-qualified Bishop. He is perfectly blameless. When we consider all the qualities above, they have met their perfection in Christ. Would we want anyone else to be our universal  Bishop? Thank God we have Jesus Christ as our ultimate Bishop.