What Are the Biblical Standards for Spiritual Leaders?

The Bible explicitly and implicitly delineates certain standards that must be met before one can assume leadership roles over the people of YHVH. Israelites should know what the Word of Elohim demands of leaders, and should expect leaders to meet those biblical standards. If they don’t, Israel should reject such individuals.

These standards must apply to leaders over and within congregations. Many individuals who are in ministry are not associated with a congregation, so it may be questioned whether these standards should apply to them as well. It seems self-evident that the same biblical standards that apply to leaders within a congregational context should also apply to itinerate minsters, while not connected to or holding leadership in a local congregation, yet they minister to local congregations, and therefore, are perceived to be leaders and elders within greater Israel by those they teach. Therefore, we take the approach that these ministry standards apply to all leaders within the spiritual body of Yeshua whether they are connected to a local body or not. The body of Yeshua is a interconnected, and all must be playing by the same rules, and be held to the same standards. 

We draw, furthermore, from the whole counsel of YHVH’s Word (i.e., Genesis to Revelation) guidelines for leadership qualifications. YHVH’s standards of righteousness for his leaders has not changed over the ages, for he has not changed. His character is inviolate and immutable, and what he requires of those whom he has appointed as servants over his people has not changed and is based on his character, which defines his standards of righteousness.

Prevalent Non-biblical Standards for Leadership

Within the Christian church and, as an offshoot of that, within the Messianic Israel, Messianic Jewish or Hebrew Roots movements, there are many non-biblical standards that, in the eyes of many people, qualifies a person for leadership roles within the body of Yeshua. These “qualification,” in fact, may or may not meet YHVH’s standards of leadership. Some of these “qualification” include:

  • Self-appointment resulting in the formation of a “successful” ministry. 
  • The use of ecclesiastical titles, the earning of academic degrees.  
  • Popularity among men. 
  • Oratory and public presentation skills.
  • Professional-looking packaging of persons, ministries, websites and materials to merchandized. 
  • The size of one’s following, mailing list, ministry, or all the material trappings associated with the ministry.
  • Length of time in the ministry.
  • Acceptance among peers and within the church.
  • Financial success.
  • The number of books published, the number electronic media one has been on. 

The Bible nowhere indicates that any of these criteria necessarily qualify one to be in a leadership role. In fact, the biblical record clearly shows that usually the more popular (among men) and successful (by  worldly standards) religious leaders were, in fact, more unpopular with YHVH. Yeshua, for example, when addressing the religious leaders of his day, emphatically stated that that which is highly esteemed (uplifted, eminent, exalted, influential or honorable) of men is an abomination (a foul thing, detestable or idolatrous) in the sight of Elohim (Luke 16:15). Why is this? Because YHVH looks at the heart of man, not on the outward appearance of things (1 Sam 16:7; Isa 29:13; Matt 15:8). YHVH sees the true content of a man’s character, which is often hidden under the false facade of appearance.

Biblical Standards of Leadership

What are some of the more obvious biblical standards that must be applied to all spiritual leaders in our day? Those leaders who reject any of these criteria we reject them as not meeting the biblical standards of leadership. The following is a list of criteria that one must meet in order to meet the qualifications of biblical leadership.  

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What YOU Need to Know Before Starting a Congregation

What follows is based on my personal experience of pastoring for more than 25 years 18 of which I was the head elder of the congregation my wife and I founded. I hope that you will find this information to be helpful. — Natan


Over the years, many people around the world have asked for my advice about starting a Hebraic home fellowship or congregation. I tell them all the same thing: I learned to pastor through the school of hard knocks with guidance from no one, although I sough it to no avail. Sadly, I had no one to mentor me. As a result, I made a lot of mistakes and learned by trial and error. Therefore, I’m happy to advise people in any way I can, so that they don’t make the same mistakes that I made. That is the purpose of the following article.

My wife and I started and pastored a Hebraic congregation in 1998 that met in our home for more than two years. When we outgrew our home, we rented a church building for another 15 plus years until the fall of 2016. 

As a result of our experience, dozens of folks have asked my help in mentoring them in starting Hebraic fellowships. To date, I have put nothing in writing on this subject until now. Perhaps some of the questions and suggestions below will be of value to those people daring enough to start a fellowship.

A Word to Those Desiring to Start a Fellowship

Before giving instructions to Timothy about the qualifications for being an elder, Paul had this to say about those desiring to serve as leaders in the congregation of the saints:

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. (1 Tim 3:1)

Desiring to start a fellowship is not a bad thing—especially if the Spirit of Elohim is leading you to do it. If not, forget it. What’s not of YHVH will fail. If  the Spirit is directing you, and you’re not being led by the dictates of your own carnal heart, then there are some things you need to consider first before launching out.

Are You Willing to Pay the Price?

Before starting a fellowship, one must ask oneself some hard questions. One must first count the costs; it’s going to “cost” you more than you think. Are you willing to pay the price?, Yeshua taught his disciples.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it… (Luke 14:28)

Now let’s read the full context of Yeshua’s statement.

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 12:27–33)

It is true that Yeshua was specifically speaking about evangelizing the lost, and not leading a congregation, but many of these same instructions still apply for those in pastoral ministry. For example, one never knows whether that person who is walking into your congregation is even saved, whether they are demonized or are just plain troubled people or flat-out troublemakers. A pastor will have to deal with all of the above…

To his disciples, when he first commissioned them to go out two by two to preach the gospel, Yeshua additionally said,

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.…Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.… A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! (Matt 10:16–1724–25)

Now you may want to start a fellowship that involves only your spouse, some family members and a few close friends with whom you already get along and agree, but what happens when other people want to join your group who you don’t know? What happens when these new folks have different ideas of how a congregation should be run, have conflicting biblical understandings and doctrinal views and turn out to be vocal, complainers, contentious or outright wolves in sheep’s clothing? What then? You’re happy little group is no longer! 

Over the years, we experienced this countless times, and over the past 20 years I have advised dozens of pastoral leaders who were going through the same trials. Don’t think it won’t happen to you; it will. You are not exempt from this trial by fire, for people are people. Yeshua experienced it, as did the apostles as well as the prophets before them all the way back to Moses in his struggles leading the children of Israel through the wilderness. This is because people are people, and the devil is working behind the scenes to steal, kill and destroy anything that is good.

One more thing: are you willing to have even those of your own household turn against you? Yeshua declared that his disciples must be willing to give up all to serve him.

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW’; and ‘A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THOSE OF HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matt 10:34–38)

The problem is that nearly everyone thinks that they’re an exception to the rule—that what Yeshua predicted would happen to his disciples who choose to serve him won’t happen to them. Before I started  pastoring, I didn’t take Yeshua’s warnings seriously. How could I? I didn’t know what I didn’t know! No one ever told me what to expect, except Yeshua, and, honestly, I thought that, for some strange reason, his warning wouldn’t come to pass in my own life. I was sure mistaken! Moreover, I doubt seriously that few professors in Bible college teach this either. This is probably because they have little or no real world experience leading a congregation. That’s why they know little about the real price that pastors and leaders have to pay to be true disciples of Yeshua.

Consider this. How did Yeshua’s apostles view themselves after having served him for years? As his bondservants (or slaves; Rom 1:12 Cor 4:5Gal 1:10Eph 6:6Phil 1:1Col 4:12Tit 1:1Jas 1:11 Pet 2:162 Pet 1:1Jude 1:1). Yes slaves! This is not a bad, but a good thing. Would you rather be a slave to the world, the flesh and the devil or to Yeshua? It’s either one or the other; there’s no middle ground in this game! There are great spiritual rewards for serving Yeshua, but most of them will be in the next life. The price is high, the cost is much, but the rewards are worth it to be a servant, yes, a slave, of the Master.

Some Hard Questions to Ask Yourself

Before starting a fellowship, ask yourself these hard questions:

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Deuteronomy 17 on Two or Three Witnesses, Spiritual (Congregational) Leadership

Deuteronomy 17:1–3, Sacrifice. Yeshua, for us, offered himself as a spotless Lamb without blemish. Do you give YHVH your best, or do you give him the crumbs and leftovers? For example, do you give YHVH the best part of the day (the morning) for prayer, Bible reading and devotion, or the end of the day when you are tired and ready for bed? Do you give YHVH the first fruits (tithe) of your income or the leftovers (or none at all)? How are you helping to advance his kingdom on earth by using the talents, time and abilities he has given you, or are you using your energies and abilities to satiate the lusts of your flesh?

Deuteronomy 17:6 (and 19:15), By the testimony of two or three witnesses. In the Bible, one could not be accused of a crime (i.e. a sin) without the testimony of two or three eyewitnesses. This admonition is repeated in the Testimony of Yeshua:

But if he will not hear you, then take with you one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (Matt 18:16)

This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. (2 Cor 13:1)

Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. (1 Tim 5:19)

He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses. (Heb 10:28)

Most gossip and slander would stop if this commandment were followed, and thus much division and strife within the congregation of believers. 

How many times have you repeated hearsay and gossip without checking the source? Even if you know it to be true, is it beneficial and righteous to repeat it to others? One Jewish sage goes so far as to say that Messiah has not come back because of all the gossip and slander of the people of Israel. Perhaps. At the very least, the Spirit of Elohim is greatly grieved, our intimacy with Elohim is diminished, and our marriages, families, friendships and congregations are fractured, hurt or destroyed because we speak things that should not be uttered.

How often do we accuse, slander and gossip about other people through use of the “evil tongue” (lashon hara) without going through proper channels and following proper biblical protocols to resolve interpersonal conflicts as Yeshua instructed in Matthew 18? How often do we attack others and spread our evil reports and accusations about others when we were not even eyewitnesses to what occurred or were not involved in the matter? How often do we attack YHVH’s leaders and accuse them of evil when there are no other witnesses (1 Tim 5:19)? YHVH hates those who sow discord among brethren and lying false witnesses, and calls this practice an abomination (Prov 6:16–17, 19). So let’s all be careful with our mouths!

Deuteronomy 17:2–5, Dealing with wickedness. Probably no one reading this is involved in any of the gross idolatrous practices listed here, but there are those little foxes (or little sins) that spoil the grapes (Song 2:15) and the little bit of leaven (tiny sins) that inflates or sours the whole loaf of bread. What ­idols or heathen practices, unrighteous world views, worldly attitudes, secular tendencies, profane habits and thought ­patterns, verbal expressions, etc. have you assimilated into your life that are keeping you from walking a higher, and hence, a more intimate and anointed walk with YHVH? Ask the Ruach haKodesh (the Set-Apart Spirit) to reveal these spiritual idols and strongholds to you so you can rid your life of them.

Deuteronomy 17:8–13, Matters of controversy. How respectful and obedient are you to the spiritual leaders YHVH has placed over you? Or do you follow their wise counsel only if and when it suits you? Nowadays if we don’t like a leader we simply leave our congregation and find a new one. In ancient Israel, this was not an option, nor was it an option in the first century. There was only one congregation in each town, and if there was a disagreement, people had to learn to work out their differences. What if we were in that situation today? How would that change your method of operation if you couldn’t just “cut and run” whenever things didn’t go your way or you got offended?

Deuteronomy 17:14–20, King over you. It is YHVH’s will for Israel to be ruled by a king. In the Messianic Era (Millennium), King Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of David, will rule not only over Israel but over the entire world from Jerusalem. YHVH ordained righteous leadership to help guide his people in the ways of truth and righteousness. 

When there is no leadership, everyone does what is right in his own eyes as occurred during the time of the judges. The Bible gives numerous examples of the chaos that results in a society or a group of people where there is no leadership. For example, The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash points out, “Two of the saddest episodes after Israel arrived in its Land—the graven image of Micah (Judg 17–18) and the atrocity involving the concubine at Gibeah (Judg 19–21)—are described by Scripture as having been possible only because there was no king in Israel (Judg 18:1; 19:1); had there been the leadership and discipline of a righteous king, he would never have permitted such outrages to take place” (pp. 1028–1029). 

Elohim is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33). Nowhere in the Bible does Elohim permit his people to be leaderless whether it was patriarchal leadership, Levitical leadership, the leadership of judges and prophets, kingly leadership, the leadership of apostles and elders culminating in the leadership of King Yeshua and the glorified saints that will be ruling with him as kings and priests in his millennial kingdom. 

Numerous times in Scripture, YHVH not only expects his  people to obey the righteous leaders he has put in place, but even unrighteous civil leaders (at least until they demand that one disobeys the higher laws of Elohim).

Many times in the Hebraic Roots Movement, one encounters folks who have been emotionally traumatized and hurt in the past by ungodly church leadership. As a result, many of these people now refuse to come under any leadership at all godly or otherwise. They pride themselves in establishing congregations and fellowships “where no one is the leader.” This is a recipe for disaster. Get back to me in one, two or five years and let me know who your experiment in this ungodly venture went. Eventually division and strife will tear such groups apart! After all, if everyone has equal say and anything can go on, who is going to stand up and say “this is wrong” and “that is unbiblical”? When grievous wolves in sheep’s clothing come in to tear the flock apart, who is going to put these agents of Satan out of the fellowship? 

No, leaderless groups are not a good thing. Those who want this are either naive when it comes to the machinations of human nature, or are they are rebels themselves and really don’t Elohim to rule over them, since he is the author of godly, righteous leadership

Do you resist YHVH-ordained leadership? If you have been hurt or “burned” by unscrupulous and self-serving leaders in the past, do you now refuse to recognize YHVH-ordained leadership thus losing the blessings that such leadership could bestow on your life? Let’s not throw the proverbial baby of righteous leadership out with the bath water because of our past hurtful experience. 

Deuteronomy 17:18, He shall write. The king was to know the Torah so that he could rule righteously based on the Word of YHVH. The book of Revelation says that the saints will be kings and priest ruling with Yeshua in the Millennium. Do you want to rule with him? If so, what are you doing now to prepare yourself for that position of responsibility? Is the study of YHVH’s Word a priority in your life or does it get bumped to last place after you have completed all the physical things you feel you need to do? How we prepare now for the future will determine our level of reward in YHVH’s kingdom. Will you be the least or the greatest? This will be determined by your study and practice of Torah. (See Matt 5:19.)

 

Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Company Explained

Ephesians 4:11, He gave some to be apostles. Did the so-called five-fold ministry offices cease after the New Testament era, or do they continue function in the body of Yeshua to this day? In our day, most people agree that the ministries of the evangelist, teacher and pastor are still in operation today, but many say that the offices of apostles and prophet have ceased to operate. Yet in verse 13, we read that these offices would operate “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah…,” which hasn’t happened yet. Therefore, it would stand to reason, that all these ministry offices are still needed today.

He. It must be kept in mind that Yeshua is the epitome of and over all (authoritatively) ministry offices that follow in this verse. When we ascended to heaven, he spread his own abilities out, as it were, among those he called to be leaders over his spiritual flock below (see Eph 4:8). Collectively, these ministry offices should be doing the work that Yeshua himself would be doing were he here on this earth presently.

Apostles. In addition to the twelve original apostles (including Matthias who replaced Judas Iscariot, Acts 1:26), here is a list of the other apostles, which might be called Yeshua’s ascension-gift apostles (Eph 4:8):

  • James, the half brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem church (Gal 1:19)
  • Barnabas (Acts 14:14)
  • Paul (e.g. Acts 14:14)
  • Apollos (1 Cor 4:6–9)
  • Timothy and Silvanus (1 Thess 1:1 and 2:6)
  • Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25)
  • Titus, and other un-named apostles—at least two (2 Cor 8:23)
  • Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7)
  • Yeshua is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession (Heb 3:1)
  • Including Judas Iscariot, this makes a total of at least 26 apostles who are mentioned in the Testimony of Yeshua. 

With this list in mind, it now becomes logical to divide the apostles into at least three categories or level. Yeshua is the Chief Apostle. The original 12 that Yeshua appointed (minus Judas Iscariot) and possibly Paul would be the next tier. They are the foundational apostles. Yeshua mentions that the 12 apostles will rule over the 12 tribes of Israel and that the 12 foundations of the New Jerusalem are named after the 12 apostles (Rev 21:14). It seems that Yeshua commissioned these foundational apostles in direct, face-to-face encounters. After this come the lowest tier or ascension-gift apostles (Eph 4:8), which are all the other apostles.

Apostle Defined

Apostolos means “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.” According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, apostolos originally was a military or naval term relating to an expeditionary force that was sent out or dispatched. It came to be applied to a band of soldiers, or colonists and their settlement as well as to the commander of the expedition or an admiral. A common feature of all the definitions of the word was its passive character. In none of the definitions is there any suggestion of initiative on the part of the apostle. The word denotes the quality of being sent. In the New Testament, apostolos always denotes a man who is sent with full authority and is synonymous with the Hebrew word shaliach as is evidenced in John 13:16. Here is a legal term relating to one who is lawfully charged to represent the person and cause of another. This meaning is confirmed by the juxtaposition in this verse of the Greek words doulos/kurios and apostolos/pemptsas. Here the servant (doulos) stands under full jurisdiction of his master (kurios) and derives from him all that he is. Apostolos also denotes the “commissioned representative of a congregation” (Acts 13:2ff). Finally, the term signifies the “bearers or proclaimers of the NT message.” The latter meaning applied to not only the original twelve apostles that Yeshua commissioned and sent out, but to the first Christian missionaries or their most prominent representatives (Acts 14:4, 14). According to Paul, the apostles (1 Cor 12:28f) aren’t officials of the congregation, nor the chief of such officials, but are officers of Yeshua by whom the church is built (ibid. vol 1, p. 407ff). 

Attributes of an Apostolic Ministry 

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Beware of False Prophets and Biblical Gurus—Accountability of “Prophets”

1 Corinthians 14:29, Let…prophets speak…let the others Judge.

How many YouTube, internet and podcast “prophets” are out there claiming to hear form Elohim, and are making all sorts of prophetic proclamations as they build their empires of fame and fortune supposedly in the name of Elohim? Caveat emptor! Let the buyer beware!

Many people who claim to be prophets have a hard time being accountable to anyone. After all, they’re sure that they have heard from Elohim, so who is anyone to question them? In their mind, to question them is to question Elohim. Lack of accountability of prophets to other prophets or spiritual elders is contrary to what the Bible teaches (1 Cor 14:29). Yet such accountability is a rare occurrence in most churches where the gifts of prophecy operate.

Such a demeanor of self-delusion among “prophets” who refuse to be unaccountable to anyone can become a major stronghold of pride on the part of these individuals

If they claim to be speaking for Elohim when they are not, they are running the risk of blaspheming Elohim by speaking lies in his name. In this case, in reality, they’re speaking from the dictates of their own evil hearts, and not by the Spirit of Elohim, which is something that Elohim hates and condemns (Jer 23:16–22; Ezek 13:2–7).

Such “prophets” are under the influencing control of their carnal nature instead of the Spirit of Elohim lack, and they lack self-control, humility and meekness. Moreover, those who are driven by their own passions of impetuosity, pride, anger and accusativeness are especially vulnerable to false prophetic proclamations. They are operating not from a sound (or moderate and self-controlled) mind that is under the control of the Spirit of Elohim, but from an unsound mind (2 Tim 1:7). Such people are even open to demonic spirits because they are controlled by a spirit of pride and hypocrisy. They hate accountability from other people because the light of truth shining through others onto them might expose them for who they really are and not who they suppose themselves to be—prophets speaking the oracles of Elohim.

Furthermore, when these “prophets” have psychological disorders (e.g. they are “bi-polar,” manic-depressive, or have an obsessive-compulsive disorder) or they are under the influence of either medically prescribed psychotropic drugs or non-prescribed “legal” pyscho active drugs (like cannabis) and this is combined with some knowledge of the Scriptures and a passion for the Bible great delusion can come forth all ostensibly in the name of YHVH Elohim. In reality, these “prophets” proclaiming a toxic mix of truth error. Beware!

Add to this the alluring opportunities modern technology presents these “prophets” for stardom due to easy access to social and digital media platforms and outlets like Facebook and YouTube, the possibilities for spreading their false prophetic delusion far and wide to others is great. Anyone—literally anyone—can look good on a digital platform, and can gain sycophantic and fawning followers (just look at the sins that have been uncovered on many of the current and past crop of televangelists), but do we really know their true character or who they really? That’s why the Bible admonishes us to know those who labor among us (1 Thess 5:12), and why YHVH has given us the gift of the discernment of spirits (1 Cor 12:10).

 

The Torah on the Conduct of Those in the Ministry

Leviticus 21

This chapter contains the regulations for the conduct of priests. YHVH’s standards are high, and a priest could easily be disqualified from service for failing to measure up. YHVH demands higher standards of righteousness, obedience and holiness for those in leadership over his people. 

The higher up in leadership one desires to go, the more one’s walk must characterize service, sacrifice, self-deprecation and holiness (see 1 Tim 3:1–13; Tit 1:5–9). The standards of holiness rise as one seeks to attain a deeper and more intimate relationship with YHVH, for as he entrusts a person with greater spiritual responsibility he gives a greater level of anointing commensurate with the responsibilities of the ministerial office. Spiritual responsibility and divine anointing aren’t things to be trifled with or taken for granted.

Yeshua condemned the religious leaders of his day for not practicing what they preached (i.e. hypocrisy), for living lives of pretense and show (he called such ones “whited sepulchers full of dead man’s bones”), and for greediness and pride. 

Check your walk in these areas. Do you want to “go places” with YHVH in service to him and his people? Are you willing to pay the price of self-sacrifice and self-deprecation? The sacrifices necessary to be Yeshua’s bondservant comes at a high price (especially for the flesh), but the spiritual rewards are priceless!

Leviticus 10:17–23, Physical defects on the priests.The priests who ministered before YHVH Elohim in the tabernacle were to be completely without physical defect. Why? Because they were a prophetic foreshadow of Yeshua the Messiah who is our perfect and Great High Priest.

 

The Office of Bishop Explained

Acts 20:28, Overseers, to shepherd the church.

The word bishop is the Greek word ἐπίσκοπος (pronounced episkopos) and means “an overseer, patron, one who watches or protects, one who cares for others, a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent; the superintendent, elder, or overseer of a Christian church” (TDNT, vol. 2, p. 608). This word or related cognates occur only several times in the NT (Luke 19:44; Acts 1:20; 1 Tim 3:1, 2; 2 Tim 4:22; Tit 1:7; 3:15; 1 Pet 2:12, 25). 

Yeshua is the Chief Shepherd and Bishop over his people (1 Pet 2:25), with those holding those earthly offices under his authority. 

The TDNT notes that the role of the episkopos is to strengthen that of the pastor in watching over the flock (e.g. Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:2). The NT with regard to the congregation in Ephesus seems to equates the episkopos with the presbuteros (or elders-leaders of a congregation, see Acts 20:28) indicating that there is more than one leader or overseer over a congregation—literally, a group of leader-elders. Elders (presbuteros), pastors (poimen) and bishops (episkopos) are again viewed as equivalent in regards to local leadership in 1 Peter 5:1 and 2. In this passage, the leadership terms are in the plural, thus not indicating a central lead figure per se although it is the scriptural norm from the time of the patriarchs, through the priesthood, judges and kings of Israel to have a human who exercises ultimate authority. Such leaders can be elected (Acts 1:21ff; 6:3ff) or be appointed by an apostle (Acts 14:23; ibid., p. 615f).