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In the Old Testament there was a distinction between the members of the congregation and the ministers. Only the prophets, priests and kings were anointed. But under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit comes on "all flesh"— that is, all the people of God— "sons, daughters, young men, old men, menservants, maidservants" (Acts 2:16-18). All believers in Christ are kings and priests to God now and in eternity (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:4-6). There are no two groups called clergy and laity. All of God's people are clergy. Each believer is a minister to God and people with varying responsibilities and various gifts. Even before the New Covenant was actually established, Jesus spoke against the Jewish synagogue practice of using special titles and wearing special dresses (Mt 23:1-10). His twofold argument was: "One is your Father who is in heaven... You are all brothers." In any matter, the words of Christ are final and we dare not modify it. The apostles followed Christ's teaching closely in the Church. We don't read of Rev. Paul or Rt. Rev. Peter or Father John in Acts or the Epistles. Peter addressed Paul simply as "Brother Paul" (2 Pet 3:15). Once upon a time the Pentecostal pastors were making fun of the ministers of the mainline Churches for using clerical titles. But now they themselves are hunting for the same. What a shame! If we change anything it must be to get closer to the Scriptures and not another manmade tradition. Even the angel, who brought the Revelation to John, introduced himself as a "brother" (Rev 19:10; 22:9). The introduction of clerical titles was made in latter years when the Church went drifting away from the simple New Testament Church pattern to hierarchial systems. The great Protestant Reformation was not a total restoration of the New Testament Christianity. In fact the reformation is not complete yet. Every step of restoration is both costly and painful. But that is the call of the Head of the Church: "Remember from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else..." (Rev 2:5). The act of ordination is only for appointing a person for a specific function and not for awarding any "title" (Acts 13:2,3; Tit 1:5). For example, Paul and Barnabas, who were "prophets and teachers" in the local Church at Antioch, came to be known as "apostles" after they were ordained and released for a translocal ministry (Acts 13:1; 14:14). We can say Apostle Paul, Evangelist Philip or Pastor Timothy, because these are ministerial or functional titles with Biblical approval. But not Reverend or Father. "Holy and Reverend is HIS Name!" (Psa 111:9). The present craze among preachers is for honorary Doctorates. Titles don't make one great. Some of these doctorates are two a penny these days. One may argue that there were many great men mightily used of God in Church history who had used clerical titles. This is no reason for continuing the practices of the "times of ignorance." God's tolerance does not mean His sanction. The earlier we discard the old wineskins, the more we can enjoy the new wine!
Reverend is a title given by men. Psalm 111:9 reads, "He hath sent redemption unto His people: He hath commanded His covenant forever; holy and reverend is His Name." Only the LORD God is to be revered. The term pastor is used in both Testaments as a term for a shepherd or overseer. For us as Christians the pastors are those called by God as overseers of the flock. These are the leaders of the congregation. Many often interchange the term pastor for evangelist, preacher, or minister. Pastors oversee the congregation, evangelists have the calling that moves people to commit to Christ when they preach the Word. Preachers, speak or expound the Word of God. Ministers are servants as are deacons.
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