be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among whom the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. – [acts 20:38]
guarding the flock
the final words of paul to the church at ephesus hold beautiful meaning on multiple levels. he uses this final opportunity to encourage them to continue in the faith, and warn them to be on guard against those who would surely work to undermine the church in his absence.
i have never worked as a shepherd, but having studied the bible for many years i have gleaned some understanding of their job. there are many well-known shepherds in scripture, including abraham, isaac, jacob, moses, and king david. we learn especially from david that the role of shepherd was not passive, but active. the shepherd didn’t merely respond to troubles the sheep may get themselves into, but actively led the sheep, guided the sheep, and guarded the sheep.
there is always a threat of danger to sheep, and their survival is dependent on an attentive shepherd, devoted to the flock and to guarding their welfare day and night.
the word pastor, of course, is translated from the word shepherd. the pastors of this young church in ephesus were called to fight against complacency and to be on guard over their own hearts and the hearts of their ‘flock’.
paul goes on to remind them that this flock is no random assortment of sheep! this flock is valuable beyond measure, with shepherds appointed by the Holy Spirit to guard them. furthermore, this flock has been bought by the blood of Christ, who himself was represented as both shepherd and lamb.
we should all seek to diligently lead whatever flock it is that we have been given to lead, and to faithfully follow the shepherds placed to guard us by the Spirit. we are also both sheep and shepherd – called to lead and also to follow the One True Shepherd who guards us faithfully as we guard His flock in His name.