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Pastoral Ministry according to Paul: A Biblical Vision

Pastoral Ministry according to Paul: A Biblical Vision

James W. Thompson

| Baker Academic | 2006

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What is the ultimate purpose of pastoral ministry? What emphases and priorities should fuel the pursuit of this purpose? These are perennial questions engaged by pastors, the churches that employ them, and the seminaries that prepare them.

As a New Testament scholar who works at the intersection between biblical studies and practical ministry, James Thompson suggests that we need to recapture the theological foundation for understanding pastoral ministry. In this careful, contextual study of Pauline letters, Thompson draws out Paul’s vision and purpose for his ministry. He concludes that the goal of pastoral ministry is “transforming the community of faith until it is ‘blameless’ at the coming of Christ.” It is corporate, spiritual, and ethical growth that Paul focuses on, as opposed to the frequent contemporary focus on numerical growth and individual needs.

Thompson recognizes the historical and cultural gap between Paul’s ministry context and our own, and he nevertheless believes that this vision of ministry has profound implications for us today. He goes beyond the emphasis on pastoral roles and mere pragmatics of much of the “how to” literature and offers suggestions for application that are rooted in the eschatological and ethical goals of Paul’s vision of pastoral work.