In God’s final revelation that is specifically directed to His churches (the book of Revelation), we learn at least four distinctive aspects about the pastor of a church in relation to Christ.
1. He is a special representative of Christ
John wrote “to the seven churches which are in Asia” (Rev. 1:4). He informed them that the glorified Christ declared to him: “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches” (1:20).
This statement compared with Paul’s teaching many years prior that ministers are “the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 8:23) reveals that because a pastor is one of the stars who are the glory of Christ, he must be one who furnishes people with a right opinion of the unique excellence of Christ. He is thus a special representative of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20-21).
2. He has a special relationship with Christ
In his description of the glorified Christ, John writes that “He had in His right hand seven stars” (1:16). He later reports that Christ Himself spoke of that same fact three times (1:20; 2:1; cf. 3:1).
Although every believer is in Christ’s hand (John 10:28), these four statements suggest that the pastor, the “angel” of a church, is in some special sense in Christ’s right hand. He, therefore, has a special relationship to Christ.
3. He has a special responsibility to Christ
The glorified Christ directed John to write letters to the pastors of seven literal churches in Asia Minor in the first century (Rev. 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14). In those letters, He confronts those pastors in pointed ways about their relationship to Him and their service to Him (e.g., “for my name’s sake hast labored” [2:3]). He demands faithfulness of them (e.g., 2:10, 25) and warns of dire consequences for them and their churches if they fail Him (e.g., 2:5, 16; 3:3).
4. He has a special reward from Christ
The glorified Christ speaks of a crown belonging to the pastor: “Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (3:11; cf. 1 Cor. 3:5-17 and Peter’s instruction to elders: “When the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not way” [1 Pet. 5:4]). In view of this special reward, the pastor must persevere in his faithful service to Christ.
Because of these special characteristics of pastors in relation to Christ, we need to continually be mindful that we honor Christ by honoring these who are His special servants whom He has graciously gifted us with (Eph. 4:11ff.). Let us, therefore, diligently honor Christ by honoring our pastors!