The Bishop of Our Souls
The titles that the New Testament writers use for Jesus make for a fascinating and enlightening study. One of the most obscure and perplexing of these titles is found in 1 Peter 2:25, where the Apostle writes, “For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” In the classical language of the King James Version, this title is rendered as “Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” Many evangelicals react negatively to the idea of Jesus as our Bishop. What did Peter have in mind when he spoke of Jesus in this way?
Although Peter’s letter is the only place in the New Testament where Christ is called our Bishop, the concept is deeply rooted in Scripture. We even find a hint of it in the song of Zechariah, father of John the Baptist. Zechariah said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68). In the Old Testament, the promises of redemption that God made to His people included a promise of a day of divine visitation. The Jews were taught to expect a visit from God. Zechariah, however, said God had visited and redeemed His people. He spoke this way because he understood that the appearance of the Messiah was at hand, and He would be heralded by Zechariah’s own son.
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