The Present Work of Christ Part IV: The Present Work of Christ in Heaven (Part 2) -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 121:484 (Oct 1964)
Article: The Present Work of Christ Part IV: The Present Work of Christ in Heaven (Part 2)
Author: John F. Walvoord


The Present Work of Christ
Part IV:
The Present Work of Christ in Heaven
(Part 2)

John F. Walvoord

The Great Shepherd and the Sheep

One of the important figures used to depict the relationship between Christ and His church is that of the Great Shepherd and the sheep. From the time of Abraham, Israel, as a nation, was known as a people who raised cattle and sheep and, therefore, it was a part of their culture to know the characteristics of the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep. It was a natural development that the term shepherd should be used to represent a spiritual overseer who would care for his congregation in much the same way as a shepherd would care for his sheep. There are, accordingly, frequent allusions in the Bible to a shepherd with this significance (Ps 23:1; 80:1; Eccl 12:11; Isa 40:11; 63:14; Jer 31:10; Ezek 34:23; 37:24; John 21:15–17; Eph 4:11; 1 Pet 5:1–4).1 Those who took places of leadership, even in nonspiritual contexts, were sometimes called shepherds (Isa 44:28; 63:11). Accordingly, it was a common expression that “sheep without a shepherd” represented individuals or nations who had forgotten God (Num 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17; 2 Chron 18:16; Ezek 34:5, 8; Zech 10:2; Matt 9:36; Mark 6:34). Even in modern times the term shepherd has been perpetuated in the term pastor as applied to a pastor as the shepherd of a church. The word sheep, in the sense of one who is offered as a sacrifice, is used of Christ, referred to as a lamb (Isa 53:7; John 1:29; Rev 5:6, etc).

The presentation of Christ as the shepherd is divided into

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