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Our Christian Perspective

Did Jesus and the Apostles Have Armor Bearers?

By Brother James

One of the most prominent trends within the churches of today is for the pastor to have armor bearers. Is there a Biblical precedent for this position, function and alleged ministry in contemporary Christian church life? We know that the position of the armor bearer existed in the Old Testament era, but, did Jesus and His Apostles have armor bearers in the New Testament era?

            Given the historical reality that the first century AD Israelites had kings, how much need was there for a Jewish king or religious leader dominated by the Roman Empire for armor bearers? Were the Romans not the ultimate protectors of their subjects? During the times of Jesus, the Christian era the Romans had complete control over the lives of their subjects and the Jews of Jesus’s day were no exception. Jewish law then was secondary at best to Roman law. Legal cases especially those warranting capital punishment were meted out by the laws of the Roman Empire and not by those who were subjugated to Rome’s socio-economic, political, and judicial domination. If we recall the execution/crucifixion of our Lord and Savior, we realize that the High Priests wanted to take Jesus and stone him to death but had to seek and gain the permission of the Roman Prefect/governor Pontius Pilate before they could even lay a hand on Jesus. I remind you at this juncture that crucifixion was the Roman method of execution while stoning someone to death was the Jews means of carrying out capital punishment. So, again I ask, was there any need for armor bearers in Jesus’s day and if Jesus and the Apostles did not need armor bearers why do we see so many churches opting for armor bearers today?

Let us look at some definitions of who and what were the Biblical armor bearers and specifically whom did they serve.

One of the best sources for defining any Biblical terms is the website:  gotquestions.com.  Here is what they wrote about the biblical personages and roles of an armor bearer, “Question: "What is an armor-bearer? Should there be a church position of armor-bearer?"

Answer: In Scripture, an armor-bearer (also spelled armor bearer and armor-bearer) was a servant who carried additional weapons for commanders. Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Saul (1 Samuel 16:21), Jonathan (1 Samuel 14:6-17), and Joab (2 Samuel 18:15) had armor-bearers/armor bearers. Armor-bearers were also responsible for killing enemies wounded by their masters. After enemy soldiers were wounded with javelins or arrows, armor-bearers finished the job with clubs or swords. After the time of David, armor-bearers are no longer mentioned, likely due to the fact that commanders began to fight from chariots (1 Kings 12:18; 20:33).

            The Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary adds for our further understanding in its section, “Occupations and Trades” that,  “After the time of [King] David, commanders fought from chariots and armor bearer  are no longer mentioned.“ Hmm, I find it very interesting that armor bearers are no longer mentioned in the Old Testament after King David’s last mention. I also find it interesting that when we search the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, there is absolutely no mention of armor bearers in the entirety of the New Testament. May we assume then that the role of the armor had become obsolete and correspondingly this role has no Biblical relevance and justification in the Houses of God today?

            So, if an armor bearer carried extra weapons and delivered the coup de grace to fallen enemies in battles won by the ancient Israelites, what are the armor bearers of today functions? If the ancient role of an armor bearer existed today, then the contemporary armor bearers should be more like bodyguards for their pastor? If that is the case would the current armor bearers not carry a 9mm automatic pistol, a Billy club, or even knives for the pastor and finish off the pastor’s enemies either verbally after a heated verbal altercation, or physically after a real fight, of which there have been a few in churches across this land! Yes, I am being facetious but where is the need for present day armor bearers? Well, let me tell you what I have observed. Armor bearers carry their pastor’s paraphernalia, such as their briefcase, robes and any other items the lazy pastor feels demeaned by the attendant labor of carrying because after all, they are messengers from God and should not have to strain themselves with trivial physical matters. Some armor bearers run errands for not only the pastor but all the members of that given pastor’s family.  For example, armor bearers are known to wipe the sweat from the pastor’s brow, pick up the pastors children from school, pick up dry cleaning, go grocery shopping, pick up out of town visiting pastors at the airport, provide limousine service to and from the airport for the pastor and/or members of his/her family.  Sounds like courvee labor (A day of unpaid work required of a vassal by a feudal lord: a form of unpaid, labor which is intermittent in nature and for limited periods of time: typically only a certain number of days' work each year.) to me! This courvee labor is orchestrated by the pastor and heaped upon biblically illiterate, naïve, and uneducated congregants who want to have a sense of power and purpose and the attendant level of respect because they get to perform menial labor for the PASTOR! My list of these menial tasks or what I was taught to refer to as chores in my youth could go on and on, but I am sure you are catching my drift.

So, did Jesus and the Apostles have armor bearers? Absolutely not! They were more than capable of carrying their own personal load.  I do want to remind you that a couple of the Disciples carried swords when they accompanied Jesus into the garden the night He was arrested and taken into custody by the Jews Temple guards. Matthew 26:50-51 clearly informs us that some of the disciples were “carrying” where it reads “50 ... Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.” We can see that Jesus nor His disciples had armor bearers because they, in the vernacular of the streets, handled their own business!” Paul’s words to the church at Colossae are worthy of mentioning here. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:23-25, that, “23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

The work Paul was alluding to was the work of one’s profession and being an armor bearer is not a profession. Please remember one has to receive a salary to be considered a professional in their chosen occupation.

             The Apostle Paul also negates the role and need for armor bearers when he addressed serving the Lord and not men when wrote in Galatians 1:10, “10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Peter sheds additional light on this issue where I believe lazy pastors, and yes, I did say lazy pastors, abuse their authority by having armor bearers.  Luke wrote in Acts 5:29 that Peter said, “29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings.” By the way, can anyone show me the scripture that mentions the names of Jesus’s or the Apostles chariot driver (chauffeur), or His/their personal valet or any other type of personal attendant like a butler that would justify a modern day pastor having an armor bearer? Take your time. I will wait.

Again, consulting gotquestions.org as it relates to the role of an armor bearer we find, “Some churches today have instituted a figurative position of armor-bearer. The duties range widely, but generally speaking, a church armor-bearer carries the “armor” of a church leader, such as the leader’s Bible, “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). In some instances, a church armor-bearer essentially serves as a church leader’s bodyguard. Is the idea of a church armor-bearer biblically based? No, it is not. Does the concept of a church armor-bearer contradict anything in Scripture? Not necessarily. Any church considering such a position should prayerfully study God’s Word and make sure the responsibilities assigned in no way conflict with the New Testament’s teaching on the church. The fact that the New Testament nowhere mentions armor-bearers and nowhere describes any of the apostles/prophets/elders having a person in that role should give pause to any church considering instituting the role of armor-bearer.”

My dear Christian sister and brother, what say you? Given the Biblical evidence that the role of the armor bearer is passé, what are you going to say to the leadership of your house of worship on this issue? Will you sit by idly and ignore these men who have been deluded into believing that they are a necessary component to the successful operation of your church? Shamefully, I must share with you that there are some churches that have neo-slaves, I am sorry, I meant female armor bearers for that given church’s First Lady. What utter nonsense! So, will you suffer in silence, choosing not to make waves while knowing what is going on in your church is NOT Biblically sound? Or, will you simply stand up for what is right in God’s house? What are you going to do? Yes, what will you do? I for one pray that the pastors with armor bearers will conform to the spiritual and divine personal practices of Jesus and carry their own weight!

Unpublished Materials
© ECO 2017 Brother James

Resurrection Mission Baptist Church
Meeting at Restoration Ministries
1728 Stanford Road, Berkley, MI 48072-3060
Sunday School 10:00 AM
Sunday Worship 11:00 AM
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