GUIDE, and 

  Christ the Shepherd,
Ravenna, Gal.Placid.,  425.



General Reflections on the Terms



1) THE image of shepherd was used in classical antiquity and Judaism to describe compassionate rulers and deities. Jesus applies this image to himself and extends it to his followers as a way of describing the ministries of guiding, leading, gathering, and caring.

2) THE term guide came to be understood in a metaphorical way in the context of leadership and teaching that leads to God.  The fascinating concept of angels originally referred to earthly messengers, but came to mean powerful spiritual beings who guard, protect and intercede for human beings.

SOURCES:  Kittel, The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, (Eerdmans, 2000, c1964).
 2 ) H.G.Liddell, R. Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. rev. H.S.Jones & R.McKenzie, (Oxford, 1940).



1. S

  Christ the Shepherd,
Ravenna, Gal.Placid.,  425.
 The Good Shepherd,
4th cent. Roman sarcophagus






Courtly style honours the king with this title, which is combined with a whole number of recurrent attributes; on inscriptions the king also uses it of himself as the one divinely chosen to bring salvation. Gathering the dispersed, righteous government and care for the weak are marks of the shepherd function of the ruler.

Gods, too, bear the title of shepherd. In Egypt the image of the ruler of the world to come (usually Osiris or the dead king as Osiris), who, as a herd tends his flock, protects his subjects (as stars), is already common in the royal funerary (or pyramid) texts of the ancient kingdom






1.2.1 Throughout the biblical period tending flocks, with agriculture, was in Palestine the basis of the economy. The dryness of the ground made it necessary for the flocks of sheep and cattle to move about during the rainless summer and to stay for months at a time in isolated areas far from the dwelling of the owner. Hence the herding of sheep etc.—and this is the only ref. in the NT—was an independent and responsible job; indeed, in view of the threat of wild beasts and robbers it could even be dangerous. Sometimes the owner himself (Lk. 15:6; Jn. 10:12) or his sons did the job, but usually it was done by hired shepherds who only too often did not justify the confidence reposed in them (Jn. 10:12 f.).

1.2.2  There are a great number of passages which use the rich shepherd vocabulary for Yahweh and depict God in new and vivid developments of the metaphor as the Shepherd who goes before His flock, who guides it, who leads it to pastures and to places where it may rest by the waters, who protects it with His staff, who whistles to the dispersed and gathers them, who carries the lambs in His bosom and leads the mother-sheep (Is. 40:11).

It is surprising that there is no single instance in the OT of “shepherd” ever being used in Israel as a title for the ruling king. The distinction from the courtly style of the ancient Orient is even more palpable if we add that in the time of impending disaster “shepherd” still occurs as a title for the ruler, but only for the future Messianic son of David.

1.2.3.  Shepherd as a title for the Messiah undergoes a unique and, from the NT standpoint, final development in Deutero-Zechariah. After the return from exile bad shepherds ruled who provoked the wrath of Yahweh, Zech. 10:3; 11:4–17. He summons the sword: “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against my fellow … Smite the shepherd, so that the sheep scatter,” Zech. 13:7.

This divine judgment is the beginning of the purification from which the people of God moves on as a remnant into the time of salvation, v. 8f. The shepherd whom the sword smites was originally the worthless shepherd of 11:15ff.; in the present context, however, he can only be the one “whom they pierced” (12:10) and whose death ushered in the time of salvation (13:1–6). Thus at the end of the OT shepherd sayings there stands an intimation of the shepherd who suffers death according to God’s will and who thereby brings about the decisive turn

1.2.4.  In a Rabbinical list of thieving and cheating occupations we find that of the shepherd. This classification of herds as notorious robbers and cheats means that like the publicans and tax-gatherers they were deprived of civil rights, i.e., they could not fulfil a judicial office or be admitted in court as witnesses. It is worth noting that to buy wool, milk, or a kid from a shepherd was forbidden on the assumption that it would be stolen property. The Rabbis. ask with amazement how, in view of the despicable nature of shepherds, one is to explain the fact that God is called “my shepherd” in Ps. 23:1.







1.3.1.  The shepherd is never judged adversely in the NT. In the Gospels his sacrificial loyalty to his calling is depicted with loving sympathy in true-to-life pictures. He knows each of his animals, calls them by name (Jn. 10:3, 14, 27), seeks the lost sheep, is happy when he finds it (Lk. 15:4–6), and is prepared to hazard his life to protect the sheep from the wolf (Jn. 10:11–13). Jesus does not hesitate to use the shepherd as a figure for God in His parables, (Lk. 15:4–7 par. Mt. 18:12–14 ). The high estimation of the shepherd in all this stands in such striking contrast to the contempt of the Rabbis  that one is forced to conclude that it mirrors directly the actuality of the life of Jesus, who had fellowship with the despised and with sinners, and who shared sympathetically in their life.

1.3.2.  In the parable of the lost sheep (Lk. 15:4–7 par. Mt. 18:12–14) Jesus tells of the joy of the shepherd when he finds his sheep after a difficult search.  Because God, like the rejoicing shepherd of the parable, is filled with such boundless joy at the bringing back of the lost, the fetching of sinners home is the saving office of Jesus

To describe His mission He uses an ancient motif of world renewal, namely, that of gathering again the dispersed flock which is abandoned to destruction, Mt. 15:24; 10:6. the allusion to Ez. 34 is particularly plain in Lk. 19:10. As the scattering is an image of disaster, so the gathering is an image of the coming of the age of salvation.

1.3.3.  The predicate “chief shepherd” in Hb. 13:20 is used to denote the uniqueness of Christ who surpasses all previous examples, especially Moses, while in 1 Pt. 5:4 it expresses the majesty of the Lord, who demands a reckoning from His shepherd. The metaphor describes Christ as the ruler of Israel (Mt. 2:6) promised in Mi. 5:3. As the earthly Lord He is the merciful One who has pity on the leaderless flock, Mk. 6:34; Mt. 9:36. As the exalted Lord, He is the Lamb who watches over the innumerable multitude of those who come out of great tribulation and leads them to the springs of living water, Rev. 7:17, cf. 14:4b.







1.4.1.  The pastors and teachers form a single group, obviously because they both minister to the individual congregation. These shepherds are the leaders of the local church (πρεσβύτεροι/presbyters  in 1 Pt. 5:1; Ac. 20:17; ἐπίσκοποι/episkopoi in Ac. 20:28), or the bishop in Ign. (Phld., 2, 1; R., 9, 1). The pastor’s task is to care for the congregation (Ac. 20:28; 1 Pt. 5:2–4; Ign.Phld., 2, 1; R., 9, 1), to seek the lost (Mt. 18:12–14; cf. 12:30 par. Lk. 11:23), and to combat heresy (Ac. 20:29 f.). The fulfilment of this task by the pastor is to be an example for the flock, 1 Pt. 5:3. The chief Shepherd will recognise the ministry of the pastors on His appearing.

1.4.2.  In the Apocryphal Letter of Hermas, which was written before the middle of the 2nd cent. in Rome, an angel of repentance appears in shepherd garb as the mediator of revelations. After this angel-shepherd the work even in the 2nd cent. came to be called the Pastor (Hermae), i.e., “The Shepherd (who appeared to Hermas).”Sent by the Most Holy Shepherd (Christ) (v. 5, 2, cf. s., 10, 1, 1), the shepherd is the teacher, instructor, guardian angel and companion of Hermas, whose task is to proclaim the summons to repentance revealed to him. There is no root in the NT sphere for the idea of the shepherd as a mediator of revelation. The only analogy is in the Hermetica. In the first tractate of the Corp. Herm., which has the title Poimandres, revelation is mediated through a “being of gigantic size” (1, 1) which presents itself as “Poimandres, the Nous of the supreme power” ( 1, 2). Though it is debatable whether the name Ποιμάνδρης/Poimandres is originally related to ποιμαίνειν/poimainein, by popular etym. it was taken to mean “the shepherd of men.” The author of Herm. perhaps took the idea of an angel-shepherd as the mediator of revelation from this world of thought.

J. Jeremias



2. G

 Raphael and Tobit _
Med. illum. MS_






The noun ὀδηγός/hodēgos (and the derived verb ὁδηγέω/hodēgeō) , are mostly used lit., more rarely fig. ὁδηγός has the sense of “leader(on a way), fig. “teacher,” “guide,” ὁδηγέω/hodēgeō (always with acc. of person) “to lead on a way,” “to show the way,” fig. “to guide,” “to instruct.”  The word does not occur in connection with psychopompous deities etc., nor does it play the prominent role one would expect in the Herm. Lit: ὁδηγός does not occur in Corp. Herm., but we find καθοδηγός/kathhodēgos, though in 1, 26 and 29 this is used for the author in the function transmitted to him by Poimandres : hence the sense of “guide” or “teacher” is better than “leader”





2.2.1. ὁδηγός/hodēgeō is rare in the Septuagint It is used for guides in 1 Macc. 4:2: 2 Macc. 5:15: 2 Esdr.. 8:1, and in the same sense for the pillar of fire which showed the way by night during the wilderness journey, Wis. 18:3  ὁδηγέω/hodēgeō occurs much more often, namely, 42 times (27 in Ps.).. In the overwhelming majority of cases ὁδηγεῖν/hodēgein is ascribed to God. Apart from verses from Prv., Qoh. and Wis., the only exceptions are Ex. 32:34 (Moses at God’s command); Psalm 44:4 (the king’s right hand); Job 31:18 (here, as in the previous verse, the HT caused the translator some difficulty). Israel experienced God’s ὁδηγεῖν/hodēgein at the Exodus, Ex. 13:17; 15:13; Nu. 24:8; Psalm  76:20; 77:53; 105:9; cf. also Is. 63:14 and 2 Ki. 7:23 (1 Ch. 17:21). For God’s preceding and showing the way by means of the cloud and pillar of fire,  ὁδηγέω/hodēgeō is also used of Abraham’s wanderings in Jos. 24:3. On the other hand, in Psalm  66:5 we find the fig. sense “to lead,” “to guide,” “to help. This dominates all the other refs. in Ps., which speak of God’s care for the righteous.

2.2.2. The idea of angels guiding a man on his way and in his actions is common in the Rabbinic. writings. These are called accompanying angels, e.g., b. Shab., 119b, but mostly ministering angels. Later they have the task of fetching the souls of the righteous after death. It is evident that this is a development from the presuppositions of Jewish angelology and has nothing to do with non-biblical ideas on conductors of souls






ὁδηγέω also occurs in Jn. 16:13. Here, in the fifth and last of the Paraclete sayings, we read that “The Spirit of truth … will guide [ ὁδηγήσε/hodēgēse] you into all truth. This reading suggests that ὁδηγέω/hodēgeō should be taken in the sense “to lead,” “to guide”; the full truth—under the influence of the spatial metaphor of the way—is the goal to which the Spirit will lead the disciples. Psalm 24:5 and 142:10 might be adduced in support of this interpretation. Successful direction and guidance demands not only the expert and reliable guide but also the obedient traveler.  It is enough to point out that elsewhere in biblical Gk. ὁδηγέω/hodēgeō is common in the sense “to instruct,” “to teach.”





 Archangel Michael
 Byz. icon






3.1.1. The ἄγγελος/angelos is “one who brings a message,” a “messenger.” This meaning is clear already in Homer (Iliad, 5, 804, cf. 18, 2). And in the time of Homer the role of the messenger is sacral. He stands under the special protection of the gods (Il., 1, 334, cf. 7, 274). It is for this reason that Achilles does not vent his wrath on the messengers of Agamemnon (Il., 1, 334 ff.). The task of the messenger is to deliver messages. Since this is the only possibility of intercourse between men, he is accorded special divine protection.

3.1.2. “The earthly sacral ἄγγελος/angelos is the prototype of the heavenly ἄγγελοι/angeloi.” The heavenly ἄγγελος/angelos in the strict sense is Hermes. There are chthonic as well as heavenly ἄγγελοι/angeloi. Plato mentions the messenger from the underworld (Resp., X, 619b). As psychopomp Hermes is given the title ἄγγελος/angelos,  Nemesis,  Leg., IV, 717d. Similarly, Hecate herself, who is linked with Artemis, is described as ἄγγελος/angelos. Greek and Hellenistic religion thus felt itself to be in connexion with divinity through the divine messengers.







3.2.1. The most important angelic form, most frequently mentioned, almost always attested in the OT in distinction from other angelic beings who occur only occasionally and collectively, and supremely sent by God with a commission, is the angel of Yahweh. In the faith of older Israel this angel is not a terrifying being, but a friendly and helpful messenger of God (2 S. 14:17, 20; 1 S. 29:9) in whom one may confide (2 S. 19:28). He smites the foes of Israel (2 K. 19:35), helps Elijah (1 K. 19:7), resists Balaam (Nu. 22:22), protects Israel at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:19), guides the people (Ex. 23:20), and fulfils many other commissions (Ju. 6:11 ff.; 13:3 ff.; 2 K. 1:3, 15). This older idea, which was certainly very popular, is retained in even the most complex theological passages. In Zechariah “Angel of The Lord” has basically no other task than in the earliest periods. He helpfully represents the interests of Israel (1:12 and esp. 3:2).

3.2.2.. A strange phenomenon, for which there is as yet no adequate explanation from the standpoint of the history of religion, is the development of the previously restricted belief in angels after the exile, leading ultimately to a veritable angelology. We are faced by the fact that for a long period, under pressure from polytheism, Israel had had no angelology. In exilic and post-exilic times the belief in angels then became more prominent. More intensive contact with outside religions undoubtedly had some influence, yet hardly explains the matter. We have also to reckon with the fact that in a unique religious situation suppressed illegitimate gods or demons may sometimes have re-emerged in harmless forms. In Israel itself the increasingly austere transcendentalising of Yahweh may have favoured the interest in concrete mediatorial beings.

3.2.3. An insight into the new outlook is afforded by the Book of Job, which speaks of the angelic world with no dogmatic pretensions. Yet their holiness is limited; they are not pure compared with God (Job 4:18; 15:15). They were witnesses of creation, which they greeted with songs of joy (Job 38:7). They could be called upon in times of need (Job 5:1), some of them possibly being intercessors (Job 33:23). The angel of death came to the dying (Job 33:22; Prv. 16:14). Similar references may be found in the Psalter.

von Rad

3.2.4. It is in apocalyptic from the days of Daniel that we find the starting-point and centre of more developed angelic speculation. Once the immediacy of early prophecy comes to an end, the angels serve to mediate the secrets of nature, the heavenly world and the last age. At the same time the example of the heroes of other religions may have strengthened the inclination to describe the intercourse of such figures as Enoch with members of the heavenly world.






3.3.1. The OT Jewish view of angels as representatives of the heavenly world and messengers of God is taken over quite naturally by the men of the NT. The angels represent the other world (Hb. 12:22; 1 Tm. 5:21). To be like them is to reflect this world (Ac. 6:15). To be compared with them is to be compared with what is divine (Gl. 4:14). To be a spectacle to them is to offer such to all who dwell in heaven (1 C. 4:9).

As in Judaism, there is reference to OT scenes involving angels, e.g., the visits of the angels to Abraham (Gn. 18) and Lot (Gn. 19) in Hb. 13:2; or the appearance of the angel to Moses (Ex. 3:2) in Ac. 7:30, 35; or the part of the angels in the giving of the Law in Ac. 7:53, Gl. 3:19 and Hb. 2:2.

3.3.2. The active participation of angels seems to be most strongly assumed in relation to events of the last time. Here Jesus Himself ascribes to them the role of accompanying hosts who come with the Judge, who act with Him and for Him, and who are present at the judgment (Lk. 12:8 f.). Paul presupposes the same view (2 Th. 1:7; cf. 1 Th. 4:16). The Revelation of John thus paints on a broad canvas that which is common to all early Christianity when in the description of events of the last days it introduces angels at many points and in many ways, describing in a most varied manner both their appearance and function.

In Rabbinic literature there is an almost complete absence of any thought of the co-operation of angels in the judgment. It seems to be crowded out by the rather different thought of the participation of Israel. In the Apocalypse, however, it is not merely emphasised that God will be accompanied by angels at the judgment, but that they will also assist in it. αὐτοῦ).

3.3.3. To early Christianity the action of the angels is essentially action for Christ and in the service of His history. (Hb. 1:14; Rev. 19:10). They thus take a dynamic part in the processes of this salvation history, which is described not merely in the nativity anthem (Lk. 2:14) or the eschatological anthems (Rev. 5:11 ff.; 19:1 ff.) corresponding to Is. 6:2 ff., but also as χαρά [/chara - the person or thing that causes joy] at the development of the individual within this history (Lk. 15:10).

3.3.4. The participation of angels in the activities of the apostolic community assumed by the narrative in certain parts of Acts is based on the same presuppositions as their participation in the nativity and resurrection. Here, too, it is only the angel of God or of The Lord who acts on behalf of the apostles (5:19; 12:7 ff.), or declares to them the will of God or of the Kurios [Lord] (8:26; 10:3 ff.; 27:23), or punishes the enemy of the community (12:23). The extent to which the angel has ceased to play any autonomous part is shown, e.g., by a comparison of 18:9 and 27:23; the ἄγγελος/angelos simply takes the place of the Kurios [Lord] whose message he has to bring.

3.3.5. The idea of the guardian, or better the directing and ministering angel, is taken over from Judaism, which had long since forgotten the animistic roots of the notion. Ac. 12:15 assumes a likeness in appearance and voice between the ἄγγελος/angelos and the man concerned. In Mt. 18:10 recollection of the angels of these little ones who constantly behold the face of God serves to describe the all-embracing love of God to which these little ones are important, and thus to drive home our human responsibility to regard them as important too.

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