JESUS THE GOOD, GREAT, CHIEF SHEPHERD
Jesus is referred to as the "Good Shepherd" (John 10:14–16; cf. Psalm 23:1–6), the "Great Shepherd" (Hebrews 13:20–21), and the "Chief Shepherd" (1 Peter 5:4). Jesus tells us, "I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:15). This is what Jesus meant when He said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep . . . If anyone enters by me, he will be saved" (John 10:7–9). Shepherds in the Middle East lay down in the doorway of the sheep-pen to protect their sheep and keep them safe. It's like Jesus is saying, "You want [to be] my sheep? Over my dead body!"
The risen and ascended Christ has given us shepherds and teachers "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11–12). The Greek word in the Bible for "pastor" actually means "shepherd" because pastors are called by God to care for the people of God in the same way that a shepherd cares for his sheep (Ezekiel 34:1–31). In other words, Jesus is the Chief Shepherd and Overseer of the flock, his church (1 Peter 2:25; 5:4), yet he has given undershepherds as gifts to know, lead, feed, and protect the church (1 Peter 5:1–4). These pastors are the men First Baptist Church has recognized as elders. We understand the Scriptures to use three different words to refer to the same office in the local church: pastors (Ephesians 4:11), elders (Acts 20:17; 1 Peter 5:1; Titus 1:5), or overseers (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:1–7; Titus 1:7). Furthermore, because we understand the Bible to teach that pastoral leadership in the church is not to be restricted to one man, we believe in a plurality of pastors. The practical benefits of plurality include biblical accountability, balance of spiritual gifts, burden sharing, and a better picture of the church.
Matthew DelValle grew up in Winter Haven, Florida in a Christian home and gospel-preaching churches. He received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at an early age and was baptized by immersion at age twelve. Matthew completed his Master of Divinity at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2016. Prior to serving as the Vocational Pastor of First Baptist Church, Matthew served as a pastoral intern at Cherrydale Baptist Church, a bi-vocational pastor at Bon Air Baptist Church, and as an Administrator at Arlington Baptist Church, all located in Arlington, Virginia. Matthew desires to shepherd God's people with God's Word for God's glory in Jesus Christ.