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Should armor-bearer be a church position? What is an armor-bearer (armorbearer / armor bearer)?

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The Bible notes on some occasions a person called an armor-bearer (also spelled armorbearer or armor bearer). This individual was a servant who carried weapons for his commander. Several Old Testament leaders had an armor-bearer, including Abimelech (Judges 9:54), King Saul (1 Samuel 16:21), Jonathan (1 Samuel 14:6-17), Goliath (1 Samuel 17:7, called a shield-bearer), and Joab (2 Samuel 18:15).

After David played the harp for Saul, he became the king's armor bearer. First Samuel 16:21 shares, "And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer." This important position of service gave David personal access to the king that few other people held.

Only one other armor-bearer is mentioned by name: "Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah" (2 Samuel 23:37; 1 Chronicles 11:39). Interestingly, Joab's armor-bearer was also listed among David's mighty men. This position was one of considerable influence, as Naharai was listed as one of Israel's top warriors during the time of David.

Still today, some churches have a symbolic or figurative position of a person called an armor-bearer. This individual generally carries the Bible of the church leader, considered the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12) and serves in many ways as a personal assistant or even a personal protector or bodyguard.

Is a modern armor-bearer in the church a biblical concept? A look at the biblical evidence points out it is not. The biblical concept of an armor-bearer referred specifically to a person who carried real, physical weapons for military leaders for times of war. This has nothing to do with the modern usage of an armor-bearer as someone who serves alongside a pastor in the church.

However, it is also true that the idea of a pastor having a personal assistant called an armor-bearer is not prohibited in Scripture nor necessarily contradicts biblical principles. Though the use of the term armor-bearer may not match the biblical usage of the term, church leaders certainly need quality leaders to serve at their side in a variety of ways.

While a church may wish to refrain from using the warlike language of an armor-bearer in reference to such workers, the role of one who serves alongside a pastor is a noble one that continues in a variety of ways today. Then the elder can focus on his priorities that include the words of Paul in Titus 1:9: "He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it."

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