Quick Facts

  • Pronunciation: e-pē-sko-pe’-ō

  • Strongs Concordance: #G1983
    • to look upon, inspect, oversee, look after, care for
      • of the care of the church which rested upon the elders
      • to look carefully, beware
  • Appears 5 times in 4 verses in the New Testament
  • Common translations:
    • “oversight” (1x)
    • “see” (1x)

How and where episkopeō is used in the New Testament

  1. Hebrews 12:15 – “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;”

  2. 1 Peter 5:2 – “shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;”

My Perspective

Episkopeō is used two times in the New Testament. It describes the action of overseeing, not the office of overseer (See: episkopē). We can deduce from other ideas commanded in 1 Peter 5:1-3 that overseeing is a watching over the body, caring for them, looking carefully as one whom would take ‘first watch’ on a security detail.

As with poimainō , 1 Peter 5:1-3 and Christ’s words in the gospels indicate that such oversight does not include taking  rule or authority over the person under one’s care any more than one could exercise as a non-leader.

I find the Vine’s Dictionary to offer excellent commentary on this word. It reveals that the word means to “contemplate upon”.

Oversight (Exercise, Take):

lit., “to look upon” (epi, “upon,” skopeo, “to look at, contemplate”), is found in 1Pe 5:2 (some ancient authorities omit it), “exercising the oversight,” RV (AV, “taking… “); “exercising” is the right rendering; the word does not imply the entrance upon such responsibility, but the fulfillment of it. It is not a matter of assuming a position, but of the discharge of the duties. The word is found elsewhere in Hbr 12:15, “looking carefully,” RV

1 Peter provides additional insights into how leaders should lead – by example.

“… but proving to be examples over the flock” – 1 Peter 5:3b

The word “example” here is typos (G5179) and is a rich study unto itself. Here are a few verses to read for a better view of how the word is used elsewhere:

The following are  examples:

John 20:25 – “imprint”; Acts 7:43-44 – “images”; Acts 23:25, Philippians 3:17, Hebrews 8:5 – “pattern”; Romans 5:14 – “type”; Romans 6:17 – “form”; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11, 1 Thessalonians 1:7, 1 Timothy 4:12. Titus 2:7, 1 Peter 5:3- “example(s)”; 2 Thessalonians 3:9 – “model”

“What identifies an individual as a king is how other people behave towards him. All authority is assumed, and if other people don’t accept your authority then you don’t have it. Perhaps the critical thing to being a convincing figure of authority is actually not to try too hard.”

– Patrick Stewart


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s