It is derived from the Latin word, pascere, meaning fed or grazed. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, the term may be abbreviated to "Pr" or "Ptr" (singular) or "Ps" (plural).
The word "pastor" derives from the Latin noun pastor which means "shepherd" and relates to the Latin verb pascere – "to lead to pasture, set to grazing, cause to eat". The term "pastor" also relates to the role of elder within the New Testament, but is not synonymous with the biblical understanding of minister. Many Protestant churches call their ministers "pastors".
Present-day usage of the word is rooted in the Biblical metaphor of shepherding. The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) uses the Hebrew word רעה (raʿah), which is used as a noun as in "shepherd," and as a verb as in "to tend a flock." It occurs 173 times in 144 Old Testament verses and relates to the literal feeding of sheep, as in Genesis 29:7. In Jeremiah 23:4, both meanings are used (ra'ah is used for "shepherds" and "shall feed"), "And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD." (KJV).
English-language translations of the New Testament usually render the Greek noun ποιμήν (poimēn) as "shepherd" and the Greek verb ποιμαίνω (poimainō) as "feed". The two words occur a total of 29 times in the New Testament, most frequently referring to Jesus. For example, Jesus called himself the "Good Shepherd" in John 10:11. The same words in the familiar Christmas story (Luke 2) refer to literal shepherds.
In five New Testament passages though, the words relate to members of the church: