Ephesians 4:11-13

“And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” 

As we start these verses, this is a good time to review what we have already learned. The church, the body of Christ, is not made up of those who attend a local congregation. It is made up of all of us who have put our faith in Christ Jesus. We are a world-wide body. That is the unity of the church. And this church functions best when we use the gifts we have been given.

I’m going to take just a minute to cover some of the passages that talk about spiritual gifts. Romans 12:6-8 mentions prophecy, service, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading, and showing mercy. 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 talks about messages of wisdom, messages of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, performing of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, different kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:28 then lists these, “First apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, various kinds of tongues.” He goes on in the next chapter to say that all of these gifts are nothing if we do not have love. And the last passage is the one we are covering, Ephesians 4: 11. You have you may have heard the terms “cessationist “and “continuationist”. Cessationists believe that the miracle gives such as tongues and healings have ceased. They ended when the Apostolic aged ended. Most cessationists believe that God can still do miracles, but that the Holy Spirit does not use individuals to perform miraculous signs. Continuationists believe that all of the spiritual gifts are still in operation today. As with any doctrine, there are extremes on both sides.

In my last two blog posts, I addressed the first two gifts mentioned, apostles and prophets. I’m only going to briefly cover them here. Some commentators differentiate between the office of apostle and the gifting of apostle, so I want to address that. Apostle translates as “to send”. Ray Stedman calls pioneering missionaries, apostles. He says men such as William Carey who was a missionary to India and Hudson Taylor who was in China were gifted as apostles. I would argue that they were evangelists and pastor-teachers. Based on my arguments from my last blogs, I think the apostles were the foundation of the church. Ephesians 2:20 talks about the church being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus as the cornerstone. Stedman says in his sermon, “What the apostles say about Jesus Christ is recorded for us in our New Testament. This is from the hands of the apostles and the whole church rests squarely upon that foundation.”

The next gift mentioned by Paul is prophet. Again, see my separate blog post on this for a more detailed explanation. A couple of points here before we move on. A prophet’s job is to encourage, strengthen, and console the church. Look at 1 Corinthians 14:3 for this. Prophets in the New Testament are not like Old Testament prophets. When they speak, it will be in complete consistency with the foundation both the Old and New Testament. They will not be getting new revelation. That is a warning to run far away! That is how we have gotten new religions and cults that are full of heresy.

Evangelism is the third gift Paul mentions. Evangelists are people who are specifically gifted to preach the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. All Christians are expected to evangelize. We should all be prepared to share our testimony. 1 Peter 3:15 says “…but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” But although all Christians are called to evangelize, not all Christians have the gift of evangelism. Some well-known evangelists are Dwight L. Moody and Billy Graham. Evangelists are concerned with the beginning of the Christian life. This leads to our last gift, the pastor teacher.

The pastor-teacher is primarily concerned with the growth of the Christian. Almost every commentary I read combines these two gifts for this passage. I haven’t researched the other passages yet, and I am thinking that there is a separate gift of teaching, but for here, we are going to focus on the pastor-teacher.

The first thing I want to look at are the qualifications of a pastor-teacher. In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, it states a pastor must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not an excessive drinker, not a bully (but gentle), not quarrelsome, not greedy, he must manage his own household, he must not be a new convert, and he must have a good reputation among outsiders. That’s quite a list! 1 Peter 5:3 exhorts elders and leaders to shepherd God’s people willingly. They are to be examples to those they lead.

We see the qualifications of the pastor-teacher, but what is their job? We see it clearly if we read verses 12 and 13. It is to equip the Saints for the work of ministry and to build up the body of Christ until we all reach unity in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son. The dictionary definition of equip is to supply with the necessary items for a particular purpose. It can also mean to prepare someone mentally for a particular situation or task. Paul uses the Greek word katartismos here which means to mend, repair, or make whole or perfect. This would be used in mending nets or setting bones. We can see how perfectly this fits. Paul is saying that the pastor-teacher’s job is to prepare us fully so that we may serve the purpose for which we have been called. And Colossians 1:28 says this: “We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” So the pastor-teacher is to do all of this with wisdom.

I think that we have gone dreadfully wrong. Today, we have mega-churches where we go to be entertained. We sit in the audience and if we don’t like the setting, the music, whatever, we jump to the next church to see if it suits us better. We have pastors who have become celebrities and meet very few of the qualifications set forth in 1 Timothy 3. We sit in church on Sunday mornings, expect the pastor to do all the work, and we think we don’t have to do anything. Ray Stedman says, “When this distorted idea crept into the church, it resulted in a terrible situation. The ministry was left to the professionals and the people came to church, not to learn what to do but to listen, that is all.”

So how do we change this? We can stop expecting our pastors to do all the work. They are here to equip us. James 1: 22 says, “But be doers of the word and not hearers only…” Alistair Begg says, “So the responsibility of the pastor-teacher is to equip the Saints by teaching the Bible in such a way that the mechanisms and tools for ministry are placed in their hands, so that they effectively work that way.” I love that! No one can do the job you have been given to do. No one can do the job that I have been given to do. If we just sit in the congregation and listen and then do nothing, we are not operating as the body of Christ has been designed to work. It’s time to change the way we’ve been doing things! We all have been given gifts. We need to start using them!

In my next post, I’ll be exploring the metaphor of the body of Christ a little further.

Grace be with you!


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