Ephesians 4:11, 12, 15, 16: ‘And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ ….. that …..speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.’
Every member of a church has a ministry in addition to proclaiming the gospel. God equips the people of His church with the *gifts and skills that are required for the building up of the body in love (V. 16), but what is sometimes overlooked is the defined roles of certain members. Take for example, the passage above where five separate ministries are identified. Each of them have distinctive job titles; there are: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
An Apostle [ap-os’-tol-os] is one who is sent out from the church as a delegate to meet people. He is a representative of the Church as well as being a commissioner of Christ. He’s very much like an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). Christ sent His disciples to preach repentance, heal the sick and to cast out demons (Mark 3:14, 15; 6:10-12).
A New Testament Prophet [prof-ay’-tace] is one who speaks openly proclaiming divine messages. Agabus was one such prophet (Acts 21:10). He prophesied of the time when Paul the Apostle would be bound in chains at Jerusalem (V. 11; 21:33). Judas and Silas were also prophets (Acts 15:32-34). If a prophet spoke at a meeting, others were to judge what he said (1 Corinthians 14: 29-33), but women were to remain silent (V. 34), and if they wanted to learn something, they were to ask their husbands at home (V. 35).
Evangelists [yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace’] are preachers of the Gospel. One such person was Philip who lived in Caesarea. He had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8, 9). Jesus is the One who commissions them (Ephesians 4:11). Paul told Timothy he was to do the work of an evangelist to fulfil his ministry (2 Timothy 4:5). Basically, an evangelist is one who proclaims glad tidings and the good news of the gospel (Isaiah 52:7).
Figuratively Pastors [poy-mane’] are shepherds, whose job it is to tend their sheep. The risen Jesus commissioned Peter to be His shepherd with instructions to feed His lambs, and to tend and feed His sheep (John 21:15-17). That is the way in which a pastor fulfils his calling. He should be caring and vigilant. In the New King James Bible, the actual word ‘pastor’ occurs only once, and it ranks fourth in a list of five offices/appointments (Ephesians 4:11).
Teachers [did-as’-kal-os] are the last-mentioned of the five callings that are listed in Ephesians 4:11. Their function is to provide instruction. Literally, they are instructors. Although placed last by Paul, that does not necessarily mean they are the least important; for Jesus Himself was the greatest of teachers (Matthew 4:23; 23:8; John 3:2). James warns teachers of the consequences of getting their teaching wrong. He tells them: ‘My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that you will receive a stricter judgment (James 3:1).’
Another ‘office’ of the church is that of Deacon [dee-ak’-on-os] or Minister. He’s the equivalent of an attendant, waiter or servant. Timothy says of him: ‘Likewise, deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience, But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. …. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife (1 Timothy 3:8-10, 12).’ It’s not a trivial job, but a position for the truly humble who can have the privilege of serving the church in the likeness of Jesus (Matthew 20:28; John 13:14, 15). [Note: In the New Testament Deacons and Ministers are identical; they are one and the same.]
1 Corinthians 12:28 sets out what would appear to be an order of priority with three of the ministries we have been considering in Chapter 4 of Ephesians. Here’s the Corinthian text: ‘And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, and after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.’
So Paul may have had it in mind that some ministries are more important than others, but one thing is obvious, there are six identifiable ministries; each of them with their own job titles. They are not necessarily hard-cut and fixed, because there may be blurring at the edges between ministries; for example, a teacher of the Word by the very nature of his calling is one who serves.
In many of today’s churches Pastors are expected to be jacks of all trades, and doers of them all! This is an unfair burden, and members of a church where this is the case would do well to look to the Lord and ask Him if they can help in any way.
As stated at the beginning, ‘Every member of a church has a ministry in addition to proclaiming the gospel. God equips the people of His church with the *gifts and skills that are required for the building up of the body in love (Ephesians 4:16).’
*Gifts from God