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Ephesians says that the Lord gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry.  (Ephesians 4:11-12)  Sometimes people wrongly conclude that this means that pastors equip and people work.  Actually each of these gifted people teach by example as well as by word.  Let’s look at them one by one.  An apostle in the first century was an eyewitness to the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Paul was unique in the timing of his apostleship as being somewhat later than all of the others with his vision of the risen Christ.  There are no apostles beyond the first century in the fullest understanding of the word.  In some ways, the missionary fulfills the role of apostleship.  The missionary, like the apostle, must blaze new trails and challenge long standing cultures and ideas.  There is an apostolic element to the gifting for missions.  

The prophet is a seer and a sayer.  The prophet does not so much foretell as forthtell the Word of God.  There is an element of prediction in prophecy.  There is also an element of the supernatural leading in the words of a prophet.  In my view not all preachers are prophetic, but all prophets are preachers.  The issue of sudden inspiration is at work in the prophet.  A prophet may suddenly be inspired to say that which is almost beyond his or her own full comprehension.

The biblical evangelist was not so much a speaker to large crowd as a gifted communicator of the good news of Jesus.  Some are gifted in evangelism and will conduct their evangelism one on one far more than before groups.  All Christians are commanded to share their faith, but some are gifted to do so. 

Pastors are those who take care of God’s flock.  They have the capacity to look after, teach, gather, and care for people.  They feed people the Word of God.  In my view some are gifted to be pastors who will actually fulfill their calling by teaching a bible study group and ministering to them in countless ways.  Others may do a similar ministry by leading a church.  The gifting of pastor can be fulfilled without it being a career.  Pastoring is a gift and a calling.  Being the pastor of a church is one way of expressing the gift and calling.

Teachers love to communicate truth.  Those gifted to teach are never not teaching.  They find fulfillment in knowing that those they teach can grasp and put into practice the truths of God.  Not everyone with the responsibility of teaching is necessarily gifted to teach.   For instance a person may be more of a pastor than a teacher.  God can bless a pastor who also has a teaching responsibility.  God can also bless those the pastor teaches.  Ideally someone gifted to pastor, but not to teach will partner with those gifted to teach.  In fact, the whole point of spiritual gifts is that no one has them all, but together a church can be incredibly gifted.  I would recommend a survey that can be found at Lifeway to help those wanting to learn more about their giftedness.  Just google lifeway spiritual gifts survey and then click on the site.

Dan Wooldridge

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