Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Ephesians 4:11. It is not all about you.

Alan linked back to one of my favorite posts he has written, a post looking at a non-traditional but very Biblical look at one of the most familiar and I think most misapplied Scriptures in all of the New Testament, Ephesians 4:11.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,(Eph 4:11)
Traditionally we are taught that this, sometimes called the "five-fold ministry", is primarily about the "offices" in the church, esp. the office of pastor. It is particularly important for that purpose because in those translations that use the term "pastor", like the KJV, this is the only place it appears. Odd since pastors are such a focal point in the church. Anyway, Alan writes in the conclusion of his post, And he gave… (Ephesians 4:11) :
Taking all of this evidence together, I believe that Ephesians 4:11 was not intended as a list of specially gifted individuals who alone can equip the church for service. Instead, I believe that Ephesians 4:11 represents a sample of gifted individuals, much like we see in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, and 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, none of which include all of the gifts because they are all meant as samples of spiritual gifts.

Just as Jesus gives apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers to the church to equip us for works of service, he also gives servants, helpers, givers, exhorters, healers, tongues speakers, and tongues interpreters (and ALL believers) to the church to equip us for works of service. The church is equipped for works of service and the church is built up toward maturity in Christ when every member of the church exercises the gifts given by Jesus through the Holy Spirit for the benefit of all.
I love it! Focusing on just the "specially gifted" in the church with faith in a theological "trickle down effect" has proven catastrophic for centuries. I love Arthur Laffer, just now when it comes to ecclesiology. Every person in the church has something to contribute and teach to others in the church, not just a few at "the top".

Just like the so-called "pastoral epistles" are not really aimed exclusively at pastors in general and certainly not vocational ministers in particular, when Ephesians 4:11 is read in context it is not about pastors or "leaders" at all. It is about the entire church, working together and edifying one another, becoming mature together.

1 comment:

Alan Knox said...


Thanks for linking to this post. I'm continuing to learn from and be challenged by this passage.

Recently, while I was thinking about the "evangelist," I began wondering how someone gifted as an evangelist "equips the church for works of service." The only way I can see that is by the evangelist helping others learn to share the gospel. (Obviously, the evangelist should be sharing the gospel as well.) So, part of the reason that Jesus gives gifted individuals to the church is so that those gifted individuals can help the whole church serve in those particular ways.

Since several people have told me that I'm a gifted teacher, I realize that part of my responsibility is helping others in the church (who may not be spiritually gifted) to teach. This has changed the way that I look at my own teaching, and it has helped me learn to work with others so that they can teach.