World of Faith

What is Charismatic? – Part Seven: Spiritual Gifts – The Office Gifts of Ephesians 4 | January 30, 2007

Before I get into the seventh and possibly final installment of “What is Charismatic?” I want to do two things. First, I want to give a preview of what’s coming up next week and the weeks following. Second, I want to publicly comment and clarify about something I’ve posted before, and I also said in a comment to one of my readers.

Next week, so long as I don’t need to post a Q &A for this series, I am beginning a new series, “What is Real Faith?” The purpose of this series is to examine what faith is, what faith is not, how to exercise one’s faith, and how God rewards our faith, because without faith, we cannot please God. There are blessings that come with living a life full of faith and obedience, and I want to explore that with you, my readers. Most recently, my faith has been encouraged because my pastor has been sharing about a vision that his pastor had… and I’ll be discussing that, too, next week, for we all need to have our faith built up and encouraged in these days, so we can all receive everything that God has for us, and accomplish His will and His purposes.

Before I review and discuss this week’s topic of the office gifts of Ephesians 4, I also want to comment on a question that one of my readers posted. I responded to him with this, but I also want to share this on the front page with everyone else. In a previous post I discussed how Mark 16:17-18 should be normative for every believer, and this reader asked whether I believe “picking up serpents” should be normative. I gave an initial response, and then my pastor said something this past Sunday during the sermon that enlightened me about this passage. When Jesus referred to serpents and scorpions in the Gospels, often He was using them to symbolize lies and bondages that even well intentioned Christians get themselves entangled with in these days. Perhaps this is what Jesus said in Mark 16, that it would be normative for believers to “handle” and destroy such destructive lies, and also to deliver people from bondages and oppression. So, perhaps that is what Mark 16 means in that respect. I just for some reason do not believe it means to literally pick up serpents… I don’t see that in the Bible.

Last week I continued looking at what makes one a charismatic, a belief in and exercise of the spiritual gifts. Most Bible scholars cite at least three lists of these in the Scriptures. Two weeks ago I dug into the first of these lists, in Romans 12. Last week I dug into the second, 1 Corinthians 12. This week I’ll look at the third list, in Ephesians 4. Before I go there, I want to introduce the topic of the “office gifts” with Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 12:27-28 (NAS), “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” Apostles, prophets, and teachers are three of the five “office gifts” listed in Ephesians 4.

Paul then wrote in Eph. 4:7-8 and 11-13 (NKJV), “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’ And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The first comment I need to make here, which is a major difference between the passages in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, is that Paul is using a different Greek word for “gift” in Ephesians 4. He is using the word “doma,” which means according to Thayer’s Lexicon, a gift, an expression of God’s favor, something that becomes the recipient’s abiding possession. But who is the recipient? Men are, or, more accurately, the recipient is the world. Then what are the gifts themselves here? Individuals who are apostles, pastors, evangelists, pastors, and/or teachers. So, here, unlike the gifts I previously discussed, the gifts here are persons who operate in the “offices” that are listed. Christ has given some men to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors, and some to be teachers.

The next logical question then is what exactly are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. According to Thayer’s, the Greek word for apostles is “apostolos,” which means a delegate, a messenger, one sent forth with orders. The primary biblical model I see for apostles who operate today is that Paul was an apostle to Timothy, i.e., Paul was Timothy’s pastor. Thus, I believe that someone who is pastoring pastors may be considered an apostle. Also, Paul was a church planter, and that is another key function of an apostle today, because modern apostles plant churches, and then oversee the pastors of those churches. Still another key function of the apostle is to establish and mature the believer in a church that the apostle oversees. In a moment I will discuss the purpose of all the office gifts listed here, but Eph. 2:20 specifically charges apostles and prophets with being the foundation of the church, i.e. establishing foundational (but NOT new) doctrine in the churches they oversee. Anything said by any of these ministers, be it an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor, or a teacher, must line up with the Word of God, the Scriptures. I’m not saying that an apostle or anyone else will give some kind of strange or “private” revelation of the Scriptures that adds to the Word of God. Rather, anything an apostle or prophet, or any one of these says would confirm and conform to the Word of God.

Moving on to the other office gifts listed, the next office gift is that of the prophet. According to Thayer’s, the Greek word for prophet is “prophetes,” which is a different gift than the gift of prophecy listed in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. Thayer’s defines this gift as one who, moved by the Spirit of God and hence his organ or spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration, especially concerning future events, and in particular such as relate to the cause and kingdom of God and to human salvation. Further, in the religious assemblies of Christians, they are moved by the Holy Spirit to speak, having power to instruct, comfort, encourage, rebuke, convict, and stimulate, their hearers. Thus, that is how prophets operate in modern days. The third gift listed is that of the evangelist, and the Greek word for evangelist is “euggelistes,” which means according to Thayer’s a bringer of good tidings. The only person identified as an evangelist in the NT is Phillip, in Acts 21:8. However, there is only ONE other place in the NT where this word is used besides Acts 21:8 and Eph. 4:11, which is in 2 Tim. 4:5, “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Thus, I believe a true purposes of the evangelist is not only to evangelize, but also to train and equip believers to do the same, after all, we’re all called to be witnesses for Christ. The last two office gifts listed are pastor and teacher. Now some believe this is ONE gift, the pastor-teacher, but that is not what I see in the Greek, because Paul uses two different Greek words, first, “poimen” for pastors, which means according to Thayer’s, a herdsman, esp. a shepherd, but also the presiding officer, manager, or director of any assembly: so of Christ the Head of the church. In other words, a senior pastor is in effect the “CEO” of a local congregation. The second Greek word that Paul uses is “didaskalos” for teachers, which is also used for teachers in 1 Cor. 12:28-29, yet is distinguished from the gift of teaching that Paul lists in Romans 12:7. Yes, all pastors should be able to teach (see 1 Tim. 3 for the requirements to be ordained an elder (pastor) or deacon). However, Paul clearly distinguishes between the pastor and the teacher in Eph. 4:11. The pastor is the shepherd and the presiding officer (or elder, if you will), i.e. the head, of a local congregation, while the teacher is defined by Thayer’s as one who teaches concerning the things of God, and the duties of a man who is fitted to teach, esp. of those who in the religious assemblies of Christians who undertake the work of teaching, with the special assistance of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the role of the pastor and teacher are different, and the gift of the teacher and the gift of teaching are also different concepts, as Paul uses different Greek words to distinguish these various gifts.

Lastly, before I conclude, I want to briefly discuss the purpose of these five office gifts that I discussed above, and that Paul lists in Eph. 4:11. Paul develops the purpose of all these gifts in verses 12 and 13. Christ gave these persons as gifts to mankind so that we all would be equipped as believers to do the work of the ministry that we are all called to do as believers. The subject of the ministry of the believer really is something I need to develop in another post. However, we all need the ministry of the office gifts to equip and perfect us so we can accomplish God’s will and purposes in our lives. Finally, someone might ask whether God has ceased to dispense these office gifts, esp. the first two, the apostle and the prophet. Paul writes in verse 13, “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” For the first time in “World of Faith,” I’m going to issue a challenge to my readers. If you believe that ALL Christians worldwide have come to a complete unity and perfection in our faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ, then please, please, please right in and tell me, right away. However, in all honesty, I do not believe Christians have reached such unity and perfection, for there is still much division in the Body of Christ today. And no one is perfect but God. Thus, I believe there still are apostles and prophets today in the Church and we need to recognize in our congregations who we respect and acknowledge as apostles and prophets, for no apostle or prophet is an apostle or prophet to anyone, except to those who receive them as such. So, that’s a wrap on the gifts of the Spirit as Paul develops them in Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, and Eph. 4. Next week, unless I get requests for Q & A, I’ll begin my next series, “What is Real Faith?”

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