We saw in Gems 428 – 439 the nature and purpose of the manifestation gifts. In this list we have the ministry gifts. The focus and purpose of these ministry gifts is clearly stated. I am sure the clarity has not escaped you but at the risk of stating the obvious I will highlight the clarity. Each of these roles is earmarked to equip God’s people and build up the church to be mature. What are these gifts all about? Note how each one of these gifts are to do with equipping and training / teaching the church. Also it is fair to say they are all to do with the communication of the Gospel by word of mouth.
Apostles (ἀποστόλους – apostolous)
The apostle is “the sent one”. The one commissioned by God and sent out. This clearly relates to Paul in his role as the apostle to the Gentiles. The one who is commissioned to take the gospel to the non-Jews. For him it involves church planting. Interestingly the word missionary from Latin [missionem] means the same as apostle, a sent one, one commissioned on behalf of God. So in this day and age we are literally talking about missionaries, church planters who are classically called to take the Gospel across cultural boundaries. However there are many other definitions of “apostle” depending on denominational perspectives and teaching.
Prophets (προφήτας – prophetas)[See Bible Gem 435, 436]
There are those who operate in the prophetic gift as I describe it in the gems have listed above. These are the prophets in one sense of the word. However there is the other more general sense too, which is more probably intended here by Paul. The telling out of God’s Word and will. Proclaiming the Word. Into this mix we add preachers and teachers who proclaim and teach the Word of God.
Evangelists (εὐαγγελιστάς – euanggelistas)
There are the ones who proclaim the euanggelion – the Good News of the Gospel. This is less teaching its depths as it is proclaiming, preaching, telling others what the good news actually is. Yes there those we would call evangelists today. Those who have gift of putting the gospel succinctly and then challenge people to respond appropriately. There is a skill or knack needed for it to be effective. However, having said that it is also necessary that all who believe Jesus to be the Christ (Messiah) ought to be prepared and able to share the Good News. We all should be able to give an account of the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15)
Pastors (ποιμένας – poimenas)
This word refers literally to a shepherd or one who takes care of the sheep. But of course metaphorically it refers to the shepherding gifting. Less the preaching, teaching pastor and more the shepherding, caring pastoral heart. But of course teaching and preaching are part of the process of caring and shepherding.
Teachers (διδασκάλους – didaskalous)
You can see by the word used that this relates to the didactic method of teaching. The word is based in the Greek practice of an organized, reasoned systematic approach to conveying information and understanding through the presentation of the facts by logical thought processes. Those who convey information and seek to convince others of its truth.
I think you can see why I said above that all of these gifts or roles or offices of the church involved speaking and communication related to God’s Word, or the principles of God.
I will limit my comments to this general level at this point and let you ponder the implications. But one thing I will say is those who have this responsibility for the body of Christ must be prepared to speak God’s Word as he intended it. Not watering it down so that it may please the hearers. Paul says in the last days people will want to have their ears tickled and demand the pastor, teacher, prophet, evangelist or apostle encourage them and make them feel good. If the one who holds the office does what the majority wants they will no longer be representatives of God and those who speak out His word. This was the dilemma of the prophets in Old Testament times. They were called to speak forth what God wanted them to say which made them unpopular with Kings and the ordinary people. Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel (among others) had a reputation for speaking out things that were hard to hear. Exactly, that is the point.
There’s trouble ahead when you live for the approval of others…Your task is to betrue, not popular.Anon
The truth that sets us free will make us feel bad before it makes us feel good.David Pawson
A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.Arnold H. Glasow
Don’t let the itch for things or the ear for applause derail you from your God-intended design.Max Lucado